New Scientist Weekly

New Scientist Weekly

By New Scientist

Keep up with the latest scientific developments and breakthroughs in this award winning weekly podcast from the team at New Scientist, the world’s most popular weekly science and technology magazine. Each discussion centers around three of the most fascinating stories to hit the headlines each week. From technology, to space, health and the environment, we share all the information you need to keep pace.

Episodes

#72: The evil in all of us; delta variant of coronavirus; glacier memory project

The delta variant of covid-19 has torn across India, and is making its way around the globe, forcing the extension of lockdown measures in the UK. The team explores its spread, and also digs into findings showing that “elimination countries” - those which enacted swift and extreme lockdown measures - have fared better across the board in the health, wealth and even freedom of their populations. They then discuss the Ice Memory Project, which is archiving and preserving material and data from glaciers - ancient relics that have been trapped in the ice for millennia, sadly thawing due to global warming. There’s a conversation with forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist Gwen Adshead about the capacity we all have for evil - the subject of her new book ‘The Devil You Know’. On top of that, there’s the news that China has launched the first group of astronauts to its new space station and laid out its plans for an international moon base, and a story about monogamy in seahorses, where it is the males who get pregnant. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, and Graham Lawton. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
17/06/2127m 9s

#71: Alzheimer’s treatment approved; human brain map breakthrough; time flowing backwards

For the first time in 18 years, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. This is big news because rather than just treating the symptoms, the drug targets the amyloid plaques that are thought to cause the disease. But the team explains why there are still many reasons to remain cautious. They also discuss an exciting breakthrough in our understanding of the brain, as Google researchers have, for the first time, mapped all the connections in one cubic millimeter of human brain tissue, containing a whopping 50 thousand brain cells and 130 million connections. Then there’s the little story about how time can appear to violate the second law of thermodynamics, by running backwards instead of forwards. The team also celebrates the revival of an animal frozen in permafrost for 24,000 years, and they travel to the very edges of the galaxy where, for the first time, organic molecules have been detected. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Mike Marshall and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
10/06/2128m 6s

#70: Coronavirus origin story; Big Oil’s nightmare; history of the gender pain gap

From a bat… or from a lab? It seemed the question of where SARS-CoV-2 originated had been settled, but recently it&aposs been reignited. Amid lots of conflicting and confusing news stories, the team explores what we really know about the origins of covid-19. They then mark a historic tipping point in climate news, as three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies are forced to work harder and faster to reduce their environmental impact. They also speak to Elinor Cleghorn, author of a new book called ‘Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World’, which examines the origins of the gender pain gap. They dig into new findings from the Libyan civil war showing autonomous robot drones, for the first time in history, have used AI to identify and attack humans. And on the brighter side of robotics, the team finds out about a cafe in Tokyo staffed by robots acting as avatar bodies for remote workers, which is offering people with life-limiting diseases a chance to interact with the outside world. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Graham Lawton and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
03/06/2126m 36s

#69: Coronavirus evolution; geoengineering and food supply; Alice Roberts on the revolution in archaeology

A new variant of coronavirus which originated in India is spreading rapidly. The team explains how both this new mutation and the UK variant are capable of evading vaccines, causing huge concerns for the global fight against covid-19. They also discuss whether the risks of solar geoengineering outweigh the benefits, as new research in the journal Nature Food looks at the potential impact on agricultural yields. They discuss a revolution taking place in archaeology as the discipline absorbs modern techniques from genetics, speaking to anatomist Alice Roberts about her new book Ancestors: The Pre-History of Britain in Seven Burials. They hear the calls of red-handed tamarin monkeys who change their accents when they move in with a neighbouring species. And they discuss the extraordinary news that a man who was once blind has had his sight partially restored thanks to optogenetics. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
27/05/2126m 0s

#68: Climate change and methane mystery; breathable liquid; covid vaccines

When it comes to climate change, carbon dioxide usually gets the spotlight, but methane, although shorter-lived in the atmosphere, is more potent as a greenhouse gas - and levels have been mysteriously increasing. The team explains where the methane is coming from and how efforts to curb methane emissions could be important in tackling global warming. They then explore the peculiar discovery that pigs can breathe oxygen through the anus, and what that means for future applications in space travel. In coronavirus news, the team highlights the disparity between the rich and the poor in the global vaccine rollout. They also discuss the exciting arrival of a Chinese rover on Mars, and a story about the monogamous relationships of Californian mice. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Michael Le Page, and Adam Vaughan. Also check out the story of how the way you move can change the way you think, and how chemists are rethinking the way atoms stick together. To read about these and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
20/05/2122m 3s

#67: Brain plasticity; entropy and the nature of time; vaccine booster shots

Efforts to fight covid-19 won’t stop even when everyone is vaccinated. There’s a good chance we’ll need vaccine booster shots to keep on top of the disease. With Israel already planning to roll these out, and many other countries considering the same, the team explains what the booster shots will look like. They then explore the mind-melting discovery that simply by measuring time, humans are adding to the amount of entropy or disorder in the universe. They catch up with the neuroscientist David Eagleman who explains the concept of brain plasticity. They mark a very special year for the loudest insect in the world - cicadas - and they discuss how degrowth - a deliberate step down in economic activity - might be the safest way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Graham Lawton and Clare Wilson.
13/05/2127m 49s

#66: Sea level rise; Bitcoin carbon pollution; how to measure self-awareness

The most detailed analysis yet of global warming and sea level rise has been published. The paper’s lead author, Tamsin Edwards of King’s College London, explains that we now have a better understanding of the consequences of missing the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement. Later the team gets introspective as they learn about metacognition, and how brain scanners are now able to measure self-awareness: learn how to boost your own self-awareness here. They discuss how the digital currency Bitcoin will soon create more carbon pollution than the whole of Sweden. And they explain how the naming of a new species of ant has been used to champion gender diversity, and share some amazing findings about the crew from the wreck of Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose. Also, make sure to check out this piece from Jemma Wadham who spent two weeks living under a glacier in Norway. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Cat de Lange, Karina Shah and Matt Sparkes.
06/05/2127m 15s

#65: Chernobyl radiation safety; Chinese space station; wisdom of trees

It’s been 35 years since the devastating explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. But new research shows there has been no increase in genetic mutations in people who worked to clean up the accident site, nor in their children. The team discusses communicating safety risks around radiation with the director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, Gerry Thomas. The team then talks about two stories in space exploration news, with another SpaceX launch to the ISS, and the start of the construction of a new Chinese space station. We also hear from legendary biologist Suzanne Simard. Simard discovered the wood wide web - revealing that trees live in a connected society, trading, collaborating and communicating in sophisticated ways through a shared underground network. The team also discusses a rapid rise of covid-19 infections in India, and they dig into the discovery of ancient structures in Arabia which predate Stonehenge and the Pyramids. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan, Michael Le Page, Leah Crane and Ibrahim Sawal.
29/04/2129m 44s

#64: Earth Day rescue plan: climate change and biodiversity special

To mark Earth Day 2021, we’ve assembled a panel of experts to discuss climate change and biodiversity loss - “two runaway crises tightly interlinked that will mutually make each other’s effects worse”. New evidence shows 2021 really is a make-or-break year for the environment and the planet. In this episode the panel explores the disparity between our efforts to combat each issue, they explain how some attempts to help the environment can actually worsen the situation, and they discuss the limitations of carbon drawdown technologies. The discussion leans into the dangers of losing the Amazon rainforest, the importance of working with local communities, and the role billionaires play in advancing global climate goals. And while the scale of the problem seems insurmountable to many, the team says it’s important to remember that your actions are not futile - taking a personal stand and changing your habits is still absolutely critical. The Earth can recover, if we let it. On the pod this week: New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Michael Le Page and Adam Vaughan, joined by Tilly Collins from the Centre for Environmental Policy and Bonnie Waring from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. 
22/04/2131m 17s

#63: Musical spider’s webs; magic mushrooms for treating depression; the sound of coronavirus

The vibrations of a spider’s web have been transformed into some spectacularly haunting pieces of music. The team shares the work of MIT researcher Markus Buehler, which gives us a glimpse into what life is like for a spider. The team then discusses new research suggesting psilocybin, the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, might be an effective way of treating depression. The theme of sound continues as the team shares the work of molecular biologist and composer Mark Temple, who’s turned the genetic sequence of the coronavirus into beautiful and ethereal music. On top of this, the team brings news of a robot with an artificial nervous system that’s learnt to catch a ball, and they celebrate a new discovery about the world’s oldest animal, the comb jelly. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Sam Wong and Donna Lu. To read more about all these stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. And if you want to hear more of Markus Buehler’s work, visit his SoundCloud page.
15/04/2126m 55s

#62: Synthetic life; rescue plan for Earth; muon g-2 new physics

Scientists tinkering around with the creation of synthetic life have taken a significant step forward. The team explains how synthetic cells could one day be implanted in humans. Alongside this is the news that researchers have used frog skin cells to create a microscopic living robot, which can heal and power itself. As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reach a record high, the team looks at ways to join up global efforts in tackling both the climate and biodiversity emergencies. They discuss another challenge to the Standard Model of particle physics, as Fermilab’s muon g-2 experiment threatens to shake up everything we thought we knew. And finally the team explains how the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs gave rise to the Amazon rainforest, and explore news of rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool, Richard Webb and Krista Charles. To read about these and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
08/04/2128m 57s

#61: Worse allergies; black hole in our backyard; new flavours of vanilla

Spring has sprung and… ACHOO!! Yep, hay fever is back with a vengeance. This week the team has some bad news for hay fever sufferers, as allergies are set to get worse (in every way imaginable) because of climate change. The team then ramps up the excitement with the news that there may be an ancient black hole sitting on the edge of our solar system, which might actually be within our reach! They discuss vanilla’s attempts to break free of its ‘boring’ stereotype, as growers begin to experiment with new and exciting flavours of the classic taste. As countries around the world prepare for a third wave of covid-19 infections, the team explains how the vaccine rollout will impact hospitalisation and death rates. And they also celebrate the Octopus, as new research suggests they might be able to dream. On the pod are Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Stuart Clark and Clare Wilson. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
01/04/2124m 7s

#60: New physics; anti-ageing human embryos; Mars update

The Large Hadron Collider might, just might, have found something that challenges the Standard Model of particle physics. The team hears why an anomaly concerning a quark could hint at a crack in our understanding of physics. They also find out whether the age-defying, rejuvenating properties of human embryos can help us reset the ageing process in adults. As the Perseverance rover has been on Mars for a month now, there is of course more news from our neighbouring planet, namely new recordings from the surface to listen to, and the upcoming launch of the Ingenuity helicopter. Also on the pod is the worrying story of vaccine hesitancy in the EU, and the team celebrates a microbe unlike anything seen before. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool, Richard Webb, Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Perseverance audio credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
26/03/2126m 13s

#59: Vaccine success; hibernation and anti-ageing; world’s first computer

We’re tantalisingly close to resuming normal life, as promising news from Israel has shown that vaccines are swinging the fight against covid-19 in our favour. But we’re not out of the woods yet - the team explains why it’s still too risky to completely lift restrictions. They also discuss great news if you love your beauty sleep! It turns out when marmots hibernate the ageing process slows down dramatically, which is going to be useful as we develop ways to put humans into hibernation. The pod also tackles the mystery of the Antikythera mechanism, a 2000-year-old cosmos decoding device often called the world’s first computer. And they explain how mushrooms might be the answer to our clean energy needs, and chat to author and podcaster Dr Helen Scales about her new book ‘The Brilliant Abyss’. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Jo Marchant, Eleanor Parsons and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
19/03/2128m 7s

#58: Covid good news; cold water swimming; quantum unreality

This week: relief and joy for people in the US, with the news that those who’ve had two doses of vaccine will be allowed to meet up inside with friends and family. The team also discusses the exciting news about how the vaccine might help people with long covid. Things take a turn for the weird when the team explains just how little we know about reality, certainly from a quantum mechanical point of view - but Carlo Rovelli might have an answer. They also explore why cold water swimming is so good for us, they find out how we can use light to power spacecraft, and they celebrate the wondrous sea slug, which has a penchant for chopping off its own head. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson, Alison George and Richard Webb. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
12/03/2123m 53s

#57: Moon base; Neanderthal speech; Elizabeth Kolbert on geoengineering

Ever looked up at the Moon and thought “I could live there”? Well… this week we hear how Chinese researchers have managed to make an almost completely self-sustaining base on Earth which could be replicated on the lunar surface. They’re also joined by Rebecca Wragg Sykes, the author of ‘Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art’, who explores new evidence suggesting the extinct humans may have had the power of language and speech. Pulitzer-prize winning environment reporter Elizabeth Kolbert also joins the pod to talk about her new book ‘Under a White Sky’, and whether environmental fixes like geoengineering will help or harm our efforts to address climate change. In the mix is a brand new theory for creating a working warp drive, and new research looking at human friendship. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
05/03/2128m 32s

#56: How to spend a trillion dollars; landing on Mars; exercise and metabolism myths

What could you do with a trillion dollars? Rowan Hooper tackles this question in his latest book which examines how the money could be used to safeguard the future of our planet. The team talks about raising cash through a tax on carbon, how much it would cost to protect all the world’s endangered species, and Elon Musk’s carbon capture and storage competition. Also on the show excitement mounts over NASA’s successful touchdown on Mars, as the team discusses Perseverance and its first full week in the Jezero Crater. They also uncover myths about how our metabolisms work, and why long-held assumptions about exercise and weight loss are wrong. Also: why researchers have been teaching Morse code to people while they sleep, and new findings about cetaceans and their unexpectedly low rates of cancer. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Cat de Lange, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
26/02/2125m 2s

#55: Rescuing nature; Mars missions; new covid mutation

2021 could well go down in history as the year we saved our planet… the alternative really doesn’t bear thinking about. Luckily the team brings news of a “rescue plan for nature”, with several initiatives launching this year including the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration. NASA’s Mars lander Perseverance has successfully touched down on the Red Planet. The team discusses its goals, and shares the latest on the two craft which entered Mars’ orbit last week, China’s Tianwen-1 and the UAE’s Hope. The team highlights a newly discovered covid-19 mutation which is a combination of the variants first found in Kent and California. And they answer the questions “why is ice slippery?”, “why do flames jump up and down?”, and “why aren’t people at the South Pole upside down?”. On the pod are Graham Lawton, Anna Demming, Caroline Williams, and Richard Webb. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
19/02/2124m 24s

#54: Next-gen vaccines; alien space probes; ethics of fish

Whilst we’ve been celebrating the rollout of the covid-19 vaccines, new variants of the virus have thrown a spanner in the works, and there’s a concern over the lack of vaccine availability in low-income countries. The team explores these issues and highlights the exciting developments of both a nasal vaccine and (maybe) one which can be taken in pill form. Plus... Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb explains why he believes the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua could be a piece of alien technology, and tells us why scientists need to take the search for intelligent life more seriously. The team also finds out whether it’s ever ethical or sustainable to eat fish, they share the musical tones of an 18,000-year-old conch, and in a new segment which answers children’s ‘but why?’ questions, they tackle “what’s behind the sky?”. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Caroline Williams, and Leah Crane. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
12/02/2127m 23s

#53: Pandemic burnout; vaccines for the world; sustainable fuel

By now most of us have felt or are feeling the effects of pandemic burnout. From unexplained exhaustion to emotional detachment and general uneasiness, the team explains why the pandemic is causing these feelings and offers tips on how to combat the problem. They also explain why it&aposs critical we have a coordinated global strategy for the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine, so that poorer countries are not left without enough jabs to protect their citizens. As a growing number of countries set net zero carbon targets, the team discusses renewed hype about hydrogen as a sustainable fuel source. They also share a breakthrough in touch-sensitive robots, and explore the surprisingly controversial history of the evolution of flowers. On the pod are Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton, Caroline Williams, and Adam Vaughan. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
05/02/2126m 37s

#52: Life after vaccination; gaslighting; mind reading

A year on from the launch of our podcast, the team reflects on the news highlighted in the first ever episode, of a small outbreak of an unknown virus in Wuhan - how life has changed. The good news is vaccination programmes are being rolled out across the globe, but the bad news is new models suggest infection rates will continue to rise, even after most of us have had the jab. The team also explores the issue of gaslighting, explaining how it’s possible for people to manipulate and exploit our perception of reality. There’s the news that artificial intelligence is now able to figure out what song you’re listening to, just by studying your brainwaves. And the team also discusses new methods being used to search for sun-harnessing megastructures known as Dyson spheres, and they examine new satellite data which shows 28 trillion tonnes of ice disappeared globally between 1994 and 2017. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Michael Le Page, and Caroline Williams. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.If you’ve been affected by domestic violence, there are a number of charities that can help. UK National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247; US National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233; Aus 1800Respect: 1800 737 732. Search online for local alternatives.
29/01/2124m 42s

#51: Covid evolution; new dinosaur; missing genome data

As we continue to discover new mutant variants of the covid-19 virus, the team looks at how these will impact vaccination efforts and discuss the long-term implications of virus evolution. They also bring exciting news of a new dinosaur discovery, a sauropod that is among the biggest animals of all time. And staying with dinos, they highlight the University of Bristol’s reconstruction of dinosaur genitalia. They also discuss genome sequencing, and the massive diversity gap in the world’s DNA databases. There’s also news that questions our assumptions about why water is essential for life, as well as a story of hope in the form of President Joe Biden’s long list of climate action plans. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Layal Liverpool and Graham Lawton. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
22/01/2126m 36s

#50: Covid vaccine dosing; superconductors; coral restoration

The coronavirus vaccines that have been approved so far all require two doses to be given 3-4 weeks apart. But the UK has chosen to delay the time between doses to 12 weeks, so it can roll out the vaccine to more people more quickly. This week the team examines whether this is the right move, and whether it’s safe. Also on the show, they explore the incredible potential that could be achieved if we’re able to design a superconductor that can operate at room temperature, including high speed travel, super-fast computers and ultra-efficient renewable energy. They also discuss the huge biodiversity issue that is coral loss, and how a team of researchers on Heron Island is helping to boost corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Then there’s news from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, and his plans for a new zero carbon city, and an exposé on the cannibalistic tendencies of ancient megalodon sharks. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson, Donna Lu and Michael Brooks. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
15/01/2134m 24s

#49: New coronavirus variants

Two fast-spreading variants of coronavirus have been discovered in the UK and South Africa. With case numbers soaring, it’s feared these variants could lead to a massive wave of new infections around the world. The team examines why the mutations allow the virus to spread more quickly, what this means for the effectiveness of covid vaccines, and whether these new variants are more deadly. Also on the show, we explore the health benefits of going low-carb, and explain why high-fat diets might not be as bad for your heart as you might think. We discuss the discovery of ancient bones in a cave in South Africa which may belong to a new species of human. There’s also a look at how scientists are using soda bread as a scaffold for growing cells, which could be promising for lab-grown meat, and we discuss the result in the Georgia election for the US senate, and why that spells hope for action on climate change. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Clare Wilson and Michael Le Page. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
08/01/2126m 5s

#48: Must-know science of 2021

Happy New Year! This special episode previews some of the biggest science stories to keep an eye on over the coming year. Coronavirus, the story that’s defined our lives for the past year, will continue to evolve and unfold. The team digs into what life will look like as vaccinations eventually allow us to come out the other side of the pandemic. There are also several missions to Mars to look out for this year - the UAE’s orbiter Hope, NASA’s Perseverance rover, and China’s Tianwen-1 mission. The team also finds out whether we’re going to be able to get back on track in the fight against climate change, and they discuss the growing problem of microplastics, as this year we hope to learn more about the impact these tiny particles have on our health. As a bonus, the team shares their cultural picks for the new year. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Layal Liverpool, Adam Vaughan, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
01/01/2129m 5s

#47: Christmas special quiz of the year

2020 has been unconventional to say the least, and this Christmas special is full of much needed hope, optimism and laughter. The team brings you highlights from this week’s live holiday event which you can watch in full here. Categories include the ‘funniest story of the year’, featuring the recreated groans of mummies and a sobering up machine; we award prizes for ‘animal story of the year’ and ‘evidence-based survival tips for 2021’. There’s also a music round, a look at this year’s moments of greatest hope, and the panelists discuss the news they’re most hoping to hear in 2021. On the panel are Rowan Hooper, Layal Liverpool, Graham Lawton, Penny Sarchet and Sam Wong. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Happy holidays from the whole team at New Scientist, and have a cracking New Year! New Scientist Weekly returns on January 1, 2021.
18/12/2028m 35s

#46: Stardust hunting, the illusion of the self, space rocks return to Earth

One hundred tonnes of cosmic dirt rains down on us every day, so there’s a good chance you have a meteorite on your roof... well, a micrometeorite. The team explains how you can find one yourself, and explore the surprise link with Norwegian jazz musician Jon Larsen. They also question whether you really exist, or at least the version of you that you recognise to be yourself. There’s also more news of space rocks coming to Earth, but this time returning from the super speedy Chang’e 5 moon mission, and from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft which has visited the asteroid Ryugu. The team also discusses a 12,500-year-old mega-collage of ancient rock art which has been found in the Amazon, and they ponder the news that water has become so scarce, it’s now being traded on Wall Street. On the pod this week are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Joshua Howgego, Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
11/12/2028m 6s

#45: Vaccine roll out in UK and China; Chris Packham on connectedness; AlphaFold breakthrough

With the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the roll out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the team discusses issues around safety, effectiveness in older people, and who gets it first. They also discuss coronavirus in China and the country’s own vaccination programme, as well as Australia’s remarkable return to normal life. The naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham makes a guest appearance to discuss global connectivity, the food we eat, Brazil, deforestation and the Cerrado. The team also celebrates the news that the DeepMind artificial intelligence AlphaFold has succeeded in deciphering the secrets of the machinery of life, they explore the discovery of many weird and wonderful volcanoes in our solar system, including those with blue eruptions and ones which shoot plumes of water into space, and they discuss the regenerative power of alligators - and perhaps even dinosaurs! On the pod this week are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Michael Le Page and Donna Lu. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
04/12/2033m 38s

#44: When we’ll get the vaccine; fast-expanding universe; lunar missions

Vaccine scientist Katrina Pollock answers some of the biggest questions about covid-19 vaccines: when are we going to get one, and when will life go back to normal? A clinician at Imperial College London, Katrina is working on both the Imperial mRNA vaccine trials, and the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trials. She discusses vaccine safety, and the finding in trials that a low-dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine caused a bigger immune response. Also on the podcast, science writer Stuart Clark explains why the unusually fast expansion of our universe might require a rethink of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. We discuss China’s Chang’e 5 mission to bring back samples of moon rocks for the first time in over 40 years. We also hear about the startling finding that nematodes produce ‘milk’ for their young, and explain why president-elect Joe Biden is providing renewed hope for tackling the climate crisis. On the pod this week are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Leah Crane and Donna Lu. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
27/11/2035m 59s

#43: How the covid RNA vaccine works; systemic racism; origin of humans

Even as covid-19 cases keep going up, we’ve had some good news about possible vaccines for coronavirus. Two of the promising vaccines are mRNA vaccines, and on this week’s show Anna Blakney, an RNA bioengineer at Imperial College London, explains all about this new technology. Also on the podcast: we highlight research into systemic racism and the role it plays in socioeconomic disparity, healthcare outcomes, and even technology. We explore the controversy around the species thought to be the earliest member of the human family. And then there’s a look at the brain-upgrading power of living electrodes, and news about a very, very hangry caterpillar. On the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan and Layal Liverpool, and science writer Mike Marshall. Sign up to Mike’s newsletter about the evolution and prehistory of the human species here. To read more about the stories, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
20/11/2029m 43s

#42: Vaccine for covid-19; origin of animals; overpopulation

There are exciting results in trials of two coronavirus vaccines. But just how excited should we be? We discuss the latest findings, the strength of these potential vaccines, and how likely it is they’ll be rolled out before the end of the year. Also on the show, the team discusses the controversial issue of overpopulation, debates which animal group was the first to evolve on Earth, examines the female-led mating habits of mongoose, and explores new possibilities for space gardening. On the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton and Richard Webb. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
13/11/2027m 48s

#41: The function of dreams

On this week’s election-distraction special, we hear about a new hypothesis which could explain an age-old mystery. Dreams could be a way of freeing our brains from the limits of normal life. Also on the pod, the team discusses the discovery of the source of a fast radio burst, sent out by a neutron star in our galaxy. They also explore a method to create a temporary vaccine for covid-19, until a long-term solution is found. Also on the agenda: the news that octopuses taste with their arms, and an ancient squid shaped like a giant paperclip. We also have a debrief of what it means now the US has officially withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement. All this, plus dreamy new music from Oneohtrix Point Never, and a song from space to mark the 20th anniversary of the continuous occupancy of the International Space Station. On the pod this week are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Graham Lawton and Beth Ackerley. If you have had covid-19 and would like to donate plasma, please visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk (to find UK sites); www.thefightisinus.org (US); or www.lifeblood.com.au/convalescent-plasma (Aus). To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
06/11/2025m 46s

#40: Halloween special: real-life vampires, the science of ghosts, deep-sea zombies, monster black holes

What price would you pay for eternal youth? Some real-life vampires in California took part in a trial where they infused themselves with the blood plasma of young people, in an attempt to rejuvenate their brains and extend their lives.For this Halloween special we gathered journalists from the dungeons at New Scientist towers: Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Beth Ackerley, Sam Wong, Layal Liverpool, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.The team get their teeth stuck into the vampire experiments in Silicon Valley, and explain why blood plasma is thought to have regenerative properties. They also uncover the mystery of ghosts by exploring what’s going on in the brain when we see an apparition or have a near-death experience. They dive into a truly monstrous and destructive force in the universe - black holes! And they discuss zombie microbes and vampire squid.If you want to start your own podcast, and support our show, sign up to Buzzsprout using this link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=751731
30/10/2028m 52s

#39: Social lives of viruses; CRISPR to fight antibiotic resistance; dealing with risk; George RR Martin and the moon

When we think about the way a virus operates, we tend to think of it as a lone assassin. But it turns out viruses have surprisingly rich social lives - perhaps richer than many human social lives at the moment. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan and Graham Lawton.The team sets out to change the way we see viruses, by explaining how different viruses cooperate to improve their chances of spreading - and how this understanding can help in the fight against covid-19. They also explain how CRISPR gene editing can help combat antibiotic resistance, one of humanity’s greatest threats. They explore why events like the coronavirus pandemic can have a detrimental impact on how we perceive risk, and what we can do about that. The pod also hears that the Moon once had a magnetic field, and celebrates an incredibly tough insect, the diabolical ironclad beetle.If you want to start your own podcast, and support our show, sign up to Buzzsprout using this link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=751731 
22/10/2028m 0s

#38: Tackling the climate crisis; essential, like, filler words of, um, language; mystery of the human penis; your covid questions answered

2020 was meant to be a pivotal year in the fight against climate change, but a rather pressing issue has knocked us off course. But there are still ways that the covid-19 crisis could trigger the changes we need to see.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O&aposCallaghan and Adam Vaughan, and science writer David Robson.The team discusses how the pandemic response has shown us possible routes to tackling climate change - particularly if working from home becomes a lasting result of the crisis. They, like, also, um, hear about the importance of, um, filler words and what they say about the evolution of language. They answer your covid-related questions, and explore the possibilities of asteroid mining. Oh and they find out why men don’t have penis bones, even though most other male mammals do… and how this bizarrely links to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. If you want to start your own podcast, and support our show, sign up to Buzzsprout using this link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=751731 
15/10/2033m 17s

#37: Black holes and CRISPR gene editing spring Nobel surprises; climate change and indigenous people in the Arctic; symptom clusters identified for covid-19

This year’s Nobel prize season has been the most thrilling in ages. Not only are we celebrating fascinating scientific breakthroughs, but this is also only the fourth time a woman has won a physics prize in 117 years.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange and Tim Revell.The team chats about the physics and chemistry Nobel prizes, awarded for work on black holes and CRISPR gene editing. CRISPR is on the agenda twice as the team discusses the creation of a new type of gene-edited cow. They also share the cultural pleasures they’ve been enjoying, and hear the latest news about how people fall into different ‘symptom clusters’ of covid-19.There’s also a special report from the British Museum’s Arctic: culture and climate exhibition, exploring the history and resilience of indigenous Arctic people. It opens on the 22nd October, and you can find out more here.If you want to start your own podcast, and support our show, sign up to Buzzsprout using this link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=751731 
08/10/2031m 20s

#36: Hunt for life on Venus and Mars; how the paleo diet affects your age; strategy for the second wave of coronavirus; species extinction crisis

Hopes of discovering life on Venus have been dampened somewhat as the sheer scale of the task becomes clear. But don’t get in a slump just yet, because Mars has come out fighting...In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Leah Crane and Graham Lawton.The team explains how scientists have confirmed the existence of a huge underground lake of liquid water on Mars. Surrounded by smaller ponds, this news has reinvigorated those eager to find signs of alien life on the Red Planet. Also, the team assesses the impact of different diets on your biological age, with the news that going paleo - eating like a caveman or cavewoman - may make you older than your years. And, as we all become increasingly aware of the extinction crisis, the team reveals the identity of the world’s most endangered group of animals. They also discuss herd immunity and the latest coronavirus news, and share news of an exoplanet discovered in a galaxy far, far away.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
01/10/2032m 56s

#35: The first woman on the moon; evolution special; purpose of sleep and dreams; deep water mystery

We’ve all wondered why we dream, or even why we sleep. We know it’s good for you, but we don’t really know what’s going on in the brain while you’re tucked up under the covers.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Leah Crane and Jess Hamzelou.The team discusses a study that shows sleep functions differently depending on our age, particularly when babies develop into toddlers, and the purpose of sleep shifts from growing and developing their brains, to repairing them. Also on the show - favourite facts about evolution, like how coffee is able to cause epigenetic changes to your DNA. The team also discusses NASA’s plan to land a man and woman on the moon in 2024. Plus: the team explains how water can exist in two liquid forms simultaneously, and celebrates climate hope with China’s recent pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
24/09/2032m 52s

#34: Race to find life on Venus; coronavirus claims lives of 1 million people; extinction crisis; how the brain slows time

Move over Mars - Venus might actually be the best place to find alien life in our solar system. Phosphine, a molecule that on Earth is only created by bacteria or by industrial processes has been found in the planet’s clouds. Could it really be a new lifeform?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Leah Crane and Adam Vaughan.The team discusses the thrilling discovery of phosphine on Venus and how the spacecraft BepiColombo will soon try to confirm this news. If it’s true, it may be an unexpected sign that life exists on the seemingly inhospitable planet. They also mark a grim milestone for the coronavirus pandemic, as global deaths reach 1 million. Sir David Attenborough makes an appearance as the team analyses the dire reality of Earth’s biodiversity crisis, and another British icon - Doctor Who - also appears as the team hears how our perception of time can be altered. Finally, we discover why a goat has had its testicles cloned.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
17/09/2033m 20s

#33: The healthy-eating revolution; China’s cosmic ambitions; Russia’s pursuit of gene-editing technology; the world’s greatest mammal

If you’ve longed for the day when scientists announce pizza is actually good for you, you *may* be in luck. It turns out there’s no such thing as a universally wholesome diet  - what’s healthy for one person might be harmful for the next.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton.The team discusses the advent of a healthy eating revolution. “Precision nutrition” aims to measure the metabolic response of individuals to certain types of food, to figure out what foods are good and bad for people on a personal level. Maybe, for you, chocolate cake really is the best breakfast?Elsewhere on the show we hear the squeaky sounds of the naked mole rat, as we learn that not only are these legendary mammals practically blind, but they’re also almost completely deaf. The team hears about Vladimir Putin’s thoughts on the potential for gene editing in humans, discusses China’s recent launch of a reusable space plane, and checks in on the “Great Green Wall” project to plant a belt of trees across the whole width of Africa.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
10/09/2030m 43s

#32: Billionaire plan to geoengineer the planet; how the moon affects your health; Neuralink’s telepathic pigs

If we’re not going to make the effort to cut carbon emissions, why don’t we manipulate Earth’s climate, forcing it to cool down? Obviously that’s not ideal - but geoengineering, one the most controversial proposals to combat climate change, is back in the spotlight this week.In the pod are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Cat de Lange. They’re joined by best-selling author and former New Scientist editor Jo Marchant. Silicon Valley billionaires have been linked with a new method for geoengineering the planet, which would aim to reverse ocean acidity and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But do we really want unilateral decisions being made on issues that affect the entire planet?The team also discusses the power of the moon - you might think its impact on our health is purely the stuff of folklore, but it turns out it may genuinely affect our physiology. Also on the agenda is Elon Musk’s demonstration of Neuralink, a brain-computer interface recently tested in pigs. The team also explains how to travel through a wormhole without dying, and offers the latest updates on coronavirus, as children around the world go back to school.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
03/09/2034m 3s

#31: Widening the search for alien life on habitable planets; why unconscious bias training might not work; the microbiome of cancer tumours

The universe is so large, so expansive, it’s hard to believe that life doesn’t exist elsewhere. Over the years we’ve found a handful of planets that look like they could host life, but now the net’s being cast wider than ever before.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Valerie Jamieson, Clare Wilson and Tim Revell. They explain how our definition of a ‘habitable planet’ might be too narrow - that a planet might not need to sit in the Goldilocks zone to sustain life - opening up the possibility for life on many weird and wonderful worlds we’ve never even considered before.The team also discusses the impact of unconscious bias training - why it might not work and how it could in fact make biases worse. They explain how cancer tumours have their own microbiome, and what that means for diagnoses. They also touch on an amazing new finding about Clarias batrachus, a catfish that walks on land, and ponder over whether our sun once had a twin.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
27/08/2024m 13s

#30: Redefining time; why mindfulness can cause problems; secrets of super-resilient tardigrades

Our measurement of time isn’t up to scratch. We can’t define a second or an hour or even a day by referring to the length of time it takes the Earth to spin on its axis, because that duration isn’t constant. But even caesium atomic clocks, with an accuracy of 1 second in 100 million years, are no longer accurate enough. Time needs a new definition.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Clare Wilson. They discuss a new, more precise way of defining a second, a method that will now be considered by the Time Lords in charge of these things, and ask what benefits we could get with a new kind of atomic clock.The team also explores the findings that mindfulness, used the world over to improve mental health, could sometimes have the opposite effect, leaving some people more anxious and depressed. They celebrate the toughest creatures in the world, the eight-legged tardigrades, and consider how we might use their powers to our own ends, and also discuss the worrying news that Greenland has passed a tipping point and is set to lose all of its ice. In the Total Perspective Vortex, the team marvel at the speed of the fastest star ever seen.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
20/08/2030m 9s

#29: Loneliness during lockdown; medical artificial intelligence beats doctors; who gets the coronavirus vaccine first

By now we’re all feeling the effects of video call fatigue. Even though we’ve found new ways to connect with each other virtually during lockdown, remote conversation can’t replace the benefits of real, face-to-face social interactions.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton. They discuss the serious negative effects of social isolation on health and general well-being. People need shared experiences and physical connections to stay healthy, and it turns out that men may feel the loss more than women.The team also discusses how a new type of artificial intelligence is outperforming doctors when diagnosing diseases, and what that means for the future of medicine. They dig into all the news about a potential vaccine for coronavirus, and ask the question: if we can’t make enough stock for everybody all at once, who gets to have the vaccine first? Also on the agenda is a discovery about the solar system’s largest asteroid that is exciting prospective asteroid miners, and our very existence is thrown into perspective with the startling news that the Higgs boson could spell doom for the universe. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
13/08/2031m 18s

#28: Origin of life on Earth; second wave of coronavirus; science of miscarriage

How did life spring up on planet Earth? What happened to turn sterile, lifeless rock into cells that could harness energy, grow and reproduce?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson, Adam Vaughan and Alice Klein. They discuss the origin of life itself, and how we need a rethink of the processes that form life. Scientists are attempting to make a proto-living cell self-assemble and operate without the biochemical machinery it would usually need. The team also discusses the threat of a second wave of coronavirus, how we’ve reached the upper limit in terms of reopening society, and explain why transmission rates in schools should be manageable. Also, Val and Alice share honest and moving accounts of their experiences with miscarriage, as they explain the science behind why it happens, providing a new level of understanding and comfort to the 60% of women who go though pregnancy loss. In the mix too is an analysis of the shocking extent of the ongoing Arctic heatwave, and news with implications for the possibility of past life on Mars.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
06/08/2034m 26s

#27: Putting plastic back on the agenda; revisiting the iconic black hole image, how dinosaurs dominated the planet

With the threat of coronavirus taking centre stage in all our minds, has the issue of plastic waste taken a backseat - has the public lost interest?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Valerie Jamieson, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. They discuss a new study exploring ways to fix our ever-increasing problem of plastic pollution, which is being especially compounded by many of the world’s new hygiene measures and the dumping of thousands of tonnes of PPE. As different parts of the world look to tackle the issue differently, like the UK’s introduction of a plastic tax for instance, can we push back the worst of our plastic problems?The team also reexamines 2019’s groundbreaking image of a black hole, as a new study reveals what the fuzzy orange glow around the hole could tell us. They also find out how dinosaurs became one of the most successful groups of animals ever to exist, work out whether fungi found at Chernobyl could protect humans from the radiation on Mars, and take a closer look than ever before at the planet nearest to our sun, Mercury!To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
30/07/2029m 51s

#26: The hidden dark matter of our food; NASA’s new search for life on Mars; smallpox in the American civil war

What’s in our food? By now you’d think we’d have a pretty firm handle on that question, but it turns out we don’t know the half of it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton. They discuss what’s been called nutritional dark matter: the massive void in our understanding of the biochemicals that make up the food we eat. Our standard guidelines neglect to take into account thousands of molecules and compounds, which might explain why nutritional recommendations tend to flip-flop: chocolate and red wine is good for us one week, and vilified the next.The team also visits Mars as NASA prepares to send a rover called Perseverance on a new life-finding mission, and they explore how a form of vaccination was being used as far back as the 18th century, later adopted by soldiers in the US civil war, in the fight against smallpox. They also celebrate DNA, as a quadruple-stranded form of the molecule has been discovered for the first time in healthy human cells, and herald a polystyrene-eating beetle which may help solve our plastic waste crisis.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
23/07/2028m 24s

#25: Coronavirus effects on children, and on other diseases; changing the way you sit could add years to your life; supercrops for a climate-changed world

Contracting covid-19 isn’t the only thing that’s making coronavirus deadly - the outbreak could lead to a jump in the number of deaths from diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. With healthcare systems at capacity, issues with drug supply chains, and with people unwilling to visit hospitals, the knock-on effects could be devastating.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, and Adam Vaughan. Bringing you the latest news about the pandemic, the team also hear about the mental health implications of lockdown on our children, and the possibility of increased hospital deaths if the UK suffers a bad winter.The team also attempts to vindicate sitting down - it might not be as bad for us as we think, but as always there’s a caveat! They discuss whether it’s possible to radically engineer crops in the face of climate change and population growth, chat about the introduction of bison to the UK, and explain how advanced alien civilisations could avoid cosmic catastrophes by moving their entire solar systems!To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
16/07/2031m 52s

#24: Half a year in a world of covid-19; meat production breaking Earth’s nitrogen limits; what does gravity weigh?

It’s been half a year since coronavirus and covid-19 emerged and the world dramatically changed. Our understanding of the virus and the disease has also hugely changed in those six months, and it’s time to take stock on our understanding of how it spreads, its symptoms and how to tackle it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Cat de Lange. They explore the various methods being used in the fight against coronavirus, why some countries have seen second waves while others haven’t, and explain why horror movie fans seem to be more mentally resilient during the pandemic.The team also discusses yet another piece of evidence showing the world’s need to cut down on meat and dairy production, this time because of the industry’s massive contribution to global nitrogen emissions. They talk about the possibility of gravitational rainbows with the news that gravity itself may have a weight, celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs boson, and share exciting news about two debut missions to Mars, one from United Arab Emirates, another from China.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. 
09/07/2031m 35s

#23: Coronavirus immunity and vaccine implications; evolutionary reasons for the types of world leader; treating people with CRISPR gene editing

Coronaviruses don’t usually produce a strong “immune memory”, and that has been worrying scientists, because it spells trouble for long-term immunity and the development of a vaccine. But, thankfully, the coronavirus that causes covid-19 doesn’t seem to be typical.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. They explore new research that suggests people are developing immunity to the disease.The team also discusses how CRISPR gene editing has been used to treat two inherited genetic diseases in humans for the first time, they reveal the startling news that some snakes can fly (sort of), and from Donald Trump to Jacinda Ardern, they hear about possible evolutionary reasons behind the two types of leader in today’s world. All that, and positive news about some nearby exoplanets. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
02/07/2033m 15s

#22: Consciousness from the body as well as the brain; record temperatures in the Arctic; long-term symptoms of covid-19

If your brain was put in a vat and supplied with food and oxygen, would it be able to think? Would it be you? For much of the 20th century, people assumed the answer to this thought experiment was yes. But there is growing evidence suggesting the brain needs the body to work properly, and even to create consciousness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Catherine de Lange. They discuss whether artificial consciousness in a robot or computer is even possible if consciousness requires a body, and what this “embodied cognition” means for people with autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. In other stories, they hear about a whale without a tail, news of the world’s fastest supercomputer, and explore what the long term impact of covid-19 on people who caught coronavirus might be. The team also discuss the worrying news that the highest ever temperature (38°C) has been recorded in the Arctic. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
26/06/2024m 55s

#21: How to prevent future pandemics, black lives matter and racism in science, suspended animation

There are now more than 8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and at least 450,000 deaths. Given the lack of preparation for this pandemic, it’s clear that we need to start preparing for the next one. One glimmer of light is that an existing drug has been found that reduces the mortality of covid-19.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Layal Liverpool. They discuss the politics of the response to the pandemic and the problems we need to solve before the next one.They also report on what black academics have to say about tackling systemic racism in science, and ask what action universities and institutions can take to be better in the future. The team explore a ‘switch’ in the brain that could trigger a human hibernation-like state, share what culture they’ve been digesting during lockdown, and hear about an intergalactic web stretching vast distances through space. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
19/06/2027m 48s

#20: Human cryptic mate choice, cracking nuclear fusion, countering coronavirus misinformation

Scientists have discovered a fascinating new way that women might choose between men to father their babies - and the choice may happen after having sex. It turns out that a woman’s egg can itself choose between the sperm of different men - and the egg may not always agree with the woman’s choice of partner.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Valerie Jamieson. They discuss how a form of mate choice seen in many kinds of insects and other animals has now been shown in humans.They also bring you up to speed on the breakthroughs that are bringing the long-awaited dream of nuclear fusion closer to reality, they explore a macroscopic-sized quantum entity that has been created on board the International Space Station, hear about the biggest land animal ever to exist, and they discuss the disturbing rise of online misinformation and vitriol around covid-19. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
12/06/2028m 56s

#19: How the UK got it wrong on coronavirus, mystery around chronic Lyme, Greta Thunberg’s musical debut

The UK now has the highest number of covid-19 deaths in Europe, and worldwide, the total number of confirmed covid-19 deaths is second only to the US. So how did the UK get it so wrong? We discuss why slowness to get testing seems to have been a real problem, and if it is even possible to vaccinate against covid-19. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Adam Vaughan. They delve into the ethics of vaccine development, and why hopes of seeing one in September are now vanishingly unlikely. They also discuss new research which suggests Parkinson’s disease may spread from the gut to the brain, they hear about why Mars’s moon Phobos may someday turn back into a ring around the planet, and they celebrate that astrophysicist Brian May - better known as the guitarist from Queen - has published a paper on asteroids. Not only that, but Greta Thunberg turns up on the new 1975 album. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
05/06/2028m 46s

#18: Bending the curve on climate change, the era of commercial space travel, staying safe from coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic is a human disaster that is dominating the news right now, but climate change is going to be worse and longer-lasting. The two crises may seem to be completely separate, but there are parallels that can be drawn between the two in our reaction and response to them, our ability to change behaviour and the possibility of bending the curve of their impact.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss the views of the chief of the World Meteorological Organisation, Peterri Taalas, that our environmentally unfriendly ways might change as a result of the pandemic - and if the last few months might reset our climate damaging norms or will we slip back into old habits. The team also hear how bumblebees can force plants to flower early if they are struggling to find food, they discuss how to stay safe from the coronavirus as lockdown eases, and they explore the new space race between private companies rather than global superpowers. They debate whether NASA outsourcing space travel is wise, given they are potentially putting their faith in the hands of companies with controversial CEOs such as Elon Musk SpaceX - even if they are getting a good deal on price. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for us for the Listeners’ Choice Award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
29/05/2025m 57s

#17: The truth about our appetites, the impact of coronavirus on conservation, mud volcanoes on Mars

Rather than simply eating until we are full, humans selectively try to eat the right amounts of three macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat – plus two micronutrients, sodium and calcium. It turns out we have five separate appetites that drive us to eat the right amount of each.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss an evolutionary explanation for the obesity epidemic: the fact humans will gorge on carbohydrates to try and get enough protein if they find themselves deprived of this nutrient.The team also discuss an implant that lets blind people ‘see’ letters traced on their brain’s surface, they analyse how the coronavirus is impacting conservation efforts around the world, and they delve into mud on Mars. If what we thought was lava pouring out of Martian volcanoes is actually mud, it has implications for life on the planet - which leads to a message from Elon Musk. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
22/05/2030m 19s

#16: Hints of a new force of nature; making mice with human cells; seaweed in the fight against climate change

There are four fundamental forces that describe how everything works, from black holes to radioactive decay to sounds coming out of your headphones. But this week we discuss hints that there is a fifth fundamental force of nature.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Valerie Jamieson. They ask whether physics is in crisis, given that it struggles to explain 95% of the universe, or if physicists are happy, because there is so much still to discover. The team also discuss the creation of mouse-human chimeras, they reveal how kelp could help remove billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, and analyse whether dystopian science fiction has primed us to think that social distancing surveillance measures - such as the robot dog seen patrolling in Singapore - are too creepy. And there’s a swift discussion about the bird that sleeps on the wing and that has just returned to Europe from Africa. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Join our online event: ‘Can we trust the science?’ on Monday 18 May at 6pm BST here: https://www.newscientist.com/science-events/new-online-series-continues-coronavirus-can-trust-science/
15/05/2026m 2s

#15: Mystery of radio signals from deep space; the future of music; epidemic of bad coronavirus science

MIDI, the digital encoding technology that revolutionised music production in the 1980s, is getting an upgrade. We explore how MIDI 2.0 will change not only how music is made, but how sounds are produced in movies. We discuss the history and future of sound, using Nancy Sinatra, Radiohead and pioneering electronic musician Aphex Twin as examples. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Valerie Jamieson and Bethan Ackerley. They discuss the infodemic of bad science surrounding coronavirus, and the danger posed by stories shared by ‘armchair epidemiologists’. They share their top tips for disseminating what coronavirus information can be trusted.The team also hear about a possible solution to the mystery of massively powerful radio waves that have been detected from across the universe; they reveal the truth about murder hornets which have been found in the US for the first time; and in climate change news, they delve into the latest stats on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
08/05/2028m 51s

#14: Dreams, sleep and coronavirus, a new explanation of consciousness, brain-stimulation anorexia treatment

Is the coronavirus crisis giving you bad dreams? Anxiety and stress about covid-19 has changed our sleeping patterns and the tone of our dreams. But rest assured, bad dreams and nightmares are just a sign of the brain doing its job. In this episode, special guest Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California and best-selling author of ‘Why We Sleep’, shares top tips for sleeping well, and gives advice for people experiencing bad dreams. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and New Scientist consultant Michael Brooks. They take a mind-bending look at what happened when mathematicians decided to try and explain consciousness, and the controversy over what consciousness actually is.They also discuss a robot that has been constructed using the spine of a rat and 3D-printed muscle, explore how brain stimulation could be used to treat severe anorexia, and they lift a glass to research that suggests drunken elephants do in fact go on a rampage!
01/05/2031m 31s

#13: Evidence for a parallel universe, protecting mental health in lockdown, why covid-19 hits men harder

We might have the first evidence for the mind-blowing idea that there is a parallel universe to our own, an antimatter universe which is mirror-flipped and travelling backwards in time.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Cat de Lange and Gilead Amit. They discuss the tantalising clues suggesting there might be a weird parallel universe created with ours, and speculate as to what this might mean.They also explore how you can protect your mental health during the coronavirus crisis; why it is vitally important to stay connected during lockdown, and how simple things, such as regular rhythms of getting up and going to bed around the same time, can be the key to good self-care. The team also talk about a delicious lockdown treat you can cook at home called dulce de leche; explore an extraordinary lesser-known novel by Mary Shelley about a pandemic; and hear about why men are more likely to develop severe covid-19 and to die from the disease. 
24/04/2029m 15s

#12: Strength training for better health, bats mimic sound, biggest ever supernova

While much of the world is still on lockdown and with global cases of coronavirus now over two million, one positive thing that’s come out of this crisis is that we’re paying more attention to our physical fitness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Cat de Lange. They discuss the latest UK and US government advice on fitness that emphasises how muscle strengthening is just as important as aerobic activity, and how you can do this kind of exercise even in a confined space. The team also hear what could be the first climate change song (from 1927!), explore how bats are capable of mimicking sound, discuss an on-going cosmic explosion which is the biggest ever seen, and investigate newly-invented vibrating clothing which claims to instil calmness and confidence. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. 
17/04/2021m 50s

#11: Covid World, coronavirus in New York, invasion of parakeets, bacteria and their amazing powers

The United States now accounts for one-fifth of all new coronavirus cases globally, with New York at the epicentre with over 150,000 cases. In this episode, special guest Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shares his thoughts from New York on how to reduce the risk to healthcare workers, why until we find a vaccine we are living in a ‘Covid World’, and on how the world can come out of this crisis a safer place. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Sam Wong. They discuss the science of baking bread and why you don’t need to buy yeast; how a parakeet has become the world’s most invasive species; the lifespan of the world’s biggest fish, and the surprising things bacteria might be responsible for - including maybe even the weather! To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
10/04/2031m 22s

#10: Coronavirus questions answered, revolution in human evolution, mind-reading computers

There’s still so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, from the symptoms and spreadability to matters like how long you should self-isolate. In this episode, we attempt to answer some of the most pressing questions about COVID-19. In the pod for this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. Also, the poet laureate Simon Armitage reads a poem written in response to the coronavirus crisis, called Lockdown. We discuss when you are likely to be at the peak of infection, whether it is possible to be infected twice, and why the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be affected much by heat and humidity. We also offer our tips for maintaining a healthy mental state during lockdown.And in non-pandemic news: the team reports how hot springs might have been discovered on Mars, highlight an artificial intelligence that has the ability to read your mind, and explore the origins of humanity now that new research suggests humans might not have a single point of origin but rather many, scattered all over Africa. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
03/04/2025m 15s

#9: Coronavirus lockdown – how to flatten the curve, reset the immune system, and the world’s most hardcore mammal

The UK government says they are going to distribute millions of covid-19 coronavirus testing kits in the next few days, but how effective will these be and is it too late now to flatten the curve of increasing infections? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by epidemiologist Christl Donnelly from Imperial College London. Christl is associate director of the MRC centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which advises the government. We hear how it&aposs never too late to flatten the curve, and how smartphones are can be useful for contact tracing. There’s also some non-coronavirus-related news too: the team highlight a tasty new discovery that will make the texture of lab-grown meat more realistic, explore how to fight infection and ageing by turning back your immune system&aposs clock, and discuss a mouse that might be ‘the most hardcore mammal on the planet.’ To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
27/03/2033m 31s

#8: Coronavirus special – disaster preparation, environmental change and disease emergence; plus science round-up

The actions taken now by countries and governments globally is crucial in limiting the impact of the covid-19 coronavirus - but has the response been strong enough? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by two experts from University College London: professor of risk and disaster reduction David Alexander, and professor of ecology and biodiversity Kate Jones. The panel explores just how prepared we are for this global emergency, and also looks at how diseases that originate in wildlife may be increasing as a result of environmental challenges. And if you want to hear what else is going on in the world, there’s more than just coronavirus on the lineup. The team highlights ‘bonehenge’, a 22,000-year-old structure made of mammoth bones, discusses the incredible finding of a planet where it rains liquid iron, and uncovers the evolutionary origin of the human ability to run. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
20/03/2034m 58s

#7: Coronavirus vaccine, neutrinos in the early universe, and organ transplants

Everyone wants a coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible - but what is involved, and how long will it take? On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Clare Wilson. The team is joined by Katrina Pollock, a vaccine scientist from Imperial College London, who explains the work that needs to be done before we have a safe and effective vaccine for covid-19. Also on the show is the surprising finding that subatomic and ghostly neutrinos may have influenced the structure of the early universe. We also hear how to treat human organs outside of the body, in an effort to make the organs healthier when transplanted into patients in need. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
13/03/2025m 44s

#6: Coronavirus special - the spread of covid-19, fatality rates, and the importance of hand washing

Governments globally are taking serious measures to halt the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus, from shutting schools to cancelling major events. On the panel for this special episode dedicated to the disease are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Donna Lu. The team is joined by Adam Kucharski, associate professor in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Adam answers questions on the biology of the disease, what the true fatality rates are, and when the outbreak might finally fizzle out. Also on the agenda is the impact the outbreak is having on the economy, and the importance of washing your hands. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
06/03/2033m 12s

#5: Pandemic preparations, mind-reading – and a trillion trees

As the covid-19 coronavirus spreads around the globe, we’ve been warned to prepare for a pandemic. On the panel this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Jacob Aron and Clare Wilson. The team answers questions from you about the coronavirus outbreak, shares news of a technique being used to read the minds of people with brain injuries who aren’t otherwise able to communicate, and discusses the pros and cons of an initiative to plant a trillion trees to combat climate change. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
28/02/2027m 0s

#4: Lab-grown meat, Neanderthal burials, and space tourism

Would you eat lab-grown meat? The guilt-free, environmentally friendly animal alternative will be hitting our shelves this year. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Graham Lawton. The team explains how a company in Singapore called Shiok Meats is due to launch a range of lab-cultured shrimp meat, explores the possibility that Neanderthals may have buried their dead*, and discusses how SpaceX is launching the new age of space tourism. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts*Correction: In the episode we state the Neanderthal remains were buried 50,000 years ago, but it&aposs more likely to have been between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago.
21/02/2028m 32s

#3: Coronavirus latest, a woman with half a brain, and love drugs

Just when we thought we were seeing a decline in the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases, there has been a sharp uptick in reported deaths. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu, Jess Hamzelou and Lilian Anekwe. The team brings you the latest news on the spread of the disease, now known as covid-19, explore the story of a woman with above average language skills despite being born with only half of her brain, and – just in time for Valentine’s day – discuss whether it’s possible to cure a broken heart with drugs. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts
14/02/2026m 58s

#2: Weird quantum experiment, origin of the alphabet, and coronavirus developments

Being in two different places at once — it&aposs one of the deeply weird things that happens in the quantum realm. On the panel for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Jacob Aron. The team begins by discussing a super-cool experiment that hopes to demonstrate quantum physics by placing a solid object in two places at once. They also explore revelations about the ancient origins of the alphabet, and examine a report from Wuhan City on the coronavirus outbreak and the realities of what life in China is like right now. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts
07/02/2022m 30s

#1: Wuhan coronavirus, nuclear fusion, and the Solar Orbiter spacecraft

It’s a rapidly spreading outbreak with the potential to become a full blown pandemic – but just how concerned should we be about the global impact of Wuhan coronavirus? On the panel for the inaugural episode of the podcast are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Adam Vaughan and Jacob Aron. As well as answering your questions on the continuing spread of the coronavirus, the team explore the news that scientists are nearly ready to recreate nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun. They also explain why the Solar Orbiter spacecraft is visiting its poles, and what data it hopes to collect. To find out more about the stories mentioned in this episode, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts
31/01/2025m 37s
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