Spineless sea squirts shed light on vertebrate evolution, and an iodine-fuelled engine powering a satellite in space.
In this episode:
00:45 A story of sea squirts, ancient vertebrates and missing genes
When a PhD student set out to study the developmental pathways of a strange sea creature, he hoped to shed light on the origins of vertebrate animals. Instead, researchers found themselves investigating a strange case of missing genes. We hear why gene loss could be a more significant factor in evolutionary processes than was previously thought.
Research article: Ferrández-Roldán et al.
08:17 Research Highlights
The unusual crystal that gives a beetle its glittering green sheen, and the genetics of a fish’s 200 year lifespan.
Research Highlight: Weird crystal makes beetle a living jewel
Research Highlight: Some of Earth’s longest-lived fish show how to reach extreme ages
10:43 An iodine-fuelled engine for satellites
In space, many satellites use xenon-fuelled ‘electric propulsion systems’ to maneuver. However, xenon is rare and requires high-pressure storage systems, so researchers have been working to develop alternative fuels. This week, a team publish details of the first in-space test of an iodine-powered electric propulsion system, which they say has many advantages over xenon systems.
Research article: Rafalskyi et al
16:37 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, issues aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, and what the discovery of a theorised mineral reveals about processes deep within the Earth.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
More episodes from "Nature Podcast"
Podcast Extra: Recreating the lost sounds of spring
13:01As our environments change, so too do the sounds they make — and this change in soundscape can affect us in a whole host of ways, from our wellbeing to the way we think about conservation. In this Podcast Extra we hear from one researcher, Simon Butler, who is combining citizen science data with technology to recreate soundscapes lost to the past. Butler hopes to better understand how soundscapes change in response to changes in the environment, and use this to look forward to the soundscapes of the future.Nature Communications: Bird population declines and species turnover are changing the acoustic properties of spring soundscapesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Webb Space Telescope makes history after tense launch
20:09In this episode of the Nature Podcast, we catch up on the biggest science stories from the holiday period by diving into the Nature Briefing.We’ll hear about: the latest manoeuveres from the James Webb Space Telescope; a new fossil dubbed “one of the greatest finds in British palaeontological history”; the verdicts in the trials of Charles Lieber and Elizabeth Holmes; and a goldfish that can drive a tank.News: Landmark Webb observatory is now officially a telescopeNature Video: Hubble moments: Mike MassiminoThe Guardian: Huge ‘sea dragon’ named one of UK’s greatest fossil findsNews: Elizabeth Holmes verdict: researchers share lessons for scienceScience: Harvard chemist convicted by U.S. jury of lying about financial links to ChinaNature Video: China and the UK: Making an international collaboration workNature special issue: Team scienceVideo of a goldfish driving (via Twitter)Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Science in 2022: what to expect this year
11:02In this episode, Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi joins us to talk about the big science events to look out for in 2022. We'll hear about vaccines, multiple Moon missions, the push to save biodiversity, and more.News: The science events to watch for in 2022 See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Audio long-read: The secret lives of cells — as never seen before
16:03Cutting-edge microscopy techniques are letting researchers visualize biological molecules within cells, rather than studying them in isolation. This approach is providing new insights into how these molecules interact in this complex environment.This is an audio version of our feature: The secret lives of cells — as never seen before See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Our podcast highlights of 2021
36:07The Nature Podcast team select some of their favourite stories from the past 12 months.In this episode:00:51 A brain interface to type out thoughtsIn May, we heard about a brain-computer interface that is able to read brain signals from people thinking about handwriting, and translate them into on-screen text. The team behind it hope this technology could be used to help people with paralysis to communicate quicker than before.Nature Podcast: 12 May 2021Research Article: Willett et al.08:28 The AI that argues backIn March, a paper was published detailing an AI that is capable of debating with humans. We found out how it worked, and why designing a debating system is difficult.Nature Podcast: 17 March 2021Research article: Slonim et al.News and Views: Argument technology for debating with humans19:41 Research HighlightsThe sea slugs that can regrow a whole body from their severed head, and research showing that people often don’t know when a conversation should end.Research Highlight: Now that’s using your head: a sea slug’s severed noggin sprouts a new bodyResearch Highlight: How long should a conversation last? The people involved haven’t a clue22:31 The inequality at the heart of the pandemicIn April's Coronapod special, Nature senior reporter Amy Maxmen took us with her through eight months of reporting in the San Joaquin Valley, a part of rural California where COVID's unequal toll has proven deadly.Coronapod: 30 April 2021Feature: Inequality’s deadly toll30:07 Eavesdropping on a glacier's seismic whisperIn July, we heard about one researcher’s unorthodox attempt to listen in to the seismic-whisper at the foot of a Greenland glacier – a method that might reveal more about conditions under these enormous blocks of ice.Nature Podcast: See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
The Nature Podcast annual holiday spectacular
33:54Games, seasonal science songs, and Nature’s 10.01:12 "Oh powered flight"In the first of our festive songs, We pay tribute to NASA's Ingenuity craft - which took the first powered flight on another planet earlier this year. Lyrics by Noah Baker and performed by The Simon Langton School choir, directed by Emily Renshaw-Kidd.Scroll to the bottom of the page for the lyrics.Video: Flying a helicopter on Mars: NASA's IngenuityNews: Lift off! First flight on Mars launches new way to explore worlds07:40 Communicating complex science with common wordsIn this year’s festive challenge, our competitors try to describe some of the biggest science stories of the year, using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. Find out how they get on…Test your skills communicating complex science with simple words with the Up-Goer Five Text Editor18:04 Alphafold oh AlphafoldOur second song brings some Hanukkah magic to Deep Mind's protein solving algorithm Alphafold. Lyrics by Kerri Smith and Noah Baker, arranged and performed by Phil Self.Scroll to the bottom of the page for the lyrics.News: ‘It will change everything’: DeepMind’s AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures21:01 Nature’s 10Every year, Nature’s 10 highlights some of the people who played key roles in science. We hear about a few of the people who made the 2021 list.News Feature: Nature's 10 — Ten people who helped shape science in 2021Oh Powered flightO fateful night!The stars are brightly shiningit is the night to look far beyond the Earth!Long was the way to get to the red planet,‘til he appear'd and the world felt his worth.The thrills and hope as he warmed up his motors.Delays cause stress until the glorious morn!Rise! To the skies.Above the Martian surface.Oh powered flight.Hearts are full, as history’s made.Oh joy, it flies!Mars-copter, for the first time.Led by a team, adept in aeronautics,they rethought all of their theories of flight.So led by da-ta, they crafted all the rotors,to create lift though the atmosphere was light.Viscosity is what would make is happen,but Reynold’s number drove the craft’s design.Rise! To the skies.Above the Martian surface.Oh powered flight.Hearts are full, as history’s made.Oh joy, it flies!Mars-copter, for the first time.Truly it showed, our exploration’s boundless,with caves and canyon’s now all within our grasp.Ingenuity will pave the way for others,to pair with rovers, or solo payload tasks.Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,Let all within us praise this great success.Rise! To the skies.Above the Martian surface.Oh powered flight.Hearts are full, as history’s made.Oh joy, it flies!Mars-copter, for the first time.Alphafold oh AlphafoldOh, Alphafold oh... See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Coronapod: Omicron - your questions answered
31:33Several weeks after the Omicron variant was first identified, it has quickly spread across the world. Early data are showing clear signals that the latest variant of concern is able to evade immunity and spread at a rate faster than any other variant to date. But many questions remain unanswered about the severity of infection, the protection afforded by natural and vaccine-derived immunity, and the impact Omicron could have on the global pandemic response. In this episode, we delve into the very latest studies to take stock of where we are so far and, in a Coronapod first, take on questions sent in by Coronapod listeners.News: How bad is Omicron? What scientists know so farNews: Omicron likely to weaken COVID vaccine protectionNews: Omicron-variant border bans ignore the evidence, say scientistsNews Feature: Beyond Omicron: what’s next for COVID’s viral evolutionSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Pluto's strange ice patterns explained by new theory
25:27An explanation for giant ice structures on Pluto, and dismantling the mestizo myth in Latin American genetics.In this episode:00:46 The frozen root of Pluto’s polygonal patternsIn 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe sent back some intriguing images of Pluto. Huge polygonal patterns could be seen on the surface of a nitrogen-ice ice filled basin known as Sputnik Planitia. This week, a team put forward a new theory to explain these perplexing patterns.Research article: Morison et al.06:15 Research HighlightsHow Pamplona’s bull-running defies the dynamics of crowd motion, and self-healing microbial bio-bricks.Research Highlight: Running of the bulls tramples the laws of crowd dynamicsResearch Highlight: It’s alive! Bio-bricks can signal to others of their kind09:06 How the mixed-race ‘mestizo’ myth has fostered discriminationThe term 'mestizo' emerged during the colonial period in Latin America to describe a blend of ethnicities – especially between Indigenous peoples and the Spanish colonizers. But this label is a social construct not a well-defined scientific category. Now researchers are challenging the mestizo myth, which they say is harmful and has a troubling influence on science.Feature: How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America17:22 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how interrupted sleep could be a route to creativity, and the development of vaccines to target respiratory syncytial virus.New Scientist: Interrupting sleep after a few minutes can boost creativityNature News: The race to make vaccines for a dangerous respiratory virusSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Coronapod: vaccines and long COVID, how protected are you?
17:54Vaccines significantly reduce the risk of developing COVID-19, but scientists are now asking what effect the vaccines might have on long COVID. Long COVID is a somewhat ill-defined, but common, syndrome that can arise from even mild cases of COVID19 - with symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue to breathing difficulties and even neurological deficiency. But little is known about what triggers long COVID, or how to prevent it. As public health experts consider protection measures, the role of vaccines in protecting against long COVID is poorly understood, and although numerous studies are seeking answers, they are turning up conflicting results.In this episode of Coronapod we pick through a selection of these studies, discuss the prevailing hypotheses on the causes of long COVID and ask how all of this might impact the pandemic.News Feature: Do vaccines protect against long COVID? What the data sayOmicronWe will be discussing Omicron in an upcoming Coronapod on 17 December. If you would like to ask any questions of our reporters about Omicron, please get in touch on Twitter: @naturepodcast or email: [email protected]: How bad is Omicron? What scientists know so farNews: Omicron likely to weaken COVID vaccine protectionNews: Omicron-variant border bans ignore the evidence, say scientistsNews Feature: Beyond Omicron: what’s next for COVID’s viral evolution See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
How 'megastudies' are changing behavioural science
28:24Speeding up comparisons of behavioural interventions, and what to expect from the James Webb Space Telescope.In this episode:00:45 Identifying effective interventions with a 'megastudy'Comparing single behavioural interventions and identifying which is most effective can be difficult and time consuming, hampering policy-making decisions. This week, a team demonstrate a ‘megastudy’, which allows researchers to compare multiple interventions within the same group of people.Research article: Milkman et al.News and Views: Benefits of megastudies for testing behavioural interventions10:36 Research HighlightsThe feeding habits of a giant, extinct eagle, and the relatively undisturbed life of a group of exoplanets.Research Highlight: This enormous eagle could have killed you, probablyResearch Highlight: Famous space family has a surprisingly peaceful history13:07 What to expect from the Webb TelescopeDecades in the making, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is finally due to launch later this month. We discuss the telescope’s mission and what it might reveal about the Universe.Feature: The $11-billion Webb telescope aims to probe the early UniverseNews: NASA won’t rename James Webb telescope — and astronomers are angry20:27 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the supermassive black holes headed for impact (in 250 million years), and a new dinosaur with an unusual tail weapon.New Scientist: A pair of nearby supermassive black holes are heading for a collisionNew York Times: Spike-tailed ankylosaur was built like a tankSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of... See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.