As newly-minted principal investigators, Ali and Dan have grand plans for their research – but science is slow, especially when other demands loom large: hiring staff, mentoring and teaching students and, of course, the race to secure funding.
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More episodes from "Nature Podcast"
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.
Coronapod: How has COVID impacted mental health?
11:52Studying mental health in populations is not a simple task, but as the pandemic has continued, mounting concerns have mobilised researchers.Now, researchers have used data from helplines in 20 countries to assess the impacts that COVID, as well as associated political and public health measures like financial assistance programs and lockdowns, have had on mental health. Contrary to expectations, loneliness and concerns about the impacts of the pandemic drove most of the callers, rather than imminent threats such as suicidal thoughts or abuse.News: Millions of helpline calls reveal how COVID affected mental healthOmicronWe 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 is supercharging the COVID vaccine booster debateNews: Omicron-variant border bans ignore the evidence, say scientistsSubscribe 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.
What’s the best diet for people and the planet?
26:43Designing a nutritious and planet-friendly diet, and an AI that guides mathematicians.In this episode:00:46 Designing a healthy diet for the planetResearchers are trying to develop diets that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time providing nutrition. Some of these sustainable diets are now being tested to see if they work in local contexts without damaging livelihoods.Feature: What humanity should eat to stay healthy and save the planet08:24 Research HighlightsHow jellyfish get by without a centralised brain, and reading the runes within a medieval lead amulet.Research Highlight: How jellyfish control their livesResearch Highlight: Neutron beam sheds light on medieval faith and superstition10:32 The AI guiding mathematicians’ intuitionFinding relationships between two seemingly unrelated groups of objects is an important part of some branches of mathematics. To help speed up this process, a new AI has been developed, which points mathematicians towards potential relationships, allowing them to come up with new conjectures.Research article: Davies et al.News and Views: Artificial intelligence aids intuition in mathematical discovery11:23 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a pendant made from mammoth tusk, and developing lab-grown fish for food.Nature News: Is this mammoth-ivory pendant Eurasia’s oldest surviving jewellery?Nature Biotechnology: No bones, no scales, no eyeballs: appetite grows for cell-based seafoodSubscribe 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.
Audio long-read: The chase for fusion energy
22:39A host of private companies are promising commercial fusion reactors in the next decade.After decades of promise, it finally seems that nuclear fusion is approaching commercial viability. Companies around the world are securing huge amounts of funding, and advances in materials research and computing are enabling technologies other than the standard designs to be pursued.This is an audio version of our feature: The chase for fusion energy See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Coronapod: everything we know about the new COVID variant
9:26In a quickly developing story a new variant, first detected in Botswana, is triggering rapid action among researchers. The variant - currently named B.1.1.529 has more than 30 changes to the spike protein - and the concern is that these mutations may result in increased transmissibility, severity of disease or even antibody evasion.In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss what we know so far, how scientists are searching for answers and what this could mean for the pandemic.News: Heavily mutated coronavirus variant puts scientists on alert See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Researcher careers under the microscope: salary satisfaction and COVID impacts
22:34The Nature salary and satisfaction survey reveals researchers' outlook, and NASA’s test of planetary defences.In this episode:00:45 Salary and satisfaction surveyLike all aspects of life, scientific careers have been impacted by the pandemic. To get an insight into how researchers are feeling, Nature has conducted a salary and satisfaction survey. We hear from some of the respondents.Careers Feature: Stagnating salaries present hurdles to career satisfaction09:07 Research HighlightsThe physics of a finger snap, and the surprisingly strong silk of jumping spiders.Research Highlight: It’s a snap: the friction-based physics behind a common gestureResearch Highlight: High-speed spinning yields some of the toughest spider silk ever found11:23 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the plans to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid, and how baby formula is changing to better resemble breast milk.Nature News: NASA spacecraft will slam into asteroid in first planetary-defence testChemistry World: The science of breast milk and baby formulaSubscribe 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.
Sea squirts teach new lessons in evolution
24:37Spineless 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 genesWhen 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 HighlightsThe 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 jewelResearch Highlight: Some of Earth’s longest-lived fish show how to reach extreme ages10:43 An iodine-fuelled engine for satellitesIn 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 al16:37 Briefing ChatWe 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.Wired: NASA Tries to Save Hubble, AgainNature: Diamond delivers long-sought mineral from the deep EarthSubscribe 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: new hope from COVID antiviral drugs
18:08Two new anti-viral pills have been shown to be safe and effective against COVID in clinical trials, according to recent press releases. The drugs, molnupiravir, developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer both appear to significantly reduce hospitalisation in people with early COVID. Some researchers are quietly hopeful that these new weapons in the anti-COVID arsenal could have a big impact, in particular in parts of the world where vaccines are still not widely available, but there are a number of caveats. In this episode of Coronapod, we open the pill boxes and pick through the contents - asking how the drugs work, what side effects we might see and how, if at all, they might change the course of the pandemic.News: COVID antiviral pills: what scientists still want to knowSubscribe 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.
The past and future of the Earth's climate
18:15Reassessing 24,000 years of global temperatures, and on the ground at COP26.In this episode:01:21 Reassessing Earth’s climate over the past 24,000 yearsThe ~20,000 year period from the Last Glacial Maximum to the pre-industrial era saw huge changes to the Earth’s climate. But characterising how temperatures changed during this time has been difficult, with different methods producing different results. Now, a team have combined two techniques, which they hope will provide new insights into the past, and future, of Earth’s climate.Research article: Osman et al.News and Views: Global temperature changes mapped across the past 24,000 years09:53 COP26 Briefing ChatThe United Nations’ climate change conference COP26 continues this week. In this special edition of the Briefing Chat, we head over to the conference to hear the latest on what’s been happening, and the measures being discussed to tackle future warming.Collection: COP26: Inside the scienceVideo: Your COP26 questions answered: carbon captureSubscribe 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.
Audio long-read: How dangerous is Africa’s explosive Lake Kivu?
20:17Lake Kivu, nestled between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, is a geological anomaly that holds 300 cubic kilometres of dissolved carbon dioxide and 60 cubic kilometres of methane.The lake has the potential to explosively release these gases, which could fill the surrounding valley, potentially killing millions of people.Researchers are trying to establish the likelihood of such an event happening, and the best way to safely siphon the gases from the lake.This is an audio version of our feature: How dangerous is Africa’s explosive Lake Kivu? See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.