Episodes
00:47 Evidence of a proton’s charmFor decades, scientists have debated whether protons have ‘intrinsic charm’, meaning they contain elementary particles known as charm quarks. Now, using machine learning to comb through huge amounts of experimental data, a team have shown evidence that the charm quark can be found within a proton, which may have important ramifications in the search for new physics. Research article: The NNPDF Collaboration News and Views: Evidence at last that the proton has...
Published 08/17/22
In this first episode of Nature's Take, we get four of Nature's staff around microphones to get their expert take on preprints. These pre-peer-review open access articles have spiked in number over recent years and have cemented themselves as an integral part of scientific publishing. But this has not been without its issues. In this discussion we cover a lot of ground. Amongst other things, we ask whether preprints could help democratise science or contribute to a loss of trust in...
Published 08/15/22
Published 08/15/22
Cold exposure in mice activates brown fat to deny tumours glucose, and the future of extreme heatwaves. 00:45 How cold temperatures could starve tumours A team of researchers have found that exposing mice to the cold could starve tumour cells of the blood glucose they need to thrive. They showed that the cold temperatures deprived the tumours of fuel by activating brown fat – a tissue that burns through glucose to keep body temperature up. The team also showed preliminary evidence of the...
Published 08/10/22
00:47 The economic benefits of social connectionsBy looking at data gathered from billions of Facebook friendships, researchers have shown that having more connections with people from higher income groups could increase future incomes by 20%. They also show how such connections can be formed, and how schools and other institutions could help to improve peoples’ opportunities in the future. Research Article: Chetty et al. Research Article: Chetty et al. News and Views: The social connections...
Published 08/03/22
Inequity has been a central feature of the COVID19 pandemic. From health outcomes to access to vaccines, COVID has pushed long-standing disparities out of the shadows and into the public eye and many of these problems are global. In this episode of Coronapod we dig into a radical new collaboration of 15 countries - co-led by the WHO, and modelled on open-science. The project, called the mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, aims to create independent vaccine hubs that could supply the global...
Published 07/29/22
00:45 Working out how the ability to digest milk spreadHumans have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but it seems that they were doing so long before the ability to digest it became prevalent. Then around 2000 years ago, this ability became common in Europe, presenting a mystery to researchers – why then? Now by analyzing health data, ancient DNA, and fats residues from thousands of ancient pots, scientists have worked out what caused this trait to suddenly spread throughout...
Published 07/27/22
00:46 When did mammals start to regulate their temperature?The evolution of ‘warm bloodedness’ allowed mammals to live in a more diverse range of habitats, but working out when this occurred has been difficult. To try and pin down a date, researchers have studied the fossilised remains of ancient mammals' inner ears, which suggest that this key evolutionary leap appeared around 230 million years ago. Research Article: Araujo et al. News and Views: Evolution of thermoregulation as told by...
Published 07/20/22
00:46 A long-term record of climate in the tropicsTo understand the history of the Earth’s climate, researchers often rely on things like ice cores, which contain layered frozen insights of thousands of years of history. However, in the tropics long-term records like these have been absent. Now researchers have uncovered a sediment core in Peru which reveals around 700,000 years of climatic history. Research Article: Rodbell et al. News and Views: Sediment study finds the pulse of tropical...
Published 07/13/22
In this Podcast Extra, Nature's Lizzie Gibney and Federico Levi take a deep-dive into the Higgs boson, describing their experiences of its discovery, what the latest run of the Large Hadron Collider might reveal about the particle's properties, and what role it could play in potential physics beyond the standard model. Nature News: Happy birthday, Higgs boson! What we do and don’t know about the particle Nature Editorial: Particle physics isn’t going to die — even if the LHC finds no new...
Published 07/11/22
Since early in the pandemic, scientists have searched for signals of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by sampling wastewater. This surveillance method has provided vital information to inform public health responses. But the approach has never been particularly specific - pointing to broad trends rather than granular information such as which variants are spreading where. But now a team from the University of California have created two new tools to sample waste water in much greater detail - and spot...
Published 07/08/22
00:46 Happy birthday, Higgs boson - looking back at a momentous milestone for physicsTen years ago this week, scientists announced that they’d found evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle first theorised to exist nearly sixty years earlier. To celebrate this anniversary, we reminisce about what the discovery meant at the time, and what questions are left to be answered about this mysterious particle. Nature News: Happy birthday, Higgs boson! What we do and don’t...
Published 07/06/22
In the first episode of our new series Nature hits the books, science journalist Ed Yong joins us to talk about his new book An Immense World, which takes a journey through the weird and wonderful realm of animal senses. In the show, we chat about how our human-centric view of the world has restricted researchers' understanding of animal senses, how to conceptualise what it might be like to be an electric-field sensitive fish, and what bees might make of us blushing... An Immense World, Ed...
Published 07/01/22
00:47 Enteric viruses may spread through salivaEnteric viruses, such as norovirus, cause a significant health burden around the world and are generally considered to only spread via the faecal-oral route. However, new research in mice suggests that saliva may also be a route of transmission for these viruses, which the authors say could have important public health implications. Research Article: Ghosh et al. 08:59 Research HighlightsHow devouring space rocks helped Jupiter to get so big, and...
Published 06/29/22
In the next year, no fewer than seven missions are heading to the Moon. While NASA's Artemis programme might be stealing most of the limelight, the United States is just one of many nations and private companies that soon plan to launch lunar missions. Although some of the agencies running these expeditions are providing scant details about the missions, it is hoped the they will provide streams of data about the Moon, heralding what scientists say could be a new golden age of lunar...
Published 06/27/22
After a long wait, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have finally approved two COVID vaccines for use in children between the ages of six months and five years old. But despite a unanimous decision amongst regulators, parents still have questions about whether to vaccinate their young children, with survey data suggesting that the majority do not intend to accept vaccines right away. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the...
Published 06/24/22
00:38 The science of studying inequalityWe discuss the research looking to understand the root causes and symptoms of inequalities, how they are growing, and how a cross-disciplinary approach may be the key to tackling them. Editorial: Equity must be baked into randomized controlled trials News Feature: How COVID has deepened inequality — in six stark graphics Career Feature: The rise of inequality research: can spanning disciplines help tackle injustice? 07:26 The randomised trials helping...
Published 06/22/22
00:46 Uncovering the origins of the Black DeathThe Black Death is estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 60% of the population of Europe. However, despite extensive research, the origin of this wave of disease has remained unclear. Now, by using a combination of techniques, a team have identified a potential starting point in modern day Kyrgyzstan. Research article: Spyrou et al. 06:57 Research HighlightsThe cocktails of toxins produced by wriggling ribbon worms, and a tiny thermometer...
Published 06/15/22
One of the most curious symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of smell and taste. For most, this phenomenon is short lived, but for many around the world the symptom can persist for months or even years after the infection has cleared. Once a tell-tale sign of infection, this sensory disruption is now becoming characterised as a chronic problem and scientists are only recently getting clear answers about the mechanisms behind it. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the most recent studies on...
Published 06/11/22
00:33 A headbashing relative gives insights into giraffe evolutionHow the giraffe got its long neck is a longstanding question in science. One possibility is that giraffes evolved longer necks for sexual competition, with males engaging in violent neck-swinging fights. Now, a team have described fossils of an ancient giraffoid species with a thick headpiece adapted for fighting, which could add weight to this hypothesis. Nature News: How the giraffe got its neck: ‘unicorn’ fossil could shed...
Published 06/08/22
Brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) implanted in the brains of people who are paralysed are allowing them to control prosthetics that are restoring a range of skills. Although the field is relatively young, researchers are making rapid advances in the abilities that these implants can restore. In the past few years, commercial interest in BCIs has soared, but many hurdles remain before these implants can be brought to market. This is an audio version of our Feature: The brain-reading devices...
Published 06/06/22
00:47 The robot shoulder that exercises cellsRecreating the movements that tendon cells experience as they develop in the human body is necessary for growing tissue for transplantation, but this has been difficult to achieve in a laboratory setting. Now, a team has developed a system that uses a robot shoulder to stretch and twist these cells, which they hope could be used to improve the quality of tissue grafts in the future. Research article: Mouthuy et al. Video: A robotic Petri dish: How...
Published 06/01/22
Despite the devastating loss of life caused by COVID-19, some researchers are arguing that the longest lasting impact of the pandemic will be on education. UN agencies calculate that more or less all school students on the planet - 1.6 billion - have faced an average of 4.5 months of school closures owing to the pandemic, the largest disruption to education in history. Teachers have been under immense pressure to keep their students happy and learning, but it is an uphill battle. In this...
Published 05/30/22
00:45 The puzzle of PalaeospondylusOver a hundred years ago, palaeontologists discovered fossils of the aquatic animal Palaeospondylus. But since then researchers have been unable to place where this animal sits on the tree of life. Now, new analysis of Palaeospondylus’s anatomy might help to solve this mystery. Research article: Hirasawa et al. News and Views: Clues to the identity of the fossil fish Palaeospondylus 08:18 Research HighlightsA strong, silk-based version of mother of pearl,...
Published 05/25/22
00:47 The mystery of the missing dark matterDark matter makes up most of the matter in the Universe, and is thought to be needed for galaxies to form. But four years ago, astronomers made a perplexing, and controversial discovery: two galaxies seemingly devoid of dark matter. This week the team suggests that a cosmic collision may explain how these, and a string of other dark-matter-free galaxies, could have formed. Research article: van Dokkum et al. News and Views: Giant collision created...
Published 05/18/22