Episodes
Researchers have been resurrecting apple trees to revive forgotten varieties of the fruit. They hope that sequencing these apples' genomes could uncover mutations that influence flavour, colour, crispness and other characteristics. This knowledge could help unlock the next blockbuster fruit, and develop trees that are more resistant to disease, climate change and other environmental pressures. This is an audio version of our Feature Apple revival: how science is bringing historic varieties...
Published 11/24/23
In this episode: 00:46 What happens after polio is eradicatedSince 1988, cases of polio have fallen by more than 99%, and many observers predict that the disease could be eradicated within the next three years. However, eradication isn’t the same as extinction, so the next challenge is for researchers to make sure the disease won’t return. We discuss what a post-polio future may look like, and how to ensure that the disease is gone for good. News Feature: Polio is on the brink of eradication....
Published 11/22/23
In the latest episode of Nature hits the books, writer and researcher Jay Owens joins us to discuss her book Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles. Much like dust itself, Jay’s book travels the globe, looking at the impacts that these microscopic particles are having on the world, our health and environment, as well as exploring the role that humanity has played in creating them. Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles Jay Owens Hodder & Stoughton (2023) Music supplied...
Published 11/17/23
In this episode: 00:46 Machine vision enables multi-material 3D printing3D printers are capable of producing complex shapes, but making functioning objects from multiple materials in a single print-run has proved challenging. To overcome this, a team has combined inkjet printing with an error-correction system guided by machine vision, to allow them to print sophisticated multi-material objects. They used this method to make a bio-inspired robotic hand that combines soft and rigid plastics...
Published 11/15/23
In this episode: 00:46 Modifying a fungal drug to make it less toxicAmphotericin B is a drug used to treat life-threatening fungal infections. But while it is effective against many fungal species, it is also extremely toxic to kidneys, meaning it is mostly used as a drug of last-resort. This week, a team has unpicked the mechanism behind the drug’s toxicity, allowing them to modify it and reduce side effects in human kidney cells. The researchers hope this new version of the drug could...
Published 11/08/23
In the past year, generative AIs have been taking the world by storm. ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E and more, are changing the nature of how content is produced. In science, they could help transform and streamline publishing. However, they also come with plenty of risks. In this episode of Nature's Take we discuss how these AIs are impacting science and what the future might hold. Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox...
Published 11/03/23
In this episode: 00:46 An injectable gel for healing musclesSevere muscle injury can be debilitating, with long recuperation periods. Now, researchers have developed a material that can be directly injected into injured muscle, helping to stimulate and heal damaged tissue. The team showed this approach could rapidly restore walking ability in severely injured rats and regenerate muscles within four weeks. They hope that this solution could one day help humans with similar injuries, and...
Published 11/01/23
For decades, BMI — calculated by dividing weight by height squared — has been as an international standard to determine healthy weights. However, BMI does not measure body fat, and ignores many other factors that can affect how healthy someone it. Now, a small but growing movement of reseachers and clinicians are calling for other metrics to be used in conjunction with BMI when diagnosing and treating obesity. This is an audio version of our Feature: Why BMI is flawed — and how to redefine...
Published 10/30/23
For years, researchers have been listening to Mars and the quakes that ripple through it, to understand the planet's internal structure and uncover its history. But often these results have left more questions than answers. Now, though, new research published in Nature reveals the composition and size of Mars's core, finding that it is much smaller than previously thought. Research Article: Khan et al. Research Article: Samuel et al. News and Views: Deep Mars is surprisingly soft Subscribe to...
Published 10/27/23
In this episode: 00:47 An automated way to monitor wildlife recoveryTo prevent the loss of wildlife, forest restoration is key, but monitoring how well biodiversity actually recovers is incredibly difficult. Now though, a team have collected recordings of animal sounds to determine the extent of the recovery. However, while using these sounds to identify species is an effective way to monitor, it’s also labour intensive. To overcome this, they trained an AI to listen to the sounds, and found...
Published 10/25/23
In this episode: 00:47 An RNA-based viral system that mimics bacterial immune defencesTo protect themselves against viral infection, bacteria often use CRISPR-Cas systems to identify and destroy an invading virus’s genetic material. But viruses aren’t helpless and can deploy countermeasures, known as anti-CRISPRs, to neutralise host defences. This week, a team describe a new kind of anti-CRISPR system, based on RNA, which protects viruses by mimicking part of the CRISPR-Cas system. The...
Published 10/18/23
In this episode: 00:46 Engineered pig kidneys show transplantation promise Kidneys from genetically-engineered miniature pigs have been transplanted into non-human primates, in some cases keeping the animals alive for more than a year. Using CRISPR, a team made dozens of edits to the pig genome to prevent the monkeys’ immune system from attacking the organs. They also removed pig retrovirus genes that could represent an infection risk. These steps are necessary if pig organs are to be used...
Published 10/11/23
In this Podcast Extra, two computer scientists, Shobhana Narasimhan and Sana Odeh, join Nature's Anne Pichon to discuss the barriers that women and gender-diverse people still face when working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They share their experiences and perspectives on the challenges facing women in research, and reflect on potential ways to move forward. Comment: ‘I wrote my first piece of code at seven’: women share highs and lows in computer science for Ada...
Published 10/10/23
In this episode: 00:45 A bright satellite is concerning researchersSatellites reflect sunlight down to Earth, and some do so with such intensity it risks obscuring astronomers' observations from ground-based telescopes. A paper in Nature suggests that the telecommunications satellite called BlueWalker 3 at times outshines most stars visible from Earth. Astronomers worry about the increasing number of such bright satellites making astronomy more difficult, and so the team suggest that future...
Published 10/04/23
Australia's swamp tortoise is one of the most endangered species in the world. This species lives in wetlands that are under threat due to rising temperatures and a reduction in rainfall. In an effort to save the tortoise, researchers are trialling a controversial strategy called assisted migration. This approach has seen captive-bred tortoises released in other wetlands some 330 kilometres south of where they are naturally found. The aim is to see whether the animals can tolerate cooler...
Published 09/29/23
In this episode: 00:45 How to tackle AI deepfakesIt has long been possible to create deceptive images, videos or audio to entertain or mislead audiences. Now, with the rise of AI technologies, such manipulations have become easier than ever. These deepfakes can spread misinformation, defraud people, and damage economies. To tackle this, researchers and companies are developing tools to find and label deepfakes, in an attempt to rob them of their potential to wreak havoc. News Feature: How to...
Published 09/27/23
In this episode: 00:45 A new insight into cancers' selective spreadCancer cells can spread to bones in the late stages of disease and in many cancers, cells actually preferentially metastasise to the spine. The reason for this has been a puzzle to researchers for years, but now a team has found a new kind of stem cell that may be involved in this process. The stem cell is found in mice and humans and could represent a clinical target in the treatment of cancer. Research article: Sun et...
Published 09/20/23
In this episode: 00:46 A sustainably-sourced, super-strong adhesiveThe modern world is held together by adhesives, but these fossil-fuel derived materials come at an environmental cost. To overcome this, a team have developed a soya-oil based adhesive, which also takes inspiration from the proteins that marine animals like mussels use to stick firmly to rocks. The researchers say their glue is strong, reversible, and less carbon intensive to produce than existing adhesives. Research article:...
Published 09/13/23
In this episode: 00:30 Early humans pushed to brink of extinctionAround 900,000 years ago the ancestors of modern humans were pushed to the brink of extinction, according to new research. Genetic studies suggest that the breeding population of our ancestors in Africa dropped to just 1,280 and didn’t expand again for another 117,000 years. This population crash would likely have had an impact on human genetic diversity, and may have driven the evolution of important features of modern humans,...
Published 09/06/23
In this episode: 00:47 First observation of oxygen 28Oxygen 28 is an isotope of oxygen with 20 neutrons and eight protons. This strange isotope has long been sought after by physicists, as its proposed unusual properties would allow them to put their theories of how atomic nuclei work to the test. Now, after decades of experiments physicists believe they have observed oxygen 28. The observations are at odds with theory predictions, so they imply that there’s a lot more physicists don’t know...
Published 08/30/23
Investigations suggest that, in some fields, at least one-quarter of clinical trials might be problematic or even entirely made up. Faked or unreliable trials are dangerous, as they could end up being included in the reviews that help inform clinical treatments. However, the extent of the problem in unclear, and many researchers urge stronger scrutiny. This is an audio version of our Feature: Medicine is plagued by untrustworthy clinical trials. How many studies are faked or flawed? Hosted...
Published 08/25/23
In this episode: 00:47 The brain-computer interfaces that help restore communicationPeople with certain neurological conditions can lose the ability to speak as a result of facial paralysis. This week, two teams demonstrate the potential of devices called brain-computer interfaces to help people in these situations communicate. These interfaces work by identifying the brain activity associated with the intent to say words, and converting this activity into speech-related outputs, such as text...
Published 08/23/23
In this episode: 00:49 The search for animals’ magnetic sense sufferers a potential setbackExactly how animals sense Earth’s magnetic field has long eluded researchers. To understand it, many have turned to the fly model Drosophila melanogaster, long thought to be able to detect magnetic fields. However, a recent Nature paper has raised questions about this ability, a finding that could have repercussions for scientists’ efforts to understand the mechanism behind magnetic sensing, one of the...
Published 08/16/23
A perfect storm of factors has led to huge racial disparities in maternal healthcare. In the USA, as abortion clinics continue to close, this inequity is projected to widen. In this podcast from Nature and ScientificAmerican, we hear from leading academics unpacking the racism at the heart of the system. From the historical links between slavery and gynaecology to the systematic erasure of America’s Black midwives. What is behind the Black maternal mortality crisis, and what needs to...
Published 08/10/23
In this episode: 00:46 A measure of refugees’ welcome in EuropeWith repeated humanitarian crises displacing millions of people, researchers have been considering how this might affect acceptance of refugees. Will some refugees be more welcome than others? Will continued movements erode support for refugees overall? To answer these questions, a huge study looks at the attitudes of 33,000 people from 15 European countries towards refugees. They find that overall support for refugees has...
Published 08/09/23