Episodes
Earlier this month, in a medical first, surgeons from the University of Maryland transplanted a genetically altered pig heart into a living person. Doctors believed it was their only chance to save the life of David Bennett, a 57-year-old patient who was considered too ill for a human organ replacement. With hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in need of new organs, are animals set to be the future of transplantation? Ian Sample talks to bioethicist Prof Arthur Caplan about how the...
Published 01/25/22
Could the food we eat and the air we breathe be damaging our immune systems? The number of people with autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to type 1 diabetes, began to increase around 40 years ago in the west. Now, some are also emerging in countries that had never seen the diseases before. Ian Sample speaks to genetic scientist and consultant gastroenterologist James Lee about how this points to what western lifestyles might be doing to our health, and how genetics could reveal...
Published 01/20/22
Published 01/20/22
The coronavirus variant has spread across the UK at incredible speed – but there are signs that the wave may have reached its peak. Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis about what we can expect in the weeks and months to come, and whether a second ‘exit wave’ could be here in the summer. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 01/18/22
Last week, the tech CEO Elizabeth Holmes – once described as ‘the next Steve Jobs’ – was convicted of fraud, and could face decades in prison. Her now collapsed company, Theranos, promised to revolutionise medicine with a machine that could run hundreds of health tests on just a pinprick of blood. Those claims have since been exposed as false – but could they ever have been true? Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s wealth correspondent, Rupert Neate, about Silicon Valley’s trial of the...
Published 01/13/22
It’s been called the most important glacier in the world. The Thwaites glacier in Antarctica is the size of Florida, and contains enough water to raise sea levels by over half a metre. Over the past 30 years it has been melting at an increasing pace, and currently contributes 4% of annual global sea level rise. Ian Sample speaks to marine geophysicist Dr Rob Larter about a new research mission to the Thwaites glacier, the role of Boaty McBoatface and what it’s like to see a region melt away...
Published 01/11/22
On Wednesday, 194,747 daily confirmed Covid cases were reported for the whole of the UK. But this doesn’t include all the people who have caught the virus for the second, or even third time. In fact, official figures for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t include those who have had Covid before, despite warnings from scientists that up to 15% of Omicron cases could be reinfections. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science editor Ian Sample about why reinfections are so high...
Published 01/06/22
New year resolutions often include eating more healthily, doing exercise and trying to shift some of the extra weight put on over Christmas. Yet research suggests the vast majority of people who do lose weight ultimately end up putting nearly all of it back on. So why is it so difficult? Madeleine Finlay speaks to health journalist and ex-neuroscientist David Cox on the science of metabolism, and what it means for our health. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 01/04/22
From electrons behaving as both particles and waves to a cat in a box that’s both dead and alive, the consequences of quantum physics are decidedly weird. So strange, that over a century since its conception, scientists are still arguing about the best way to understand the theory. In the second of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss his ideas for explaining quantum physics, and how it affects our understanding of the world. Help support our...
Published 12/30/21
It has been more than a century since the groundwork of quantum physics was first formulated and yet the consequences of the theory still elude both scientists and philosophers. Why does light sometimes behave as a wave, and other times as a particle? Why does the outcome of an experiment apparently depend on whether the particles are being observed or not? In the first of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss the strange consequences of quantum theory...
Published 12/28/21
Yesterday, daily cases in the UK exceeded 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. Despite this, the government has stuck to its guns in refusing to introduce any restrictions in England before Christmas Day. Yesterday also saw the publishing of a report from a team at Imperial College London that suggests, in the UK, the risk of a hospital stay is 40% lower with Omicron than Delta. To find out what all this means for the weeks and months ahead, Madeleine Finlay speaks to the...
Published 12/23/21
Cop26 may have dominated the headlines this year, but there have been lots of other fascinating, devastating and hopeful environment stories over the past 12 months. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian environment editor Damian Carrington and biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston about some of their favourites, from reintroducing wild bison to the fields of Kent to climate crisis tipping points. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 12/21/21
For three consecutive rainy seasons, the eastern Horn of Africa has experienced poor rainfall. Confounded by Covid-19 and desert locust invasions, millions are now facing starvation across parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Already, livestock and wildlife are dying of thirst and hunger in large numbers. And at the heart of it all is the worsening climate crisis. Madeleine Finlay asks climate researcher Chris Funk what’s causing these devastating weather patterns and speaks to Nairobi...
Published 12/16/21
As England moves to plan B, Boris Johnson has announced that all adults will be offered a booster vaccine by the end of December. But will that be enough to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed? Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, about the spread of Omicron, and what we can do to prevent a tidal wave of cases. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 12/14/21
On 22 December, if all goes to plan, the £7.5bn James Webb space telescope (JWST) will be blasted into space on top of a giant European Ariane 5 rocket. As it travels to its final destination – a point about a million miles away – it will begin to unfold its gold, honeycombed mirror; a vast light-catching bucket that could give us a view of the universe deeper and more sensitive than we’ve ever had before. JWST could also reveal clues about possible life-supporting planets inside our galaxy....
Published 12/09/21
Over 40 countries have now confirmed the presence of Omicron. And, in the UK, scientists have been increasingly expressing their concern about the new variant. Some have speculated there could be more than 1,000 cases here already, and that it could become the dominant variant within weeks. To get an update on what we know about the Omicron variant, and how quickly it might be spreading, Madeleine Finlay speaks to Nicola Davis, the Guardian’s science correspondent. Help support our...
Published 12/07/21
Clinicians around the world have noticed an increase in young adults, often women, developing ‘tic-like behaviours’ – sudden movements or vocalisations similar to what’s seen in Tourette Syndrome. Except these tics come on much later in life, and escalate more rapidly. Some have blamed the recent rise on social media – but the reality is much more complicated. Madeleine Finlay talks to Guardian reporter Sirin Kale and research psychologist Dr Seonaid Anderson about the young people...
Published 12/02/21
Last week, a new variant of Covid-19 was detected by scientists in South Africa. Since then, additional cases have been reported beyond southern Africa, including Belgium, Canada, Israel, Australia and the UK. And with the WHO warning that the Omicron variant poses a very high global risk, scientists around the world are scrambling to uncover clues about its transmissibility and how effective the current coronavirus vaccines will be against it. To find out what we do know about Omicron and...
Published 11/30/21
Last week the UK government confirmed it would be extending its animal welfare (sentience) bill to include decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish), and cephalopods (such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish). The move followed a government-commissioned review of the scientific evidence, which found strong evidence that cephalopods and decapods do have feelings. Madeleine Finlay spoke to Dr Jonathan Birch, who led the review, to ask what it means for lobsters to have feelings, and what...
Published 11/25/21
Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space, became commander of the International Space Station, and became a viral sensation after covering Bowie like no one else. He speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, about life as an astronaut, the new race to the moon and his new novel, The Apollo Murders.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 11/23/21
Over the past few weeks, a thick brown smog has enveloped Delhi. The pollution is so bad that the capital and surrounding states have shut schools and imposed work-from-home orders. Toxic air at levels 20 times higher than those deemed healthy by the World Health Organization has become a seasonal occurrence in India, causing about 1.6 million premature deaths every year. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian South Asia correspondent Hannah Ellis-Petersen and environmental researcher Karthik...
Published 11/18/21
Growing numbers of people catching coronavirus are experiencing an unpleasant distortion of smells. Scientists are still unsure what causes this often distressing condition, known as parosmia, where previously enjoyable aromas trigger feelings of disgust. Madeleine Finlay talks to science correspondent Linda Geddes about her own parosmia, and chemist Dr Jane Parker discusses research into why the smell of coffee seems to be a trigger for so many people. Help support our independent journalism...
Published 11/16/21
The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, Science Weekly host Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, and environment editor, Damian Carrington, on how the final hours of Cop26 negotiations are going. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 11/12/21
The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay speaks to environment reporter Oliver Milman about electric cars, ‘environmentally-friendly’ planes and the need to rethink transport. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 11/11/21
The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, Guardian global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, talks to Katharine Hayhoe and Peter Stott about their work as climate scientists and how they feel Cop26 is progressing. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Published 11/10/21