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Ep. 550: Missing Epochs - Observing the Cosmic Dark Ages

Powerful observatories like Hubble and the Very Large Telescope have pushed our vision billions of light-years into the Universe, allowing us to see further and further back in time. But there are regions which we still haven't seen: the Cosmic Dark Ages. What's it going to take to observe some of these earliest moments in the Universe?

Debating lab monkey retirement, and visiting a near-Earth asteroid

After their life as research subjects, what happens to lab monkeys? Some are euthanized to complete the research, others switch to new research projects, and some retire from lab life. Should they retire in place—in the same lab under the care of the same custodians—or should they be sent to retirement home–like sanctuaries? Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss recently penned legislation that pushes for monkey retirements and a new collaboration between universities and sanctuaries to create a retirement pipeline for these primates. Sarah also talks with Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) and a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, about the latest news from the asteroid Bennu. Within 1 week of beginning its orbit of the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx was able to send back surprising images of the asteroid ejecting material. It’s extremely rocky surface also took researchers by surprise and forced a recalculation of the sample return portion of the craft’s mission. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week’s show: McDonalds; Parcast’s Natural Disasters podcast; KiwiCo Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast

05 December 2019: Genomic sequencing and the source of solar winds

This week, exploring two very different issues with genomic sequencing, and the latest results from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Ep. 549: Stellar nucleosynthesis revisited: In and on and around dead stars

Last week we gave you an update on the formation of elements from the Big Bang and in main sequence stars like the Sun. This week, we wrap up with a bang, talking about the death of the most massive stars and how they seed the Universe with heavier elements.

Nature Pastcast, November 1869: The first issue of Nature

In this episode, we’re heading back to 4 November 1869, when Nature’s story began. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Double dipping in an NIH loan repayment program, and using undersea cables as seismic sensors

The National Institutes of Health’s largest loan repayment program was conceived to help scientists pay off school debts without relying on industry funding. But a close examination of the program by investigative correspondent Charles Piller has revealed that many participants are taking money from the government to repay their loans, while at the same time taking payments from pharmaceutical companies. Piller joins Host Sarah Crespi to talk about the steps he took to uncover this double dipping and why ethicists say this a conflict of interest.   Sarah also talks with Nate Lindsey, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, about turning a 50-meter undersea fiber optic cable designed to move data into a sensor for activity in the ocean and the land underneath. During a 4-day test in Monterey Bay, California, the cable detected earthquakes, faults, waves, and even ocean-going storms.   For this month’s books segment, Kiki Sandford talks with Dan Hooper about his book At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds.   You can find more books segments on the Books et al. blog.   This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.   Ads on this week’s show: McDonalds; Salk’s Where Cures Begin podcast   Listen to previous podcasts.   About the Science Podcast

28 November 2019: Nature’s 2019 PhD survey, and older women in sci-fi novels

This week, delving into the results of the latest graduate student survey, and assessing ageism in science fiction literature. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Ep. 548: Stellar nucleosynthesis revisited: In stellar cores & atmospheres

The Universe started out with hydrogen and helium and a few other elements, but all around us, there are other, more proton-rich elements. We believe these heavier elements formed in stars, but which stars? And at what points in their lives? Today we'll update our knowledge with the latest science.

Building a landslide observatory, and the universality of music

You may have seen the aftermath of a landslide, driving along a twisty mountain road—a scattering of rocks and scree impinging on the pavement. And up until now, that’s pretty much how scientists have tracked landslides—roadside observations and spotty satellite images. Now, researchers are hoping to track landslides systematically by instrumenting an entire national park in Taiwan. The park is riddled with landslides—so much so that visitors wear helmets. Host Sarah Crespi talks with one of those visitors—freelance science journalist Katherine Kornei—about what we can learn from landslides. In a second rocking segment, Sarah also talks with Manvir Singh about the universality of music. His team asked the big questions in a Science paper out this week: Do all societies make music? What are the common elements that can be picked out from songs worldwide? Sarah and Manvir listen to songs and talk about what love ballads and lullabies have in common, regardless of their culture of origin. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week’s show: Bayer; KiwiCo; McDonalds Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Martin Lewinson/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

21 November 2019: A new antibiotic from nematode guts, grant funding ‘lotteries’, and butterfly genomes

This week, an antibiotic that targets hard-to-treat bacteria, and a roundup of the latest science news. In this episode: 00:49 Discovering darobactin Researchers looked inside nematode guts and have identified a new antibiotic with some useful properties. Research Article: Imai et al. 05:45 Research Highlights Using urine as a health metric, and sniffing out book decay with an electronic nose. Research Article: Miller et al.; Research Article: Veríssimo et al. 07:54 News Chat Adding an element of chance to grant funding, a continental butterfly-sequencing project, and tracking endangered animals via traces of their DNA. News: Science funders gamble on grant lotteries; News: Every butterfly in the United States and Canada now has a genome sequence; News: Rare bird’s detection highlights promise of ‘environmental DNA’ For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Ep. 547: Why Astronomy Still Needs Humans

Few sciences have been able to take advantage of the power of computers like astronomy. But with all this computing power, you might be surprised to learn how important a role humans still play in this science.
Theoretical physicists who say the multiverse exists set a dangerous precedent: science based on zero empirical evidence
Post-empirical science is an oxymoron, and it is dangerous | Aeon Essays

How to make an Arctic ship ‘vanish,’ and how fast-moving spikes are heating the Sun’s atmosphere

The Polarstern research vessel will spend 1 year locked in an Arctic ice floe. Aboard the ship and on the nearby ice, researchers will take measurements of the ice, air, water, and more in an effort to understand this pristine place. Science journalist Shannon Hall joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about her time aboard the Polarstern and how difficult these measurements are, when the researchers’ temporary Arctic home is the noisiest, smokiest, brightest thing around. After that icy start, Sarah talks also with Tanmoy Samanta, a postdoctoral researcher at Peking University in Beijing, about the source of the extreme temperature of the Sun’s corona, which can be up to 1 million K hotter than the surface of the Sun. His team’s careful measurements of spicules—small, plentiful, short-lived spikes of plasma that constantly ruffle the Sun’s surface—and the magnetic networks that seem to generate these spikes, suggest a solution to the long-standing problem of how spicules arise and, at the same time, their likely role in the heating of the corona. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week’s show: Bayer Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Shannon Hall; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

14 November 2019: A rapid, multi-material 3D printer, and a bacterium’s role in alcoholic hepatitis

This week, a new 3D printer allows quick shifting between many materials, and understanding the link between gut microbes and liver disease. 00:46 A new dimension for 3D printers A new nozzle lets a 3D printer switch between materials at a rapid rate, opening the door to a range of applications. Research Article: Skylar-Scott et al.; News and Views: How to print multi-material devices in one go 08:07 Research Highlights The slippery secrets of ice, and cells wrapping up their nuclei. Research Highlight: Viscous water holds the secret to an ice skater’s smooth glide; Research Highlight: Super-thin layer of ‘bubble wrap’ cushions a cell’s nucleus 10:17 Linking bacteria to liver disease Researchers have isolated a bacterial strain that appears to play an important role in alcoholic liver disease. Research paper: Duan et al.; News and Views: Microbial clues to a liver disease 17:10 News Chat ‘Megaconstellations’ of satellites concern astronomers, and a report on the gender gap in chemistry. News: SpaceX launch highlights threat to astronomy from ‘megaconstellations’; News: Huge study documents gender gap in chemistry publishing For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy

Ep. 546: Weird Issues: Planetary Migration

Before we discovered other planets, our Solar System seemed like a perfectly reasonable template for everywhere. But now we see massive planets close to their stars, which leads you to the question, how does it all get there. Do the planets form in place or do they migrate around?

Unearthing slavery in the Caribbean, and the Catholic Church’s influence on modern psychology

Most historical accounts of slavery were written by colonists and planters. Researchers are now using the tools of archaeology to learn more about the day-to-day lives of enslaved Africans—how they survived the conditions of slavery, how they participated in local economies, and how they maintained their own agency. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about a Caribbean archaeology project based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and launched by the founders of the Society for Black Archaeologists that aims to unearth these details. Watch a related video here. Sarah also talks with Jonathan Schulz, a professor in the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, about a role for the medieval Roman Catholic Church in so-called WEIRD psychology—western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic. The bulk of psychology experiments have used participants that could be described as WEIRD, and according to many psychological measures, WEIRD subjects tend to have some extreme traits, like a stronger tendency toward individuality and more friendliness with strangers. Schulz and colleagues used historical maps and measures of kinship structure to tie these traits to strict marriage rules enforced by the medieval Catholic Church in Western Europe. Read related commentary. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Ads on this week’s show: Bayer; KiwiCo Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Meagan Cantwell/Science; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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