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Science’s Breakthrough of the Year, our best online news, and science books for your shopping list

Dave Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about a few of this year’s top stories from our online news site, like ones on a major error in the monarch butterfly biological record and using massive balloons to build tunnels, and why they were chosen. Hint: It’s not just the stats. Sarah also interviews Staff Writer Adrian Cho about the 2017 Breakthrough of the Year. Adrian talks about why Science gave the nod to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory team for a second year in a row—for the detection of a pair of merging neutron stars. Jen Golbeck is also back for the last book review segment of the year. She talks with Sarah about her first year on the show, her favorite books, what we should have covered, and some suggestions for books as gifts. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: f99aq8ove/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

21 December 2017: Earth AI, a news quiz, and sci-fi

This week, our end of year special, featuring Earth science AI, a news story quiz, and science fiction in the modern era.

Ep. 470: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 2: 3D Printing

Our journey through interesting science fiction, this time we talk about speculative fiction dealing with materials science, nanotechnology and 3D printing. It’s a staple in Star Trek, but what other stories deal with it?

Putting the breaks on driverless cars, and dolphins that can muffle their ears

Whales and dolphins have incredibly sensitive hearing and are known to be harmed by loud underwater noises. David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about new research on captive cetaceans suggesting that some species can naturally muffle such sounds—perhaps opening a way to protect these marine mammals in the wild. Sarah also interviews Staff Writer Jeffrey Mervis about his story on the future of autonomous cars. Will they really reduce traffic and make our lives easier? What does the science say?    Listen to previous podcasts.    [Image: Laura Wolf/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

14 December 2017: Volcanoes, viruses & electric eels

This week, electric eel inspired batteries, virus inspired protein shells, and modelling magma viscosity.

Ep. 469: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 1 Space Exploration

We’ve always been fans of science fiction, but we really like our science. Today we’ll talk about some books we’ve been reading recently that do a good job of dealing with the science in science fiction.

Folding DNA into teddy bears and getting creative about gun violence research

This week, three papers came out describing new approaches to folding DNA into large complex shapes—20 times bigger than previous DNA sculptures. Staff Writer Bob Service talks with Sarah Crespi about building microscopic teddy bears, doughnuts, and more from genetic material, and using these techniques to push forward fields from materials science to drug delivery. Sarah also interviews Philip Cook of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, about his Policy Forum on gun regulation research. It’s long been hard to collect data on gun violence in the United States, and Cook talks about how some researchers are getting funding and hard data. He also discusses some strong early results on open-carry laws and links between gun control and intimate partner homicide. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: : K. WAGENBAUER ET AL., NATURE, VOL. 551, 2017; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

7 December 2017: Exoplanet geology & duck-like dinosaurs

This week, exoplanet geology and a dual-terrain, duck-like dinosaur.

  Tornado on Jupiter
Reposted fromyellowsoupmarine yellowsoupmarine

Ep. 468: Simulations for Science and Fun

Astronomers depend on simulations to study the Universe. From relatively straightforward orbital simulations to vast simulations that try to recreate the large scale structure of the Universe from the Big Bang. Today we're going to talk about some of those simulations, as well as tools you can use simulate the Universe.

Debunking yeti DNA, and the incredibly strong arms of prehistoric female farmers

The abominable snowman, the yeti, bigfoot, and sasquatch—these long-lived myths of giant, hairy hominids depend on dropping elusive clues to stay in the popular imagination—a blurry photo here, a big footprint there—but what happens when scientists try to pin that evidence down? Online News Editor David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about the latest attempts to verify the yeti’s existence using DNA analysis of bones and hair and how this research has led to more than the debunking of a mythic creature. Sarah also interviews Alison Macintosh of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom about her investigation of bone, muscle, and behavior in prehistory female farmers—what can a new database of modern women’s bones—athletes and regular folks—tell us about the labor of women as humans took up farming?   Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Didier Descouens/CC BY SA 3.0; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

30 November 2017: Unnatural DNA & worm mothers

This week, reading unnatural DNA, and young worm mothers explain a wriggly riddle.

The world’s first dog pictures, and looking at the planet from a quantum perspective

About 8000 years ago, people were drawing dogs with leashes, according to a series of newly described stone carvings from Saudi Arabia. Online News Editor David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about reporting on this story and what it says about the history of dog domestication. Sarah also interviews physicist Brad Marston of Brown University on surprising findings that bring together planetary science and quantum physics. It turns out that Earth’s rotation and the presence of oceans and atmosphere on its surface mean it can be described as a “topological insulator”—a term usually reserved for quantum phenomena. Insights from the study of these effects at the quantum level may help us understand weather and currents at the planetary level—including insights into climate change and exoplanets. Listen to previous podcasts.

23 November 2017: Sleep deprivation & radioactive lightning

This week, lightning gamma rays, the Internet that wasn’t, and the science of sleep deprivation.

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Reposted fromRockYourMind RockYourMind viaLogHiMa LogHiMa

Ep. 467: Resonance

Many of the moons and planets across the Universe are in resonance with each other and their star. What causes this resonance, and how can it help us understand the history of planetary formation and migration?

Ep. 466: Origins of Zero (0)

We depend on zero for our math to work right, but this number was actually invented in fairly recent times. Why do we need zero? Was it inevitable?

Preventing psychosis and the evolution—or not—of written language

How has written language changed over time? Do the way we read and the way our eyes work influence how scripts look? This week we hear a story on changes in legibility in written texts with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic. Sarah Crespi also interviews Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel on her story about detecting signs of psychosis in kids and teens, recruiting at-risk individuals for trials, and searching for anything that can stop the progression.    Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Procsilas Moscas/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 

Nature Podcast: 16 November 2017

This week, a bacterial communication system, and ancient houses illuminate inequality.

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