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Ep 484: Transfer Orbits and Gravitational Assists

If you want to get around in the Solar System, you’ll want to take advantage of natural gravitational speed boosts and transfer orbits. Whether you’re heading to the outer Solar System or you want to visit the Sun itself, the planets themselves can help you in your journey.

A possible cause for severe morning sickness, and linking mouse moms’ caretaking to brain changes in baby mice

Researchers are converging on which genes are linked to morning sickness—the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy—and the more severe form: hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). And once we know what those genes are—can we help pregnant women feel better? News intern Roni Dengler joins Sarah Crespi to talk about a new study that suggests a protein already flagged for its role in cancer-related nausea may also be behind HG. In a second segment, Tracy Bedrosian of the Neurotechnology Innovations Translator talks about how the amount of time spent being licked by mom might be linked to changes in the genetic code of hippocampal neurons in mice pups. Could these types of genomic changes be a new type of plasticity in the brain? This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Jacob Bøtter/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

22 March 2018: Mexican cavefish, the gut microbiome, and a wearable brain scanner.

This week, glucose metabolism in Mexican cavefish, the effect of non-antibiotic drugs on gut microbes, and a wearable brain scanner.

Ep 483: Stopping in Space

It’s one thing to get from Earth to space, but sometimes you want to do the opposite. You want to get into orbit or touch down gently on the surface of a planet and explore it. How do spacecraft stop? And what does that even mean when everything is orbiting?

How humans survived an ancient volcanic winter and how disgust shapes ecosystems

When Indonesia’s Mount Toba blew its top some 74,000 years ago, an apocalyptic scenario ensued: Tons of ash and debris entered the atmosphere, coating the planet in ash for 2 weeks straight and sending global temperatures plummeting. Despite the worldwide destruction, humans survived. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about how life after Toba was even possible—were humans decimated, or did they rally in the face of a suddenly extra hostile planet? Next, Julia Buck of the University of California, Santa Barbara, joins Sarah to discuss her Science commentary piece on landscapes of disgust. You may have heard of a landscape of fear—how a predator can influence an ecosystem not just by eating its prey, but also by introducing fear into the system, changing the behavior of many organisms. Buck and colleagues write about how disgust can operate in a similar way: Animals protect themselves from parasites and infection by avoiding disgusting things such as dead animals of the same species or those with disease. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Emma Forsber/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

15 March 2018: Geoengineering Antarctica and increasing NMR’s resolution.

This week, geoengineering glaciers to prevent sea level rise, and using diamonds to improve NMR’s resolution.

Ep 482: Alternative Ways to Space

Getting to space is all about rockets, but people are trying to figure out other methods that could carry payloads to orbit and beyond. Railguns, airplanes, tethers and more. Today we’ll talk about alternative methods of spaceflight.

Animals that don’t need people to be domesticated; the astonishing spread of false news; and links between gender, sexual orientation, and speech

Did people domesticate animals? Or did they domesticate themselves? Online News Editor David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about a recent study that looked at self-domesticating mice. If they could go it alone, could cats or dogs have done the same in the distant past? Next, Sinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge joins Sarah to discuss his work on true and false rumor cascades across all of Twitter, since its inception. He finds that false news travels further, deeper, and faster than true news, regardless of the source of the tweet, the kind of news it was, or whether bots were involved. In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Sarah first speaks with Ben Munson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis about markers of gender and sexual orientation in spoken language and then Adrienne Hancock of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., talks about using what we know about gender and communication to help transgender women change their speech and communication style. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Rudolf Jakkel (CC0); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

8 March 2018: Surprising graphene superconductors, and 50 years dreaming of electric sheep.

This week, graphene’s latest superpower, and a retrospective of a sci-fi classic.

Ep 481: Rockets pt. 3 - Going Faster, Higher, Farther after Fairing Separation

We’ve seen rockets blast off from here on Earth. But that’s only half the story. Rockets have additional stages to push them into trajectories, like transfer orbits and various orbital manouvers. Let’s talk about what happens after the rocket is long gone, beyond our sight.

A new dark matter signal from the early universe, massive family trees, and how we might respond to alien contact

For some time after the big bang there were no stars. Researchers are now looking at cosmic dawn—the time when stars first popped into being—and are seeing hints of dark matter’s influence on supercold hydrogen clouds. News Writer Adrian Cho talks with Sarah Crespi about how this observation was made and what it means for our understanding of dark matter. Sarah also interviews Joanna Kaplanis of the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., about constructing enormous family trees based on an online social genealogy platform. What can we learn from the biggest family tree ever built—with 13 million members spanning 11 generations? In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Sarah talks with Michael Varnum of Arizona State University in Tempe about what people think they will do if humanity comes into contact with aliens that just happen to be microbes. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Kilo-Degree Survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO; Music: Jeffrey Cook]  

1 March 2018: Brain waves and a fingerprint from the early Universe

This week, the landscape of childhood cancers, physicists find a fingerprint from the early Universe, and brain waves cause a splash.

Backchat February 2018: Luck, debate, and the quantum internet

Our reporters discuss the role of serendipity in science, how to cover the iterative nature of research, and what the quantum internet might become.

Ep 480: Rockets pt. 2- Multi-stage Boosters

The vast majority of rockets are multi-staged affairs. Why is this? What makes this kind of rocket so successful? Today we look at the ins and outs of multi-stage rockets.

Neandertals that made art, live news from the AAAS Annual Meeting, and the emotional experience of being a scientist

We talk about the techniques of painting sleuths, how to combat alternative facts or “fake news,” and using audio signposts to keep birds from flying into buildings. For this segment, David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with host Sarah Crespi as part of a live podcast event from the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin. Sarah also interviews Science News Editor Tim Appenzeller about Neandertal art. The unexpected age of some European cave paintings is causing experts to rethink the mental capabilities of our extinct cousins. For the monthly books segment, Jen Golbeck interviews with William Glassley about his book, A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Marcus Trienke/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

22 February 2018: A focus on adolescence

This week, a teenage special: defining adolescence; high school researchers; and the science of teen risk taking.

Ep. 479: Rockets pt. 1- What Does "Single Stage To Orbit" Really Mean?

To celebrate the launch of the Falcon Heavy, we figured it was time for an all new series, this time on the rockets that carry us to space. Today we're going to talk about why single stage to orbit rockets are so difficult to carry out.

Genes that turn off after death, and debunking the sugar conspiracy

Some of our genes come alive after we die. David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about which genes are active after death and what we can learn about time of death by looking at patterns of postmortem gene expression. Sarah also interviews David Merritt Johns of Columbia University about the so-called sugar conspiracy. Historical evidence suggests, despite recent media reports, it is unlikely that “big sugar” influenced U.S. nutrition policy and led to the low-fat diet fad of the ’80s and ’90s. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Lauri Andler (Phantom); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

15 February 2018: Optical clocks, healthy ageing, and fieldwork during pregnancy

This week, refocusing ageing research, a transportable optical clock, and researching during pregnancy.

Happy lab animals may make better research subjects, and understanding the chemistry of the indoor environment

Would happy lab animals—rats, mice, even zebrafish—make for better experiments? David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about the potential of treating lab animals more like us and making them more useful for science at the same time. Sarah also interviews Jon Abbatt of the University of Toronto in Canada about indoor chemistry. What is going on in the air inside buildings—how different is it from the outside? Researchers are bringing together the tools of outdoor chemistry and building sciences to understand what is happening in the air and on surfaces inside—where some of us spend 90% of our time. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Austin Thomason/Michigan Photography; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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