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19 July 2018: DNA scaffolds, climate-altering microbes, and a robot chemist

This week, tougher DNA nanostructures, climate-altering permafrost microbes, and using a robot to discover chemical reactions.

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The South Pole’s IceCube detector catches a ghostly particle from deep space, and how rice knows to grow when submerged

A detection of a single neutrino at the 1-square-kilometer IceCube detector in Antarctica may signal the beginning of “neutrino astronomy.” The neutral, almost massless particle left its trail of debris in the ice last September, and its source was picked out of the sky by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope soon thereafter. Science News Writer Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the blazar fingered as the source and how neutrinos from this gigantic matter-gobbling black hole could help astronomers learn more about mysterious high-energy cosmic rays that occasionally shriek toward Earth. Read the research. Sarah also talks with Cornell University’s Susan McCouch about her team’s work on deep-water rice. Rice can survive flooding by fast internodal growth—basically a quick growth spurt that raises its leaves above water. But this growth only occurs in prolonged, deep flooding. How do these plants know they are submerged and how much to grow? Sarah and Susan discuss the mechanisms involved and where they originated. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

12 July 2018: Rats, reefs, and career streaks

This week, rats and coral reefs, charting successful careers streaks, and Cape Town’s water crisis.

A polio outbreak threatens global eradication plans, and what happened to America’s first dogs

Wild polio has been hunted to near extinction in a decades-old global eradication program. Now, a vaccine-derived outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is threatening to seriously extend the polio eradication endgame. Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the tough choices experts face in the fight against this disease in the DRC. Sarah also talks with Online News Editor David Grimm about when dogs first came to the Americas. New DNA and archaeological evidence suggest these pups did not arise from North American wolves but came over thousands of years after the first people did. Now that we know where they came from, the question is: Where did they go? Read the research. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Polio virus/David Goodsell/RCSB PDB; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

A DNA computer, the koala genome, and the invisibility of LGBTQ+ researchers

This week, investigating the koala genome, the issues facing LGBTQ+ researchers, and a DNA-based neural network.

Ep. 498: Dwarf Galaxy Update

The Milky Way has gobbled up dozens of dwarf galaxies and added them to its structure. Today we're going to look at the ongoing hunt for the wreckage of past mergers. And what we've discovered about dwarf galaxies in general.

Astronomy Cast: On Hiatus until September 2018

Astronomy Cast will be on hiatus for July and August. Don't worry, we'll be back in September, and will be gearing up for our 500th episode!

Backchat June 2018: Lab health, email briefings, and CRISPR

In this month’s roundtable, we discuss lab health, email briefings, and how science stories can affect the stock market.

Increasing transparency in animal research to sway public opinion, and a reaching a plateau in human mortality

Public opinion on the morality of animal research is on the downswing in the United States. But some researchers think letting the public know more about how animals are used in experiments might turn things around. Online News Editor David Grimm joins Sarah Crespi to talk about these efforts. Sarah also talks Ken Wachter of the University of California, Berkeley about his group’s careful analysis of data from all living Italians born 105 or more years before the study. It turns out the risk of dying does not continue to accelerate with age, but actually plateaus around the age of 105. What does this mean for attempts to increase human lifespan? In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck talks with Simon Winchester about his book The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World. Read more book reviews at our books blog, Books et al. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Chris Jones/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

27 June 2018: Air pollution, sick plants, and stress

This week, the relationship between air pollution and infant death in Africa, stressed brains, and diagnosing sick plants from afar.

Ep. 497: Update on Globular Clusters

Is it globular clusters or is it globeular clusters? It doesn't matter, they're awesome and we're here to update you on them.

New evidence in Cuba’s ‘sonic attacks,’ and finding an extinct gibbon—in a royal Chinese tomb

Since the 2016 reports of a mysterious assault on U.S. embassy staff in Cuba, researchers have struggled to find evidence of injury or weapon. Now, new research has discovered inner-ear damage in some of the personnel complaining of symptoms. Former International News Editor Rich Stone talks to host Sarah Crespi about the case, including new reports of a similar incident in China, and what kind of weapon—if any—might have been involved. Sarah also talks with Staff Writer Gretchen Vogel about the bones of an extinct gibbon found in a 2200- to 2300-year-old tomb in China. Although gibbons were often featured in historical poetry and paintings, these bones confirm their presence and the fact that they were distinct from today’s species.   Read the research. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Pedro Szekely; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 

21 June 2018: Pancreatic cancer, silica cages, and AI bias

This week, pancreatic cancer-related weight loss, tiny silica cages, and bias in Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

Ep. 496: Update on Stellar Populations I, II, and III

Another update show, this time on the various generations of stars, let's get into it.

The places where HIV shows no sign of ending, and the parts of the human brain that are bigger—in bigger brains

Nigeria, Russia, and Florida seem like an odd set, but they all have one thing in common: growing caseloads of HIV. Science Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about this week’s big read on how the fight against HIV/AIDS is evolving in these diverse locations. Sarah also talks with Armin Raznahan of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, about his group’s work measuring which parts of the human brain are bigger in bigger brains. Adult human brains can vary as much as two times in size—and until now this expansion was thought to be evenly distributed. However, the team found that highly integrative regions are overrepresented in bigger brains, whereas regions related to processing incoming sensory information such as sight and sound tend to be underrepresented.  This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Misha Friedman; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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