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14 February 2019: Atherosclerosis and disruptive science

This week, the links between atherosclerosis and sleep-deprivation, and how team size affects research outputs.

Ep. 517: Fritz Zwicky and the Zwicky Transient Facility

517: Fritz Zwicky and the Zwicky Transient Facility Astronomy Cast 517: Fritz Zwicky and the Zwicky Transient Facility by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay
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Reposted fromyellowsoupmarine yellowsoupmarine

Possible potato improvements, and a pill that gives you a jab in the gut

Because of its genetic complexity, the potato didn’t undergo a “green revolution” like other staple crops. It can take more than 15 years to breed a new kind of potato that farmers can grow, and genetic engineering just won’t work for tackling complex traits such as increased yield or heat resistance. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Erik Stokstad about how researchers are trying to simplify the potato genome to make it easier to manipulate through breeding. Researchers and companies are racing to perfect an injector pill—a pill that you swallow, which then uses a tiny needle to shoot medicine into the body. Such an approach could help improve compliance for injected medications like insulin. Host Meagan Cantwell and Staff Writer Robert F. Service discuss a new kind of pill—one that flips itself over once it hits the bottom of the stomach and injects a dose of medication into the stomach lining. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Michael Eric Nickel/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

07 February 2019: Massive chemical libraries, and CRISPR-CasX

This week, virtual drug discovery, and a new addition to the CRISPR toolkit.

Ep. 516: Polar Vortices

516: Polar Vortices Astronomy Cast 516: Polar Vortices by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Treating the microbiome, and a gene that induces sleep

Orla Smith, editor of Science Translational Medicine joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about what has changed in the past 10 years of microbiome research, what’s getting close to being useful in treatment, and how strong, exactly, the research is behind those probiotic yogurts. When you’re sick, sleeping is restorative—it helps your body recover from nasty infections. Meagan Cantwell speaks with Amita Sehgal, professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, about the process of discovering a gene in fruit flies that links sleep and immune function. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Music: Jeffrey Cook]

31 January 2019: Women of the periodic table, and harvesting energy from Wi-Fi

This week, the female chemists who helped build the periodic table, and harnessing the extra energy in Wi-Fi signals.

Ep. 515: Space Radiation

515: Space Radiation Astronomy Cast 515: Space Radiation by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Pollution from pot plants, and how our bodies perceive processed foods

The “dank” smelling terpenes emitted by growing marijuana can combine with chemicals in car emissions to form ozone, a health-damaging compound. This is especially problematic in Denver, where ozone levels are dangerously high and pot farms have sprung up along two highways in the city. Host Sarah Crespi talks with reporter Jason Plautz about researchers’ efforts to measure terpene emissions from pot plants and how federal restrictions have hampered them. Next, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Dana Small, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, about how processed foods are perceived by the body. In a doughnut-rich world, what’s a body to think about calories, nutrition, and satiety? And in the first book segment of the year, books editor Valerie Thompson is joined by Erika Malim, a history professor at Princeton University, to talk about her book Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America, which follows the rise and fall of the “killer ape hypothesis”—the idea that our capacity for killing each other is what makes us human. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Wornden LY/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

24 January 2019: Economic downturns and black holes

This week, the effects of recessions on public health, and simulating supermassive black holes.

Ep. 514: Planetary Protection Protocols

514: Planetary Protection Protocols Astronomy Cast 514: Planetary Protection Protocols by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Peering inside giant planets, and fighting Ebola in the face of fake news

It’s incredibly difficult to get an inkling of what is going on inside gas giants Saturn and Jupiter. But with data deliveries from the Cassini and Juno spacecraft, researchers are starting to learn more. Science Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about new gravity measurements from Cassini’s last passes around Saturn. Using these data, researchers were able to compare wind patterns on Saturn and Jupiter and measure the mass and age of Saturn’s rings. It turns out the rings are young, relatively speaking—they may have formed as recently as 10 million years ago, after dinosaurs went extinct. Megan Cantwell then talks to science writer Laura Spinney about how researchers are fighting conspiracy theories and political manipulation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the country’s ongoing Ebola outbreak. In a first, the government, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists are working with community leaders to fight misinformation—and they might actually be winning. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Stuart Rankin; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

17 January 2019: RNA splicing in yeast, and a walking fossil

This week, investigating introns’ roles, and reanimating a fossil.

Ep. 513: Stellar Fusion

513: Stellar Fusion Astronomy Cast 513: Stellar Fusion by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Podcast Extra: The search for a rare disease treatment

Nick Sireau’s sons have a rare genetic disease called alkaptonuria, which can lead to body tissues becoming brittle, causing life long health issues.


In this Podcast Extra, Geoff Marsh speaks to Nick and to the physician Dr Lakshminarayan Ranganath about their search for a treatment for alkaptonuria.

A mysterious blue pigment in the teeth of a medieval woman, and the evolution of online master’s degrees

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide free lectures and assignments, and gained global attention for their potential to increase education accessibility. Plagued with high attrition rates and fewer returning students every year, MOOCs have pivoted to a new revenue model—offering accredited master’s degrees for professionals. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Justin Reich, an assistant professor in the Comparative Media Studies Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, about the evolution of MOOCs and how these MOOC professional programs may be reaching a different audience than traditional online education. Archaeologists were flummoxed when they found a brilliant blue mineral in the dental plaque of a medieval-era woman from Germany. It turned out to be lapis lazuli—an expensive pigment that would have had to travel thousands of kilometers from the mines of Afghanistan to a monastery in Germany. Host Sarah Crespi talks to Christina Warinner, a professor of archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, about how the discovery of this pigment shed light on the impressive life of the medieval woman, an artist who likely played a role in manuscript production. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image:Oberlin.edu/Wikimedia Commons; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

10 January 2019: Fast Radio Bursts and new year future gazing

This week, detecting intergalactic radio bursts, and seeing what’s in store for science in 2019.

Ep. 512: Direct Imaging of Exoplanets

512: Direct Imaging of Exoplanets Astronomy Cast 512: Direct Imaging of Exoplanets by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Will a radical open-access proposal catch on, and quantifying the most deadly period of the Holocaust

Plan S, an initiative that requires participating research funders to immediately publish research in an open-access journal or repository, was announced in September 2018 by Science Europe with 11 participating agencies. Several others have signed on since the launch, but other funders and journal publishers have reservations. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Contributing Correspondent Tania Rabesandratana about those reservations and how Plan S is trying to change publishing practices and research culture at large. Some 1.7 million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis in the 22 months of Operation Reinhard (1942–43) which aimed to eliminate all Jews in occupied Poland. But until now, the speed and totality of these murders were poorly understood. It turns out that about one-quarter of all Jews killed during the Holocaust were murdered in the autumn of 1942, during this operation. Meagan talks with Lewi Stone, a professor of biomathematics at Tel Aviv University in Israel and mathematical science at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, about this shocking kill rate, and why researchers are taking a quantitative approach to characterizing genocides. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Michael Beckwith; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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