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Ep. 522: Judging Age & Origins, part 1 - Earth Rocks

522: Judging Age & Origins, part 1 - Earth Rocks Astronomy Cast 522: Judging Age & Origins, part 1 - Earth Rocks by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay People always want to know how old everything is. And more specifically, they want to know how we know how old everything is. Well, here at Astronomy Cast, it's our job to tell you now only what we know, but how we know what we know. And today we'll begin a series on how we know how old everything is.

Bonus Episode: Dust with Dr. Paul Sutter

Bonus: Dust with Dr. Paul Sutter Astronomy Cast Bonus: Dust with Dr. Paul Sutter by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Recorded during the Astrotour to Costa Rica, Fraser talks to Dr. Paul Matt Sutter about the nature of dust and BICEP 2's claim of discovering primordial gravitational waves.

REBROADCAST: Nature Pastcast March 1918

This year, Nature celebrates its 150th birthday. To mark this anniversary we’re rebroadcasting episodes from our Pastcast series, bringing to life key moments in the history of science.


As the First World War draws to an end, astronomer Arthur Eddington sets out on a challenging mission: to prove Einstein’s new theory of general relativity by measuring a total eclipse. The experiment became a defining example of how science should be done.


This episode was first broadcast in March 2014.

Mysterious fast radio bursts and long-lasting effects of childhood cancer treatments

Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Daniel Clery about the many, many theories surrounding fast radio bursts—extremely fast, intense radio signals from outside the galaxy—and a new telescope coming online that may help sort them out. Also this week, Sarah talks with Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel about her story on researchers’ attempts to tackle the long-term effects of pediatric cancer treatment. The survival rate for some pediatric cancers is as high as 90%, but many survivors have a host of health problems. Jennifer’s feature is part of a special section on pediatric cancer. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: ESO/L. Calçada; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 

14 March 2019: Ebola in DRC, a new HIV treatment, and the proposed US budget. 

Instead of a regular edition of the Nature Podcast, this week we’ve got an extended News Chat between Benjamin Thompson and Amy Maxmen. They discuss the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC, an injectable treatment for HIV, and how the proposed US 2020 budget could affect science.

Ep. 521: The Deep Space Network

521: The Deep Space Network Astronomy Cast 521: The Deep Space Network by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay We always focus on the missions, but there's an important glue that holds the whole system together. The Deep Space Network. Today we're going to talk about how this system works and how it communicates with all the spacecraft out there in the Solar System.

Clues that the medieval plague swept into sub-Saharan Africa and evidence humans hunted and butchered giant ground sloths 12,000 years ago

New archaeological evidence suggests the same black plague that decimated Europe also took its toll on sub-Saharan Africa. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about diverse medieval sub-Saharan cities that shrank or even disappeared around the same time the plague was stalking Europe. In a second archaeological story, Meagan Cantwell talks with Gustavo Politis, professor of archaeology at the National University of Central Buenos Aires and the National University of La Plata, about new radiocarbon dates for giant ground sloth remains found in the Argentine archaeological site Campo Laborde. The team’s new dates suggest humans hunted and butchered ground sloths in the late Pleistocene, about 12,500 years ago. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

07 March 2019: Coastal carbon-sinks, mobile health, and Mileva Marić

This week, wetlands' ability to store carbon, mobile health, and the story of Mileva Marić.

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Ep. 520: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter, Part 2

520: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter, Part 2 Astronomy Cast 520: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter, Part 2 by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Measuring earthquake damage with cellphone sensors and determining the height of the ancient Tibetan Plateau

In the wake of a devastating earthquake, assessing the extent of damage to infrastructure is time consuming—now, a cheap sensor system based on the accelerometers in cellphones could expedite this process. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about how these sensor systems work and how they might assist communities after an earthquake. In another Earth-shaking study, scientists have downgraded the height of the ancient Tibetan Plateau. Most reconstructions estimate that the “rooftop of the world” reached its current height of 4500 meters about 40 million years ago, but a new study suggests it was a mere 3000 meters high during this period. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Svetlana Botsyun, a postdoctoral researcher at Tübingen University in Germany, about her team’s new approach to studying paleoelevation, and how a shorter Tibetan Plateau would have impacted the surrounding area’s climate. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Martin Luff/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

28 February 2019: Cuckoo parasitism, topological materials, and cannabinoids in yeast.

This week, the parenting strategies of a tropical cuckoo, increasing the number of topological materials, and growing cannabinoids in yeast.

Ep. 519: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter

519: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter Astronomy Cast 519: Transients: What They Are and Why They Matter by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

Spotting slavery from space, and using iPads for communication disorders

In our first segment from the annual meeting of AAAS (Science’s publisher) in Washington, D.C., host Sarah Crespi talks with Cathy Binger of University of New Mexico in Albuquerque about her session on the role of modern technology, such as iPads and apps, in helping people with communication disorders. It turns out that there’s no killer app, but some devices do help normalize assistive technology for kids. Also this week, freelance journalist Sarah Scoles joins Sarah Crespi to talk about bringing together satellite imaging, machine learning, and nonprofits to put a stop to modern-day slavery. In our monthly books segment, books editor Valerie Thompson talks with Judy Grisel about her book Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, including discussions of Gisel’s personal experience with addiction and how it has informed her research as a neuroscientist. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: ILO in Asia and the Pacific/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

21 February 2019: Mouse cell atlases and cataloguing viruses

This week, mapping every cell in a mouse embryo and the benefits of cataloguing all the viruses on Earth.

Ep. 518: When the Universe tried to Declare War

518: When the Universe tried to Declare War Astronomy Cast 518: When the Universe tried to Declare War by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay

How far out we can predict the weather, and an ocean robot that monitors food webs

The app on your phone tells you the weather for the next 10 days—that’s the furthest forecasters have ever been able to predict. In fact, every decade for the past hundred years, a day has been added to the total forecast length. But we may be approaching a limit—thanks to chaos inherent in the atmosphere. Staff writer Paul Voosen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how researchers have determined that we will only be adding about 5 more days to our weather prediction apps. Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell interviews Trygve Fossum from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim about his article in Science Robotics on an underwater autonomous vehicle designed to sample phytoplankton off the coast of Norway. The device will help researchers form a better picture of the base of many food webs and with continued monitoring, researchers hope to better understand key processes in the ocean such as nutrient, carbon, and energy cycling. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download the transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts About the Science Podcast [Image: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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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