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Science Magazine Podcast

Science Magazine Podcast

Author: Science Magazine

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Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
255 Episodes
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How the appendix could hold the keys to Parkinson’s disease, and materials scientists mimic nature
For a long time, Parkinson’s disease was thought to be merely a disorder of the nervous system. But in the past decade researchers have started to look elsewhere in the body for clues to this debilitating disease—particularly in the gut. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Viviane Labrie of the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about new research suggesting people without their appendixes have a reduced risk of Parkinson’s. Labrie also describes the possible mechanism behind this connection.And host Sarah Crespi talks with Peter Fratzl of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, about what materials scientists can learn from nature. The natural world might not produce innovations like carbon nanotubes, but evolution has forged innumerable materials from very limited resources—mostly sugars, proteins, and minerals. Fratzl discusses how plants make time-release seedpods that are triggered by nothing but fire and rain, the amazing suckerin protein that comprises squid teeth, and how cicadas make their transparent, self-cleaning wings from simple building blocks.Fratzl’s review is part of a special section in Science on composite materials. Read the whole package, including a review on using renewables like coconut fiber for building cars and incorporating carbon nanotubes and graphene into composites.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download the transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcast[Image: Roger Smith/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
The future of PCB-laden orca whales, and doing genomics work with Indigenous people
Science has often treated Indigenous people as resources for research—especially when it comes to genomics. Now, Indigenous people are exploring how this type of study can be conducted in a way that respects their people and traditions. Meagan Cantwell talks with contributing correspondent Lizzie Wade about a summer workshop for Indigenous scientists that aims to start a new chapter in genomics.We’ve known for decades that PCBs—polychlorinated biphenyls—are toxic and carcinogenic. In the 1970s and 1980s, these compounds were phased out of use in industrial and electronic applications, worldwide. But they are still in the environment—in soil and air—and in animal tissues, particularly those of killer whales. These toxic compounds start out at minute levels in tiny organisms, but as the small are eaten by the slightly larger, the PCB concentration increases—from plankton, to fish, to seals—until you are at killer whales with PCB-packed blubber. Ailsa Hall, director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St. Andrews University in the United Kingdom, talks with host Sarah Crespi about her group’s work measuring PCB levels in different killer whale populations and calculating the effect of PCBs on those populations 100 years from now.In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Damon Centola about his book How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions. You can listen to more books segment and read more reviews on our books blog, Books et al. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download a transcript of this episode (PDF)Listen to previous podcastsAbout the Science Podcast[Image: Public domain; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
Metaresearchers take on meta-analyses, and hoary old myths about science
Meta-analyses—structured analyses of many studies on the same topic—were once seen as objective and definitive projects that helped sort out conflicts amongst smaller studies. These days, thousands of meta-analyses are published every year—many either redundant or contrary to earlier metaworks. Host Sarah Crespi talks to freelance science journalist Jop de Vrieze about ongoing meta-analysis wars in which opposing research teams churn out conflicting metastudies around important public health questions such as links between violent video games and school shootings and the effects of antidepressants. They also talk about what clues to look for when trying to evaluate the quality of a meta-analysis.Sarah also talked with three other contributors to our “Research on Research” special issue. Pierre Azoulay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Ben Jones of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and MIT’s Heidi Williams discuss the evidence for some hoary old scientific home truths. See whether you can guess who originally made these claims and how right or wrong they were:Do scientists make great contributions after age 30?How important is it to stand on the shoulders of giants?Does the truth win, or do its opponents just eventually die out?Read the rest of the package on science under scrutiny here.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download a transcript of this episode (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcast[Image: Davide Bonazzi/@SalzmanArt; Show music: Jeffrey Cook; additional music: Nguyen Khoi Nguyen]
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