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New Scientist Weekly

Author: New Scientist

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Keep up with the latest scientific developments and breakthroughs in this weekly podcast from the team at New Scientist, the world’s most popular weekly science and technology magazine. Each discussion centers around three of the most fascinating stories to hit the headlines each week. From technology, to space, health and the environment, we share all the information you need to keep pace. Produced by Right Angles.
27 Episodes
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With the threat of coronavirus taking centre stage in all our minds, has the issue of plastic waste taken a backseat - has the public lost interest?In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Valerie Jamieson, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. They discuss a new study exploring ways to fix our ever-increasing problem of plastic pollution, which is being especially compounded by many of the world’s new hygiene measures and the dumping of thousands of tonnes of PPE. As different parts of the world look to tackle the issue differently, like the UK’s introduction of a plastic tax for instance, can we push back the worst of our plastic problems?The team also reexamines 2019’s groundbreaking image of a black hole, as a new study reveals what the fuzzy orange glow around the hole could tell us. They also find out how dinosaurs became one of the most successful groups of animals ever to exist, work out whether fungi found at Chernobyl could protect humans from the radiation on Mars, and take a closer look than ever before at the planet nearest to our sun, Mercury!To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
What’s in our food? By now you’d think we’d have a pretty firm handle on that question, but it turns out we don’t know the half of it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Graham Lawton. They discuss what’s been called nutritional dark matter: the massive void in our understanding of the biochemicals that make up the food we eat. Our standard guidelines neglect to take into account thousands of molecules and compounds, which might explain why nutritional recommendations tend to flip-flop: chocolate and red wine is good for us one week, and vilified the next.The team also visits Mars as NASA prepares to send a rover called Perseverance on a new life-finding mission, and they explore how a form of vaccination was being used as far back as the 18th century, later adopted by soldiers in the US civil war, in the fight against smallpox. They also celebrate DNA, as a quadruple-stranded form of the molecule has been discovered for the first time in healthy human cells, and herald a polystyrene-eating beetle which may help solve our plastic waste crisis.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Contracting covid-19 isn’t the only thing that’s making coronavirus deadly - the outbreak could lead to a jump in the number of deaths from diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. With healthcare systems at capacity, issues with drug supply chains, and with people unwilling to visit hospitals, the knock-on effects could be devastating.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, and Adam Vaughan. Bringing you the latest news about the pandemic, the team also hear about the mental health implications of lockdown on our children, and the possibility of increased hospital deaths if the UK suffers a bad winter.The team also attempts to vindicate sitting down - it might not be as bad for us as we think, but as always there’s a caveat! They discuss whether it’s possible to radically engineer crops in the face of climate change and population growth, chat about the introduction of bison to the UK, and explain how advanced alien civilisations could avoid cosmic catastrophes by moving their entire solar systems!To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
It’s been half a year since coronavirus and covid-19 emerged and the world dramatically changed. Our understanding of the virus and the disease has also hugely changed in those six months, and it’s time to take stock on our understanding of how it spreads, its symptoms and how to tackle it.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Valerie Jamieson and Cat de Lange. They explore the various methods being used in the fight against coronavirus, why some countries have seen second waves while others haven’t, and explain why horror movie fans seem to be more mentally resilient during the pandemic.The team also discusses yet another piece of evidence showing the world’s need to cut down on meat and dairy production, this time because of the industry’s massive contribution to global nitrogen emissions. They talk about the possibility of gravitational rainbows with the news that gravity itself may have a weight, celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs boson, and share exciting news about two debut missions to Mars, one from United Arab Emirates, another from China.To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. 
Coronaviruses don’t usually produce a strong “immune memory”, and that has been worrying scientists, because it spells trouble for long-term immunity and the development of a vaccine. But, thankfully, the coronavirus that causes covid-19 doesn’t seem to be typical.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. They explore new research that suggests people are developing immunity to the disease.The team also discusses how CRISPR gene editing has been used to treat two inherited genetic diseases in humans for the first time, they reveal the startling news that some snakes can fly (sort of), and from Donald Trump to Jacinda Ardern, they hear about possible evolutionary reasons behind the two types of leader in today’s world. All that, and positive news about some nearby exoplanets. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
If your brain was put in a vat and supplied with food and oxygen, would it be able to think? Would it be you? For much of the 20th century, people assumed the answer to this thought experiment was yes. But there is growing evidence suggesting the brain needs the body to work properly, and even to create consciousness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Catherine de Lange. They discuss whether artificial consciousness in a robot or computer is even possible if consciousness requires a body, and what this “embodied cognition” means for people with autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. In other stories, they hear about a whale without a tail, news of the world’s fastest supercomputer, and explore what the long term impact of covid-19 on people who caught coronavirus might be. The team also discuss the worrying news that the highest ever temperature (38°C) has been recorded in the Arctic. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
There are now more than 8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and at least 450,000 deaths. Given the lack of preparation for this pandemic, it’s clear that we need to start preparing for the next one. One glimmer of light is that an existing drug has been found that reduces the mortality of covid-19.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Layal Liverpool. They discuss the politics of the response to the pandemic and the problems we need to solve before the next one.They also report on what black academics have to say about tackling systemic racism in science, and ask what action universities and institutions can take to be better in the future. The team explore a ‘switch’ in the brain that could trigger a human hibernation-like state, share what culture they’ve been digesting during lockdown, and hear about an intergalactic web stretching vast distances through space. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
Scientists have discovered a fascinating new way that women might choose between men to father their babies - and the choice may happen after having sex. It turns out that a woman’s egg can itself choose between the sperm of different men - and the egg may not always agree with the woman’s choice of partner.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Donna Lu and Valerie Jamieson. They discuss how a form of mate choice seen in many kinds of insects and other animals has now been shown in humans.They also bring you up to speed on the breakthroughs that are bringing the long-awaited dream of nuclear fusion closer to reality, they explore a macroscopic-sized quantum entity that has been created on board the International Space Station, hear about the biggest land animal ever to exist, and they discuss the disturbing rise of online misinformation and vitriol around covid-19. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
The UK now has the highest number of covid-19 deaths in Europe, and worldwide, the total number of confirmed covid-19 deaths is second only to the US. So how did the UK get it so wrong? We discuss why slowness to get testing seems to have been a real problem, and if it is even possible to vaccinate against covid-19. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Adam Vaughan. They delve into the ethics of vaccine development, and why hopes of seeing one in September are now vanishingly unlikely. They also discuss new research which suggests Parkinson’s disease may spread from the gut to the brain, they hear about why Mars’s moon Phobos may someday turn back into a ring around the planet, and they celebrate that astrophysicist Brian May - better known as the guitarist from Queen - has published a paper on asteroids. Not only that, but Greta Thunberg turns up on the new 1975 album. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for New Scientist Weekly for the Listeners’ Choice award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
The coronavirus pandemic is a human disaster that is dominating the news right now, but climate change is going to be worse and longer-lasting. The two crises may seem to be completely separate, but there are parallels that can be drawn between the two in our reaction and response to them, our ability to change behaviour and the possibility of bending the curve of their impact.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss the views of the chief of the World Meteorological Organisation, Peterri Taalas, that our environmentally unfriendly ways might change as a result of the pandemic - and if the last few months might reset our climate damaging norms or will we slip back into old habits. The team also hear how bumblebees can force plants to flower early if they are struggling to find food, they discuss how to stay safe from the coronavirus as lockdown eases, and they explore the new space race between private companies rather than global superpowers. They debate whether NASA outsourcing space travel is wise, given they are potentially putting their faith in the hands of companies with controversial CEOs such as Elon Musk SpaceX - even if they are getting a good deal on price. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Please vote for us for the Listeners’ Choice Award at the British Podcast Awards: https://www.britishpodcastawards.com/vote
Rather than simply eating until we are full, humans selectively try to eat the right amounts of three macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat – plus two micronutrients, sodium and calcium. It turns out we have five separate appetites that drive us to eat the right amount of each.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Graham Lawton. They discuss an evolutionary explanation for the obesity epidemic: the fact humans will gorge on carbohydrates to try and get enough protein if they find themselves deprived of this nutrient.The team also discuss an implant that lets blind people ‘see’ letters traced on their brain’s surface, they analyse how the coronavirus is impacting conservation efforts around the world, and they delve into mud on Mars. If what we thought was lava pouring out of Martian volcanoes is actually mud, it has implications for life on the planet - which leads to a message from Elon Musk. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
There are four fundamental forces that describe how everything works, from black holes to radioactive decay to sounds coming out of your headphones. But this week we discuss hints that there is a fifth fundamental force of nature.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and Valerie Jamieson. They ask whether physics is in crisis, given that it struggles to explain 95% of the universe, or if physicists are happy, because there is so much still to discover. The team also discuss the creation of mouse-human chimeras, they reveal how kelp could help remove billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, and analyse whether dystopian science fiction has primed us to think that social distancing surveillance measures - such as the robot dog seen patrolling in Singapore - are too creepy. And there’s a swift discussion about the bird that sleeps on the wing and that has just returned to Europe from Africa. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Join our online event: ‘Can we trust the science?’ on Monday 18 May at 6pm BST here: https://www.newscientist.com/science-events/new-online-series-continues-coronavirus-can-trust-science/
MIDI, the digital encoding technology that revolutionised music production in the 1980s, is getting an upgrade. We explore how MIDI 2.0 will change not only how music is made, but how sounds are produced in movies. We discuss the history and future of sound, using Nancy Sinatra, Radiohead and pioneering electronic musician Aphex Twin as examples. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Valerie Jamieson and Bethan Ackerley. They discuss the infodemic of bad science surrounding coronavirus, and the danger posed by stories shared by ‘armchair epidemiologists’. They share their top tips for disseminating what coronavirus information can be trusted.The team also hear about a possible solution to the mystery of massively powerful radio waves that have been detected from across the universe; they reveal the truth about murder hornets which have been found in the US for the first time; and in climate change news, they delve into the latest stats on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Is the coronavirus crisis giving you bad dreams? Anxiety and stress about covid-19 has changed our sleeping patterns and the tone of our dreams. But rest assured, bad dreams and nightmares are just a sign of the brain doing its job. In this episode, special guest Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California and best-selling author of ‘Why We Sleep’, shares top tips for sleeping well, and gives advice for people experiencing bad dreams. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, and New Scientist consultant Michael Brooks. They take a mind-bending look at what happened when mathematicians decided to try and explain consciousness, and the controversy over what consciousness actually is.They also discuss a robot that has been constructed using the spine of a rat and 3D-printed muscle, explore how brain stimulation could be used to treat severe anorexia, and they lift a glass to research that suggests drunken elephants do in fact go on a rampage!
We might have the first evidence for the mind-blowing idea that there is a parallel universe to our own, an antimatter universe which is mirror-flipped and travelling backwards in time.In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Cat de Lange and Gilead Amit. They discuss the tantalising clues suggesting there might be a weird parallel universe created with ours, and speculate as to what this might mean.They also explore how you can protect your mental health during the coronavirus crisis; why it is vitally important to stay connected during lockdown, and how simple things, such as regular rhythms of getting up and going to bed around the same time, can be the key to good self-care. The team also talk about a delicious lockdown treat you can cook at home called dulce de leche; explore an extraordinary lesser-known novel by Mary Shelley about a pandemic; and hear about why men are more likely to develop severe covid-19 and to die from the disease. 
While much of the world is still on lockdown and with global cases of coronavirus now over two million, one positive thing that’s come out of this crisis is that we’re paying more attention to our physical fitness. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Cat de Lange. They discuss the latest UK and US government advice on fitness that emphasises how muscle strengthening is just as important as aerobic activity, and how you can do this kind of exercise even in a confined space. The team also hear what could be the first climate change song (from 1927!), explore how bats are capable of mimicking sound, discuss an on-going cosmic explosion which is the biggest ever seen, and investigate newly-invented vibrating clothing which claims to instil calmness and confidence. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. 
The United States now accounts for one-fifth of all new coronavirus cases globally, with New York at the epicentre with over 150,000 cases. In this episode, special guest Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shares his thoughts from New York on how to reduce the risk to healthcare workers, why until we find a vaccine we are living in a ‘Covid World’, and on how the world can come out of this crisis a safer place. In the pod this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Sam Wong. They discuss the science of baking bread and why you don’t need to buy yeast; how a parakeet has become the world’s most invasive species; the lifespan of the world’s biggest fish, and the surprising things bacteria might be responsible for - including maybe even the weather! To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
There’s still so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, from the symptoms and spreadability to matters like how long you should self-isolate. In this episode, we attempt to answer some of the most pressing questions about COVID-19. In the pod for this week are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. Also, the poet laureate Simon Armitage reads a poem written in response to the coronavirus crisis, called Lockdown. We discuss when you are likely to be at the peak of infection, whether it is possible to be infected twice, and why the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be affected much by heat and humidity. We also offer our tips for maintaining a healthy mental state during lockdown.And in non-pandemic news: the team reports how hot springs might have been discovered on Mars, highlight an artificial intelligence that has the ability to read your mind, and explore the origins of humanity now that new research suggests humans might not have a single point of origin but rather many, scattered all over Africa. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
The UK government says they are going to distribute millions of covid-19 coronavirus testing kits in the next few days, but how effective will these be and is it too late now to flatten the curve of increasing infections? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by epidemiologist Christl Donnelly from Imperial College London. Christl is associate director of the MRC centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which advises the government. We hear how it's never too late to flatten the curve, and how smartphones are can be useful for contact tracing. There’s also some non-coronavirus-related news too: the team highlight a tasty new discovery that will make the texture of lab-grown meat more realistic, explore how to fight infection and ageing by turning back your immune system's clock, and discuss a mouse that might be ‘the most hardcore mammal on the planet.’ To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
The actions taken now by countries and governments globally is crucial in limiting the impact of the covid-19 coronavirus - but has the response been strong enough? In the pod for this week’s episode are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Graham Lawton. The team is joined by two experts from University College London: professor of risk and disaster reduction David Alexander, and professor of ecology and biodiversity Kate Jones. The panel explores just how prepared we are for this global emergency, and also looks at how diseases that originate in wildlife may be increasing as a result of environmental challenges. And if you want to hear what else is going on in the world, there’s more than just coronavirus on the lineup. The team highlights ‘bonehenge’, a 22,000-year-old structure made of mammoth bones, discusses the incredible finding of a planet where it rains liquid iron, and uncovers the evolutionary origin of the human ability to run. To find out more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
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Comments (13)

Mehdi Ahangar Kiasari

Nice podcasts!

Jun 15th
Reply

ID17263458

Can I get the name of the speaker who talks about the FRBs?

May 9th
Reply

inov8ive

why do the new scientist podcast editors exclude any covid-19 scientific news? you're dropping the ball in my opinion

May 2nd
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ncooty

A podcast supposedly about recent scientific discoveries really should evince a better understanding of science, including critical thinking. You should also cite the research and methods. As it is, this comes across to me as people pretending to be twits having a scripted, condescending, pedestrian discussion of titles of journal articles.

Apr 18th
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ncooty

A podcast putatively about scientific discoveries, but with no citations and very little scientific understanding or scrutiny?

Apr 18th
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Apr 1st
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Mar 31st
Reply (1)

jim vincent

I can't/won't listen to your liberal tone. I need facts, not opinions.

Mar 25th
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Abdullah Ahmadzai

if you send us transcripts via email that would be great

Mar 3rd
Reply

Nuage Laboratoire

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Mar 3rd
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Sarah Ferrigan

I can't download or listen to this one

Feb 10th
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