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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 award winning 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.
85 Episodes
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In some parts of the world, taking a stand for the planet can be incredibly dangerous. This week we hear from Laura Furones, of the campaign group Global Witness, on the finding that 227 environment activists were murdered in 2020. She explains why this is happening and what needs to be done to protect these people. In de-extinction news, $15 million has been given to a team hoping to bring mammoths back to life. While exciting news for some, evolutionary biologist Tori Herridge discusses the ethical implications of creating mammoth-elephant hybrids. The team finds out the latest on the UK’s plans to vaccinate children, and whether the country is likely to face another lockdown. They also discuss the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission, and learn that cows are easier to potty train than toddlers. Your hosts on the pod are Rowan Hooper and Penny Sarchet. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Great news for the more flatulent among us - breaking wind is a sign of good gut bacterial health. The team discusses a slightly unsavoury experiment in which men weighed their poos, stored them in freezers, and even had their farts measured… all in the name of science. The team also questions the wisdom of rolling out covid-19 booster jabs. Some countries are already gearing up to deliver dose number three, all while poorer populations struggle to get their hands on a first dose. Potential homes have been identified for Martians of the future - the team talks about the discovery of caves on Mars which could be turned into settlements for human explorers. They also discuss the news of a billionaire-funded lab that’s been set up with the aim of ‘curing’ the ageing process. And you even get to hear the words of a swearing duck which has learnt to say ‘you bloody fool’ - yeah, you read that right. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Alice Klein. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
A bold move from the world’s largest shipping company could have big implications for the planet . Maersk has bought ships which can run on both traditional fuel and methanol. This  alternative fuel, the team explains, could drastically reduce shipping’s contribution to global CO2 emissions. Neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory of the self, the subject of his latest book Being You – A New Science of Consciousness. The team explains how researchers are inching closer to solving one of the biggest problems in physics - quantum gravity. They also explore why the Large Hadron Collider - one of the most technologically advanced machines in the world - still stores data on old-school tapes. And they find out about Arabia’s role in the early history of humanity. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Adam Vaughan, Leah Crane,- Chelsea Whyte and Rowan Hooper. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Equipment from a massive biometrics programme in Afghanistan has been seized by the Taliban. From police and election commission programmes, they “have everything” according to one expert. The team explores the potential dangers caused by the Taliban’s access to this equipment. They also discuss the past and future of artificial intelligence with author Jeanette Winterson as she dives into her new book ‘12 Bytes’. A uranium cube that dates back to the Nazi’s atomic bomb programme is being examined by experts, and the team finds out exactly how the identification process works. They also learn about the nefarious goings-on of pollen-stealing bees, and they find out how astronomers have discovered a load of never-before-seen asteroids. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell and Matthew Sparkes, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Recreating the power of the sun, the dream of nuclear fusion - it’s a dream we’re inching ever closer to. A new breakthrough at a lab in the US has the team excited, and they catch up with Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies at Imperial College London, to get the latest. The team then see how evolution has proved, once again, that it is cleverer than we are, as an artificial ‘minimal cell’ created by scientists demonstrates its ability to adapt and evolve dramatically and rapidly. With the new school year not far away, fears are mounting over the covid-19 Delta variant, which threatens to sweep through our children - the team explains why the issue of ventilation must be a top priority. Things take a bizarre turn when the team finds out about a lab-grown mini human brain that has grown a pair of eyes. Also, following the IPCC report last week, and as COP26 approaches, the team checks in on the latest climate news. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Abby Beall and Mike Marshall. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
A lead author of the latest IPCC climate report, Tamsin Edwards, joins the team for a special episode of the podcast. News headlines have left many concerned, and with more questions than ever, so the team devotes a large chunk of the show to unpacking the findings of the report, and emphasising hope and action over doom and gloom. Linked to the issue of climate change is the agricultural industry’s impact on the environment, but there’s hope there too. The team explains how precision fermentation technology is being used to create guilt-free milk, cheese and ice-cream! And the team finds out about a killer tobacco plant - a newly-described species that kills insects and could provide a natural solution to pest control. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Graham Lawton and Adam Vaughan. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
As severe weather events around the world give us a very real taste of the devastating effects of climate change, we’re also getting a better understanding of what the future holds for our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its big report on the physical basis of climate change next week - the team previews what’s to come. They also explain why a number of nations are now mixing and matching their vaccine doses in order to stop the spread of the covid-19 delta variant. For the first time, microplastics have been found in human placentas, and the team examines the possible health implications. They also learn about new technology which is being used to send hidden messages in the calls of whales and dolphins, and they get all Doctor Who when they find out about the existence of real life time crystals. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
More than a week since England lifted its covid restrictions, infection numbers in the UK are very high. The team examines how the country has set up the perfect circumstances for the evolution of “escape variants” - forms of the virus that may be able to evade our immune systems and vaccines. The team also learns of the discovery of the earliest fossil animals ever found - sponges that are 350 million years older than anything we’ve seen before. They explain how a 14-legged single-cell organism is able to walk without a brain. They also discover what would happen if two superfast stars smashed into each other, and find out why many climate models weren’t able to predict the severity of recent extreme weather. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Timothy Revell, Leah Crane and Michael Marshall. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Freedom day arrived in England this week, as the country dropped most covid restrictions. But as cases continue to rise and many people, children included, remain unvaccinated, the team discuss why hundreds of experts are calling the move an ‘unethical experiment’. High levels of methane have been detected on Mars by the Curiosity rover, which could indicate life on the Red Planet - but the team explains why they aren’t breaking out the champagne just yet. They then discuss the launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, with Jeff Bezos announcing his plans to build a ‘road to space’. There’s also news about a tomato nervous system, as biologists discover the sophisticated methods the plants use to communicate. And the team touches on the discovery of a new genetic element named after the Borg in Star Trek, which could aid in the fight against climate change. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, and Cat de Lange. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Race-based medical practises are being challenged more and more, as it becomes increasingly clear they have little basis in science. The team finds out why adjustments for race and ethnicity are still being made in medicine, despite the potential harm and healthcare implications they cause. It’s been a massive week for the future of space tourism - the team shares a clip of a very excited Richard Branson who’s recent journey into microgravity has set the stage for the launch of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flights. The team gives an update on the dramatic heatwave ravaging the US, as more record high temperatures are set, continuing to leave destruction in its wake. They also explain what ‘impact gardening’ is and why it might help us find alien life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and they share important news on the state of the cosmetics industry in Neolithic times. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, and Layal Liverpool. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
In the UK, rules around attendance at schools after a covid outbreak are changing, but the country still hasn’t decided whether or not to vaccinate children. The team finds out what the hold up is, especially given some countries have already taken the leap. It’s been 25 years since the cloning of Dolly the sheep, so the team looks at Dolly’s legacy, exploring the many advancements and discoveries that have come as a result of this marvel of biological science. They then discuss the small matter of how to save the planet as former UK chief scientist David King, founder of the newly formed Climate Crisis Advisory Group, sets out his mission. In the race to create a breakthrough quantum computer, China is in the lead - the team explores a leapfrogging event which has seen the country achieve quantum advantage, creating the fastest computer on Earth. And they discuss NASA’s exciting plans to create a spacecraft powered by solar sails. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Matt Sparks and Clare Wilson. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
A unique kind of human skull has been discovered in China. The team describes the details of this skull, known as the ‘Dragon Man’, and explains how it might belong to a new species of human. And if that’s not exciting enough, its discovery has the most amazing Indiana Jones style backstory too. In breaking news, Jeff Bezos has announced that legendary aviator Wally Funk, one of the Mercury 13 women who trained as astronauts, will go to space with him on the first crewed Blue Origin mission. The team then discusses the intense heat waves that have been wreaking havoc in the Arctic and across the Pacific northwest. They explore the effects of covid-19 on the brain, as new studies show that a third of people who’ve been infected have suffered some form of cognitive or psychological disorder. They also share some incredible, experimental music from the composer John Luther Adams, whose new album ‘Arctic Dreams’ is inspired by the sounds of the Alaskan wilderness. And they bring bad news from the surface of Venus, as hopes for life on the planet begin to dwindle. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Alison George and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts. Special thanks to John Luther Adams and his record label Cold Blue Music.
The symptoms of long covid are diverse and numerous, and we’re still getting to grips with a clinical definition. Adam Vaughan visited the UK’s first long covid clinic, and explains how it provides both physical and psychological support to patients. The team then discusses the evolution of cooperation with professor Nichola Raihani, author of ‘The Social Instinct’, who explains why species collaborate, an act which seems to contradict the competitive nature of life in Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Then they get into the unnerving news that aliens might be spying on us from other planets. They mark the birthday of one of the greatest and most influential figures of the twentieth century, Alan Turing, who features on the Bank of England’s new £50 note. And they explain how quantum mechanics is being used to protect our data online. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Adam Vaughan, Matt Sparkes, Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
The delta variant of covid-19 has torn across India, and is making its way around the globe, forcing the extension of lockdown measures in the UK. The team explores its spread, and also digs into findings showing that “elimination countries” - those which enacted swift and extreme lockdown measures - have fared better across the board in the health, wealth and even freedom of their populations. They then discuss the Ice Memory Project, which is archiving and preserving material and data from glaciers - ancient relics that have been trapped in the ice for millennia, sadly thawing due to global warming. There’s a conversation with forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist Gwen Adshead about the capacity we all have for evil - the subject of her new book ‘The Devil You Know’. On top of that, there’s the news that China has launched the first group of astronauts to its new space station and laid out its plans for an international moon base, and a story about monogamy in seahorses, where it is the males who get pregnant. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, and Graham Lawton. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
For the first time in 18 years, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. This is big news because rather than just treating the symptoms, the drug targets the amyloid plaques that are thought to cause the disease. But the team explains why there are still many reasons to remain cautious. They also discuss an exciting breakthrough in our understanding of the brain, as Google researchers have, for the first time, mapped all the connections in one cubic millimeter of human brain tissue, containing a whopping 50 thousand brain cells and 130 million connections. Then there’s the little story about how time can appear to violate the second law of thermodynamics, by running backwards instead of forwards. The team also celebrates the revival of an animal frozen in permafrost for 24,000 years, and they travel to the very edges of the galaxy where, for the first time, organic molecules have been detected. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O’Callaghan, Mike Marshall and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
From a bat… or from a lab? It seemed the question of where SARS-CoV-2 originated had been settled, but recently it's been reignited. Amid lots of conflicting and confusing news stories, the team explores what we really know about the origins of covid-19. They then mark a historic tipping point in climate news, as three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies are forced to work harder and faster to reduce their environmental impact. They also speak to Elinor Cleghorn, author of a new book called ‘Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World’, which examines the origins of the gender pain gap. They dig into new findings from the Libyan civil war showing autonomous robot drones, for the first time in history, have used AI to identify and attack humans. And on the brighter side of robotics, the team finds out about a cafe in Tokyo staffed by robots acting as avatar bodies for remote workers, which is offering people with life-limiting diseases a chance to interact with the outside world. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Cat de Lange, Graham Lawton and Anna Demming. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
A new variant of coronavirus which originated in India is spreading rapidly. The team explains how both this new mutation and the UK variant are capable of evading vaccines, causing huge concerns for the global fight against covid-19. They also discuss whether the risks of solar geoengineering outweigh the benefits, as new research in the journal Nature Food looks at the potential impact on agricultural yields. They discuss a revolution taking place in archaeology as the discipline absorbs modern techniques from genetics, speaking to anatomist Alice Roberts about her new book Ancestors: The Pre-History of Britain in Seven Burials. They hear the calls of red-handed tamarin monkeys who change their accents when they move in with a neighbouring species. And they discuss the extraordinary news that a man who was once blind has had his sight partially restored thanks to optogenetics. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan and Michael Le Page. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
When it comes to climate change, carbon dioxide usually gets the spotlight, but methane, although shorter-lived in the atmosphere, is more potent as a greenhouse gas - and levels have been mysteriously increasing. The team explains where the methane is coming from and how efforts to curb methane emissions could be important in tackling global warming. They then explore the peculiar discovery that pigs can breathe oxygen through the anus, and what that means for future applications in space travel. In coronavirus news, the team highlights the disparity between the rich and the poor in the global vaccine rollout. They also discuss the exciting arrival of a Chinese rover on Mars, and a story about the monogamous relationships of Californian mice. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan, Michael Le Page, and Adam Vaughan. Also check out the story of how the way you move can change the way you think, and how chemists are rethinking the way atoms stick together. To read about these and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.
Efforts to fight covid-19 won’t stop even when everyone is vaccinated. There’s a good chance we’ll need vaccine booster shots to keep on top of the disease. With Israel already planning to roll these out, and many other countries considering the same, the team explains what the booster shots will look like. They then explore the mind-melting discovery that simply by measuring time, humans are adding to the amount of entropy or disorder in the universe. They catch up with the neuroscientist David Eagleman who explains the concept of brain plasticity. They mark a very special year for the loudest insect in the world - cicadas - and they discuss how degrowth - a deliberate step down in economic activity - might be the safest way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan, Graham Lawton and Clare Wilson.
The most detailed analysis yet of global warming and sea level rise has been published. The paper’s lead author, Tamsin Edwards of King’s College London, explains that we now have a better understanding of the consequences of missing the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement. Later the team gets introspective as they learn about metacognition, and how brain scanners are now able to measure self-awareness: learn how to boost your own self-awareness here. They discuss how the digital currency Bitcoin will soon create more carbon pollution than the whole of Sweden. And they explain how the naming of a new species of ant has been used to champion gender diversity, and share some amazing findings about the crew from the wreck of Henry VIII’s warship the Mary Rose. Also, make sure to check out this piece from Jemma Wadham who spent two weeks living under a glacier in Norway. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Tiffany O'Callaghan, Cat de Lange, Karina Shah and Matt Sparkes.
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Comments (18)

Kristaps Makovskis

Whar was the title of the new podcast?

Jan 18th
Reply (1)

Kristaps Makovskis

What was the new podcast Title?

Jan 18th
Reply

Tony Rickman

I have to skip the bits when Adam Vaughan is on. Dropping syllables and using "free" instead of "three" just isn't good delivery

Oct 16th
Reply

chinch b

I was thinking about ice nine and Space Force when I was listening to this episode! Feels so good to just have those moments of recognition :)

Sep 28th
Reply

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
Reply

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
Reply

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
Reply

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
Reply (1)
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