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Science Magazine Podcast

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Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
335 Episodes
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First up this week, Staff Writer Meredith Wadman talks with host Sarah Crespi about how male sex hormones may play a role in higher levels of severe coronavirus infections in men. New support for this idea comes from a study showing high levels of male pattern baldness in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Next, Jason Qian, a Ph.D. student in the systems biology department at Harvard Medical School, joins Sarah to talk about an object-tracking system that uses bacterial spores engineered with unique DNA barcodes. The inactivated spores can be sprayed on anything from lettuce, to wood, to sand and later be scraped off and read out using a CRISPR-based detection system. Spraying these DNA-based identifiers on such things as vegetables could help trace foodborne illnesses back to their source. Read a related commentary piece.  This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
First up this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about a rare inflammatory response in children that has appeared in a number of COVID-19 hot spots. Next, Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about tracing the retreat of Antarctica's glaciers by examining the ocean floor. Finally, Kiki Sanford interviews author Danny Dorling about his new book, Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Online News Editor David Grimm talks with producer Joel Goldberg about the unique challenges of reopening labs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though the chance to resume research may instill a sense of hope, new policies around physical distancing and access to facilities threaten to derail studies—and even careers. Despite all the uncertainty, the crisis could result in new approaches that ultimately benefit the scientific community and the world. Also this week, Joel Podgorski, a senior scientist in the Water Resources and Drinking Water Department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the global threat of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is basically present in all rocks in minute amounts. Under the right conditions it can leach into groundwater and poison drinking water. Without a noticeable taste or smell, arsenic contamination can go undetected for years. The paper, published in Science, estimates that more than 100 million people are at risk of drinking arsenic-contaminated water and provides a guide for the most important places to test. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade talks with host Sarah Crespi about the role of inequality in past pandemics. Evidence from medical records and cemeteries suggests diseases like the 1918 flu, smallpox, and even the Black Death weren’t indiscriminately killing people—instead these infections caused more deaths in those with less money or status. Also this week, Aaron Wech, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, joins Sarah to talk about recordings of more than 1 million earthquakes from deep under Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, which hasn’t erupted in 4500 years. They discuss how these earthquakes, which have repeated every 7 to 12 minutes for at least 20 years, went undetected for so long. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about using monoclonal antibodies to treat or prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2. Many companies and researchers are rushing to design and test this type of treatment, which proved effective in combating Ebola last year. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here, and all of our Research and Editorials here. And Karen Holl, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, joins Sarah to discuss the proper planning of tree-planting campaigns. It turns out that just putting a tree in the ground is not enough to stop climate change and reforest the planet. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Staff Writer Jocelyn Kaiser joins Sarah to talk about a recent Science paper describing the results of a large study on a blood test for multiple types of cancer. The trial’s results suggest such a blood test combined with follow-up scans may help detect cancers early, but there is a danger of too many false positives. And postdoctoral researcher Timo Reinhold of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research joins Sarah to talk about his paper on how the Sun is a lot less variable in its magnetic activity compared with similar stars—what does it mean that our Sun is a little bit boring? This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Coronavirus affects far more than just the lungs, and doctors and researchers in the midst of the pandemic are trying to catalog—and understand—the virus’ impact on our bodies. Staff Writer Meredith Wadman joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss what we know about how COVID-19 kills. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here, and all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with Sarah about quantum diamond microscopes. These new devices are able to detect minute traces of magnetism, giving insight into the earliest movements of Earth’s tectonic plates and even ancient paleomagnetic events in space. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about countries planning a comeback from a coronavirus crisis. What can they do once cases have slowed down to go back to some sort of normal without a second wave of infection? See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. As part of a drought special issue of Science, Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade joins Sarah to talk about water management and the downfall of the ancient Wari state. Sometimes called the first South American empire, the Wari culture successfully expanded throughout the Peruvian Andes 1400 years ago. Also this week, Yon Visell of the University of California, Santa Barbara, talks with Sarah about his Science Advances paper on the biomechanics of human hands. Our skin’s ability to propagate waves along the surface of the hand may help us sense the world around us. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
On this week’s show, Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about a new National Academy of Sciences report that suggests the novel coronavirus can go airborne, the evidence for this idea, and what this means for the mask-wearing debate. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins Sarah to talk about a burgeoning understanding of the biological roots of anorexia nervosa—an eating disorder that affects about 1% of people in the United States. From genetic links to brain scans, scientists are finding a lot more biology behind what was once thought of as a culturally driven disorder. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
On this week’s show, Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about modeling coronavirus spread and the role of forecasts in national lockdowns and other pandemic policies. They also talk about the launch of a global trial of promising treatments. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here. See all of our Research and Editorials here. Also this week, Nadine Gogolla, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, talks with Sarah about linking the facial expressions of mice to their emotional states using machine learning. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF)
On this week’s show, host Joel Goldberg gets an update on the coronavirus pandemic from Senior Correspondent Jon Cohen. In addition, Cohen gives a rundown of his latest feature, which highlights the relationship between diseases and changing seasons—and how this relationship relates to a potential coronavirus vaccine. Also this week, from a recording made at this year’s AAAS annual meeting in Seattle, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Alexandra Maertens, director of the Green Toxicology initiative at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, about the importance of incorporating nonanimal testing methods to study the adverse effects of chemicals. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Let Ideas Compete/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
On this week’s show, host Joel Goldberg talks with science journalist Andrew Curry about archaeological finds from thousands of years ago along the shores of Northern Europe. Curry outlines the rich history of the region that scientists, citizen scientists, and energy companies have helped dredge up. Also this week, from a recording made at this year’s AAAS annual meeting in Seattle, host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Elizabeth Margulis, a professor at Princeton University, about musical memory. Margulis explains what research tells us about how our brains process music, and dives into her own study on how Western and non-Western audiences interpret the same song differently. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Sebastian Reinecke/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
On this week’s show, freelance writer Christa Lesté-Lasserre talks with host Sarah Crespi about the scientists working on the restoration of Notre Dame, from testing the changing weight of wet limestone, to how to remove lead contamination from four-story stained glass windows. As the emergency phase of work winds down, scientists are also starting to use the lull in tourist activity to investigate the mysteries of the cathedral’s construction. Also this week, Felipe Quiroz, an assistant professor in the biomedical engineering department at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, talks with Sarah about his paper on the cellular mechanism of liquid-liquid phase separation in the formation of the tough outer layer of the skin. Liquid-liquid phase separation is when two liquids “demix,” or separate, like oil and water. In cells, this process created membraneless organelles that are just now starting to be understood. In this work, Quiroz and colleagues create a sensor for phase separation in the cell that works in living tissue, and show how phase separation is tied to the formation of the outer layers of skin in mice. Read the related Insight. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF). [Image: r. nial bradshaw/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
On this week’s show, Online News Editor David Grimm joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss how dogs’ cold noses may be able to sense warm bodies. Read the research. International News Editor Martin Enserink shares the latest from our reporters covering coronavirus. And finally, from a recording made at this year’s AAAS annual meeting, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Jill Tarter, chair emeritus at the SETI Institute, about the newest technologies being used to search for alien life, what a positive signal would look like, and how to inform the public if extraterrestrial life ever were detected. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
This week on the podcast, Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a turning point for one ancient Mesoamerican city: Tikal. On 16 January 378 C.E., the Maya city lost its leader and the replacement may have been a stranger. We know from writings that the new leader wore the garb of another culture—the Teotihuacan—who lived in a giant city 1000 kilometers away. But was this new ruler of a Maya city really from a separate culture? New techniques being used at the Tikal and Teotihuacan sites have revealed conflicting evidence as to whether Teotihuacan really held sway over a much larger region than previously estimated. Sarah also talks with Rashid Sumaila, professor and Canada research chair in interdisciplinary ocean and fisheries economics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. You may have heard of illegal fishing being bad for the environment or bad for maintaining fisheries—but as Sumaila and colleagues report this week in Science Advances, the illegal fishing trade is also incredibly costly—with gross revenues of between $8.9 billion and $17.2 billion each year. In the books segment this month, Kiki Sanford interviews Gaia Vince about her new book Transcendence How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
On this week’s show, Staff Writer Robert F. Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about manipulating microbes to make them produce building materials like bricks—and walls that can take toxins out of the air. Sarah also talks with Paul Davids, principal member of the technical staff in applied photonics & microsystems at Sandia National Laboratories, about an innovation in converting waste heat to electricity that uses similar materials to solar cells but depends on quantum tunneling. And in a bonus segment, producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Online News Editor David Grimm on stage at the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle. They discuss how wildfires can harm your lungs, crime rates in so-called sanctuary states, and how factors such as your gender and country of origin influence how much trust you put in science. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
On this week’s show, senior correspondent Jeffrey Mervis joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant program that aims to encourage diversity at the level of university faculty with the long-range goal of increasing the diversity of NIH grant recipients. Sarah also talks with Pierre Gagnepain, a cognitive neuroscientist at INSERM, the French biomedical research agency, about the role of memory suppression in post-traumatic stress disorder. Could people that are better at suppressing memories be more resilient to the aftermath of trauma? This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
On this week’s show, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a Science paper that combines two hot areas of research—CRISPR gene editing and immunotherapy for cancer—and tests it in patients. Sarah also talks with Damien Finch, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, about the Kimberly region of Australia and dating its ice age cave paintings using charcoal from nearby wasp nests. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF).
Structural biologists rejoiced when cryo–electron microscopy, a technique to generate highly detailed models of biomolecules, emerged. But years after its release, researchers still face long queues to access these machines. Science’s European News Editor Eric Hand walks host Meagan Cantwell through the journey of a group of researchers to create a cheaper, more accessible alternative. Also this week, host Joel Goldberg speaks with psychiatrist and researcher Goodman Sibeko, who worked with the Xhosa people of South Africa to help illuminate genetic details of schizophrenia. Though scientists have examined this subject among Western populations, much less is known about the underlying genetics of people native to Africa. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast
As part of a special issue on chemicals for tomorrow’s Earth, we’ve got two green chemistry stories. First, host Sarah Crespi talks with contributing correspondent Warren Cornwell about how a company came up with a replacement for the popular can lining material bisphenol A and then recruited knowledgeable critics to test its safety. Sarah is also joined by Beate Escher of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the University of Tübingen to discuss ways to trace complex mixtures of humanmade chemicals in the environment. They talk about how new technologies can help detect these mixtures, understand their toxicity, and eventually connect their effects on the environment, wildlife, and people. Read more in the special issue on chemicals for tomorrow’s Earth. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast Download a transcript (PDF)
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Comments (8)

Alex Barber

this is just discrimination against majority groups. We should be fighting and educating against discrimination and oppression, not flipping it backwards.

Feb 14th
Reply

Tony

Identity politics and affirmative action should have NO place in science and academic excellence — especially when the current/future of human health and lives are involved.

Feb 13th
Reply

amin malakootikhah

Hi...I'm looking for transcriptions for this podcost...where can I find them?!...tnx

Jan 15th
Reply

Goodwine Carlos

I remember there was some imaging about people having sex, maybe it was x-ray rather that MRI?

Jan 9th
Reply (3)

Gareth Morgan

Good podcasts, very interesting to hear the latest scientific discoveries and research. Alot of it is way over my head but I still enjoy it and hopefully I will learn something from it.

Dec 3rd
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