Science & Medicine
News that the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has pulled out of research into Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease is casting doubt over the future of long promised breakthroughs in this area. Mark Porter hears from two leading experts who explain that due to the complexity of the disease the pharmaceutical industry's single agent 'magic bullet' approach needs to change. And while over the last 15 years nearly every trial into new treatments for Alzheimer's has ended in failure, lifestyle and medical prevention are starting to make a difference. Plus clarity on headlines that women who've had the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer will need far fewer smear tests in future. But how will the national screening programme know for sure who has been vaccinated - and who hasn't? And Margaret McCartney's thoughts on other news that women treated for breast cancer who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that dramatically increase the risk of developing the disease, are just as likely to survive their illness as women who don't.
It's fifty years since the first human heart transplant but the number of donor organs - about 200 per year in the UK - remains dwarfed by demand. About 2,000 people under the age of 65 a year will die of heart failure without a transplant. Kevin Fong explores new ways that people with heart failure can be helped. He talks to Dr Doris Taylor, director of the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology, at the Texas Heart Institute, in Houston, about her research into growing hearts from stem cells. Kevin discusses the prospect of taking organs from pigs and using them for so-called xenotransplants with cardiothoracic surgeon Prof John Dark, of Newcastle University, who says this approach has not delivered benefits. An alternative to a heart transplant is the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) - an artificial pump that helps the left side of the heart do its job. This has shrunk from a large external piece of kit to a tiny battery-operated device that can be implanted into the chest. For the first year, they are as effective as a transplant, but they have a risk of infection, and they are not always easy to live with. Kevin meets patient Vincenzo Avanzato who had an LVAD that became infected and then a successful transplant. Kevin also talks to surgeon Mr Andre Simon of Harefield Hospital about the future of completely mechanical hearts made of metal and plastic.
In Bristol in 1799, a young man started to experiment with newly discovered gases, looking for a cure for tuberculosis. Humphry Davy, aged 20, nearly killed himself inhaling carbon monoxide. Nitrous oxide was next. It was highly pleasurable, ‘particularly in the chest and extremities’ and he began to dance around his laboratory ‘like a madman’, before passing out. By day, he gave the gas to patients, carefully noting their reactions. In the evenings, he invited his friends over to have a laugh (with assistants on standby to revive them with oxygen, as needed). The Romantic poets, Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge could barely contain their excitement. During one session, Davy noted that the gas numbed his toothache and suggested that it could perhaps be used during surgical operations. But it was another fifty years before nitrous oxide was used by doctors. Throughout the 20th century, it was widely used during dentistry and to numb the pain of childbirth. (Nitrous oxide is the gas in ‘gas and air’: the ‘air’ is oxygen) .And it still is today, but less so. (It’s a potent greenhouse gas that damages the ozone layer, it’s difficult to store and there are side-effects). But, just as medical use is diminishing, recreational use is on the rise. A new generation of pleasure seekers have started experimenting, just as Davy did, despite the associated risks of injuries caused by fainting and death by suffocation. Naomi Alderman tells how a gas that created ‘ecstatic lunatics’ came to be used as an anaesthetic, with help from biographer, Richard Holmes and anaesthetist, Kevin Fong. Picture: Humphry Davy and Anaesthesia, Credit: Science Photo Library
Experts are anxiously watching the developing story of the oil tanker in the East China Sea burning after a collision – worried not just for the missing crew, but the danger from its million barrels of crude. The cargo is a lighter and more toxic form of crude than emergency services have previously had to handle and this means that the longer term environmental damage from this toxic fuel could be serious. Simon Boxhall from the University of Southampton explains why to Adam Rutherford. Child Trauma For children who are exposed to the violence of war it’s estimated between 25 and 75% of them experience post traumatic stress disorder – with symptoms like flashbacks and anxiety. Experts at a World Psychiatric Association meeting in London this week have been discussing whether it is possible to train non-therapists to teach children some simple techniques to help relieve their anxiety. Claudia Hammond talks to Bill Yule, Emeritus Professor of Applied Child Psychology at King’s College London. MIT Depth Sensor Researchers from MIT have developed new depth sensors that could be sensitive enough for self-driving cars. Gareth Mitchell talks to the lead researcher, Achuta Kadambi. Gut Gas Detecting Electronic Capsules Gases produced in the digestive tract can tell us a lot about the activity of essential and harmful bacteria in the gut and consequently about our health. Ingestible sensors (capsules that you swallow), which then detect gases throughout the alimentary tract, are now being trailed in humans. Roland Pease talks to Professor Kourosh Kalantar Zadeh from the University of Melbourne. Chimp-Facial Portraits A new citizen science project is being launched exploring relatedness in chimpanzees. In humans there is a good chance babies will look like their father early in life. When it comes to chimps it is even more interesting, as chimpanzee expert Cat Hobaiter explained to Geoff Marsh. Self-Help Craze A New Year can herald ambitious goals for self-improvement – including physical fitness and even a commitment to greater happiness. The self-help sections in bookshops are well-stocked – but does reading them do any good? Claudia Hammond speaks to Sven Brinkmann, a Danish philosopher, and Sonja Lyubomirsky, a American psychologist, about the role of self -help. (Photo caption: Rescue ships work to extinguish the fire on the Panama-registered Sanchi tanker carrying Iranian oil, which went ablaze after a collision with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea – credit: China Daily via Reuters) The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from BBC Health and Science reporter, Katie Silver Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Neil deGrasse Tyson takes us through your favorite episodes of the season featuring Stephen Hawking, William Shatner, Adam Savage, Terry Crews, Fareed Zakaria, Bill Nye, and others as they explore the future, human augmentation, science fiction, and more. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/season-8-time-capsule-part-1/
Chuck and Gary get schooled by the men who optimize player performance for the pros: Glen Tobias of the NY Jets, and Dave Puloka and Wayne Diesel of the Miami Dolphins. Neil Tyson interviews quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and former players John Urschel and Terry Crews. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360?mt=2 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science TuneIn: http://www.tunein.com/playingwithscience NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch/listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/nfl-fitness-and-nutrition/
What goes into our flu vaccine always has an element of guesswork. Usually the experts get it right but sometimes nature has other ideas and a new strain emerges. Dr John McCauley, Director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute in London tells Dr Mark Porter about Aussie flu and how different flu strains pose risks to different groups of people. Cow's milk allergy is the most common food allergy among infants and it affects at least one in 50 babies, toddlers and pre-school children in the UK. It's an allergic reaction to the protein in cow's milk. There are two different types though and one type, called delayed cow's milk allergy, is often missed by health care professionals because it's easily confused with other common conditions. Lucy Wronka tells Inside Health her baby son George was ill for months with reflux, eczema and an upset stomach. It was only a chance meeting with a friend who recognised the symptoms that led to a diagnosis of delayed cow's milk allergy. Twenty four hours after diagnosis and treatment, Lucy says George was a different baby. Dr Adam Fox, paediatric allergist at the Evelina London Children's Hospital explains the difference between the two different types of cow's milk allergy and discusses new guidance for GPs and health visitors which are designed to improve diagnosis. One of Europe's largest robotic pharmacies is housed in Glasgow and this super high-tech hub has replaced fourteen separate pharmacy stores. It handles almost a hundred thousand packs of medicines a week and Inside Health's Dr Margaret McCartney, herself a GP in the city, reports on how this automation has transformed pharmacy services in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Philip Ball reveals the dramatic tale of Lise Meitner, the humanitarian physicist of Jewish descent, who unlocked the science of the atom bomb after a terrifying escape from Hitler's Germany. One of the most brilliant nuclear scientists working in Germany her flight from terror cost Hitler’s regime dearly. In the early 20th Century it was barely possible for women to work in science at all and yet Einstein once called Meitner Germany’s own Marie Curie. It was Meitner’s insight that began the nuclear age and her story remains ever relevant, as the threat of nuclear conflict lies once again over the world. Philip Ball talks to historian Dr Patricia Fara about Lise Meitner and her research and to Patricia Lewis of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons or ICAN, based in Geneva, which this year was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for its work in trying to reverse nuclear proliferation, about Meitner’s legacy today. Picture: Lise Meitner, Credit: Central Press/Getty Images
Dyson Sphere Star KIC 8462852 is otherwise an average star, about a 1,000 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It is about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun, which is not particularly peculiar. What is very peculiar is that it flickers and dims in a way that has never been observed in any star so far. This led to some intense debate amongst the astrophysics community, and the press, including the possibility that the dimming was being caused by some sort of alien megastructure – A ‘Dyson Sphere’, set up to harness the power of the star. New work sheds some light of this very strange star (spoiler alert, it’s never aliens!) Surgery in Africa Twice as many people die during or after surgery in Africa than on average around the world, according to a new study. The patients – from 250 hospitals in 25 countries - fared worse even though they were young and fit and the operations were often minor. Professor Bruce Biccard tells Claudia Hammond that many of the deaths could be prevented – if patients were monitored properly after their operations. Sugar and C.difficile Did the widespread introduction of the food additive trehalose fuel the emergence of epidemics of virulent Clostridium difficile in hospitals from the early 2000s? Microbiologist Robert Britton tells Adam Rutherford about the evidence his team has gathered and published this week in the journal 'Nature'. Glowing Plants / Plant Nanobionics Plants may not be the obvious starting point for new technology, but in fact they offer many advantages that our electronics do not. A team from MIT have created a glowing plant using nanoparticles that can enter previously impenetrable parts of the plant cell. Their work is part of a new field called plant nanobionics and is paving the way for plants that can light up highways. Women’s Concussion Some researchers believe that women’s brains might be at greater risk of concussion than men if they sustain a head injury playing sport. New research from the Centre for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania has tried to pin down what might be happening. They found that brain cells from female rats and human stem cells sustained more damage than those of males. Blue Zones Villagrande in Sardinia is a “Blue Zone”. A Blue Zone is a ‘longevity hotspot’. A region with a much higher proportion than average of people over 100. Sardinia is not the only place where a larger percentage of people get to celebrate their 100th birthday. Also Greece, Japan and Costa Rica, all have Blue Zones. Now you would expect such zones to be a perfect opportunity for scientists to try and find out the secret to a long life. But how easy would it be? Picture: Tabby's Star (Illustration), Credit: NASA Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Kick the New Year off with Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice as they discuss scientific predictions for 2018 submitted by fans and friends of the StarTalk universe; Neil and Chuck also, not surprisingly, get sidetracked by their great conversation. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/predictions-this-year-in-science/
Neil deGrasse Tyson joins hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice to answer fan submitted questions about the physics of basketball, Michael Jordan, and the impact of race on athletic performance. (Warning: Adult Language.) Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/space-jam-basketball-cosmic-queries-with-neil-degrasse-tyson/
Can dogs smell cancer? Ever since Hippocrates the odour of disease has been used to aid diagnosis but has this simple technique been forgotten? Dr Mark Porter investigates the evidence for whether canine super noses can be used to accurately detect cancer. There have been plenty of anecdotes reported but what about hard science? Studies since 2004 from the Medical Detection Dogs Centre in Milton Keynes have shown convincing results and they've now teamed up with MIT in the US, specialists in 'e-noses'. Could devices the size of a mobile phone be used to sniff for disease?
Roland Pease tells the story of how fifty years ago geologists finally became convinced that the earth’s crust is made up of shifting plates. The idea of mobile continents, continental drift, had been talked about, for example because it looked like Africa and South America had once been joined, and were now separated by the Atlantic. But given the solidity of rocks and the vastness of continents, that idea made no sense. Until plate tectonics, as it became known, gave it a scientific basis and rebuilt it into a mechanism that explained earthquakes, mountain belts, chains of volcanic islands and many other geological phenomena. Roland Pease talks to many of the key researchers in the story, now in their 70s and 80s, and finds out how their work transformed our understanding of the earth. Picture: Tectonic plates of planet earth - map with names of major and minor plates, Credit: PeterHermesFurian Presenter: Roland Pease
Java’s Bird Trade The dense rain forests of Java – Indonesia’s most crowded island – are rapidly falling silent. Tuneful songbirds that used to give the mountains a unique melody are being caught and sold. Bird-singing competitions are national events in the country, but this is threatening to drive the songbirds to extinction. BBC science reporter Victoria Gill has travelled to the country to investigate. Monkeys Many of us are spending more and more time engaging with online social networks. But while we might be the only primate to have Facebook, we are certainly not the only primates to have social networks. Geoff Marsh has been exploring one particular primate network and its possible value in predicting the spread of disease. He was at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute in Japan, speaking to ecologist Dr Andrew McIntosh. Dolphin Brains A large brain, relative to our size, underpins sophisticated social structure in humans. Whales and dolphins also have exceptionally large and anatomically sophisticated brains. But until recently it has been unclear whether large brain size is linked to social structure in these marine mammals. Author of a new study Michael Muthukrishna tells Roland Pease more about tackling the question of brain size and intelligence in human evolution. Whooping Bees Honey bees have long been known to make a noise that scientists call the whoop whooping signal - quite simply because that is what it sounds like. BBC Science Correspondent Victoria Gill explains. Wildlife at the border wall President Trump still wants a wall on the border between Mexico and the USA. This year, Victoria Gill visited scientists from the University of Arizona who explained why they’re worried about a particular endangered antelope-like animal called the Sonoran pronghorn. Sheep 'Can Recognise Human Faces' Sheep have demonstrated the ability to recognise familiar human faces, according to a study. Cambridge University researchers were able to train sheep to identify the faces of actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, former US President Barack Obama and BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce. Victoria Gill explains why they may have developed this skill. Dog Faces When dogs know you are looking at them, they ramp up the expressiveness of their faces. Marnie Chesterton visits the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth to talk to the researchers who made this discovery. NZ Sheep Dog Fitbit New Zealand is reputed to have more working dogs per capita than anywhere else in the world – an estimated 200,000. Simon Morton visits a high country sheep station and reports on a ground-breaking study using canine fitbits to monitor the dogs’ lives. Goldfish Turn To Alcohol to Survive Icy Winters Scientists have decoded the secrets behind a goldfish's ability to survive in ice-covered lakes. They have worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol, as a means of staying alive. Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving limits in many countries. Victoria Gill explains how researchers say the work may help with the study of some alcohol impacts in humans. (Image caption: African safari animals meeting together around tree – credit: Getty Images) The Science Hour was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Victoria Gill, BBC Science Correspondent Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Ponder living on Mars in this Martian mashup as we explore “The Martian,” food and sports on Mars, and more. With Neil Tyson, Bill Nye, Mike Massimino, Buzz Aldrin, Andy Weir, Mary Roach, John Oliver, Eugene Mirman, Chuck Nice, Gary O’Reilly and many others. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/life-on-mars-mashup/
Was it skill? Was it science? Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly investigate Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch, with Joe Bevier of Nike, coach Jay Norvell, and physicist John Eric Goff. Now extended with Chuck, Gary and John answering Cosmic Queries about size vs. speed and the impact of the Magnus effect. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.
Maria Merian was born in 1647. At the time of her birth, Shakespeare had been dead for 30 years; Galileo had only just stood trial for arguing that the Earth moved around the Sun. And yet, here in Germany, was a child who would become an important but oft-forgotten figure of science. Aged 13, she mapped out metamorphosis, catching caterpillars from her garden and painting them in exquisite detail. At that point, most believed that caterpillars spontaneously generated from cabbages and maggots materialised from rotten meat. She later voyaged to Suriname in South America to pursue pupae further, discovering not just new species but also the conditions needed for their survival. Some call her the first field ecologist; others admire her for her eloquent brushwork. However, her studies will help today’s biologists plot which insects lived where. These data are invaluable because this could help scientists predict what species will survive climate change. Naomi Alderman discusses the life and legacy of Maria Merian with biologist and historian Kay Etheridge from Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania and biologist Kathy Willis from Kew Gardens. Picture: Belly-ache bush (Jatropha gossypifolia) with metamorphosis of a giant sphinx moth (Cocytius antaeus), created by Maria Sibylla Merian and Joseph Mulder, Credit: GRI Digital Collections Producer: Graihagh Jackson
New research has begun to look at ways to offer early warnings of landslides in the mountainous regions of south west India. The Western Ghats region suffer regular and deadly landslides, partly because they encounter a double monsoon season each year. An early warning system that factors in weather, topography and the geology of the region is being developed, as Helen Reeves, Science Director at the British Geological Survey, explains to Roland Pease. Growth in Global E-waste A new report on global e-waste, discarded products with a battery or plug, shows 44.7 million metric tonnes generated in 2016 - up 8% from 2014. Gareth Mitchell talks to one of the report’s authors, Ruediger Kuehr, from the United Nations University. Caffeine: Good or Bad? Some people love to start their day with caffeine. But what are the impacts on our body? Reporter Alison van Diggelen talks to Stanford University drug and addiction expert Professor Keith Humphreys, and Professor Matthew Walker, who runs a sleep lab in Berkeley, California – a state which just loves its coffee. Palaeontologists suing Trump President Donald Trump wants to downsize two US national monuments in Utah. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is against lifting this protective status, as “Bears Ears” and “Grand Staircase –Escalante” include some of the most important sites in the world for vertebrate fossils. We hear from David Polly, President of the society. New Horizons The American space agency's New Horizons mission has struck gold again. After its astonishing flyby of Pluto in 2015, scientists have just discovered that the probe's next target is not one object but very likely two. Science Editor Jonathan Webb from ABC Radio National in Australia has been speaking to Alan Stern from the New Horizons team. MSF Using Tech to Aid Rohingya People Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been helping refugees and other displaced Rohingya in targeting disease and providing medicine and aid. Gareth Mitchell talks to Sam Taylor from MSF about how technology is helping. 3D Printed Kidney By printing bio-ink on silicone scaffolding, a team at Harvard in the US can print the intricate components of an artificial kidney which can filter blood and produce urine. The work is still at the early stages, and an entire 3D printed kidney is still a way off. Applications and potential for clinical medicine could be a new kind of dialysis for people with kidney failure, as well as being able to safely test whether new drugs damage the kidney. Roland Pease reports. Children's Willpower The popular image of children is that they have short attention spans and want everything right now. But a new analysis of 50 years of data from the Marshmallow Test - a classic test of self -control suggests that children are getting better at delaying gratification. John Protzko of University of California Santa Barbara explains why it's happening to Claudia Hammond. (Photo caption: Indian villagers look on during a rescue operation at the site of a landslide in Laptap village in the Papum Pare district of the state of Arunachal Pradesh on July 11, 2017 – credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images) The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from Science Editor Jonathan Webb from ABC Radio National in Australia Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Search for ET on this StarTalk mashup – featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Grinspoon, Seth Shostak, Michael Ian Black, Chuck Nice, Jill Tarter, David Brin, Allen Saakyan, and Doug Vakoch – as we explore where to look and debate whether to send signals ourselves. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/extraterrestrial-mashup/
Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice turn to physics to unravel the mystery of the Immaculate Reception, the most famous, controversial play in NFL history. With Neil Tyson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, John Eric Goff, and sports writer Jim Brennan. Now with Chuck, Gary and John talking confirmation bias, preventing Deflategates, and football on the Moon. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/extended-classic-the-immaculate-reception/
The Dark Ages are often painted as an era of scholarly decline. The Western Roman Empire was on its way out, books were few and far between, and, if you believe the stereotype, mud-splattered peasants ran around in rags. However, it was far more intellectually vibrant than you might imagine. Out of this era emerged a set of ‘problems to sharpen the young,’ including the famous river crossing puzzle that’s still taught in maths today. The presumed author of these riddles is Alcuin of York – ‘the most learned man in the world.’ And it was this monk and his puzzles that laid the foundations for a branch of mathematics called combinatorics – the thinking behind today’s computer coding and cryptography. Philip Ball speaks to historian Mary Garrison from the University of York to learn of Alcuin's character and how he encouraged his students to learn for the sake of learning, as opposed to salvation. And University College London mathematician Hannah Fry shows Philip just how much of a role combinatorics plays in today’s world. Picture: White horned goat chewing a cabbage leaf, Credit: Oxana Medvedeva Producer: Graihagh Jackson
There’s been a breakthrough this week in the fatal brain condition, Huntington’s disease. Affected families are told they have a 50% chance of passing the faulty gene onto their children – and up until now there has been no treatment. Scientists at University College London corrected the genetic defect for the first time ever – using an experimental drug which was injected into the spinal fluid. Claudia Hammond talks to Roger Barker, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, one of the centres taking part in the study. Climate change is seen as the number one threat to the future of coral reefs. This week the European Coral Reef Symposium in Oxford is discussing the problem. Adam Rutherford talks to Morgan Pratchett of James Cook University about the two recent coral bleaching events that hit the Great Barrier Reef, and to Barbara Brown of Newcastle University about the potential for coral species to adapt to warmer seas. The electric eel is perhaps an obvious creature to turn to for inspiration for a power source. Researchers have examined the complex transfer of charged chemicals across the cell membranes in these eels to help them make an artificial electric organ. Experimental physicist Michael Mayer from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland speaks to Roland Pease. Southern California is suffering intense forest fires right now, and October brought some of the largest forest fires since records began. What are the conditions that led to these disastrous events? Roland Pease asks forest ecologist Christina Restaino of University of California Davis. Going to see the doctor can be embarrassing especially if you have to take off clothes or discuss a personal issue. The shame which can result from embarrassment can mean we don’t tell the doctor the whole story about our worries and this can affect our health. Claudia Hammond speaks to Dr Luna Dolezal, who has been researching shame at the doctor’s surgery. Prolific science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke was born 100 years ago, on the 16th December 1917. Some think he was a man way ahead of his time as many of his predictions about future science and technology have come true. He is most famous for being co-writer of the book and screenplay for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential movies of all time. Jack Meegan looks back on his life. Image: Illustration of nerve cells affected in neurological diseases Credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from BBC Science reporter Bobbie Lakhera. Producer: Katy Takatsuki
If you think this episode will be filled with questions about pot and LSD, you’d be right. But Chuck Nice also throws a few other Cosmic Queries at host Bill Nye, from how to get more women into STEM to the potential impact of discovering life on Mars. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/cosmic-queries-altered-states-with-bill-nye/
This week, former British footballer Gary O’Reilly shows Chuck Nice around his old stomping grounds, the soccer pitch. Helping him investigate the science and tech that’s transforming the game are NY Cosmos Assistant Coach Alecko Eskandarian and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Adult Language) Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free. https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/planet-soccer-science-and-technology/
All countries are supposed to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions but BBC environment correspondent, Matt McGrath, reveals there are gaping holes in national inventories. He uncovers serious failings in countries’ accounts of warming gases with many not reporting at all. There are disturbing signs that some banned warming chemicals, which are supposed to have been phased out completely, are once again on the rise. And evidence that worthless carbon credits are still being traded. Meanwhile scientists are growing increasingly frustrated by the refusal of countries to gather and share accurate data in the face of this planetary emergency (Photo: The Jungfraujoch Air Monitoring Station in Switzerland. Credit: Jungfraujoch)
Nations have agreed that the world needs to completely stop plastic waste from entering the oceans. The UN resolution has no timetable and is not legally binding. But ministers at an environment summit in Kenya believe it will set the course for much tougher policies and send a clear signal to business. BBC Science Correspondent Victoria Gill brings us the latest on the story. Nuclear Fallout in the Pacific In the 1940s and 1950s, the US conducted 66 nuclear weapons tests at the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in the Pacific. Now a lingering remnant of this history is the Runit Dome that houses radioactive debris left over from the weapons tests. Activists are adamant that it is the source of radiation that is polluting the ocean that surrounds them. So far it is set up as a political and social issue, but what does the science tell us about what is happening in this area? Roland Pease spoke to radiochemist Ken Buesseler from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Trophy Hunting Trophy hunters are always after the lion with the largest darkest name and the stag with the most impressive antlers. Gareth Mitchell spoke with Rob Knell at Queen Mary University of London who has found that removing a small proportion of these top males can drive whole populations to extinction, if their environment is changing. 50 Years Since the First Heart Transplant The first ever heart transplant took place in Cape Town in South Africa fifty years ago this week. That patient died after just 18 days – but today around 5,000 people have heart transplants every year. A shortage of donor hearts means there is often a wait – and an artificial pump called an L-VAD can buy time. We hear from doctors and a patient about the advances in technology which have made the pumps easier to live with. FGM The World Health Organization says that more than 200 million women – most in sub-Saharan Africa - are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). The girls who have their labia and clitoris cut away often have lifelong health problems as a result. FGM was banned in The Gambia two years ago – where 3 out of 4 girls have been cut. Irene Caselli travelled to West Africa and heard how attitudes are slowly changing. Narwhal Escape Scientists who fitted heart rate-monitoring tags to Arctic narwhals have discovered a strange paradox in how the animals respond to threats. When these tusked whales are frightened, their hearts slow, but at the same time they swim quickly to escape. Scientists say the response could be "highly costly" - because they exert themselves with a limited blood supply. Victoria Gill reports. Indian Crop Yields For farmers the date for sowing seeds is critical to ensure they harvest a good crop. Gareth Mitchell talks to Dr Suhas Wani, from the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics about an AI Sowing App powered by machine learning that alerts farmers about the best time to sow seeds. Exercise Exercise helps to keep us healthy, but thinking that we do less than our friends can have a negative impact and even shorten our lives. The American study analysed 21 years’ worth of data and could influence public health campaigns aimed at making us more active. Claudia Hammond spoke to Octavia Zahrt from Stanford University about this research. (Photo caption: Underwater photographer Caroline Power found the plastic blanket of forks, bottles and rubbish 15 miles off the coast of Roatan heading towards the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve – credit: AFP / Caroline Power) The Science Hour was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Victoria Gill, BBC Science Correspondent Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Neil deGrasse Tyson, mathematician John Allen Paulos, physicist James Kakalios, and comic co-host Harrison Greenbaum investigate the fourth dimension, hypercubes, wormholes, Edwin Abbott’s “Flatland,” and much more! NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/cosmic-queries-time-and-higher-dimensions/
The forecast is for snow, and hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice are hitting the slopes for a physics lesson with former pro snowboarder and soap opera star Othello Clark and veteran surfer, snowboarder and skateboard champ Dr. Bill Robertson, aka Dr. Skateboard. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/snowboarding-shreddin-the-gnar/
Every three seconds someone is diagnosed with dementia, and two thirds of the cases are Alzheimer’s Disease. As the global population ages, this is becoming an epidemic, and with no cures currently available for the collection of neurodegenerative conditions that include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease the public and personal cost is escalating. Sue Broom reports on new efforts to find ways to stop the progress of these diseases for the first time, and to bring treatment for neurodegenerative conditions in line with those of cancer and heart disease. Picture: Human head, Credit: Science Photo Library Presenter: Sue Broom
The World Malaria Report 2017 draws on data from 91 countries and areas with ongoing malaria transmission. This year's report shows that after an unprecedented period of success in global malaria control, progress has stalled. In 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria, an increase of about 5 million cases over 2015. Deaths reached 445,000, a similar number to the previous year. Science journalist Dr Claire Ainsworth explains. Scarlet Fever Outbreaks In 2016 the infectious disease scarlet fever hit its highest level in 50 years in England and there are also epidemics in Hong Kong, South Korea and parts of China which show no signs of letting up. Dr Theresa Lamagni, head of streptococcal surveillance at Public Health England, talks about the outbreaks with Claudia Hammond. Prehistoric Women’s Arms Grinding grain for hours a day gave prehistoric women stronger arms than today's elite female rowers, a study says. The discovery points to a ''hidden history'' of gruelling manual labour performed by women over millennia, say University of Cambridge researchers. Dr Alison Macintosh talks to Adam Rutherford about how the study is the first to compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women. Axolotl This species of salamander is a wonder of nature. It's the amphibian that never grows out of its larval stage yet it is able to reproduce. Most remarkable is its ability to regrow limbs, which is of great potential interest to researchers developing regenerative medicine. There are many thousands of axolotls in labs and homes around the world. But in the wild, in their native Mexico, they are on the very edge of extinction. Conservation biologist Richard Griffiths of the University of Kent and axolotl researcher Tatiana Sandoval Guzman of the Technical University in Dresden, Germany explains. Synthetic Biology What does the future hold for synthetic biology? Who will be the practitioners of this fast-growing branch of bioengineering and what will be its impact on the world - for good and possibly ill? Experts in the field have just published a horizon-scanning report in the journal eLife. One of the scientists involved, Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute in California, talks to Roland Pease. Pimp My Zimmer Schoolchildren in the UK are helping older people decorate their walking frames, known as Zimmer frames, to make them a bit more beautiful. It’s to try and reduce the number of falls, which are common in the elderly. Bobbie Lakhera reports from a care home in Wales taking part in the “Pimp My Zimmer” project. Election Security The robustness of democratic elections continues to be questioned. Gareth Mitchell talks to Debora Plunkett, formerly of the US National Security Agency, and now at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, about efforts to prevent future hacking during US elections. Sibling Rivalry We tend to think of sibling rivalry as something that is inevitable – and not good. But in her new book, Siblings, clinical psychologist Linda Blair says there can be benefits. She tells Claudia Hammond how parents should deal with sibling rivalry. (Photo caption: The body of a female mosquito fills up and balloons as she sucks blood from a hand – credit: Getty Images) The Science Hour was presented by Gareth Mitchell with comments from freelance science journalist, Dr Claire Ainsworth Producer: Katy Takatsuki
String theory, the fabric of spacetime, the multiverse, quantum mechanics, and much more – explore the cosmological mysteries of the universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Chuck Nice, and theoretical physicist Sean Carroll. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/cosmic-queries-mysterious-cosmology-with-sean-carroll/
The creation of a semi-synthetic organism with two unnatural molecular bases in its DNA could lead to a new form of synthetic life that is able to create new kinds of proteins. With the application of this bacterium, it’s possible that we’ll see new types of medicines and materials in the future. Axolotl Conservation The paradoxical plight of the axolotl: popular aquarium pet, laboratory animal and critically endangered species in the wild. This species of salamander is a wonder of nature. It's the amphibian that never grows out of its larval stage yet it's able to reproduce. Most remarkable is its ability to regrow limbs, which is of great potential interest to researchers developing regenerative medicine. There are many thousands of axolotls in labs and homes around the world. But in the wild, in their native Mexico, they are on the very edge of extinction. Prehistoric Women and Manual Labour What do you find when you compare fossilized female arm bones with those of Cambridge University’s best female rowers? Scientific evidence, it seems, that prehistoric women were involved in manual labour that was crucial to the development of agriculture. Picture: Artificial DNA molecule, the concept of artificial intelligence, Credit: Iaremenko Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Gauss (1777-1855), widely viewed as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He was a child prodigy, correcting his father's accounts before he was 3, dumbfounding his teachers with the speed of his mental arithmetic, and gaining a wealthy patron who supported his education. He wrote on number theory when he was 21, with his Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, which has influenced developments since. Among his achievements, he was the first to work out how to make a 17-sided polygon, he predicted the orbit of the minor planet Ceres, rediscovering it, he found a way of sending signals along a wire, using electromagnetism, the first electromagnetic telegraph, and he advanced the understanding of parallel lines on curved surfaces. With Marcus du Sautoy Professor of Mathematics and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford Colva Roney-Dougal Reader in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews And Nick Evans Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Southampton Producer: Simon Tillotson.
Neil deGrasse Tyson welcomes Andy Weir, best-selling author of “The Martian,” to talk about his new book, “Artemis” – a heist/crime novel that happens to be set on the Moon. Neil and Andy explore the unique, science-infused creative process that went into the novel, and much more. Special thanks to Audible for making this bonus episode possible. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to episodes commercial-free. Find out more at https://www.startalkradio.net/startalk-all-access/
Why is the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua’ such a strange shape? At 10 times longer than it is wide, the space rock is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science. It is also the first asteroid visitor form outside our Solar System, as Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast explains. Millions of people wear electronic step counting bracelets or use apps on their phones – aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Claudia Hammond asks whether this routine motivates her – or if it is actually setting her up for failure. Dog owners have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, a study of 3.4 million Swedes has found. The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers. BBC Health and Science reporter Katie Silver tells us more. The news that individual households, towns and cities are switching to LED lights in order to save energy should be good news. But a new study shows that the artificially lit surface of Earth at night increased in radiance and extent over the past four years by 2% annually. Roland Pease speaks to lead author Christopher Kyba about his concerns. Flashes of lightning can spark natural nuclear reactions in the atmosphere over our heads. It might sound dangerous, but the fact it happens tells scientists just how extreme conditions can get when lightning strikes. Roland Pease reports. Cancerous breast lumps are less likely to be detected in overweight or obese women before the tumour becomes large, a Swedish study has found. These women may need more frequent mammograms to help spot early tumours. Katie Silver also reports on news research that’s found that a fifth of cancer patients experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Twenty years ago, geneticist Svante Paabo began a revolution in human evolution science when he extracted fragments of DNA from the 40,000 year old bone of a Neanderthal. He speaks to Adam Rutherford about the differences and similarities between humans and Neanderthals. Scientists are exploring new materials as a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts in fuel cells. Marnie Chesterton reports on how one unusual material is being used in the making of a substitute. (Image caption: Artist's concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 ('Oumuamua') as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017 © European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser) The Science Hour was presented by Roland Pease with comments from BBC Health and Science reporter Katie Silver Producer: Katy Takatsuki
Delve into this mashup of Cosmic Queries as Neil deGrasse Tyson and an ensemble of comic co-hosts explore the vast wonder of the cosmos including double star systems, black holes, dark matter and antimatter, the Hubble constant, tidal friction, ET, and much more. NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/cosmic-queries-astrophysics-mashup/
Why is the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua’ such a strange shape? At 10 times longer than it is wide, the space rock is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science. It’s also the first asteroid visitor form outside our Solar System. Earth is Losing its Night The news that individual households, towns and cities are switching to LED lights in order to save energy should be good news. But a new study has shown that the artificially lit surface of Earth at night increased in radiance and extent over the past 4 years by 2% annually. The concern is that any savings, using low energy LED lighting, might be lost if their neighbours install new or brighter lamps. Scientists fear that this ‘rebound effect’ might partially or totally cancel out the savings of individual lighting retrofit projects. Radioactive Lightning Flashes of lightning can spark natural nuclear reactions in the atmosphere over our heads. It might sound dangerous, but the fact it happens tells scientists just how extreme conditions can get when lightning strikes. Electricity from Jelly Scientists are exploring new materials as a substitute for expensive platinum catalysts in fuel cells. One promising compound is called iron carbide, which is abundant, naturally occurring and cheap. They use the Diamond Light Source, a synchrotron that acts like a giant microscope to help them understand what iron carbide looks like, at the atomic scale, and also its catalytic behaviour. In order to get the most surface area for reactions, they need to reduce the compound to nanoparticles. To do this they combine it with jelly, heat it to 700°C and make a cinder toffee-like substance. Picture: Artist impression of lost interstellar asteroid enters solar system, Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/PA Wire Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts
Hosts Gary O’Reilly & Chuck Nice dissect the famous “Miracle at Michigan” Hail Mary pass with the man who threw it, Kordell Stewart, and physicist John Eric Goff. Now extended with Chuck, Gary and John answering your Cosmic Queries about physics and football. Don’t miss an episode of Playing with Science. Subscribe to our channels on: TuneIn: tunein.com/playingwithscience Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/playing-with-science/id1198280360 GooglePlay Music: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iimke5bwpoh2nb25swchmw6kzjq SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/startalk_playing-with-science Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/startalk/playing-with-science NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/extended-classic-the-art-of-the-hail-mary/?safari_redirect
Two deadly cases today sent in by listeners to firstname.lastname@example.org The Dark Star "What's inside a black hole and could we fly a spaceship inside?" asks Jorge Luis Alvarez from Mexico City. Astrophysicist Sheila Rowan explains how we know invisible black holes actually exist. Plus cosmologist Andrew Pontzen is on hand to help cook one up. But which of our intrepid doctors will volunteer to fly into the heart of a black hole? Kate Bush’s Sonic Weapon "It started while listening to the excellent Experiment IV by Kate Bush. The premise of the song is of a band who secretly work for the military to create a 'sound that could kill someone'. Is it scientifically possible to do this?" asks Paul Goodfield. Hannah consults acoustic engineer Trevor Cox to ask if sonic weapons could kill. And Adam delves into subsonic frequencies with parapsychologist Chris French to investigate their spooky effects. Plus the team investigates the Curious Case of the Embassy in Cuba – could a sonic weapon really be responsible for the wide-ranging symptoms reported by American diplomats in Havana? You can send your scientific mysteries for the team to investigate to: email@example.com Picture: A computer-generated image of a rich star field with a Black Hole in front of it which distorts starlight into a brilliant ring around itself, Credit: BBC Producer: Michelle Martin