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Science Weekly

English, Sciences, 1 season, 358 episodes, 4 days, 2 hours, 29 minutes
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Twice a week, the Guardian brings you the latest science and environment news.
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Why is air turbulence getting worse?

On Tuesday a British man died and several others were injured when their plane encountered severe turbulence between London and Singapore. And it looks like this kind of turbulence is something we’ll have to get used to. Last year a study found severe clear-air turbulence had increased by 55% between 1979 and 2020. Ian Sample speaks to Guy Gratton, associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, to find out why this is happening, and whether there’s anything we can do to reverse the trend.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/23/202413 minutes, 34 seconds
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In their prime: how trillions of cicadas pop up right on time

Right now, across much of the midwestern and eastern US, trillions of cicadas are crawling out from the soil. And this year is extra special, because two broods are erupting from the ground at once. The first brood hasn’t been seen for 13 years, the other for 17 years and the last time they emerged together Thomas Jefferson was president. Ian Sample speaks to entomologist Dr Gene Kritsky to find out what’s going on, why periodical cicadas emerge in cycles of prime numbers and how they keep time underground. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/21/202416 minutes, 15 seconds
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AI, algorithms and apps: can dating be boiled down to a science?

Last week the founder of the dating app Bumble forecasted a near future dating landscape where AI ‘dating concierges’ filter out prospective partners for us. But does AI, or even science, really understand what makes two people compatible? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Amie Gordon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, to find out what we know about why two people go the distance, and why she’s designing her own dating app to learn more.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/16/202416 minutes, 46 seconds
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Backstabbing, bluffing and playing dead: has AI learned to deceive?

As AI systems have grown in sophistication, so has their capacity for deception, according to a new analysis from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr Peter Park, an AI existential safety researcher at MIT and author of the research, tells Ian Sample about the different examples of deception he uncovered, and why they will be so difficult to tackle as long as AI remains a black box. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/14/202415 minutes, 29 seconds
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How much protein is too much?

Sales of cottage cheese are booming thanks to a boost from protein-hungry social media influencers. But do we really need all this extra protein? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, to find out what exactly protein is doing in our bodies, and what happens to it when we consume it in excess. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/9/202415 minutes, 17 seconds
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Why are the world’s cities sinking?

A study has found that more than two dozen US coastal cities are sinking by more than 2mm a year. It’s a similar picture across the world. Nearly half of China’s major cities, as well as places such as Tehran and Jakarta, are facing similar problems. These issues are compounded by sea level rises caused by global heating. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Manoochehr Shirzaei of Virginia Tech University and Prof Robert Nicholls of the University of East Anglia to find out what’s making our cities sink and whether anything can be done to rescue them from the sea. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/7/202416 minutes, 19 seconds
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The extraordinary promise of personalised cancer vaccines

Glioblastomas are an extremely aggressive type of brain tumour, which is why the news this week of a vaccine that has shown promise in fighting them is so exciting. And this comes right off the back of the announcement of another trial of the world’s first personalised mRNA vaccine for melanoma, a kind of skin cancer. Ian Sample talks to Prof Alan Melcher of the Institute of Cancer Research about how these vaccines work and whether they could one day be used to target cancer before it is even detectable on scans. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/2/202413 minutes, 15 seconds
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The stream of plastic pollution: could a global treaty help us turn off the tap?

Guardian Seascapes reporter Karen McVeigh tells Madeleine Finlay about a recent trip to the Galápagos Islands, where mounds of plastic waste are washing up and causing problems for endemic species. Tackling this kind of waste and the overproduction of plastic were the topics on the table in Ottawa this week, as countries met to negotiate a global plastics treaty. But is progress too slow to address this pervasive problem?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/30/202415 minutes, 56 seconds
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From birds, to cattle, to … us? Could bird flu be the next pandemic?

As bird flu is confirmed in 33 cattle herds across eight US states, Ian Sample talks to virologist Dr Ed Hutchinson of Glasgow University about why this development has taken scientists by surprise, and how prepared we are for the possibility it might start spreading among humans. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/25/202415 minutes, 5 seconds
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Hardwired to eat: what can our dogs teach us about obesity?

Labradors are known for being greedy dogs, but now scientists have come up with a theory about the genetic factors that might be behind their behaviour. Science correspondent, and labrador owner, Nicola Davis, visits Cambridge University to meet Dr Eleanor Raffan, and prof Giles Yeo, to find out how understanding this pathway could help us better understand, and treat, the obesity crisis in humans.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/23/202420 minutes, 5 seconds
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Who really wins if the Enhanced Games go ahead?

Billed as a rival to the Olympic Games, the Enhanced Games, set to take place in 2025, is a sporting event with a difference; athletes will be allowed to dope. Ian Sample talks to chief sports writer Barney Ronay about where the idea came from and how it’s being sold as an anti-establishment underdog, and to Dr Peter Angell about what these usually banned substances are, and what they could do to athletes’ bodies. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/18/202416 minutes, 41 seconds
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Soundscape ecology: a window into a disappearing world

What can sound tell us about nature loss? Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston tells Madeleine Finlay about her visit to Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, where ecologist Richard Broughton has witnessed the decline of the marsh tit population over 22 years, and has heard the impact on the wood’s soundscape. As species lose their habitats across the world, pioneering soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause has argued that if we listen closely, nature can tell us everything we need to know about our impact on the planet. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/16/202416 minutes, 16 seconds
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The senior Swiss women who went to court over climate change, and won

This week, in a landmark case, the European court of human rights ruled that Switzerland’s weak climate policy had violated the rights of a group of older Swiss women to family life. Ian Sample talks to Europe environment correspondent Ajit Niranjan about why the women brought the case and what the ruling could mean for future climate policy.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/11/202415 minutes, 30 seconds
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Remembering physicist Peter Higgs

The Nobel prize-winning British physicist Peter Higgs has died aged 94. The confirmation in 2012 of the existence of the Higgs boson particle, five decades after Higgs had first theorised its existence, paved the way for his 2013 Nobel win. Nicknamed ‘the god particle’, the Higgs boson was part of an attempt to explain why the building blocks of the universe have mass. Ian Sample and Madeleine Finlay look back on the life and legacy of a giant of science. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/10/202417 minutes, 5 seconds
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Horny tortoises and solar mysteries: what scientists can learn from a total eclipse

For most people seeing a total solar eclipse is a once in a lifetime experience. But for scientists it can be a fleeting chance to understand something deeper about their field of research. Madeleine Finlay meets solar scientist prof Huw Morgan, of Aberystwyth University, and Adam Hartstone-Rose, professor of biological sciences at NC State University, to find out what they hoped to learn from 8 April’s four minutes of darkness.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/9/202417 minutes, 17 seconds
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The science of ‘weird shit’: why we believe in fate, ghosts and conspiracy theories

Psychologist Chris French has spent decades studying paranormal claims and mysterious experiences, from seemingly-impossible coincidences to paintings that purportedly predict the future. Ian Sample sits down with French to explore why so many of us end up believing in, what he terms, ‘weird shit’, and what we can learn from understanding why we’re drawn to mysterious and mystic phenomena. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/4/202418 minutes, 33 seconds
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Hypermobility: a blessing or a curse?

Being more flexible than the average person can have its advantages, from being great at games such as Limbo to feeling smug in yoga class. But researchers are coming to understand that being hypermobile can also be linked to pain in later life, anxiety, and even long Covid. Madeleine Finlay hears from the science correspondent Linda Geddes about her experience of hypermobility, and finds out what might be behind its link to mental and physical health. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/2/202415 minutes, 1 second
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The virus that infects almost everyone, and its link to cancer and MS

On 28 March it’s the 60th anniversary of the discovery of Epstein-Barr virus, the most common viral infection in humans. The virus was first discovered in association with a rare type of cancer located in Africa, but is now understood to be implicated in 1% of cancers, as well as the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, among others. Ian Sample meets Lawrence Young, professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, to hear the story of this virus, and how understanding it might help us prevent and treat cancer and other illnesses.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/28/202415 minutes, 35 seconds
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What could a severe solar storm do to Earth, and are we prepared?

The sun is currently ramping up to hit the peak of its 11-year activity cycle. In the past few days, powerful solar eruptions have sent a stream of particles towards Earth which are set to produce spectacular auroras in both hemispheres. But these kinds of geomagnetic storms can also have less appealing consequences. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Lisa Upton, a solar scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, about how the mysterious inner workings of the sun create space weather, how solar events can significantly disrupt Earth’s infrastructure, and whether we are prepared for the worst-case scenario. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/26/202414 minutes, 38 seconds
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Havana syndrome: will we ever understand what happened?

In late 2016, US officials in Cuba’s capital began experiencing a mysterious and often debilitating set of symptoms that came to be known as Havana syndrome. As two new studies into the condition are published, Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, who has been following the story, and to the consultant neurologist Prof Jon Stone, about what could be behind the condition. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/21/202416 minutes, 12 seconds
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Should forests have rights?

A growing movement of ecologists, lawyers and artists is arguing that nature should have legal rights. By recognising the rights of ecosystems and other species, advocates hope that they can gain better protection. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, about where this movement has come from and why the UK government has dismissed the concept, and hears from Cesar Rodriguez-Garavito of NYU School of Law about how he is finding creative ways to give rights to nature. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/19/202416 minutes, 37 seconds
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A waterworld with a boiling ocean and the end of dark matter? The week in science

Ian Sample and science correspondent Hannah Devlin discuss some of the science stories that have made headlines this week, from a new theory challenging the existence of dark matter to an alarming study about the possible impact of microplastics on our health and a glimpse of a ‘waterworld with a boiling ocean’ deep in space. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/14/202419 minutes, 9 seconds
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Why do we lose our hair as we age, and what can we do about it? – podcast

For some people, going bald or experiencing thinning hair can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing and self confidence. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Rudi Zygadlo about how it affected him and what he eventually did about it, and to consultant dermatologist and hair specialist Dr Sharon Wong about what exactly is going on when our hair thins, which treatments are available to help, and what we can expect from new technologies in the pipeline. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/12/202417 minutes, 55 seconds
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What’s behind the rapid rise of cancer in the under-50s?

Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s health editor, Andrew Gregory, about the worrying global rise in cancers in under-50s, and hears from Yin Cao, an associate professor in surgery and medicine at Washington University in St Louis, who is part of a team conducting a huge study into why young people are developing bowel cancer at record rates. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/7/202414 minutes, 8 seconds
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Classic older child? What the science says about birth order and personality

We all know the cliches about older siblings being responsible, younger ones being creative, and middle children being peacemakers. But is there any evidence our position in the family has an impact on our personality? Madeleine Finlay meets Dr Julia Rohrer, a personality psychologist at the University of Leipzig, to unpick the science behind our intuition about birth order. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/5/202416 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Guardian’s new podcast series about AI: Black Box – prologue

We wanted to bring you this episode from our new series, Black Box. In it, Michael Safi explores seven stories and the thread that ties them together: artificial intelligence. In this prologue, Hannah (not her real name) has met Noah and he has changed her life for the better. So why does she have concerns about him? If you like what you hear, make sure to search and subscribe to Black Box, with new episodes every Monday and Thursday.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/2/202414 minutes, 36 seconds
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The debilitating impact of tinnitus, and how a new app could help

It’s thought that about 15% of us are affected by tinnitus, and despite its potentially debilitating impact on mental health and quality of life, there isn’t any cure for the condition. Madeleine Finlay speaks to John, who has used CBT techniques to learn to live well with his tinnitus, and Dr Lucy Handscomb, a tinnitus researcher who is involved in trialling a new app that could hold promise for sufferers.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/29/202419 minutes, 3 seconds
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How green are electric cars?

Electric cars might seem like a no-brainer on a warming planet, but there are plenty of people who remain sceptical about everything from their battery life to their carbon impact and the environmental and human rights costs of their parts. Madeleine Finlay consults Auke Hoekstra, known as the internet’s ‘EV debunker in chief’, to unpick the myths, realities and grey areas surrounding electric cars. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/27/202416 minutes, 24 seconds
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Mistakes, fakes, and a giant rat penis: why are so many science papers being retracted?

A record 10,000 research papers were retracted in 2023. To find out what’s driving this trend, Ian Sample speaks to Ivan Oransky, whose organisation Retraction Watch has been monitoring the growing numbers of retractions for more than a decade, and hears from blogger Sholto David, who recently made headlines when he spotted mistakes in research from a leading US cancer institute.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/22/202419 minutes, 26 seconds
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Nitazenes and xylazine: what’s behind the rise of dangerous synthetic drugs?

Social affairs correspondent Robert Booth tells Madeleine Finlay why a class of synthetic opioids called nitazenes, first developed in the 1950s, is leading to a worrying number of fatal overdoses in the UK. And she hears from toxicology and addiction specialist Dr Joseph D’Orazio about a tranquilliser called xylazine that has been showing up in alarming volumes in the US illegal drug supply and is now starting to appear in toxicology reports in the UK. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/20/202416 minutes, 32 seconds
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What apes can tell us about the origins of teasing

We all know people who find it hilarious to prod and poke, pinch and tickle, all in the name of fun. But are humans the only ones who like to tease each other? Or are other animals in on the act? Ian Sample talks to Prof Erica Cartmill about her work on apes and teasing and asks, given how annoying teasing is, why do apes, and humans, do it?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/15/202414 minutes, 37 seconds
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Retinol, acids and serums for kids? A dermatologist’s guide to age appropriate skincare

Last month the British Association of Dermatologists warned that children as young as eight years old were using potentially damaging anti-ageing skin care products. Madeleine Finlay speaks to consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth about where this trend has come from, what damage these products might be causing to young skin and how we can all look after our skin without spending too much time and money. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/13/202414 minutes, 38 seconds
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Why are we still waiting for a male contraceptive pill?

Despite research into a male contraceptive pill starting around the same time as its female counterpart, no product has ever made it to market. But that could soon change, with a new non-hormonal male pill entering human trials in the UK late last year. Ian Sample speaks to bioethicist Prof Lisa Campo-Engelstein of the University of Texas and Prof Chris Barratt from the University of Dundee about why male contraceptives have been so difficult to develop, and what kind of options are in the pipeline. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/8/202416 minutes, 7 seconds
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What happens now bird flu has reached the Antarctic?

The moment scientists had been dreading arrived late last year, when H5N1, or bird flu, was found for the first time in the Antarctic. Last week a king penguin on the island of South Georgia became the first in the region to be suspected to have died from the disease. The Guardian’s biodiversity reporter, Phoebe Weston, tells Ian Sample why researchers have said the spread of bird flu through the Antarctic’s penguin colonies could signal ‘one of the largest ecological disasters of modern times’. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/6/202413 minutes, 39 seconds
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A fasting prime minister and a mind-reading billionaire: the week in science

Ian Sample and science correspondent Hannah Devlin discuss the big science stories of the week – from news that Elon Musk’s Neuralink has implanted its first chip into a human, to research suggesting Alzheimer’s can pass between humans in rare medical accidents, and the revelation that Rishi Sunak begins each week with a 36-hour fast. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/1/202416 minutes, 35 seconds
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Secrets of the microbiome: the skin

The trillions of microbes living on and inside the human body are an important part of who we are, from mediating all of our interactions with the environment to determining our cancer risk and influencing who we fall for. And scientists are only just beginning to decipher the species of bugs we share our lives with, and how they shape us. In the final part of this Science Weekly mini-series, Ian Sample meets Julie Thornton, academic director of the Centre for Skin Sciences and professor in cutaneous biology at the university of Bradford. Julie tells Ian how the skin microbiome varies across our bodies, how it helps with everything from wound healing to immunity, and how we can protect it from the disruptive impact of modern life.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/30/202415 minutes, 36 seconds
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Secrets of the microbiome: the vagina

The trillions of microbes living on and inside the human body are an important part of who we are, from mediating all our interactions with the environment to determining our cancer risk and influencing who we fall for. And scientists are only just beginning to decipher the species of bug we share our lives with, and how they shape us. In the second of a three-part Science Weekly mini-series, Madeleine Finlay meets Ina Schuppe Koistinen, associate professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and author of the book Vulva: Facts, Myths and Life-Changing Insights. Ina explains what makes the vaginal microbiome special, why it could hold the key to understanding pregnancy complications, and how we can better care for and protect it.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/25/202415 minutes, 33 seconds
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Secrets of the microbiome: the gut

The trillions of microbes living on and inside the human body are an important part of who we are, from mediating all of our interactions with the environment to determining our cancer risk and influencing who we fall for. And scientists are only just beginning to decipher the species of bugs we share our lives with, and how they shape us. In the first of a Science Weekly three-part mini-series, Ian Sample speaks to colorectal surgeon and researcher, James Kinross, about the miraculous world of our gut microbiome, how modern life is impacting it, and what we can do to look after it. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/23/202421 minutes, 29 seconds
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How to stop doomscrolling and reclaim your brain

If you’ve made a resolution to spend less time on your phone this year, help is at hand. The Guardian has launched a new newsletter, Reclaim your brain. Its co-writer and expert coach Catherine Price tells Madeleine Finlay how her own excessive phone use inspired her to investigate the science behind our relationships with our devices, and what we know about how to break the cycle. And Prof Barbara Sahakian of Cambridge University explains why many of us are drawn to looking at bad news on our phones, and what it’s doing to us. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/18/202416 minutes, 37 seconds
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Is guilt-free flying on the horizon?

In November, a plane powered by 100% ‘sustainable’ jet fuel took off from London to New York. It was hailed by some as a milestone in reducing the carbon footprint of air travel, which accounts for about 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. Could this be the start of a greener way to fly? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guy Gratton, associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, to find out if the future of aviation can ever truly be guilt-free.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/16/202417 minutes, 22 seconds
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Our science predictions for 2024

Last year was a bumper year for science news, with the rise of weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy, record-high global temperatures, not to mention an attempted orca uprising. So what will this year bring? Ian Sample and science correspondent Hannah Devlin discuss the big stories likely to hit the headlines and share their predictions for 2024. And environment reporter Patrick Greenfield reveals his top climate stories for 2024. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/11/202416 minutes, 43 seconds
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What the science says about how to get active (and make it stick)

As parks and gyms fill with people hoping to make 2024 their year of fitness, Ian Sample speaks to Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada, about how much exercise we should be doing, the benefits of interval training, and how to make a new regime stick. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/9/202416 minutes, 3 seconds
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Revisited: Weight of the world, the climate scientists who hold out hope

Science Weekly revisits episode three of this 2023 mini-series from Full Story. In the final part of this three-part series, the Australian climate scientists Lesley Hughes, Ove Høegh-Guldberg and Graeme Pearman take stock as they look back on their life’s work. How does it feel for them to carry this burden of knowledge? Could they have done more? And what hope do they hold for the future?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/4/202434 minutes, 56 seconds
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Weight of the world revisited: the climate scientists who copped it

Science Weekly revisits episode two of this 2023 mini-series from Full Story. In part two of Weight of the world, three Australian climate scientists reveal the professional and personal toll of their predictions. Lesley Hughes tells us about the axing of Australia’s Climate Commission, a group tasked with educating the public about climate science and the need to cut carbon emissions; Graeme Pearman talks of the pushback from government and industry; and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg speaks of the personal attacks and death threats that followed his warnings. All three express their disbelief that meaningful action didn’t follow the science, with Pearman saying he was ‘naive’ to think it would. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/3/202442 minutes, 28 seconds
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Revisited: Weight of the world – the climate scientists who saw the crisis coming

Science Weekly revisits episode one of this 2023 mini-series from Full Story. Pioneering Australian scientists Graeme Pearman, Lesley Hughes and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg saw the climate crisis coming. Pearman predicted the increase of carbon dioxide levels, Hughes foresaw the alarming number of species extinctions and Hoegh-Guldberg forecast the mass coral bleaching events we’re seeing today. All three went on to become some of the country’s most respected experts in their fields, travelling the globe, briefing leaders, and assuming the world would take action having heard their alarming findings. In part one of this three-part series, these climate change scientists reveal the moment they realised the planet was heading for certain catastrophe. What did they do when they found out? How did they think the world would respond? And how do they feel today, looking back on that moment of cognisance?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/2/202435 minutes, 53 seconds
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Best of 2023, Killing the Skydancer: episode three, An Open Secret

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, which first aired in 2023, the Guardian’s biodiversity reporter, Phoebe Weston, explores the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors, and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In the third and final episode, Phoebe finds out more about the pressures that drive people to commit raptor persecution, discovers how the police investigation into the case of Susie’s crushed chicks unfolded, and how Susie, the hen harrier, is doing now. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/28/202327 minutes, 15 seconds
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Best of 2023, Killing the Skydancer: episode two, The Perfect Crime

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, which first aired in August 2023, the Guardian’s biodiversity reporter, Phoebe Weston, explores the murky world of the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors, and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In episode two, Phoebe speaks to the people trying to protect these rare birds but, as she digs deeper, she encounters a surprising silence around the killing of a hen harrier’s chicks. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/27/202327 minutes, 9 seconds
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Best of 2023: Killing the Skydancer episode one, Susie’s chicks

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, which first aired in August 2023, the Guardian’s biodiversity reporter, Phoebe Weston, explores the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In episode one, Phoebe hears about the case of Susie, a hen harrier whose chicks were killed while being monitored on camera. As she starts to investigate the case, she hears from conservationist Ruth Tingay about why hen harriers are targeted and finds out about the personal costs of campaigning on this issue. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/26/202322 minutes, 11 seconds
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All the buzz and no hangover? The next generation of alcohol-free drinks

What with Christmas parties and work drinks, this time of year can feel like one long hangover. But a new generation of alcohol-free alternatives is emerging which claim to offer the fun of alcohol without the painful morning-after. Madeleine Finlay and Ian Sample are joined by science correspondent Hannah Devlin to sample some of these drinks and interrogate the science behind them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/21/202319 minutes, 59 seconds
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Can machines ever be like us? Prof Michael Wooldridge on the future of AI

Prof Michael Wooldridge has been an AI researcher for more than 30 years, and in the year that AI was supercharged by ChatGPT, he is giving the Royal Institution’s Christmas lectures on the truth about AI. The Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis sat down with him to find out how he sees AI evolving, what makes human intelligence unique, and what really keeps him awake at night. Madeleine Finlay hears from them both in this Science Weekly Christmas special.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/19/202319 minutes, 48 seconds
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Cop28: what just happened?

A deal has been announced at Cop28 in Dubai, and depending who you talk to, it’s either a historic achievement or a weak and ineffectual agreement full of loopholes. Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian environment editor Damian Carrington, who explains what the deal on fossil fuels will mean in practice, how small island states have responded, and whether it will help us stay within the crucial limit of 1.5C of global heating. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/13/202313 minutes, 49 seconds
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The incredible world of animal perception, and what it can teach us

Ian Sample meets Ed Yong, who recently won 2023’s Royal Society book prize for An Immense World, which delves into the incredible world of animal senses. From colours and sounds beyond our perception, to the weird and wonderful ways that animals grow new ears and experience smell, Ed explains why understanding how animals perceive the world can transform our own experience of life on Earth. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/12/202318 minutes, 13 seconds
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All the drama from the first week of Cop28

Madeleine Finlay hears from the biodiversity and environment reporter Patrick Greenfield, who is reporting for the Guardian from Cop28 in Dubai. He describes the rollercoaster first week of highs and lows, which included an important agreement on loss and damage and a tetchy press conference from the summit president, Sultan Al Jaber. He also sets out what is still on the table as the second week of negotiations gets under way • This episode was amended on 7 December to reflect the fact that Sheikh Ahmed did not want to be interviewed. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/7/202316 minutes, 42 seconds
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Why are we still struggling to get contraception right?

As the pill becomes available over the counter and free of charge in England, Madeleine Finlay talks to science correspondent Nicola Davis about the problems women in the UK face in getting access to appropriate contraception, and how unwanted side-effects and lack of support have led to a rise in the popularity of fertility awareness-based methods. She also hears from Katie about her own journey trying to find the right contraception for her body. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/5/202316 minutes, 45 seconds
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Everything you need to know about Cop28 as the summit begins

Every year the world’s leaders gather for the UN climate change conference, and after a year of record temperatures, this year’s summit has been called the most vital yet. As Cop28 begins in Dubai, Ian Sample hears from Guardian environment editor and resident Cop expert Fiona Harvey. She explains why this summit proved controversial before it even began, what the main talking points will be, and how countries can still collaborate to meet the goals set out in 2015’s Paris agreement. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/30/202316 minutes, 9 seconds
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Weight of the world – the climate scientists who saw the crisis coming

Science Weekly brings you episode one of a new mini-series from Full Story. Pioneering Australian scientists Graeme Pearman, Lesley Hughes and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg saw the climate crisis coming. Pearman predicted the increase of carbon dioxide levels, Hughes foresaw the alarming number of species extinctions and Hoegh-Guldberg forecast the mass coral bleaching events we’re seeing today. All three went on to become some of the country’s most respected experts in their fields, travelling the globe, briefing leaders, and assuming the world would take action having heard their alarming findings. In part one of this three-part series, these climate scientists reveal the moment they realised the planet was heading for catastrophe. What did they do when they found out? How did they think the world would respond? And how do they feel today, looking back on that moment of cognisance?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/28/202336 minutes, 52 seconds
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What have we learned from the James Webb space telescope so far?

Madeleine Finlay sits down with science correspondent Hannah Devlin to discuss the amazing discoveries the James Webb space telescope has made in the year since it became operational. From planets that rain sand, to distant galaxies, Hannah explains how some of these discoveries could fundamentally change our understanding of the universe. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/23/202315 minutes, 35 seconds
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Superyachts and private jets: the carbon impact of the ‘polluter elite’

A new report from Oxfam has found that the extravagant carbon footprint of the 0.1% – from superyachts, private jets and mansions to space flights and doomsday bunkers – is 77 times higher than the upper level needed for global warming to peak at 1.5C. Madeleine Finlay hears from the Guardian’s Europe environment correspondent Ajit Niranjan, and from wealth correspondent Rupert Neate, about the highly polluting transport habits of the ultra-wealthy. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/21/202318 minutes, 57 seconds
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The mysteries of volcanoes: what’s going on beneath the ground in Iceland?

As Iceland braces for a volcanic eruption, Madeleine Finlay hears from volcanologist Helga Torfadottir about how the country is preparing, and why this is happening now. She also speaks to Cambridge professor of volcanology Clive Oppenheimer about how scientists predict volcanic activity, and what it feels like to stare into a smouldering volcanic crater. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/16/202318 minutes, 11 seconds
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CBD: what’s the science behind the wellness trend?

Last month the UK’s Food Standards Authority slashed the recommended safe daily intake of cannabidiol (CBD) from 70mg to 10mg. An estimated one in 10 people in the UK have used products containing CBD, and many users believe it can help with ailments such as insomnia, anxiety and pain. But is there any evidence for the supposed benefits, and what’s behind the FSA’s decision? Ian Sample talks to Dr Will Lawn of Kings College University, who has studied the health effects of CBD, to find out. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/14/202314 minutes, 16 seconds
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Why is the Amazon rainforest drying up?

Ian Sample talks to Guardian global environment editor Jon Watts about the withering drought currently devastating the Amazon rainforest. Jon explains the complex mix of factors that are driving the drought, and considers whether it might be a catalyst for more concerted climate action in Brazil and beyond. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/9/202316 minutes, 49 seconds
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Understanding the science of addiction

After Matthew Perry’s death was announced, a clip of the actor debating the science of addiction on the BBC’s Newsnight programme went viral. To find out where we’ve got to in our understanding of addiction, Ian Sample talks to Dr Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. She explains how brain imaging has advanced our understanding of this chronic disease. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/7/202316 minutes, 59 seconds
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Nuclear fusion, new drugs, better batteries: how AI will transform science

As the UK hosts the first global AI safety summit, Guardian science editor Ian Sample joins Madeleine Finlay to look on the bright side and consider some of the huge benefits AI could bring to science. Madeleine also hears from Prof Mihaela van der Schaar, an expert in machine learning in medicine, about how she predicts AI will transform patient care. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/2/202318 minutes, 6 seconds
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What could near-death experiences teach us about life, death and consciousness?

Seeing a bright light, floating above your body, being guided by an angel. All of these are common elements of reported near-death experiences, but what’s really going on? Ian Sample meets Sam Parnia, an intensive care doctor and associate professor at NYU Grossman school of medicine in New York City who has spent his career exploring the boundary between life and death. He tells Ian how he believes these experiences can be explained and what medicine can learn from them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/31/202316 minutes, 5 seconds
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Black holes, but backwards: unlocking the mysteries of white holes

Ian Sample meets the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli to find out about his cutting-edge research into white holes. A white hole is essentially a time-reversed black hole: a region of spacetime where matter spontaneously appears and explodes outwards. At the moment they are hypothetical objects, so Rovelli explains why he thinks they are worth exploring and reveals how they could explain one of the greatest mysteries of physics. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/26/202321 minutes, 31 seconds
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‘We’ve lost control’: what happens when the west Antarctic ice sheet melts?

Madeleine Finlay hears from environment editor Damian Carrington about a new study by the British Antarctic Survey, which shows Antarctic ice may be melting even faster than we thought. He also reflects on the life and career of former environment editor John Vidal, whose death was announced last week. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/24/202315 minutes, 27 seconds
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Could AI help diagnose schizophrenia?

Madeleine Finlay meets neuroscientist and psychiatrist Matthew Nour, whose research looks at how artificial intelligence could help doctors and scientists bring precision to diagnosis of psychiatric conditions. He describes his latest study looking at patients with schizophrenia, and explains how he thinks large language models such as ChatGPT could one day be used in the clinic. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/19/202315 minutes, 38 seconds
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Scarier than lions: how fear of ‘super predator’ humans is shaping the animal kingdom

Ian Sample meets the conservation biologist Liana Zanette, whose recently published research demonstrates that humans are now the super predator, inciting more fear in wild animals than even lions. She explains the ramifications of this knowledge for conservation techniques and the protection of endangered animals. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/17/202315 minutes, 44 seconds
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Inside the UK’s first gaming disorder clinic

In 2018 the World Health Organization formally included gaming disorder in its diagnostic manual for the first time. Nearly four years into running the only NHS gaming disorder clinic, Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones tells Madeleine Finlay about how her team are learning to help those impacted, while a former patient explains how his gaming got out of hand, and how the clinic helped him to regain control. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/12/202320 minutes, 23 seconds
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What’s really going on with Paris’s bedbug crisis?

The Guardian’s Paris correspondent, Angelique Chrisafis, tells Madeleine Finlay about the explosion in bedbug sightings in the city, and how residents and officials have reacted. And Prof Jerome Goddard explains what makes the creatures so difficult to eradicate, and why the biggest threat they pose may be to our mental health. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/10/202319 minutes, 1 second
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All the news and science from the Nobel Prizes

Guardian science correspondents Linda Geddes, Nicola Davis and Hannah Devlin give Madeleine Finlay the lowdown on the Nobel Prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry that were announced this week. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/5/202320 minutes, 59 seconds
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Everything you need to know about the menopause

Madeleine Finlay meets menopause expert Dr Louise Newson to find out about some of the myths surrounding the menopause, how women can prepare for this stage in life, and why information and support can be so difficult to access. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/3/202320 minutes, 48 seconds
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Could we end migraines for good?

British cabinet minister Dehenna Davison recently resigned from government, explaining that chronic migraines were making it impossible for her to do her job. Her announcement coincided with a new drug for acute migraines being recommended for use in the NHS. Madeleine Finlay meets Prof Peter Goadsby, whose pioneering research underpins the new drug, to find out about the advances we’ve made in understanding migraines, and whether we might one day be able to wave goodbye to migraines for good. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/28/202316 minutes, 40 seconds
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Deja vu’s lesser-known opposite: why do we experience jamais vu?

There’s a sensation many of us might have experienced: when something routine or recognisable suddenly feels strange and unfamiliar. It’s known as jamais vu, or ‘never seen’. Research into this odd feeling recently won an Ig Nobel prize, which is awarded to science that makes you laugh, then think. Ian Sample speaks to Ig Nobel recipient Dr Akira O’Connor about why he wanted to study jamais vu, what he thinks is happening in our brains, and what it could teach us about memory going right, and wrong. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/26/202315 minutes
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The mystery of Europe’s heat death hotspot

Ian Sample hears from the Guardian’s Europe environment correspondent, Ajit Niranjan, about the reporting he has been doing for the launch of our new Europe edition. He talks about Osijek, a Croatian city that has the highest heat mortality rate in Europe … but no one knows why. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/21/202316 minutes, 3 seconds
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Will our bees survive the Asian hornet invasion?

Asian hornets have been spotted in the UK in record numbers this year, sparking concern about what their presence could mean for our native insects, and in particular bee populations. Madeleine Finlay speaks to ecologist Prof Juliet Osborne about why this species of hornet is so voracious, how European beekeepers have been impacted by their arrival, and how scientists and the government are attempting to prevent them from becoming established here. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/19/202317 minutes, 6 seconds
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Should American bully XLs be banned?

The UK home secretary, Suella Braverman, is pushing for a ban on American bully XL dogs after an attack on an 11-year-old girl in Birmingham. Madeleine Finlay hears from Guardian Midlands correspondent Jessica Murray about how this relatively new breed became so popular, and from bioethicist Jessica Pierce about whether we need to reevaluate our expectations of dog ownership. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/14/202319 minutes, 28 seconds
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Teen mental health and social media: what does the evidence tell us?

Ian Sample talks to Dr Amy Orben, who leads the digital mental health programme at the Medical Research Council’s cognition and brain sciences unit, about why the link between teen mental health and social media is so difficult to study, what the current evidence tells us and what advice she gives to parents whose children are entering the online world for the first time. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/12/202319 minutes, 9 seconds
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First African climate summit: can development and climate action coexist?

Madeleine Finlay hears from the Guardian’s east Africa global development correspondent, Caroline Kimeu, about the challenges and tensions at play at the inaugural climate summit. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/7/202319 minutes, 14 seconds
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Everything you need to know about the new Covid variant

The UK Health Security Agency has announced plans to bring forward its autumn Covid-19 vaccination programme, and scale up testing and surveillance, after the emergence of the BA.2.86 variant. Madeleine Finlay and Ian Sample discuss where current infection rates stand, the characteristics of the new variant, and how prepared the UK is for a new wave. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/5/202315 minutes, 49 seconds
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Why are scientists so excited about the vagus nerve? – podcast

Serving as a two-way ‘electrical superhighway’, the vagus nerve – which is actually a pair of nerves – allows for communication between the brain and the heart, lungs and abdominal organs. And because of this, it has been shown to help control things such as the heart rate, breathing, digestion and even immune responses. Now, scientists and health influencers are asking whether stimulating the vagus nerve could transform physical and mental health. Science correspondent Linda Geddes tells Ian Sample about her recent investigation into the hype and science surrounding the vagus nerve, and also whether her own experiment with an allegedly nerve-stimulating device is having any effect. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/31/202312 minutes, 33 seconds
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Iris scans: proof of our humanity in an AI future, or marketing gimmick?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s technology reporter Hibaq Farah about Worldcoin, a new cryptocurrency offering users tokens in exchange for a scan of their eyeballs. Farah explains what the motives behind the company are, why they think we all need to become ‘verified humans’, and how governments have responded to the project. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/29/202317 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Y chromosome has finally been sequenced: here’s why it matters

Twenty years after the first pass at sequencing the entire human genome, the Y chromosome has finally been fully decoded. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Mark Jobling, professor of genetics at the University of Leicester, about why it has proved so tricky, the role of the Y chromosome in our bodies, and the likelihood of it eventually dying out altogether. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/24/202317 minutes, 22 seconds
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Apple cider vinegar gummies: what’s the science behind the weight loss trend?

Apple cider vinegar is touted as a cure-all for everything from excess weight to digestion issues and blood sugar spikes. Supplement ‘gummies’ are the latest trend, billed as a tastier way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into our diets. Posts promoting them have been viewed millions of times on TikTok, but are the health claims backed up by the science? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Carol Johnston, a professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University who has been studying vinegar for 20 years, to find out what the evidence tells us. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/22/202315 minutes, 34 seconds
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Killing the Skydancer: episode three, An Open Secret

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston explores the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors, and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In the third and final episode, Phoebe finds out more about the pressures that drive people to commit raptor persecution, discovers how the police investigation into the case of Susie’s crushed chicks unfolded, and how Susie is doing now. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/17/202326 minutes, 38 seconds
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Killing the Skydancer: episode two, The Perfect Crime

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston explores the murky world of the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors, and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In episode two, Phoebe speaks to the people trying to protect these rare birds, but as she digs deeper encounters a surprising silence around the killing of Susie’s chicks. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/16/202326 minutes, 29 seconds
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Killing the Skydancer: episode one, Susie’s Chicks

In this special Age of Extinction mini-series from Science Weekly, Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston explores the murky world of the illegal killing of birds of prey on grouse moors and asks why it is so difficult to solve these crimes. In episode one, Phoebe hears about the case of Susie, a hen harrier whose chicks were killed while being monitored on camera. As she starts to investigate the case, she hears from conservationist Ruth Tingay about why hen harriers are targeted and finds out about the personal costs of campaigning on this issue. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/15/202321 minutes, 36 seconds
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Summer picks: are we any closer to understanding long Covid?

In this episode from March 2023, Ian Sample hears from Scotland’s Astronomer Royal, Prof Catherine Heymans, about her experience of long Covid and how it has affected her life. He also speaks to Prof Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London, about the scientific understanding of the condition, and whether we’re any closer to a treatment. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/10/202317 minutes, 27 seconds
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Summer picks: should we ban artificial grass?

Installing artificial grass is becoming an increasingly popular way to achieve a neat, green lawn without much effort. But with environmental and potential health costs associated with plastic turf, many campaigners and gardeners would like to see it banned. In this episode from April 2023, Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian feature writer Sam Wollaston and urban ecologist Prof Rob Francis about why people go for artificial grass, its environmental impact, and whether it’s time we rid ourselves of the idea of the perfect lawn altogether. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/8/202315 minutes, 8 seconds
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Summer picks: could the multiverse be real?

The film Everything Everywhere All at Once won the 2023 Academy Award for Best Picture. In this episode from March 2023, just before the Oscars, Ian Sample spoke to the theoretical physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll about why we seem to be drawn to the idea of multiple worlds, and what the science says about how the multiverse might actually work. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/3/202318 minutes, 51 seconds
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Summer picks: what’s the reality behind the ‘Love Island smile’?

As the 10th series of the ITV show finishes, viewers may have noticed the perfectly straight, white teeth of the contestants. But are there risks associated with achieving a flawless smile? In this episode from January 2023, Madeleine Finlay speaks to dentist Paul Woodhouse about some of the dangers of dental tourism. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/1/202312 minutes, 21 seconds
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Canadian lake could mark the start of new geological epoch

Plutonium from nuclear weapons, industrial waste, and human activity more broadly have left such a mark on the Earth that a new epoch called the Anthropocene has been proposed. Scientists are debating the specific geological site to define this epoch, with the frontrunner being an unassuming lake in Canada: Crawford Lake. What is it about this spot that holds the secrets to this period of history? From hydrogen bombs to hens’ bones, how do we define the Anthropocene, the beginning of the human era on Earth? Ian Sample asks Damian Carrington. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/27/202315 minutes, 23 seconds
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What can doppelgangers tell us about nature v nurture?

The thing about doppelgangers is that despite looking almost identical, they aren’t biologically related. So, what makes them appear so similar? How do totally different people end up with the same face? And, can studying doppelgangers tell us anything about the age-old question of nature v nurture? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Manel Esteller to find out. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/25/202314 minutes, 19 seconds
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Extreme heat: what does it do to us and how can we adapt?

As record temperatures spread across the world, Ian Sample sets out to understand what heat does to our bodies and what we can do to mitigate it without causing more damage to the environment. He visits Prof Lewis Halsey’s team at the University of Roehampton and learns first-hand about the body’s response to heat. He also hears from scientists Prof Jean Palutikof and Dr Aaron Bach about how we can adapt buildings and working conditions in a changing climate.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/20/202321 minutes, 12 seconds
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What’s at stake if we mine the deep sea?

As the International Seabed Authority gathers in Jamaica to thrash out regulations for mining the deep sea, Chris Michael of the Guardian’s Seascape team gives Ian Sample the background to this highly contested decision. Ian also hears from the marine biologist Dr Diva Amon about why some scientists are sounding the alarm. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/18/202318 minutes, 9 seconds
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Has a 25-year-old bet taken us a step closer to understanding consciousness?

Twenty-five years ago in a German bar, neuroscientist Christof Koch bet philosopher David Chalmers that we’d understand the neural basis for consciousness by 2023. Last month, the winner of the bet received a case of wine. Ian Sample talks to Christof and David about why they made the bet, who won, and where we are now in our understanding of this most fundamental aspect of existence.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/13/202314 minutes, 53 seconds
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The awe-inspiring intelligence of octopuses

Madeleine Finlay speaks to science correspondent Nicola Davis about why octopuses are more similar to us humans than we might believe. She also hears from Prof David Scheel about our increasing understanding of the sophistication of these cephalopods, and how that should influence our treatment of them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/11/202318 minutes, 7 seconds
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Why inflammation matters, and what we can do to fight it

Ian Sample talks to Dr David Furman, an expert on inflammation and ageing at Stanford University. He explains how chronic inflammation is affecting our health and how lifestyle choices can help us fight it.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/6/202320 minutes, 1 second
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Why are windfarms turning record profits for the crown estate?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s energy correspondent, Jillian Ambrose, about how offshore windfarms are generating record profits for the crown estate, and why King Charles has asked for the money to be used for the wider public good. She also hears from economist Guy Standing about how the seabed became a source of income for the crown and what it means for our view of the oceans as ‘commons’. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/4/202316 minutes, 51 seconds
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Euclid: will the mission uncover the secrets of dark matter and dark energy?

Ian Sample speaks to the cosmologist Dr Andrew Pontzen about the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, which hopes to uncover more about two of the universe’s most baffling components: dark energy and dark matter. Pontzen explains what the probe will be looking for and how its findings will contribute to our understanding of the structure and evolution of the cosmos. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/29/202318 minutes, 26 seconds
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Why are orcas attacking boats and is the behaviour spreading?

Since 2020, orcas off the coast of Spain and Portugal have been ramming boats, biting rudders and, in a few cases, sinking entire vessels. Now it has been reported that a similar encounter has happened off Shetland. Madeleine Finlay speaks to marine biologist and orca expert Hanne Strager about what might be behind these incidents and where our fascination with orcas comes from This podcast was amended on 27 June 2023. An earlier version contained audio of the calls of a humpback whale, not an orca. This audio has now been removed.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/27/202318 minutes, 37 seconds
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Synthetic human embryos: can the law keep pace with the science?

Scientists have created synthetic human embryos using stem cells in a groundbreaking advance that sidesteps the need for eggs or sperm. Madeleine Finlay speaks to science correspondent Hannah Devlin about her world exclusive story on this development, what it could mean for medical research, and whether the ethical and regulatory classifications of these embryos are keeping pace with the science. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/22/202316 minutes, 54 seconds
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Cybercrime: what does psychology have to do with phishing?

At the start of 2023, the UK postal service Royal Mail was hit with an ultimatum: pay $80m (£67m) or continue to have international shipments blocked. The demand came from Russian-linked hackers the LockBit group, who had infiltrated Royal Mail’s software. Royal Mail refused to pay and eventually reinstated its overseas deliveries, but the cyber-attack came at a huge cost to the company and others that depend on its service. Ransomware attacks like this one are on the rise. So too are phishing attempts, emails and texts that try to fool recipients into clicking on links that contain malware or ask for personal information. Ian Sample speaks to the Yale law professor and author Scott Shapiro about cybercrime, how attacks hack into our psychology and what individuals and governments could do to stop it. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/20/202318 minutes, 42 seconds
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Will new treatments change the way we view cancer for good?

Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s health editor, Andrew Gregory, and Dr Roy Herbst about the world’s biggest annual gathering of oncology professionals. Each year’s event features a mass of new research, and 2023 was no exception. What were the standout advances, and could they lead to permanent changes in the way we treat, think about and live with cancer?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/15/202316 minutes, 36 seconds
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Kakhovka dam destruction: why is Ukraine calling it ‘ecocide’?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to Doug Weir from the Conflict and Environment Observatory about why the collapse of the Kakhovka dam is likely to be so damaging for biodiversity, access to clean water and levels of pollution. He explains why the environment has become such a central part of the narrative and considers what this increased focus could mean for Ukraine’s eventual recovery. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/13/202316 minutes, 57 seconds
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Why is Nasa looking into UFOs and what has it found so far?

Last week, Nasa held the first public meeting of a panel established to investigate sightings of UFOs. It came just before a whistleblower former intelligence official told the Debrief that the US government had ‘intact and partially intact’ craft of non-human origin. Ian Sample talks to Prof David Spergel, the independent chair of Nasa’s panel, about why this is happening now, what they hope to find and why there is so much stigma attached to this field. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/8/202317 minutes, 28 seconds
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‘It’s taught me everything about living’: Rachel Clarke on delivering palliative care from the NHS to Ukraine

Ian Sample talks to Dr Rachel Clarke about her experience working in palliative care in the NHS and now with hospices in Ukraine. She tells him what dying can teach the living, what we can learn from the Covid pandemic, and reveals the anguish and defiance of trying to provide a dignified death in the midst of war. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/6/202324 minutes, 15 seconds
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Why are food allergies on the rise and is a cure on the horizon?

Food allergies appear to be increasing globally, but as scientific understanding improves, some experts believe we may one day be able to eliminate them altogether. Ian Sample speaks to Dr Kari Nadeau, an allergy specialist at Harvard School of Public Health and author of the book The End of Food Allergy, to discuss why food allergies are on the rise and what we can do to prevent – and possibly even cure – them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/1/202316 minutes, 27 seconds
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Six months to Cop28: will the most vital summit yet make meaningful progress?

Every year, the world’s leaders gather for the UN climate change conference. At Cop28, they will be faced with two stark warnings from scientists: we are likely to breach 1.5C warming above pre-industrial levels in the next five years, and we are on course to reach 2.7C of warming by the end of the century. Progress has never been more critical and this year it lies in the hands of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has plans to expand its already extensive oil and gas productions. With six months to go, Madeleine Finlay talks to environment correspondent Fiona Harvey about Cop28’s hosts and president, why this year is particularly key, and how close we are getting to irreversible climate tipping points. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/30/202315 minutes, 55 seconds
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Japanese knotweed: why is it so damaging and can it be stopped?

Since it was introduced to the UK in 1850, Japanese knotweed has gone from novel ornamental plant to rampant invasive species. Madeleine Finlay speaks to journalist Samanth Subramanian about the huge costs associated with finding it on a property, and Dr Sophie Hocking explains what the plant, and our attempts to control it, might be doing to the environment.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/25/202318 minutes, 2 seconds
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What will we eat in a post-1.5C world?

We now know that global temperatures are likely to temporarily rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in the next five years. Breaching this crucial threshold will give humanity an insight into what the next few decades could bring. It will undoubtedly have serious consequences in all aspects of our lives, including what we eat. In the second of our special series of episodes looking at what a future world might look like, science editor Ian Sample explores how our diets could change as the Earth heats up. Ian talks to Kew’s kitchen gardener Helena Dove about climate-resilient vegetables, visits Tiziana di Costanzo’s insect farm to try mealworms and crickets, and hears from Solar Food’s CEO, Pasi Vainikka, about making food from bacteria, electricity and air. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/23/202323 minutes, 10 seconds
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Menopause: could a new brain-based treatment cure hot flushes?

A first-of-its-kind non-hormonal drug to treat hot flushes has been approved in the US. Targeting connections in the brain that change during menopause, the drug, called fezolinetant, could provide relief for those who aren’t able to take hormonal replacement therapy. Madeleine Finlay speaks to endocrinologist and menopause specialist Prof Annice Mukherjee to find out what we know about the mechanism that causes hot flushes, how this new drug works, and what it might mean for those experiencing menopause in the future.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/18/202315 minutes, 41 seconds
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Is it the beginning of the end for scientific publishing?

More than 40 leading scientists have resigned en masse from the editorial board of a top science journal in protest at what they describe as the ‘greed’ of the publisher. Ian Sample speaks to correspondent Hannah Devlin about the remarkably lucrative business of scientific publishing, hears from Prof Chris Chambers about what was behind the recent mass resignation, and finds out why researchers are demanding change. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/16/202317 minutes, 50 seconds
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First UK baby born with DNA from three people: what happens next?

The pioneering IVF procedure known as mitochondrial donation therapy (MDT) could prevent children from being born with devastating mitochondrial diseases. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Darren Griffin, an expert in genetic diseases and reproduction, about how MDT works, the ethical considerations attached, and what techniques like it could mean for the future of reproduction. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/11/202315 minutes, 43 seconds
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Will psychedelic drugs transform mental health treatment?

Psychedelic drugs have long been been used for their mind-altering effects. Now, they are making their way into western medicine as a treatment for mental health disorders. From July, psychiatrists in Australia will be able to prescribe MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder, making it the first country in the world to recognise psychedelics as medicines. The US could soon follow, with plans for the US Food and Drug Administration to be asked for approval to treat PTSD with MDMA this year. Ian Sample speaks to correspondent Hannah Devlin about how the science behind psychedelic therapy has progressed, and hears from Prof Celia Morgan about what treatment is actually like, what we know about the risks and what’s left to learn. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/9/202316 minutes, 54 seconds
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How AI is making non-invasive mind reading a reality

For the first time, researchers have found a way to non-invasively translate a person’s thoughts into text. Using fMRI scans and an AI-based decoder trained on a precursor to ChatGPT, the system can reconstruct brain activity to interpret the gist of a story someone is listening to, watching or even just imagining telling. Ian Sample speaks to one of the team behind the breakthrough, the neuroscientist Dr Alex Huth, to find out how it works, where they hope to use it, and whether our mental privacy could soon be at risk. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/4/202317 minutes
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Can cities help us fight climate change?

As the planet warms, and intense heatwaves become the norm, our urban environments need a radical rethink to keep them habitable. So what do we want the cities of the future to look like? Madeleine Finlay speaks to author and historian Ben Wilson, Prof Jessica Davies and Prof Diane Jones Allen about how to create cities that are fairer, greener and more self-reliant.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/2/202319 minutes, 28 seconds
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Europe’s ‘carbon bomb’ petrochemical plant: can it be stopped?

The environmental law charity ClientEarth and 13 other groups headed into a Flemish court this week in an effort to stop Ineos building a petrochemical plant that would be the biggest project of its kind in Europe for 30 years. Madeleine Finlay hears from correspondent Sandra Laville about how plastics are made, the environmental and health impacts of the process and what needs to be done to get a handle on plastic pollution. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/27/202313 minutes, 48 seconds
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Why are black women four times more likely to die from childbirth?

Experts and campaigners have been pointing out the racial disparities in maternal healthcare for years. The latest report to highlight the issue comes from the UK government’s women and equalities committee. MPs behind the report have condemned the government’s failure to address the gulf in outcomes. So why are black and Asian women still more at risk from childbirth? Madeleine Finlay hears what it can be like to navigate the maternity system as a woman of colour, and speaks to Guardian health editor Andrew Gregory and Prof Shakila Thangaratinam about what lies behind the statistics and what can be done. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/25/202316 minutes, 34 seconds
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How did ultra-processed foods take over, and what are they doing to us?

Sliced supermarket bread, ham, cheese, crisps, a fruit-flavoured yoghurt and a fizzy drink. If this sounds like a standard lunch, you’re not alone. The average person in the UK gets more than 50% of their calories from ultra-processed foods – otherwise known as ‘industrially produced edible substances’. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Chris van Tulleken about what ultra-processed foods are really made of, how they have become a major part of our diets, and the impact they are having on our health. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/20/202318 minutes, 6 seconds
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Could virtual reality gaming help people overcome anxiety?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to science correspondent Linda Geddes about trying out a virtual reality game that challenges you to keep your heart-rate down while facing a terrifying monster, why it could help with tackling anxiety, and whether the gamification of coping strategies could be the best way to integrate them into our every day lives. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/18/202312 minutes, 2 seconds
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Juice Mission: why has the search for alien life moved to Jupiter’s moons?

The European Space Agency’s long-awaited Juice Mission is about to blast off for Jupiter’s moons. Its goal: to find out whether the oceans below their icy surfaces could be capable of supporting life. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Stuart Clark about why moons are the new Mars for scientists seeking life, how magnetic fields can help us understand these mysterious lunar oceans, and what Juice might mean for our understanding of life beyond the solar system. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/13/202313 minutes, 41 seconds
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Should we ban artificial grass?

Installing artificial grass is becoming an increasingly popular way to achieve a neat, green lawn without much effort. But with environmental and potential health costs associated with plastic turf many campaigners and gardeners would like to see it banned. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian feature writer Sam Wollaston and urban ecologist Prof Rob Francis about why people go for artificial grass, its environmental impact, and whether it’s time we rid ourselves of the idea of the perfect lawn altogether. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/11/202314 minutes, 41 seconds
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What’s feeding the 5,000-mile blob of seaweed growing in the Atlantic?

A giant mass of seaweed is heading towards beaches in Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean, bringing with it toxic gases and a smell similar to rotting eggs. Visible from space, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt stretches from the coast of Africa all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the biggest seaweed bloom on the planet, and for more than a decade researchers have watched as it has continued to grow in size. 2023 is predicted to be another record year. Madeleine Finlay speaks to sargassum expert Prof Brian Lapointe about why it’s getting bigger, what happens when it washes up on coastlines, and if anything can be done to deal with it. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/5/202316 minutes, 32 seconds
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Why does the UK government want to ban laughing gas?

The UK government recently announced plans to make the possession of laughing gas for recreational use a criminal offence. Nitrous oxide, also known as “nos”, is hugely popular among young people, and doctors have raised concerns about a rise in cases of nerve damage linked to the use of the drug. Ian Sample speaks to science correspondent Nicola Davis about the reasons behind the ban, the risks associated with using nitrous oxide and what experts have made of the government’s decision. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/4/202314 minutes, 41 seconds
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Glass beads full of water on the moon: what does the discovery mean for space exploration?

More than half a century after humans last walked on the moon, researchers have made a discovery that makes lunar living an increasing possibility. The moon’s surface is littered with tiny glass beads containing water, which could be extracted and used by visiting astronauts. Ian Sample speaks to Professor Mahesh Anand, part of the team that made the discovery, about where these beads come from and what they mean for future moon missions. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/30/202315 minutes, 46 seconds
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Could faecal transplants be the next frontier in health?

Madeleine Finlay hears from science correspondent Linda Geddes about her experience becoming a faecal transplant donor, how getting a dose of someone else’s gut bacteria could treat illnesses like arthritis, diabetes and cancer, and asks whether a pill made from poo is an idea we are ready to swallow. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/28/202316 minutes, 14 seconds
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Three years on: are we any closer to understanding long Covid?

Ian Sample hears from Scotland’s Astronomer Royal Catherine Heymans about her experience of long Covid and how it has impacted her life. He also speaks to Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London, about the current scientific understanding of the condition, and whether we’re any closer to a treatment.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/23/202317 minutes, 44 seconds
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Willow Project: what could the ‘carbon bomb’ mean for the environment?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian West Coast reporter Maanvi Singh about the Biden administration’s approval of a controversial new oil drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope. She also hears from Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is part of a coalition that’s filing a lawsuit to challenge the decision.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/21/202316 minutes, 1 second
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How will gene editing change medicine and who will benefit?

Ian Sample speaks to Guardian science correspondent Hannah Devlin about the latest developments and debates about gene editing to emerge from a summit at the Francis Crick Institute in London. The summit heard from the first person with sickle cell disease to be treated with a technique known as Crispr. He also hears from Prof Claire Booth about ensuring these cutting edge treatments are made available to everyone who needs them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/16/202316 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Last of Us: could the next pandemic be fungal?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian science correspondent Linda Geddes about the possibility of a fungal pandemic like the one depicted in apocalyptic thriller The Last of Us. They discuss the strange world of fungi, the risks of infections and treatment resistance, and what we can do to protect ourselves from future fungal threats. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/14/202314 minutes, 52 seconds
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Everything Everywhere All at Once: could the multiverse be real?

The film Everything Everywhere All at Once has enjoyed critical acclaim and awards success. Ahead of the Oscars, where it’s tipped to sweep the board, Ian Sample speaks to theoretical physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll about why we seem to be drawn to the idea of multiple worlds, and what the science says about how the multiverse might actually work. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/9/202318 minutes, 25 seconds
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Matt Hancock’s messages: how scientifically literate should our politicians be?

Ian Sample speaks to mathematical biologist Kit Yates about what Matt Hancock’s leaked WhatsApp messages reveal about scientific understanding at the heart of government during the pandemic, and what should be done to prepare for the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/7/202312 minutes, 36 seconds
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What should we do about the rise in children vaping?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to former Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley about the rise in vaping among under-18s and what can be done to discourage more children from taking up the habit. She also hears from Prof Linda Bauld about the impact of vaping on young people. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/2/202315 minutes, 56 seconds
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What are ‘forever chemicals’ and why are they causing alarm?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to environmental journalist Rachel Salvidge about PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, which have been found at high levels at thousands of sites across the UK and Europe. Rachel explains what they are, how harmful they can be, and what can be done to mitigate their effects. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/28/202314 minutes, 27 seconds
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15-minute cities: mundane planning concept or global conspiracy?

Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, about why the relatively obscure concept of the 15-minute city has become a magnet for conspiracy theories in recent weeks. And hears from Dr Richard Dunning about how the theory can be implemented in a way that’s fair to all residents. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/23/202315 minutes, 43 seconds
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Are weight loss injections the solution to the obesity crisis?

Ian Sample speaks to Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis about the news that Wegovy, an appetite suppressant popular with celebrities in the US, will soon be sold at UK pharmacies. It’s a prescription drug aimed at helping people with obesity lose weight, but some argue it doesn’t tackle the root cause of the disease. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/21/202313 minutes, 12 seconds
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Online misogyny: what impact is it having on children?

According to new research by the children’s commissioner for England, one in 10 children have watched pornography by the time they are nine years old. And teachers say the effects are being felt in schools. So what makes young people vulnerable to this kind of content, and what impact might it have on their brains and behaviour? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian education correspondent Sally Weale, and to consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Dickon Bevington. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/16/202314 minutes, 36 seconds
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Antibiotic resistance: where do we go next?

Climate change and pollution are the latest factors contributing to a global rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to a report from the UN environment agency. Given that no new class of antibiotics has been discovered since the 1980s, what are our best hopes for tackling these bugs in the future? Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent Hannah Devlin about genetically modified bacteria, the potential of plant toxins, and why scientists are hunting for viruses known as ‘bacteriophages’ in birdbaths and sewers. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/14/202313 minutes, 57 seconds
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What can we really learn from home blood testing kits?

Companies selling private blood tests offer customers a way to check their health – from measuring cholesterol levels to thyroid hormones – from the comfort of their home. But what happens if there’s an abnormal result? Madeleine Finlay speaks to health journalist Emma Wilkinson and consultant chemical pathologist Dr Bernie Croal about how these tests work, how to interpret your results and whether an already overstretched NHS is being left to deal with the worried well. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/9/202316 minutes, 8 seconds
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How has the Russia-Ukraine war disrupted science?

As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ian Sample talks to physicist Prof John Ellis, and Arctic governance expert Svein Vigeland Rottem, about how the world of science has had to adapt. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/7/202313 minutes, 33 seconds
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Can we restore England’s lost wildlife?

This week the government published a major environmental improvement plan for England. It has pledged that every household will be within a 15-minute walk of green space or water, the restoration of 1.2m acres of wildlife habitat, and that sewage spills will be tackled with upgrades to wastewater treatment works. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s environment editor, Fiona Harvey, about the state of nature in the UK, what this plan promises to do, and whether it’s ambitious enough to halt and reverse damage done.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/2/202314 minutes, 44 seconds
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How to spot the exotic green comet (and what might get in the way)

This week star gazers will be hoping to catch sight of an exotic green comet that last passed by Earth 50,000 years ago. But, unlike the view our Neanderthal ancestors would have had, light pollution will make witnessing this celestial event an impossibility for many. Ian Sample speaks to astronomy journalist Dr Stuart Clark about how best to see the comet, and why it’s time to rethink our relationship with the night sky. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/31/202312 minutes, 17 seconds
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How will ChatGPT transform creative work?

ChatGPT has been causing a stir since its launch last year. The chatbot’s ability to produce convincing essays, stories and even song lyrics has impressed users, and this week attracted a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft. Ian Sample speaks to Prof John Naughton about how ChatGPT works, hears from author Patrick Jackson about how it will change publishing, and asks where the technology could end up. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/26/202315 minutes, 3 seconds
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Overcoming burnout: a psychologist’s guide

Last week, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation, saying that she “no longer had enough in the tank” to do the role justice. Madeleine Finlay speaks to cognitive scientist Prof Laurie Santos about the symptoms of burnout, what causes it and the best ways to recover. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/24/202313 minutes, 44 seconds
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Could the return of El Niño in 2023 take us above 1.5C of warming?

Scientists have predicted the return of the El Niño climate phenomenon later this year. Its arrival will result in even higher global temperatures and supercharged extreme weather events. Ian Sample speaks to environment editor Damian Carrington about what we can expect from El Niño and whether we’re prepared. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/19/202312 minutes, 29 seconds
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What’s the reality behind the ‘Love Island smile’?

As the ninth series of ITV show Love Island kicked off yesterday, viewers may have noticed contestants’ perfectly straight, white teeth. But are there risks associated with achieving a flawless smile? Madeleine Finlay speaks to dentist Paul Woodhouse about some of the dangers of dental tourism. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/17/202311 minutes, 47 seconds
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How did we save the ozone layer?

A UN report has found the Earth’s ozone layer is on course to be healed within the next 40 years. What was once humanity’s most feared environmental peril is now an example of how the world can take collective action. Madeleine Finlay speaks to atmospheric scientist Paul Newman about this momentous achievement and whether it really is the end of the story. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/12/202315 minutes, 22 seconds
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Our science predictions for 2023

Last year saw several major science breakthroughs – from the first time a nuclear fusion experiment produced more energy than it used, to Nasa smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid in a mission that demonstrated the possibility of redirecting any space rocks heading our way. So what will 2023 bring? Ian Sample and science correspondent Hannah Devlin discuss the major stories they are expecting to hit the headlines in 2023, and their science predictions for the year ahead.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/10/202315 minutes, 42 seconds
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Best of 2022: James Webb space telescope – thousands of galaxies in a grain of sand

When Nasa unveiled the first images from the long-awaited James Webb space telescope, they revealed our universe in glorious technicolour. The $10bn space science observatory will help scientists answer fundamental questions in astronomy and look back to the dawn of time. In this episode first broadcast in July 2022, Prof Ray Jayawardhana, who is working with one of the instruments onboard the JWST, speaks to Ian Sample about what these images show us, and what they mean for the very human quest of discovering our place in the cosmos. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/5/202315 minutes, 19 seconds
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Best of 2022: Why aren’t women being diagnosed with ADHD?

It’s estimated that 1 million women in the UK could have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – but according to the ADHD Foundation, 50% to 75% of them do not know they have it. So why are women being left behind? In this episode, first broadcast in May 2022, Madeleine Finlay speaks to Jasmine Andersson about her experience of getting a late diagnosis, and asks Prof Amanda Kirby why the condition is so often missed in women and girls. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/3/202315 minutes, 39 seconds
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Are we finally nearing a treatment for Alzheimer’s?

Back in November, researchers hailed the dawn of a new era of Alzheimer’s therapies. After decades of failure, a clinical trial finally confirmed that a drug, lecanemab, was able to slow cognitive decline in patients with early stages of the disease. The result may have been modest – a reduction in the decline in patients’ overall mental skills by 27% over 18 months – but it could not be more significant in the journey towards better understanding and treating the disease. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Nick Fox about the clinical trial results, if this could be the first of many new Alzheimer’s therapies, and whether we could one day see a cure.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/29/202214 minutes, 13 seconds
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Exploded heads and missing fingers: Dame Sue Black on her most memorable cases

From a fragment of skull in a washing machine to a finger bone found by a dog walker, the forensic anthropologist Prof Dame Sue Black has helped solve many strange and mysterious cases. This year, she will be giving the Royal Institution Christmas lectures, Britain’s most prestigious public science lectures. In them, she’ll be investigating the secret clues hidden in our bodies and how the scientific detective process can be used to identify the living and the dead. Nicola Davis sat down with Black to discuss the lectures, her most memorable cases, and why she didn’t want her daughters to get braces. Madeleine Finlay hears from them both in this Christmas special of Science Weekly. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/27/202218 minutes, 19 seconds
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The science of how to give better gifts

As Christmas approaches, many of us will have spent the last few weeks trying to pick out the perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues. For both giver and receiver, exchanging gifts can be filled with delight – or dread, as a smile slowly fades into a look of feigned enthusiasm. But what does science say about how to avoid unwanted gifts and unpleasant surprises? Ian Sample speaks to Julian Givi about his research unwrapping what we all actually want under the tree, and hears his top tips for choosing a winning present every time. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/22/202213 minutes, 2 seconds
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What does Cop15’s buzzword ‘nature positive’ mean?

A historic deal has been struck at the UN’s biodiversity conference, Cop15, which will set a course for nature recovery from now until 2050, including a target to protect 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade. One of the key phrases guiding the summit across the two weeks of negotiations was ‘nature positive’. Madeleine Finlay hears from the biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston about what ‘nature positive’ meant at Cop15, and what she’d like to see from countries now the final agreement has been made, and speaks to biodiversity professor EJ Milner-Gulland about how to stop the term ‘nature positive’ becoming another way for companies to greenwash their businesses.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/20/202214 minutes, 21 seconds
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‘Nothing is impossible’: the major breakthrough in nuclear fusion

This week, researchers at the US National Ignition Facility in California achieved a major breakthrough in nuclear fusion. For the first time, humans have harnessed the process that powers the stars to generate more energy from a fusion reaction than was used to start it — otherwise known as ‘ignition’. But how close are we to moving this from laboratories to power plants, and will it become the clean, safe, and abundant source of energy the world so desperately needs? Ian Sample speaks to Alain Bécoulet about what’s being called ‘one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century’. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/15/202214 minutes, 58 seconds
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Will Cop15 tackle the growing problem of invasive species?

Invasive non-native species are on the rise around the world and, despite efforts to tackle the issue, their numbers are higher than ever. They have become one of the key driving forces behind biodiversity loss, posing an even greater threat to biodiversity than the climate crisis. Monitoring, tracking and managing invasive species is one of the issues up for discussion at the UN’s biodiversity Cop15, which is now in full swing in Montreal, Canada. Ian Sample gets an update on how Cop15 is progressing from biodiversity and environment reporter Patrick Greenfield, and hears from Prof Helen Roy from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology about why invasive species pose such a serious risk to native wildlife. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/13/202214 minutes, 28 seconds
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‘The biggest meeting for humanity’: Why Cop15 has to succeed

Negotiators from around the world have landed in Montreal, Canada for the UN’s biodiversity conference, Cop15. The summit has been called an “unprecedented” opportunity for turning the tide on nature loss and comes at a critical time: a million species are at risk of extinction and wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Prof Alexandre Antonelli, about the current state of the planet’s biodiversity, what needs to be achieved at Cop15 and how he’s feeling about the possibility of change.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/7/202213 minutes, 44 seconds
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Why are children in the UK at risk of serious strep A infections?

The UK Health Security Agency issued a rare alert on Friday, telling parents to look out for signs of strep A infection in their children. Since September, eight children in England and Wales have died after becoming unwell with Group A streptococci bacteria. Typically causing illnesses like skin infections, tonsillitis or scarlet fever, very occasionally strep A can become a life-threatening, invasive disease. But why are we seeing such a steep rise in cases in the UK this year? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Chrissie Jones, associate professor of paediatric infection at the University of Southampton, about the significance of this outbreak and the symptoms to be aware of, and asks Shiranee Sriskandan, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, about how the bacteria can evade our immune systems and whether we may one day have a vaccine.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/6/202216 minutes, 9 seconds
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‘A possible extinction event’: the UK’s worst bird flu outbreak

The UK is in the middle of its worst outbreak of bird flu. The current strain of H5N1 avian influenza has devastated wild bird populations, killing thousands and affecting threatened species such as puffins and hen harriers. Bird flu has also been wreaking havoc on poultry, and since 7 November, all captive birds in England have been kept indoors to prevent them catching the virus. How are both wild and captive bird populations coping with the current strain of avian flu? And is the UK prepared to deal with another major animal disease outbreak? Ian Sample speaks with Phoebe Weston, a biodiversity writer for the Guardian, and Paul Wigley, a professor in animal microbial ecosystems at the University of Bristol.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/1/202215 minutes, 42 seconds
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What are leap seconds, and why have we scrapped them?

At a recent conference in France, scientists and government representatives voted to scrap the leap second by 2035. Leap seconds are added periodically to synchronise atomic time and astronomical time, which get out of sync because of variations in the Earth’s rotation. Madeleine Finlay speaks to JT Janssen, the chief scientist at NPL, the National Physical Laboratory, about the differences between these two times, and what can go wrong when leap seconds are added to our clocks. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/29/202211 minutes, 11 seconds
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How should we prepare for an ageing global population?

On 15 November the world’s population reached 8 billion, according to the UN. Much of that growth is because we’re living longer. As a species we will continue to age, but eventually stop growing. The UN predicts that in the next century humanity will begin to go into decline. So what happens when societies get older and smaller – a problem some countries are already encountering? Ian Sample speaks to Prof Vegard Skirbekk about how humanity got here, and how we prepare for future demographic change. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/24/202213 minutes, 49 seconds
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Will the Qatar World Cup really be carbon neutral?

It’s supposed to be the first ever carbon neutral World Cup. Organisers Fifa and host Qatar say they have implemented sustainability initiatives, taken measures to limit carbon output and will offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing credits. Fifa has admitted, however, that the tournament’s carbon footprint will bigger than any of its predecessors, and experts believe emissions have been underestimated, calling into question the claim of carbon neutrality. Madeleine Finlay speaks to sports reporter Paul MacInnes about the environmental burden of building stadiums, flying in players and fans from around the world and keeping the pitches green, and asks whether football is really ready to face up to its carbon footprint. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/22/202215 minutes, 33 seconds
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Cop27: where do climate scientists find hope?

A year ago at Cop26, global environment editor Jonathan Watts caught up with two climate scientists to hear what they thought about the progress made. A lot has happened in the intervening 12 months, and the world hasn’t stayed on track with its previous promises and pledges. Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are expected to increase by 1% in 2022, hitting 37.5 billion tonnes – a record high. Ian Sample called them both up to find out how they’re feeling now. Speaking to Prof Peter Stott, Ian asks whether the 1.5C goal is still alive, and questions Katharine Hayhoe on how she stays hopeful. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/17/202215 minutes, 50 seconds
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Cop27: has there been any progress in Sharm el-Sheikh?

Cop27 got off to a difficult start last week. Attendees struggled with a lack of food and drink, civil society group events were curtailed, and more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists hit the conference halls – more than the delegations of many of the most vulnerable countries combined. As we head into the second week, Madeleine Finlay hears from biodiversity reporter Patrick Greenfield about what it’s been like in Sharm el-Sheikh, and from environment editor Fiona Harvey about what’s happened so far and whether much progress is likely to be made in the final days of negotiations. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/15/202216 minutes, 29 seconds
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Cop27: Is it time to rethink endless economic growth?

A key goal of governments around the world is economic growth – continually increasing production and consumption to keep GDP rising. But can our economies grow on a rapidly warming planet with finite resources? According to a recent UN report, the only way left to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”. In our third Cop27 special, Ian Sample speaks to ecological economist Tim Jackson about the myth of eternal growth, other ways to think about progress and prosperity, and what an economic system in balance with our planetary system might look like. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/9/202214 minutes, 59 seconds
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Cop27: Who are the real climate leaders?

As world leaders began to gather at Cop27 yesterday, speeches began on the main stage in Sharm el-Sheik. Presidents and prime ministers spoke of the need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and the horrendous impacts of climate breakdown. But, if previous years are anything to go by – these words may not turn into concrete actions. Instead, indigenous and community groups are leading the charge on saving the planet. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Nina Lakhani about the need for climate justice, and hears from activist Nonhle Mbuthuma about her fight to protect South Africa’s Wild Coast. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/8/202217 minutes, 11 seconds
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Cop27: a chance for change – or more of the same?

On Sunday, world leaders, negotiators and industry representatives will begin to arrive in Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt for Cop27, the UN’s climate change conference. A UN report set the stage for talks last week, stating that there is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that progress on limiting global temperature rises has been “woefully inadequate”. So will governments take the opportunity to press ahead with their promises or could the conference live up to accusations of greenwashing? In the first of five special episodes covering Cop27, Madeleine Finlay hears from Guardian Australia’s climate and environment editor Adam Morton about what’s happened since Cop26, our current path to catastrophic heating and what’s likely to be on the agenda over the next two weeks. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/3/202214 minutes, 33 seconds
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Could a prescription of surfing help with depression?

A new trial is exploring if prescriptions of surfing, gardening and dance classes can reduce anxiety and depression in people aged 11 to 18. NHS mental health trusts in 10 parts of England will use a range of sports, arts and outdoor activities with 600 young people to see if it can stop conditions worsening while the sufferers are on waiting lists for care. This kind of support is known as ‘social prescribing’, allowing health professionals to refer patients to a range of community groups and organisations. But while social prescribing programmes are being rolled out around the world, a recent review has found scant evidence of their effectiveness. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Susan Smith about the ideas behind social prescribing, its potential benefits for those with complex issues, and why more studies are urgently needed. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/1/202214 minutes, 58 seconds
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Stories from a medieval graveyard: worms, wounds, and wonky toes

Crushed by a cart, infected with parasitic worms and painful bunions caused by pointy shoes. These might sound like curses you’d wish on your worst enemy, but a group of researchers have discovered they were probably a part of normal life in medieval Cambridge. Across several archaeological sites, the team have excavated and analysed hundreds of bones to uncover the accidents and afflictions of people in the middle ages. In this Halloween special, Madeleine Finlay hears from Nicola Davis as she takes a trip to Cambridge to investigate what old skeletons can reveal about the lives of those in centuries gone by. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/27/202216 minutes, 50 seconds
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Is it ethical to put human brain cells in a rat?

Researchers have successfully transplanted human neurons into the brains of rats. The recent, groundbreaking study described how the human cells took root inside the rat brains, hooked up to their blood supplies and tapped into neural circuitry. Rather than create a kind of super-rat, the ultimate aim is to better understand neuropsychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia, and examine the effects of drugs in real time. But do the potential benefits outweigh the ethical questions that come with combining human cells with other animals? Ian Sample speaks to Prof Julian Savulescu about how the scientists managed to transplant the neurons, what this means, and how we decide where to draw the line in such an ethically complex field of research. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/25/202213 minutes, 56 seconds
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Can rituals help with our grief for the natural world?

Last week, a scientific assessment found wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% in just under 50 years. Such rapid and significant losses are leaving many of us with a deep sense of grief and anxiety. To make sense of these emotions and channel them into action, people are increasingly performing rituals and commemorative acts for the natural world. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Claire White about the power of rituals in bringing us together to process grief, and hears from author Andri Magnason about why he wrote a eulogy for Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier officially lost to the climate crisis. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/20/202214 minutes, 33 seconds
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How a scientific scandal could force sport to rethink concussion

Dr Paul McCrory is a world-renowned concussion expert whose work shaped concussion policy across global sport for the past 20 years. In his work, and through his role on the influential Concussion in Sport Group, McCrory had previously adopted a sceptical view on the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a progressive brain condition whose symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Last week, the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) retracted nine of his articles and attached an ‘expression of concern’ to another 74. In an editorial, the BJSM, and its publisher, BMJ, stated that ‘their trust in McCrory’s work –specifically the articles that he has published as a single author – is broken’. Ian Sample speaks to senior sports writer Andy Bull about how the scandal unfolded, what it could mean for players and what is likely to happen next. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/18/202214 minutes, 17 seconds
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Could moth larvae be the answer to our plastic problem?

Plastic pollution is damaging the health of the environment, wildlife and us. It has been found on remote islands, in Antarctic snow and in human blood, breast milk and lungs. Alongside rapidly reducing how much plastic we produce, we also need to find new ways to tackle the waste we have created. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, about the discovery of an enzyme that can rapidly break down plastic bags – found inside the saliva of wax worms – and where else we might find solutions in the natural world. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/13/202212 minutes, 18 seconds
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Why does Elon Musk want to buy Twitter?

Back in April this year, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk signed a $44bn (£40bn) takeover agreement for Twitter. But, in July, the world’s richest man said he was walking away from the controversial deal, arguing Twitter has more spam accounts than it claims. Then, last week, Musk offered to complete the acquisition in a dramatic U-turn. So what might happen next? Ian Sample talks to the Guardian’s global technology editor, Dan Milmo, about why Musk wants to own the social media platform, hears about the twists and turns of the saga so far, and finds out if the takeover is ever likely to happen. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/11/202212 minutes, 18 seconds
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Why is the government in Iran shutting down the internet?

On 13 September Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab rules. Three days later she was dead. Since then, videos of anti-regime demonstrations and acts of resistance have gone viral – leading the government to block internet access in parts of Tehran and Kurdistan. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Azadeh Akbari about why Mahsa Amini’s death has sparked so much anger, and hears from Alp Toker about how governments and regimes around the world are able to limit internet access.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/6/202215 minutes, 6 seconds
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Covid-19: is there a ‘twindemic’ coming?

As the UK heads into autumn, Covid-19 appears to be surging again. According to official data, 40,650 people tested positive in England in the seven days up to and including 24 September. This was an increase of 42% on the week before. But as we brace for another wave, experts are also concerned about a potential rise in influenza. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Peter Openshaw about the Omicron variant, why we’re at risk of a ‘twindemic’ this year and whether it’s time we all start taking more preventive measures. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/4/202211 minutes, 51 seconds
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Why did Nasa smash its spacecraft into an asteroid?

This week, Nasa scientists smashed a spacecraft into an asteroid, more than 11m km from Earth. Most rocket scientists would wince at the thought, but the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, was purposefully designed to slam head-on into the asteroid Dimorphos. The aim is to nudge it off its current orbit, in an experiment that will assess the possibility of deflecting a killer space rock – if one was ever headed our way. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Colin Snodgrass about why they chose Dimorphos, what happens to the asteroid now, and whether there are other ways to prevent space-based planetary destruction. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/29/202214 minutes, 2 seconds
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How a man and his dogs discovered the cause of narcolepsy

The Breakthrough prizes are described by their Silicon Valley founders as ‘the Oscars of science’, and while they are not as glamorous, they do come with a $3m award. This year, one of the prizes was dished out to Prof Emmanuel Mignot at Stanford University and Masashi Yanagisawa at the University of Tsukuba for their work uncovering the cause of narcolepsy. Their discovery has opened the door to the development of treatments for this chronic and often debilitating condition. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Mignot about how he pinpointed the cause of narcolepsy, why it is similar to diabetes and what sleep mysteries he wants to solve next. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/27/202217 minutes, 29 seconds
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Why is the NHS in crisis, and can it be fixed?

The UK’s new health secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has not taken on an easy job. Almost two-thirds of trainee GPs plan to work part-time just a year after they qualify, reporting that the job has become too intense to safely work more. A record 6.8 million people are waiting for hospital treatment in England, and 132,139 posts lie vacant across the NHS in England. Ian Sample hears from acute medicine consultant Dr Tim Cooksley about what’s happening within the NHS, and speaks to the Guardian’s health policy editor, Denis Campbell, about how the UK’s health and social care systems ended up in crisis and whether they can be fixed. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/22/202216 minutes, 44 seconds
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How will Jacob Rees-Mogg tackle the energy and climate crises?

Against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis caused in part by soaring energy prices, the UK’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, appointed MP Jacob Rees-Mogg as secretary of state for business and energy. In this role, Rees-Mogg will have to tackle these issues while being responsible for the UK’s legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is a goal he has previously described as ‘a long way off’. Madeleine Finlay hears from environment correspondent Fiona Harvey about his plans to extract ‘every last drop’ of oil and gas from the North Sea, the possibility of fracking in the UK, and the importance of energy efficiency and renewables in addressing the cost of living, energy and climate crises together. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/20/202217 minutes, 33 seconds
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How air pollution is changing our view of cancer

According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths every year. We’ve known for a long time that air pollution causes lots of health problems, including lung cancer – but exactly how the two were linked was somewhat of mystery. Last week, a team from the Francis Crick Institute and University College London presented findings that shed new light on the role between air pollution and lung cancer. And, in doing so, could make us rethink how cancer develops. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent Hannah Devlin about how scientists uncovered this link – and what it might mean for the future of the field.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/15/202211 minutes, 47 seconds
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Why do we grieve the death of public figures?

As we collectively mark the loss of the longest-serving monarch in British history and all that she represented on a national scale, many people are feeling a much more personal impact. The Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, talks to Prof Michael Cholbi about what grief is, how losing a public figure can have such a profound impact on our lives, and why there’s value in grieving. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/13/202211 minutes, 58 seconds
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Could a new vaccine tackle rising rates of Lyme disease?

According to a recent study, more than 14% of the world’s population probably has, or has had, tick-borne Lyme disease – an infection that can cause long and debilitating symptoms. That number is set to rise too, as climate and environment changes continue to increase tick populations and distribution. To help prevent some of these cases, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotech company Valneva will soon be testing a new vaccine against Lyme disease with 6,000 volunteers across Europe and in the US. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Eoin Healy about what Lyme disease is and how the vaccine works, and hears from a special guest about their own experience of getting ill with the disease.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/8/202216 minutes, 20 seconds
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What could go wrong at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?

Last week, a team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The plant was seized by Russian forces in early May and has recently been the target of sustained shelling, increasing the risk of a nuclear disaster. The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, who is leading the inspection team, has reported that the integrity of the plant has been violated several times. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Claire Corkhill about what this could mean for Zaporizhzhia, what the risks are if the plant loses external power, and how a nuclear meltdown can be avoided. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/6/202213 minutes, 6 seconds
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100 days until Cop15: what next to save nature?

It is now less than 100 days until Cop15, the UN convention on biological diversity. At these talks, which are taking place in Montreal, Canada in December, governments from around the world will come together to agree targets aimed at halting the destruction of the natural world and protecting biodiversity. With the Earth experiencing the largest loss of life since the extinction of the dinosaurs, what is decided at this meeting could shape the future of the planet and humanity. Madeleine Finlay speaks to biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston about how negotiations have been going so far, and what’s next on the road to Cop15. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/1/202213 minutes, 46 seconds
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What is raw sewage doing to the UK’s rivers and seas?

Holidaymakers heading to British beaches and rivers were faced with a very unpleasant problem this summer – raw sewage. The sewage system usually carries rainwater and dirty wastewater from bathrooms and kitchens to treatment works but during ‘exceptional events’ such as heavy rainfall, when it is likely to be overwhelmed, raw sewage can be diverted and discharged into rivers and seas. Available data shows that in 2021, water companies released untreated sewage into waterways for 2.7m hours – with many discharge pipe monitors not working or left uninstalled. Madeleine Finlay speaks to reporter Helena Horton about why this is happening, and the damage it is doing to the environment, our health, and the UK’s seafood industry. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/30/202212 minutes, 11 seconds
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What’s going on with UK teenagers’ mental health?

Many teenagers will receive their GCSE results today. These exams can have a significant impact on what they do next, so it can be a stressful time for students, their teachers and parents. Over the past decade, reported mental health problems among teenagers have been on the rise. A recent survey by the NHS statistics agency found rates of probable mental disorders in six- to 16-year-olds reached one in six in 2021. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the academic psychologist Dr Lucy Foulkes about what could be behind this crisis, how schools are trying to tackle it, and how we can help teenagers with their mental wellbeing. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/25/202216 minutes, 3 seconds
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How did mammals come to rule the world?

About 325 million years ago, when Britain sat near the equator as part of the supercontinent Pangaea, two populations of a small, scaly, swamp-dwelling creature separated from each other. One of these lineages, over millions and millions of years, evolved into mammals. Our ancestors shared the planet with dinosaurs, survived an asteroid and made it through an ice age. This fascinating history is documented in The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, a new book by the palaeontologist Prof Steve Brusatte. The Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis talks to Madeleine Finlay about her visit with Brusatte and what she learned about the strange mammals that once walked the Earth. What might their past reveal about their future in a rapidly changing world?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/23/202214 minutes, 41 seconds
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From the archive: Will Silicon Valley help us live to 200 and beyond? – podcast

‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ While Benjamin Franklin’s quote remains true for most, the same might not be said for some of the world’s billionaires. And their efforts to extend life are under way too. Most recently, a Silicon Valley startup called Altos Labs signed up a dream team of scientists, including numerous Nobel laureates, with an aim to rejuvenate human cells. In this episode from February 2022, Ian Sample speaks to Prof Janet Lord about the science of ageing, extending our health as well as our lifespans, and how old we could actually go. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/18/202212 minutes, 13 seconds
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From the archive: What are the hidden costs of our obsession with fish oil pills?

They may be one of the world’s favourite supplements but, according to a study from earlier this year, more than one in 10 fish oil capsules are rancid. Most of the oil comes from Peruvian anchovetas, a type of anchovy that is also used to feed pigs, poultry and farmed fish. And despite catching more than 4m tonnes a year of anchovetas to cater to the global demand, large industry players want to scale this up even further. In this episode from January 2022, Madeleine Finlay speaks to environment journalist Richa Syal about why so many fish oil pills are rancid, and hears from journalist Dan Collyns in Chimbote, Peru, about how the industry is affecting the local environment and its residents. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/16/202216 minutes, 30 seconds
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From the archive: Are western lifestyles causing a rise in autoimmune diseases?

Could the food we eat and the air we breathe be damaging our immune systems? The number of people with autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to type 1 diabetes, began to increase around 40 years ago in the west. Now, some are also emerging in countries that had never seen the diseases before. In this episode from January 2022, Ian Sample speaks to the genetic scientist and consultant gastroenterologist James Lee about how this points to what western lifestyles might be doing to our health, and how genetics could reveal exactly how our immune systems are malfunctioning. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/11/202211 minutes, 53 seconds
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From the archive: Why are climate and conservation scientists taking to the streets?

In early April this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report giving the world just 30 months to get greenhouse gas emissions falling. Beyond that, we’ll have missed our chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C. As this summer of heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods prove, going much above 1.5C will have truly devastating consequences for us and the planet. With the window of opportunity rapidly closing, some scientists feel like writing reports and publishing papers is no longer enough, and are leaving their desks and labs to take action on the streets. In this episode recorded back in April, Madeleine Finlay meets scientists protesting at Shell HQ in London and speaks to the conservationist Dr Charlie Gardner about civil disobedience – and why he thinks it’s the only option left. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/9/202215 minutes, 48 seconds
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James Lovelock and the legacy of his Gaia hypothesis

James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, died last Tuesday on his 103rd birthday. Known as something of a maverick, the scientist and inventor was one of the most influential thinkers of the past century. Our global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, tells Madeleine Finlay about spending time with Lovelock for his forthcoming biography, the impact of the scientist’s ideas and inventions on the modern world, and how his immense influence will continue to be felt in the critical decades ahead. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/4/202216 minutes, 26 seconds
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Is it time for a complete overhaul of car wreck rescue techniques?

For decades, the absolute priority when rescuing victims after traffic accidents has been to minimise movement of the spine. Emergency services go to great lengths to keep the patient still while they are cut free from the wreckage, because a shift of just a millimetre could potentially lead to the person needing to use a wheelchair. Or at least, that’s what firefighters used to think. Now, thanks to new research using simulated accident rescues, that wisdom is starting to change. Anand Jagatia speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent, Linda Geddes, and emergency medicine consultant Dr Tim Nutbeam about the findings, and what they mean for survivors of motor vehicle collisions.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/2/202211 minutes, 24 seconds
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Which Tory leadership candidate is the ‘greenest’?

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have clashed on a number of issues as they battle to become the next prime minister. However, as heated debates hit our television screens, the climate emergency has been alarmingly absent from discussions. Ian Sample chats to Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey about which candidate is ‘least bad’ when it comes to green policies, and why one of the world’s most urgent issues has taken a back seat in the leadership contest. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/28/202212 minutes, 36 seconds
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Learning how to cope with ‘climate doom’

The impacts of the climate crisis are undeniably here. Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and flooding are causing devastation around the world. And yet, we still aren’t seeing the drastic action that’s required to avert climate disaster. As things get worse, it’s easy to give up hope – but ‘climate doomism’ is just as dangerous as climate denial. Anand Jagatia speaks to psychotherapist Caroline Hickman about her research on climate anxiety, and how we can turn feelings of doom into positive action. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/26/202214 minutes, 42 seconds
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Have Biden’s climate pledges just been killed off?

US president Joe Biden campaigned on climate issues, but recent events may have sounded a death knell for his promises. Last week, his attempts to pass sweeping climate legislation were thwarted – by a senator in his own party. And in June, a landmark US Supreme Court ruling has greatly limited the federal government’s ability to regulate emissions from the fossil fuel industry. So where does that leave the Democrats’ climate plans? Ian Sample speaks to Prof Elizabeth Bomberg about what these developments mean for the Biden administration and the rest of the world. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/21/202212 minutes, 42 seconds
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‘Falling from the sky in distress’: the deadly bird flu outbreak sweeping the world

The H5N1 strain of avian influenza is sweeping across the world, killing millions of birds. In the UK, it’s causing disastrous losses of seabirds – populations that were already being hit by a number of threats, including habitat loss, overfishing and global heating. Biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston tells Madeleine Finlay about how the virus made it into wild birds, why it’s having such a devastating impact, and the long-term impact bird flu could have on some of our most vulnerable species. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/19/202214 minutes, 27 seconds
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James Webb space telescope: thousands of galaxies in a grain of sand

This week, Nasa unveiled the first images from the James Webb space telescope – much awaited pictures that show our universe in glorious technicolour. The $10bn telescope, now 1 million miles from Earth, will allow scientists to look back to the dawn of time. Prof Ray Jayawardhana, who is working with one of the instruments onboard the JWST, speaks to Ian Sample about what these images show us, and what they mean for the very human quest of discovering our place in the cosmos.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/14/202214 minutes, 34 seconds
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Why have Australian honeybees been put into lockdown? Podcast

The varroa mite, a deadly honeybee parasite, has finally found its way into Australia. Varroa destructor affects every other major beekeeping area in the world, damaging honeybees and transmitting viruses across hives. Now, in a fight to contain the mite, the state of New South Wales has destroyed 1,533 infected hives and implemented a statewide standstill on bee movement. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Cooper Schouten, a beekeper and researcher, about why the mite poses such a threat to honeybees, what it means to put bees into lockdown, and what impacts this biosecurity breech could have.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/12/202213 minutes
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Roe v Wade: why vasectomies are no answer to abortion restrictions

The US supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade will have a significant impact on the reproductive health and the safety of women who become pregnant in the US. Researchers have estimated it could increase maternal mortality in the country by 20%. The ruling also sparked debates around men’s reproductive options, including the role of vasectomies in pregnancy and abortion prevention. Madeleine Finlay speaks to historian Georgia Granger about the history of vasectomies, why they’ve ended up as part of the conversation about women’s reproductive rights, and hears why male sterilisation won’t solve America’s abortion problem. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/7/202216 minutes, 19 seconds
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New Covid wave: Is this what ‘living with covid’ looks like?

The UK is yet again facing a wave of Covid infections, with cases soaring by more than half a million in a week at the end of June. This time, the wave is driven by even more transmissible variants of Omicron known as BA.4 and BA.5. But with all Covid precautions gone, and many of us heading to bars, pubs, festivals and sporting events as the summer rolls on, is it much of a surprise? Ian Sample asks Prof Graham Medley if infections will translate into hospitalisations and deaths, and whether we can expect ongoing cycles of Covid waves in the months and years to come. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/5/202213 minutes, 50 seconds
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Is polio in our sewage as worrying as it sounds?

Last week, public health officials declared a ‘national incident’ after they found vaccine-derived poliovirus in London sewage samples. No cases of polio symptoms have been reported but there is evidence the virus is spreading. So what does it mean to have found the virus almost 20 years after the UK was declared polio-free? Ian Sample speaks to epidemiologist Nicholas Grassly to find out how worried we should be and what it means for the global effort to eradicate polio.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/30/202211 minutes, 42 seconds
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Shitcoins: are pointless cryptocurrencies a scam or a gamble?

When the Guardian’s UK technology editor Alex Hern was contacted on Twitter to ask if he was involved in a new cryptocurrency called Tsuka, he assumed they just wanted him to buy it. He ignored the messages. But soon after Alex realised that, without knowing it, he was already involved. What happened next reveals a lot about the strange world of ‘shitcoins’ – cryptocurrencies with no reason for existence beyond buying low and selling high. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Alex Hern about his shitcoin saga, and how the lines can get blurred between a gamble and a scam. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/28/202216 minutes, 41 seconds
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Rewilding with wolves: can they help rebuild ecosystems?

After wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone national park in 1995, researchers noticed some big ecological changes, leading to the regeneration of the landscape. It’s an argument used to justify the return of apex predators – but it’s increasingly being challenged. Phoebe Weston talks to Ian Sample about whether wolves really have the power to shape ecosystems, and what that means for the debate about bringing them back to the UK. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/23/202212 minutes, 34 seconds
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Seagrass meadows: can we rewild one of the world’s best carbon sinks?

They support an incredible array of biodiversity and may also be some of the world’s most effective carbon sinks. But vast swathes of seagrass meadows have been lost in the last century, and they continue to vanish at the rate of a football pitch every half hour. Madeleine Finlay makes a trip out of the Guardian office to visit a rewilding project in Hampshire. She speaks to marine biologist Tim Ferrero about the challenges of replanting seagrass meadows and what hope it offers.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/21/202216 minutes, 13 seconds
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How Google’s chatbot works – and why it isn’t sentient

Last week an engineer at Google claimed that an AI chatbot he worked with, known as LaMDA, had become ‘sentient’. Blake Lemoine published a transcript of his conversations with LaMDA that included responses about having feelings and fearing death. But could it really be conscious? AI researcher and author Kate Crawford speaks to Ian Sample about how LaMDA actually works, and why we shouldn’t worry about the inner life of software – for now.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/16/202211 minutes, 40 seconds
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How much does smoking damage our mental health?

According to some estimates smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide. A lesser known side-effect of cigarettes is the damage they cause to our mental health. Yet, the rates of smoking among people with mental health conditions are much higher than the rest of the population. Last week, the UK government published the Khan review, an independent report looking at how England could become smoke free by 2030. One of the recommendations was to tackle the issue of mental health and smoking. Madeleine Finlay speaks to epidemiologist Dr Gemma Taylor about how significant this link is, what we can do to break it, and how to dispel the myth that smoking is a stress reliever. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/14/202212 minutes, 34 seconds
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Why would Boris Johnson want to bring back imperial units?

When reports surfaced that Boris Johnson would be announcing the return of imperial measurements to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee, there was some celebration, consternation, and a lot of confusion. Britain already uses a mix of both imperial and metric, and it is legal to price goods in pounds and ounces if this is displayed alongside the price in grams and kilograms. So what’s really behind this rekindled debate over units? Science editor Ian Sample speaks to author and metrology historian James Vincent about the rise of metric, the enduring political power of measurement, and why it’s unlikely we’ll be getting rid of pints in pubs any time soon.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/9/202215 minutes, 36 seconds
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Is pollution making us fat?

Are synthetic chemicals we encounter every day causing us to gain weight? According to a major scientific review authored by dozens of scientists, there is now enough evidence to conclude that they are. Termed ‘obesogens’, these chemicals can be found in food packaging, personal hygiene products, electronics and even water. Madeleine Finlay speaks to environment editor Damian Carrington about how obesogens might be contributing to the global obesity pandemic, what they may be doing to our bodies, and if there’s anything we can do to avoid them.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/7/202212 minutes, 40 seconds
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The hidden science of bisexuality with Julia Shaw

Bisexuality is the largest sexual minority in the world – but according to psychologist Dr Julia Shaw, it’s the least well understood. She talks to Madeleine Finlay about her new book, Bi, which challenges us to think more deeply about who we are and how we love. She discusses the history of trying to define and measure bisexuality, sexual behaviour in the animal kingdom, and how we can improve health outcomes for bi people.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/2/202219 minutes, 55 seconds
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Why are there so few drugs you can take during pregnancy?

A recent report on the exclusion of pregnant and breastfeeding women in clinical trials found that both women and babies in the UK are “dying needlessly” from a lack of suitable medications. Over the past 40 years, only two new medicines have been approved for use in pregnancy, leaving patients to weigh up unknown risks and make difficult decisions about their own health and that of their babies. Science editor Ian Sample talks to Peter Brocklehurst, professor of women’s health at the University of Birmingham, about why pregnant women are so often excluded from pharmaceutical research and how we can make sure they too benefit from modern medicine. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/31/202212 minutes, 6 seconds
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What should we do about monkeypox?

The sudden surge of monkeypox cases outside Africa has alarmed public health authorities around the world. In Europe and North America it’s the first time community transmission has been recorded among people with no links to west or central Africa. So what is happening? Ian Sample talks to virologist Oyewale Tomori about why monkeypox is flaring up, whether we should fear it, and what we can learn from countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which have been tackling this virus for decades. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/26/202213 minutes, 12 seconds
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What will the cost of living crisis do to our health?

Millions around the world are struggling with higher food and energy prices. In the UK inflation has reached a 40-year high of 9% in the 12 months to April, leaving many struggling to pay bills and shoulder normal living costs. When the weekly shop gets smaller and the flat gets colder, it’s our health that suffers. Madeleine Finlay speaks to health inequity expert Prof Michael Marmot about the ways poverty makes you sicker and why falling income is so bad for the country’s health. This cost of living crisis could be “austerity squared”, he warns.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/24/202214 minutes, 28 seconds
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The destruction of Gran Chaco, forgotten sister of the Amazon rainforest

From deep inside Gran Chaco, a dry tropical forest in Argentina one and a half times the size of California, comes a wake-up call for the world’s forests. We’ve lost more than a fifth of this incredibly biodiverse region since 1985. And it’s just one of many precious carbon-trapping ecosystems being lost to unrelenting deforestation. Six months ago in Glasgow, world leaders at Cop26 pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. While destruction continues apace in Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, other countries such as Indonesia offer glimmers of hope. Madeleine Finlay speaks to biodiversity reporter Patrick Greenfield about what his trip to Gran Chaco showed him, what’s at stake around the world, and what’s needed to turn things around. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/19/202212 minutes, 36 seconds
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Is the world keeping Cop26’s climate promises?

Last November in Glasgow, countries agreed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial averages. Six months on, the world has changed, with the war in Ukraine, high energy prices and the cost of living crisis threatening to derail us from achieving our climate goals. Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, about what promises are still on the table and what else needs to be done to address the climate emergency as we approach the next conference, Cop27.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/17/202213 minutes, 20 seconds
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Why aren’t women getting diagnosed with ADHD?

It’s estimated that a million women in the UK could have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – but according to the ADHD Foundation, 50–75% of them do not know they have it. Going without a diagnosis can impact someone’s education, employment and physical and mental health. So why are women being left behind? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Jasmine Andersson about her experience of getting a late diagnosis, and Prof Amanda Kirby on why the condition is so often missed in women and girls.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/12/202215 minutes, 2 seconds
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‘It’s a hellfire!’: how are India and Pakistan coping with extreme heat?

India and Pakistan have experienced their hottest April in 122 years. Temperatures are nearing 50C. Such extreme heat dries up water reservoirs, melts glaciers and damages crops. It’s also deadly. Ian Sample hears from Pakistan reporter Shah Meer Baloch about the situation on the ground, and speaks to Indian heat health expert Abhiyant Tiwari about what such temperatures do to the body and how south Asia is adapting to ever more frequent – and ever more extreme – heatwaves.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/10/202211 minutes, 14 seconds
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Why is the UK suffering HRT shortages?

From hot flushes and flooding to memory problems and depression, for many the menopause can be both distressing and debilitating. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can alleviate some of these symptoms by boosting levels of hormones that wane as women get older. But the UK is experiencing an acute shortage of certain HRT products, leaving some without the medication they need. Madeleine Finlay hears from Guardian reader Sara about the impact of HRT shortages on her life, and speaks to science reporter Nicola Davis about why demand isn’t being met and what’s being done to fix the problem. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/5/202210 minutes, 26 seconds
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Will the Large Hadron Collider find a new fifth force of nature?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has recently been switched back on after a three-year hiatus to resolve a mysterious and tantalising result from its previous run. So far, everything discovered at the LHC has agreed with the standard model, the guiding theory of particle physics that describes the building blocks of matter, and the forces that guide them. However, recent findings show particles behaving in a way that can’t be explained by known physics. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian science correspondent Hannah Devlin and Prof Jon Butterworth about why this might be a clue towards solving some of the deepest mysteries of the universe, and how the LHC will be searching for a potential fifth force of nature. This podcast was amended on 12 May 2022. An earlier version incorrectly claimed that the standard model incorporates four fundamental forces of nature, instead of three.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/3/202215 minutes, 10 seconds
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What’s behind the mysterious global rise in childhood hepatitis?

Over the past few weeks, countries around the world have reported an unexpected increase in the number of children with hepatitis. So far about 200 cases have been reported. More than half have come from the UK, but there have also been reports from Spain, Japan and the US, among others. Although this is still a very rare disease, it is severe, with 10% of affected children needing a liver transplant. So what might explain this unusual rise? Guardian science editor Ian Sample speaks to Prof Deirdre Kelly about the current theories as to what could be happening, and how concerned we should be. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/28/202210 minutes, 4 seconds
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Preventable author Devi Sridhar on how she handles Covid trolls

As the news came out of China that there was a new virus infecting humans, scientists around the world promptly got to work sequencing genomes, gathering data and communicating what they found with the public. One of the scientists catapulted into the public eye was Devi Sridhar, a professor in global public health. Soon, she was advising the Scottish government on their Covid strategy, regularly appearing on TV and had gained a big social media following. Ian Sample speaks to Sridhar about her experience of the pandemic so far, what it was like working alongside politicians, and what she’s learned from it all. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/26/202214 minutes, 1 second
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Space junk – how should we clean up our act?

This week, the US became the first country to ban anti-satellite missile tests, in an effort to protect Earth’s orbit from dangerous space debris. There could be millions of pieces of old satellites and spent rockets zooming around above our atmosphere, at speeds where collisions can be catastrophic. Guardian science editor Ian Sample talks to Prof Don Pollacco and Prof Chris Newman about the threat posed by space junk, and how we can tackle the problem. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/21/202213 minutes, 23 seconds
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Manifestation: why the pandemic had many of us seeing ghosts - Science Weekly podcast

While telling ghost stories has always been a favourite pastime for many, during the pandemic signs of paranormal activity have reportedly been on the rise. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Chris French about why more of us may have been having eerie experiences, how to explain these phenomena scientifically, and why – even among nonbelievers – ghost stories are still as popular as ever. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/19/202213 minutes, 25 seconds
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Does China need to rethink its zero-Covid policy?

To slow down a surge in Covid cases, last week Chinese authorities put Shanghai into lockdown. But with a population of 26 million there have been difficulties providing residents with basic necessities, and videos have appeared on social media showing protests and scrambles over food supplies. Now, authorities have begun easing the lockdown in some areas, despite reporting a record of more than 25,000 new Covid cases. Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s China affairs correspondent, Vincent Ni, about what’s been happening in Shanghai, whether the Omicron variant may spell the end of China’s zero-Covid policy, and what an alternative strategy could look like This podcast was amended on 15th April 2022 to correct an error in the scripting. We incorrectly stated that Shanghai authorities would start easing lockdown in some areas on Monday 18th April. Lockdown easing began on Monday 11th April.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/14/202212 minutes, 3 seconds
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Why are climate and conservation scientists taking to the streets?

Last week’s IPCC report gives the world just 30 months to get greenhouse gas emissions falling. Beyond that, we’ll have missed our chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C and protecting our planet from the most serious impacts of climate change. As the window closes, some scientists feel like writing reports and publishing papers is no longer enough, and researchers around the world are leaving their desks and labs to take action on the streets. Madeleine Finlay meets scientists protesting at Shell HQ in London and speaks to the conservationist Dr Charlie Gardner about civil disobedience – and why he thinks it’s the only option left. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/12/202214 minutes, 59 seconds
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Why has the UK (finally) expanded its Covid symptoms list?

This week, the UK expanded its official Covid symptom list to 12 symptoms including sore throat, loss of appetite, and a blocked or runny nose. British scientists have long called for a broadening of the list, but the change comes at a time when free rapid tests have been scrapped, and the UK is seeing its highest ever levels of infection, according the the Office for National Statistics. Madeleine Finlay speaks to science correspondent Linda Geddes about why this has happened now, what symptoms still haven’t made the list, and what it could all mean going forward. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/7/202212 minutes, 51 seconds
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Why is England keeping the abortion ‘pills by post’ scheme?

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Great Britain brought in emergency legal orders to allow a ‘pills by post’ abortion service. For abortions within the first 10 weeks, women were able to take the two tablets needed to end a pregnancy in the privacy of their own home rather than having to take the first at a clinic or hospital. The scheme was due to be scrapped in September 2022, but last week MPs voted to keep it in England. Wales will also be making it permanent. Madeleine Finlay spoke to Dr Abigail Aiken about her study looking at the outcomes of self-managed medical abortions during the pandemic, the benefits of taking abortion pills at home, and whether ‘Plan C’ could ever become available in shops and pharmacies. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/5/202214 minutes, 52 seconds
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Can the science of PTSD help soldiers in Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine, like other conflicts around the world, will mean millions of people going through horrific and traumatic events. Some may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, experiencing psychological distress for months or even years afterwards. Ian Sample speaks to clinical psychologist Jennifer Wild about what happens in the body and brain when someone gets PTSD, why some people may be more susceptible to developing it than others, and how understanding the underlying psychology can help to build resilience and improve treatments for the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/31/202211 minutes, 38 seconds
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COP15: is 2022 the year we save biodiversity?

As human activities like agricultural production, mining and pollution continue to drive the so-called sixth mass extinction, government negotiators from around the world are currently meeting in Geneva to try to protect the planet’s biodiversity. At stake is an ambitious Paris-style agreement for nature, the final version of which will be negotiated at the COP15 summit in Kunming, China, in August. Madeleine Finlay speaks to reporter Patrick Greenfield from Geneva about what’s being discussed, how the talks are progressing, and whether time is running out to halt the destruction of life on Earth. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/29/202214 minutes, 23 seconds
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Two years on, what have we learned about lockdowns?

Over the past two years, countries around the world have shut down their societies in last-ditch efforts to contain the pandemic. Some, like China, have enforced strict lockdowns as part of a zero Covid strategy. Others have ordered people to stay at home to flatten the curve of infections and buy precious time. But since they first began, what have we learned about how well lockdowns work? Ian Sample speaks to epidemiologist Prof Adam Kucharski about the effectiveness of different approaches, and the lessons we should take forward.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/24/202212 minutes, 49 seconds
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As the energy crisis bites, could fracking ever actually work?

The average family’s energy bill will soon be increasing by 54% in the UK, amid soaring energy prices caused in part by Covid-19 lockdowns and Vladimir Putin’s decision to reduce gas exports prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response, the UK government is considering all its options to secure its energy supplies and dampen costs – including fracking. But could fracking really provide any kind of solution? Anand Jagatia speaks to the Guardian’s environment editor, Damian Carrington, about how fracking works, why it is back on the table, and whether it could ever be a viable option. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/22/202214 minutes, 4 seconds
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Covid cases are rising again – how worried should we be?

After falling for the past few weeks, the number of Covid cases in the UK is increasing once more. Since the easing of restrictions, scientists have been expecting an upwards trend in infections – but could other factors also be at work? Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis speaks to Anand Jagatia about the latest coronavirus data and what it could mean.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/17/202211 minutes, 54 seconds
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10% of the world’s wheat comes from Ukraine - will war change that?

As the world watches oil and gas prices soar – the next big shock could hit the dinner table. Collectively, Russia and Ukraine are responsible for more than a quarter of global wheat exports and for around 80% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil. Russia — along with ally, Belarus — is also a huge source of fertiliser, accounting for around 15% globally. The war in Ukraine will undoubtedly have a major impact on its agricultural production and exports, putting even more pressure on a system already in crisis. Madeleine Finlay speaks to food policy researcher, Dr Joseph Glauber, about what the war will mean for the supply and cost of food around the world. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/15/202211 minutes, 10 seconds
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How come some people haven’t had Covid yet?

Although several countries around the world continue to have high rates of Covid-19 infections, including the UK and US, many of their citizens are yet to be infected with the Sars-Cov-2 virus. This includes countless individuals who have knowingly been exposed, often multiple times, but have still never had a positive test. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Linda Geddes about how scientists are trying to solve the mystery of why some people seemingly don’t catch Covid, and what could be behind this phenomenon. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/10/202213 minutes, 34 seconds
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Is Russia losing the information war?

Since Vladimir Putin’s bizarre televised address announcing a ‘military operation’, the Russia-Ukraine war has been rife with disinformation and propaganda. Last week, Facebook and Instagram blocked access to the Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union. In retaliation, Russia completely blocked access to Facebook and restricted access to Twitter. At the same time, misattributed videos purportedly showing nuclear weapons and Ukrainian fighter jets have been going viral. Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s global technology editor, Dan Milmo, about the ‘war myths’ propagated online, how the information war is being fought, and whose propaganda is having the biggest impact. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/8/202213 minutes, 6 seconds
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What have fossil fuels got to do with the invasion of Ukraine?

As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, gas prices remain high around the world. Europe is dependent on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas supplies, and despite the expansion of renewable energy over the past two decades, that dependency is increasing as countries shift to gas from dirtier coal. Putin’s attack on Ukraine has put this reliance into sharp focus as Europe considers how to respond. Madeleine Finlay speaks to our environment correspondent Fiona Harvey about how Putin has weaponised Russia’s fossil fuels, and how Europe could reshape its energy supplies for the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/3/202214 minutes, 27 seconds
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Act now: understanding the latest warnings in the IPCC report

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given humanity a stark warning: without immediate and rapid action on climate breakdown, a liveable and sustainable future for all is at risk. The assessment, which is based on 34,000 studies, documents the ‘widespread and pervasive’ impacts on people and the natural world, and analyses how humanity can adapt. It also offers a small piece of good news – a liveable future remains within grasp. But the window of opportunity for action is ‘brief and rapidly closing’. Ian Sample speaks to environment editor Damian Carrington about the IPCC’s findings and how fast humanity needs to act. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/1/202215 minutes, 16 seconds
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Covid-19: what’s the evidence for vaccinating kids?

When the announcement came last week that all children aged five to 11 in England will be offered a Covid vaccine, emphasis was placed on parental decision-making. But with factors to consider including disease severity, transmission, long Covid and vaccine side-effects, for many parents and guardians this may not be an easy choice. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Adam Finn about how the evidence stacks up, and what parents should be thinking about when deciding whether to vaccinate their five- to 11-year-olds against Covid-19. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/24/202213 minutes, 11 seconds
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Will storms like Eunice become the norm?

Over the past week, the UK has been hit with three storms: Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. With high winds and heavy rain, they have brought death and injury, caused extensive damage to trees and infrastructure and stopped transport across the country. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Dr Fredi Otto about how rare these weather events are, and whether the climate crisis could bring us more frequent and intense storms in the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/22/202214 minutes, 13 seconds
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Will Silicon Valley help us live to 200 and beyond?

While Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote about death and taxes remains true for most, the same might not be said for some of the world’s billionaires. And their efforts to extend life are under way. Most recently, a Silicon Valley start-up called Altos Labs signed up a dream team of scientists, including numerous Nobel laureates, with an aim to rejuvenate human cells. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Janet Lord about the science of ageing, extending our health as well as our lifespans, and how old we could actually go. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/17/202212 minutes, 14 seconds
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What will ‘living with Covid’ actually mean?

Last week Boris Johnson announced that all Covid regulations in England, including the requirement to isolate after testing positive, were due to be abolished on 24 February. Whilst the Omicron variant has caused fewer hospitalisations and deaths than many predicted, some scientists say the changes may be going too far, too soon. Madeleine Finlay gets the Guardian science correspondent Hannah Devlin’s view on whether there’s scientific evidence backing up this decision and what the changes could look like. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/15/202213 minutes, 46 seconds
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Why does Elon Musk want to read your mind?

A few weeks ago, Elon Musk’s company Neuralink posted a job advert recruiting for a ‘clinical trial director’ to run tests of their brain-computer interface technology in humans. Neuralink’s initial aim is to implant chips in the brain that would allow people with severe spinal cord injuries to walk again. But, Musk himself has said that he believes this technology could one day be used to digitally store and replay memories. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Andrew Jackson about how brain-computer interfaces actually work, where the technology is at the moment, and if in the future we could all end up communicating telepathically. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/10/202214 minutes, 13 seconds
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How worried should we be about the new Omicron subvariant?

Late in November, the World Health Organization designated the Covid variant B.1.1.529, with its many mutations, as a variant of concern. Dubbed Omicron, within weeks it had rapidly spread across the globe and become the dominant variant. But not far behind has been its even more transmissible cousin, BA.2. Initially taking off in Denmark and India, BA.2 is now making headway in several countries around the world, including the US and UK. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Nick Loman about how worried we should be about BA.2, and what we still need to learn about this new subvariant. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/8/202210 minutes, 50 seconds
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Weekend: episode one of a new podcast

Ease into the weekend with our brand new podcast, showcasing some of the best Guardian and Observer writing from the week, read by talented narrators. In our first episode, Marina Hyde reflects on another less than stellar week for Boris Johnson (1m38s), Edward Helmore charts the rise of Joe Rogan (9m46s), Laura Snapes goes deep with singer George Ezra (18m30s), and Alex Moshakis asks, “Are you a jerk at work?” (34m40s). If you like what you hear, subscribe to Weekend on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/5/202248 minutes, 45 seconds
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Are we getting any closer to understanding long Covid?

Extreme fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances, chest pain and skin rashes. These are just a few of the on-going symptoms of long Covid, a disorder that can persist for many months after an initial Covid infection. With such a vast range of symptoms, and health organisations stretched to capacity by the acute stage of the disease, long Covid has continued to remain something of a mystery. But with numerous studies trying to understand what exactly people are suffering from, progress is being made. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Akiko Iwasaki about what we do and don’t know about long Covid, and how the vaccine could reveal clues about what’s behind the disorder. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/3/202213 minutes, 5 seconds
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Alternative menopause treatments: empowering or exploitative?

There have never been more products and services devoted to helping women through the menopause, from hormones and supplements to apps and even laser treatments. But is all this choice actually helpful? And what’s the evidence that any of them actually work? Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian science correspondent Linda Geddes about the great menopause gold rush – and how women can get the help they need.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/1/202214 minutes, 42 seconds
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What are the hidden costs of our obsession with fish oil supplements?

They may be one of the world’s favourite supplements but, according to a recent study, more than one in 10 fish oil capsules are rancid. Most of the oil comes from Peruvian anchovetas, a type of anchovy, which is also used to feed pigs, poultry and farmed fish. And despite catching more than 4m tonnes a year of Peruvian anchovetas to cater to the global demand, large industry players want to scale this up even further. Madeleine Finlay speaks to environment journalist Richa Syal about why so many fish oil pills are rancid, and hears from journalist Dan Collyns in Chimbote, Peru, about how the industry is affecting the local environment and its residents. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/27/202216 minutes, 49 seconds
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Are animals the future of human organ transplantation?

Earlier this month, in a medical first, surgeons from the University of Maryland transplanted a genetically altered pig heart into a living person. Doctors believed it was their only chance to save the life of David Bennett, a 57-year-old patient who was considered too ill for a human organ replacement. With hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in need of new organs, are animals set to be the future of transplantation? Ian Sample talks to bioethicist Prof Arthur Caplan about how the operation was made possible, and what could be next. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/25/202212 minutes, 36 seconds
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Are western lifestyles causing a rise in autoimmune diseases?

Could the food we eat and the air we breathe be damaging our immune systems? The number of people with autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to type 1 diabetes, began to increase around 40 years ago in the west. Now, some are also emerging in countries that had never seen the diseases before. Ian Sample speaks to genetic scientist and consultant gastroenterologist James Lee about how this points to what western lifestyles might be doing to our health, and how genetics could reveal exactly how our immune systems are malfunctioning. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/20/202211 minutes, 24 seconds
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Covid-19: the Omicron wave is slowing - what lies on the other side?

The coronavirus variant has spread across the UK at incredible speed – but there are signs that the wave may have reached its peak. Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis about what we can expect in the weeks and months to come, and whether a second ‘exit wave’ could be here in the summer. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/18/202210 minutes, 11 seconds
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Why Theranos’s blood-testing claims were always too good to be true

Last week, the tech CEO Elizabeth Holmes – once described as ‘the next Steve Jobs’ – was convicted of fraud, and could face decades in prison. Her now collapsed company, Theranos, promised to revolutionise medicine with a machine that could run hundreds of health tests on just a pinprick of blood. Those claims have since been exposed as false – but could they ever have been true? Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s wealth correspondent, Rupert Neate, about Silicon Valley’s trial of the century, and pathologist Dr Benjamin Mazer about why Theranos’s vision seemed impossible from the start. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/13/202215 minutes, 51 seconds
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Is the world’s most important glacier on the brink of collapse?

It’s been called the most important glacier in the world. The Thwaites glacier in Antarctica is the size of Florida, and contains enough water to raise sea levels by over half a metre. Over the past 30 years it has been melting at an increasing pace, and currently contributes 4% of annual global sea level rise. Ian Sample speaks to marine geophysicist Dr Rob Larter about a new research mission to the Thwaites glacier, the role of Boaty McBoatface and what it’s like to see a region melt away before your eyes. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/11/202211 minutes, 37 seconds
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Why are so many people getting re-infected with Covid-19?

On Wednesday, 194,747 daily confirmed Covid cases were reported for the whole of the UK. But this doesn’t include all the people who have caught the virus for the second, or even third time. In fact, official figures for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t include those who have had Covid before, despite warnings from scientists that up to 15% of Omicron cases could be reinfections. Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science editor Ian Sample about why reinfections are so high for Omicron, what these cases could tell us, and how it could affect public health measures in the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/6/202213 minutes, 49 seconds
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Why is it so hard to lose that festive weight – and keep it off? – podcast

New year resolutions often include eating more healthily, doing exercise and trying to shift some of the extra weight put on over Christmas. Yet research suggests the vast majority of people who do lose weight ultimately end up putting nearly all of it back on. So why is it so difficult? Madeleine Finlay speaks to health journalist and ex-neuroscientist David Cox on the science of metabolism, and what it means for our health. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
1/4/202212 minutes, 33 seconds
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From the archive: Carlo Rovelli on how to understand the quantum world (part two)

From electrons behaving as both particles and waves to a cat in a box that’s both dead and alive, the consequences of quantum physics are decidedly weird. So strange, that over a century since its conception, scientists are still arguing about the best way to understand the theory. In the second of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss his ideas for explaining quantum physics, and how it affects our understanding of the world. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/30/202122 minutes, 3 seconds
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From the archive: Carlo Rovelli on the weirdness of quantum mechanics (part one)

It has been more than a century since the groundwork of quantum physics was first formulated and yet the consequences of the theory still elude both scientists and philosophers. Why does light sometimes behave as a wave, and other times as a particle? Why does the outcome of an experiment apparently depend on whether the particles are being observed or not? In the first of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss the strange consequences of quantum theory and the explanation he sets out in his book Helgoland. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/28/202123 minutes, 31 seconds
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Covid-19: what will Omicron mean for 2022? podcast

Yesterday, daily cases in the UK exceeded 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. Despite this, the government has stuck to its guns in refusing to introduce any restrictions in England before Christmas Day. Yesterday also saw the publishing of a report from a team at Imperial College London that suggests, in the UK, the risk of a hospital stay is 40% lower with Omicron than Delta. To find out what all this means for the weeks and months ahead, Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/23/202115 minutes, 39 seconds
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Environment stories you might have missed in 2021

Cop26 may have dominated the headlines this year, but there have been lots of other fascinating, devastating and hopeful environment stories over the past 12 months. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian environment editor Damian Carrington and biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston about some of their favourites, from reintroducing wild bison to the fields of Kent to climate crisis tipping points. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/21/202118 minutes, 2 seconds
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The climate crisis and devastating drought in eastern Africa

For three consecutive rainy seasons, the eastern Horn of Africa has experienced poor rainfall. Confounded by Covid-19 and desert locust invasions, millions are now facing starvation across parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Already, livestock and wildlife are dying of thirst and hunger in large numbers. And at the heart of it all is the worsening climate crisis. Madeleine Finlay asks climate researcher Chris Funk what’s causing these devastating weather patterns and speaks to Nairobi reporter Peter Muiruri about the impact the droughts are having in northern Kenya, and what can be done to make regions more drought-resilient in the future. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/16/202114 minutes, 28 seconds
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Covid-19: Will boosters be enough to slow down Omicron?

As England moves to plan B, Boris Johnson has announced that all adults will be offered a booster vaccine by the end of December. But will that be enough to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed? Madeleine Finlay speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, about the spread of Omicron, and what we can do to prevent a tidal wave of cases. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/14/202113 minutes, 52 seconds
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Nasa’s new space telescope and its search for extraterrestrial life

On 22 December, if all goes to plan, the £7.5bn James Webb space telescope (JWST) will be blasted into space on top of a giant European Ariane 5 rocket. As it travels to its final destination – a point about a million miles away – it will begin to unfold its gold, honeycombed mirror; a vast light-catching bucket that could give us a view of the universe deeper and more sensitive than we’ve ever had before. JWST could also reveal clues about possible life-supporting planets inside our galaxy. One astronomer who will be eagerly deciphering those clues is Prof Beth Biller, who joined Guardian science editor Ian Sample this week.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/9/202111 minutes, 27 seconds
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Covid-19: How fast is the Omicron variant spreading? podcast

Over 40 countries have now confirmed the presence of Omicron. And, in the UK, scientists have been increasingly expressing their concern about the new variant. Some have speculated there could be more than 1,000 cases here already, and that it could become the dominant variant within weeks. To get an update on what we know about the Omicron variant, and how quickly it might be spreading, Madeleine Finlay speaks to Nicola Davis, the Guardian’s science correspondent. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/7/202110 minutes, 59 seconds
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Is TikTok giving people Tourette’s Syndrome?

Clinicians around the world have noticed an increase in young adults, often women, developing ‘tic-like behaviours’ – sudden movements or vocalisations similar to what’s seen in Tourette Syndrome. Except these tics come on much later in life, and escalate more rapidly. Some have blamed the recent rise on social media – but the reality is much more complicated. Madeleine Finlay talks to Guardian reporter Sirin Kale and research psychologist Dr Seonaid Anderson about the young people experiencing this debilitating disorder, and what can be done about it.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
12/2/202112 minutes, 29 seconds
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Covid-19: how worried should we be about Omicron?

Last week, a new variant of Covid-19 was detected by scientists in South Africa. Since then, additional cases have been reported beyond southern Africa, including Belgium, Canada, Israel, Australia and the UK. And with the WHO warning that the Omicron variant poses a very high global risk, scientists around the world are scrambling to uncover clues about its transmissibility and how effective the current coronavirus vaccines will be against it. To find out what we do know about Omicron and what it could mean for the coming weeks and months, Madeleine Finlay spoke to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample. This podcast was amended on 30 Nov 2021. An earlier version incorrectly claimed that Covid cases in South Africa had reached around 6,000 per day. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/30/202113 minutes
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Do lobsters have feelings? – podcast

Last week the UK government confirmed it would be extending its animal welfare (sentience) bill to include decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish), and cephalopods (such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish). The move followed a government-commissioned review of the scientific evidence, which found strong evidence that cephalopods and decapods do have feelings. Madeleine Finlay spoke to Dr Jonathan Birch, who led the review, to ask what it means for lobsters to have feelings, and what difference it should make to how we treat – and eat – them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/25/202110 minutes, 55 seconds
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Astronaut Chris Hadfield on life in space

Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space, became commander of the International Space Station, and became a viral sensation after covering Bowie like no one else. He speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, about life as an astronaut, the new race to the moon and his new novel, The Apollo Murders.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/23/202114 minutes, 40 seconds
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Inside Delhi’s air pollution crisis

Over the past few weeks, a thick brown smog has enveloped Delhi. The pollution is so bad that the capital and surrounding states have shut schools and imposed work-from-home orders. Toxic air at levels 20 times higher than those deemed healthy by the World Health Organization has become a seasonal occurrence in India, causing about 1.6 million premature deaths every year. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian South Asia correspondent Hannah Ellis-Petersen and environmental researcher Karthik Ganesan about what it is like to live with poisonous air – and what needs to be done. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/18/202111 minutes, 27 seconds
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Why does Covid-19 make things smell disgusting?

Growing numbers of people catching coronavirus are experiencing an unpleasant distortion of smells. Scientists are still unsure what causes this often distressing condition, known as parosmia, where previously enjoyable aromas trigger feelings of disgust. Madeleine Finlay talks to science correspondent Linda Geddes about her own parosmia, and chemist Dr Jane Parker discusses research into why the smell of coffee seems to be a trigger for so many people. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/16/202111 minutes, 44 seconds
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Cop26: the final day – have we made any progress on saving the planet?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, Science Weekly host Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, and environment editor, Damian Carrington, on how the final hours of Cop26 negotiations are going. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/12/202116 minutes, 44 seconds
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Cop26: can gas guzzling go green?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay speaks to environment reporter Oliver Milman about electric cars, ‘environmentally-friendly’ planes and the need to rethink transport. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/11/202114 minutes, 53 seconds
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Cop26: what do scientists think about the progress in Glasgow?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, Guardian global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, talks to Katharine Hayhoe and Peter Stott about their work as climate scientists and how they feel Cop26 is progressing. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/10/202115 minutes, 42 seconds
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Cop26: solutions from the frontline

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, Science Weekly host Madeleine Finlay and Guardian reporter Nina Lakhani attend the People’s Summit, which brings together movements from across the world to build solutions for climate change. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/9/202114 minutes, 44 seconds
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Cop26: can our seas save us?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, the Guardian’s biodiversity reporter, Phoebe Weston, talks to one of the world’s leading marine ecologists, Dr Enric Sala, about the role our oceans can play in preventing climate catastrophe. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/8/202112 minutes, 16 seconds
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Cop26: are we finally saying goodbye to coal?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s energy correspondent Jillian Ambrose about plans to end coal use. And as Cop26 week one draws to a close U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry gives his thoughts. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/5/202114 minutes, 16 seconds
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Cop26: can capitalism actually go green?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow, where we are bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s biodiversity and environment reporter, Patrick Greenfield, and shadow Cop26 president Ed Miliband about the announcements from finance day. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/4/202113 minutes, 21 seconds
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Cop26: have we just saved our forests?

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow where we will be bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay, talks to Jon Watts about a significant announcement made by global leaders on forest and land use, and we hear from an indigenous leader in Guyana about why it might not be enough.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/3/202114 minutes, 4 seconds
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Cop26 – the world leaders arrive

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow where we will be bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, host Madeleine Finlay hears why the Bahamas are under imminent threat from the climate crisis and what Guardian environment reporter Fiona Harvey makes of India’s commitment to be net zero – by 2070.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/2/202111 minutes, 42 seconds
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Cop26: it’s finally here

The Science Weekly podcast is in Glasgow where we will be bringing listeners daily episodes from Cop26. Each morning you will hear from one of the Guardian’s award-winning environment team. Today, environment correspondent Fiona Harvey explains why this climate summit is so critical. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
11/1/202113 minutes, 10 seconds
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Daylight saving time could be bad for our health – should we get rid of it?

The clocks go back in the UK this Sunday and many will welcome the extra hour in bed. But research suggests that changing the time like this could be bad for the body. Anand Jagatia speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent Linda Geddes and chronobiologist Prof Till Roenneberg about how daylight saving time affects our biology – and whether we should get rid of it permanently. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/28/202112 minutes, 42 seconds
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Covid-19: with cases on the rise, will ‘plan B’ be enough in England?

Many experts have called for the reintroduction of some public health measures to reduce transmission rates. However, the government has repeatedly said it is not yet bringing in its ‘plan B’ for England. Madeleine Finlay speaks to science correspondent Nicola Davis about what it could entail and whether it would help us avoid the need for more stringent and longer-lasting measures down the line. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/26/202111 minutes, 21 seconds
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Who are Insulate Britain and what do they want?

For the past few months Insulate Britain have been blocking roads in an effort to pressure the government into sealing up the UK’s leaky, draughty housing-stock. So why are a group of eco-activists facing confrontations from angry drivers, and even risking injury, for insulation? Shivani Dave speaks to environment correspondent Matthew Taylor about Insulate Britain’s demands and explores the possible health benefits of properly insulated homes with Dr James Milner. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/21/202111 minutes, 59 seconds
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Covid-19: how 43,000 false negative tests were uncovered as wrong

Last week, testing at a private Covid lab in Wolverhampton was halted, after the UK Health Security Agency found tens of thousands of people may have been falsely given a negative PCR result. But since the start of September, scientists had been alerted to strange patterns in the testing data which suggested something was out of the ordinary. Anand Jagatia speaks to Dr Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist, about why it took so long for these errors to be traced back to the lab, and what the consequences could be. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/19/202112 minutes, 16 seconds
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The world finally has a malaria vaccine. Why has it taken so long?

Last week the World Health Organization approved the world’s first malaria vaccine. It’s been hailed as a historic breakthrough that could save tens of thousands of lives each year. But researchers have been trying to create one for more than a century – so why has it taken so long? Anand Jagatia speaks to Dr Latif Ndeketa and Prof Chris Drakeley about how the new RTS,S vaccine works and why it’s been so difficult to produce. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/14/202112 minutes, 57 seconds
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Is gene editing the future of food?

The world’s harvests are coming under increasing pressure from extreme weather events, disease and deteriorating soil health – problems that are set to get worse in the next few decades. Could one solution be to genetically edit our food to make it more resilient? With the UK’s recent announcement that it will ease the rules for growing gene-edited crops in England, Madeleine Finlay investigates what it will mean for scientists researching the technology, and why it could become a critical tool for the future of our food. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/12/202113 minutes, 52 seconds
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Covid-19: will there soon be a pill that stops us getting sick?

Last week the pharmaceutical company Merck released promising early data on a pill for Covid-19, which trials suggest halves hospitalisations and deaths. So what do we know about this experimental treatment? Madeleine Finlay talks to the Guardian’s science correspondent Hannah Devlin about whether this antiviral could be a gamechanger. And as some UK experts warn ‘there isn’t much A&E capacity left’, we also hear from Prof Peter Horby on the importance of drugs in the fight against Covid-19. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/7/202111 minutes, 8 seconds
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Could machines sucking carbon out of the air help fight the climate crisis?

Meeting the Paris agreement’s goal of keeping global temperature rises to below 2C by the end of the century requires drastic cuts to fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. The problem is, even if we do this we’ll still need to draw down the carbon dioxide that’s emitted in the meantime. To find out how, Shivani Dave speaks to Phoebe Weston and Damian Carrington about the natural and synthetic ways of pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
10/5/202112 minutes, 43 seconds
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CoolSculpting, Botox and fillers are on the rise – but are they safe?

Last week, supermodel Linda Evangelista posted on her Instagram page describing undergoing a procedure called CoolSculpting, claiming it has left her ‘permanently deformed’. With this, which is also known as cryolipolysis, and other non-surgical cosmetic treatments on the rise, particularly among younger people, Madeleine Finlay investigates how these procedures work and how risky they really are. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/30/202119 minutes, 50 seconds
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Fleeing a war zone is traumatic – so is what happens next

As Britain begins its commitment to take in 20,000 people fleeing Afghanistan, we look at the psychological impacts of trying to start again in a new country. Many asylum seekers and refugees have had to flee their homes in extremely distressing circumstances. A lucky few make it to a safe country such as the UK – but what happens next? Anand Jagatia speaks to Afraa, who was forcibly displaced from Syria with her family, and Prof Rachel Tribe, a counselling and occupational psychologist who works with asylum seekers and refugees. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/28/202114 minutes, 5 seconds
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Covid-19: how effective are face masks, really?

Since the start of the pandemic, face coverings and their ability to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 have been under constant scrutiny by scientists, politicians and the public. More than a year and a half in, what do – and don’t – we know? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Cath Noakes about how effective different face coverings are, how best to use them, and when we should be masking-up. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/23/202113 minutes, 22 seconds
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Egg-freezing just got more attractive – but is it worth it?

Earlier this month the government announced it will extend the storage limit for those freezing their egg cells from 10 to 55 years. Over the past decade there has been a rapid growth in egg freezing, reaching 2,400 cycles in 2019, and the new rules will allow more freedom in choosing when to freeze – and unfreeze. But, as an expensive, invasive and often unsuccessful procedure, it certainly isn’t the fertility-preserving guarantee that most wish for. Shivani Dave asks if the process is really worth it for those wanting to conceive at a later date. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/21/202114 minutes, 19 seconds
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Jaws made us scared of sharks but is a lack of sharks scarier?

Last week, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) world conservation congress took place in Marseille. Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston was there and heard about the latest updated ‘red list’ of threatened species, which included a warning that over a third of all shark and ray species now face extinction. To find out more, Anand Jagatia spoke to Phoebe about the findings and what they mean for the fate of sharks, rays and the ecosystems they inhabit. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/16/202112 minutes, 44 seconds
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Flu season: are we in for a bumpier ride this year?

In a report earlier this summer, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) noted there could be a 50% increase in cases of influenza in comparison to other years. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Ian Sample about the factors at play, from weakened immunity to the expanded vaccine programme, and hears from Derek Smith, professor of infectious disease informatics about how the World Health Organization has decided on which influenza strains to vaccinate against this year. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/14/202118 minutes, 14 seconds
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Are third vaccines and vaccine boosters the same thing?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is recommending that a third jab be offered to people with weakened immune systems but the programme and rollout are different to the Covid vaccine boosters expected to be discussed by the JCVI later on Thursday. Shivani Dave speaks to Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh, and the Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis about the distinctions between booster jabs and third jabs Coronavirus – latest updates. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/9/202110 minutes, 5 seconds
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Why swearing is more complicated than you think

Recently a study from Aston University revealed that the F-word had overtaken bloody to become Britain’s most popular swear word for the first time. Shivani Dave speaks to emeritus professor of psychology Timothy Jay of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to find out why people swear and whether or not there are any benefits to using swear words – especially as we move back into public spaces such as the office. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/7/202112 minutes, 42 seconds
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Can we really solve the climate crisis by planting trees? (part two)

Getting trees into the ground isn’t simple. Reforestation often involves trade-offs and challenges. Phoebe Weston checks in on two projects where people are planting trees, and one where it’s not humans doing the planting at all. She and Patrick Greenfield from The age of extinction are back with two new episodes. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
9/2/202116 minutes, 27 seconds
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Can we really solve the climate crisis by planting trees? (part one)

In an era of divisions over the climate breakdown, tree planting seems to bring everyone together. But are there situations where tree planting can cause more harm than good? And how much can it help us counteract global heating? Patrick Greenfield leads you through the science and controversy behind the decisions we’re making and how those decisions could shape our future environment. He and Phoebe Weston from The age of extinction are back with two new episodes. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/31/202116 minutes, 58 seconds
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Why aren’t children being vaccinated in the UK?

As back to school looms and in-person teaching returns, there is an expectation that Covid-19 cases will rise, especially among children. In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children aged 12 to 17, but they are still not available to most people in this demographic. Shivani Dave speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent, Natalie Grover, about why that is the case This podcast was amended on Thursday 26th August 2021 to correct for a misspeak: we said MRHA instead of MHRA. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/26/202112 minutes, 33 seconds
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What should we be feeding our cats?

In mid-June this year, some brands of cat food were recalled as a precaution after a sudden increase in cases of feline pancytopenia, a rare blood disease that can be fatal. Shivani Dave speaks to Daniella Dos Santos, a practicing small animal and exotic pet vet and the senior vice-president of the British Veterinary Association, to understand what the food recall means for cat owners, and to find out how best to feed our feline friends. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/24/202112 minutes, 49 seconds
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From the archive: the secret, sonic lives of narwhals

Narwhals may be shy and elusive, but they are certainly not quiet. Nicola Davis speaks to geophysicist Dr Evgeny Podolskiy about capturing the vocalisations of narwhals in an arctic fjord, and what this sonic world could tell us about the lives of these mysterious creatures. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/19/202116 minutes, 56 seconds
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From the archive: Are alternative meats the key to a healthier life and planet?

How do protein substitutes compare with the real deal? Graihagh Jackson investigates by speaking to dietician Priya Tew, the Guardian’s Fiona Harvey and author Isabella Tree. This podcast was amended on 18 May 2019. An earlier version incorrectly claimed that vitamin B12 is also known as folate or folic acid. While folate/folic acid is also a B vitamin, it is not vitamin B12.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/17/202130 minutes
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From the archive: are national parks failing nature? (part 2)

The climate crisis is ‘unequivocally’ caused by human activities, according to a recent report from the IPCC. Many attempts are being made to conserve the environment, with one being to protect national parks. Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston explore the impact that conservation and national parks can have on Indigenous communities and the biodiversity surrounding them. If you haven’t already, go back and listen to Tuesday’s episode on the history of national parks and some of the challenges they face. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/12/202119 minutes, 22 seconds
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From the archive: Are national parks failing nature? (part 1)

The climate crisis is ‘unequivocally’ caused by human activities, according to a report from the IPCC. One attempt to conserve the environment, being pushed by Boris Johnson, is to protect 30% of UK land in a boost for biodiversity. A Guardian exclusive found that an area twice the size of Greater London is devoted to grouse shooting in UK national parks, which threatens efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston investigate whether national parks benefit the environment and biodiversity, or if there might be a better way of doing things. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/10/202122 minutes, 24 seconds
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Are hair relaxers causing breast cancer in black women?

Research from the Black Women’s Health Study has found that long-term and frequent users of hair relaxers had roughly a 30% increased risk of breast cancer compared with more infrequent users. Shivani Dave speaks to Dr Kimberly Bertrand, co-investigator of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Boston University, about the research and to journalist Tayo Bero about the effects these findings could have on the black community. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/5/202115 minutes, 11 seconds
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The billionaire space race

Last month, billionaire after billionaire hopped into spacecraft to reach the final frontier. Shivani Dave speaks to Robert Massey, the deputy executive director at the Royal Astronomical Society, to understand what, if any, positives might come from what has been called ‘the billionaire space race’, or if the money and resources spent on space exploration should be redistributed to focus on the challenges being faced on Earth. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
8/3/202114 minutes, 57 seconds
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Testosterone in women’s athletics

Genetic advantages in sport tend to be celebrated, but that isn’t always the case when it comes to women’s athletics. At the start of July, two female runners from Namibia, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, were told they couldn’t compete in the 400m race in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics unless they reduced their naturally high testosterone hormone levels. Shivani Dave speaks to Katrina Karkazis, a professor of sexuality, women’s, and gender studies, specialising in ‘sex testing’ and sport regulations, about the rules that ban female athletes with naturally high testosterone. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/29/202115 minutes, 46 seconds
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Sporting super spikes: how do they work?

In the lead-up to the athletics competitions at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, Shivani Dave takes look at how advances in running shoe technology are resulting in records being smashed. Talking to Geoff Burns, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan who specialises in biomechanics, Shivani asks how so-called ‘super spikes’ work and if the mechanical advantage they provide is fair. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/27/202116 minutes, 48 seconds
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How does the human body cope with extreme heat? (part two)

We learned in our previous episode about the very real consequences that extreme heat has on human health and wellbeing, but there is little research into what actually happens to our bodies when exposed to extreme heat apart from in the world of sports science. In the second part of our discussion, as fears mount that the Tokyo Olympics will be the hottest on record and the world gears up for Cop26, Shivani Dave speaks to Mike Tipton, a professor of human and applied physiology. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/22/202116 minutes, 9 seconds
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Why are extreme weather events on the rise? (part one)

The Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, speaks to Shivani Dave about extreme weather events – including the extreme heat recently recorded in the US and Canada. In the first of two parts, we hear how extreme heat comes about and why extreme weather events such as floods and monsoons look set to become more likely and even more extreme. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/20/202114 minutes, 7 seconds
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What are the risks of England unlocking on 19 July?

Nearly all coronavirus restrictions in England are set to be lifted from Monday 19 July. But what are the risks of unlocking when we could be in the middle of a third wave of infections? The Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, talks to Anand Jagatia about how cases, hospital admissions and deaths are modelled to increase in the coming weeks, as well as the risks from long Covid and new variants. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/15/202117 minutes, 1 second
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Covid-19: do we need to reframe the way we think about restrictions?

Before Downing Street urged ‘extreme caution’ around the lifting of restrictions on so-called ‘freedom day’, Shivani Dave spoke to Prof Stephen Reicher about how mixed messages surrounding restrictions can affect our behaviour Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/13/202117 minutes, 35 seconds
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How does Covid-19 affect chronic pain? (part two)

Fibromyalgia sufferer Vicky Naylor was successfully managing her condition – until she developed Covid-19. In the second part of our exploration of chronic pain, the Guardian science correspondent Linda Geddes tells Anand Jagatia what we know about the connection between chronic pain, Covid and mental health, and why it affects women more than men. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/8/202114 minutes, 57 seconds
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Understanding chronic pain (part one)

Chronic pain affects about 40% of the UK population. While there is growing recognition that pain can be an illness in and of itself, there is still a lot we don’t know. Anand Jagatia hears from fibromyalgia sufferer Vicky Naylor on what it’s like to live with chronic pain, and the Guardian’s science correspondent Linda Geddes about the causes for these sometimes debilitating conditions. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/6/202114 minutes, 15 seconds
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Is hay fever on the rise?

After 18 months of life being at a near standstill, Science Weekly’s Shivani Dave found a lot of their conversations with friends turned to the severity of hay fever this year. Many claimed their allergies had never been worse. Shivani Dave asks horticulturist, Thomas Ogren, whether hay fever symptoms have become more severe in recent times. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
7/1/202113 minutes, 3 seconds
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How effective is the new Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab?

Before Covid, dementia was the biggest killer in the UK and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. A controversial new drug for Alzheimer’s, aducanumab, is the first in nearly 20 years to be approved in the US, which will trigger pressure to make it available worldwide. The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Bosley, talks Shivani Dave through the mixed evidence of its efficacy. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/29/202114 minutes, 19 seconds
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Are we really ready to live with Covid-19?

Throughout the pandemic, but increasingly in recent weeks, some senior scientists and politicians have been saying that, at some point, we’re going to have to learn to live with coronavirus. On the other hand, just last week, there was a vote in the Commons to delay the easing of restrictions - a date dubbed by some as ‘freedom day’. Speaking to Prof Siân Griffiths and Prof David Salisbury, Ian Sample asks if now is the time to go back to normality or whether a more cautious approach is needed Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/24/202115 minutes, 25 seconds
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How clocks have shaped civilisations

Since the dawn of time, clocks have shaped our behaviour and values. They are embedded in almost every aspect of modern life, from the time on your smartphone to the atomic clocks that underpin GPS. Anand Jagatia talks to horologist David Rooney about his new book, which tells the history of civilisation in twelve clocks. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/22/202117 minutes, 3 seconds
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Inside the world of wildlife trafficking (part two)

In the second part of our look at wildlife crime, Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield from the Guardian’s age of extinction project look at another victim: orchids. Why are they valued so highly? And how are they being protected? • Read more: ‘Orchidelirium’: how a modern-day flower madness is fuelling the illegal trade. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/17/202122 minutes, 40 seconds
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Inside the world of wildlife trafficking (part one)

We often think of the illegal trade in wildlife as involving charismatic megafauna such as elephants and big cats. But some of the biggest victims are more inconspicuous. Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield from the Guardian’s age of extinction project explore wildlife crime in a two part series Read more: Jellied, smoked, baked in pies – but can the UK stop eels sliding into extinction?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/15/202117 minutes, 48 seconds
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As indigenous languages die out, will we lose knowledge about plants?

There are more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth, but by the end of the century, 30% of these could be lost. This week, research warns that knowledge of medicinal plants is at risk of disappearing as human languages become extinct. Phoebe Weston speaks to Rodrigo Cámara Leret about the study, and the links between biological and cultural diversity. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/10/202119 minutes, 26 seconds
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Anna Ploszajski: crafting to better understand material science

Material science allows us to understand the objects around us mathematically, but there is no formula to describe the sophistication of a handcrafted teacup. Dr Anna Ploszajski is a materials scientist who has travelled all over the UK, meeting makers to better understand her craft and theirs. She spoke to Shivani Dave about what she discovered and documented in her new book, Handmade.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/8/202117 minutes, 34 seconds
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From the archive: Callum Roberts on a life spent diving in coral reefs

As temperatures soar in the UK, the Guardian’s Science Weekly team have decided to pull this episode out of the archive. Prof Callum Roberts is a British oceanographer, author and one of the world’s leading marine biologists. Sitting down with Ian Sample in 2019, he talks about his journey into exploring this marine habitat. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/3/202122 minutes, 55 seconds
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What can a wild night out teach us about ecosystem health?

Moths, bats and owls are just some of the animals best observed at night, and they tell us a lot about the health of ecosystems. Age of Extinction reporter Phoebe Weston ventures into a dark wood with Chris Salisbury, author of Wild Nights Out, to see what she can learn by watching and listening to wildlife. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
6/1/202121 minutes, 36 seconds
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Can Covid vaccines disrupt menstrual cycles?

When getting a Covid jab you will be read a list of potential side-effects. You’ll even be given a leaflet to take home with the side-effects on them, and none of those includes changes in menstruation. After anecdotal reports of bleeding, Dr Kate Clancy and Dr Katharine Lee speak to Nicola Davis about why they launched a survey documenting events of this kind. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/27/202114 minutes, 50 seconds
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Could sniffer dogs soon be used to detect Covid-19? (an update)

This week, a study has added to the evidence that specially trained dogs could be used to sniff out people with Covid-19, showing that canines are faster than PCR tests and more accurate than lateral flow tests at detecting infections. Anand Jagatia speaks to the Guardian’s science correspondent Linda Geddes, who went to see the dogs in action Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage This podcast was amended on 2 June 2021. An earlier version incorrectly referred to insulin being used by people with type 1 diabetes to treat low blood sugar; in fact insulin is given when blood sugar is too high. That reference has been removed.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/25/202120 minutes, 7 seconds
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Have we entered the Anthropocene – a new epoch in Earth’s history?

Human beings have transformed the planet. Over the last century we’ve disrupted the climate and impacted entire ecosystems. This has led some to propose that we’ve entered another chapter in Earth’s history called the Anthropocene. Anand Jagatia speaks to Dr Simon Turner from the Anthropocene Working Group, given the task of gathering evidence on whether it will become an official unit of geological time. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/20/202119 minutes, 59 seconds
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The reality behind NFTs

One-of-a-kind digital collectables, known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), have boomed in areas ranging from music, sport and art. As the focus is on digital artists to seize this opportunity to potentially make millions for their work, the Guardian’s technology correspondent, Alex Hern, talks to Shivani Dave about the pros and cons of this emerging technology. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/18/202120 minutes, 30 seconds
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Covid-19: what do we know about the variants first detected in India?

With restrictions in England due to be further relaxed on 17 May, new coronavirus variants first detected in India are spreading across the UK. Public Health England designated one, known as B.1.617.2, as a ‘variant of concern’ last week. It is now the second most common variant in the country. Anand Jagatia speaks to the Guardian science correspondent Nicola Davis and Prof Ravi Gupta about what we know and how concerned we should be. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/13/202122 minutes, 45 seconds
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Melting away: understanding the impact of disappearing glaciers

Prompted by an illness that took her to the brink of death and back, Jemma Wadham recalls 25 years of expeditions around the globe. Speaking to the professor about her new book, Ice Rivers, Shivani Dave uncovers the importance of glaciers – and what they should mean to us. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/11/202120 minutes, 45 seconds
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How has our thinking on the climate crisis changed?

When the Guardian began reporting on the climate crisis 70 years ago, people were worried that warmer temperatures would make it harder to complain about the weather. Today it is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. In the second special episode marking 200 years of the Guardian, Phoebe Weston is joined by Jonathan Watts, Prof Naomi Oreskes and Alice Bell to take a look at climate coverage over the years, how our understanding of the science has changed and how our attitudes and politics have shifted. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/6/202129 minutes, 21 seconds
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What can we learn from the 1918 flu pandemic? – podcast

On 22 June 1918, the Manchester Guardian reported that a flu epidemic was moving through the British Isles. It was noted to be ‘by any means a common form of influenza’. Eventually, it took the lives of more than 50 million people around the world. In a special episode to mark the Guardian’s 200th anniversary, Nicola Davis looks back on the 1918 flu pandemic and how it was reported at the time. Speaking to science journalist Laura Spinney, and ex-chief reporter at the Observer and science historian Dr Mark Honigsbaum, Nicola asks about the similarities and differences to our experiences with Covid-19, and what we can learn for future pandemics. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
5/5/202126 minutes, 54 seconds
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Unearthing the secret social lives of trees – podcast

Over her career, first as a forester and then as a professor of forest ecology, Suzanne Simard has been uncovering the hidden fungal networks that connect trees and allow them to send signals and share resources. Speaking to Suzanne about her new book, Finding the Mother Tree, Linda Geddes discovers how these underground webs allow plants to cooperate and communicate with each other. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/29/202121 minutes, 55 seconds
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Can we create a climate-resistant coffee in time? – podcast

Worldwide, we drink around 2bn cups of coffee every day. But as coffee plants come under pressure from the climate crisis, sustaining this habit will be increasingly challenging. Recently, a new study provided a glimmer of hope: a climate-resistant coffee plant just as tasty as arabica. Patrick Greenfield asks Dr Aaron Davis about his work tracking it down, and speaks to Dr Matthew Reynolds about developing climate-resistant crops. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/27/202123 minutes, 7 seconds
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Has the pandemic changed our sleep habits? – podcast

In the second of two episodes exploring our biological clocks, Linda Geddes speaks to Prof Till Roenneberg about how social restrictions during the pandemic have altered our sleep patterns and whether maintaining these changes could reduce social jetlag. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/22/202115 minutes, 58 seconds
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Why is it so bad being a night owl? – podcast

Do you like to get up and go as the sun rises, or do you prefer the quiet hush of the late evening? Many of us tend to see ourselves as being ‘morning larks’ or ‘night owls’, naturally falling into an early or late sleep schedule. These are known as our ‘chronotypes’. Studies have shown that those with later chronotypes are at risk of a range of negative health outcomes, from an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes to depression. In the first of two episodes exploring our biological clocks, Linda Geddes speaks to Prof Debra Skene and Dr Samuel Jones to find out why our internal timings differ, and why it seems worse to be a night owl. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/20/202120 minutes, 41 seconds
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Do humans respond differently to screams of pleasure and pain? – podcast

Why do we scream? Whilst past research has largely focused on using screams to signal danger and scare predators, humans scream in a much wider range of contexts – from crying out in pleasure to shrieking with grief. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Sascha Frühholz about his new study identifying what emotions humans communicate through screams, and how our brains react differently to distinct types of scream calls. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/15/202117 minutes, 13 seconds
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Covid-19: what’s going on with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

After mounting concern over reports of rare but serious blood clots in a small number of recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, last week the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that healthy adults under 30 should have an alternative jab if they can. To find out what’s behind the change in advice, Nicola Davis speaks to Dr Sue Pavord about what this rare clotting syndrome is, and asks Prof Adam Finn about how the JCVI made its decision. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/13/202125 minutes, 50 seconds
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Covid-19: how does it cause heart damage?

Cardiovascular problems aren’t just a risk factor for Covid-19, but can also be a complication of having the disease. A growing number of studies are showing that many of those who have been hospitalised for Covid-19, as well as people who managed the initial infection at home, are being left with heart injuries including inflammation, blood clots and abnormal heart rhythms. Nicola Davis speaks to Dr Betty Raman to find out how the virus damages organs outside the lungs, and what’s being done to help. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/8/202114 minutes, 4 seconds
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Why has the African elephant been split into two species?

Recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed the African elephant as two separate species – the forest elephant and savannah elephant. The move has increased these animals’ ‘red list’ categorisation to endangered for savannah elephants and critically endangered for forest elephants. In an Age of Extinction extra for Science Weekly, Patrick Greenfield asks why it has taken so long for these two species to be officially recognised as such, and what the reclassification could mean for their conservation. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/6/202122 minutes, 38 seconds
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Should we determine species through DNA? (part two)

In part two of The Age of Extinction takeover of Science Weekly, Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston explore a relatively new and controversial technology called DNA barcoding that is helping scientists to differentiate between species – including fungi, which we heard about in part one. As the catastrophic loss of biodiversity around the world continues, could DNA barcoding at least allow us to accurately record the species that are perishing?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
4/1/202126 minutes, 16 seconds
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Why is it hard to get our head around fungi? (part one)

Our colleagues from The age of extinction, Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield, are back with two new episodes. We often talk as if we know what species exist in the world – but we don’t. Could misclassifying the notoriously cryptic fungi have broader implications for what we know about the environment, and how we care for it?. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/30/202125 minutes, 37 seconds
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You can't bullshit a bullshitter, or can you?

In 2019, Ian Sample delved into the mind of a bullshitter, talking to psychologists about what prompts people to spout nonsense and gibberish. Recently, one of the researchers he spoke to, Shane Littrell, published a study asking – can you bullshit a bullshitter? Not being able to resist diving into the dark arts of BS once more, Ian Sample invited Shane back on the podcast to hear the answer and find out what it might tell us about the spread of misinformation. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/25/202119 minutes, 15 seconds
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Covid-19: what happens next?

On 23 March 2020, the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced the first lockdown in response to the growing number of cases of Covid-19. At the same time, countries around the world began to close their schools, restaurants, and offices and ask citizens to physically distance from one another. In the 12 months since, more than 2 million people have died, viral variants have emerged, and we have developed safe and effective vaccines. One year into the pandemic, Science Weekly is asking: what happens next? Ian Sample talks to the professors Martin Landray, Mike Tildesley, and Deborah Dunn-Walters about Covid treatments, vaccines and what the next 12 months may hold. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/23/202127 minutes, 40 seconds
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Carlo Rovelli on how to understand the quantum world (part 2)

From electrons behaving as both particles and waves to a cat in a box that’s both dead and alive, the consequences of quantum physics are decidedly weird. So strange, that over a century since its conception, scientists are still arguing about the best way to understand the theory. In the second of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss his ideas for explaining quantum physics, and what it means for our understanding of the world. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/18/202121 minutes, 41 seconds
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Carlo Rovelli on the weirdness of quantum mechanics (part one)

It has been over a century since the groundwork of quantum physics was first formulated and yet the strange consequences of the theory still elude both scientists and philosophers. Why does light sometimes behave as a wave, and other times like a particle? Why does the outcome of an experiment apparently depend on whether the particles are being observed or not? In the first of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss the strange consequences of quantum and the explanation he sets out in his new book, Helgoland. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/16/202122 minutes, 45 seconds
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How do you make a convincing deepfake video? – podcast

Last week videos of what appeared to be Tom Cruise at home and playing golf appeared on TikTok. It later emerged the clips were actually AI-generated by a creator of ‘deepfake’ videos. Deepfake videos depict situations that have never happened in the real world, and are becoming increasingly convincing. Alex Hern goes behind the scenes to find out exactly how such videos were made, and how far this technology has progressed. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/11/202124 minutes, 25 seconds
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What are we missing out on by not talking to strangers?

Social distancing measures mean most of us now have very little opportunity to talk to strangers and acquaintances. These chats might seem insignificant, but they can provide lots of psychological benefits. To find out more, Linda Geddes speaks to Gillian Sandstrom about what we’re currently missing out on. And, when told Gillian finds finishing a chat particularly hard, Linda gets in touch with the author of a recent paper asking why we find it so challenging to end a conversation. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/9/202129 minutes, 12 seconds
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Does how we think influence what we think?

What we believe is influenced by an array of factors, from our past experience to who our friends are. But a recent paper has now looked at what role how we think plays in sculpting our world-views. Natalie Grover speaks to lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod about the research evaluating the link between cognitive disposition – differences in how information is perceived and processed – and ideologies. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/4/202116 minutes, 56 seconds
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Covid-19: why are we feeling burnt out?

It’s getting towards a year since the UK first went into lockdown. That’s almost 12 months of home-schooling, staying in at the weekends, and not being able to see groups of friends and family in person. For many, the pandemic has also brought grief, loss of financial stability and isolation. So it should come as no surprise that lots of us are feeling emotionally exhausted, stressed and generally worn down. But why are we hitting the wall now? And what can we do about it? Ian Sample is joined again by Prof Carmine Pariante to discuss pandemic burnout and how to look after our mental health over the coming months. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
3/2/202117 minutes, 38 seconds
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A practical guide to tackling the climate crisis

The first UN climate change conference was held in 1995 in Berlin. More than two decades later, our planet remains on track for three degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The answer to avoiding this catastrophe is both simple and staggeringly complicated: drastically reducing and reversing the amount of carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere. How do we do this? Science correspondent Natalie Grover speaks to Prof Mike Berners-Lee, author of There is No Planet B, who has crunched the numbers on everything from carbon offsetting and green investments to e-bikes. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/25/202125 minutes, 4 seconds
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Did an ancient magnetic pole flip change life on Earth? – podcast

What would it be like if the Earth’s magnetic pole switched? Migrating animals and hikers would certainly need to reset their compasses, but could it play real havoc with life on Earth? Analysing the rings of an ancient tree pulled from a bog in New Zealand, researchers have been investigating what happened the last time north and south flipped – 42,000 years ago. Nicola Davis speaks to Prof Chris Turney about how it changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and, if combined with a period of lower solar activity, what impact this could have had on the environment and evolution. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/23/202127 minutes, 24 seconds
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Why do humans struggle to think of ourselves as animals?

The pandemic has demonstrated why humans are ultimately an impressive species. From monitoring the genetic evolution of Sars-CoV-2 to devising vaccines in record time, we have put our minds together to reduce the impact of Covid-19. Yet, the global spread of a new disease is a reminder that we are not invincible, and remain at the mercy of our biology and the natural world. Speaking to author Melanie Challenger about her new book How to Be Animal, Madeleine Finlay asks how we can come to terms with ourselves as animals and why it might do humanity some good. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/18/202123 minutes, 42 seconds
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Covid-19: why mix and match vaccines?

The Com-Cov trial run by the Oxford Vaccine Group in the UK will be testing the efficacy and safety of a ‘mix and match’ approach to immunisation. By giving some participants either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and a second dose of the other, the trial aims to find out if combining different jabs offers sufficient protection. Sarah Boseley speaks to Dr Peter English about where this technique has been used in the past, why it could be beneficial, and how mixing vaccines actually works. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/16/202110 minutes, 56 seconds
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Covid-19: love in lockdown

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and for many couples this year will feel very different. Lockdowns, social distancing, and self-isolation have forced those in relationships to choose whether to be together all the time, or stay apart for potentially months on end. Linda Geddes speaks to Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez about how couples have navigated their relationships during the pandemic. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/11/202116 minutes, 28 seconds
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What can the evolutionary history of turtles tell us about their future?

Turtles have been around for more than 200m years, and can be found almost everywhere on the planet. Yet, they are surprisingly uniform and many species around today are facing an uncertain future – at risk from trade, habitat destruction and the climate crisis. Looking at a new study investigating the evolutionary history of turtles, Age of Extinction reporter Phoebe Weston talks to Prof Bob Thomson about what his work can tell us about the factors shaping their diversity and how we can support turtles’ dwindling numbers. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/9/202115 minutes, 36 seconds
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From the archive: what's it like to live without smell?

For many people infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the first sign of contracting the disease is a loss of smell and taste; something we reported on last May. Studies have now shown that months later an unlucky minority will still be lacking these senses – while for others they may have returned somewhat distorted. While scientists try to fathom what exactly causes this and what treatments could help, we return to the archives to explore what it’s like to live without a sense of smell. The episode was part of a special series from the Guardian called Brain waves exploring the science and emotion of our everyday lives. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/4/202130 minutes, 44 seconds
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Covid-19: what can we learn from Manaus?

The rainforest city of Manaus in Brazil was the first in the country to be struck by the pandemic. The virus rapidly spread, and by October last year it was estimated that 76% of the population had been infected – a number higher than the theoretical threshold for herd immunity. Yet, in January 2021, cases surged and the health system was once again overwhelmed, with hospitals running out of oxygen and doctors and nurses required to carry out manual ventilation. To find out what might be behind this second wave, Sarah Boseley speaks to the Guardian’s Latin America editor, Tom Phillips, and Dr Deepti Gurdasani, asking why Manaus has been hit twice and what it might mean for our understanding of immunity, new viral variants, and the path through the pandemic. This podcast was amended on 2nd February 2021 to correct errors in the scripting. We incorrectly stated that the city of Manaus is situated only by the Amazon River, and that the Amazon River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
2/2/202118 minutes, 18 seconds