The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most excitin...
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Audio long read: These animals are racing towards extinction. A new home might be their last chance
Australia's swamp tortoise is one of the most endangered species in the world. This species lives in wetlands that are under threat due to rising temperatures and a reduction in rainfall.In an effort to save the tortoise, researchers are trialling a controversial strategy called assisted migration. This approach has seen captive-bred tortoises released in other wetlands some 330 kilometres south of where they are naturally found. The aim is to see whether the animals can tolerate cooler climates, and whether this new habitat might ensure the species’ future as the planet warms.While many conservation biologists and land managers have long resisted the idea of assisted migration, attitudes are changing and other projects are beginning to test whether it can protect protect animals at risk from climate change.This is an audio version of our Feature: These animals are racing towards extinction. A new home might be their last chance Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
This isn't the Nature Podcast — how deepfakes are distorting reality
In this episode:00:45 How to tackle AI deepfakesIt has long been possible to create deceptive images, videos or audio to entertain or mislead audiences. Now, with the rise of AI technologies, such manipulations have become easier than ever. These deepfakes can spread misinformation, defraud people, and damage economies. To tackle this, researchers and companies are developing tools to find and label deepfakes, in an attempt to rob them of their potential to wreak havoc.News Feature: How to stop AI deepfakes from sinking society — and science11:17 Research HighlightsUltra-accurate measurement of Earth’s day-length using lasers, and the insect that amputates its own legs to survive the cold.Research Highlight: How lasers detect day-length changes of a few millisecondsResearch Highlight: Snow-loving flies amputate their own legs for survival14:04 Stacked timbers might be evidence of ancient woodworkingAncient stone tools are well preserved in the archeological record, and are used by researchers to understand the lives of ancient hominins. But other materials like wood are less common, since they will only preserve under specific conditions. Now researchers have found a trove of wooden artefacts in Zambia dated to be around 476,000 old. In particular, stacked timbers from the site could be the earliest known wooden structure, perhaps implying that ancient hominins had a greater capacity for woodworking than previously thought.Research article: Barham et al.News & Views: Hominins built with wood 476,000 years agoNature News: These ancient whittled logs could be the earliest known wooden structure22:00 OSIRIS-REx brings haul of asteroid dust and rock back to EarthThis week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx successfully landed a capsule containing rocks and dust from the asteroid Bennu. We talk with reporter Alex Witze, who was on the ground in Utah when the samples landed, to find out what these ancient rocks could reveal about the origins of the Solar System.Nature News: Special delivery! Biggest-ever haul of asteroid dust and rock returns to EarthSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Why does cancer spread to the spine? Newly discovered stem cells might be the key
In this episode:00:45 A new insight into cancers' selective spreadCancer cells can spread to bones in the late stages of disease and in many cancers, cells actually preferentially metastasise to the spine. The reason for this has been a puzzle to researchers for years, but now a team has found a new kind of stem cell that may be involved in this process. The stem cell is found in mice and humans and could represent a clinical target in the treatment of cancer.Research article: Sun et al.News and Views: Stem cells provide clues to why vertebrae attract tumour cells09:55 Research HighlightsA preference for certain percussion instruments among palm cockatoos, and modelling where people wait on train platforms.Research Highlight: This parrot taps out beats — and it custom-builds its instrumentsResearch Highlight: The maths of how we wait in crowded places12:29 Briefing ChatThis time, a second trial shows the effectiveness of using MDMA to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and how an upgrade to an X-ray laser will let researchers make ultra-crisp ‘molecular movies’.Nature News: Psychedelic drug MDMA moves closer to US approval following success in PTSD trialNature News: World’s most powerful X-ray laser will ‘film’ chemical reactions in unprecedented detail Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
A mussel-inspired glue for more sustainable sticking
In this episode:00:46 A sustainably-sourced, super-strong adhesiveThe modern world is held together by adhesives, but these fossil-fuel derived materials come at an environmental cost. To overcome this, a team have developed a soya-oil based adhesive, which also takes inspiration from the proteins that marine animals like mussels use to stick firmly to rocks. The researchers say their glue is strong, reversible, and less carbon intensive to produce than existing adhesives.Research article: Westerman et al.07:43 Research HighlightsWhy chemicals derived from wood could be sustainable alternatives to a common plastic building block, and how historical accounts helped researchers estimate the brightness of a 1859 solar flare.Research Highlight: Wood component yields useful plastics — without the health risksResearch Highlight: A historic solar flare’s huge intensity is revealed by new tools10:08 New insights into childhood stunting and wastingAround the world, millions of children are affected by malnutrition, which can result in stunting or wasting, both associated with serious health issues. Despite a widespread recognition of the seriousness of stunting and wasting, there are still questions about their extent, causes and consequences. To answer these, a team have pooled data from previous studies, and show that nutritional interventions targeting the earliest years of life could have the greatest impact.Research article: Benjamin-Chung et al.Research article: Mertens et al.Research article: Mertens et al.Nature Collection: Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals20:29 Briefing ChatThis time, what rejoining the Horizon Europe research-funding programme means for UK research, and the 1.4-million-year-old stone balls that are mystifying scientists.Nature News: Scientists celebrate as UK rejoins Horizon Europe research programmeScience: Were these stone balls made by ancient human relatives trying to perfect the sphere?Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Our ancestors lost nearly 99% of their population, 900,000 years ago
In this episode:00:30 Early humans pushed to brink of extinctionAround 900,000 years ago the ancestors of modern humans were pushed to the brink of extinction, according to new research. Genetic studies suggest that the breeding population of our ancestors in Africa dropped to just 1,280 and didn’t expand again for another 117,000 years. This population crash would likely have had an impact on human genetic diversity, and may have driven the evolution of important features of modern humans, such as brain size.Nature News: Human ancestors nearly went extinct 900,000 years ago3:49 The pollution legacy of Antarctica’s research stationsPoor historical waste practices have left high levels of pollution around Antartica’s research facilities. By surveying the seafloor near Australia’s Casey research station, researchers have revealed high concentrations of hydrocarbons and heavy metals.This pollution is likely to be widespread, but its impact on the continent is unknown.Nature News: Antarctic research stations have polluted a pristine wilderness07:43 Melting sea-ice causes catastrophic penguin breeding failurePersistently low levels of sea-ice around Antarctica have caused emperor penguins to abandon their breeding colonies early, resulting in the death of large numbers of chicks. Although the affected populations only represent a small number of the total emperor penguins on the continent, it’s unclear how they’ll fare if trends in sea-ice melt continue.Science: Emperor penguins abandon breeding grounds as ice melts around them09:23 The AI trained to describe smellsResearchers have developed an artificial-intelligence that can describe how compounds smell by analysing their molecular structures. The system’s description of scents are often similar to those of trained human sniffers, and may have applications in the food and perfume industries. Currently the AI works on individual molecules, and is unable to identify the smells associated with complex combinations of molecules, something humans noses do with ease.Nature: AI predicts chemicals’ smells from their structuresSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of the Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and provide in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.