Podcasts for the insatiably curious by the world’s most popular weekly science magazine. Everything from the latest science and technology news to the big-pictu...
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CultureLab: Real Life Supervillains - John Scalzi on the science of volcano lairs and sentient dolphin minions
You’re in the volcano lair of an evil supervillain, hellbent on taking over the world. In anger, he hurls one of his minions into the molten lava bubbling beneath them, as the unfortunate lacky swiftly sinks into the river of molten rock. If you’ve ever watched a James Bond-esque film, you’ll be able to picture the scene. The problem is - the science doesn’t stack up.John Scalzi is an American science fiction author, and in his new book ‘Starter Villain’ he injects a dose of realism into many classic tropes about villains, humorously poking holes in some of the flaws of logic we see on TV - including their penchant for volcano lairs. They’re still useful, just maybe not in the way you’d think. The novel follows the journey of Charlie, who is unwittingly thrust into the dangerous world of supervillains, forced to take up his late uncle’s mantle.In this episode of CultureLab, Christie Taylor asks Scalzi what an evil mastermind would actually look like in the real world, why the genetically engineered dolphins in his book are such jerks and how he gets away with leaving some of the science unexplained.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Weekly: Science that makes you laugh (and think); black holes behaving badly; drumming cockatoos
#215A smart toilet with a camera inside that analyses your poop, plus a study of people who are fluent in speaking backwards – these are just two recipients of this year’s Ig Nobel prize. As the satirical sister to the Nobel prize, the Ig Nobels honour scientific achievements that make people laugh…then think. Prize founder Marc Abrahams on this year’s hilarious winners - and why even robots made from reanimating dead spiders can have a more serious side.As the winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, updated versions of the covid-19 vaccine are being rolled out in many countries. Should you be lining up for your next booster? And a sneak peak at a new, more effective twist on Moderna’s mRNA vaccines.Meanwhile, in the early universe, the James Webb Space Telescope has spotted ancient supermassive black holes that are much larger, relative to their galaxies, than we see in younger galaxies. A tantalising finding for astronomers who believe these anomalies could be evidence of a new kind of black hole. And did you know that palm cockatoos are totally rock ’n’ roll? Not only do they drum, but they even craft their own drumsticks. Find out about their unique musical abilities, and what this says about their intelligence.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Marc Abrahams, Michael Le Page, Alex Wilkins and Chen Ly. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Dead Planets Society #5: The Return of Pluto
Join Leah and Chelsea as they belatedly mourn the loss of Pluto as a planet. Back in 2006, Pluto was demoted to “dwarf planet”, sparking widespread outrage… a decision the team is still determined to reverse.Special guests are Kathryn Volk of the University of Arizona and Konstantin Batygin of the California Institute of Technology, who discuss several approaches to boosting Pluto’s status, from helping it pack on the pounds, to dragging it into the inner solar system, to sabotaging one of its neighbours…Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt to destroying the sun – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.Your hosts are Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte.If you have a cosmic object you’d like to figure out how to destroy, email the team at [email protected]. It may just feature in a later episode… And if you just want to chat about this episode or wrecking the cosmos more generally, tweet @chelswhyte and @downhereonearth. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Weekly: New type of brain cell; Alaska’s first bridge over a moving glacier; quantum batteries that never age
#214A multi-talented brain cell has been discovered – and it’s a hybrid of the two we already know about, neurons and glia. These glutamatergic astrocytes could provide insights into our brain health and function, and even enable treatments for conditions like Parkinsons.Building a bridge over a moving glacier is no mean feat. But rising global temperatures have thawed the permafrost in Denali National Park in Alaska, causing its only access road to sink. A bridge may be the only way to continue access to the park’s beautiful wilderness. Rather than waiting around for hours for your electric car to charge, imagine doing it near instantaneously. That’s the promise of quantum batteries. Although we’re not quite at that stage yet, researchers may have found a way to make quantum batteries that charge wirelessly and last forever.Could the armies of ancient China owe their success to their… shoes? Researchers have been studying the feet of The Terracotta Army, a massive collection of statues that depict the armies of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Humans and other great apes have incredibly flexible shoulder and elbow joints. Unusually, this is not a trait shared by our monkey cousins. Why the difference? And what are the pros and cons of this extra mobility?Plus: How to grow human kidneys in pigs without making pig-human hybrids and the mystery of a super-bright space explosion.Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss all of this with guests Alec Luhn, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Chen Ly and Sam Wong. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.Events and Links:New Scientist Live tickets Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
CultureLab: The weird ways animals sense the world – Ed Yong on his book An Immense World
Whether it’s the hidden colours of ultraviolet that bees can see, the complex rhythms and tones of birdsong that we’re unable to hear, or the way a dog can smell the past in incredible detail, the way humans experience the world is not the only way.Every animal has its own ‘umwelt’ – a unique sensory experience that allows it to perceive the world differently. As humans we can barely begin to understand what the world looks like to many of the other creatures that inhabit the Earth. But author Ed Yong is helping to paint a picture…In this episode of CultureLab, Christie Taylor speaks to Ed about the paperback release of his book An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, which looks at more than 100 different species and explores the amazing ways their sensory worlds are shaped by light, sound, vibrations, heat and even electrical charge.To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Podcasts for the insatiably curious by the world’s most popular weekly science magazine. Everything from the latest science and technology news to the big-picture questions about life, the universe and what it means to be human.For more visit newscientist.com/podcasts Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.