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Keep up with the latest scientific developments and breakthroughs in this award winning weekly podcast from the team at New Scientist, the world’s most popular weekly science and technology magazine. Each discussion centers around three of the most fascinating stories to hit the headlines each week. From technology, to space, health and the environment, we share all the information you need to keep pace. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
 
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The world’s first CRISPR babies are now toddlers. Now, nearly four years since the super-controversial experiment was announced, scientists in China want to set up a healthcare institute specifically to look after the three children. The team examines the ethics of it all. Humans thrive at particular temperatures, and that’s why we live where we li…
 
If you like things orderly, we have bad news for you - our universe is lopsided. Based on everything we know about gravity and the early universe, we’d expect galaxies to be distributed symmetrically - but they’re not. Something spooky’s going on, and the team searches for answers. The activity of the Sun may be affecting our heart health. Sometime…
 
How will we know when we’ve made a truly sentient artificial intelligence? Well, one Google engineer believes we’re already there. The team discusses the story of Google’s very clever AI called LaMDA, and ask another chatbot, GPT3, what it would think if LaMDA was destroyed. Did you know stars have ‘earthquakes’ too? These starquakes have been spot…
 
While it may be technically possible to keep global heating to 1.5°C it’s really not very likely - at all. So why are we clinging to it? The team asks, when do we admit that 1.5°C is dead, and what will it mean when we do? NASA is about to launch its CAPSTONE spacecraft into lunar orbit, paving the way for its lunar space station. As a precursor to…
 
Synthetic cell membranes have been fused with protein machinery from living cells to create an artificial membrane. Could this be a precursor to the creation of artificial life? The team discusses its potential and limitations. Babies with severe genetic conditions are being cured by new gene replacement therapies, allowing them to overcome fatal d…
 
DeepMind’s new artificial intelligence, Gato, is a step beyond anything we’ve seen before. But how close has it brought us to the coveted goal of creating ‘artificial general intelligence’? The team unpacks just how powerful this technology really is, and what it means for the future of machine consciousness. You can learn a lot from poop. In an ar…
 
We’re in the middle of a global food crisis, brought on by a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine. As food prices rise and the world faces “hunger on an unprecedented scale”, the team looks for solutions. The health of an ecosystem can be measured through sound alone. The team discusses a new field of study…
 
It feels like temperature records are being broken almost daily. We’ve seen heatwaves already this year in Texas and Mexico, with forecast highs of 50oC set to hit Pakistan and India. As we edge closer to breaking 1.5 degrees of global warming in the next 5 years, Rowan speaks to climate scientist Vikki Thompson from the University of Bristol, to f…
 
Women’s abortion rights are under threat in the US. Leaked documents suggest the Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision that protects the right to abortion. The team discusses the dramatic impact this move could have on women’s health. Eating microbes could save the world. The team examines a new study which f…
 
Could life on Earth have an extraterrestrial origin? The team revisits this ancient theory as we’ve now found all four of the key building blocks of DNA on meteorites that are older than our planet. There may be a warning signal in our brains that helps us keep out unwanted thoughts. The team hears about the fascinating word-pairing method research…
 
What is consciousness? We’ve discussed many theories on the podcast, but in this episode the team explores a particularly bonkers one. Experiments with anaesthetics have hinted that something might be going on at the quantum level with microtubules in the brain. But is this finding enough? Ever wondered what a rainbow sounds like? Or perhaps what s…
 
Two teams are developing messages to send into space, in the hope that some advanced alien civilization will be able to pick them up. While METI is sending music, Beacon in the Galaxy is sending more complex information, like Earth’s location - which as the team explains is rather controversial… Acne is usually treated using antibiotics, but as the…
 
The latest major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out, and the message is clear. Time is running out to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. The report outlines the many ways we can make emissions cuts, one of which is through litigation. Hear from one of the report’s authors, Joana Setzer, who explores the growing …
 
A world-first gene therapy has been used to successfully treat a rare genetic skin disease. Referred to as “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”, the condition makes everyday living an ordeal. The team finds out how this new treatment works. Astronomers have detected a star more than 27 billion light years away - the most distant individual sta…
 
Extreme weather events have been recorded at both of Earth’s polar regions, as the Arctic and Antarctic are hit by major heat waves. To put this into context, Rowan speaks with climate scientist and Hot Air author Peter Stott. How did octopuses get to be so clever? Their intelligence is unusual for an invertebrate, so researchers have been trying t…
 
As 10 percent of the world’s wheat comes from Ukraine, Russia’s attack on the country could spark global food shortages. But the team discuss a simple solution to the problem that could have knock-on benefits for climate and biodiversity. In vampire news, the team explains how we may have found the secret ingredient in young blood that causes it to…
 
The war in Ukraine has sparked an energy crisis, as European countries attempt to cut ties with Russia. The team discusses what this means for the future of energy production and how it may speed up our pivot to renewable energy. They also explore the growing concerns at various nuclear sites in Ukraine, as some have been seized by the Russians, wh…
 
As the war in Ukraine intensifies, Vladimir Putin raised Russia’s nuclear readiness level. The team discusses what this means about the likelihood of nuclear war. They also explore the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is out, and it focuses on impacts, adaptation and vulnerabi…
 
Russia has begun its invasion of Ukraine, a move which will have far reaching consequences. The team discusses two of those - the first being western Europe’s reliance on oil and gas from Russia, and the knock-on effect on climate targets. The second is the threat of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine, which could cause huge disruption to internet and…
 
Children with some of the most aggressive forms of cancer are being saved by a personalised medicine treatment programme in Australia. The Zero Childhood Cancer Program has saved more than 150 children who would’ve otherwise died. The team shares a moving interview with one of the parents. Lichens evolve even more slowly than you might think. The t…
 
Three men paralysed from the waist down have regained their ability to walk. They’re the subjects of a breakthrough operation which involves implanting electrodes in the spine. The team explains how the method works. Astronomers have detected an isolated black hole for the first time ever. Despite being 5000 light years away and incredibly difficul…
 
The quest for a longer life continues - raising the question of whether we can escape death. The team discusses a rare gene variant that may explain why centenarians live so long - and how we might be able to use it to create age-defying drugs. The team explores a theory that suggests gravitational waves may be the thing that finally helps us detec…
 
Covid-19 can have profound consequences for the brain, and now we’re beginning to understand why. The team explains how the virus causes issues from strokes to muscle-weakness and brain-fog. We have names for all of Earth’s geological phases, and right now we’re in the Anthropocene… or are we? The epoch hasn’t actually been officially named, but th…
 
We’re being told we have to “learn to live with covid”, but what exactly does that mean? In this episode the team discusses how we live with flu and the measures we’ll need to take to prevent wave upon wave of covid-19 infections and deaths. There’s been a massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that’s caused widespread damage, and the team examines the…
 
David Bennett has become the first person in history to have a pig to human heart transplant. Scientists have edited several genes to make this possible. On the pod, the team say that if it proves successful longer term, it could be a game-changer for medicine. In cetacean news, have you ever wondered why dolphins have so much sex? Patricia Brennan…
 
In this special episode the team looks ahead to the next 12 months, sharing the science and cultural events they’re most looking forward to in 2022. Highlights include the launch into orbit of SpaceX’s Starship, the opening of a new Stonehenge exhibition at The British Museum, the TV adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s novel ‘Life After Life’, and an inn…
 
What a year 2021 has been. For our final podcast of the year, we’re signing off with a party and quiz. And as this is a Christmas special, this quiz delivers a sleigh-full of optimism, starting with a look at the ‘funniest science story of the year’. Other categories include ‘the story that made you feel small’, ‘life form of the year’, ‘hero of th…
 
In a step towards creating intelligent cyborg brains, Cortical Labs in Melbourne have trained lab-grown brain organoids to play a classic 1970s video game. The team explains how the brain cells live in a Matrix-like, simulated world, where all they know is Pong. And there’s more AI news, as the team digs into DeepMind’s invention of a ‘search engin…
 
Omicron is spreading quickly and once again we’re facing another wave of infections and restrictions over the holiday period. The team says although it’s early days, we’re beginning to get a handle on why this covid-19 variant is so good at dodging immunity, and they unpack ‘misleading’ reports that it causes milder infections. Climate journalist E…
 
Omicron, a new covid-19 variant of concern, has become the most common variant in South Africa and is spreading fast. The team examines fears that it may be more transmissible than the delta variant, and better at evading vaccines and immunity. Following research of 5000-year-old beer jars, the team finds out that Ancient Egyptians used to eat (or …
 
Where did covid-19 really come from? Well, the team explains why the wet market in Wuhan is back on top as the most likely place of origin. They also look ahead to the future of the pandemic, as the delta variant continues to run rampant across the globe. In eyesight news, forget carrots - if you want to improve your vision all you need (maybe) is …
 
The race for quantum supremacy continues, with IBM setting a new benchmark for processing power. But the new supercomputer hasn’t actually demonstrated its capabilities just yet - so will it really beat its competitors? The team shares the latest. They also report on Russia’s ‘dangerous’ anti-satellite weapon test, which sent fragments of satellite…
 
Young climate activists from nations bearing the brunt of climate change speak out. In this COP26 special, hear the moving and impassioned words of the young voices representing the plight of the Global South, as they demand action and reparations. As the climate summit comes to an end, the team in Glasgow reflect on their experiences of the event,…
 
It’s the most consequential climate meeting in a generation. COP26 is underway and we’re bringing you special episodes of the podcast featuring in-depth analysis and interviews. Reporter Graham Lawton is in Glasgow and shares his experiences of the event, discussing positive news about “game-changing” pledges to cut methane emissions. There have be…
 
The Earth could be heading for disaster. In the lead up to COP26 the team discusses The Emissions Gap, a new UN report which has found that even if countries around the world stick to their emissions pledges, the planet will still warm by 2.7°C, which would be catastrophic. Legendary sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson makes an appearance, discussin…
 
In rare cases children can be born without an immune system, and sadly their chances are very bad. Fortunately the team brings news of a life-saving implant which has now been approved for use in the US. If you’re thinking of seeing the new film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic novel Dune, you’ll want to hear the insights of ecosystem professor Y…
 
Breadfruit could help us weather the storm of climate change. The team hears how the tropical fruit is tough enough to survive Earth’s warming temperatures and could even replace staple crops like wheat in the future. The team finds out why children living below the poverty line experience a raft of health issues, as new research examines the mecha…
 
The team opens with the welcome news that after 37 years of development, the world’s first malaria vaccine has been approved. They then hear from Swedish author Andreas Malm, who argues that the climate movement needs to get more militant. He says the likes of Extinction Rebellion have 'peace-washed' historical accounts of protest movements, and, c…
 
CRISPR gene-edited food has gone on sale commercially for the first time. The team finds out about this ‘super tomato’ which has been created by a startup in Japan. Have you ever wondered why leaves change colour in the autumn? The team discusses an evolutionary explanation suggesting that leaf colour is a signal. Following Greta Thunberg’s latest …
 
Imagine going your whole life without being able to smell - and then suddenly you can. The team tells the amazing story of a woman who first gained the ability to smell aged 24 - a case which has scientists baffled. Efforts to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises need to be unified. We hear from Nathalie Pettorelli of the Zoological Society o…
 
In some parts of the world, taking a stand for the planet can be incredibly dangerous. This week we hear from Laura Furones, of the campaign group Global Witness, on the finding that 227 environment activists were murdered in 2020. She explains why this is happening and what needs to be done to protect these people. In de-extinction news, $15 milli…
 
Great news for the more flatulent among us - breaking wind is a sign of good gut bacterial health. The team discusses a slightly unsavoury experiment in which men weighed their poos, stored them in freezers, and even had their farts measured… all in the name of science. The team also questions the wisdom of rolling out covid-19 booster jabs. Some c…
 
A bold move from the world’s largest shipping company could have big implications for the planet . Maersk has bought ships which can run on both traditional fuel and methanol. This alternative fuel, the team explains, could drastically reduce shipping’s contribution to global CO2 emissions. Neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory…
 
Equipment from a massive biometrics programme in Afghanistan has been seized by the Taliban. From police and election commission programmes, they “have everything” according to one expert. The team explores the potential dangers caused by the Taliban’s access to this equipment. They also discuss the past and future of artificial intelligence with a…
 
Recreating the power of the sun, the dream of nuclear fusion - it’s a dream we’re inching ever closer to. A new breakthrough at a lab in the US has the team excited, and they catch up with Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies at Imperial College London, to get the latest. The team then see how evolution has prove…
 
A lead author of the latest IPCC climate report, Tamsin Edwards, joins the team for a special episode of the podcast. News headlines have left many concerned, and with more questions than ever, so the team devotes a large chunk of the show to unpacking the findings of the report, and emphasising hope and action over doom and gloom. Linked to the is…
 
As severe weather events around the world give us a very real taste of the devastating effects of climate change, we’re also getting a better understanding of what the future holds for our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its big report on the physical basis of climate change next week - the team previews what’s to com…
 
More than a week since England lifted its covid restrictions, infection numbers in the UK are very high. The team examines how the country has set up the perfect circumstances for the evolution of “escape variants” - forms of the virus that may be able to evade our immune systems and vaccines. The team also learns of the discovery of the earliest f…
 
Freedom day arrived in England this week, as the country dropped most covid restrictions. But as cases continue to rise and many people, children included, remain unvaccinated, the team discuss why hundreds of experts are calling the move an ‘unethical experiment’. High levels of methane have been detected on Mars by the Curiosity rover, which coul…
 
Race-based medical practises are being challenged more and more, as it becomes increasingly clear they have little basis in science. The team finds out why adjustments for race and ethnicity are still being made in medicine, despite the potential harm and healthcare implications they cause. It’s been a massive week for the future of space tourism -…
 
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