Science On Top
The Australian Podcast putting Science on Top of the agenda

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Ed and Lucas caught up with Katie to discuss the universe, travel, social media, and her new job at North Carolina State University. Katie's Twitter handle is @AstroKatie and her website is astrokatie.com. She also writes for Cosmos Magazine.

Direct download: SoT_Special_024_Katie_Mack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29am AEDT

Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator. She has written books on skepticism, crocodiles and spiders; and her latest book The Memory Code examines the traditional memory techniques of non-literate peoples. Her theory on the purpose of the Stonehenge megalithic, which she believes served as a center for the transmission of knowledge among Neolithic Britons, is rapidly gaining recognition among anthropologists. Ed, Penny and Lucas caught up with Lynne to talk all things memory.

Direct download: SoT_Special_022_Lynne_Kelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller

00:01:00 Surprisingly, a lot of plants in the tropics tend to have large leaves. A team of scientists at Macquarie University in Sydney may have worked out why: and it's a balancing act.

00:08:42 After 13 years, the Cassini mission is coming to a fiery end. It's been one of NASA's most successful - and beautiful - missions.

00:19:36 Data from the Juno spacecraft finds that Jupiter's powerful auroras aren't powered the same way that Earth's are.

00:30:28 Coffee County Soil Conservation District, in Tennessee, has found a new use for new underwear: testing soil. The degradation of the cotton underwear illustrates the abundance or shortage of microbes in the soil.

 

This episode contains traces of "NASA's Cassini Spacecraft: A Journey's End" video produced by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Direct download: Sot_0277_Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:33am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:06 Another plate tectonics mystery could be solved: how thick is a continental plate? According to a study published in the journal Science, pretty thick - between 130 and 190km!

00:10:57 Mars' "bow shock" - where charged particles from the Sun interact with the red planet's atmosphere - has been studied by a team of European scientists. They found that the bow shock's location changes over several Martian years, for a variety of reasons.

00:14:43 Artificial organs don't have to be full sized and they don't have to be for transplants. Researchers around the world are building "mini-organs" - sometimes as small as a pencil point - for everything from neurological research to medication and drug tests.

00:35:37 A Saturn-like ringed planet, orbiting close to the star and at a sharp angle, could explain the strange dimming and brightening pattern of "Tabby's Star", according to a new theory proposed by a team at the University of Antioquia.

 

This episode contains traces of Elon Musk frankly discussing the challenges of the upcomning Falcon Heavy rocket launch.

Direct download: SoT_0276.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:12 Four years after a groundbreaking peanut-allergy study, researchers in Melbourne have followed up on the original patients. The results are promising, and could lead to a potential cure for one of the most common - and deadly - allergies.

00:16:59 A new study has discovered 91 new volcanoes beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, making it one of the densest clusters of volcanoes in the world.

00:22:21 After more than a hundred years, a fruitcake from the famous Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole has been found in Antarctica's old building. And it's definitely probably maybe edible...

 

This episode contains traces of Fox News Channel host Shepard Smith being underwhelmed by the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Direct download: SoT_0275.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:21 The largest dinosaur ever discovered, found in Argentina in 2013, is now officially known as the Patagotitan mayorum.

00:11:35 An amazingly well preserved dinosaur fossil found by Canadian miners is already giving lots of information about skin pigmentation, camouflage and even its last meal. Also it looks like a wingless dragon.

00:17:16 We're all made of star stuff, but not necessarily local star stuff. A new study based on supercomputer simulations shows that up to half of the atoms in our bodies came from galaxies outside our own.

00:23:49 How bees fly has long been considered a mystery to science. But now a mathematical analysis suggests their wings can maintain a higher angle of attack without stalling, thanks to leading edge vortices generated in front of the wings.

 

This episode contains traces of the Today Show hosts discussing a 9-year old boy's letter to NASA.

Direct download: SoT_0274.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:15 Just weeks after the really big iceberg split from the Antarctic ice shelf, a new rift has formed. And the giant iceberg has already begun breaking up.

00:07:14 A new study into the migration of early humans to Australia dates their arrival back to 65,000 years ago. And it also finds they were more sophisticated in their use of tools than we previously thought.

00:15:06 Rare fossilised footprints of Tasmanian tigers and devils, as well as those of giant megafauna and flightless birds, have been discovered on Kangaroo Island, in South Australia. The footprints date back as far as 200,000 years ago.

 

This episode contains a brief exchange between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. The interview went downhill very quickly.

Direct download: Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm AEDT

00:03:41 An enormous iceberg breaks off from Antarctica. But did climate change cause it, like many news outlets claimed?

00:13:34 Plants don't turn caterpillars into cannibals. But hungry caterpillars will turn cannibal if the plant doesn't taste nice.

00:21:53 Gene modification tool CRISPR has been used to encode an animated gif in the genes of live bacteria. DNA could be the digital storage device of the future!

00:34:03 Ravens are smart - they can use tools, and solve puzzles - and they may even be able to plan for the future.

 

This episode contains traces of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Mars 2020 Project Scientist Ken Farley during a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Space Subcommittee.

Direct download: SoT_0272.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:46pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:03 The Ancient Romans built sea walls with concrete that is still standing in many places today. What made their concrete so much stronger than modern concrete?

00:08:24 The chances of finding life on Mars grew even slimmer after a study found chemicals in the Martian soil are highly toxic.

00:15:54 Animals that use tools aren't uncommon, and neither are animals that make sounds to attract mates. But the Palm cockatoo could be the first non-human animal to do both - they use tools to make music.

00:28:47 In 1977 the Voyager spacecraft were launched carrying the Golden Records - gold-plated copper records containing images, sounds and music from Earth. And in one small segment of the record there's the sound of a man laughing. Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic wrote about her intensive investigation to track down who that man was and why his laughter is on a billion-year time capsule.

 

This episode contains traces of Al Gore talking about climate change on Triple J radio's Hack.

Direct download: SoT_0271.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Sean Elliott

00:00:48 Sean talks about his Roughbot project, a programmable robot kit that introduces students to coding and robotics.

00:04:47 Every year, 1.2 million blue wildebeest migrate across East Africa, accompanied by around 200,000 zebra and antelope. At one point in their mass migration, however, they have to cross the mighty Mara River. Those that don't survive the crossing end up being crucial to the surrounding ecosystem.

00:11:13 Chinese researchers have for the first time ever sent entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth. This record-breaking achievement could be the first step of a revolution in communications and encryption.

00:23:49 Scientists in Uganda have noticed that the hunting behaviour of chimpanzees has changed since humans began studying them.

00:34:17 Two researchers from Princeton and Harvard universities have come up with a theory to explain the different shapes of eggs from different bird species. It's all about aerodynamics!

 

This episode contains traces of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking to senior US Navy officials about climate change.

Direct download: SoT_0270.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04pm AEDT