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

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

00:01:03 Stromatolites - rocky mounds made of bacterial colonies - have been around for at least 3.5 billion years. But the rise of multicellular life wiped them out except for in a few salty marine locations. Now researchers have discovered some in a remote freshwater wetland in Tasmania.

00:06:51 You wouldn't think it would matter if you were injured in the daytime or at night - but it does. Wounds inflicted during the day can heal nearly twice as fast.

00:11:14 What if the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs had struck the Earth somewhere different? It may be that if it had impacted nearly anywhere else on the planet the dinosaurs may have survived.

00:16:14 The fungus that invades ants and controls them while it kills them is pretty horrific. But it's even worse than we thought - the ants are aware and conscious the whole time, while their limbs are being controlled by the fungus!

 

This episode contains traces of Virtual Field Trips' explanation on how stromatolites got their name.

Direct download: SoT_0283.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shyane Joseph, Penny Dumsday.

00:01:08 A 7-year-old boy's life is saved from a rare skin disease after researchers genetically modify and grow his skin in a lab.

00:07:25 The widespread use of penicillin may been a factor in the very early development of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

00:15:06 A new study suggests that while cold blooded dinosaurs ruled the daytime, mammals evolved to be nocturnal. And when the dinosaurs were wiped out, many mammals switched back to diurnal life.

00:19:21 NASA scientists say the giant hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, and is now the smallest it's ever been since 1988.

00:24:15 Eleven papers have been published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases and presented at the recent scientific meeting revealing the scale and damage caused by streptococcus infections. The authors have called for an acceleration in the development of a streptococcus vaccine.

 

This episode contains traces of protestors crashing a side event at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP 23. The US sent only a small delegation of low-level Whitehouse staffers and representatives from fossil fuel and nuclear power organisations to speak on a panel. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg observed that “promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”

 

Direct download: SoT_0282.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:51 A strange rock hurtling through space turns out to be the first known detection of a visitor from another solar system! By which we mean: not aliens.

00:15:08 Lentils might not sound like exciting archaeological discovery, but a find at the prehistoric site of Gurga Chiya in Iraqi Kurdistan could provide clues about the formation of permanent settlements and the development of social stratification.

00:22:45 Using muon-scanning technology, particle physicists have discovered a hidden void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. But - surprise! - that's not as unusual or revolutionary as much of the media breathlessly reported.

 

This episode contains traces of archaeologist Zahi Hawass criticising the Great Pyramid void discovery on RT America.

Direct download: SoT_0281.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Mick Vagg.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from cats in jars to disgusting cheese!

You can watch the award ceremony here.

00:01:30 The Physics Prize was awarded to French scientist Marc-Antoine Fardin, "for using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

00:06:20 The Peace Prize went to four doctors and one patient from Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands and the USA "for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring".

00:10:19 The Economics Prize was presented to Australian Nancy Greer and American Matthew Rockloff "for their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble".

00:17:56 The Anatomy Prize was won by James Heathcote from the UK, for his medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?"

00:20:59 The Biology Prize went to two scientists from Japan, one from Brazil, and one from Switzerland "for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect".

00:25:27 The Fluid Dynamics Prize was awarded to South Korean Jiwon Han, "for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee".

00:29:53 The Nutrition Prize was presented to three scientists from Brazil, Canada, and Spain "for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat".

00:34:46 The Medicine Prize went to five scientists from France and the UK "for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese".

00:40:40 The Cognition Prize was awarded to four psychologists from Italy, Spain, and the UK "for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually".

00:45:00 The Obstetrics Prize went to a team from Spain "for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly".

 

Direct download: SoT_0280.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall.

00:01:11 A fifth gravitational wave detection in just two years confirms the dawn of a new era in astronomy. And this one was not only caused by two neutron stars coliding, it was accompanied by gamma ray detections, gave us more clues to the size of the universe, and a better understanding of how gold is formed.

00:17:00 Bacteria inside cancer cells can weaken or destroy some chemotherapy drugs, rendering them useless. But antibiotics aren't necessarily the answer.

00:27:53 A quarter of cow DNA originally came from reptiles, thanks to retrotransposons - genes that jump from species to species.

 

This episode contains traces of Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, host of "Kennedy" on Fox Business Network, discussing the gravitational wave discovery with physicist Dr. Michio Kaku.

Direct download: SoT_0279.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:39am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:51 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm".

00:08:40 The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".

00:14:52 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".

00:20:18 They don't have brains, but jellyfish still seem to sleep. Three Caltech students studied jellyfish slumber and found it to be similar, but not the same, as human sleep.

00:28:58 Two separate teams have made the first detections of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space. This is not Dark Matter, but baryonic matter.

00:35:00 The kakapo is the world's largest flightless parrot, and it's critically endangered. But a conservation program aims to sequence the genome of every surviving kakapo, gathering considerably more data on the iconic New Zealand native.

 

This episode contains traces of a rare kakapo parrot meeting zoologist Mark Carwardine.

 

Direct download: SoT_0278.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47am AEDT

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