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

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look atthis year’s winners: from dung beetles to penis amputations!

MEDICINE PRIZE
A team of scientists from Japan, China and the UK for assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice.
Classical music affects heart transplants

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE
Scientists from France, the USA, UK, The Netherlands, and Poland for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.
“Beauty in the eyes of the beer holder” – people who think they’re drunk, think they’re hot

JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY
A team from Australia, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and the UK for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.
Dung Beetles Watch the Galaxy (That’s How They Roll)

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE
Americans Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl, for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.
Missing morsels – chewing over the results of eating a shrew

SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE
The late Gustano Pizzo for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.
IgNobels, 2013: The Safety Engineering Prize!

PHYSICS PRIZE
Scientists from Italy, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, and France for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.
Could humans run on water?

CHEMISTRY PRIZE
A team of Japanese scientists for for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realised.
GM could hold back the tears

PEACE PRIZE
Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.
What is the sound of one hand clapping?

PROBABILITY PRIZE
Scientists from the UK, the Netherlands and Canada for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.
Why do cows have their ups and downs?

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE
Seven doctors in Thailand for the medical techniques described in their report “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam” — techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.
Reattachment of the penis. Unless it was first eaten by a duck.

Direct download: SoT_0118.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34pm AEST

On Friday 13 September 2013, Dr. Pamela Gay gave a talk at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia about CosmoQuest.org and the need for citizen science. There were also some questions about black holes and supernovae.

Our thanks to Swinburne University for hosting this lecture, and our apologies for the audio quality.

Direct download: SoT_Special_010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10pm AEST

Fish expert Phil Kent joins us to talk more about the pacu, the alleged testicle-eating fish allegedly found off the alleged coast of Denmark.

University of Washington researchers have sent a signal from one scientist's brain over the internet to control the hand motions of another researcher. The NSA is paying close attention.

NASA has discovered one of the largest canyons in the world underneath the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland. The ice sheet is 3km thick in some parts, and scientists are surprised it hasn't worn away the canyon that was carved out four million years ago.

The conventional understanding that babies are born sterile is being overturned in the face of growing evidence that mothers 'seed' their fetuses with bacteria from early on in the pregnancy.

Babies can learn words while in the womb, and can remember those words after being born. By monitoring the brain waves of newborns, scientists have discovered the babies recognised 'pseudowords' they heard in the womb.

A fish experiment suggests that leadership is an innate quality. 'Leader' fish could be taught to follow other fish, but 'follower' fish struggled to become leaders. Fish have more personality than you might think.

Direct download: SoT_0117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am AEST

In a town with no previously recorded earthquakes, more than a hundred were recorded in one year. It's thought they were triggered by the disposal of waste water from fracking.

A new world record has been set for the smallest sequenced genome, and it belongs to a symbiotic bacteria living in leafhoppers.

Mother gibbons teach their daughters to sing, using a kind of 'baby talk'.

And ancient 'bog body' has been found with the skin intact. The body may be that of a king, killed in a ritual sacrifice. Because axes.

'Chronic excreters' could be the big obstacle preventing the global eradication of Polio.

A scientist jokes about a testicle-eating fish, and cable news anchors panic. And giggle.

Direct download: SoT_0116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am AEST