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

Hosts: Ed Brown, Kirsten Banks

00:00:49 For the first time ever, astronomers have taken a photo of the silhouette of the event horizon of a black hole!
00:06:39 The Event Horizon Telescope captured 5 petabytes of data - which is a lot!
00:09:08 XKCD compared the size of the event horizon of M87 with the size of our solar system.
00:11:36 Veritasium expertly described how the photo was taken, and all the permutations that could have happened to give us different photos.
Kirsten Banks is an astronomer, science communicator and Physics student.
This episode contains traces of Alan Duffy "losing his mind" talking about the Black Hole image on ABC Breakfast News.

Direct download: SoT_0331.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Kate Naughton, Peter Miller

00:00:40 An extraordinary must-read article in the New Yorker has an in-depth look at the few hours after a meteor hit the Yucatán Peninsula and probably wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. It also follows an amazing discovery that could answer many questions about the appearance of dinosaurs and whether or not they were already dying out.
00:18:51 A study led by a team at the Duke University Clinical Research Institute has found that treatment recommendations that US doctors use when managing heart patients - less than 10 per cent of those recommendations are based on the best available evidence.
00:33:52 As computer graphics and robotics get more and more realistic, there's a point where an avatar or android is so close to real but not quite, and it's unsettling. That's the Uncanny Valley. But we don't often talk about it's auditory counterpart, and how there's an Uncanny Valley for artificial voices as well.
00:47:19 "Pumpkin toadlets" are tiny poisonous frogs in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. They're only about 15mm long, and their skeletons are fluorescent under a UV lamp!


This episode contains traces of Q, a 'genderless' artificial voice.

Direct download: SoT_0330.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Chris Curtain-Magee

00:01:22 In 450 B.C., the "Father of History", Herodotus, wrote a 23 line account of a type of Egyptian cargo vessel. This was widely thought to be a fabrication, but a discovery in an ancient Egyptian port city indicates the account was truthful.
00:08:03 The earliest undisputed evidence of humans in Australia comes from a rock shelter in northern Australia and dates back to 65,000 years ago. Now investigations at an ancient midden - a trashpile - in the country's South could potentially double that time-frame.
00:14:18 Lots of animals, from birds to turtles to fish, can detect magnetic fields. But until now we've never thought humans had that ability. A new study suggests that a small number of people may be able to register magnetic field changes, but on a subconscious level.
00:21:03 Science on Top
This episode contains traces of Mark Robinson narrating 'Why is Herodotus called "The Father of History'?" from Ted-Ed.

Direct download: SoT_0329.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:32 Some fish can survive the freezing cold waters of Antarctica thanks to a gene that makes anti-freeze. But how do fish in the Arctic, in the Northern hemisphere, also have the same gene?
00:08:33 Some people can smell when people are sick. Could these 'super-smellers' help diagnose Parkinson's Disease early on?
00:21:26 DNA is made of four nucleotides: G, A, T, and C. Now an interdisciplinary team of researchers has doubled that genetic code by creating synthetic DNA that uses eight letters.
00:27:55 NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently orbiting the asteroid 101955 Bennu. But it turns out Bennu is no ordinary asteroid... it spits!
 
This episode contains traces of 6abc Action News hosts Brian Taff and Jeannette Reyes discussing a cheesy Swiss experiment.

Direct download: 328.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Sean M Elliott

00:01:11 Science educator, communicator and performer Sean M. Elliott has a new show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tesla: Death Rays & Elephants!
00:11:00 For a long time it's been believed that having some potted plants around the house will help filter out pollutants and toxins. But now the evidence suggests that houseplants do very little or even nothing at all when it comes to cleaning the air.
00:17:56 There's around 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and probably least one planet orbiting each of them. But a new study suggests there could be an additional 50 billion rogue planets, that aren't orbiting any stars at all.
00:27:17 Our nearest big galactic neighbour, Andromeda, has long been thought to be the much larger and more massive than the Milky Way. Now, new data from the Gaia mission and the Hubble Space Telescope indicates the Milky Way could be significantly bigger than we thought.
00:39:48 A new study published in the journal Science finds that before agriculture, when humans were nomadic hunter gatherers, languages didn't have the same sounds that they do now - in fact some sounds just weren't even possible.


Sean M. Elliott is a science educator, communicator and performer with a new show starting this weekend at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tesla: Death Rays & Elephants!


This episode contains traces of TMRO's Jade Kim giving yet another reason why space travel might not be such a great thing for humans.

Direct download: SoT_0327.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely

00:01:16 NASA's InSight probe begins drilling into the Martian surface - and stops.
00:17:11 Twins are either identical (one egg splits into two copies) or fraternal (two eggs fertilised at the same time). But that's not always the case - as a mother in Queensland found out when she had sesquizygotic twins.
00:25:44 Timothy Ray Brown, who was known as The Berlin Patient, was the first person to be "cured" of HIV. Now a second man appears to have also been cured, using the same bone marrow transplant technique.
00:33:32 Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is also the only moon known to have a thick, dense atmosphere. But now, thanks to the Rosetta probe's studies of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the origins of Titan's atmosphere may have been revealed.

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at ANSTO, Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.


This episode contains traces of Loudwire's Toni Gonzalez reporting on an Australian study of people who listen to Death Metal.

Direct download: SoT_0326.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:57 As the world becomes more and more urbanised, we hear a lot about the dangers to wildlife from humanity's sprawl. But new research finds Australia's koalas may actually be less stressed in cities - provided adequate green spaces are provided.
00:07:43 For the first time ever, a spacecraft built by a private company and designed to carry people has docked with the International Space Station. The success of SpaceX's "Crew Dragon" sets the stage for an alternative to the Russian-made Soyuz capsules.
00:19:54 Researchers have been looking at the family dynamics stressed meerkat mothers. They've found the daughters become more helpful - at their own expense - but the sons don't.
00:25:28 Two new papers provide even more weight to the Planet Nine hypothesis - that a large planet, more than ten times the mass of Earth, could be lurking on the distant edges of our solar system, well beyond the orbit of Pluto.


This episode contains traces of the NASA stream and enthusiastic commentary of the SpaceX Crew Dragon module being opened in space for the first time.

Direct download: SoT_0325.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:18 Hyabusa 2, Japan's latest sample return mission, has briefly landed on the asteroid Ryugu. It's an ambitious mission looking at the building blocks of the solar system.
00:16:14 And what's the point of dragging samples all the way back to Earth, when we can send whole labs to celestial bodies?
00:20:59 Echidnas are cute but spiky Australian native animals, with rather strange mating habits. But they're in high demand on the illegal pet trade, so wildlife forensic scientists have developed a technique to track where they've been smuggled from.
00:28:34 The commercial arm of the Mars One plan to colonise the red planet has filed for bankruptcy. Was this an interplanetary Fyre Festival?
00:35:56 Australian scientists may have found a way of developing a universal flu vaccine, that would work against all strains and eliminating the need for yearly flu shots.


This episode contains traces of Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp answering questions in a company-produced interview back in 2015.

Direct download: SoT_0324_fixed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr Cameron Webb

00:00:58 A review study published in the journal Biological Conservation has found that over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.
00:29:06 Queensland has seen record-breaking floods this year, and everyone knows that mosquitoes love water. But what do floods mean for mosquito-borne diseases?
00:36:10 By studying sleepless flies, scientists have identified a gene that puts them to sleep when they need it the most. And interestingly, it doubles as part of their immune system.
00:42:32 From our immune system to taste and even our emotions - our guts have a big influence on our brains. And now new research shows that gut bacteria can affect our our mental health.
Dr. Cameron Webb is a medical entomologist from the University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology primarily interested in mosquitoes, mosquito-borne disease management, insect repellents and wetland rehabilitation.


This episode contains traces of Abigail Fraeman, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) deputy project scientist at JPL.

Direct download: SoT_0323.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:48 When researchers from the Max Planck Institute were looking at the teeth of an 11th or 12th century German woman they found tiny bright blue specks. This was a clue that illuminated the role women may have played in the history of book production.

00:09:19 What if plants could be trained just like pet dogs? Spoiler alert: they can! Sort of.

00:12:12 Also, plants can hear you with their ear-flowers.

00:21:29 For spiders, their webs are also sensory organs. And depending on their body position, they can tune their webs to specific vibrations.

00:28:29 No longer aimlessly drifting, the Earth's magnetic North Pole seems to be moving determinedly towards Siberia.

 

This episode contains traces of Harrison Ford addressing the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit.

Direct download: SoT_0322.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39pm AEST

2018 was a big year for science. Is saw the launch of the largest privately built reuseable rocket, the discovery a new organ, and understanding of the wombat's cubic poops. And we talked about all these stories and more on Science on Top. But not everything goes to plan, and this year was no exception! We had all sorts of Skype troubles, we forgot things, we were interrupted by dogs and phones… lots went wrong!

But instead of losing the hilarious moments of chaos, we’ve saved them all for our traditional end of year bloopers episode. All the rants, the tangents, the swearing and the brain farts all put together for one long blooper reel!

You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: https://scienceontop.com/bloopers18 or on YouTube or Soundcloud!

Direct download: Bloopers_2018_announce.mp3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Peter Miller

00:01:10 There's a planet orbiting star HD26965, exactly where Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry said Spock's homeworld Vulcan would be.

00:04:16 A fresh analysis of 10 year old data finds the best evidence yet of water vapor venting from Jupiter's fourth largest moon, Europa.

00:05:17 Watch Peter Miller's artistic imagining of life on Europa here.

00:06:11 The oldest example of abstract art, from 73,000 years ago, resembles a hashtag.

00:10:14 Scientific debate has erupted over what could possibly be the world's oldest fossils ever found - or they could be just rocks.

00:14:09 Eating a California Reaper is probably a bad idea, as one man found out when he tried what was then the world's hottest chili.

00:18:06 Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean, but they also provided a unique glimpse at evolution. The research involved a lot of measurements, some lizards, and a leaf blower.

00:21:16 This year, we found out how wombats make cubed poops.

00:25:02 Ice cores have long been used to track global climate change, but a team from Oxford have studied ice cores for a more archaeological purpose – detailing the economic booms and busts of the ancient Roman empire.

00:28:48 Geneticists around the world were shocked when Professor He Jiankui announced he'd created the world's first ever gene edited babies. His claims of HIV immune babies are extraordinary, but mired in contention amongst ethical and procedural controversy.

Direct download: SoT_0321.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am AEST

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