Science On Top (general)
The Australian Podcast putting Science on Top of the agenda

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:11 It's an old computer trick, but a gyroscope on the Hubble Space Telescope has been fixed - with a shake and a reboot.

00:08:22 The tiny worms in dung beetle brood sacks - which are sexually transmitted - are beneficial for the beetle larvae.

00:14:33 Polychlorinated biphenyls - better known as PCBs - are industrial chemicals that have been banned in most countries for decades. But their legacy remains and has dramatic consequences for orcas and other marine mammals.

00:23:38 Humpback whales go quiet, and sometimes even silent, when large boats are around.

00:24:37 Why do male gorillas seem to enjoy babysitting so much? One possibility is that females choose good carers to mate with.

 

To help us make the show, please consider donating on Patreon.

 

This episode contains traces of Michael J. Fox talking to Alan Alda on the Clear and Vivid podcast.

Direct download: SoT_0314.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Pamela Gay

00:00:58 What happens when octopuses are given ecstasy? They get... cuddly.

00:07:23 Gene Roddenberry got it right, there IS a planet orbiting the star 40 Eridani. That's where the Star Trek creator said the planet Vulcan would be, homeworld of the pointy-eared logicians.

00:10:23 The Japanese space agency, JAXA, has had a spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Ryugu since the end of June this year. It has now deployed three of its four rovers onto the 1km wide near Earth object.

00:17:00 The failure of a gyroscope onboard the Hubble Space Telescope was a concern for NASA engineers, who scrambled to resurrect a backup gyro. It also raised questions about the future of the telescope, and the its ever-postponed successor the James Webb Space Telescope.

00:33:09 Questions from the audience.

 

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton, Melbourne.

Dr. Pamela Gay is astronomer, podcaster, and artist. She is the co-host of the AstronomyCast podcast and the Director of Technology and Citizen Science at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She is also the principal investigator of CosmoQuest.org.

This episode contains traces of NASA's video detailing all the things that could go wrong with the upcoming InSight Mars landing.

Direct download: SoT_0313.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:59pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Jo Benhamu, Kirsten Banks.

00:03:03 Wiradjuri astronomer Kirsten Banks tells us all about Aboriginal astronomy - from emu eggs to moon halos.

00:13:20 The conventional wisdom that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can improve health and delay dementia in the elderly is unfounded for most people, according to the largest and most comprehensive clinical trial conducted in Australia.

00:25:44 Many infections in humans of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been traced to the unnecessary use of antibiotics in puppies as 'preventatives'.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of an adorable caller to Dr. Karl's Triple J radio show.

Direct download: SoT_0312.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Peter Miller, Ross Balch.

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 rollercoaster medicine to Voodoo in the workplace!

You can watch the award ceremony here.

00:03:13 MEDICINE PRIZE went to two Americans, Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.

00:09:41 ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE went to an international team for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.

00:15:14 BIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to an international team of eight scientists for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.

00:21:07 CHEMISTRY PRIZE was given to three researchers from Portugal for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.

00:25:04 MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE went to Akira Horiuchi from Japan, for the medical report "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.".

00:29:42 LITERATURE PRIZE was awarded to four researchers from the University of Queensland for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.

00:34:29 NUTRITION PRIZE was won by James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.

00:38:59 PEACE PRIZE went to a team of scientists from SPAIN and COLOMBIA, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.

00:43:43 REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE was given to three urologists for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly — as described in their study "Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps".

00:47:42 ECONOMICS PRIZE went to a team from CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, and USA for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

Direct download: SoT_0311.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:34 Archaeologists working in the Blombos Cave in South Africa have discovered what could be the world's oldest drawing - from 73,000 years ago.

00:10:40 Surfers have long believed that nearby dolphins are a good sign that there are no sharks around. But new research suggests that's not the case, as attacks on dolphins have increased in line with rising ocean temperatures.

00:19:33 The mirror test is an attempt to measure self-awareness in non-human animals. Now the Cleaner Wrasse has become the first fish ever to pass.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson commenting on the dangers of smoking weed in space.

Direct download: SoT_0310.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:22 The exciting family of planets less than 40 light years from Earth could each have 250 times more water than Earth, according to a new study.

00:11:09 Not just a meat-eater, the bonnethead shark is the first species of shark to be determined omnivorous.

00:17:49 Someone drilled a hole on the International Space Station. Was it sabotage? Space madness? We don't yet know.

00:26:35 As the planet-wide dust storm settles, the Opportunity rover has just 45 days to phone home before NASA gives up on it.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of Harrison Ford addressing the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Direct download: SoT_0309.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:03:09 A large study has identified 35 genes that can influence you take up marijuana use. The study also also found links between those genes and other drug dependencies, as well as ADHD, autism and depression.

00:13:31 Scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that microorganisms in colder climates darken themselves to capture more heat and improve their chances for survival.

00:18:45 String Theory, the theoretical framework of cosmology, could permit trillions of trillions different universes. But one problem with it, according to a controversial new paper, is that it doesn't allow a universe like ours.

00:29:09 Archaeologists found a few broken jars in a 3,500 year old Egyptian tomb. Their contents were analysed, revealing an ancient love affair with one of life's true miracles: cheese.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

Dr Carolyn de Graaf is a geneticist from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

 

This episode contains traces of Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele criticising climate change deniers.

Direct download: SoT_0308.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48pm AEDT

Dr Morgan Cable is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her work is primarily focussed on developing technologies and instruments for spacecraft searching for organic molecules and biomarkers in our solar system. She was the Assistant Project Science Systems Engineer for the Cassini Mission, and is currently working on numerous projects to Europa and Enceladus.

Ed and Lucas caught up with Dr. Cable to discuss the exploration of the Saturn system, the Jupiter system, Mars, Iceland and the search for life. Dr. Cable's Twitter handle is @starsarecalling. For more information about the projects we talked about, see NASA's pages for Cassini, Europa LanderMars 2020, and Wikipedia's Enceladus Life Finder page.

Direct download: SoT_Special_025_Morgan_Cable.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:56 We're hosting Dr. Pamela Gay for a talk, Q&A session and live show in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October! Tickets $20 from scienceontop.com/live All proceeds go to the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

00:02:06 A study finds that smaller dogs lift their legs higher when they pee. Could they be lying, and trying to fool other dogs?

00:09:30 After a delayed first attempt, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has been successfully launched on a course for the Sun. This will be the fastest spacecraft ever made, and will get up close and personal with our nearest star. For more on solar research, listen to our interview from last year with Professor Lucie Green.

00:20:21 Geologists have been studying tiny grains found in a Russian meteorite. They've found a new mineral, that they call uakitite, which has never before been found on Earth.

 

This episode contains traces of National Party of Australia deputy leader Bridget McKenzie daring to say "the C-word".

Direct download: SoT_0307.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Alayna Hansen.

00:00:58 We're hosting Dr. Pamela Gay for a talk, Q&A session and live show in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October! Tickets $20 from scienceontop.com/live and all proceeds go to the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

00:02:23 The government of Sierra Leone has announced the discovery of a new species of Ebola virus. Fortunately there's no indication that it's spread to humans yet, but that could be just a matter of time.

00:10:23 Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on the Caribbean, causing extensive damage and hundreds of deaths. But it did provide a rare opportunity for a team to study how natural disasters affect the evolution of some small tree-dwelling lizards.

00:16:52 Researchers are insisting that the hybrid cross of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin that was discovered in Hawaii is not a "wolphin". So of course, everyone's calling it a "wolphin".

00:23:08 For the first time physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have accelerated atoms at near the speed of light. Usually the LHC fires sub-atomic protons and atomic nuclei, so this is a big step up and could herald a new branch of particle physics exploration.

 

This episode contains traces of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson talking with Melissa Francis about the newly announced Space Force on Fox Business.

 

Alayna Hansen is a journalism student and freelance science writer. Check out her application for BBC Presenter Search on her YouTube Channel.

Direct download: SoT_0306.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Professor Jonti Horner, Sarah de Garis

00:01:22 The longest lunar eclipse in 18 years gave viewers in much of the world a stunning spectacle - a blood red moon.

00:03:08 Radar data from the Mars Express probe has revealed a large lake of liquid water beneath the red planet's surface.

00:14:49 CRISPR is a defence mechanism used by bacteria against viruses. And it's pretty good - but it has one major weakness that viruses exploit.

00:22:22 Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University have now made a significant breakthrough - by using gene editing to treat a genetic condition in utero. In mice.

00:30:15 Dr Jurgen Otto loves peacock spiders - a lot. And his passion has let him on a journey through southern Western Australia in search of a tiny (but cute) spider he saw 23 years ago. Check out his site: Peacockspider.org

 

This episode contains traces of Journalist Simone Boyce discussing the lunar eclipse with Dr. Jackie Faherty and Hanneke Weitering on NBC's "Space is Awesome" live stream.

Direct download: SoT_0305.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:01:04 It was one of the most incredible news stories of the year - the rescue of twelve kids and their soccer coach from the flooded Thai cave. Made even more remarkable that they all returned in relatively good health - especially considering all the diseases and illnesses they were at risk of catching.

00:10:48 Whether it's Ebola, Hendra, SARS, or rabies; bats are often blamed for the spread of viruses. But is that fair? Are bats more likely to host diseases that spread to humans?

00:17:34 While hunting for Planet Nine, astronomers accidentally discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter. One of them is on a collision course!

00:28:54 Scientists Australia have developed a blood test which, in a recent trial, was successful in detecting melanomas in 81.5% of cases.

 

Carolyn de Graaf is a geneticist from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

 

This episode contains traces of astronaut Scott Kelly describing the creepiest thing he encountered on the ISS.

Direct download: SoT_0304.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Daniel Midgely

00:01:18 Billed as having "mastered sign language", Koko The Gorilla has passed away. But was she all she was cracked up to be?

00:29:43 An international team has discovered a galaxy unlike any other. Smaller than the Milky Way, the mysterious galaxy appears to have very little dark matter - possibly none at all.

00:41:00 Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our lives. But a Wall Street Journal report finds that many of the big tech companies are using humans where computer bots fall short.

 

This episode contains traces of a report about Koko's death on CBC News.

 

Daniel Midgley is a linguist at the University of Western Australia and presenter on the weekly podcast and radio show Talk the Talk.

Direct download: SoT_0303.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Brad McKay

00:01:55 The WHO calls "gaming disorder" a mental health condition - so what is it, how serious is it, and what can we do about it?

00:14:08 Satellites have found the coldest place on Earth and it could kill you!

00:18:20 Can parasites control animals they haven't physically infected? Probably not, but tapeworms infecting stickleback fish can indirectly influence other, noninfected fish. Remember to watch Ed Yong's parasite TED Talk!

00:28:24 A drawing of an Australasian cockatoo in a 13th century Vatican manuscript could spark a rethink about trade routes between Europe and Australia in medieval times.

00:36:23 The Australian National Skeptics Convention will be held October 13-15 in Sydney. Get your ticket today!

 

Dr Brad McKay is a General Practitioner, a writer and TV personality. Follow him on Twitter.

 

This episode contains traces of Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney talking with Dr. Marc Siegel about gaming disorder.

Direct download: SoT_0302.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:05 A critically endangered frog lives underground in a remote mountainous region of Australia. Researchers are now trialling an adorable new method for finding and studying them.

00:07:15 Diabetes is a growing problem around the world, and now some researchers are looking to an odd-looking Australian icon for a potential new treatment.

00:16:07 A new paper published in Science has caused quite a buzz, by demonstrating that honeybees understand the concept of zero.

00:21:19 Every year, thousands of Giant Spider Crabs congregate in Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, where they shed their hard shells. What happens after that, is a mystery.

 

This episode contains traces of Jet Black, Luke Edwards,and Jenny Gray from CEO Zoos Victoria lamenting the plight of the Baw Baw Frog.

Direct download: SoT_0301.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely, Dr. Mick Vagg

00:03:26 The recent discovery of dunes on Pluto surprised planetary scientists. With very little atmosphere or wind, what could cause them?

00:11:48 A sample from Mars, analysed by the Curiosity rover, has found organic molecules - the building blocks of life.

00:18:25 One of the most famous psychology experiments, the Stanford marshmallow test, looked at delayed gratification in children back in the 1960s and 1970s. It's now been reproduced, a lot more rigorously, and the results are very different.

00:24:32 A proof-of-concept blood test can determine how far a long a woman is in her pregnancy, and how likely she is to give birth ahead of term.

00:28:22 An emerging field of diagnostics, liquid biopsy, is seeing impressive results. Recent studies correctly diagnosed people with ovarian and liver cancers 80 percent of the time.

00:31:51 Planet Nine is an exciting hypothesis that goes part of the way towards explaining the strange orbits of many rocks in the Kuiper Belt. But another idea could answer a lot of the same questions, without the need for a giant undiscovered planet.

 

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at the Bragg Institute. She writes “The Shores of Titan” column on The Conversation.

Dr. Mick Vagg is a rehabilitation and pain medicine specialist, and a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University.

This episode contains traces of dogged CBS Philly reporter Nicole Brewer on a groundbreaking communication study.

Direct download: SoT_0300.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:04 Vitamania is stronger than ever, with more than half of Americans and nearly a third of Australians regularly taking vitamin supplements. But a new study finds that most vitamin supplements have little or no benefit, and some can even be doing harm.

00:10:03 If there's life elsewhere in the universe, there's a good chance it's bacteria or something much like it. Now astrobiologists are pushing for more attention to be paid to extra-terrestrial viruses, as viruses are the most common form of "life" on Earth.

00:18:24 Europe's oldest tree has been dated, which is a bit more complicated than counting growth rings.

00:24:40 Australian magpies that live near airports seem to be less afraid of aeroplanes. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

This episode contains traces of an ad for Flintstones Vitamins.

Direct download: SoT_0299.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:12 Jaundice, fairly common in newborn babies, could be an evolutionary advantage.

00:10:14 France is being invaded by giant, carnivorous, cloned flatworms. And it has been for more than two decades.

00:16:16 The rare birds native to the South Georgia islands, in the middle of nowhere, are no longer at risk from introduced rodents. They have been saved by a successful eradication project.

00:20:51 Asteroid 2015 BZ509 has mystified astronomers with it's retrograde orbit. A new theory suggests it could orbit the wrong way because it's an intruder from another solar system.

 

This episode contains traces of WCVB reporter Mary Saladna's story about a new restaurant in Boston.

Direct download: SoT_0298.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Alayna Hansen, and Peter Miller.

00:02:13 The internet blew up with the Yanny/Laurel audio illusion. Why do some people hear one thing, others hear another, and some people can hear both?

00:08:50 A new look at old data reveals signs of plumes of water coming from Jupiter's moon Europa.

00:13:35 Watching Europa is Peter's audio-visual artwork imagining life on Europa.

00:23:02 The chytrid fungus is devestating amphibian populations, but geneticists have finally traced its origins back to the pet trade, and East Asia in particular.

00:30:32 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.

00:36:55 Australian magpies appear to have learnt the calls of other birds - eavesdropping on their communications to learn of nearby predators.

 

This episode contains traces of Deep Look's video, "You've Heard of a Murder of Crows. How About a Crow Funeral?"

Direct download: SoT_0297.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:11:15 Harvard researchers have systematically profiled every cell in developing zebrafish and frog embryos, showing how one cell develops into an entire organism.

00:15:28 81-year-old James Harrison has saved millions of babies. His weekly blood donations have been used to create a treatment to protect unborn babies from the deadly Rhesus D Haemolytic Disease (HDN).

00:23:16 Experts from around the wold have signed a letter to the World Health Organisation calling for more action to fight the cancer-causing retrovirus HTLV-1.

00:29:36 Ancient tools found on Mediterranean islands could suggest that Neanderthals had at least rudimentary seafaring skills.

 

This episode contains traces of US congressman Mo Brooks grilling climate scientist Dr. Philip Duffy before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee about the causes of sea level rise.

Direct download: SoT_0296.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Sarah de Garis

00:01:25 A study by a team from University of Sussex shows that horses can not only distinguish human facial expressions, but they remember people's emotional states several hours later.

00:08:23 Male fruit flies enjoy sex.

00:17:07 There's a fungus that uses tiny crystals to sense gravity. And it can do that, because it stole genes from a bacteria.

00:21:06 Kids have a lot of energy - but in terms of endurance and recovery, they can even perform better than highly-trained adult endurance athletes.

 

This episode contains traces of Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos sharing his vision of a space-faring future.

Direct download: SoT_0295.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm AEDT

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

00:01:31 While studying the enzyme produced by a bacteria that eats plastic, an international team has accidentally made it even better.

00:08:57 NASA's new planet-hunding spacecraft has launched. TESS will study 85% of the sky, and will be able to study the mass, size, density and orbit of thousands of exoplanets.

00:23:37 Retrotransposons - elements of DNA that can spread to other species - are being found more and more often. And they're almost ubiquitous in marine animals, especially shellfish.

 

This episode contains traces of French President Emmanuel Macron speaking before the US Congress.

Direct download: SoT_0294.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller

00:01:13 The bowhead whale sings a different tune to the humpback whale. It's more jazz to the humpback's classical.

00:07:38 The closest star outside our solar system just did a big burp. And it wouldn't be good for any life on its planet.

00:21:57 The hottest chilli in the world was the Carolina Reaper. A competitive eater ate one, then regretted it.

 

This episode contains traces of Will Smith interviewing astronaut Drew Feustel on the International Space Station.

Direct download: SoT_0293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm AEDT

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

00:01:00 New York researchers have detailled the "structure and distribution of an unrecognized interstitium in human tissues". Or as some are calling it, a brand new organ.

00:16:37 New evidence lends credibility to an old theory of how Vikings navigated the seas. They could have used 'sunstones' and polarised light to find the sun in cloudy conditions.

00:24:39 Thanks to gravitational lensing, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have imaged the most distant star ever seen - 9 billion light years away.

00:29:28 Non-profit news service Kaiser Health News has launched a large database tracking pharmaceutical companies and where they spend their money. In one year drug companies spent $63 million on political lobbying activities but almost double that on Patient Advocacy Groups.

00:41:39 You probably didn't realise it, but the puffins have flourescent beaks. So why is this researcher making them wear sunglasses?

 

This episode contains traces of Breakfast Television Toronto hosts Kevin Frankish and Frank Ferragine discussing the interstitium.

Direct download: SoT_0292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:06 The Draw-A-Scientist test has been a regular investigation of children's ideas about science. The proportion of women being drawn has risen sharply since the test was first done in the 1960s.

00:09:09 70,000 years ago a small red dwarf star hurtling through space came within a light-year of our sun. Scholtz's star is now about 20 light years away but it's likely responsible for the orbits of a lot of comets and asteroids in our solar system.

00:20:52 Newspapers are dying, especially local newspapers. But the decline in local news outlets has a big effect on epidemiology, as researchers try to track the spread of diseases that aren't recorded anywhere else.

 

This episode contains traces of CBS News correspondent Anna Werner describing a new Californian requirement for a cancer warning on coffee.

Direct download: SoT_0291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm AEDT

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

00:01:15 Stephen Hawking led a remarkable life, and a brilliant career in theoretical physics and cosmology. His genius will be sorely missed.

00:08:53 Contrary to many news reports, NASA's twin experiment did NOT find that 7% of astronaut Scott Kelly's DNA was changed by space travel. There were some health effects, but he definitely remained human.

00:15:58 Some media outlets, such as LiveScience, issued corrections.

00:17:56 The long-billed corella is a parrot may have become a pest to many farmers in Australia, but not so long ago their numbers were very low.

00:22:27 There's a Chinese space station that's hurtling out of control towards Earth. We don't know when it will hit, where it will hit, how much will burn up in the atmosphere or what toxic substances may still be on board. But you'll probably be fine.

00:29:37 NASA's super-successful planet-hunting spacecraft, Kepler, is running out of fuel.

 

This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking talking to Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke about black holes in 1988.

Direct download: SoT_0290.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm AEDT

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

00:02:37 The Juno spacecraft has returned extraordinary new data about Jupiter's cloud system and interior.

00:14:51 Diabetes, which affects about 415 million people around the world, has conventionally been categorised into three types - Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. But a new study indicates that there may in fact be 6 different types of diabetes.

00:20:39 Using satellite and drone technology, researchers have found a new supercolony of more than 1.5 million Adélie penguins.

00:25:54 A tribe of people that lived in Southern Africa nearly a thousand years ago have unintentionally left a legacy that is now a new source of information about the Earth's magnetic field.

 

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at the Bragg Institute. She writes “The Shores of Titan” column on The Conversation. Her most recent scientific paper, The Acetylene-Ammonia Co-crystal on Titan, is published in the journal ACS Earth and Space Chemistry.

 

This episode contains traces of Liz MacDonald, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, describing a newly discovered type of aurora.

Direct download: SoT_0289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47am AEDT

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

00:01:04 In April 2015, unusually heavy thunderstorms flooded Chile's Atacama desert, the second driest region in the world. This messed up the plans of researchers there to study life in the Mars-like desert, but it also told them more about how life can survive in long periods of drought.

00:09:27 Two Dutch researchers have looked at more than 100 examples of dice from the last 2,000 years. This huge collection can give us some clues about how people have thought about chance, fate and probability over the centuries.

00:16:23 The crickets on the Hawaiian island of Kawaii have gone quiet. They're still there, they're still trying to chirp, but they're not making any sound].

00:22:53 There are 167 known species of tardigrades - the virtually indestructible eight-legged micro-animals. But the recently discovered 168th has unusual eggs.

00:26:31 And speaking of tardigrades, Shayne has some feels about Star Trek: Discovery.

 

This episode contains traces of the Today Extra TV program discussing a study that didn't suggest eating McDonald's fries could cure baldness.

Direct download: SoT_0288.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27pm AEDT

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

00:01:06 SpaceX successfully launched the most powerful operational rocket in the world, sending a car into space.

00:12:34 An invasive species of crayfish has been tracked back to single animal, which reproduces by cloning itself.

00:19:50 Researchers have found a surprising amount of bacteria-eating viruses in an unlikely place - women's bladders.

00:27:16 DNA analysis and facial reconstruction techniques have revealed a surprising portrait of a Cheddar Man, a human who lived in England 9,100 years ago.

00:31:41 Palaeontologists have found spectacularly well preserved proto-spiders suspended in amber. The ancient arachnids had tails longer than their tiny bodies.

 

This episode contains traces of "Starman" being deployed into space to the music of David Bowie, and the celebrations of engineers at SpaceX.

Direct download: SoT_0287_correct.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:55 On January 31st, a super blue blood moon could be seen from Australia, South East Asia and the West Coast of the US. A super moon is when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth, a blood moon is a total lunar eclipse where the moon turns orange-red, and a blue moon is a second full moon in a calendar month.

00:03:50 Researchers using high-tech LIDAR have found more than 60,000 previously undetected Mayan buildings, defence installations and pyramids in the dense jungle in Guatemala.

00:09:58 A team led by NOAA scientist Camryn Allen has been studying the Pacific green sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef. Worryingly, she's found that most of them are female.

00:16:17 A glaciology postdoc at Princeton University has proposed an audacious plan to reduce or delay the threat of catastrophic sea-level rise. Michael Wolovick wants to build walls to stop glaciers sliding off Antarctic land into the ocean.

00:24:02 An analysis of birds-of-paradise feathers led by Dakota McCoy from Harvard University, has discovered exactly how the birds achieve the blackest of blacks.

 

This episode contains traces of BBC Breakfast hosts Dan Walker and Louise Minchin discussing a killer whale that has been 'taught' to 'speak' English.

Direct download: SoT_0286.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24pm AEDT

2017 was a big year for science. Gravitational waves were detected four times, it was the end of Cassini's mission, and lady dragonflies faked their own deaths to avoid sex. 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! There's even an entire story that was cut from the regular show that we've included out of the kindness of our hearts.

You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: http://scienceontop.com/bloopers17 or on YouTube or Soundcloud!

Direct download: Bloopers_2017_announce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58am AEDT

 

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:08 Six reasons why the latest gravitational wave discovery is huge

00:07:36 Scientists solve Roman concrete puzzle

00:11:01 A look back at Cassini's incredible mission to Saturn before its final plunge into the planet

00:14:09 The first results from the Juno mission

00:17:40 A Dinosaur So Well Preserved, It Looks Like a Statue

00:20:47 We created a song that makes babies happy

00:23:33 A Thorny Debate in Plate Tectonics May Finally Be Resolved

00:25:50 Why Female Dragonflies Go to Extreme Lengths to Avoid Sex

Plus we interviewed some great people this year:

Direct download: SoT_0285.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:07 Antarctica is littered with volcanoes, and while there hasn't been a major eruption in 8,000 years, there are signs that there might be one coming.

00:12:48 Rock art in Saudi Arabia dates back thousands of years, and possibly features the oldest images of dogs.

00:17:53 The "Cat's Brain" long barrow in Wiltshire, near Stonehenge dates back to around 3,800BC. It's recent excavation offers new insights into Britain's neolithic civilisation.We were reminded of our fascinating discussion earlier this year with Dr. Lynne Kelly.

00:22:32 When a star goes supernova it usually appears to us as a very bright star that hangs around for maybe 3 or 4 months. But a newly analysed supernova stuck around for more than 2 years, getting brighter and dimmer throughout that period.

00:32:34 Researchers in West Australia have discovered and identified eight new species of spinifex grass, and one of them tastes like salt and vinegar chips!

 

This episode contains traces of "Come to Australia" by the Scared Weird Little Guys.

Direct download: SoT_0284.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm AEDT

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

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

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:40 We welcome Lucas back to the show, and discuss his battles with depression. Lucas recently blogged about dealing with mental health in the workplace, and how different managers respond to cases of depression.

00:10:34 After three detections of gravitational waves by the ground-based LIGO detector, the European Space Agency has given the go-ahead for the LISA space-based detector.

00:15:42 A data visualisation takes a deep look at the statistics of human birth. And while we tend to think of it as being a random process, there's a large spike in births at 8am.

00:19:42 The New Horizons spacecraft has a new target - Kuiper Belt Object MU69 - which recently came between Earth and a distant star. This caused a huge (and highly successful) global effort to view it with ground-based telescopes.

 

This episode contains traces of banter between former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and former bankrupt casino-owner President Donald Trump.

Direct download: SoT_0269.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Jo Benhamu.

00:00:40 An archaeological site in a Moroccan cave has long been known to have specimens of early humans. But an recent study has dated some of these bones to over 300,000 years old. If correct, that would make them the oldest fossilised remains of modern humans ever found - and it would change our understanding of the spread of humans out of Africa. For books to help explain evolution to young children, we recommend Grandmother Fish by Jonathan Tweet and Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came To Be by Daniel Loxton.

00:10:34 In the latest send-animals-to-space experiment, flatworms were studied on the International Space Station. And things got weird - especially with one worm that grew two heads!

00:15:42 Recently a lot of scientists have been suggesting that we're currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction - and we humans are the prime cause of it. But Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin argues that we're not there yet. Things are bad but to call it a mass extinction isn't really accurate.

00:19:42 And are humans hard-wired to look at faces? A study shines a light on what babies see in the womb.

 

This episode contains traces of John Oliver talking about vaccines on Last Week Tonight.

Direct download: SoT_0268.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18am AEDT

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

00:00:40 There's a lot of talk about the supposed health benefits of sourdough bread. But a new study seems to suggest that some people may be better off eating white bread, and others may have more to gain from sourdough bread.

00:10:34 A group of about 1200 giant bumphead parrotfish have been caught in the act of mating off Palau in Micronesia. It's the first time they have ever been seen doing so in such large numbers.

00:15:42 A strain of the lactobacillus bacteria has been extracted from yogurt and used to slow down the growth of 14 multidrug-resistant bacteria.

 

This episode contains traces of a message from French President Emmanuel Macron to American climate change researchers.

Direct download: SoT_0267.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am AEDT

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

00:00:39 Baleen whales - the toothless filter feeders - used to be around 10m long. Then 3 million years ago they started to grow to the enormous size they are today (blue whales can grow be 30 metres long!).

00:07:08 A new study has found that gastric bypass surgery disrupts the gut microbiome so significantly, that patients have a completely different bacteria makeup in their guts after surgery. And the new gut flora appears to promote weight loss.

00:14:14 An increase in the number of baby dugongs on the Great Barrier Reef indicates a revival of seagrass meadows following the devastation wrought by Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

00:18:11 Newly developed recognition software is helping underwater drones search for submerged mines and even map starfish colonies. Not only do the drones pilot themselves, they use pattern-matching to identify points of interest and relay that back to humans.

 

This episode contains traces of meteorologist Kait Parker at The Weather Channel responding to Breitbart's misrepresentation of climate data.

Direct download: SoT_0266.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely.

00:01:03 The first results from the Juno spacecraft are in, giving us new and surprising insights into the largest planet in our solar system.

00:09:39 Some media reports of flooding at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault were somewhat exaggerated. Some water got in at the front door, which happens every year, but the seeds were never in any danger.

00:14:36 Have you ever seen a flamingo fall over? Probably not. Turns out they're extremely stable, especially on one leg. A pair of biologists set out to find out why.

00:22:11 The first steps have been taken towards space-based baby-making, with healthy mouse pups being born from sperm that went to space.

00:29:28 Please help support the show by pledging on Patreon!

 

This episode contains traces of astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson talking with President Trump, after breaking the US record for the most time in space. Dr. Whitson was already the world's most experienced spacewoman and the oldest woman in space.

Direct download: SoT_0265.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am AEDT

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

00:00:41 Rare childhood cancers are, of course, rare. But that means limited access to tissue samples making them harder to study. But the archives of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children could be a previously unconsidered repository of 165 year's worth of samples.

00:05:34 There's a species of bacteria that seems to use quorum sensing to switch on or off its attacking abilities. And that's how it infects animals where normally it would only thrive in insects.

00:12:44 For the third time since 2012 a study has looked at whether the famous Stradivarius violins made in the early 18th century are actually better than their modern counterparts. They aren't.

00:21:55 A new study suggests that the microbes in our guts may initiate disease in seemingly unrelated organs, and in completely unexpected ways. In particular, our gut bacteria may be linked to brain lesions that can cause strokes.

 

This episode may contain traces of morning television presenters discussing the 'scientific benefits' of eating snot, as reported on the ABC's Media Watch program.

Direct download: SoT_0264.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04pm AEDT

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

00:00:48 A study seemed to find a link between artificially sweetened drinks and serious health problems. Many media outlets quickly proclaimed that "Diet drinks triple your risk of stroke and dementia" (Daily Fail). But how seriously should that study be taken?

00:05:27 Humans produce about 311 million tons of plastic each year, a number that's is predicted to double in the next twenty years. But an accidental discovery from a Spanish bee scientist points to some caterpillars that might help break plastic down.

00:12:07 A new paper published in the journal Ecology finds that female dragonflies are faking their own deaths in order to get away from horny males!

00:17:34 A team led by Viviane Slon from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has managed to extract and sequence the DNA of ancient animals from sediment - not bone - that's up to 240,000 years old.

 

This episode contains traces of Mary Bubala and Tracey Leong talking about artificial sweeteners on CBS Baltimore.

Direct download: SoT_0263.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:16pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:47 NASA's Cassini probe has been studying Saturn and it's rings and moons for thirteen years and is now running out of fuel. And as it comes to the end of it's life, it's begun a series of risky orbits between the planet and its rings.

00:11:03 A team of researchers mostly from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have successfully created an artificial womb in which premature lambs can be brought to term.

00:17:37 NASA and ESA have produced a joint proposal to explore Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

 

This episode contains traces of NASA at Saturn: Cassini's Grand Finale, a video by NASA explaining the Cassini mission and the end of its mission.

Direct download: SoT_0262.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:43 The naked mole rat is one of the strangest - certainly the ugliest - creatures on the planet. But on top of all it's other extraordinary abilities (highly resistant to cancer, limited ability to feel pain etc) it can also survive for up to 18 minutes without oxgyen.

00:08:35 For a long time we've assumed our nearest extra-solar neighbour, the Alpha Centauri system, was a trinary star system. But for the first time the calculations have been done to confirm it.

 

This episode may contain traces of what Neil DeGrasse Tyson calls the most important words he has ever spoken.

Direct download: SoT_0261.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Jo Benhamu

00:02:34 For the first time, an atmosphere has been detected around a nearly Earth-sized exoplanet.

00:08:45 Results of a large study suggest that a cap that generates electric fields might successfully fight brain cancer. But there are still many doubts about this "sci-fi treatment".

00:27:06 There's a radiation-resistant bacterial spore found only in spacecraft cleanrooms. To know if they might potentially contaminate other worlds, NASA needed to see if they can survive in space. So, they sent some into space!

00:35:31 What if identifying and monitoring the 3,000 different species of mosquitoes was a simple matter of using an app on your phone? A pair of engineers at Stanford University are working on creating "Shazam for mosquitoes"!

00:43:01 For more information, or to get in touch with us, or to donate head to scienceontop.com/260

 

This episode contains traces of Dara O'Briain talking about the War on Bacteria.

Direct download: SoT_0260.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15pm AEDT

Dr Steve Salisbury is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland, and a Research Associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Ed and Lucas spoke with him about finding the world's largest dinosaur tracks on the North West coast of Australia, and searching for dinosaur fossils in Antarctica.

Direct download: SoT_Special_022.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm AEDT

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

00:01:03 The difficult thing to do when growing artificial organs is building the intricate networks of tiny blood vessels that keep the tissue alive. A team at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts found a simple way to do that: with spinach.

00:12:00 Set to launch in 2018, the Solar Probe Plus is a mission to study the Sun from a very close distance - about 6 million kilometres. It will become the fastest manmade object ever built.

00:21:49 A team of ecologists and microbiologists have been studying the bacteria found in the blowholes of killer whales. And while their results were somewhat worrying, they're not as conclusive as many media reports have claimed.

 

This episode contains traces of Elon Musk after SpaceX successfully reused a rocket.

Direct download: SoT_0259.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52pm AEDT

Professor Lucie Green is a Professor of Physics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow who studies the sun. Ed and Lucas sat down with her to talk about solar research, the Solar Orbiter mission, the Carrington Event, the Eclipse Mega Movie project and much more!

Direct download: SoT_Special_021_Lucie_Green.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm AEDT

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

00:01:05 By monitoring two wild elephants, researchers have found that elephants in the wild only have about two hours of sleep each night, and sometimes they go for days without sleep.

00:08:21 Archaea are single-celled organisms that are difficult to study, so scientists don't study them. "Because they don't study them, they don't know very much about them. Because they don't know very much about them, they don't know how best to study them."

00:24:46 How and when did modern humans come to Australia? We have evidence of human habitation dating back to 50,000 years, but no further. Now the genomes of 111 Indigenous Australians could give us some clues.

 

This episode may contain traces of Emre, asking science communicator and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye a question about time travel.

Direct download: SoT_0258.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:22pm AEDT

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

00:00:52 Researchers have trained bees to play soccer! Well, move a tiny ball into a hole, which is a bit like human soccer only faster and more entertaining.

00:06:15 NASA Astrobiology Institute director Penelope Boston has announced that NASA has found life - in liquid, in crystals, in a cave on Earth. But some of these microbes have been dormant for tens of thousands of years, and Dr. Boston claims to have awoken some of them!

00:17:24 Facial recognition technology has come a long way - and now researchers are using it to track and identify lemurs in the wild!

Direct download: SoT_0257.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall and Jo Benhamu.

00:00:51 NASA has announced the discovery of seven planets outside our solar system that all orbit the same star and are about Earth-size. Three of them are firmly located in the habitable zone, and therefore likely to have liquid water.

00:13:15 Last year Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the world's richest doctor, launched "Cancer MoonShot 2020", a coalition of drug and biotech companies working on cancer treatments and personalized medicine. A year later, with little credible evidence behind it, the initiative has been described as little more than "an elaborate marketing tool".

00:28:11 For the first time, astronomers have have observed the immediate aftermath of a supernova, detecting it just three hours after it exploded.

00:33:55 The first comprehensive assessment of Europe's crickets and grasshoppers has found that more than a quarter of species are being driven to extinction.

 

This episode contains traces of NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen discussing the philosophical impact of the exoplanet discovery.

Direct download: SoT_0256.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46pm AEDT

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

00:01:17 Have scientists really discovered a new continent under New Zealand? Well, sort of!

00:07:24 Bad body odour could be treated by a bacteria transplant from someone with less offensive armpits!

00:12:07 The malaria parasite could be making your blood attractive to mosquitoes.

00:15:11 By combining multiple datasets, astronomers have developed a more accurate idea about how fast our sun orbits the centre of our galaxy. It's pretty fast.

00:22:21 Many animals use echolocation to navigate, but the Vietnamese pygmy dormouse could be the first tree-climbing mammal that does.

 

This episode contains traces of TVNZ's news report about the continent Zealandia.

 

Direct download: SoT_0255.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:06 New research has uncovered how and why frog tongues have developed to be extremely soft and super-sticky.

00:10:57 By studying the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, researchers have found more evidence of a hypothetical category of black holes. Smaller than supermassive black holes, but more massive than stellar black holes, intermediate-mass black holes have a mass between 100 and 10,000 times the mass of our sun.

00:14:43 When a baby-food company asked child psychologist Caspar Addyman to develop a song to make babies laugh and be happy, he took a scientific approach. Most music made for babies, he says, "sounds frankly deranged".

00:35:37 The Gaia spacecraft has found a 'bridge of stars' between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The stream of stars connects the two dwarf galaxies and is over 43,000 light years long.

 

This episode contains traces of Professor Hans Rosling talking about world population growth. The Swedish academic and statistician died on 7 February 2017 of pancreatic cancer.

Direct download: SoT_0254.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am AEDT

Robin Ince is a celebrated writer and comedian best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage, alongside Professor Brian Cox.

And he's touring Australia - with a number of fantastic UK scientists and comedians - in March and April 2017. Cosmic Shambles LIVE is a variety show that celebrates curiosity and reason, an explosion of science, comedy, music and general wonder, with a great sense of fun.

Part proceeds from the show will be going to charities like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Cosmic Shambles LIVE will be showing in:

Sydney: Tuesday 28th March 2017, 7:00pm
Enmore Theatre
118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown

Melbourne: Saturday 1st April, 7:00pm
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf

Perth: Thursday 13th April 2017, 7:00pm
Octagon Theatre, The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway, Crawley

Head to http://atheistfoundation.org.au/cosmicshambleslive/ to book your tickets now!

Direct download: SoT_Special_020_Robin_Ince.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm AEDT

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

00:00:45 Help support the show!

00:01:58 Another theory for Tabby's Star - still not aliens.

00:15:47 The bacteria in babies' guts may end up the same no matter how they were delivered.

00:21:21 Could a brief spike of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago have been a "false start" for complex life?

00:26:47 DNA is usually made up of G, A, T and C. But scientists in the US have modified bacteria to use two new molecules - X and Y!

 

This episode contains traces of Colin Jost announcing the results of a study into sleeping patterns, on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, February 04 2017.

Direct download: SoT_0253_Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am AEDT

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

00:02:28 Explainer: gravitational waves and why their discovery is such a big deal

00:07:42 One Year Ago Today, Pluto Became a World.

00:12:19 The Most Mysterious Star in the Galaxy

00:18:01 One drug is 'new hope' for three killer infections

00:21:37 FDA bans antibacterial soaps containing triclosan

00:25:48 Using a Dyson hand dryer is like setting off a viral bomb in a bathroom

00:32:42 A Blood Test To Determine When Antibiotics Are Warranted

00:37:13 Clones no more as a secret population of Tasmanian devils discovered

00:39:58 Tasmanian devils are evolving rapidly to fight their deadly cancer

 

Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.

Direct download: SoT_0252_-_Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:03pm AEDT

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

00:00:58 By looking at astronomical records from 720 BC to AD 2015, researchers have found a small inaccuracy in modern calculations of the Earth's rotational speed. The Earth's spin is slowing down slightly slower than we thought.

00:11:44 A small section of a dinosaur's tail has been found in a piece of amber for sale in a market in Myanmar. The tail is amazingly well preserved - and feathered!

00:17:31 Nuclear fusion - as opposed to our current nuclear reactors, which use nuclear fission - is the 'holy grail' of physics research. It could provide near limitless energy, without toxic by-products. Now the Wendelstein 7-X project in Germany appears to be making progress, successfully trapping plasma in a magnetic cage.

00:29:39 A small study at Johns Hopkins University could give cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety some hope. It suggests that just a single dose of magic mushrooms can improve their mental health for months.

 

This episode contains traces of the Today Show talking about a Christmas tree.

Direct download: SoT_0251.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39pm AEDT

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

00:00:50 For a long time, vision problems have been a known side-effect of spending a long time in space. We are now a big step closer to understanding why, thanks to some MRI scans done before and after trips to the International Space Station.

00:08:15 The male of the duck-billed platypus has a venomous spurr on its leg. But that venom contains a hormone that could be useful for treating diabetes.

00:13:42 A new study by researchers at Caltech suggests that we could be looking for the cause of Parkinson's Disease in the wrong place. Instead of being a brain issue, it could be related to gut irritation.

 

This episode contains traces of Wil Anderson talking with journalist Mark Colvin.

Direct download: SoT_0250.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:51 Scientists have drilled into the impact site of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. The core samples have revealed the impact caused a temporary mountain range the size of the Himalayas.

00:11:16 At a time when the coconut market is booming, the world's coconut trees could be facing extinction. And saving them presents a number of difficult challenges.

00:14:58 Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined that frozen beneath a particular region of Mars's surface lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes in North America.

00:19:56 Most snail shells coil on the right-hand side of the snail. But Jeremy the Snail is 1 in 100,000 - his shell coils to the left. For snails, it's hard to find love when you're a lefty.

 

This episode contains archive material of astronaut John Glenn's historic first orbit around the Earth.

Direct download: SoT_0249.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45am AEDT

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

00:01:03 Narwhals are whales with two teeth, and on the males one of those teeth is a really long tusk. A new study looks at how they use high-resolution echolocation to navigate under sea ice in the Arctic.

00:05:25 A new paper points out a potential new reservoir for finding antibiotics - the human gut.

00:11:59 Using data from the New Horizons probe, scientists have determined there is likely to be a large ocean deep below the heart shape on Pluto.

 

This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking cautioning against being sedentary.

Direct download: SoT_0248.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:28 An extensive series of experiments over 17 years has led to the development of a new genetic map of yeast. Essentially, it's a reference guide for how to chart genetic interactions within a cell.

00:07:33 A new study of the Hubble Space Telescope observations has increased the estimated number of galaxies in the universe. The new count stands at two trillion - almost ten times the previous estimate of 120 billion!

00:15:02 NASA has announced that the successor to the Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, has been built. This marks the beginning of two years of intense stressing and testing, before launch in October 2018.

00:18:32 A new study suggests that Britain's Beagle 2 Mars lander may have landed successfully, but a subsequent failure made it unable to communicate with Earth.

00:19:41 A team at University of California, San Diego say they've discovered a previously unknown way that bacteria causes acne. They have shown that fatty acids produced by the bacteria inflame the skin cells.

00:23:12 Last week's 'supermoon' received a lot of excited press coverage around the world. Lucas thinks it may have been a bit overhyped.

 

This episode may contain traces of Senator Bernie Sanders talking Trump and climate change on The View, 14 November 2016.

Direct download: SoT_0247.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20pm AEDT

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

00:01:12 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy".

00:06:43 The Nobel Prize in Physics was divided, one half awarded to David J. Thouless, the other half jointly to F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter".

00:11:06 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines".

 

This episode may contain traces of Nobel Committee member Thor Hans Hansson explaining topology with his lunch.

Direct download: SoT_0246.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02am AEDT

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

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 rats in pants to collecting flies!

You can watch the award ceremony here.

 

00:01:28 REPRODUCTION PRIZE was posthumously awarded to Ahmed Shafik, from Egypt, "for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males".

00:10:18 ECONOMICS PRIZE went to two researchers from New Zealand and one from the UK "for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective".

00:19:27 PHYSICS PRIZE was presented to scientists from Hungary, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland "for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones".

00:28:19 CHEMISTRY PRIZE was given to Volkswagen, "for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested".

00:31:54 PEACE PRIZE was given to a team from Canada and the USA "for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'".

00:38:25 MEDICINE PRIZE — five German scientists "for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa)".

00:42:37 PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE went to scientists from Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and the USA "for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers".

00:44:36 BIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

00:51:42 LITERATURE PRIZE went to Fredrik Sjöberg, from Sweden, "for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead".

00:54:30 PERCEPTION PRIZE was picked up by Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

Direct download: SoT_0245.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:33am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Jo Benhamu.

00:01:00 The rattle of the rattlesnake's tail has long been something of a mystery for evolutionary biologists, because there's no 'half-shake'. Well a study by David Pfennig at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may suggest they started off shaking their silent tails, but over time developed a rattle as a signal to predators.

00:06:54 The long awaited results of a 10 year prostate cancer trial were published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study looked at 1,643 men diagnosed with early prostate cancer, and found that those who actively monitored their cancer instead of immediately starting treatment had the same minuscule risk of death as men who had either radiation therapy or surgery straight away.

00:21:05 Shu Lam, a 24 year old PhD student at Melbourne University has developed a star-shaped protein that can rip apart the walls of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – and kill them.

 

Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.

 

This episode may contain traces of Blue Origin's successful test of a crew escape module.

Direct download: SoT_0244.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm AEDT

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

00:00:52 A new study has found that as well as affecting the tides, the gravitational pull from the moon and the sun can affect Earthquakes.

00:06:47 A genetic study of giraffes has found that there isn't just one species, as previously thought. In fact there are four distinct species, some as different as polar bears are to brown bears.

00:15:40 A video showing the evolution of bacteria to resist antibiotics has gone viral, because it is such a clear demonstration. It is unlikely to change the minds of evolution deniers, though.

00:20:54 The Gaia space telescope has released the first catalogue of more than a billion stars. This is the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date.

00:33:34 Long-term studies of Ebola survivors have revealed that the virus lasts a lot longer in victims' bodies than previously suspected. And in some people, it can last for up to 18 months after all symptoms have cleared.

 

This episode may contain traces of Stephen Colbert talking about Giraffes.

Direct download: SoT_0243.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:00:37 The FDA has decreed that triclosan and triclocarban must be removed from all antibacterial soap products by late 2017. This is not because they're dangerous, but because they're ineffective.

00:07:38 The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has launched "perfectly". If successful, this ambitious mission will be the first time NASA has retrieved samples of an asteroid.

00:23:37 A new study of Lucy - the bones of a human ancestor from 3.2 million years ago - suggests she may have died from falling from a tree.

00:30:22 The Juno probe in orbit around Jupiter has taken some extraordinary photographs - the first ever photos of Jupiter's polar regions.

 

This episode may contain traces of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson describing a Tim Tam Slam.

Direct download: SoT_0242.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02am AEDT

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

 

00:00:51 A genetic analysis of the leather coat and fur hat worn by Otzi the iceman has not only revealed what animals he was wearing, but also why.

00:07:07 Zebra finch mothers sing weather reports to their eggs, and the embryos alter the speed of their development accordingly.

00:12:16 Tasmanian devils, nearly wiped out by a devastating facial tumour disease, may be showing signs of resistance to the cancer. This could have a dramatic impact on conservation efforts.

00:20:07 Traces of supernova ash has been discovered in fossils created by bacteria on Earth, which could explain an extinction event 2 million years ago.

00:23:04 Russian scientists have detected an unusually strong spike in radio signals from the vicinity of a nearby star. The internet says it's aliens. Actual scientists say it probably isn't.

00:30:46 The "EM Drive" - a space drive that appears to break the laws of physics - has "passed peer review". But what does that actually mean, and does it mean the drive could be the engine of future spacecraft? Answers: Not much, probably not.

 

This episode contains traces of SETI astronomer Jill Tarter on Science channel's "Through the Wormhole", describing the first small steps in the search for alien intelligence.

 

Direct download: SoT_0241.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35pm AEDT

00:00:38 A planet-that-in-some-respects-probably-resembles-Earth-a-little-bit has been found orbiting the closest star outside our solar system, Proxima Centauri. Astronomer and astrobiologist Dr. Jonti Horner gives us the details about our nearest distant neighbour, Proxima Centauri b.

00:45:33 Thanks to continental drift, Australia's moving Northward by 7cm every year. As a result, it's now more than a meter from where the maps say it is. And when your self-driving car relies on GPS, that could be a big problem.

 

Dr. Jonti Horner is an astronomer and astrobiologist based at the University of Southern Queensland. On Saturday, 24 September 2016 he will be giving a talk, "Exoplanets & Life Elsewhere", at the Melbourne Planetarium.

 

This episode may contain traces of Shepard Smith announcing the discovery of Proxima Centauri b.

Direct download: SoT_0240.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm AEDT

00:00:42 106 Million years ago, supervolcanoes in Australia hurled rocks more than 2,250km away. Such eruptions would have been among the biggest ever on Earth.

00:03:47 These volcanoes are part of a previously unknown trail created by a hotspot underneath Australia, which formed new volcanoes as the continent moved over it.

00:10:49 The long-standing view that life first began in "primordial soup" that was struck by lightening may be about to be overturned. The theory that the first living cells were born deep in the ocean in warm, hydrothermal vents is now gaining traction.

00:18:17 The Europa Clipper is NASA's ambitious mission to send a probe to Jupiter's sixth-closest moon, Europa. Europa is one of the best candidates for life in the solar system, but the mission is now facing serious possible budget cuts.

  

This episode may contain traces of veteran newsreader Lee Lin Chin opining on the lack of Facebook love for Australia's premier scientific organisation, the CSIRO.

Direct download: SoT_0239.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51pm AEDT

00:00:50 Olympic athletes are using suction cups to suck their skin up into a cup. But is there any science to cupping? (Spoiler: not much, but some. Well, sort of.)

00:10:30 Promising animal trials suggest Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness could all be treated and possibly even cured, with one relatively safe drug.

00:13:53 An international team of scientists have discovered that the liquid found in the brood sacks of a particular type of cockroach is a highly nutritious source of protein. One day we might be feeding our babies cockroach milk!

00:18:26 Headlice are becoming resistant to the common insecticides we usually use. But a simple, 3,000 year old treatment could be the solution.

 

This episode may contain traces of Peter Alexander talking about cupping on NBC News.

Direct download: SoT_0238.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50pm AEDT

00:00:53 Jupiter's moon Io, the fourth largest moon in the solar system, has a volcanic atmosphere that collapses every day.

00:09:07 A survey of fifty houses in North Carolina as found a correlation between household income and biodiversity. The wealthier the household, the greater the variety of insects found inside.

00:13:46 Data from the Dawn spacecraft reveals that Ceres, the largest asteroid in the main asteroid belt, is not the dead lump of rock we thought it would be. In fact, it may have a still warm radioactive interior.

 

This episode may contain traces of newly elected Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts and his thoughts on carbon dioxide.

Direct download: SoT_0237.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am AEDT

00:00:49 One of the bigger mysteries about the surface of Mars concerns the formation of some of the gullies. They look very similar to gullies created by flowing water on Earth, only they don't seem to be caused by water at all.

00:10:48 Modern chemotherapy drugs are improving all the time, but they still have really nasty side-effects. But a study published this week shows some promise of being able to deliver the drugs directly into a tumour, thanks to some genetically modified salmonella bacteria.

00:17:01 At first glance, it seems obvious that turtles have evolved their shells as a form of protection. But a new paper published in Current Biology suggests it initially evolved to help turtle ancestors burrow.

 

This episode may contain traces of Professor Brian Cox.

Direct download: SoT_0236.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am AEDT

00:02:35 It's been a year since New Horizons flew past Pluto, and now all the data is in. We take a look at some of the big things we've leared about Pluto and its moons.

00:19:57 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the bacteria that causes gonorrhea may be developing resistance to the only two antibiotics left that can cure it.

00:25:12 While all the major planets in the solar system orbit the sun in a fairly tight plane, that orbital plane isn't aligned with the Sun's equator. Which means either the sun has been tilted, or something has influenced the orbits of all the planets. Two independent scientific papers published last week point to the second option - and Planet Nine could be the culprit.

 

This episode contains traces of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton discussing climate change.

Direct download: SoT_0235.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:35pm AEDT

00:00:39 A decade ago, the Great Southern Reef stretched for 8,000km off the coast of Western Australia. Now, a long-term study shows how decades of ocean warming combined with a marine heatwave has devastated the kelp forest. We caught up with Dr Scott Bennett from the Spanish National Research Council, one of the primary investigators on the study.

00:20:04 A new study has found that capuchin monkeys in Brazil have been using stones as tools to prepare their cashew feasts for more than 700 years.

00:24:49 Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have made a major discovery that could determine whether a patient has a bacterial infection or a viral infection by through a simple blood test.

00:31:26 The European Space Agency has announced an ambitious plan to catch a derelict satellite in a net, and burn it up in Earth's atmosphere.

 

Dr. Scott Bennett is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and Research Associate in Marine Ecology at Curtin University.

 

This episode contains traces of Paul Barry on Media Watch investigating The Australian’s Great Barrier Reef coverage.

 

Direct download: SoT_0234.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14pm AEDT

00:01:29 713 Trillion gallons of water found deep underneath California. But we can't touch it... yet.

00:09:48 A pair of wings found encased in 99 million year old amber suggest that the plumage of modern birds has remained almost unchanged from some of their dinosaur-era ancestors.

00:13:58 Thirty eight rare hazel dormice have been released into the Yorkshire Dales National Park in England in a conservation effort. But the declining dormouse population raises other issues about how changing land use is affecting the wildlife.

00:18:45 A three-year study of a reef in the Florida Keys has shed light on how microbes are crucial to keeping coral reefs healthy Overfishing, pollution and climate change can destabilise the coral's natural defence and disrupt ecological communities.

 

This episode may contain traces of Rick Nybakken, Project Manager for the Juno mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

Direct download: SoT_0233.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39pm AEDT

00:00:55 Fish that spend part of the time on land - such as mudskippers, American eels, and sea scorpions - may have evolved that ability separately more than 30 times!

00:07:08 Tabby's Star, also known as Where's The Flux, has been described as "the most mysterious star in the universe". It's the star with the strange dimming patterns that caused some speculation that it might be an alien megastructure. Well it almost certainly isn't an alien megastructure, but the story behind its discovery and the plans to study it closer are just as cool!

00:18:00 A new study finds links between low-fibre diets and peanut allergies.

 

This episode may contain traces of Tabetha Boyajian's TED Talk, The most mysterious star in the universe.

 

Direct download: SoT_0232.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm AEDT

00:01:05 For the second time, physicists have detected gravitational waves, proving that gravitational wave detection is a viable new form of astronomy. It also opens the way for theories about space-time having a memory, and possible explanations for dark matter.

00:30:38 A long awaited WHO report says that not only is coffee not carcinogenic, but it may even prevent some cancers. It's not so good news, however, if you like your coffee hot.

00:42:58 NASA's Juno spacecraft is set to enter orbit around Jupiter on July 4th, and NASA has released a Hollywood-style trailer for it.

 

Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne. She is a co-host of Pint in the Sky, a vodcast about astrophysics and beer. She also writes on her blog and tweets at @AstroKatie.

 

Direct download: SoT_0231.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:21pm AEDT

00:00:52 Michelle Franklin joins us to discuss invasive species control - from giving herpes to carp, to the moth that nearly wiped out the prickly pear.

00:16:57 Scientists have trained archerfish to recognise - and spit at - specific human faces.

00:22:46 A woman in Pennsylvania recently tested positive to an E. coli "superbug" that's resistant to most antibiotics. That's scary enough, but it also points to a worrisome lack of testing and reporting with urinary tract infections.

 

Michelle Franklin is a wildlife biologist and a founder of the Darwin Skeptics.

Phil Kent is an aquaculture specialist and secretary of the Brisbane Skeptics. Brisbane Skeptics have a Skepticamp coming up. Phil can be found on Facebook, Twitter and at the Brisbane Skeptics' Facebook page.

 

This episode contains traces of Stephen Colbert talking about a new study of frog sex positions.

 

Direct download: SoT_0230.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43pm AEDT

00:01:03 Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University have described the development of a potential universal cancer vaccine. But it's still very early days.

00:10:57 Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have found a giant sponge - the largest on record and one of the oldest living creatures in the world.

00:14:43 A large rat study shows that exposing rats to large doses of mobile phone radiation over two years can cause a higher rate of some cancers. But it's a long way away from showing any clear link in humans.

00:35:37 Australia's Olympic athletes will be protected from sexual transmission of the Zika virus by specially developed anti-Zika condoms. Also, all condoms protect against the sexual spread of Zika virus. Because that's what condoms do.

 

This episode contains traces of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Maher.

Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.

Direct download: SoT_0229.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01pm AEDT

Researchers have just published a study that for the first time shows physical changes in trees that in some ways correspond to day-night cycles.

Newly discovered evidence of a previously unknown population of Tasmanian devils could provide the genetic diversity that may be crucial to saving the devils from a deadly facial cancer.

Dating a rock formation deep in a cave in France reveals Neanderthals were much more advanced than previously thought.

Two Armenian physicists have published a study looking at a possible link between dark energy and the direction of time. Dark energy could, they suggest, be the reason why time goes forwards but cannot go backwards.

Listener Chris sent us some interesting information as a follow up to our story about Mt. St Helens.

 

This episode contains traces of Professor Brian Cox talking about the eventual end of the universe.

Direct download: SoT_0228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm AEDT

A Canadian teenager may have found a lost Mayan city. Or, it might just be a marijuana plantation. Either way, he deserves credit for coming up with a hypothesis and testing it - with help from the Canadian Space Agency!

There's a parasite that's turning Alaskan king crabs into zombies. The parasite castrates the males, takes over their bodies and makes them raise its offspring. But the good news is the crab's legs are still edible!

A new study finds a link between folate and autism. But it's not so simple - and there's no reason pregnant women should stop taking folate supplements if their doctor advises.

We respond to some feedback from Michelle Franklin about biological controls in Australia. Not all attempts to control pests with other organisms have been failures, some have been quite successful.

 

This episode contains traces of Paul Barry on Media Watch.

Direct download: SoT_0227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41pm AEDT

A further 1,284 more exoplanets have been confirmed by NASA's Kepler mission. This puts the total number confirmed planets outside our solar system to 3,268!

Does the increase in small earthquakes below Mount St. Helens signify an imminent eruption? Not quite, but that hasn't stopped the media from panicking.

For a long time, climate change scientists have been warning that as sea levels rise, some countries could be lost underwater. This week, new research shows that at least five reef islands in the Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea-level rise.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a boat sitting above the Marianas Trench, and it's live-streaming video from a remotely operated vehicle. One of the many amazing finds they've looked at is a beautiful jellyfish with brightly coloured gonads!

 

This episode contains traces of John Oliver ranting about bad media reporting of science.

Direct download: SoT_0226.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm AEDT

Chiropractors in Australia are coming under fire after a shocking video of manipulation of a baby goes viral. Dr. Mick Vagg gives us an in-depth look at the controversial industry. You can watch parts of the video here.

Scientists are about to unleash "Carpageddon" - a radical form of biological control that aims to eradicate carp from an Australian river system. Watch out carp, herpes is coming!

Mysterious gullies on Mars may be formed by water 'boiling'. Water in low pressure, such as at the surface of Mars, has been found to boil rapidly and 'pop' the surrounding sand.

The Large Hadron Collider came to an abrupt halt recently. Not because of a fault, as such, but because a weasel got in and started chewing on things it shouldn't have!

Dr. Mick Vagg is a pain specialist, and author of the Medicandus column on The Conversation.

 

This episode contains traces of radio broadcaster Jon Faine interviewing Deputy President of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia (CAA), Andrew Lawrence.

Direct download: SoT_0225.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm AEDT

SpaceX plans to send uncrewed Dragon capsules to Mars... as early as 2018. And they might even be able to do it!

Study of a rare fossil of a baby titanosaur shows that some dinosaurs were left to fend for themselves immediately after hatching.

The bittersweet nightshade plant has an ancient defense mechanism - it recruits armies of ants to ward off slugs and predators.

Astronomers have discovered that Makemake, the second brightest dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, has a moon. Surprisingly, it's much darker than Makemake - and about 1,300 times fainter.

 

This episode contains traces of ABC News' in-depth coverage of the SpaceX announcement.

Direct download: SoT_0224.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17pm AEDT

A new study looks at the vocal talents of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, and reveals what we already knew: he had an extraordinary voice!

A study of bats shows that when hunting insects, they don't plan one kill at a time. Instead they choose flight paths that take them to two victims in quick succession.

A study looking at high powered hand dryers - in particular the Dyson Airblades - has found they can spread a lot of virus particles. But that's only a problem if you don't wash your hands properly. And you probably don't.

 

Peter Miller is a professional sound designer and music composer who has worked in the film & music business for nearly 40 years. He writes at Hummadruz about various audio phenomena and pseudo-science.

This episode contains traces of Stephen Colbert and Dr. Manny Alvarez describing correct hand-washing technique.

Direct download: SoT_0223.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56pm AEDT

Penguins need to be counted, and scientists need your help counting them! PenguinWatch blends citizen science with cute penguins!

Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner team up again to fund an extremely ambitious $100m research program to send probes to Alpha Centauri.

A new chemical test could reveal whether fossilised bones were from pregnant – and therefore female – dinosaurs.

 

This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking announcing the "Starshot" Breakthrough Initiative.

Direct download: SoT_0222.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm AEDT