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

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

Topics covered:

A new clutch of genetic mutations linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, online gamers have deciphered the structure of an enzyme that has long eluded scientists, and Victoria’s dolphins have been formally recognised as a new species. Plus Australia's northward drift has shed light on the causes of long-term sea level change, the James Webb Space Telescope gets a ray of hope, NASA announces a new rocket and the spooky living billboard that advertises the Hollywood blockbuster Contagion.

Direct download: SoT_0026.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53pm AEDT

Hosts: Lucas Randall, Penny Dumsday, Kylie Sturgess.

Topics Covered:

  • Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method
  • Despite winning acclaim for his children's book on evolution, Daniel Loxton faced some challenges getting published in the US
  • Are wild birds learning to speak from their previously domesticated cousins?
  • New study provokes a re-think on dingoes' history
  • It may not be up to sci-fi standards, but 'suspended animation' is ready for clinical trials as a life-saving technique
  • Near-death experiences may indeed be all in the mind, triggered by changes in serotonin levels
Direct download: SoT_0025.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:44am AEDT

Hosts: Lucas Randall, Dr Shayne Joseph and Dr Rachael Dunlop.

Topics covered:

- Rachael Dunlop's research at the HRI in to the links between motor-neuron disease and blue-green algae
- A gene defect appears to cause the most common sight-disorder, near-signtedness or Myopa
- A team has found an association between long-term dietary patterns and the bacteria of the human gut
- Blood shortages are a global problem, and a French team have now published the results of their study which may be a crucial step towards addressing it - with stem cells
- A newly discovered star which formed back when the universe was just a toddler is challenging our current understanding of star-formation
- Cognitive dissonance FTW

Direct download: SoT_0024.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:39pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

- Jumping genes helped evolution
- Cavemen sex gave humans a health boost
International team discovers planet made of diamond
Fossil Discovery Represents New Milestone in Early Mammal Evolution
Kamikaze Satellite Could Be Earth’s Last Defense Against Asteroid
Fossils hints on Earth’s first life
Fruit bacteria to curb dengue

Direct download: SoT_0023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall Tom Sidwell and Mike McRae.

Topics covered:

Scientists reprogrammed the immune system to target cancer cells, and suicide bombing bacteria targets other bacteria. Can evolution be predicted? And a new study reveals the moon may be up to 70 million years younger than we thought.

Mike McRae is a science writer for the CSIRO's education department and author of Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs and Bad Ideas. He blogs at and is on Twitter.

Direct download: SoT_0022.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am AEDT

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

Topics covered:

 An electronic temporary tattoo is really really awesome! When developing medications, the differences between men and women - and even individuals - aren't always taken into account. Mealybugs have bacteria living in their bacteria! The European Space Agency plans to hurl a spaceship at an asteroid to see if they can change it's course, and our panel takes the National Science Week Fact or Fiction test.

Direct download: SoT_0021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm AEDT

SoT 20: Smooshed

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

Topics covered:

Earth may have had a second moon billions of years ago, 'comfort food' works not just by taste but also in the gut, and your belly button is a bacterial zoo. Scientists have 'sorta' made sperm in a lab, vampire bats have a molecular heat sensor and is there flowing water on Mars?

An award-winning Philosophy teacher with over ten years experience in education, Kylie Sturgess has lectured on teaching critical thinking, feminism, new media and anomalistic beliefs worldwide. She is a member of the JREF Education Advisory Panel and regularly writes editorial for numerous publications and CSI’s ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ online column. In 2010, Kylie was a co-author of the paper ‘The structure of superstitious action – A further analysis of fresh evidence‘, in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, a peer-reviewed publication. It involves a re-analysis of Wiseman and Watt’s short scales of positive and negative superstitions.

Kylie blogs at PodBlack Cat, hosts the Token Skeptic podcast and is on Twitter.

Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.


Direct download: SoT_0020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Tom Sidwell.

Topics covered:

People living in polar regions have bigger eyes and bigger brains. Neaderthals might have been wiped out by the sheer numbers of modern humans. Trojan asteroid discovered sharing Earth's orbit. Volcanoes discovered on the moon suggest it was geologically active only 800 million years ago, much more recently than previously thought.

Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.


Direct download: SoT_0019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm AEDT

On Thursday Dr. Leslie Cannold - author, ethicist, commentator and award-winning columnist - spoke to a packed audience at Embiggen Books. She spoke about the various social and economic forces undermining trust in science, and what can be done to restore that trust.

Embiggen Books is Melbourne's newest bookshop, specialising in scientific and skeptical books. According to their website, they boast “the biggest range of popular science titles instock in the observable universe”. They also have a growing range of technical science books as well as fiction, history, economics and much more.

This event was organised by Embiggen Books, Melbourne Skeptics and Melbourne Eastern Hills Skeptics.

Direct download: SoT_Special_002_-_Leslie_Cannold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Belinda tells us a bit about working at the Gemini South Observatory in Chile, and the possible cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope. We talk about Pluto's new moon, the mouse that stole a poison-resistance gene from another species, and the mouse that runs a lot more because it's missing a gene. A high school class DNA-tested lots of tea and found some surprising extras.

And while talking about that last story, something happened. Not sure what, but the recording stopped abruptly and we never realised. We talked a lot about a how the mass-extinction event that happened right before the dinosaurs started to rule the world, probably happened a lot quicker than previously thought. Ed gives a summary of the study at the end, and links to the story can be found on our website.

Belinda Nicholson is an astrophysicist and Masters of Science student at Melbourne University.

Duration: 0:40:40

Direct download: SoT_0018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm AEDT