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

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST