Sun, 9 October 2016
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.
Mon, 3 October 2016
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.
Fri, 23 September 2016
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.
Thu, 15 September 2016
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.
Wed, 7 September 2016
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.
Sun, 28 August 2016
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.
Mon, 22 August 2016
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.
Sun, 14 August 2016
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.
Wed, 10 August 2016
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.
Tue, 2 August 2016
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.