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

The Mars Science Laboratory, called "Curiosity", is the largest spacecraft we've sent to another planet. Weighing 900kg, packed with ten scientific instruments, 17 cameras and a nuclear power source the rover is looking for signs that Mars could have supported life at some point.

I caught up with Lucas Randal, Sumen Rai and Alan Kerlin to talk about the complicated Entry, Descent and Landing procedure and the rover's two-year mission.

Watch the incredible 7 Minutes of Teror video.

Related links and stories we talked about in this show:

This episode uses clips from various NASA productions believed to be in the public domain, and an excerpt from This Week in Tech's special Curiosity episode, used under the Creative Commons license.

Direct download: SoT_Special_007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:29pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Mick Vagg, Vanessa Hill.

Topics covered:

The Mars Space Laboratory, the Curiosity rover, is set to land on Mars on Monday. An artificial jellyfish made from rat heart cells. Pain and proximity: how pain affects our spacial awareness. Elderly termites become suicide bombers to protect the nest. Has music 'quality' and variety worsened over the years?

Direct download: SoT_0067.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely, Micaela Jemison, Lucas Randall.

Topics covered:

Helen talks about her work at the Australian Synchrotron, and Shayne explains the chicken vaccines that became a virus. White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease wiping out populations of bats in North America. A molecule that enables bacteria such as E. Coli to infect cells has been discovered, and physicists have broken a world record by firing 192 lasers and delivering more than 500 trillion watts of power.

Direct download: SoT_0066.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:38pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Fruitflies trained to count, the magnetic cells that help fish navigate, and the trade offs for having big brains. A fifth moon discovered orbiting Pluto, and the most complete skeleton of Australopithicus sediba is found. The trick used by cancer to spread through the bloodstream is identified, and the effects of gastric bypass surgery on gut bacteria.

Direct download: SoT_0065.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Spray-on rechargeable batteries, parents are less likely to catch colds. A 'Jekyl and Hyde' bacteria that helps worms but kills insects. Global warming causing shrinking trees, and causing more cyanobacterial toxins in our rivers and lakes.

Direct download: SoT_0064.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Kate Naughton, Mags Lum, Upulie Divisekera.

Topics covered:

Dear Sir David - write your tributes to a great science communicator. Physicists at CERN have discovered 'Higgs-like' particle. Oxygen injections keep rabbits alive without breathing. Geckos evolved (and lost) their sticky feet many times. A new technique allows doctors to see inside tissues without cutting the skin. And for invasive sea stars, our shipping ports are "hotspots of exotic free-spawning sex".

Direct download: SoT_0063.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Early warning system for El Nino weather pattern, the mysteries of the gut microbiome. Pests are adapting to the toxins produced by genetically modified crops, and a study suggests lo-fat dressings don't allow you to absorb the most nutrients from a salad.

And a TEDx talk by former astronaut Ed Lu about remote monitors in the oceans.

Direct download: SoT_0062.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Prof. Daniel Midgely.

Topics covered:

Gorillas use hand gestures to talk to their children, repeating it like 'baby talk'. Primates may first have spread from Africa to Asia, then back to Africa before humans evolved and spread Out of Africa. The chainmain on bacteria finally revealed. To teach a robot, start with a baby robot. The secret weapon against cane toads: cannibal cane toads! Wider spacing between letters makes reading easier for dyslexic children. Voyager 1 is leaving our solar system... sort of.

Direct download: SoT_0061.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Mick Vagg.

Topics covered:

Pain medication derived from cannabis vs opioids. A new theory about why giant insects died out 130 million years ago. Giant raindrops have almost no effect on small mosquitoes. Study of the Gulf of Mexico shows dramatic changes to the microscopic ecosystems after the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Overfed fruit flies develop insulin resistance, just like humans. And researchers have sequenced the genome of an unborn baby with 98% accuracy.

Direct download: SoT_0060.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Jo Benhamu.

Topics covered:

A new study suggest there really is an "old people's smell". A combination of therapies help rats with severed spinal cords walk again. Fruit flies prove a genetic link for Restless Leg Syndrome. Carbon found in a Mars meteorite is probably volcanic, and not related to life. Astronaut vision loss and cranial hypertension may be the result of an inability to process vitamins in space. The cartoons were right - 'evil eyebrows' and a beard trigger our primal 'threat' instinct. A new study supports the Mediterranean diet as beneficial for 'quality of life'. Two new elements on the Periodic table, and sarcastic computers might not be far away.

Direct download: SoT_0059.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Vanessa Hill, Micaela Jemison.

Topics covered:

Micaela discusses the importance of micro-bats for keeping insects under control. For more information check the Australasian Bat Society website, in particular their excellent Fact Sheets. Vanessa tells us about Launchpod, her new podcast exploring the many different careers available in space-related fields. Two Site Solution: The SKA to be built in Australia AND South Africa. SpaceX successfully launches and docks Dragon, the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. A cotton T-shirt that acts like a capacitor and could be used to charge mobile phones. Glasses that enhance vision for the visually impaired by artificially colouring objects according to their distance. The World Health Organisation releases its One Year Report on Fukushima, and it's pretty good news. And we discuss the upcoming Transit of Venus and the partial lunar eclipse.

Direct download: SoT_0058.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:35pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Stroke victims control a robotic arm using just their thoughts. By rerouting nerves, surgeons restore some hand motion to a quadriplegic. Possibly the oldest cave art we know of features female genitalia. Transplanting human genes into zebrafish gives some clues about the genetics of autism, schitzophrenia and obesity. Scientists develop a potential malarial vaccine, from algae. Some viruses, stacked on top of each other, can be used to produce electricity.

Direct download: SoT_0057.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Dogs that yawn when their owners do - the only case of contagious yawning crossing species. Santino the Stone-Throwing Chimp gives us more evidence to suggest he plans for the future. A new coating kills bacteria not with chemicals, but by crushing them. The 'Grandmother Hypothesis' could explain link between breast cancer and high fertility. Living near forests or farms rather then urban environments could mean fewer allergies. Kiwifruit-destroying bacteria tracked back to two different strains from China and Italy.

Direct download: SoT_0056.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Planetary Resources, a company backed by several billionaires, plans to mine asteroids in space - and it's not as crazy as you might think. Brain scans of dogs could give clues about how they understand language and emotions. Koalas are now considered vulnerable and added to the threatened species list. The liver plays a role in resetting the body clock after jetlag or shift work. The ESA's next mission to get the go-ahead could be JUICE, the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer.

Direct download: SoT_0055.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:13pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Adam vanLangenberg, Kate Naughton.

Topics covered:

Early tetrapods used their body armour for breathing. Using your brain as your password. A lack of diversity in Tasmanian Tigers led to their extinction, and Tasmanian Devils are facing a similar fateDrugged honeybees give insights into jetlag and body clocks. Does thinking in a foreign language make you more rational? What makes people seem 'creepy'? A new mathetmatics model predicts the proportion of left-handed people in sports like boxing and golf.

Direct download: SoT_0054.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm AEDT

In early 2012, the lobby group Friends of Science in Medicine wrote to the vice-chancellors of Australia's universities asking them not to allow the establishment of unscientific alternative medicine courses. Established only five months ago, Friends of Science in Medicine now boasts more than 500 members. They are currently campaigning "to reverse the current trend which sees government-funded tertiary institutions offering courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by  sound scientific evidence".

Shayne and I caught up with Dr. Rob Morrison, a co-founder and Vice President of Friends of Science in Medicine. Rob has won two Eureka Prizes, was Senior Australian of the Year for South Australia in 2008 and is a Professorial Fellow at Flinders University. Also he co-hosted The Curiosity Show for 18 years.

Direct download: SoT_Special_006.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:40pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Bacteria found in a remote, isolated cave is resistant to most of our antibiotics. Baboons can recognise English words, even ones they've never seen before. A robot helps understand the 'cocktail party problem', where we can filter out background noise and concentrate on a conversation. The largest study of its kind finds a single gene linked to intelligence. How pidgeons sense magnetic fields to help them migrate long distances remains a mystery.

Direct download: SoT_0053.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

A portable plasma gun that zaps bacteria, the ability to identify a person from their RNA, and the risk of brain tumours from dental x-rays. The Japanese honeybee giant ball of death, and how evolution copies itself. A build up of carbon dioxide ended the last ice age, and why hyenas are giving up meat for Lent.

Direct download: SoT_0052.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

A new strain of the pertussis bacteria may reduce the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine - but only slightly. The gut microflora may be a lot more complicated than previously thought. A new study casts doubt on the most widely accepted theory of the moon's creation. Human ancestors may have mastered fire a million years ago - much earlier than previously thought. A new imaging technique reveals stunning grid-like structures in the brain. And the genetic mutation in van Gogh's sunflowers.

Direct download: SoT_0051.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Maia Sauren.

Topics covered:

How the shape of your head affects the energy coming from your mobile phone. James Cameron becomes the first person to dive solo to the Earth's deepest point. Federal and state governments continue to fund the Australian Synchrotron. A new theory to explain the extinction of Australian megafauna could explain ancient climate change. The giant paper aeroplane that flies. New peanut allergy test is safer and more reliable. Wave-particle duality applies to molecules, not just light. How lying makes you feel much better... or much worse.

Direct download: SoT_0050.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

When turned down by a lady, male fruit flies will drown their sorrows in alcohol. A fossil of the oldest animal with a skeleton is pre-Cambrian. Russia's got big plans for space, although space travel could cause eye and brain problems. Salt-tolerant wheat crop developed, and a new theory about why the giant squid has enormous eyes.

Direct download: SoT_0049.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Wearing red clothing may be giving sexual signals to men, an iron spike could explain how bacteriophages attack bacteria, Sequencing the 5,300 year old DNA of Otzi reveals his many ailments. Why we should break up sitting times, the genetically engineered bacteria that could help fight climate change. Social skills linked to daydreaming brain, testosterone makes us bad collaborators, reproductive eggs (oocytes) could be grown from stem cells, and the coronal mass ejection heading towards Earth.

Direct download: SoT_0048.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18am AEDT

The Australian Science Communicators National Conference was held at the Sydney Masonic Centre from 27 to 29 February. Opened with an address from Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, the conference was three days filled with inspiring stories, intriguing ideas and vigorous discussion.

After the conference I caught up with Kylie Sturgess, Dr. Krystal Evans and Sarah Keenihan to get their thoughts.

Links:

Australian Science Communicators National Conference 2012 Website

Kylie's live blogs

Storify Day 2

Storify Day 3

I'm A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here!

McKeon Review

Direct download: SoT_Special_005_-_ASC2012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Sumen Rai.

Topics covered:

Meat grown in a lab could be in a hamburger later this year. Australian physicists have created the first fully-functioning single-atom transistor. Recent images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggest the moon is still seismically active. Fish follow their robot leader, the discovery of a watery planet that is nothing like Kevin Kostner, and Australia's plans for space involvement.

Direct download: SoT_0047.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Nanotech turns plants into common plastic, subdermal implants delivering medications, a satellite-terminator that destroys obsolete or dead satellites, and the mutant genes in your genome. Low-oxygen environments during pregnancy can predispose a baby to heart disease, Venus' surprising slowing rotation, and an update on the faster-than-light neutrinos.

Direct download: SoT_0046.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am AEDT

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

Topics covered:

New supercontinent 'Amasia' to form in 100 million years, and the Zebra's peculiar stripes may ward off dangerous flies. The physiological effects of massage have been studied, and reveal unexpected gene expression. Fasting mice have a better chance of beating cancer, and climate change could be affecting microbial life in Antarctica.

Direct download: SoT_0045.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:46pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Russian scientists drill through 4km of ice to a 20 million year old pristine lake. The controversial bacteria and arsenic story from 2010 is back, this time with a new experiment showing different results. Gene expression in astronauts may be altered by zero-gravity, according to levitating fruit-flies. US Scientists are calling for a tax on sugar, saying it's as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. And Australian scientists want to use the DNA from three parents, to reduce the risk of inheriting diseases.

Direct download: SoT_0044.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Tom Sidwell, Dr. Paul Willis.

Topics covered:

How long does it take for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant? Should Australia introduce elephants to reduce bushfires? Analysis of an Archaeopteryx feather reveals the early bird had black plumage. The first human trials of embryonic stem cells suggests the procedure is safe could treat eye disease. Coral from the Great Barrier Reef is being frozen, in an effort to store a genetic record of the reef's diveristy. Studying the brains of people tripping on magic mushrooms could provide clues to new anti-depression drugs. Genetic factors only account for about a quarter of the changes in intelligence over our lives.

Direct download: SoT_0043.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:23pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Research linking HRT to cancer contains many faults, rising carbon dioxide levels are affecting fish brains, multicellular life evolves in a laboratory. Scientists create the world's smallest ear, experts divided about adding leap seconds, the Tasmanian Tiger is definitely extinct.


Direct download: SoT_0042.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Chinese hangover treatment offers hope for alcohol antidote, warmer nests mean smarter lizards, and mantra rays could be at risk of extinction because of non-traditional traditional chinese medicine. The giant Galapagos Tortoise could be brought back from the brink of extinction, a lost collection of fossils collected by Darwin has been found and what you should and shouldn't be critical of with science journalism.

Direct download: SoT_0041.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Octopuses edit their RNA to beat the cold, dogs can follow a human's gaze, NASA investigating bacteria-fueled micro-robots, supersoldier ants, communication disadvantages of text compared to speech, and a new estimation of exoplanets indicates they are remarkably common.

Direct download: SoT_0040.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:48pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

NASA's GRAIL probes in orbit around the moon, hybrid sharks found off the coast of Australia, and can top violinists tell the difference between a US$1 million Stradivarius and a more modern concert-grade violin? Water can determine the spiciness of chillis, due to an evolutionary trade-off.

Adam vanLangenberg is a high school maths teacher and writes for Subterranean Death Cult, a new pop culture blog. He was recently profiled for an article in The Age, about the Skeptical Society he's started at his school.

Direct download: SoT_0039.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Mitochondria - the 'power-plants' inside cells - might be ancient parasites. Body hair may help us spot parasites, and tiny hairs on spiders help them hear. There could be large oceans of liquid water deep underground on Mars, and more than half of all Australian men diagnosed with cancer have turned to 'alternate' medicine.

Direct download: SoT_0038.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:05pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Study shows rats have empathy, helping other rats escape. Carbon sequestration is likely to be too costly to combat climate change. Doctors take a stand against chiropractors - and is this the age of superstition? CERN calls a press conference and doesn't tell us very much. And the fossilised remains of a scary pre-cambrian superpredator is found with remarkable eyes.

Direct download: SoT_0037.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Baby turtles with wi-fi! They can listen in to each other's heartbeats! Wasps have a surprisingly good ability to recognise faces. Genetically engineered neurons that light up when firing. When do women take bigger risks, and do childless women really have poorer health? And climate change has had an unusual effect on ladybugs.

Aimee Whitcroft is a New Zealand-based science blogger. She is co-founder of the SciBlogs network and co-host of The Official SciBlogs Podcast.

Direct download: SoT_0036.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Elf Eldridge.

Topics covered:

Pregnancy is hard enough for humans, but a study shows the high energy cost to pregnant dolphins. Paleontologists in China have discovered the remains of a bird inside the stomach of a Microraptor dinosaur. The successful embedding of an LED in a contact lens paves the way for head-up-displays and augmented reality. A 70-million year old nest has been found, with the remains of 15 baby protoceratops dinosaurs. The switch to an agricultural society has led to a shortening of the human jaw, and therefore crooked teeth.

Elf Eldridge is a Physics PhD student at the MacDiarmid Institute where he works on developing nanopore technology. He is also a science communicator, a blogger for the SciBlogs network and co-host of The Official Sciblogs Podcast.

Direct download: SoT_0035.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Krystal Evans.

Topics covered:

Dr. Krystal gives us an in-depth progress report on malaria treatment - is this the year we start winning the war on malaria? Also Penny tells us how nematode worms can distinguish good bacteria from harmful bacteria, and the discovery of two sunken 'mini-continents' off the coast of West Australia. Plus an update on the troubled Phobos-Grunt probe - it's alive! And more results for those faster-than-light neutrinos.

Dr. Krystal is a malaria researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Direct download: SoT_0034.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity, is about to launch - and a Russian Mars probe is in trouble. A new drug helps fat monkeys get slim, a new model explores the shape of continental plates. Autism could be caused by too many brain cells in a key area of the brain, the Spotted Horse may have existed 25,000 years ago, and a new approach to lung cancer treatment.

Vanessa Hill is an education officer for CSIRO, Australia’s national science organisation.

Direct download: SoT_0033.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am AEDT

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

Topics Covered:

Does being happy make you live longer? NASA wants rovers with tractor beams, billion year old bacteria created, the mystery of the Ice Age Beasts and did "too much fracking" cause earthquakes in England?

Plus a squabble about Klingons, Romulans and Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, we get nerdy.

Adam vanLangenberg is a mathematics teacher and host of Mathematical Punch-Ons.

Direct download: SoT_0032.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

BPA "linked" to behaviour problems in girls - it really isn't, as Food Standards Australia & New Zealand show. And why haven't we heard about the "Majestically Scientific" study earlier this year? On a related 'science in government policy' note, we look at the West Australian shark cull - is it a Hollywood response to real horror? A study links heavy metal music to depression, a Burmese Python's heart can expand nearly twice it's original size, Archaeopteryx reclaims the title of first bird, and dwarf planet Eris is roughly the same size as dwarf planet Pluto.

Jo Benhamu is a specialist nurse (Acute Care/Gastroenterology), a reporter for the Skeptic Zone podcast, and a committee member of Australian Skeptics.

Direct download: SoT_0031.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

A new way to turn adult cells into embryonic stem cells, Cycads not so ancient after all, nanotube fibres that twist and untwist could propel nanobots. Astronomers may have directly imaged a planet in the process of forming, the IQ of teenagers fluctuates, and the world's biggest virus: MEGAVIRUS.

The book Penny mentions is Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, by Stephen Jay Gould.

Direct download: SoT_0030.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm AEDT

It is estimated that in 2006 alone there were 1.3 million papers published in 23,750 scientific journals. But what happens when a paper gets 'unpublished' - withdrawn or retracted? I caught up with Dr. Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, founders of RetractionWatch. A blog that follows retractions as they happen and investigates the stories behind them, RetractionWatch uncovers a world of falsified data, plagiarism and ethics violations.

Direct download: SoT_Special_003_-_RetractionWatch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37am AEDT

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

Topics covered:

The book that Lucas mentions about the climate change denial industry is Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

Direct download: SoT_0029.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Kylie Sturgess and Aimee Whitcroft

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year's winners: from a study of beetles that really like beer bottles to 'structured procrastination'.

Aimee Whitcroft is a science blogger and co-founder of the SciBlogs network in New Zealand. She co-hosts The Official SciBlogs Podcast, and next year is planning to do the Mongol Rally.

Direct download: SoT_0028.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47am AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Male squids appear to have sex with male and female squids, neutrinos might travel faster than light, and the DNA of an Australian Aborigine gives insights into the early migration out of Africa. Plus the discovery of a gene linking high fat food to diabetes and a study about cooperation in chimpanzees reveals stark differences to humans.

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

Direct download: SoT_0027.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37pm AEDT

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 tribalscientist.com 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.

Duration:0:47:14

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.

Duration:0:28:58

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

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

Topics covered:

We find out about Dr. Krystal's work developing a live malaria vaccine. The internet and search engines are changing how our memory works, a study sheds new light on the effectiveness of carbon sinks, but parks and gardens in cities are often overlooked carbon sinks. Genome-wide association studies lack racial diversity, a 'Roundup Ready' GM lawn could make stronger weeds, and the crops Greenpeace destroyed were of negligible risk. Also scientists have now mapped the complicated genome of the potato and a Great Barrier Reef coral.

Dr. Krystal Evans is a regular panellist on 102.7FM Triple R's science program Einstein a Go Go, she's a malaria researcher working at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute and was instrumental in the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign that we talked about a few weeks ago when science funding was looking like it would be slashed in the Federal Budget.

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

Duration:0:48:45

Direct download: SoT_0017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

The end of an era - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches for the last time ever. Is Australia overdue for volcanic eruptions? Polar bears share a common ancestor with brown bears. NASA tests a suit that recycles astronaut's urine, and humans cling to old beliefs even when repeatedly shown contradictory evidence. Shayne and Ed rant about Greenpeace protestors destroying GM wheat experiments.

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

Duration:0:48:45

Direct download: SoT_0016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Tom Sidwell

Topics covered:

E coli outbreak blamed on Egyptian fenugreek seeds, Gossamer puts DNA together, Fossils reveal rapid evolution in ancient eyes, Bringing Prehistoric Colors Back to Life, Humans dwarf volcanoes for CO2 emissions, Lord Christopher Monckton interview with Adam Spencer.

Tom Sidwell has completed a Bachelor of Science, with majors in immunology and microbiology (minors in molecular biology and biochemistry). He is currently doing honours in Immunology, studying the development of regulatory T cells. He blogs at lymphosite.wordpress.com and is on Twitter at kill3rTcell.

Direct download: SoT_0015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Should pregnant women sleep on their left? Will the end of the sunspot cycle counteract global warming? Geysers reveal likely ocean on Saturn moon. Do dogs bark because humans guided their evolution? A new ointment could help the treatment of snakebitesNew tribe of humans found in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world. And a technique to control gene expression with the flick of a light switch.

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

Direct download: SoT_0014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Ecologists say not to worry about invasive species if they don't cause problems, pristine meteorites suggest the building blocks of life came from outer space, NASA's DAWN probe nearly at the asteroid Vesta, Tamarind seeds regrow nerves and is your coffee causing you to hallucinate?

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

Duration: 0:36:19.

Direct download: SoT_0013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Simon Taylor

Topics covered:

DNA Sequencing Germany's 'Super Toxic' E. coli bacteria, Emperor penguins do the Mexican wave, the deepest multi-celled animal ever found, a look at the latest 'link' between mobile phones and cancer, a new look at moral dilemmas in hospitals and how do babies distinguish race?

Simon Taylor is a magician, comedian, entertainer and writer with a fascination for the mind. His latest project, Flim Flam, is a weekly comic strip taking a humorous look at pseudo-science and the paranormal. His website is mrsimontaylor.com, he blogs at mrsimontaylor.wordpress.com and tweets at @mrsimontaylor.

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

Direct download: SoT_0012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43pm AEDT

SoT 11: If it doesn't have wings, it shouldn't fly

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

Topics covered:

Europe battling massive outbreak of rare and unusual bacterial infection, another look beneath Hawaii knocks islands off their riser pipe, bacteria create hail stones, a stomach bug may be linked to Parkinson’s, low solar activity may have caused a little ice age and a sad farewell to Mars rover Spirit.

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

Download here. Duration: 0:41:35

Direct download: SoT_0011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm AEDT

SoT 10: Bee Sceptical

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

Topics covered: Planets without starsmalaria prevents new super-infections, dark energy and other Einstein predictions proven, mobile phones are not killing bees.

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

Direct download: SoT_0010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm AEDT

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

Topics covered: Nematodes reveal the secret to a long life, Unusual AIDS vaccine shows promising results in monkeys, Scientists find genetic link to depression, Desk job ups bowel cancer risk.

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

Direct download: SoT_0009.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:10am AEDT

An event organised by the Melbourne Skeptics and the Melbourne Eastern Hills Skeptics saw a science, religion and philosophy teacher and a science-oriented bookseller discussing their favourite books.

Kylie Sturgess is an award-winning blogger and fellow podcaster, a Philosophy and Religious Education teacher and writer for a number of Skeptic publications. In 2010 she co-authored a paper about superstition in Queensland, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Warren Bonett is from Embiggen Books, a bookshop formerly on the Sunshine Coast and now moving to Melbourne. Embiggen specialises in scientific and skeptical books and, according to their website, boasts "the biggest range of popular science titles instock in the observable universe". They also have a growing range of technical science books and even an art gallery.

Direct download: SoT_Podbiggen_16052011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28pm AEDT

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

Topics covered: Indian scientists drilling deep to predict earthquakes, Babysitting birds, Port Phillip Bay used to be a lake, and Faulty chaperone protein stops sperm finding eggs.

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

Direct download: SoT_0008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41pm AEDT

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

Topics covered: Fire Ants Surf Floods on Rafts of Their Own BodiesLaser Hole-Punch Turns Hair Into Forensic Time MachineOral Contraceptive Pill Increases Blood ClotsGroupthink Not a Problem in Simulated Mars MissionBacteria May or May Not Use DNA as an Antenna. And at the end, we rant a little bit about homeopathy.

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

Direct download: SoT_0007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34pm AEDT

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

Topics covered: Language may have helped early humans spread out of Africa, Pluto's mysterious bulging atmosphere, Worlds with two suns may have black planets, Three 'types' of human gut bacteria found, Whales swim in a straight line, and a family of our ancestors get trapped down a hole.

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

Direct download: SoT_0006.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Shayne Joseph

Topics covered: Older brains and multitasking, Cells grown in a dish have schizophrenia, Antibacterial duck sperm, Early birds had super smell, Earth's crusts float like yo-yos.

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

Direct download: SoT_0005.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm AEDT

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

Topics covered:

Star-Eating Black Hole May Be Producing Universe's Biggest ExplosionWeight lowers dementia riskResearchers Grow Protoeye in DishMagnets aid brain recoveryCannibal viruses found in AntarcticaDiscoveries Need Dollars, and Sex After a Field Trip Yields Scientific First

Lucas Randall is an amateur astronomer, a skeptic and avid science lover. His Skeptic FAQis one of the best summaries of scientific skepticism. He blogs at http://blog.codenix.org/ and Tweets at http://twitter.com/c0denix.

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

Direct download: SoT_0004.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:23pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday and Shayne Joseph

Topics covered:

Salamander Eggs and SymbiosisDead Stars and ExoplanetsWasps vs AntsYuri's NightBacterial Toothpaste and An Ancient Mayfly Fossil

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

Direct download: SoT_0003.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday and Shayne Joseph

We had some audio problems and unfortunately this episode still has a crackle we were unable to remove. :(

Topics covered:

Cane Toads Break Evolution Rules, Damping Down Fear With Cortisol, Yuri's Night, Photos from Mercury, Geologists Aim For Mantle of the Earth, Most Ancient Fossils Aren't Life, Girls Fear Vaccines and Risk Cancer

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

Direct download: SoT_0002.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm AEDT

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Shayne Joseph

Topics covered:

 SupermoonNew Horizons Flies by UranusMESSENGER First Spacecraft to Orbit Mercury,Sperm's egg-seeking secrets revealed,Yuri’s Night,59 year old experiment gives new clues to origins of lifeHow A Dinosaur Is Like A Vacuum CleanerSex Really Can Be Deadly, Study Finds

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

 

Direct download: SoT_0001.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm AEDT

Our first test run has some issues - Penny is sick, half way through the interview Skype cut out, and then the internet gremlins destroyed the second half (which really was much, much better than the first half!). So here's where it all started, our first pilot episode. Hopefully we'll be more professional from now on! :)

 

Guests: high school science teacher Penny Dumsday, microbiologist Shayne Joseph.

 

Why we like science, passionate teachers, soil-dwelling flesh-eating bacteria and Shayne's 'intimate' relationship with his lecturer.

 

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

 

Direct download: SoT_0000.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29pm AEDT