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

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

Scientists at the University of New South Wales could soon be able to regrow homan bone and tissue in the body, with stem cells.

In the quest for better data to protect endangered vultures, conservationists are turning to 3D printing eggs.

Korean researchers have discovered that Skuas - mid-sized Antarctic seabirds - can recognise individual humans.

Hope is running out for the troubled Japanese space telescope, Hitomi.

Direct download: SoT_0221.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08pm AEST

Dr. Brad McKay tells us about his time as a host on a medical reality TV show.

Most Australian doctors agree that nobody has contracted Lyme Disease from a tick in Australia, but many victims feel they have. Dr. McKay weighs in on the science behind Lyme Disease.

The anus was a pretty important evolutionary step that meant animals no longer had to poop out their mouths. But recent videos of gelatinous sea creatures called comb jellies shed new light on the evolution of the so-called through-gut.

A newly discovered Kuiper Belt Object adds more evidence to the "Planet Nine" theory of a distant ninth planet in our solar system.

Amateur astronomers have captured video of a probable asteroid crashing into Jupiter.

Japan's newly launched US$270 million x-ray space telescope appears to be out of control. However, some signals have been received giving officials hope that it may yet be saved.

The discovery of a fossil skull in Kazakhstan suggest that the 'Siberian unicorn" - more of a rhinoceros, really - may have gone extinct only 29,000 years ago. Previous estimates were that it died out 350,000 years ago.

 

Dr Brad McKay is a General Practitioner and TV Presenter. You can follow him on Twitter here or contact him via his website.

 

This episode may contain traces of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Direct download: SoT_0220.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49pm AEST

PET is the most common kind of plastic, and most of it ends up in landfills and waterways. But now a team of Japanese researchers have discovered a plastic-eating bacterium that could be the key to a new approach to recycling and waste disposal.

A newly discovered horse-sized dinosaur reveals how Tyrannosaurus Rex and its close relatives evolved into the top predators of their time.

New research in mice has found that the food parents eat before their kids are born can affect their children's health later in life.

A study of a supermassive black hole has revealed some incredible numbers. Not only is it 18 billion times the mass of our sun, but it rotates at about one-third the speed of light.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have identified nine giant stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the sun in a star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula. This makes it the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date.

 

This episode may contain traces of Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Late Show With Jon Stewart.

Direct download: SoT_0219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:59pm AEST

The American Statistical Association has issued a warning over the misuse of P values. The group says P values cannot determine whether a hypothesis or true of if results are important.

In April scientists will begin drilling into the Chicxulub crater, site of the meteorite impact that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. They hope to examine how life rebounded after the mass extinction and to learn more about the formation of 'peak ring craters'.

The tiny jellyfish-like Hydra have no mouth, instead they rip their whole face open whenever they eat. And now a team from the University of California, San Diego, have worked out how. Now they just want to know the why.

 

Dr. Cassandra Perryman is a psychologist at University of Queensland, and you can follow her on Facebook here.

This episode may contain traces of Professor Tamara Davis on ABC Q&A.

Direct download: SoT_0218.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44pm AEST

Some giant viruses, called mimiviruses, have immune systems that fight intruders in a manner similar to the CRISPR mechanism that microbiologists use to edit genomes.

NASA has announced the development of a next generation space telescope. Using donated mirrors, the WFIRST telescope will have the same resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope, but a hundred times greater field of view.

Recent headlines have suggested that eating chocolate will improve brain function, but the actual study they're based on had very different conclusions.

New images sent back from the New Horizons probe after its flyby of Pluto show possible clouds in the dwarf planet's atmosphere.

 

Direct download: SoT_0217.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm AEST

A team of astronomers have traced the origins of a Fast Radio Burst - a sudden, high energy blast or radio waves - to a galaxy 6 billion light years away. This has helped them find 'regular' matter (not dark matter or dark energy) that was previously missing.

An experiment in Antarctica set out to see how a penguin's walk - or waddle - changes with variations in body mass. To do this it was necessary to put the penguins on treadmills. For science!

A new study has found that Lyme Disease can be caused, rarely, by a different bacterial species to the one that usually gets all the blame. And this new species could cause more serious symptoms, from vomiting to neurological issues.

Some bacteria have a mechanism for releasing extra long spears to puncture cellular membranes and release molecules on demand. They get eaten by other bacteria, then puncture the cell wall and release poison. Now a team at the Wyss Institute have developed a technique to activate these spears, and could one day use them to deliver drugs and beneficial molecules.

Direct download: SoT_0216.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28pm AEST

A brain parasite may make chimpanzees less cautious and fearful of leopards. Maybe.

For over 60 years, fruit flies have been trapped in the dark in one of the longest ongoing scientific experiments. 1,500 generations later, some evolutionary effects are being revealed.

A new technique of using modified cancer cells to fight cancer is showing some impressive results in mice, but it’s early days yet.

The Australian town of Wangaratta is being swamped by tumbleweeds. And it’s all one person’s fault.

Direct download: SoT_0215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am AEST