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

A Canadian teenager may have found a lost Mayan city. Or, it might just be a marijuana plantation. Either way, he deserves credit for coming up with a hypothesis and testing it - with help from the Canadian Space Agency!

There's a parasite that's turning Alaskan king crabs into zombies. The parasite castrates the males, takes over their bodies and makes them raise its offspring. But the good news is the crab's legs are still edible!

A new study finds a link between folate and autism. But it's not so simple - and there's no reason pregnant women should stop taking folate supplements if their doctor advises.

We respond to some feedback from Michelle Franklin about biological controls in Australia. Not all attempts to control pests with other organisms have been failures, some have been quite successful.

 

This episode contains traces of Paul Barry on Media Watch.

Direct download: SoT_0227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41pm AEDT

A further 1,284 more exoplanets have been confirmed by NASA's Kepler mission. This puts the total number confirmed planets outside our solar system to 3,268!

Does the increase in small earthquakes below Mount St. Helens signify an imminent eruption? Not quite, but that hasn't stopped the media from panicking.

For a long time, climate change scientists have been warning that as sea levels rise, some countries could be lost underwater. This week, new research shows that at least five reef islands in the Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea-level rise.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a boat sitting above the Marianas Trench, and it's live-streaming video from a remotely operated vehicle. One of the many amazing finds they've looked at is a beautiful jellyfish with brightly coloured gonads!

 

This episode contains traces of John Oliver ranting about bad media reporting of science.

Direct download: SoT_0226.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm AEDT

Chiropractors in Australia are coming under fire after a shocking video of manipulation of a baby goes viral. Dr. Mick Vagg gives us an in-depth look at the controversial industry. You can watch parts of the video here.

Scientists are about to unleash "Carpageddon" - a radical form of biological control that aims to eradicate carp from an Australian river system. Watch out carp, herpes is coming!

Mysterious gullies on Mars may be formed by water 'boiling'. Water in low pressure, such as at the surface of Mars, has been found to boil rapidly and 'pop' the surrounding sand.

The Large Hadron Collider came to an abrupt halt recently. Not because of a fault, as such, but because a weasel got in and started chewing on things it shouldn't have!

Dr. Mick Vagg is a pain specialist, and author of the Medicandus column on The Conversation.

 

This episode contains traces of radio broadcaster Jon Faine interviewing Deputy President of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia (CAA), Andrew Lawrence.

Direct download: SoT_0225.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT

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 AEDT