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

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Mick Vagg, Upulie Divisekera, Lucas Randall.

Ed, Shayne, Upulie, Mick and Lucas take a look back at the big stories in science from 2012. From feathered dinosaurs to robot hands, the Higgs boson to Mars colonies, the panel relives their favorite news items.

For all the stories we mention, check out the website for this episode, at

Direct download: SoT_0085.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

James Cameron releases results from his deep dive. How maggots heal wounds. NASA plans to send Curiosity twin to Mars in 2020. Golden Spike plans to send people to the moon for $750 million. The data from the GRAIL probes mapping the gravity of the moon is released. A retrovirus marks an evolutionary point for Koalas. RIP Sir Patrick Moore, 1923-2012.

Direct download: SoT_0084.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Kevin Orrman-Rositer.

Topics covered:

The Mars Curiosity rover's discovery is announced.

Bacteria found in an underground Antarctic lake demonstrates the resilience of life

German scientists are developing a new vaccine strategy using mRNA that could make flu shots cheaper, safer, and easier to produce.

A blood test that can detect cancers very early on is being developed - but it's a long way away.

New research suggests birth weight is not solely determined by maternal nutrition, but it’s also partly genetic.

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has detected evidence of water ice on Mercury.

SpaceX founder and entrepreneur Elon Musk has a grand plan to start a colony on Mars, seeding it with 80,000 settlers per year.

Direct download: SoT_0083.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

The holes bored into ancient wood-carvings give insights into insect migration.

Could we be missing important worms from our intestines?

The evolution of vision in animals dates back 700 million years.

A chemical reaction appears to reanimate mycoplasma.

Scientists warn that grapefruit can have serious complications with a growing number of prescription medications.

An American and Russian crew plan to spend a year onboard the International Space Station.

Direct download: SoT_0082.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

Our Total Solar Eclipse experiences.

A 'rogue planet' discovered and photographed. The planet is not gravitationally linked to a star.

A study of the microbes in belly buttons reveals a surprising diversity.

The bdelloid rotifer, despite being asexual for 80 million years, has incorporated foreign DNA to help it adapt.

A newly developed prosthetic hand is a lot like Luke Skywalker's hand.

Transplant from nasal cells enables paralysed dogs to walk.

Do great apes have mid-life crises? Maybe.

A rant about the endless speculation sparked by a Curiosity scientist's gaffe.

Direct download: SoT_0081.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Simon O’Toole.

Topics covered:

Some scepticism about the nearest exoplanet discovered.

Amateur astronomers find planet in four-star system.

‘Zooniverse’ citizen science projects.

Key test for re-healable concrete.

2012 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Astronomer wins PM’s Science Prize for dark matter discovery

Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year – Mark Shackleton

Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year – Eric May

Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools – Michael van der Ploeg

Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools – Anita Trenwith

All living bird species mapped in giant family tree

Breakthrough Hendra virus vaccine released for horses

Abdominal porthole reveals how tumours come together

Direct download: SoT_0080.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Alan Kerlin.

Topics covered:

Trouble in space: SpaceX engine failure and cargo loss.

Russian rocket also has problems, creates space debris.

Mysterious bacteria form electric cables under the sea.

The hole in the Ozone layer still getting smaller.

Nanoparticles help diagnose disease without waiting for the path lab.

Private space company Blue Origin tests an emergency crew escape system.

Cooking food was key to our big brains.

The dung beetle's intricate and bizarre cooling system.

Direct download: SoT_0079.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11am AEST

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

Topics covered:

Funding cuts to Australian research

Genetically modified mouse to detect landmines

The DNA inside the virophage inside the giant virus inside the amoeba

'Erasing' traumatic memories from mice

Sexism in science and skepticism

Make The World Better - a talk by Pamela Gay

How the sound of crying babies affects the brain

Italian scientists face jail over earthquake manslaughter charges

Direct download: SoT_0078.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

Felix Baumgartner's world-breaking skydive from the edge of space.

Brainless slime mould can 'remember' where it's been.

Possible new control method for the Crown of Thorns starfish.

DNA half-life - why Jurassic Park is impossible.

Closest planet outside our solar system discovered.

Mars Curiosity looks at an 'unusual' rock.

Could chocolate help you win a Nobel prize? (Answer: No.)

Direct download: SoT_0077.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:22pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine:  Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent". 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics: Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry: Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors". Chemistry vs Biology controversy. New painkillers could come from the super-toxic venome of the black mamba snake. Mosquitoes have adapted a way to get around mosquito nets.

Direct download: SoT_0076.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:27pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

Topics covered:

Genetically modified cow makes milk without allergy protein. DNA from the fetus ends up on mother's brain. A cure for acne could be a virus. Great Barrier Reef losing half its coral cover. Transient Tech - electronics that dissolve in water. A woman grows a replacement ear on her arm, and men without testicles could live longer than those who don't.

Direct download: SoT_0075.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31am AEST

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

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 ponytails to reports about reports about reports.
Direct download: SoT_0074.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Simon O’Toole.

Topics covered:

The Lesula, a newly discovered monkey: cute or creepy? A brain implant improves thinking in monkeys. Scientists explore whether bacteria will swap genes with other similar or different species. NASA's GRAIL mission releases it's first set of results, with surprising new information about our moon. Stem cells improve the hearing of deafened gerbils. And a team develops a coating that makes water boil without bubbles!

Direct download: SoT_0073.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

The ENCODE project reveals function in previously thought 'junk' DNA. The role of malaria in human evolution. The mystery of the missing dinosaur tales. Could man-made structures like wharves and oil rigs be causing a bloom of jellyfish? Brain-controlled robot legs could help the paralyised walk again, and remote-controlled cockroaches could take over the world and enslave humankind.

This episode uses audio from the video "ENCODE: The story of you", produced by Nature and copyright © 2012 Nature Publishing Group, used with permission.

Direct download: SoT_0072.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Greg Wah, Dan Beeston.

Topics covered:

Could reality television partly fund a colony on Mars - by 2023? Does the shape of the glass affect how much beer you drink? Mapping the genome of a Denisovan (an ancient human cousin). Bacteria that makes insects destroy their own brains and genitals. And astronomers discover a star with a tasty ring of sugar.

Direct download: SoT_0071.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13pm AEST

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

Topics covered:

Death of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. Could antibiotics be making us fat? A step closer to the male pill. Bacterial infections controlled by RNA, and bonobos can make and use tools.

Direct download: SoT_0070.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am AEST

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

Topics covered:

Mars update: Curiosity fires a laser, next Mars mission announced. Artificial retina mimicks coding system of healthy retina to restore vision. Ocean Report Card details effects of climate change. The brain's mechanism for cleaning waste discovered, and new findings about formate could lead to new approaches for antibiotics.

Direct download: SoT_0069.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am AEST

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

Topics covered:

The vigorous shaking of a wet dog can remove up to 70% of the water in its fur in four seconds. Possibly up to three species of ancient humans lived in Africa 2 million years ago. A new insect species is discovered, thanks to Flickr. Could allergies reduce the risk of certain brain cancers? And did bacteria influence single-celled organisms to form multi-celled animals?

Direct download: SoT_0068.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:38pm AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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.


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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST

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 AEST