Science On Top (general)
The Australian Podcast putting Science on Top of the agenda

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:30 A team in Kenya and the UK have discovered a microbe that completely protects mosquitoes against the malaria parasite.
00:10:17 Everybody poops, but if you don't it's very bad as one unfortunate record-breaking lizard found out.
00:14:22 This year we've seen three big records broken in solar power efficiency.

Direct download: SoT_0358.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm AEST

An update on what's happening with the show.

The quick version: we're still here, but the world's on fire and things are a bit tough. We'll be back.

Stay safe everyone.

 

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Direct download: SoT_update_05-08-2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:28 Good news in quarantine, two pandas in Hong Kong have finally mated! It only took them ten years!
00:04:29 Lots of moons in our solar system seem to have subsurface oceans, and now it looks like Pluto does too!
00:13:59 Soy is everywhere these days, but there are environmental concerns with it. Now a new study suggests fava beans could be a more environmentally friendly source of plant protein.


This episode contains traces of Trevor Noah discussing pandas mating in Hong Kong.

Direct download: SoT_0357.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:39 When it comes to giving birth in the animal world, there's mostly only two options: live babies, or eggs. But very rarely, it can be both! Such is the case with the yellow-bellied three-toed skink.
00:06:37 Imagine solar power that worked at night! That's (kind of) the promise of a new type of solar cell being developed by two American researchers.
00:19:50 If you want to train a robot dog, there's the hard way and there's the easy way. The hard way is manually coding everything you want the dog to do. The easy way is to develop machine learning software that learns from watching other dogs!

This episode contains traces of Michael Rowland and Lisa Miller discussing Singapore's robot dog technique of enforcing physical distancing, on ABC News Breakfast.

Direct download: SoT_0356.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:40 Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have used a machine-learning algorithm to finally answer one of science's most confounding puzzles: Is that mouse over there happy? Or afraid? Or disgusted?
00:07:54 Astrophysicists from the University of Florida and Columbia University have figured out that a violent collision of two neutron stars released many of the heavier atoms that went on to form our solar system.


This episode contains traces of Greg Milam, US correspondent for Sky News, on the Pentagon's release of videos showing unidentified flying objects.

Direct download: SoT_0355.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely

00:03:36 NASA's Mars InSight probe has finally managed to drill into the Martian rock and soil - thanks to a traditional repair technique!
00:13:04 The idea that glass is a liquid that flows is largely a myth.... sort of. It's an amorphous solid, so it does flow but very very slowly. Now an analysis of amber has shed some light on the disordered molecules that make glass a "liquid in suspended animation".
00:26:36 When our fishy ancestors slithered onto land nearly 400 million years ago, they had hands and feet. But fingers and toes took a little longer to develop. The discovery of a complete skeleton of a fish from around that time gives some clues about the evolution of fingers.


Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is a planetary scientist working at ANSTO, Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. She is the co-author of the children's book I Love Pluto.


This episode contains traces of the panel on Have I Got News For You discussing an astrophysicists attempts to make a device to stop you touching your face.

Direct download: SoT_0354.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:35 Professor Maria Croyle from the University of Texas in Austin has been working on alternative delivery mechanisms for vaccines without giant needles. And one promising method she's developed is a lot more palatable!
00:08:15 The formation of our moon is something of a mystery to astronomers. But now new research into the moon's composition further strengthens the most widely accepted theory.
This episode contains traces of the SARS-COV-2 virus translated into "surprisingly beautiful" music.

Direct download: SoT_0353.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:27 How do you study wibbly wobbly jellyfish, without damaging them or stressing them out? You give them a noodly hug, of course!
00:08:27 When a satellite runs out of fuel, it's sent up into a graveyard orbit where it can pose a threat to any spacecraft leaving Earth. But a recent test of the Mission Extension Vehicle could mean satellites can be refuelled, extending their lifespan significantly.
00:21:25 People are attaching sensors to plants, and translating the electrical conductivity of the plants into "music". It's not very good music, but the idea is to change how people think about plants as living organisms.
00:29:45 Astronomers have found a new planet outside our solar system, with a new technique. They looked for the radio signals from aurorae on the exoplanet!


This episode contains traces of ABC science journalist Tegan Taylor and physician Dr. Norman Swan answering children's coronavirus questions on Coronacast.

Direct download: SoT_0352.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:28 An Australian research team has come up with a luxurious plan to save endangered seahorses.
00:04:54 A more precise method of determining the methane produced by human activities draws a timeline of industrialisation.
00:15:07 Remains dating back 65,000 years ago demonstrate that the earliest Australians enjoyed slow-cooking.
00:20:28 Have you thought about the environmental impact your death and burial or cremation will have? There could be more planet-friendly options when it comes to 'deathcare'.


This episode contains traces of Bill Gates, speaking to Vox four years ago, about his greatest fear.

Direct download: SoT_0351.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05pm AEST

As the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 sweeps the world, the only thing spreading quicker is panic and misinformation. So we caught up with Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist, writer and podcaster to find out what's really going on with COVID-19.

For more information, we recommend:

Australian Department of Health

World Health Organisation

Centers For Disease Control

This Week In Virology podcast

Coronacast podcast

 

And you can follow Gideon on Twitter.

Direct download: SoT_Special_028_Coronavirus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:14 A team at Howard Hughes Medical Institute has been working with Google, and has just announced that they have mapped the “connectome” in the central region of brain of a fruit fly. That's means they've worked out the precise meanderings of 25,000 neurons and their 20 million connections.
00:15:14 About 2 billion years ago, a giant meteorite smacked into the thick glaciers that then were covering Western Australia. The result could have been the end of a 'snowball event' and the beginning of complex life!
00:24:15 Parkinson's Disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, yet we know so little about it. But we do know that a build of a protein, alpha-synuclein makes it worse. Now researchers in the US claim to have developed a compound that can target and reduce the levels of alpha-synuclein.
00:28:40 Usually one of the top ten brightest stars in the night sky, the orange giant Betelgeuse has been dimming a lot in the last few months. So is it, like many media outlets have proclaimed, on the verge of going supernova?
This episode contains traces of This episode contains traces of actress Taraji P. Henson, who played NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in the film "Hidden Figures", describing some of the highlights of a remarkable life. Johnson passed away on February 24, 2020, aged 101.

Direct download: SoT_0350.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am AEST

Here's a little taste of the sort of thing to expect when Science on Top returns very soon - on hot days are you better off drinking hot or cold drinks?

Direct download: SoT_Bites_002.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:46pm AEST

Have you missed us? Looking forward to another season of Science on Top? Here's something to whet your appetite - a story of cute cephalopods, curious scientists and 3D glasses!

Direct download: SoT_bites001.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Ass/Prof Mick Vagg

00:00:48 The switch to agricultural societies 12,000 years ago may have changed how we talk, introducing the 'f' and 'v' sounds.
00:04:58 The cane toad is an introduced pest in Australia, with no real natural predators. Until recently, when a small group of water rats learned how to eviscerate them with surgical precision!
00:06:38 The search for Planet Nine continued this year, and a new hypothesis was proposed: it might not be a planet, but a tiny primordial black hole.
00:11:28 The first ever image of a black hole's accretion disk was revealed this year.
00:15:30 NASA's InSight lander has been trying to drill a heat probe into the Martian surface, but it's been a heartbreaking story of progress and setbacks.
00:19:38 DNA testing has found that the same variety of grapes used 9,000 years ago to make wine are still being used today by some winemakers in France.
00:25:29 Researchers painted cows to look like zebras to find out if they were less likely to be bitten by flies. They were!
00:28:47 Scientists found that rats who had been taught to drive tiny electric cars were 'happier' and less stressed.
00:31:34 Australian scientists have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that developed a new flu vaccine.
00:36:59 Some people can smell when other people have early stages of Parkinson's Disease. Thanks to the help of one of these “super-smellers", researchers were able to identify volatile compounds produced by sufferers.
00:40:39 A crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has begun to fill up - but with water, not lava.

Associate Professor Mick Vagg is a consultant in rehabilitation and pain medicine.

Direct download: SoT_0349.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:56 As unprecedented bushfires ravage Australia, Forbes published an article declaring koalas are "functionally extinct". And while they do face considerable threats, the situation is not quite that dire.


00:11:38 Chinese scientists have discovered a black hole that, according to our current understanding of black-hole formation, is so large it shouldn’t exist. Called LB-1, the black hole has a mass 70 times that of our sun, three times more massive than previously thought possible.


00:25:11 Parked in space and deactivated since 2017, the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft has long finished it's scientific mission. But it's still making discoveries, detecting dozens of tiny impacts on the spacecraft and giving valuable data about cosmic dust.


This episode contains traces of the cast and creators of The Expanse, now on Jeff Bezos' Amazon Prime, talking with engineers from Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin.

Direct download: SoT_0348.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:24 For the first time, doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have purposefully put at least one human patient in suspended animation. This could be a great help to surgeons dealing with traumatic emergencies such as gunshot or stab wounds.
00:10:06 The first geomorphologic map of Saturn's moon Titan has been released. Showing lakes (of liquid methane), dunes (of organic molecule particles) and exposed icy bedrock.
00:12:49 NASA’s Curiosity rover has been analysing the air above Mars’ Gale Crater and found unexpected, and fluctuating, levels of oxygen.
00:20:10 An international team of astronomers have announced the direct detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's fourth largest moon Europa for the first time. This is the strongest evidence yet that liquid water exists beneath the Europa's surface.
00:26:46 Molecular astrophysicist Clara Sousa-Silva has written an article in Scientific American calling for more research into the signatures of gases that could indicate the presence of life on other planets.
00:32:53 Palaeontologists in Argentina have excavated a number of nearly 100 million year old snake fossils. Interestingly, these snakes had hind legs, but not front legs.


This episode contains traces of BBC One Breakfast hosts discussing an innovative technique used by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture to boost dairy production.

Direct download: SoT_0347.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:22am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:23 Danuvius guggenmosi was a great ape that lived 11.6 million years ago in southern Germany and it has just been formally described in the journal Nature. But the really interesting thing about this discovery is what it could suggest about bipedalism - our ancestors were walking upright much earlier than previously thought.
00:10:19 Spaceflight is a dangerous endeavour. Astronauts risk muscle atrophy, bone weakness, cardiovascular issues, eyesight disorders, and a host of other ailments. But now, researchers have found another serious health risk: stagnant or backwards blood flow in the internal jugular vein.
00:19:16 Some people who don't like vegetables may have a genetic reason to avoid their greens. (But some people are also just fussy!)
00:25:52 Researchers in Sweden have created a molecule that they claim can trap solar energy and store it for decades. But there isn't a lot of information available about it.
This episode contains traces of an ABC News report about a real life "Breaking Bad" situation.

Direct download: SoT_0346.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:35 Researchers at the University of Richmond taught a group of 17 rats how to drive tiny little plastic cars. The rats found driving to be relaxing!
00:11:28 Why do we like music? It's a question that neuroscientists have wondered about for decades. A paper in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests it's related to learning.
00:18:37 Cows can not only recognise other cows, but they form friendships and bonds that don't align with the social hierarchy of the herd.
00:26:28 Ornithologists in the Amazon have recorded the world’s loudest bird. It's mating call can reach 125 decibels - louder than front row at a rock concert.


This episode contains traces of the Have I Got News For You panel discussing the discovery of the world's loudest bird.

Direct download: SoT_0345.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:32 A zebra's stripes seem to reduce the number of flies that they attract, so what would happen if you painted a cow like a zebra? Japanese researchers did exactly that, and found a similar result.
00:08:10 An intriguing new hypothesis for Planet Nine is not a planet at all. Two astrophysicists have speculated it might actually be a very small black hole in our galaxy.
00:25:43 By analysing cut marks on bones left by humans between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, archaeologists have determined that the bones were kept for later consumption. Weeks after the flesh of the animal was eaten, it's believed, the marrow in the bones was still nutritious.


This episode contains traces of Boeing Communications' Jessica Landa and NASA Public Affairs' Dan Huot immediately after the successful Pad Abort Test of Boeing's Starliner Spacecraft.

Direct download: SoT_0344.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:34 Snails are a French delicacy that has led to the near extinction, and now revival, of tiny culturally and scientifically important snails in French Polynesia.


00:06:45 3.5 million years ago, something in our galaxy exploded. As more evidence comes in, it's looking like the black hole in the centre of the Milky Way gobbled up some young stars.


00:16:04 The scourge of cane toads continues to spread across Australia. But could a native rodent have learned how to slaughter and eat them? Yes, and they have.


This episode contains traces of 12-year-old Tai Poole, host of popular podcast Tai Asks Why, talking with Natasha Mitchell about the importance of curiosity in school.

Direct download: SoT_0343.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:50am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:29 A new hypothesis in the quest to explain the bizarre dimming patterns of Tabby's Star: could it be a moon getting shredded?
00:18:36 It's a belief that's been widely held since 1971: women who live together sync their periods together. But many attempts to replicate the original study have failed, so why is it still such a prevalent belief?
00:28:13 Take a computer algorithm, teach it to read scientific papers, feed it thousands of journals, and watch it predict future discoveries. This could be a new field of scientific endeavour.


This episode contains traces of The President of the United States talking with astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir while they participated in NASA's first ever all-female spacewalk.

Direct download: SoT_0342.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller

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 the benefits of pizza to the temperature of French postal packages!
You can watch the award ceremony here.

00:01:16 MEDICINE PRIZE which was awarded to Silvano Gallus, for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.
00:08:26 MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE was won by Karen Pryor and Theresa McKeon, for using a simple animal-training technique — called “clicker training” — to train surgeons to per[form orthopedic surgery.
00:13:54 BIOLOGY PRIZE went to a team with members from Singapore, China, Germany, Australia, Poland, USA, and Bulgaria for discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.
00:19:20 ANATOMY PRIZE was award to two Frenchmen for measuring scrotal temperature asymmetry in naked and clothed postmen in France.
00:24:11 CHEMISTRY PRIZE Went to a team from Japan, for estimating the total saliva volume produced per day by a typical five-year-old child.
00:27:30 ENGINEERING PRIZE was won by Iranian Iman Farahbakhsh, for inventing a diaper-changing machine [for use on human infants.
00:30:54 ECONOMICS PRIZE went to three researchers from Turkey, the Netherlands, and Germany for testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria..
00:36:42 PEACE PRIZE went to an international team of seven researchers, for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch.
00:40:40 PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to German Fritz Strack, for discovering that holding a pen in one’s mouth makes one smile, which makes one happier — and for then discovering that it does not.
00:46:17 PHYSICS PRIZE was won by seven researchers from the USA, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK for studying how, and why, wombats make cube-shaped poo.

Direct download: SoT_0341.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:33 The large holes in T-Rex's skull might not have been for muscles, but thermoregulating blood vessels according to a paper published in the Anatomical Record.
00:06:13 An Australian team has developed a flu vaccine they believe could be the first human drug to be completely designed by artificial intelligence.
00:18:49 A team at Howard Hughes Medical Institute is painstakingly building a detailed map of a mouse brain - one neuron at a time.


This episode contains traces of Andrew Lund for 9News Australia, reporting on the naming of RRS Sir David Attenborough.

 

Direct download: SoT_0340.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:47 After a British teenager went blind, media reports came thick and fast about the dangers of a junk food diet. But was he just a fussy eater, or was there a lot more to it than the headlines suggested?
00:07:50 Is climate change making spiders more aggressive? Well, yes - but only one species was studied and not aggressive in way that you'd expect.
00:20:39 After a spectacular wall collapse last year, a crater on Hawaii's Kīlauea volcano was left empty. And now it's starting to refill, but not with lava.
00:27:31 Could the search for extra-terrestrial life be easier if the aliens glowed? Under the right circumstances, bioluminescence could help us find life on other worlds.

This episode contains traces of KHON2 News' Brigette Namata and Justin Cruz discussing the teenager who went blind from junk food.

Direct download: SoT_0339.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:26 Tiny, often-overlooked "cryptobenthic" fish are much more plentiful than we realised, and could therefore explain how reefs can thrive despite a lack of nutrients.
00:08:30 Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory data have been able to measure how fast five supermassive black holes are spinning. One was spinning faster than 70% of the speed of light!
00:17:26 A new analysis of skull fragments found in Greece is leading archaeologists to reassess how and when the earliest humans moved out of Africa, suggesting it could have been as far back as 210,000 years ago.
00:25:12 The media loves to proclaim the dangers of our obsession with smartphones, but there may actually be some evidence to support curbing our digital immersion.


This episode contains traces of Rice University anthropologist Cymene Howe talking about a plaque commemorating Okjokull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change.

Direct download: SoT_0338.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm AEST

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

00:00:26 A seemingly successful treatment of a nasty genetic disease would not have been possible without zebrafish.
00:10:52 It may seem counterintuitive, but a strain of virus linked to the common cold has been used to treat patients with a type of bladder cancer.
00:20:44 Fast Radio Bursts - the strong blasts of radio waves from distant galaxies - have mystified astronomers since they were first detected in 2007. But now for the first time, an FRB has been traced back to its host galaxy, 3.6 billion light years away!
00:33:39 Psychologists have conducted a large survey of nearly 2,000 volunteers to determine which animals and insects people are most afraid of, and most disgusted by. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't go well for spiders.


This episode contains traces of astronaut Buzz Aldrin talking about the meaning of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Direct download: SoT_0337.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Jo Benhamu

00:00:25 Dogs have evolved - mostly through artificial selection - to be our best friends. And a part of that evolution, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, meant developing special muscles to help them give us those "puppy dog eyes". You can test your own dogs "dognition" at dognition.com!
00:15:27 It's widely believed that at the centre of every large galaxy there's at least one supermassive black hole - a black hole that's millions or even billions of times more massive than our Sun. But earlier this year a group of astronomers announced a discovery that means the accepted theory of how a they're formed is wrong. But there are some plausible new theories that could explain it.
00:25:08 Media reports that mobile phone use could be causing teenagers to develop horns on the back of their heads were alarming and widespread. But perhaps unsurprisingly, those reports were flawed interpretations of bad science.


This episode contains traces of business journalist and Sunrise breakfast television show presenter David Koch discussing external occipital protuberances with lead author and chiropractor Dr. David Shahar.

Direct download: SoT_0336.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am AEST

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

00:00:39 Winemaking in France dates back more than 12,000 years. But new research looking at the DNA of ancient grapes has found one particular variety that's remained unchanged for over 900 years.
00:09:13 The largest crater in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin, is on the far side of the moon. And astronomers have found an unexpected very dense mass there, deep below the surface.
00:19:08 Positron Emission Tomography - better known as PET scans - show levels of chemical activity in the body and are useful, for example, for detecting cancer cells. Now new modified PET scanners have been demonstrated that drastically speed the process up and reduced the amount of radiation used.

This episode contains traces of a BBC News report and surprise guest on stage at Glastonbury Festival 2019.

Direct download: SoT_0335.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Jospeh, Penny Dumsday, Jo Benhamu

00:00:54 After many months away from the show, Shayne discusses his depression and how he's been dealing with it.
00:11:26 Two astronomers published a paper that seemed to suggest our hominid ancestors switch to walking on two feet as a result of a supernova exploding around 8 million years ago. And while that may be plausible, it wasn't really what the paper was about.
00:21:09 Dr. Susan Mackinnon, from Washington University in St. Louis, recently faced an ethical dilemma while in surgery. To save her patient's leg, she needed to rely on controversial Nazi-made illustrations.
00:43:51 In a large fake village in Burkina Faso, entomologists have used a genetically engineered fungus to almost eradicate an entire population of mosquitoes. This could be an exciting project to end malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.
00:51:40 Science on Top
This episode contains traces of WCNC-TV's Wake Up Charlotte hosts discussing a fan's Mariah Carey birthday cake.

Direct download: SoT_0334.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11pm AEST

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

00:00:23 For bonobo males, sex is often done under mother's watchful eye. But it's not quite that creepy - the mother's are helpful, allowing the primates to copulate in peace!
00:04:33 Detecting lung cancer in the early stages can be tricky even for very experienced radiologists. But a huge test using Google's AI computers found that the algorithms performed better than humans, and made fewer false positives.
00:18:45 There's a climate change emergency, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are increasing rapidly. Fortunately, the trees are adapting to help us out, and a new study has found that the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by plants is also increasing. But it's not keeping up and won't won't last.
00:28:35 The contents of a small pouch, made from three fox snouts stitched together, have been analysed and may be the earliest evidence of the use of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant preparation.


This episode contains traces of Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis and Mathew Ingram discussing Elon Musk's Starlink project, on This Week in Google.

Direct download: SoT_0333.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:09pm AEST

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

00:00:34 Penny gives us a trip report on her recent trip to Lake Mungo - a dry lake in remote Australia that's known for the discovery of 20,000-60,000 year old human remains.
00:09:58 All we know about Denisovans - a species of hominid that split off from the human lineage alongside the Neanderthals - comes from a little finger bone, three teeth and a sliver of bone. But now the discovery of a jawbone, found two and a half thousand kilometers away suggests they might have been quite widespread throughout Asia.
00:15:50 Scientists at University College London accidentally invented a material that could revolutionise a wide range of technologies, such as batteries.
00:27:41 As the antibiotic resistance crisis deepens, scientists are turning to genetically modified viruses as a treatment for bacterial infections.
00:49:57 Millions of species of fungi and bacteria work together to form a vast, interconnected web of organisms throughout the world's forests. Now scientists have mapped this “wood wide web” using a database of more than 28,000 tree species in more than 70 countries.

This episode contains traces of Megan Dice from News12 reporting on the declaration of New Jersey's official state microbe.

Direct download: SoT_0332.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Kirsten Banks

00:00:49 For the first time ever, astronomers have taken a photo of the silhouette of the event horizon of a black hole!
00:06:39 The Event Horizon Telescope captured 5 petabytes of data - which is a lot!
00:09:08 XKCD compared the size of the event horizon of M87 with the size of our solar system.
00:11:36 Veritasium expertly described how the photo was taken, and all the permutations that could have happened to give us different photos.
Kirsten Banks is an astronomer, science communicator and Physics student.
This episode contains traces of Alan Duffy "losing his mind" talking about the Black Hole image on ABC Breakfast News.

Direct download: SoT_0331.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Kate Naughton, Peter Miller

00:00:40 An extraordinary must-read article in the New Yorker has an in-depth look at the few hours after a meteor hit the Yucatán Peninsula and probably wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. It also follows an amazing discovery that could answer many questions about the appearance of dinosaurs and whether or not they were already dying out.
00:18:51 A study led by a team at the Duke University Clinical Research Institute has found that treatment recommendations that US doctors use when managing heart patients - less than 10 per cent of those recommendations are based on the best available evidence.
00:33:52 As computer graphics and robotics get more and more realistic, there's a point where an avatar or android is so close to real but not quite, and it's unsettling. That's the Uncanny Valley. But we don't often talk about it's auditory counterpart, and how there's an Uncanny Valley for artificial voices as well.
00:47:19 "Pumpkin toadlets" are tiny poisonous frogs in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. They're only about 15mm long, and their skeletons are fluorescent under a UV lamp!


This episode contains traces of Q, a 'genderless' artificial voice.

Direct download: SoT_0330.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Chris Curtain-Magee

00:01:22 In 450 B.C., the "Father of History", Herodotus, wrote a 23 line account of a type of Egyptian cargo vessel. This was widely thought to be a fabrication, but a discovery in an ancient Egyptian port city indicates the account was truthful.
00:08:03 The earliest undisputed evidence of humans in Australia comes from a rock shelter in northern Australia and dates back to 65,000 years ago. Now investigations at an ancient midden - a trashpile - in the country's South could potentially double that time-frame.
00:14:18 Lots of animals, from birds to turtles to fish, can detect magnetic fields. But until now we've never thought humans had that ability. A new study suggests that a small number of people may be able to register magnetic field changes, but on a subconscious level.
00:21:03 Science on Top
This episode contains traces of Mark Robinson narrating 'Why is Herodotus called "The Father of History'?" from Ted-Ed.

Direct download: SoT_0329.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:32 Some fish can survive the freezing cold waters of Antarctica thanks to a gene that makes anti-freeze. But how do fish in the Arctic, in the Northern hemisphere, also have the same gene?
00:08:33 Some people can smell when people are sick. Could these 'super-smellers' help diagnose Parkinson's Disease early on?
00:21:26 DNA is made of four nucleotides: G, A, T, and C. Now an interdisciplinary team of researchers has doubled that genetic code by creating synthetic DNA that uses eight letters.
00:27:55 NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently orbiting the asteroid 101955 Bennu. But it turns out Bennu is no ordinary asteroid... it spits!
 
This episode contains traces of 6abc Action News hosts Brian Taff and Jeannette Reyes discussing a cheesy Swiss experiment.

Direct download: 328.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Sean M Elliott

00:01:11 Science educator, communicator and performer Sean M. Elliott has a new show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tesla: Death Rays & Elephants!
00:11:00 For a long time it's been believed that having some potted plants around the house will help filter out pollutants and toxins. But now the evidence suggests that houseplants do very little or even nothing at all when it comes to cleaning the air.
00:17:56 There's around 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and probably least one planet orbiting each of them. But a new study suggests there could be an additional 50 billion rogue planets, that aren't orbiting any stars at all.
00:27:17 Our nearest big galactic neighbour, Andromeda, has long been thought to be the much larger and more massive than the Milky Way. Now, new data from the Gaia mission and the Hubble Space Telescope indicates the Milky Way could be significantly bigger than we thought.
00:39:48 A new study published in the journal Science finds that before agriculture, when humans were nomadic hunter gatherers, languages didn't have the same sounds that they do now - in fact some sounds just weren't even possible.


Sean M. Elliott is a science educator, communicator and performer with a new show starting this weekend at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tesla: Death Rays & Elephants!


This episode contains traces of TMRO's Jade Kim giving yet another reason why space travel might not be such a great thing for humans.

Direct download: SoT_0327.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely

00:01:16 NASA's InSight probe begins drilling into the Martian surface - and stops.
00:17:11 Twins are either identical (one egg splits into two copies) or fraternal (two eggs fertilised at the same time). But that's not always the case - as a mother in Queensland found out when she had sesquizygotic twins.
00:25:44 Timothy Ray Brown, who was known as The Berlin Patient, was the first person to be "cured" of HIV. Now a second man appears to have also been cured, using the same bone marrow transplant technique.
00:33:32 Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is also the only moon known to have a thick, dense atmosphere. But now, thanks to the Rosetta probe's studies of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the origins of Titan's atmosphere may have been revealed.

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at ANSTO, Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.


This episode contains traces of Loudwire's Toni Gonzalez reporting on an Australian study of people who listen to Death Metal.

Direct download: SoT_0326.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:57 As the world becomes more and more urbanised, we hear a lot about the dangers to wildlife from humanity's sprawl. But new research finds Australia's koalas may actually be less stressed in cities - provided adequate green spaces are provided.
00:07:43 For the first time ever, a spacecraft built by a private company and designed to carry people has docked with the International Space Station. The success of SpaceX's "Crew Dragon" sets the stage for an alternative to the Russian-made Soyuz capsules.
00:19:54 Researchers have been looking at the family dynamics stressed meerkat mothers. They've found the daughters become more helpful - at their own expense - but the sons don't.
00:25:28 Two new papers provide even more weight to the Planet Nine hypothesis - that a large planet, more than ten times the mass of Earth, could be lurking on the distant edges of our solar system, well beyond the orbit of Pluto.


This episode contains traces of the NASA stream and enthusiastic commentary of the SpaceX Crew Dragon module being opened in space for the first time.

Direct download: SoT_0325.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:18 Hyabusa 2, Japan's latest sample return mission, has briefly landed on the asteroid Ryugu. It's an ambitious mission looking at the building blocks of the solar system.
00:16:14 And what's the point of dragging samples all the way back to Earth, when we can send whole labs to celestial bodies?
00:20:59 Echidnas are cute but spiky Australian native animals, with rather strange mating habits. But they're in high demand on the illegal pet trade, so wildlife forensic scientists have developed a technique to track where they've been smuggled from.
00:28:34 The commercial arm of the Mars One plan to colonise the red planet has filed for bankruptcy. Was this an interplanetary Fyre Festival?
00:35:56 Australian scientists may have found a way of developing a universal flu vaccine, that would work against all strains and eliminating the need for yearly flu shots.


This episode contains traces of Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp answering questions in a company-produced interview back in 2015.

Direct download: SoT_0324_fixed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr Cameron Webb

00:00:58 A review study published in the journal Biological Conservation has found that over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.
00:29:06 Queensland has seen record-breaking floods this year, and everyone knows that mosquitoes love water. But what do floods mean for mosquito-borne diseases?
00:36:10 By studying sleepless flies, scientists have identified a gene that puts them to sleep when they need it the most. And interestingly, it doubles as part of their immune system.
00:42:32 From our immune system to taste and even our emotions - our guts have a big influence on our brains. And now new research shows that gut bacteria can affect our our mental health.
Dr. Cameron Webb is a medical entomologist from the University of Sydney and NSW Health Pathology primarily interested in mosquitoes, mosquito-borne disease management, insect repellents and wetland rehabilitation.


This episode contains traces of Abigail Fraeman, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) deputy project scientist at JPL.

Direct download: SoT_0323.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:48 When researchers from the Max Planck Institute were looking at the teeth of an 11th or 12th century German woman they found tiny bright blue specks. This was a clue that illuminated the role women may have played in the history of book production.

00:09:19 What if plants could be trained just like pet dogs? Spoiler alert: they can! Sort of.

00:12:12 Also, plants can hear you with their ear-flowers.

00:21:29 For spiders, their webs are also sensory organs. And depending on their body position, they can tune their webs to specific vibrations.

00:28:29 No longer aimlessly drifting, the Earth's magnetic North Pole seems to be moving determinedly towards Siberia.

 

This episode contains traces of Harrison Ford addressing the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit.

Direct download: SoT_0322.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39pm AEST

2018 was a big year for science. Is saw the launch of the largest privately built reuseable rocket, the discovery a new organ, and understanding of the wombat's cubic poops. And we talked about all these stories and more on Science on Top. But not everything goes to plan, and this year was no exception! We had all sorts of Skype troubles, we forgot things, we were interrupted by dogs and phones… lots went wrong!

But instead of losing the hilarious moments of chaos, we’ve saved them all for our traditional end of year bloopers episode. All the rants, the tangents, the swearing and the brain farts all put together for one long blooper reel!

You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: https://scienceontop.com/bloopers18 or on YouTube or Soundcloud!

Direct download: Bloopers_2018_announce.mp3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Peter Miller

00:01:10 There's a planet orbiting star HD26965, exactly where Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry said Spock's homeworld Vulcan would be.

00:04:16 A fresh analysis of 10 year old data finds the best evidence yet of water vapor venting from Jupiter's fourth largest moon, Europa.

00:05:17 Watch Peter Miller's artistic imagining of life on Europa here.

00:06:11 The oldest example of abstract art, from 73,000 years ago, resembles a hashtag.

00:10:14 Scientific debate has erupted over what could possibly be the world's oldest fossils ever found - or they could be just rocks.

00:14:09 Eating a California Reaper is probably a bad idea, as one man found out when he tried what was then the world's hottest chili.

00:18:06 Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean, but they also provided a unique glimpse at evolution. The research involved a lot of measurements, some lizards, and a leaf blower.

00:21:16 This year, we found out how wombats make cubed poops.

00:25:02 Ice cores have long been used to track global climate change, but a team from Oxford have studied ice cores for a more archaeological purpose – detailing the economic booms and busts of the ancient Roman empire.

00:28:48 Geneticists around the world were shocked when Professor He Jiankui announced he'd created the world's first ever gene edited babies. His claims of HIV immune babies are extraordinary, but mired in contention amongst ethical and procedural controversy.

Direct download: SoT_0321.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:24 The giant tortoise Lonesome George, the last of his species, was possibly as old as 102 when he died in 2012. Now sequencing of his DNA has revealed a number of genes that could give us clues about human life expectancy and particularly cancer.

00:08:10 Research into epilepsy has accidentally led to some exciting new developments in the treatment of depression and mood disorders. This is a serendipitous line of inquiry that came from observations of electrical stimulation of areas of the brain.

00:16:01 When it comes to hormonal birth control, it's pretty much a ladies-only club. But for decades researchers have been trying to develop a male pill, and now a reasonably large-scale trial is about to get underway looking at a contraceptive gel.

00:23:39 It's one of the greatest cosmological mysteries of our time - what makes up 95% of the universe. But the "Dark Fluid" theory could potentially solve the questions of both dark matter and dark energy. Perhaps.

 

This episode contains traces of ABC10's "Geek Labs" segment playing sounds recorded by the Mars InSight lander.

Direct download: SoT_0320.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm AEST

Our latest episode, 319 - Number Five Is Alive, had a pretty major glitch in that Lucas' track wasn't there at all. I realised the mistake shortly after posting it, and thought I had replaced it with the correct version, but obviously it didn't replace the file.

I've re-uploaded it and tested it now, it definitely works! So if you had any trouble playing that episode - specifically if it sounds like Lucas is being rude and not talking - then you may have to re-download that file again.

Or, you can listen on our website, YouTube, Stitcher or SoundCloud.

 

This is what happens when you upload the podcast late on a Friday night after a few drinks... :-(

Direct download: 319_mistake.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:14am AEST

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

00:02:27 NASA's InSight probe lands on Mars, with a slew of instruments to analyse what the red planet is made of.

00:17:43 Against all conventional knowledge, mitochondrial DNA is sometimes inherited from the father.

00:28:01 Professor He Jiankui announced he's created the world's first ever gene edited babies using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. His claims of HIV immune babies are extraordinary, but mired in contention amongst ethical and procedural controversy.

 

Jo Benhamu is a Clinical Research Nurse with a Masters in Bioethics.

 

This episode contains traces of Sir David Attenborough speaking at the COP24 UN conference in Katowice, Poland.

Direct download: SoT_0319.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:10 Wombats - the cute, pudgy marsupials in Australia, have cubic poops. Square, angular blocks of poop. But how and why? We may now have a better understanding.

00:08:25 HD186302 is a star 184 light-years from Earth. And it's so similar to our sun, it could be long lost twin.

00:16:49 A team of researchers have studied the genomes of a group of microbes called Hemimastigotes and found that they are so bizarre, they deserve their very own kingdom in the tree of life.

00:26:02 Using the Keck observatory telescopes in Hawaii, astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet 179 light years away.

 

This episode contains traces of WNYC's On The Media looking at CNN's coverage of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment.

Direct download: SoT_0318.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:00 There's a stream of stars hurtling through our region of the Milky Way galaxy, and they're bringing with them a "dark matter hurricane". It's probably nothing to worry about, though.

00:12:16 For the first time since 1889, the kilogram has been redefined according to a natural constant, instead of a lump of metal in a vault in Paris. The actual mass, for all intents and purposes, remains the same.

00:23:51 Previous studies of Neanderthal skulls found high rates of head injuries leading experts to believe they were a violent, savage people. But a new study finds that our human ancestors had a similar injuries and might not have been much different.

 

This episode contains traces of Professor Brian Greene explaining Dark Matter to CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

Direct download: SoT_0317.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Mick Vagg

00:02:13 How serious is the opioid crisis in Australia? What's being done about it, and what new painkillers are on the horizon? Pain Specialist Professor Mick Vagg gives us the run down.

00:22:15 20 million years ago, dolphins had really long snouts - the question is why? What evolutionary pressures led to their evolution, and what caused them to become extinct?

00:28:11 Are chimpanzees selfish? Do they readily cooperate? A study on chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo found they often make decisions that benefit others faster than ones that help themselves.

 

Associate Professor Mick Vagg is Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University School of Medicine, and Pain Specialist at Barwon Health.

 

This episode contains traces of John Oliver talking shady business practices which have contributed to the US Opioids Crisis.

 

Direct download: SoT_0316.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:11pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:10 When a newborn baby smiles, there's always some spoilsport ready to tell you it's not a genuine smile, it's just a reflex. But new research finds that infant smiles are a lot more complex than that.

00:07:34 For the first time, astronomers have observed the clumps of gas orbiting the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy using four large telescopes linked together. The observations are in extremely high detail and reveal super hot flares or "magnetic thunderstorms" orbiting the black hole at nearly a third of the speed of light.

00:16:31 Scientific debate has erupted over a set of cone-like formations in Greenland. One popular school of thought is that they're the oldest fossils ever found, and the other is that they're just rocks.

 

To help us make the show, please consider donating on Patreon.

 

This episode contains traces of CBC News Now host Heather Hiscox talking with Dominic Valitis about a big science auction.

Direct download: SoT_0315.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:11 It's an old computer trick, but a gyroscope on the Hubble Space Telescope has been fixed - with a shake and a reboot.

00:08:22 The tiny worms in dung beetle brood sacks - which are sexually transmitted - are beneficial for the beetle larvae.

00:14:33 Polychlorinated biphenyls - better known as PCBs - are industrial chemicals that have been banned in most countries for decades. But their legacy remains and has dramatic consequences for orcas and other marine mammals.

00:23:38 Humpback whales go quiet, and sometimes even silent, when large boats are around.

00:24:37 Why do male gorillas seem to enjoy babysitting so much? One possibility is that females choose good carers to mate with.

 

To help us make the show, please consider donating on Patreon.

 

This episode contains traces of Michael J. Fox talking to Alan Alda on the Clear and Vivid podcast.

Direct download: SoT_0314.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Pamela Gay

00:00:58 What happens when octopuses are given ecstasy? They get... cuddly.

00:07:23 Gene Roddenberry got it right, there IS a planet orbiting the star 40 Eridani. That's where the Star Trek creator said the planet Vulcan would be, homeworld of the pointy-eared logicians.

00:10:23 The Japanese space agency, JAXA, has had a spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Ryugu since the end of June this year. It has now deployed three of its four rovers onto the 1km wide near Earth object.

00:17:00 The failure of a gyroscope onboard the Hubble Space Telescope was a concern for NASA engineers, who scrambled to resurrect a backup gyro. It also raised questions about the future of the telescope, and the its ever-postponed successor the James Webb Space Telescope.

00:33:09 Questions from the audience.

 

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton, Melbourne.

Dr. Pamela Gay is astronomer, podcaster, and artist. She is the co-host of the AstronomyCast podcast and the Director of Technology and Citizen Science at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She is also the principal investigator of CosmoQuest.org.

This episode contains traces of NASA's video detailing all the things that could go wrong with the upcoming InSight Mars landing.

Direct download: SoT_0313.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:59pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Jo Benhamu, Kirsten Banks.

00:03:03 Wiradjuri astronomer Kirsten Banks tells us all about Aboriginal astronomy - from emu eggs to moon halos.

00:13:20 The conventional wisdom that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can improve health and delay dementia in the elderly is unfounded for most people, according to the largest and most comprehensive clinical trial conducted in Australia.

00:25:44 Many infections in humans of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been traced to the unnecessary use of antibiotics in puppies as 'preventatives'.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of an adorable caller to Dr. Karl's Triple J radio show.

Direct download: SoT_0312.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Peter Miller, Ross Balch.

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 rollercoaster medicine to Voodoo in the workplace!

You can watch the award ceremony here.

00:03:13 MEDICINE PRIZE went to two Americans, Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.

00:09:41 ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE went to an international team for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.

00:15:14 BIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to an international team of eight scientists for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.

00:21:07 CHEMISTRY PRIZE was given to three researchers from Portugal for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.

00:25:04 MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE went to Akira Horiuchi from Japan, for the medical report "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.".

00:29:42 LITERATURE PRIZE was awarded to four researchers from the University of Queensland for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.

00:34:29 NUTRITION PRIZE was won by James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.

00:38:59 PEACE PRIZE went to a team of scientists from SPAIN and COLOMBIA, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.

00:43:43 REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE was given to three urologists for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly — as described in their study "Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps".

00:47:42 ECONOMICS PRIZE went to a team from CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, and USA for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

Direct download: SoT_0311.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:34 Archaeologists working in the Blombos Cave in South Africa have discovered what could be the world's oldest drawing - from 73,000 years ago.

00:10:40 Surfers have long believed that nearby dolphins are a good sign that there are no sharks around. But new research suggests that's not the case, as attacks on dolphins have increased in line with rising ocean temperatures.

00:19:33 The mirror test is an attempt to measure self-awareness in non-human animals. Now the Cleaner Wrasse has become the first fish ever to pass.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson commenting on the dangers of smoking weed in space.

Direct download: SoT_0310.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:02:22 The exciting family of planets less than 40 light years from Earth could each have 250 times more water than Earth, according to a new study.

00:11:09 Not just a meat-eater, the bonnethead shark is the first species of shark to be determined omnivorous.

00:17:49 Someone drilled a hole on the International Space Station. Was it sabotage? Space madness? We don't yet know.

00:26:35 As the planet-wide dust storm settles, the Opportunity rover has just 45 days to phone home before NASA gives up on it.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

This episode contains traces of Harrison Ford addressing the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Direct download: SoT_0309.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:03:09 A large study has identified 35 genes that can influence you take up marijuana use. The study also also found links between those genes and other drug dependencies, as well as ADHD, autism and depression.

00:13:31 Scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that microorganisms in colder climates darken themselves to capture more heat and improve their chances for survival.

00:18:45 String Theory, the theoretical framework of cosmology, could permit trillions of trillions different universes. But one problem with it, according to a controversial new paper, is that it doesn't allow a universe like ours.

00:29:09 Archaeologists found a few broken jars in a 3,500 year old Egyptian tomb. Their contents were analysed, revealing an ancient love affair with one of life's true miracles: cheese.

 

Become a Patreon and help us out!

Come see Dr. Pamela Gay and the Science on Top team in Melbourne on 10 October 2018!

Get your tickets to the Australian Skeptics National Convention!

 

Dr Carolyn de Graaf is a geneticist from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

 

This episode contains traces of Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele criticising climate change deniers.

Direct download: SoT_0308.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48pm AEST

Dr Morgan Cable is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her work is primarily focussed on developing technologies and instruments for spacecraft searching for organic molecules and biomarkers in our solar system. She was the Assistant Project Science Systems Engineer for the Cassini Mission, and is currently working on numerous projects to Europa and Enceladus.

Ed and Lucas caught up with Dr. Cable to discuss the exploration of the Saturn system, the Jupiter system, Mars, Iceland and the search for life. Dr. Cable's Twitter handle is @starsarecalling. For more information about the projects we talked about, see NASA's pages for Cassini, Europa LanderMars 2020, and Wikipedia's Enceladus Life Finder page.

Direct download: SoT_Special_025_Morgan_Cable.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:56 We're hosting Dr. Pamela Gay for a talk, Q&A session and live show in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October! Tickets $20 from scienceontop.com/live All proceeds go to the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

00:02:06 A study finds that smaller dogs lift their legs higher when they pee. Could they be lying, and trying to fool other dogs?

00:09:30 After a delayed first attempt, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has been successfully launched on a course for the Sun. This will be the fastest spacecraft ever made, and will get up close and personal with our nearest star. For more on solar research, listen to our interview from last year with Professor Lucie Green.

00:20:21 Geologists have been studying tiny grains found in a Russian meteorite. They've found a new mineral, that they call uakitite, which has never before been found on Earth.

 

This episode contains traces of National Party of Australia deputy leader Bridget McKenzie daring to say "the C-word".

Direct download: SoT_0307.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Alayna Hansen.

00:00:58 We're hosting Dr. Pamela Gay for a talk, Q&A session and live show in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October! Tickets $20 from scienceontop.com/live and all proceeds go to the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

00:02:23 The government of Sierra Leone has announced the discovery of a new species of Ebola virus. Fortunately there's no indication that it's spread to humans yet, but that could be just a matter of time.

00:10:23 Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on the Caribbean, causing extensive damage and hundreds of deaths. But it did provide a rare opportunity for a team to study how natural disasters affect the evolution of some small tree-dwelling lizards.

00:16:52 Researchers are insisting that the hybrid cross of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin that was discovered in Hawaii is not a "wolphin". So of course, everyone's calling it a "wolphin".

00:23:08 For the first time physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have accelerated atoms at near the speed of light. Usually the LHC fires sub-atomic protons and atomic nuclei, so this is a big step up and could herald a new branch of particle physics exploration.

 

This episode contains traces of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson talking with Melissa Francis about the newly announced Space Force on Fox Business.

 

Alayna Hansen is a journalism student and freelance science writer. Check out her application for BBC Presenter Search on her YouTube Channel.

Direct download: SoT_0306.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Professor Jonti Horner, Sarah de Garis

00:01:22 The longest lunar eclipse in 18 years gave viewers in much of the world a stunning spectacle - a blood red moon.

00:03:08 Radar data from the Mars Express probe has revealed a large lake of liquid water beneath the red planet's surface.

00:14:49 CRISPR is a defence mechanism used by bacteria against viruses. And it's pretty good - but it has one major weakness that viruses exploit.

00:22:22 Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University have now made a significant breakthrough - by using gene editing to treat a genetic condition in utero. In mice.

00:30:15 Dr Jurgen Otto loves peacock spiders - a lot. And his passion has let him on a journey through southern Western Australia in search of a tiny (but cute) spider he saw 23 years ago. Check out his site: Peacockspider.org

 

This episode contains traces of Journalist Simone Boyce discussing the lunar eclipse with Dr. Jackie Faherty and Hanneke Weitering on NBC's "Space is Awesome" live stream.

Direct download: SoT_0305.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:01:04 It was one of the most incredible news stories of the year - the rescue of twelve kids and their soccer coach from the flooded Thai cave. Made even more remarkable that they all returned in relatively good health - especially considering all the diseases and illnesses they were at risk of catching.

00:10:48 Whether it's Ebola, Hendra, SARS, or rabies; bats are often blamed for the spread of viruses. But is that fair? Are bats more likely to host diseases that spread to humans?

00:17:34 While hunting for Planet Nine, astronomers accidentally discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter. One of them is on a collision course!

00:28:54 Scientists Australia have developed a blood test which, in a recent trial, was successful in detecting melanomas in 81.5% of cases.

 

Carolyn de Graaf is a geneticist from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

 

This episode contains traces of astronaut Scott Kelly describing the creepiest thing he encountered on the ISS.

Direct download: SoT_0304.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Daniel Midgely

00:01:18 Billed as having "mastered sign language", Koko The Gorilla has passed away. But was she all she was cracked up to be?

00:29:43 An international team has discovered a galaxy unlike any other. Smaller than the Milky Way, the mysterious galaxy appears to have very little dark matter - possibly none at all.

00:41:00 Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our lives. But a Wall Street Journal report finds that many of the big tech companies are using humans where computer bots fall short.

 

This episode contains traces of a report about Koko's death on CBC News.

 

Daniel Midgley is a linguist at the University of Western Australia and presenter on the weekly podcast and radio show Talk the Talk.

Direct download: SoT_0303.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Brad McKay

00:01:55 The WHO calls "gaming disorder" a mental health condition - so what is it, how serious is it, and what can we do about it?

00:14:08 Satellites have found the coldest place on Earth and it could kill you!

00:18:20 Can parasites control animals they haven't physically infected? Probably not, but tapeworms infecting stickleback fish can indirectly influence other, noninfected fish. Remember to watch Ed Yong's parasite TED Talk!

00:28:24 A drawing of an Australasian cockatoo in a 13th century Vatican manuscript could spark a rethink about trade routes between Europe and Australia in medieval times.

00:36:23 The Australian National Skeptics Convention will be held October 13-15 in Sydney. Get your ticket today!

 

Dr Brad McKay is a General Practitioner, a writer and TV personality. Follow him on Twitter.

 

This episode contains traces of Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney talking with Dr. Marc Siegel about gaming disorder.

Direct download: SoT_0302.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:05 A critically endangered frog lives underground in a remote mountainous region of Australia. Researchers are now trialling an adorable new method for finding and studying them.

00:07:15 Diabetes is a growing problem around the world, and now some researchers are looking to an odd-looking Australian icon for a potential new treatment.

00:16:07 A new paper published in Science has caused quite a buzz, by demonstrating that honeybees understand the concept of zero.

00:21:19 Every year, thousands of Giant Spider Crabs congregate in Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, where they shed their hard shells. What happens after that, is a mystery.

 

This episode contains traces of Jet Black, Luke Edwards,and Jenny Gray from CEO Zoos Victoria lamenting the plight of the Baw Baw Frog.

Direct download: SoT_0301.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely, Dr. Mick Vagg

00:03:26 The recent discovery of dunes on Pluto surprised planetary scientists. With very little atmosphere or wind, what could cause them?

00:11:48 A sample from Mars, analysed by the Curiosity rover, has found organic molecules - the building blocks of life.

00:18:25 One of the most famous psychology experiments, the Stanford marshmallow test, looked at delayed gratification in children back in the 1960s and 1970s. It's now been reproduced, a lot more rigorously, and the results are very different.

00:24:32 A proof-of-concept blood test can determine how far a long a woman is in her pregnancy, and how likely she is to give birth ahead of term.

00:28:22 An emerging field of diagnostics, liquid biopsy, is seeing impressive results. Recent studies correctly diagnosed people with ovarian and liver cancers 80 percent of the time.

00:31:51 Planet Nine is an exciting hypothesis that goes part of the way towards explaining the strange orbits of many rocks in the Kuiper Belt. But another idea could answer a lot of the same questions, without the need for a giant undiscovered planet.

 

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at the Bragg Institute. She writes “The Shores of Titan” column on The Conversation.

Dr. Mick Vagg is a rehabilitation and pain medicine specialist, and a Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University.

This episode contains traces of dogged CBS Philly reporter Nicole Brewer on a groundbreaking communication study.

Direct download: SoT_0300.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:04 Vitamania is stronger than ever, with more than half of Americans and nearly a third of Australians regularly taking vitamin supplements. But a new study finds that most vitamin supplements have little or no benefit, and some can even be doing harm.

00:10:03 If there's life elsewhere in the universe, there's a good chance it's bacteria or something much like it. Now astrobiologists are pushing for more attention to be paid to extra-terrestrial viruses, as viruses are the most common form of "life" on Earth.

00:18:24 Europe's oldest tree has been dated, which is a bit more complicated than counting growth rings.

00:24:40 Australian magpies that live near airports seem to be less afraid of aeroplanes. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

This episode contains traces of an ad for Flintstones Vitamins.

Direct download: SoT_0299.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:12 Jaundice, fairly common in newborn babies, could be an evolutionary advantage.

00:10:14 France is being invaded by giant, carnivorous, cloned flatworms. And it has been for more than two decades.

00:16:16 The rare birds native to the South Georgia islands, in the middle of nowhere, are no longer at risk from introduced rodents. They have been saved by a successful eradication project.

00:20:51 Asteroid 2015 BZ509 has mystified astronomers with it's retrograde orbit. A new theory suggests it could orbit the wrong way because it's an intruder from another solar system.

 

This episode contains traces of WCVB reporter Mary Saladna's story about a new restaurant in Boston.

Direct download: SoT_0298.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Alayna Hansen, and Peter Miller.

00:02:13 The internet blew up with the Yanny/Laurel audio illusion. Why do some people hear one thing, others hear another, and some people can hear both?

00:08:50 A new look at old data reveals signs of plumes of water coming from Jupiter's moon Europa.

00:13:35 Watching Europa is Peter's audio-visual artwork imagining life on Europa.

00:23:02 The chytrid fungus is devestating amphibian populations, but geneticists have finally traced its origins back to the pet trade, and East Asia in particular.

00:30:32 Ice cores have long been used to track global climate change, but a team from Oxford have studied ice cores for a more archaeological purpose - detailing the economic booms and busts of the ancient Roman empire.

00:36:55 Australian magpies appear to have learnt the calls of other birds - eavesdropping on their communications to learn of nearby predators.

 

This episode contains traces of Deep Look's video, "You've Heard of a Murder of Crows. How About a Crow Funeral?"

Direct download: SoT_0297.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Carolyn de Graaf

00:11:15 Harvard researchers have systematically profiled every cell in developing zebrafish and frog embryos, showing how one cell develops into an entire organism.

00:15:28 81-year-old James Harrison has saved millions of babies. His weekly blood donations have been used to create a treatment to protect unborn babies from the deadly Rhesus D Haemolytic Disease (HDN).

00:23:16 Experts from around the wold have signed a letter to the World Health Organisation calling for more action to fight the cancer-causing retrovirus HTLV-1.

00:29:36 Ancient tools found on Mediterranean islands could suggest that Neanderthals had at least rudimentary seafaring skills.

 

This episode contains traces of US congressman Mo Brooks grilling climate scientist Dr. Philip Duffy before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee about the causes of sea level rise.

Direct download: SoT_0296.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Sarah de Garis

00:01:25 A study by a team from University of Sussex shows that horses can not only distinguish human facial expressions, but they remember people's emotional states several hours later.

00:08:23 Male fruit flies enjoy sex.

00:17:07 There's a fungus that uses tiny crystals to sense gravity. And it can do that, because it stole genes from a bacteria.

00:21:06 Kids have a lot of energy - but in terms of endurance and recovery, they can even perform better than highly-trained adult endurance athletes.

 

This episode contains traces of Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos sharing his vision of a space-faring future.

Direct download: SoT_0295.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm AEST

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

00:01:31 While studying the enzyme produced by a bacteria that eats plastic, an international team has accidentally made it even better.

00:08:57 NASA's new planet-hunding spacecraft has launched. TESS will study 85% of the sky, and will be able to study the mass, size, density and orbit of thousands of exoplanets.

00:23:37 Retrotransposons - elements of DNA that can spread to other species - are being found more and more often. And they're almost ubiquitous in marine animals, especially shellfish.

 

This episode contains traces of French President Emmanuel Macron speaking before the US Congress.

Direct download: SoT_0294.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller

00:01:13 The bowhead whale sings a different tune to the humpback whale. It's more jazz to the humpback's classical.

00:07:38 The closest star outside our solar system just did a big burp. And it wouldn't be good for any life on its planet.

00:21:57 The hottest chilli in the world was the Carolina Reaper. A competitive eater ate one, then regretted it.

 

This episode contains traces of Will Smith interviewing astronaut Drew Feustel on the International Space Station.

Direct download: SoT_0293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm AEST

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

00:01:00 New York researchers have detailled the "structure and distribution of an unrecognized interstitium in human tissues". Or as some are calling it, a brand new organ.

00:16:37 New evidence lends credibility to an old theory of how Vikings navigated the seas. They could have used 'sunstones' and polarised light to find the sun in cloudy conditions.

00:24:39 Thanks to gravitational lensing, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have imaged the most distant star ever seen - 9 billion light years away.

00:29:28 Non-profit news service Kaiser Health News has launched a large database tracking pharmaceutical companies and where they spend their money. In one year drug companies spent $63 million on political lobbying activities but almost double that on Patient Advocacy Groups.

00:41:39 You probably didn't realise it, but the puffins have flourescent beaks. So why is this researcher making them wear sunglasses?

 

This episode contains traces of Breakfast Television Toronto hosts Kevin Frankish and Frank Ferragine discussing the interstitium.

Direct download: SoT_0292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:06 The Draw-A-Scientist test has been a regular investigation of children's ideas about science. The proportion of women being drawn has risen sharply since the test was first done in the 1960s.

00:09:09 70,000 years ago a small red dwarf star hurtling through space came within a light-year of our sun. Scholtz's star is now about 20 light years away but it's likely responsible for the orbits of a lot of comets and asteroids in our solar system.

00:20:52 Newspapers are dying, especially local newspapers. But the decline in local news outlets has a big effect on epidemiology, as researchers try to track the spread of diseases that aren't recorded anywhere else.

 

This episode contains traces of CBS News correspondent Anna Werner describing a new Californian requirement for a cancer warning on coffee.

Direct download: SoT_0291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm AEST

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

00:01:15 Stephen Hawking led a remarkable life, and a brilliant career in theoretical physics and cosmology. His genius will be sorely missed.

00:08:53 Contrary to many news reports, NASA's twin experiment did NOT find that 7% of astronaut Scott Kelly's DNA was changed by space travel. There were some health effects, but he definitely remained human.

00:15:58 Some media outlets, such as LiveScience, issued corrections.

00:17:56 The long-billed corella is a parrot may have become a pest to many farmers in Australia, but not so long ago their numbers were very low.

00:22:27 There's a Chinese space station that's hurtling out of control towards Earth. We don't know when it will hit, where it will hit, how much will burn up in the atmosphere or what toxic substances may still be on board. But you'll probably be fine.

00:29:37 NASA's super-successful planet-hunting spacecraft, Kepler, is running out of fuel.

 

This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking talking to Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke about black holes in 1988.

Direct download: SoT_0290.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely

00:02:37 The Juno spacecraft has returned extraordinary new data about Jupiter's cloud system and interior.

00:14:51 Diabetes, which affects about 415 million people around the world, has conventionally been categorised into three types - Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. But a new study indicates that there may in fact be 6 different types of diabetes.

00:20:39 Using satellite and drone technology, researchers have found a new supercolony of more than 1.5 million Adélie penguins.

00:25:54 A tribe of people that lived in Southern Africa nearly a thousand years ago have unintentionally left a legacy that is now a new source of information about the Earth's magnetic field.

 

Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer at the Bragg Institute. She writes “The Shores of Titan” column on The Conversation. Her most recent scientific paper, The Acetylene-Ammonia Co-crystal on Titan, is published in the journal ACS Earth and Space Chemistry.

 

This episode contains traces of Liz MacDonald, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, describing a newly discovered type of aurora.

Direct download: SoT_0289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47am AEST

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

00:01:04 In April 2015, unusually heavy thunderstorms flooded Chile's Atacama desert, the second driest region in the world. This messed up the plans of researchers there to study life in the Mars-like desert, but it also told them more about how life can survive in long periods of drought.

00:09:27 Two Dutch researchers have looked at more than 100 examples of dice from the last 2,000 years. This huge collection can give us some clues about how people have thought about chance, fate and probability over the centuries.

00:16:23 The crickets on the Hawaiian island of Kawaii have gone quiet. They're still there, they're still trying to chirp, but they're not making any sound].

00:22:53 There are 167 known species of tardigrades - the virtually indestructible eight-legged micro-animals. But the recently discovered 168th has unusual eggs.

00:26:31 And speaking of tardigrades, Shayne has some feels about Star Trek: Discovery.

 

This episode contains traces of the Today Extra TV program discussing a study that didn't suggest eating McDonald's fries could cure baldness.

Direct download: SoT_0288.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27pm AEST

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

00:01:06 SpaceX successfully launched the most powerful operational rocket in the world, sending a car into space.

00:12:34 An invasive species of crayfish has been tracked back to single animal, which reproduces by cloning itself.

00:19:50 Researchers have found a surprising amount of bacteria-eating viruses in an unlikely place - women's bladders.

00:27:16 DNA analysis and facial reconstruction techniques have revealed a surprising portrait of a Cheddar Man, a human who lived in England 9,100 years ago.

00:31:41 Palaeontologists have found spectacularly well preserved proto-spiders suspended in amber. The ancient arachnids had tails longer than their tiny bodies.

 

This episode contains traces of "Starman" being deployed into space to the music of David Bowie, and the celebrations of engineers at SpaceX.

Direct download: SoT_0287_correct.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:55 On January 31st, a super blue blood moon could be seen from Australia, South East Asia and the West Coast of the US. A super moon is when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth, a blood moon is a total lunar eclipse where the moon turns orange-red, and a blue moon is a second full moon in a calendar month.

00:03:50 Researchers using high-tech LIDAR have found more than 60,000 previously undetected Mayan buildings, defence installations and pyramids in the dense jungle in Guatemala.

00:09:58 A team led by NOAA scientist Camryn Allen has been studying the Pacific green sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef. Worryingly, she's found that most of them are female.

00:16:17 A glaciology postdoc at Princeton University has proposed an audacious plan to reduce or delay the threat of catastrophic sea-level rise. Michael Wolovick wants to build walls to stop glaciers sliding off Antarctic land into the ocean.

00:24:02 An analysis of birds-of-paradise feathers led by Dakota McCoy from Harvard University, has discovered exactly how the birds achieve the blackest of blacks.

 

This episode contains traces of BBC Breakfast hosts Dan Walker and Louise Minchin discussing a killer whale that has been 'taught' to 'speak' English.

Direct download: SoT_0286.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24pm AEST

2017 was a big year for science. Gravitational waves were detected four times, it was the end of Cassini's mission, and lady dragonflies faked their own deaths to avoid sex. And we talked about all these stories and more on Science on Top. But not everything goes to plan, and this year was no exception! We had all sorts of Skype troubles, we forgot things, we were interrupted by dogs and phones... lots went wrong! But instead of losing the hilarious moments of chaos, we've saved them all for our traditional end of year bloopers episode. All the rants, the tangents, the swearing and the brain farts all put together for one long blooper reel! There's even an entire story that was cut from the regular show that we've included out of the kindness of our hearts.

You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: http://scienceontop.com/bloopers17 or on YouTube or Soundcloud!

Direct download: Bloopers_2017_announce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58am AEST

 

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:08 Six reasons why the latest gravitational wave discovery is huge

00:07:36 Scientists solve Roman concrete puzzle

00:11:01 A look back at Cassini's incredible mission to Saturn before its final plunge into the planet

00:14:09 The first results from the Juno mission

00:17:40 A Dinosaur So Well Preserved, It Looks Like a Statue

00:20:47 We created a song that makes babies happy

00:23:33 A Thorny Debate in Plate Tectonics May Finally Be Resolved

00:25:50 Why Female Dragonflies Go to Extreme Lengths to Avoid Sex

Plus we interviewed some great people this year:

Direct download: SoT_0285.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:01:07 Antarctica is littered with volcanoes, and while there hasn't been a major eruption in 8,000 years, there are signs that there might be one coming.

00:12:48 Rock art in Saudi Arabia dates back thousands of years, and possibly features the oldest images of dogs.

00:17:53 The "Cat's Brain" long barrow in Wiltshire, near Stonehenge dates back to around 3,800BC. It's recent excavation offers new insights into Britain's neolithic civilisation.We were reminded of our fascinating discussion earlier this year with Dr. Lynne Kelly.

00:22:32 When a star goes supernova it usually appears to us as a very bright star that hangs around for maybe 3 or 4 months. But a newly analysed supernova stuck around for more than 2 years, getting brighter and dimmer throughout that period.

00:32:34 Researchers in West Australia have discovered and identified eight new species of spinifex grass, and one of them tastes like salt and vinegar chips!

 

This episode contains traces of "Come to Australia" by the Scared Weird Little Guys.

Direct download: SoT_0284.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm AEST

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

00:01:03 Stromatolites - rocky mounds made of bacterial colonies - have been around for at least 3.5 billion years. But the rise of multicellular life wiped them out except for in a few salty marine locations. Now researchers have discovered some in a remote freshwater wetland in Tasmania.

00:06:51 You wouldn't think it would matter if you were injured in the daytime or at night - but it does. Wounds inflicted during the day can heal nearly twice as fast.

00:11:14 What if the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs had struck the Earth somewhere different? It may be that if it had impacted nearly anywhere else on the planet the dinosaurs may have survived.

00:16:14 The fungus that invades ants and controls them while it kills them is pretty horrific. But it's even worse than we thought - the ants are aware and conscious the whole time, while their limbs are being controlled by the fungus!

 

This episode contains traces of Virtual Field Trips' explanation on how stromatolites got their name.

Direct download: SoT_0283.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm AEST

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

00:01:08 A 7-year-old boy's life is saved from a rare skin disease after researchers genetically modify and grow his skin in a lab.

00:07:25 The widespread use of penicillin may been a factor in the very early development of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

00:15:06 A new study suggests that while cold blooded dinosaurs ruled the daytime, mammals evolved to be nocturnal. And when the dinosaurs were wiped out, many mammals switched back to diurnal life.

00:19:21 NASA scientists say the giant hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, and is now the smallest it's ever been since 1988.

00:24:15 Eleven papers have been published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases and presented at the recent scientific meeting revealing the scale and damage caused by streptococcus infections. The authors have called for an acceleration in the development of a streptococcus vaccine.

 

This episode contains traces of protestors crashing a side event at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP 23. The US sent only a small delegation of low-level Whitehouse staffers and representatives from fossil fuel and nuclear power organisations to speak on a panel. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg observed that “promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”

 

Direct download: SoT_0282.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:51 A strange rock hurtling through space turns out to be the first known detection of a visitor from another solar system! By which we mean: not aliens.

00:15:08 Lentils might not sound like exciting archaeological discovery, but a find at the prehistoric site of Gurga Chiya in Iraqi Kurdistan could provide clues about the formation of permanent settlements and the development of social stratification.

00:22:45 Using muon-scanning technology, particle physicists have discovered a hidden void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. But - surprise! - that's not as unusual or revolutionary as much of the media breathlessly reported.

 

This episode contains traces of archaeologist Zahi Hawass criticising the Great Pyramid void discovery on RT America.

Direct download: SoT_0281.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28pm AEST

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

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 cats in jars to disgusting cheese!

You can watch the award ceremony here.

00:01:30 The Physics Prize was awarded to French scientist Marc-Antoine Fardin, "for using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

00:06:20 The Peace Prize went to four doctors and one patient from Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands and the USA "for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring".

00:10:19 The Economics Prize was presented to Australian Nancy Greer and American Matthew Rockloff "for their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble".

00:17:56 The Anatomy Prize was won by James Heathcote from the UK, for his medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?"

00:20:59 The Biology Prize went to two scientists from Japan, one from Brazil, and one from Switzerland "for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect".

00:25:27 The Fluid Dynamics Prize was awarded to South Korean Jiwon Han, "for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee".

00:29:53 The Nutrition Prize was presented to three scientists from Brazil, Canada, and Spain "for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat".

00:34:46 The Medicine Prize went to five scientists from France and the UK "for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese".

00:40:40 The Cognition Prize was awarded to four psychologists from Italy, Spain, and the UK "for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually".

00:45:00 The Obstetrics Prize went to a team from Spain "for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly".

 

Direct download: SoT_0280.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm AEST

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

00:01:11 A fifth gravitational wave detection in just two years confirms the dawn of a new era in astronomy. And this one was not only caused by two neutron stars coliding, it was accompanied by gamma ray detections, gave us more clues to the size of the universe, and a better understanding of how gold is formed.

00:17:00 Bacteria inside cancer cells can weaken or destroy some chemotherapy drugs, rendering them useless. But antibiotics aren't necessarily the answer.

00:27:53 A quarter of cow DNA originally came from reptiles, thanks to retrotransposons - genes that jump from species to species.

 

This episode contains traces of Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, host of "Kennedy" on Fox Business Network, discussing the gravitational wave discovery with physicist Dr. Michio Kaku.

Direct download: SoT_0279.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:39am AEST

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

00:02:51 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm".

00:08:40 The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".

00:14:52 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".

00:20:18 They don't have brains, but jellyfish still seem to sleep. Three Caltech students studied jellyfish slumber and found it to be similar, but not the same, as human sleep.

00:28:58 Two separate teams have made the first detections of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space. This is not Dark Matter, but baryonic matter.

00:35:00 The kakapo is the world's largest flightless parrot, and it's critically endangered. But a conservation program aims to sequence the genome of every surviving kakapo, gathering considerably more data on the iconic New Zealand native.

 

This episode contains traces of a rare kakapo parrot meeting zoologist Mark Carwardine.

 

Direct download: SoT_0278.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:47am AEST

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Ed and Lucas caught up with Katie to discuss the universe, travel, social media, and her new job at North Carolina State University. Katie's Twitter handle is @AstroKatie and her website is astrokatie.com. She also writes for Cosmos Magazine.

Direct download: SoT_Special_024_Katie_Mack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29am AEST

Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator. She has written books on skepticism, crocodiles and spiders; and her latest book The Memory Code examines the traditional memory techniques of non-literate peoples. Her theory on the purpose of the Stonehenge megalithic, which she believes served as a center for the transmission of knowledge among Neolithic Britons, is rapidly gaining recognition among anthropologists. Ed, Penny and Lucas caught up with Lynne to talk all things memory.

Direct download: SoT_Special_022_Lynne_Kelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller

00:01:00 Surprisingly, a lot of plants in the tropics tend to have large leaves. A team of scientists at Macquarie University in Sydney may have worked out why: and it's a balancing act.

00:08:42 After 13 years, the Cassini mission is coming to a fiery end. It's been one of NASA's most successful - and beautiful - missions.

00:19:36 Data from the Juno spacecraft finds that Jupiter's powerful auroras aren't powered the same way that Earth's are.

00:30:28 Coffee County Soil Conservation District, in Tennessee, has found a new use for new underwear: testing soil. The degradation of the cotton underwear illustrates the abundance or shortage of microbes in the soil.

 

This episode contains traces of "NASA's Cassini Spacecraft: A Journey's End" video produced by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Direct download: Sot_0277_Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:33am AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:06 Another plate tectonics mystery could be solved: how thick is a continental plate? According to a study published in the journal Science, pretty thick - between 130 and 190km!

00:10:57 Mars' "bow shock" - where charged particles from the Sun interact with the red planet's atmosphere - has been studied by a team of European scientists. They found that the bow shock's location changes over several Martian years, for a variety of reasons.

00:14:43 Artificial organs don't have to be full sized and they don't have to be for transplants. Researchers around the world are building "mini-organs" - sometimes as small as a pencil point - for everything from neurological research to medication and drug tests.

00:35:37 A Saturn-like ringed planet, orbiting close to the star and at a sharp angle, could explain the strange dimming and brightening pattern of "Tabby's Star", according to a new theory proposed by a team at the University of Antioquia.

 

This episode contains traces of Elon Musk frankly discussing the challenges of the upcomning Falcon Heavy rocket launch.

Direct download: SoT_0276.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:12 Four years after a groundbreaking peanut-allergy study, researchers in Melbourne have followed up on the original patients. The results are promising, and could lead to a potential cure for one of the most common - and deadly - allergies.

00:16:59 A new study has discovered 91 new volcanoes beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, making it one of the densest clusters of volcanoes in the world.

00:22:21 After more than a hundred years, a fruitcake from the famous Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole has been found in Antarctica's old building. And it's definitely probably maybe edible...

 

This episode contains traces of Fox News Channel host Shepard Smith being underwhelmed by the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Direct download: SoT_0275.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:21 The largest dinosaur ever discovered, found in Argentina in 2013, is now officially known as the Patagotitan mayorum.

00:11:35 An amazingly well preserved dinosaur fossil found by Canadian miners is already giving lots of information about skin pigmentation, camouflage and even its last meal. Also it looks like a wingless dragon.

00:17:16 We're all made of star stuff, but not necessarily local star stuff. A new study based on supercomputer simulations shows that up to half of the atoms in our bodies came from galaxies outside our own.

00:23:49 How bees fly has long been considered a mystery to science. But now a mathematical analysis suggests their wings can maintain a higher angle of attack without stalling, thanks to leading edge vortices generated in front of the wings.

 

This episode contains traces of the Today Show hosts discussing a 9-year old boy's letter to NASA.

Direct download: SoT_0274.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:15 Just weeks after the really big iceberg split from the Antarctic ice shelf, a new rift has formed. And the giant iceberg has already begun breaking up.

00:07:14 A new study into the migration of early humans to Australia dates their arrival back to 65,000 years ago. And it also finds they were more sophisticated in their use of tools than we previously thought.

00:15:06 Rare fossilised footprints of Tasmanian tigers and devils, as well as those of giant megafauna and flightless birds, have been discovered on Kangaroo Island, in South Australia. The footprints date back as far as 200,000 years ago.

 

This episode contains a brief exchange between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. The interview went downhill very quickly.

Direct download: Ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm AEST

00:03:41 An enormous iceberg breaks off from Antarctica. But did climate change cause it, like many news outlets claimed?

00:13:34 Plants don't turn caterpillars into cannibals. But hungry caterpillars will turn cannibal if the plant doesn't taste nice.

00:21:53 Gene modification tool CRISPR has been used to encode an animated gif in the genes of live bacteria. DNA could be the digital storage device of the future!

00:34:03 Ravens are smart - they can use tools, and solve puzzles - and they may even be able to plan for the future.

 

This episode contains traces of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Mars 2020 Project Scientist Ken Farley during a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Space Subcommittee.

Direct download: SoT_0272.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:46pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.

00:01:03 The Ancient Romans built sea walls with concrete that is still standing in many places today. What made their concrete so much stronger than modern concrete?

00:08:24 The chances of finding life on Mars grew even slimmer after a study found chemicals in the Martian soil are highly toxic.

00:15:54 Animals that use tools aren't uncommon, and neither are animals that make sounds to attract mates. But the Palm cockatoo could be the first non-human animal to do both - they use tools to make music.

00:28:47 In 1977 the Voyager spacecraft were launched carrying the Golden Records - gold-plated copper records containing images, sounds and music from Earth. And in one small segment of the record there's the sound of a man laughing. Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic wrote about her intensive investigation to track down who that man was and why his laughter is on a billion-year time capsule.

 

This episode contains traces of Al Gore talking about climate change on Triple J radio's Hack.

Direct download: SoT_0271.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30pm AEST

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

00:00:48 Sean talks about his Roughbot project, a programmable robot kit that introduces students to coding and robotics.

00:04:47 Every year, 1.2 million blue wildebeest migrate across East Africa, accompanied by around 200,000 zebra and antelope. At one point in their mass migration, however, they have to cross the mighty Mara River. Those that don't survive the crossing end up being crucial to the surrounding ecosystem.

00:11:13 Chinese researchers have for the first time ever sent entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth. This record-breaking achievement could be the first step of a revolution in communications and encryption.

00:23:49 Scientists in Uganda have noticed that the hunting behaviour of chimpanzees has changed since humans began studying them.

00:34:17 Two researchers from Princeton and Harvard universities have come up with a theory to explain the different shapes of eggs from different bird species. It's all about aerodynamics!

 

This episode contains traces of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking to senior US Navy officials about climate change.

Direct download: SoT_0270.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04pm AEST

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall

00:00:40 We welcome Lucas back to the show, and discuss his battles with depression. Lucas recently blogged about dealing with mental health in the workplace, and how different managers respond to cases of depression.

00:10:34 After three detections of gravitational waves by the ground-based LIGO detector, the European Space Agency has given the go-ahead for the LISA space-based detector.

00:15:42 A data visualisation takes a deep look at the statistics of human birth. And while we tend to think of it as being a random process, there's a large spike in births at 8am.

00:19:42 The New Horizons spacecraft has a new target - Kuiper Belt Object MU69 - which recently came between Earth and a distant star. This caused a huge (and highly successful) global effort to view it with ground-based telescopes.

 

This episode contains traces of banter between former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and former bankrupt casino-owner President Donald Trump.

Direct download: SoT_0269.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am AEST