Science On Top
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