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The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and providing in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.
 
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The self-supporting structures that snap into place, and how a ban on fossil-fuel funding could entrench poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. In this episode: 00:45 Self-supporting, foldable structures Drawing inspiration from the art of origami, a team of researchers have demonstrated a way to design self-supporting structures that lock into place after…
 
Reports of rare and unusual blood clots have resulted in several vaccine roll outs being paused while scientists scramble to work out if the vaccines are responsible and if so how. The unusual combination of symptoms, including a low platelet count and clots focussed in the abdomen or brain, seems similar to a rare side effect from treatment with t…
 
The lack of adequate sanitation in parts of the rural US, and physicists reassess muons’ magnetism. In this episode: 00:45 How failing sanitation infrastructure is causing a US public health crisis In the US, huge numbers of people live without access to adequate sanitation. Environmental-health advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers tells us about her…
 
Rick Bright exposed former president Trump's political meddling in the US COVID response. Now he is championing a new privately funded initiative to track viral spread and combat new variants. We discuss the challenges of collecting data on a rapidly spreading virus, from transmission dynamics to genomic surveillance. We also ask why a veteran gove…
 
In 2020, the artificial intelligence (AI) GPT-3 wowed the world with its ability to write fluent streams of text. Trained on billions of words from books, articles and websites, GPT-3 was the latest in a series of ‘large language model’ AIs that are used by companies around the world to improve search results, answer questions, or propose computer …
 
From a sore arm to anaphylaxis, a wide range of adverse events have been reported after people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. And yet it is unclear how many of these events are actually caused by the vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, reactions are mild and can be explained by the body's own immune response. But monitoring systems designed …
 
Laser-cooled antimatter opens up new physics experiments, and the staggering economic cost of invasive species. In this episode: 00:44 Cooling antimatter with a laser focus Antimatter is annihilated whenever it interacts with regular matter, which makes it tough for physicists to investigate. Now though, a team at CERN have developed a way to trap …
 
Since the beginning of the pandemic the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been plagued by confusion and controversy. The vaccine has been authorised in over 100 countries, tens of millions of doses have been administered, and it has been demonstrated to be safe and effective. However, over the past few weeks the vaccine has again been in the headlines…
 
A web of three optical atomic clocks show incredibly accurate measurements of time, and the trailblazing astronomer who found hints of dark matter. In this episode: 00:44 Optical clock network Optical atomic clocks have the potential to reach new levels of accuracy and redefine how scientists measure time. However, this would require a worldwide sy…
 
In the early days of the pandemic, researchers raced to identify the most potent antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SAR-COV-2 infection and produce them in bulk. The resulting ‘monoclonal antibodies’ have since been tested in a variety of settings as treatments for COVID-19. But despite promising clinical trial results and seve…
 
A computer that can participate in live debates against human opponents. In this episode: 00:43 AI Debater After thousands of years of human practise, it’s still not clear what makes a good argument. Despite this, researchers have been developing computer programs that can find and process arguments. And this week, researchers at IBM are publishing…
 
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been many open questions about how COVID-19 could impact pregnant people and their babies – confounded by a lack of data. But now, studies are finally starting to provide some answers. While it does seem that pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation, babies appear to be spared…
 
Physicists examine the gravitational pull between two tiny masses, and how fossil lampreys could shake-up the field of vertebrate evolution. In this episode: 00:47 Gravity, on the small scale This week, researchers have captured the smallest measurement of gravity on record, by measuring the pull between two tiny gold spheres. This experiment opens…
 
Where did the SARS-CoV-2 virus come from? As a team of researchers from the WHO prepares to report on its investigation into the origins of the virus, we discuss the leading theories, including the controversial ‘lab leak' hypothesis. Although there is no evidence to support it, the lab-leak idea remains popular among certain groups. Similar hypoth…
 
The pandemic's unequal toll on the research community, and a newly discovered mitochondria-like symbiosis. In this episode: 00:48 The pandemic's unequal toll on researchers Although 2020 saw a huge uptick in the numbers of research papers submitted, these increases were not evenly distributed among male and female scientists. We look at how this co…
 
A repository with millions of data points will track immunity and variant spread. To answer the big questions in the pandemic, researchers need access to data. But while a wealth has been collected, much of it isn’t collated or accessible to the people who need it. This week sees the launch of Global.health, a database that aims to collate an enorm…
 
The surprising structure of protons, and a method for growing small intestines for transplantation. In this episode: 00:45 Probing the proton’s interior Although studied for decades, the internal structure of the proton is still throwing up surprises for physicists. This week, a team of researchers report an unexpected imbalance in the antimatter p…
 
Researchers in Japan are trying to understand why thunderstorms fire out bursts of powerful radiation. Gamma rays – the highest-energy electromagnetic radiation in the universe – are typically created in extreme outer space environments like supernovae. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, physicists discovered a source of gamma rays much closer to hom…
 
What’s the endgame for the COVID-19 pandemic? Is a world without SARS-CoV-2 possible, or is the virus here to stay? A recent Nature survey suggests that the majority of experts expect the virus to become endemic, circulating in the world’s population for years to come. But what does this mean? On this week’s episode of Coronapod, we ask what a futu…
 
Researchers sequence the oldest DNA ever recovered, and the people bringing art and science together. In this episode: 00:46 Million-year-old mammoth DNA This week, researchers have smashed a long-standing record by sequencing a genome that's over a million years old. They achieved this feat by extracting DNA from permafrost-preserved mammoth teeth…
 
The science behind how and when to give vaccines doses. As vaccines are rolled out, massive logistical challenges are leading scientists and policymakers to consider alternative dosing strategies. But what does the science say? In this week’s episode of Coronapod, we discuss mixing and matching vaccines and lengthening the time between doses. Appro…
 
Looking back at the publication of the human genome, and how macrophages mend muscle. In this episode: 00:45 The human genome sequence, 20 years on This week marks the 20th anniversary of a scientific milestone – the publication of the first draft of the human genome. Magdalena Skipper, Nature’s Editor-in-Chief gives us her recollections of genomic…
 
Researchers are scrambling to understand the biology of new coronavirus variants and the impact they might have on vaccine efficacy. Around the world, concern is growing about the impact that new, faster-spreading variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will have on the pandemic. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss what these variants are, and the be…
 
Exploring the properties of a vanishingly-rare artificial element, and the AI that generates new mathematical conjectures. In this episode: 01:04 Einsteinium's secrets Einsteinium is an incredibly scarce, artificial element that decays so quickly that researchers don’t know much about it. Now, using state-of-the-art technology, a team has examined …
 
A year ago the WHO’s coronavirus emergency alarm was largely ignored. Why? On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, or PHEIC, to raise the alarm of the imminent threat of a global coronavirus pandemic. Alongside the PHEIC, the WHO made a number of recommendations to curb …
 
Researchers are probing the subtle physical forces that sculpt cells and bodies. At every stage of life, from embryo to adulthood, physical forces tug and squeeze at bodies from within. These forces are vital, ensuring that cells are correctly positioned in a developing embryo, for example. But they also play a role in diseases like cancer. Yet des…
 
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