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Science Weekly

Twice a week, the Guardian brings you the latest science and environment news

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How will ChatGPT transform creative work?

ChatGPT has been causing a stir since its launch last year. The chatbot’s ability to produce convincing essays, stories and even song lyrics has impressed users, and this week attracted a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft. Ian Sample speaks to Prof John Naughton about how ChatGPT works, hears from author Patrick Jackson about how it will change publishing, and asks where the technology could end up. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

15mins

26 Jan 2023

Rank #1

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Overcoming burnout: a psychologist’s guide

Last week, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation, saying that she “no longer had enough in the tank” to do the role justice. Madeleine Finlay speaks to cognitive scientist Prof Laurie Santos about the symptoms of burnout, what causes it and the best ways to recover. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

13mins

24 Jan 2023

Rank #2

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Could the return of El Niño in 2023 take us above 1.5C of warming?

Scientists have predicted the return of the El Niño climate phenomenon later this year. Its arrival will result in even higher global temperatures and supercharged extreme weather events. Ian Sample speaks to environment editor Damian Carrington about what we can expect from El Niño and whether we’re prepared. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

12mins

19 Jan 2023

Rank #3

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What’s the reality behind the ‘Love Island smile’?

As the ninth series of ITV show Love Island kicked off yesterday, viewers may have noticed contestants’ perfectly straight, white teeth. But are there risks associated with achieving a flawless smile? Madeleine Finlay speaks to dentist Paul Woodhouse about some of the dangers of dental tourism. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

11mins

17 Jan 2023

Rank #4

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How did we save the ozone layer?

A UN report has found the Earth’s ozone layer is on course to be healed within the next 40 years. What was once humanity’s most feared environmental peril is now an example of how the world can take collective action. Madeleine Finlay speaks to atmospheric scientist Paul Newman about this momentous achievement and whether it really is the end of the story. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

15mins

12 Jan 2023

Rank #5

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Our science predictions for 2023

Last year saw several major science breakthroughs – from the first time a nuclear fusion experiment produced more energy than it used, to Nasa smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid in a mission that demonstrated the possibility of redirecting any space rocks heading our way. So what will 2023 bring? Ian Sample and science correspondent Hannah Devlin discuss the major stories they are expecting to hit the headlines in 2023, and their science predictions for the year ahead.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

15mins

10 Jan 2023

Rank #6

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Best of 2022: James Webb space telescope – thousands of galaxies in a grain of sand

When Nasa unveiled the first images from the long-awaited James Webb space telescope, they revealed our universe in glorious technicolour. The $10bn space science observatory will help scientists answer fundamental questions in astronomy and look back to the dawn of time. In this episode first broadcast in July 2022, Prof Ray Jayawardhana, who is working with one of the instruments onboard the JWST, speaks to Ian Sample about what these images show us, and what they mean for the very human quest of discovering our place in the cosmos. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

15mins

5 Jan 2023

Rank #7

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Best of 2022: Why aren’t women being diagnosed with ADHD?

It’s estimated that 1 million women in the UK could have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – but according to the ADHD Foundation, 50% to 75% of them do not know they have it. So why are women being left behind? In this episode, first broadcast in May 2022, Madeleine Finlay speaks to Jasmine Andersson about her experience of getting a late diagnosis, and asks Prof Amanda Kirby why the condition is so often missed in women and girls. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

15mins

3 Jan 2023

Rank #8

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Are we finally nearing a treatment for Alzheimer’s?

Back in November, researchers hailed the dawn of a new era of Alzheimer’s therapies. After decades of failure, a clinical trial finally confirmed that a drug, lecanemab, was able to slow cognitive decline in patients with early stages of the disease. The result may have been modest – a reduction in the decline in patients’ overall mental skills by 27% over 18 months – but it could not be more significant in the journey towards better understanding and treating the disease. Ian Sample speaks to Prof Nick Fox about the clinical trial results, if this could be the first of many new Alzheimer’s therapies, and whether we could one day see a cure.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

14mins

29 Dec 2022

Rank #9

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Exploded heads and missing fingers: Dame Sue Black on her most memorable cases

From a fragment of skull in a washing machine to a finger bone found by a dog walker, the forensic anthropologist Prof Dame Sue Black has helped solve many strange and mysterious cases. This year, she will be giving the Royal Institution Christmas lectures, Britain’s most prestigious public science lectures. In them, she’ll be investigating the secret clues hidden in our bodies and how the scientific detective process can be used to identify the living and the dead. Nicola Davis sat down with Black to discuss the lectures, her most memorable cases, and why she didn’t want her daughters to get braces. Madeleine Finlay hears from them both in this Christmas special of Science Weekly. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod

18mins

27 Dec 2022

Rank #10