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Science Magazine Podcast

Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.

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Giving a lagoon personhood, measuring methane flaring, and a book about eating high on the hog

On this week’s show: Protecting a body of water by giving it a legal identity, intentional destruction of methane by the oil and gas industry is less efficient than predicted, and the latest book in our series on science and food First up on the podcast this week, Staff Writer Erik Stokstad talks with host Sarah Crespi about why Spain has given personhood status to a polluted lagoon. Also on the show this week is Genevieve Plant, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. Genny and Sarah talk about methane flaring—a practice common in the oil and gas industry—where manufactures burn off excess methane instead of releasing it directly into the atmosphere. Research flights over several key regions in the United States revealed these flares are leaky, releasing five times more methane than predicted. In this month’s installment of books on the science of food and agriculture, host Angela Saini talks with culinary historian and author Jessica B. Harris about her book High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: Jeff Peischl/CIRES/NOAA; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: methane flares with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Angela Saini, Erik Stokstad Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf0584 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

37mins

29 Sep 2022

Rank #1

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Can wolves form close bonds with humans, and termites degrade wood faster as the world warms

On this week’s show: Comparing human-dog bonds with human-wolf bonds, and monitoring termite decay rates on a global scale First up on the podcast this week, Online News Editor David Grimm talks with host Sarah Crespi about the bonds between dogs and their human caretakers. Is it possible these bonds started even before domestication? Also this week, Sarah talks with Amy Zanne, professor and Aresty endowed chair in tropical ecology in the Department of Biology at the University of Miami. They discuss a global study to determine whether climate change might accelerate the rate at which termites and microbes break down dead wood and release carbon into the atmosphere. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: Christina Hansen Wheat; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: Björk, a female wolf, with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; David Grimm Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade9777 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

25mins

22 Sep 2022

Rank #2

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Testing planetary defenses against asteroids, and building a giant ‘water machine’

On this week’s show: NASA’s unprecedented asteroid-deflection mission, and making storage space for fresh water underground in Bangladesh First up on the podcast this week, News Intern Zack Savitsky joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the upcoming NASA mission, dubbed the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, that aims to ram a vending machine–size spacecraft into an asteroid and test out ideas about planetary defense. Also this week, Sarah talks with Mohammad Shamsudduha, an associate professor in humanitarian science at University College London’s Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. He explains how millions of individual farmers in Bangladesh are creating the “Bengal water machine,” a giant underground sponge to soak up fresh water during monsoon season. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: SW Photography/Getty; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: photo of agricultural fields and a big river at sunset in the city of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Zack Savitsky Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade8885 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

26mins

15 Sep 2022

Rank #3

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Why the fight against malaria has stalled in southern Africa, and how to look for signs of life on Mars

On this week’s show: After years of steep declines, researchers are investigating why malaria deaths have plateaued, and testing the stability of biosignatures in space First up on the podcast this week, freelance science journalist Leslie Roberts joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss why malaria deaths have plateaued in southern Africa, despite years of declines in deaths and billions of dollars spent. Leslie visited Mozambique on a global reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center where researchers are investigating the cause of the pause. Also this week, producer Kevin McLean talks with astrobiologists Mickael Baqué and Jean-Pierre de Vera of the German Aerospace Center. They discuss their Science Advances paper about an experiment on the International Space Station looking at the stability of biosignatures in space and what that means for our search for life on Mars. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: enhanced-color image of Mars’ Jezero crater was taken by NASA’s Perseverance with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Leslie Roberts; Kevin McLean Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade7839 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

23mins

8 Sep 2022

Rank #4

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Using free-floating DNA to find soldiers’ remains, and how people contribute to indoor air chemistry

On this week’s show: The U.S. government is partnering with academics to speed up the search for more than 80,000 soldiers who went missing in action, and how humans create their own “oxidation zone” in the air around them First up on the podcast this week, Tess Joosse is a former news intern here at Science and is now a freelance science journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin. Tess talks with host Sarah Crespi about attempts to use environmental DNA—free-floating DNA in soil or water—to help locate the remains of soldiers lost at sea. Also featured in this segment: University of Wisconsin, Madison, molecular biologist Bridget Ladell Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution marine biologist Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser Also this week, Nora Zannoni, a postdoctoral researcher in the atmospheric chemistry department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, talks about people’s contributions to indoor chemistry. She chats with Sarah about why it’s important to go beyond studying the health effects of cleaning chemicals and gas stoves to explore how humans add their own bodies’ chemicals and reactions to the air we breathe. In a sponsored segment from Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office, Sean Sanders, director and senior editor for Custom Publishing, interviews Benedetto Marelli, associate professor at MIT, about winning the BioInnovation Institute & Science Prize for Innovation and how he became an entrepreneur. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: Jeremy Borrelli/East Carolina University; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: a scuba diver underwater near a World War II wreck off Saipan with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Tess Joosse Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade6771 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcastSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

39mins

1 Sep 2022

Rank #5

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Chasing Arctic cyclones, brain coordination in REM sleep, and a book on seafood in the information age

On this week’s show: Monitoring summer cyclones in the Arctic, how eye movements during sleep may reflect movements in dreams, and the latest in our series of books on the science of food and agriculture. First up on the podcast this week, Deputy News Editor Eric Hand joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the first airborne campaign to study summer cyclones over the Arctic and what the data could reveal about puzzling air-ice interactions.  Next on the show, Sarah talks with Yuta Senzai, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, about his paper on what coordinated eye movement and brain activity reveal about the neurology of rapid eye movement sleep. Also on the show this week, a fishy installment of our series of books on the science of food and agriculture. Host Angela Saini interviews writer and editor Nicholas Sullivan about his latest book The Blue Revolution: Hunting, Harvesting, and Farming Seafood in the Information Age. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS data; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: photo from space of an epic 2012 Arctic cyclone with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Eric Hand; Angela Saini Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade5525 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

34mins

25 Aug 2022

Rank #6

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Monitoring a nearby star’s midlife crisis, and the energetic cost of chewing

On this week’s show: An analog to the Maunder Minimum, when the Sun’s spots largely disappeared 400 years ago, and measuring the energy it takes to chew gum We have known about our Sun’s spots for centuries, and tracking this activity over time revealed an 11-year solar cycle with predictable highs and lows. But sometimes these cycles just seem to stop, such as in the Maunder Minimum—a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 with little or no sunspot activity. News Intern Zack Savitsky joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss a nearby star that appears to have entered a similar quiet period, and what we can learn from it about why stars take naps. Also this week on the show, Adam van Casteren, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester, joins Sarah to talk about measuring how much energy we use to chew up food. Based on the findings, it appears humans have turned out to be superefficient chewers—at least when it comes to the gum used in the study—with less than 1% of daily energy expenditure being spent on mastication. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: NASA/SDO; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: photo of the largest sunspot from our latest solar cycle with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Zack Savitsky Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade4241 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcastSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

24mins

18 Aug 2022

Rank #7

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Cougars caught killing donkeys in Death Valley, and decoding the nose

On this week’s show: Predators may be indirectly protecting Death Valley wetlands, and mapping odorant receptors  First up this week on the podcast, News Intern Katherine Irving joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the first photos of cougars killing feral donkeys in Death Valley National Park. They also discuss the implications for native animals such as big horn sheep, and plans to remove donkeys from the park. Also this week on the show, Paul Feinstein, professor of biology in the department of biological science at Hunter College, discusses a Science Signaling paper on a new approach to matching up smell receptors with smells—a long-standing challenge in olfaction research. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: Angel Di Bilio/iStock; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: photo of a burro on a hillside near Death Valley with podcast overlay symbol] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Katherine Irving Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade3366 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

23mins

11 Aug 2022

Rank #8

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Invasive grasses get help from fire, and a global map of ant diversity

On this week’s show: A special issue on grass, and revealing hot spots of ant diversity This week’s special issue on grasses mainly focuses on the importance of these plants in climate change, in ecosystems, on land, and in the water. But for the podcast, Contributing Correspondent Warren Cornwall joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about their dark side: invasive grasses that feed fires and transform ecosystems. Also this week on the show, Evan Economo, a professor in the biodiversity and biocomplexity unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, joins Sarah to discuss his Science Advances paper on creating a worldwide map of ant diversity. Such maps help us better understand where vertebrate and invertebrate diversity do and don’t overlap and what this means for conservation. If you want to explore the data, you can see them at antmaps.org.  This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: NTPFES; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: grassland fire in Northern Australia with podcast symbol overlay] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Warren Cornwall   Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade2512 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcast See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

24mins

4 Aug 2022

Rank #9

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Probing beyond our Solar System, sea pollinators, and a book on the future of nutrition

On this week’s show: Plans to push a modern space probe beyond the edge of the Solar System, crustaceans that pollinate seaweed, and the latest in our series of author interviews on food, science, and nutrition After visiting the outer planets in the 1980s, the twin Voyager spacecraft have sent back tantalizing clues about the edge of our Solar System and what lies beyond. Though they may have reached the edge of the Solar System or even passed it, the craft lack the instruments to tell us much about the interstellar medium—the space between the stars. Intern Khafia Choudhary talks with Contributing Correspondent Richard Stone about plans to send a modern space probe outside the Solar System and what could be learned from such a mission. Next up on the show, Myriam Valero, a population geneticist at the evolutionary biology and ecology of algae research department at Sorbonne University, talks with host Sarah Crespi about how a little crustacean might help fertilize a species of algae. If the seaweed in the study does use a marine pollinator, it suggests there may have been a much earlier evolutionary start for pollination partnerships. Finally, we have the next in our series on books exploring the science of food and agriculture. This month, host Angela Saini talks with biochemist T. Colin Campbell about his book The Future of Nutrition: An Insider’s Look at the Science, Why We Keep Getting It Wrong, and How to Start Getting It Right. This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy. [Image: Johns Hopkins APL/Mike Yakovlev; Music: Jeffrey Cook] [alt: illustration of an interstellar probe crossing the boundary of the heliosphere with podcast symbol overlay] Authors: Sarah Crespi; Rich Stone; Angela Saini; Khafia Choudhary ++ LINKS FOR MP3 META Episode page: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.ade1292 About the Science Podcast: https://www.science.org/content/page/about-science-podcastSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38mins

28 Jul 2022

Rank #10