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  • Rapid sepsis test identifies bacteria that spark life-threatening infection

    34:57
    00:48 A rapid way to identify serious bacterial infectionsA newly-developed method that can rapidly identify the type of bacteria causing a blood-infection, and the correct antibiotics to treat it, could save clinicians time, and patient lives. Blood infections are serious, and can lead to the life-threatening condition sepsis, but conventional diagnostic methods can take days to identify the causes. This new method does away with some of the time-consuming steps, and the researchers behind it say that if it can be fully automated, it could provide results in less than a day.Research Article: Kim et al.11:49 Research HighlightsThe discovery of a connection between three star-forming interstellar clouds could help explain how these giant structures form, and evidence of the largest accidental methane leak ever recorded.Research Highlight: Found: the hidden link between star-forming molecular cloudsResearch Highlight: Blowout! Satellites reveal one of the largest methane leaks on record14:22 AIs fed AI-generated text start to spew nonsenseWhen artificial intelligences are fed data that has itself been AI-generated, these systems quickly begin to spout nonsense responses, according to new research. Typically, large language model (LLM) AI’s are trained on human-produced text found online. However, as an increasing amount of online content is AI-generated, a team wanted to know how these systems would cope. They trained an AI to produce Wikipedia-like entries, then trained new iterations on the model on the text produced by its predecessor. Quickly the outputs descended into gibberish, which highlights the dangers of the Internet becoming increasingly full of AI-generated text.Research Article: Shumailov et al.25:49 Briefing ChatHow psilocybin — the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms — resets communication between brain regions, and the surprise cancellation of a NASA Moon mission.Nature News: Your brain on shrooms — how psilocybin resets neural networksNature News: NASA cancels $450-million mission to drill for ice on the Moon — surprising researchersSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

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  • The plastic that biodegrades in your home compost

    28:21
    01:04 A gel to safely transport proteinsA gel that encases proteins could be a new way to safely transport medicines without requiring them to be kept cold, according to new research. To test it, the team behind the work posted themselves a protein suspended in this gel, showing that it was perfectly preserved and retained its activity, despite being dropped in transit and exposed to varying temperatures. The researchers hope this gel will help overcome the need to freeze protein-based medicines, which can be expensive to do and difficult to maintain during transportation.Research Article: Bianco et al.News and Views: Gel protects therapeutic proteins from deactivation — even in the post08:51 Research HighlightsHow an abundance of cicadas led to a host of raccoon activity, and how wine-grape harvest records can be used to estimate historical summertime temperaturesResearch Highlight: Massive cicada emergence prompted raccoons to run wildResearch Highlight: Wine grapes’ sweetness reveals Europe’s climate history11:24 Making a plastic biodegradableBy embedding a plastic with an engineered enzyme, researchers have developed a fully biodegradable material that can be broken down in a home compost heap. Plastic production often requires high temperatures, so the team adapted an enzyme to make it more able to withstand heat, while still able to break down a common plastic called PLA. They hope this enzyme-embedded plastic could replace current single-use items, helping to reduce the huge amount of waste produced each year.Research Article: Guicherd et al.19:53 Briefing ChatThis time, how to make lab-grown meat taste more meaty, and a subterranean Moon cave that could be a place for humans to shelter.Nature News: This lab-grown meat probably tastes like real beefThe Guardian: Underground cave found on moon could be ideal base for explorersNature hits the books: Living on Mars would probably suck — here's whySubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
  • Breastfeeding should break down mothers' bones — here's why it doesn't

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    00:45 In situ editing of the gut microbiomeResearchers have developed a method to directly edit the genes of specific bacteria in the guts of live mice, something that has previously been difficult to accomplish due to the complexity of this environment. The tool was able to edit over 90% of an E. coli strain colonising mice guts, with other work showing the tool could be used to edit genes in pathogenic bacterial species and strains. It is hoped that with further research this technique could be adapted to work in humans, potentially altering bacteria associated with disease.Nature News: This gene-editing tool alters bacteria in the gut of living miceResearch Article: Brödel et al.06:56 Research HighlightsThe ants that perform life-saving surgery on their nest-mates, and why amber’s scarcity led ancient artisans to make imitation jewellery.Research Highlight: Ants amputate their nest-mates’ legs to save livesResearch Highlight: Fake jewellery from the Stone Age looks like the real deal08:46 How is bone health maintained during breastfeeding?During breastfeeding bones are stripped of calcium, while levels of oestrogen — which normally helps keep them healthy — drop off precipitously. This puts bones under tremendous stress, but why they don’t break down at this time has proved a mystery. Now, a team has identified a hormone produced in lactating mice that promotes the build up of bones, keeping them strong during milk production. Injecting this hormone into injured mice helped their bones heal faster, and the team hopes that their finding could ultimately help treat bone-weakening conditions like osteoporosis in humans.Research Article: Babey et al.17:55 Briefing ChatThis time, new clues about the neurological events that spark migraines, and a quick chemical method to recycle old clothes.Nature News: What causes migraines? Study of ‘brain blackout’ offers cluesNature News: Chemical recycling’: 15-minute reaction turns old clothes into useful moleculesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
  • These frog 'saunas’ could help endangered species fight off a deadly fungus

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    00:47 Searching for dark matter in black holesResearchers have been scanning the skies looking for black holes that formed at the very beginning of the Universe — one place where elusive and mysterious dark matter is thought to be located. If these black holes did contain dark matter, they would be especially massive and so researchers would be able to see the bending of light as they pass in front of stars. Such events would be rare, so to find them researchers trawled through a decades-long dataset. However, despite the large number of observations, the researchers didn't find many examples of these events and none that were long enough to show signs of much dark matter. So, the hunt for enigmatic material goes on.Research Article: Mróz et al.09:42 Research HighlightsHow some comb jellies survive the crushing ocean depths, and how giving cash to mothers in low-income households can boost time and money spent on children.Research Highlight: Deep-sea creatures survive crushing pressures with just the right fatsResearch Highlight: Families given cash with no strings spend more money on kids12:39 A simple, solution to tackle a deadly frog diseaseA simple ‘sauna’ built of bricks and a supermarket-bought greenhouse, can help frogs rid themselves of a devastating fungal disease, new research has shown. While options to prevent or treat infection are limited, the fungus that causes the disease chytridiomycosis has an achilles heel: it can’t survive at warm temperatures. A team in Australia used this knowledge to their advantage to develop saunas where frogs can warm themselves to clear an infection. Frogs who spent time in these hot environments were able to shake the fungus, and gained some immunity to subsequent infections. While this research only involved one type of frog, it offers some hope in tackling a deadly disease that has driven multiple species to extinction.Research Article: Waddle et al.News and Views: Mini saunas save endangered frogs from fungal disease20:06 Briefing ChatThis time, we discuss what the upcoming UK election could mean for science, and the return of rock samples from the Moon’s far side.Nature News: UK general election: five reasons it matters for scienceNature News: First ever rocks from the Moon’s far side have landed on EarthSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
  • Audio long read: How NASA astronauts are training to walk on the Moon in 2026

    15:04
    In 2026, NASA aims to send humans back to the Moon's surface, as part of the Artemis III mission. In preparation, astronauts have been performing moonwalking simulations to ensure that they are able to make the most of their precious time on the lunar surface. In one dress rehearsal, a pair of astronauts took part in a training exercise in an Arizona volcanic field, working with a science team to practice doing geology work in difficult conditions designed to mimic some that will be experienced at the lunar south pole.This is an audio version of our Feature: How NASA astronauts are training to walk on the Moon in 2026Never miss an episode. Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify YouTube Music or your favourite podcast app. An RSS feed for Nature Podcast is available too.
  • Why ‘open source’ AIs could be anything but, the derailment risks of long freight trains, and breeding better wheat

    17:31
    00:31 How open are ‘open source’ AI systems?Many of the large language models powering AI systems are described as ‘open source’ but critics say this is a misnomer, with restricted access to code and training data preventing researchers from probing how these systems work. While the definition of open source in AI models is yet to be agreed, advocates say that ‘full’ openness is crucial in efforts to make AI accountable. New research has ranked the openness of different systems, showing that despite claims of ‘openness’ many companies still don’t disclose a lot of key information.Nature News: Not all ‘open source’ AI models are actually open: here’s a ranking06:12 Why longer freight trains are more prone to derailmentIn the US, there are no federal limits on the length of a freight train, but as companies look to run longer locomotives, questions arise about whether they are at greater risk of derailment. To find out, a team analysed data on accidents to predict the chances of longer trains coming off the tracks. They showed that replacing two 50-car freight trains with one 100-car train raises the odds of derailment by 11%, with the chances increasing the longer a train gets. While derailments are uncommon, this could change as economic pressures lead the freight industry to experiment with ever-longer trains.Scientific American: Longer and Longer Freight Trains Drive Up the Odds of Derailment11:44 How historic wheat could give new traits to current cropsGenes from century-old wheat varieties could be used to breed useful traits into modern crops, helping them become more disease tolerant and reducing their need for fertiliser. Researchers sequenced the genomes of hundreds of historic varieties of wheat held in a seed collection from the 1920s and 30s, revealing a huge amount of genetic diversity unseen in modern crops. Plant breeding enabled the team to identify some of the areas of the plants’ genomes responsible for traits such as nutritional content and stress tolerance. It’s hoped that in the long term this knowledge could be used to improve modern varieties of wheat.Science: ‘Gold mine’ of century-old wheat varieties could help breeders restore long lost traitsSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
  • How do fish know where a sound comes from? Scientists have an answer

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    00:46 How light touches are sensed during sex150 years after they were discovered, researchers have identified how specific nerve-cell structures on the penis and clitoris are activated. While these structures, called Krause corpuscles, are similar to touch-activated corpuscles found on people’s fingers and hands, there was little known about how they work, or their role in sex. Working in mice, a team found that Krause corpuscles in both male and females were activated when exposed to low-frequency vibrations and caused sexual behaviours like erections. The researchers hope that this work could help uncover the neurological basis underlying certain sexual dysfunctions.News: Sensory secrets of penis and clitoris unlocked after more than 150 yearsResearch article: Qi et al.News and Views: Sex organs sense vibrations through specialized touch neurons07:03 Research HighlightsAstronomers struggle to figure out the identity of a mysterious object called a MUBLO, and how CRISPR gene editing could make rice plants more water-efficient.Research Highlight: An object in space is emitting microwaves — and baffling scientistsResearch Highlight: CRISPR improves a crop that feeds billions09:21 How fish detect the source of soundIt’s long been understood that fish can identify the direction a sound came from, but working out how they do it is a question that’s had scientists stumped for years. Now using a specialist setup, a team of researchers have demonstrated that some fish can independently detect two components of a soundwave — pressure and particle motion — and combine this information to identify where a sound comes from.Research article: Veith et al.News and Views: Pressure and particle motion enable fish to sense the direction of soundD. cerebrum sounds: Schulze et al.20:30: Briefing ChatAncient DNA sequencing reveals secrets of ritual sacrifice at Chichén Itzá, and how AI helped identify the names that elephants use for each other.Nature News: Ancient DNA from Maya ruins tells story of ritual human sacrificesNature News: Do elephants have names for each other?Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.