Nature Podcast


Coronapod: USA authorises vaccines for youngest of kids

After a long wait, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have finally approved two COVID vaccines for use in children between the ages of six months and five years old. But despite a unanimous decision amongst regulators, parents still have questions about whether to vaccinate their young children, with survey data suggesting that the majority do not intend to accept vaccines right away. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the trials, the statistics and the regulators decision making process, in search of clarity around what the data are saying.

News: FDA authorizes COVID vaccines for the littlest kids: what the data say

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How humans adapted to digest lactose — after thousands of years of milk drinking

00:45 Working out how the ability to digest milk spreadHumans have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but it seems that they were doing so long before the ability to digest it became prevalent. Then around 2000 years ago, this ability became common in Europe, presenting a mystery to researchers – why then? Now by analyzing health data, ancient DNA, and fats residues from thousands of ancient pots, scientists have worked out what caused this trait to suddenly spread throughout Europe.Research Article: Evershed et al.News and Views: The mystery of early milk consumption in Europe08:56 Research HighlightsHow genes stolen from outside the animal kingdom have altered insects’ abilities, and a dormant black hole beyond the Milky Way gives insights into these objects' origins.Research Highlight: Genes purloined from across the tree of life give insects a boostResearch Highlight: A quiet black hole whispers its origin story11:21 Assessing the addiction potential for therapeutic ketamineKetamine has shown great promise as a fast-acting antidepressant, but there have been concerns about the risks of addiction relating to this therapeutic use. Now, a team have looked in mice to see whether ketamine causes the behavioural and neuronal changes characteristic of addictive substances. They find that ketamine likely has a low addiction risk, which could inform future prescribing decisions in humans.Research article: Simmler et al.News and Views: A short burst of reward curbs the addictiveness of ketamine17:51 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a report shows a significant decline in Australia’s environment and ecosystems, and how adding a gene greatly increases rice yield.The Conversation: This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findingsNature News: Supercharged biotech rice yields 40% more grainSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

How researchers have pinpointed the origin of 'warm-blooded' mammals

00:46 When did mammals start to regulate their temperature?The evolution of ‘warm bloodedness’ allowed mammals to live in a more diverse range of habitats, but working out when this occurred has been difficult. To try and pin down a date, researchers have studied the fossilised remains of ancient mammals' inner ears, which suggest that this key evolutionary leap appeared around 230 million years ago.Research Article: Araujo et al.News and Views: Evolution of thermoregulation as told by ear07:14 Research HighlightsA new surgical glue that’s both strong and easy to remove, and southern fin whales return to Antarctica after being hunted to near extinction.Research Highlight: This adhesive bandage sticks strongly — even to hairy skinResearch Highlight: A feeding frenzy of 150 whales marks a species’ comeback09:47 Structure of an enzyme reveals how its so efficientHydrogen dependent CO2 reductase is an enzyme that can convert CO2 from the air into formic acid that can be used as fuel. It also does this extremely efficiently, but nobody has been quite sure how. Now researchers have an idea based on a detailed structural analysis.Research Article: Dietrich et al.17:51 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the findings of some big biodiversity reports, and how woodpeckers don’t end up with headaches from their pecking.Nature News: More than dollars: mega-review finds 50 ways to value natureNature News: Major wildlife report struggles to tally humanity’s exploitation of speciesScience: Contrary to popular belief, woodpeckers don’t protect their brains when headbanging treesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.