Do protons have intrinsic charm? New evidence suggests yes
For decades, scientists have debated whether protons have ‘intrinsic charm’, meaning they contain elementary particles known as charm quarks. Now, using machine learning to comb through huge amounts of experimental data, a team have shown evidence that the charm quark can be found within a proton, which may have important ramifications in the search for new physics.
Research article: The NNPDF Collaboration
News and Views: Evidence at last that the proton has intrinsic charm
11:26 Research Highlights
How sea sponges ‘sneeze’ to clean their filters, and why bonobos’ infantile behaviour helps them receive consolation after conflict.
Research Highlight: How a sponge ‘sneezes’ mucus: against the flow
Research Highlight: Bonobo apes pout and throw tantrums — and gain sympathy
13:52 Briefing Chat
We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the repeated evolution of the crab body-shape, and why demanding work can lead to mental fatigue.
Discover: Evolution Only Thinks About One Thing, and It’s Crabs
Nature News: Why thinking hard makes us feel tired
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A brain circuit for infanticide, in mice31:45In this episode:00:46 The mouse brain circuit controlling infanticidal behaviourIn mammals, infanticide is a relatively common behaviour, but not a default one. For example, virgin female mice will often kill young produced by other females, but this behaviour disappears when they become mothers themselves. To understand this switch, researchers have identified a brain circuit associated with infanticidal behaviour that gets switched off after mice give birth. They hope that by better understanding this circuit it could inform why animals engage in such behaviours.Research article: Mei et al.Research Briefing: A battle between neural circuits for infanticide and maternal-care behaviours08:11 Research HighlightsThe cyclone raging at the north pole of Uranus, and the ants that build landmarks to help them find their way home.Research Highlight: A storm is whirling atop UranusResearch Highlight: These hardy ants build their own landmarks in the desert10:52 Getting to the source of fast solar windThe sun produces streams of plasma called solar wind that stretch out and provide a protective bubble around the solar system. However, despite decades of study, there’s much that isn’t known about how the Sun makes it. Now, a team has used data from the Parker Solar Probe and shown that the source of one sort of wind, known as ‘fast solar wind’, appears to be due to colliding magnetic fields that produce the huge amount of energy needed to fire plasma away from the Sun.Research article: Bale et al.Research reveals system underlying behaviour change towards young17:50 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time the origins of patriarchal societies, and the tiling pattern that never repeats itself.BBC Futures: How did patriarchy actually begin?Nature News: This infinite tiling pattern could end a 60-year mathematical questSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
AI identifies gene interactions to speed up search for treatment targets21:22In this episode:00:46 An AI that predicts gene interactionsMapping the network of genes that control cellular processes can be difficult to do when gene-expression data is sparse, such as in rare diseases or those affecting tissues that are hard to clinically sample. To overcome this, a team has developed an artificial intelligence system trained on a large, general dataset, and used it to make predictions about gene interactions in data-limited situations. As a test-case they look at the heart condition cardiomyopathy, and show that the system can identify potential interactions that could represent new therapeutic targets.Research article: Theodoris et al.09:08 Research HighlightsMicrobes that can break down persistent ‘forever chemicals’, and why intermolecular distances are the key to keeping gummy sweets chewy.Research Highlight: Microbes take the ‘forever’ out of ‘forever chemicals’Research Highlight: Better gummy sweets are within reach, thanks to physics12:06 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how chronic stress can inflame the gut, and understanding how rocket launches might impact wildlife.Nature News: Chronic stress can inflame the gut — now scientists know whyNature News: Does the roar of rocket launches harm wildlife? These scientists seek answersSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
Audio long read: Can giant surveys of scientists fight misinformation on COVID, climate change and more?17:27Shocked by the impact of online misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, several researchers are launching efforts to survey scientists’ thinking on issues from vaccine safety to climate change. They hope that their projects will make scientific debate, and degrees of consensus, more visible and transparent, benefiting public conversation and policymaking. However, others suggest that these attempts might merely further politicize public debate.This is an audio version of our Feature: Can giant surveys of scientists fight misinformation on COVID, climate change and more?
‘Tree islands’ give oil-palm plantation a biodiversity boost23:03In this episode:00:45 Tree islands bring biodiversity benefits for oil-palm plantationGlobal demand for palm oil has resulted in huge expansion of the palm plantations needed to produce it, causing widespread tropical deforestation and species loss. To address this, researchers planted islands of native trees among the palms in a large plantation, and showed that this approach increases ecosystem health, without affecting crop yields. The team say that while protecting existing tropical rainforests should remain a priority, tree islands represent a promising way to restore ecosystems.Research article: Zemp et al.09:42 Research HighlightsThe oldest identified ‘blueprints’ depict vast hunting traps with extraordinary precision, and fossil evidence that pliosaurs swimming the Jurassic seas may have been as big as whales.Research Highlight: Oldest known ‘blueprints’ aided human hunters 9,000 years agoResearch Highlight: This gigantic toothy reptile terrorized the Jurassic oceans12:08 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how shredded nappies could partially replace sand in construction, and how CRISPR helped crack the mystery of the death cap mushrooms’s deadly toxin.Nature News: World’s first house made with nappy-blended concreteNature News: Deadly mushroom poison might now have an antidote — with help from CRISPRSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
JWST shows an ancient galaxy in stunning spectroscopic detail30:22In this episode:00:46 What JWST has revealed about an ancient galaxyResearchers have pointed the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at JD1, one of the universe's most distant known galaxies. The power of JWST has filled in some of the gaps in what was known about the galaxy, giving greater insight into its age, structure and composition. The team behind the work hope that learning more about how early galaxies like JD1 formed will help explain how the universe evolved into its present state.Research article: Roberts-Borsani et al.10:09 Research HighlightsWhy your choice of soap might make you irresistible to mosquitoes, and how tardigrade-inspired claws help tiny robots cling to blood-vessels.Research Highlight: Your favourite soap might turn you into a mosquito magnetResearch Highlight: Claws like a tardigrade’s give swimming microrobots a grip12:34 How coral reef fish evolved to grow more quicklyFish that live in coral reefs are some of the fastest growing in the world, despite the environment they live in being relatively nutrient poor. This contradiction has long puzzled researchers, but now, a team has looked deep into the evolutionary history of the fish and discovered a critical point in time when they shifted towards faster growth, much earlier than was previously thought.Research article: Siqueira et al.21:29 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the first frog thought to pollinate flowers, and a field-trial to vaccinate wild koalas against chlamydia.Scientific American: This Frog May Be the First Amphibian Known to Pollinate FlowersAssociated Press: Koalas are dying from chlamydia. A new vaccine effort is trying to save themSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
Nature's Take: Can Registered Reports help tackle publication bias?26:00Many researchers have been critical of the biases that the publication process can introduce into science. For example, they argue that a focus on publishing interesting or significant results can give a false impression of what broader research is finding about a particular field.To tackle this, some scientists have championed the publication of Registered Reports. These articles split the peer review process in two, first critically assessing the methodology of a research study before data is collected, and again when the results are found. The idea being to encourage robust research regardless of the outcome.In this episode of Nature's Take we discuss Nature's recent adoption of the format, the pros and cons of Registered Reports, and what more needs to be done to tackle publication bias.
‘Pangenome’ aims to capture the breadth of human diversity21:03In this episode:00:45 Making a more diverse human genomeThe first draft of the human genome ushered in a new era of genetics research. Since its publication, researchers have constructed ever more accurate ‘reference genomes’ – baselines against which others are compared. But these are based on the DNA of a small number of people, and don’t represent the genetic variation known to exist across human populations. To address this, a consortium of researchers have published the first draft of a ‘pangenome’, which combines the genomes of 47 genetically diverse individuals. This draft provides a more complete picture of the human genome, and is the starting point for a project that aims to include sequences from 350 individuals.Research article: Liao et al. Research article: Vollger et al.Research article: Guarracino et al.News and Views Forum: Human pangenome supports analysis of complex genomic regions08:33 Research HighlightsA wearable sensor that lets users see infrared light, and how a vulture’s culture can influence its dining habits.Research Highlight: Wearable sensor gives a glimpse of ‘invisible’ lightResearch Highlight: What drives a scavenger’s diet? Vulture culture11:06 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a new phosphate-storing organelle found in fruit fly cells, and how extracted DNA revealed who held a deer-tooth pendant 20,000 years ago.Nature News: New cellular ‘organelle’ discovered inside fruit-fly intestinesNature News: Prehistoric pendant’s DNA reveals the person who held itSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
Menopause and women’s health: why science needs to catch up40:54In this episode:00:47 A focus on women’s healthNature’s Kerri Smith and Heidi Ledford join us to discuss two Features published in Nature looking at topics surrounding women’s health. The first looks at efforts to understand how menopause affects brain health, while the second takes a deep-dive into research funding and shows how conditions affecting women more than men receive less money.Feature: How menopause reshapes the brainFeature: Women’s health research lacks funding – these charts show how18:15 Research HighlightsThe herb that could be a new source of cannabinoid compounds, and the vibrating crystal that confirms Schrödinger’s cat.Research Highlight: Old and new cannabis compounds are found in an African herbResearch Highlight: Schrödinger’s cat is verified by a vibrating crystal20:34 The planet swallowed by a starStars have a finite lifespan, and for many their fate is to expand as they reach the end of their lives. It’s long been speculated that these growing stars will consume any planets in their way, but this process has never been seen directly. Now though, a chance observation led to a team catching a dying star in the act of eating a Jupiter-like planet in the distant Milky Way.Research article: De et al.30:25 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a clearer image of the supermassive black hole M87*, and how elephant seals catch some shut-eye while diving.Nature News: Black-hole image reveals details of turmoil around the abyssNew York Times: Elephant Seals Take Power Naps During Deep Ocean DivesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.
Audio long read: Conquering Alzheimer’s — a look at the therapies of the future17:31Last year, researchers announced that the Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab lowered the amount of amyloid protein plaques associated with the disease in the brains of participants in a clinical trial, and slowed their cognitive decline.Now, researchers are looking to drug combinations, vaccines and gene therapy to tackle different stages of the disease, as they forge the next generation of treatments for the condition.This is an audio version of our Feature: Conquering Alzheimer’s: a look at the therapies of the future