New Scientist Weekly

Share

#129 BlueDot special: Mysteries of the universe; stories of hope and joy; growing tiny human brains; solving global problems

Season 1, Ep. 129

Welcome to a special edition of the show recorded live at the bluedot music festival. On the panel are New Scientist journalists Rowan Hooper and Abby Beall, along with Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel and geoscientist and broadcaster Chris Jackson.


With the awesome Lovell radio telescope dominating the sky above the festival, this episode begins with astronomy news, and in particular stories from the James Webb Space Telescope - including its mission to look at the atmosphere of rocky planets in the search for extraterrestrial life. There’s also a nod to the late great James Lovelock, who has died at the age of 103.


The panel brings their stories of joy and hope. Abby brings news of the saving of a research centre for intelligent birds. Chris marvels at an impressive global geological event which highlights the power of collaboration. Hannah dreams up a story about “nanoskin” which happens to be very similar to a real story we reported. And Rowan comes with the news that chimps have been found to treat each other using medicinal insects.


The panel discusses the ethics and possibilities of brain organoid research. These are tiny human brains grown in a lab, which have recently been shown to give off brain waves equivalent to those seen in fetuses


The whole team is gifted with an imaginary $100 million, and asked how they’d use it to save the world. Rowan wants to refreeze the Arctic


Then there’s a vibrant Q&A session with the audience. And for the boy who asked about brain organoids playing Pong, here’s the story.


InsideTracker: insidetracker.com/NewScientist

How We’re Wired from The Bertarelli Foundation

New Scientist Live event: newscientist.com/nslbd

More Episodes

9/15/2022

#136 A step towards building artificial life; solar-powered slugs

Season 1, Ep. 136
Ribosomes are tiny protein-making factories found inside cells, and a crucial component of life. And now a team of scientists has figured out how to make them self-replicate outside of cells. Without getting all Mary Shelley, the team says this is a step towards creating artificial life.On a trip to the Isles of Scilly, Rowan found a spectacular lifeform of the week. On the shores of Porthcressa beach on St Mary’s island, he found a solar-powered sea slug, with the help of Scott and Samaya of Scilly Rockpool Safaris.America’s West Coast is still being ravaged by wildfires, and not only are they set to become more frequent as the climate warms, but they’re going to become even more intense. Chelsea, who can see the orange skies of the fires from her home, discusses the rising risk of so-called ‘extreme wildfires’. Rowan makes the point that new research shows that transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy could lead to savings of $5 to $15 trillion dollars. Centenarians - people who live to be older than 100 - who have all the markers of Alzheimer’s, don’t appear to be affected by the disease. The team finds out about an intriguing new finding that upends our understanding of amyloid plaques, the proteins we think are closely associated with dementia. Climate change artist and Australian playwright David Finnigan discusses his latest play ‘You’re Safe Til 2024: Deep History’, which he performed at this year’s Edinburgh fringe festival and which is coming to London. It looks at the 75,000 year history of our impact on the environment from the lens of the 2019 Australian bushfires.   On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, Abby Beall and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events and discount codes:New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live
9/8/2022

#135 The Amazon passes a tipping point; a place to live only 100 light years away

Season 1, Ep. 135
The Amazon rainforest may have passed the tipping point that will flip it into savannah. A new report suggests that large portions of the rainforest have been either degraded or destroyed, which could have disastrous consequences. The team hears from the Science Panel for the Amazon, who say we must step in now to support regeneration efforts. If you’re looking for a drummer for your new band, you might want to hire a chimp. The team hears recordings of chimps drumming on the buttresses of tree roots in Uganda’s Budongo Forest, and explains why they do it. Meta wants to read your mind - eventually. The panel discusses a new AI developed by Facebook’s parent company, that can detect certain words by reading brainwaves. New Scientist’s chief gourmand, Sam Wong, gets the team to taste-test a west-African fruit called the miracle berry, and explains how it could help curb our sugar addiction. He also discusses the fermenting process and its possible health benefits, while sharing a little of his delicious fermented hot chilli sauce. 100 light years away, we’ve spotted new exoplanets that may be good places to search for life. They exist in the habitable zone, near a red dwarf star with the delicious name SPECULOOS-2. But the planets are different to Earth, and the team discuss the chances they will support life (as we know it). On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Matt Sparkes, Alex Wilkins, Sam Wong and Carissa Wong. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/liveHow The Light Gets In: howthelightgetsin.org
8/31/2022

#134 Artemis moon mission; decoding the dreams of mice

Season 1, Ep. 134
The launch of NASA’s Artemis moon rocket didn’t go to plan this week. The team looks at the problems that stopped this long-awaited launch. And with the launch rescheduled for Saturday, they find out what the mission hopes to achieve. Deep below the surface of the Earth live nearly half of all microbes on the planet. While studying life in the deep biosphere is tough, the team shares an exciting development. Researchers have managed to find and analyse a type of heat-loving bacteria, called thermophiles, that eat petroleum. As the global climate warms, some areas of the world will become unlivable, forcing people to leave their homes and countries. In her new book ‘Nomad Century’ Gaia Vince explains how the tragedy of mass climate migration can also be seen as an opportunity. She explains her thinking, and the action we urgently need to take to survive in a warming world. Why do our eyes dart around when we dream? It’s long been a mystery, but the team learns how mice are helping us understand what really happens during REM sleep. Mucus is incredibly important for mammals, keeping everything running like a well oiled machine. Now surprising new research looking at species as diverse as rhinos, pangolins and ferrets has revealed its unusual evolutionary history, and the team discusses these findings. On the pod are Penny Sarchet, Chelsea Whyte, James Dinnean, Clare Wilson and Corryn Wetzel. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.Events, podcasts and discount codes:50% discounted subscription: newscientist.com/pod50New Scientist Live: newscientist.com/live