New Scientist Weekly


#151 COP15: the meeting to save life on Earth; anti-ageing properties of urine

Season 1, Ep. 151

Following repeated delays, the COP15 biodiversity conference is finally going ahead. On December 7th representatives from most of the countries in the world will meet to reach an agreement on how to address the global biodiversity crisis. There’s already a draft agreement in place, and the team explains the ambitions it lays out. But is this event likely to move the needle?

A species of rat which should have gone extinct has somehow managed to keep going - and now we know why. In a story worthy of Margaret Atwood, the team finds out how the Amami spiny rat continues to survive despite losing its Y chromosome, the one which makes males. 

There’s a genuine space race going on, with multiple companies hoping to become the first private firm to land on the Moon. The Japanese mission ispace has hit a delay, but the team explains how a viable lunar economy is now a serious prospect.

Newborn female mice who sniff the urine of other female mice live longer - considerably so in fact. The team finds out what’s going on, and whether the finding applies to humans too…

And Rowan chats with Henry Gee, senior editor at the journal Nature, who has won the 2022 Royal Society science book Prize. He describes his book, ‘A Very Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 billion years in 12 chapters’, as a bedtime story for adults, that tells the greatest story ever - the whole saga of life on Earth.

On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Chelsea Whyte, James Dinneen, Michael Le Page and Leah Crane. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at

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#176 Human organoids are new AI frontier; Listening to the big bang through the cosmic microwave background

Season 1, Ep. 176
Brainoids - tiny clumps of human brain cells - are being turned into living artificial intelligence machines, capable of carrying out tasks like solving complex equations. The team finds out how these brain organoids compare to normal computer-based AIs, and they explore the ethics of it all.Sickle cell disease is now curable, thanks to a pioneering trial with CRISPR gene editing. The team shares the story of a woman whose life has been transformed by the treatment.We can now hear the sound of the afterglow of the big bang, the radiation in the universe known as the cosmic microwave background. The team shares the eerie piece that has been transposed for human ears, named by researchers The Echo of Eternity.Artificial intelligence can now read our minds…under a very specific set of circumstances. The team looks at a mindblowing new study which feels very sci-fi.Pop legend and environmentalist Feargal Sharkey makes a cameo to highlight the campaign New Scientist is running in collaboration with the i newspaper, to draw attention to the shocking state of Britain’s rivers. Great apes like to twirl around like ballerinas. As the team finds out, it turns out it’s not just humans who like to spin around and make themselves dizzy, it’s fun for many other species of ape too.Bonnie Garmus, author of the bestselling novel Lessons In Chemistry, speaks to comment and culture editor Alison Flood about the success of her debut novel. She explains the inspiration behind her protagonist and why she made her a chemist. And she discusses fan-favourite character Six-Thirty the dog and the intelligence of animals.On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page and Alison Flood. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at and discount codes:NS JWST Event: