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Weekly: Record hurricane season approaches; uncovering the mysteries of a rare earth metal; how to fight in Bronze Age armour

Season 1, Ep. 251

#251

Hurricane season in the Atlantic ocean is set to be extremely active, according to forecasts. Expect to see as many as 25 named tropical storms, with many likely to become hurricanes. Find out how high sea surface temperatures and shifting El Niño conditions are creating the perfect conditions for a potentially record breaking season. 

The sun’s magnetic field may function quite differently to Earth’s. We’ve long assumed it originates from deep within but it seems the sun has a different way of doing things.

Promethium is a lesser known and rare element on the periodic table that is incredibly hard to find naturally. And even though scientists know how to produce it, it’s still incredibly hard to study, as the radioactive material decays quickly. But that’s all changing as researchers have figured out a way to keep it stable for longer. What will they learn about this mysterious element?

Dwarf plants found on the Japanese island of Yakushima may have evolved to be small thanks to deer. Sika deer are the island’s resident herbivore and their voracious appetites seem to have driven the evolution of many local plant species – giving us new insights into how unrelated organisms evolve together.

Plus: How Argentine ants get better at learning the more caffeine you feed them; why the Greek army has been suiting up in extremely heavy Bronze Age armour; and the most powerful pulse of X-rays ever seen on Earth.

Hosts Christie Taylor and Sophie Bushwick discuss with guests James Dinneen, Leah Crane, Alex Wilkins and Molly Glick. To read more about these stories, visit newscientist.com.

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