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New Scientist Podcasts

Weekly: Google’s AI search problem; time is a quantum illusion; can we stop ageing?

Season 1, Ep. 252


It is not wise to stick cheese on your pizza with glue, even if Google tells you to do it. This is just one recommendation in a string of blunders made by Google’s new AI search engine. It uses a large language model to summarise your searches, but clearly it’s not always working as planned. Can (and will) the company fix it

No matter what language you speak, when you hear the word “bouba”, you probably imagine a round shape. And “kiki’ will likely make you think of a sharp shape. This example of sound symbolism is thought to be a precursor to human language. But it may not be unique to humans – even chickens may make this association too, hinting at a deeper evolutionary role. 

Some physicists have long theorised that time is just an illusion that emerges from quantum properties of the universe. And there’s even a new study that backs this idea up. If the maths is right, it could finally help us unite the worlds of big and small physics.

We now know enough about the ageing process that scientists believe we can start to slow it down or even stop it altogether. Nobel Prize winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan has written a new book, Why We Die, which explores the new science of ageing and longevity. Find out what he’s learnt and what he thinks are the most promising areas of research.

The clean energy revolution relies on rare earth metals for things like batteries and solar panels. But mining for them has its own environmental drawbacks. But seaweed may be able to help us with that. It turns out some species collect the minerals we need without damaging the environment. Will seaweed mining be the next big thing?

Hosts Timothy Revell and Christie Taylor discuss with guests Matthew Sparkes, Chen Ly, Karmela Padavic-Callaghan and James Dinneen.

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