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Nature Podcast


The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and providing in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.

The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and providing in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.


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The Nature Podcast brings you the best stories from the world of science each week. We cover everything from astronomy to zoology, highlighting the most exciting research from each issue of Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and providing in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors.




Coronapod: could COVID vaccines cause blood clots? Here's what the science says

Reports of rare and unusual blood clots have resulted in several vaccine roll outs being paused while scientists scramble to work out if the vaccines are responsible and if so how. The unusual combination of symptoms, including a low platelet count and clots focussed in the abdomen or brain, seems similar to a rare side effect from treatment with the drug blood thinning drug Heparin - however it is not clear how the vaccines could cause the syndrome. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss...


The sanitation crisis making rural America ill

The lack of adequate sanitation in parts of the rural US, and physicists reassess muons’ magnetism. In this episode: 00:45 How failing sanitation infrastructure is causing a US public health crisis In the US, huge numbers of people live without access to adequate sanitation. Environmental-health advocate Catherine Coleman Flowers tells us about her new book looking at the roots and consequences of this crisis, focusing on Lowndes County, Alabama, an area inhabited largely by poor Black...


Coronapod: A whistle-blower’s quest to take politics out of coronavirus surveillance

Rick Bright exposed former president Trump's political meddling in the US COVID response. Now he is championing a new privately funded initiative to track viral spread and combat new variants. We discuss the challenges of collecting data on a rapidly spreading virus, from transmission dynamics to genomic surveillance. We also ask why a veteran government scientist like Bright, the ex-director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, would take a new path in the...


Audio long-read: Rise of the robo-writers

In 2020, the artificial intelligence (AI) GPT-3 wowed the world with its ability to write fluent streams of text. Trained on billions of words from books, articles and websites, GPT-3 was the latest in a series of ‘large language model’ AIs that are used by companies around the world to improve search results, answer questions, or propose computer code. However, these large language model are not without their issues. Their training is based on the statistical relationships between the...


Coronapod: How to define rare COVID vaccine side effects

From a sore arm to anaphylaxis, a wide range of adverse events have been reported after people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. And yet it is unclear how many of these events are actually caused by the vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, reactions are mild and can be explained by the body's own immune response. But monitoring systems designed to track adverse events are catching much rarer but more serious events. Now scientists need to work out if they are causally liked to the...


Antimatter cooled with lasers for the first time

Laser-cooled antimatter opens up new physics experiments, and the staggering economic cost of invasive species. In this episode: 00:44 Cooling antimatter with a laser focus Antimatter is annihilated whenever it interacts with regular matter, which makes it tough for physicists to investigate. Now though, a team at CERN have developed a way to trap and cool antihydrogen atoms using lasers, allowing them to better study its properties. Research Article: Baker et al. News and Views:...


Coronapod: the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine - what you need to know

Since the beginning of the pandemic the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been plagued by confusion and controversy. The vaccine has been authorised in over 100 countries, tens of millions of doses have been administered, and it has been demonstrated to be safe and effective. However, over the past few weeks the vaccine has again been in the headlines. In this episode of Coronapod, we discuss all of these controversies and ask how they may the reputation of the vaccine, and what that could...


Network of world's most accurate clocks paves way to redefine time

A web of three optical atomic clocks show incredibly accurate measurements of time, and the trailblazing astronomer who found hints of dark matter. In this episode: 00:44 Optical clock network Optical atomic clocks have the potential to reach new levels of accuracy and redefine how scientists measure time. However, this would require a worldwide system of connected clocks. Now researchers have shown that a network of three optical clocks is possible and confirm high levels of...


Coronapod: Why COVID antibody treatments may not be the answer

In the early days of the pandemic, researchers raced to identify the most potent antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SAR-COV-2 infection and produce them in bulk. The resulting ‘monoclonal antibodies’ have since been tested in a variety of settings as treatments for COVID-19. But despite promising clinical trial results and several therapies having already been approved, antibody therapies have not yet played a large role in the fight against COVID-19. In this episode of...


The AI that argues back

A computer that can participate in live debates against human opponents. In this episode: 00:43 AI Debater After thousands of years of human practise, it’s still not clear what makes a good argument. Despite this, researchers have been developing computer programs that can find and process arguments. And this week, researchers at IBM are publishing details of an artificial intelligence that is capable of debating with humans. Research Article: Slonim et al. News and Views: Argument...


Coronapod: COVID and pregnancy - what do we know?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been many open questions about how COVID-19 could impact pregnant people and their babies – confounded by a lack of data. But now, studies are finally starting to provide some answers. While it does seem that pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation, babies appear to be spared from severe illness in most cases. In this week’s Coronapod we talk about these findings, and the questions that remain – including whether...


The smallest measurement of gravity ever recorded

Physicists examine the gravitational pull between two tiny masses, and how fossil lampreys could shake-up the field of vertebrate evolution. In this episode: 00:47 Gravity, on the small scale This week, researchers have captured the smallest measurement of gravity on record, by measuring the pull between two tiny gold spheres. This experiment opens the door for future experiments to investigate the fundamental forces of nature and the quantum nature of gravity. Research Article: Westphal...


Coronapod: COVID's origins and the 'lab leak' theory

Where did the SARS-CoV-2 virus come from? As a team of researchers from the WHO prepares to report on its investigation into the origins of the virus, we discuss the leading theories, including the controversial ‘lab leak' hypothesis. Although there is no evidence to support it, the lab-leak idea remains popular among certain groups. Similar hypotheses were even touted about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. We discuss why theories like this seem to gain traction. News: ‘Major stones...


COVID, 2020 and a year of lost research

The pandemic's unequal toll on the research community, and a newly discovered mitochondria-like symbiosis. In this episode: 00:48 The pandemic's unequal toll on researchers Although 2020 saw a huge uptick in the numbers of research papers submitted, these increases were not evenly distributed among male and female scientists. We look at how this could widen existing disparities in science, and damage future career prospects. Editorial: COVID is amplifying the inadequacy of...


Coronapod: Google-backed database could help answer big COVID questions

A repository with millions of data points will track immunity and variant spread. To answer the big questions in the pandemic, researchers need access to data. But while a wealth has been collected, much of it isn’t collated or accessible to the people who need it. This week sees the launch of, a database that aims to collate an enormous amount of anonymized information about individual COVID-19 cases. On this week’s Coronapod we discuss how this database could help answer...


The quark of the matter: what's really inside a proton?

The surprising structure of protons, and a method for growing small intestines for transplantation. In this episode: 00:45 Probing the proton’s interior Although studied for decades, the internal structure of the proton is still throwing up surprises for physicists. This week, a team of researchers report an unexpected imbalance in the antimatter particles that make up the proton. Research Article: Dove et al. News and Views: Antimatter in the proton is more down than up 07:08 Research...


Audio long-read: Thundercloud Project tackles a gamma-ray mystery

Researchers in Japan are trying to understand why thunderstorms fire out bursts of powerful radiation. Gamma rays – the highest-energy electromagnetic radiation in the universe – are typically created in extreme outer space environments like supernovae. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, physicists discovered a source of gamma rays much closer to home: thunderstorms here on Earth. Now, researchers in Japan are enlisting an army of citizen scientists to help understand the mysterious process...


Coronapod: our future with an ever-present coronavirus

What’s the endgame for the COVID-19 pandemic? Is a world without SARS-CoV-2 possible, or is the virus here to stay? A recent Nature survey suggests that the majority of experts expect the virus to become endemic, circulating in the world’s population for years to come. But what does this mean? On this week’s episode of Coronapod, we ask what a future with an ever-present virus could look like. News Feature: The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means See


A mammoth discovery: oldest DNA on record from million-year-old teeth

Researchers sequence the oldest DNA ever recovered, and the people bringing art and science together. In this episode: 00:46 Million-year-old mammoth DNA This week, researchers have smashed a long-standing record by sequencing a genome that's over a million years old. They achieved this feat by extracting DNA from permafrost-preserved mammoth teeth, using it to build-up a more detailed family tree for these ancient animals. Research Article: van der Valk et al. News: Million-year-old...


Coronapod: Is mixing COVID vaccines a good idea?

The science behind how and when to give vaccines doses. As vaccines are rolled out, massive logistical challenges are leading scientists and policymakers to consider alternative dosing strategies. But what does the science say? In this week’s episode of Coronapod, we discuss mixing and matching vaccines and lengthening the time between doses. Approaches like these could ease logistical concerns, but we ask what's known about their impact on vaccine efficacy – what is the science behind the...