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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 the Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and provide in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors. See for privacy and opt-out information.

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 the Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and provide in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors. See for privacy and opt-out information.


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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 the Nature journal. We meet the scientists behind the results and provide in-depth analysis from Nature's journalists and editors. See for privacy and opt-out information.




Audio long read: These six countries are about to go to the Moon

In the next year, no fewer than seven missions are heading to the Moon. While NASA's Artemis programme might be stealing most of the limelight, the United States is just one of many nations and private companies that soon plan to launch lunar missions. Although some of the agencies running these expeditions are providing scant details about the missions, it is hoped the they will provide streams of data about the Moon, heralding what scientists say could be a new golden age of lunar...


Coronapod: USA authorises vaccines for youngest of kids

After a long wait, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have finally approved two COVID vaccines for use in children between the ages of six months and five years old. But despite a unanimous decision amongst regulators, parents still have questions about whether to vaccinate their young children, with survey data suggesting that the majority do not intend to accept vaccines right away. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the...


How science can tackle inequality

00:38 The science of studying inequality We discuss the research looking to understand the root causes and symptoms of inequalities, how they are growing, and how a cross-disciplinary approach may be the key to tackling them. Editorial: Equity must be baked into randomized controlled trials News Feature: How COVID has deepened inequality — in six stark graphics Career Feature: The rise of inequality research: can spanning disciplines help tackle injustice? 07:26 The randomised trials...


How the Black Death got its start

00:46 Uncovering the origins of the Black Death The Black Death is estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 60% of the population of Europe. However, despite extensive research, the origin of this wave of disease has remained unclear. Now, by using a combination of techniques, a team have identified a potential starting point in modern day Kyrgyzstan. Research article: Spyrou et al. 06:57 Research Highlights The cocktails of toxins produced by wriggling ribbon worms, and a tiny...


Coronapod: COVID and smell loss, what the science says

One of the most curious symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of smell and taste. For most, this phenomenon is short lived, but for many around the world the symptom can persist for months or even years after the infection has cleared. Once a tell-tale sign of infection, this sensory disruption is now becoming characterised as a chronic problem and scientists are only recently getting clear answers about the mechanisms behind it. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the most recent studies...


Ancient 'giraffes' sported thick helmets for headbutting

00:33 A headbashing relative gives insights into giraffe evolution How the giraffe got its long neck is a longstanding question in science. One possibility is that giraffes evolved longer necks for sexual competition, with males engaging in violent neck-swinging fights. Now, a team have described fossils of an ancient giraffoid species with a thick headpiece adapted for fighting, which could add weight to this hypothesis. Nature News: How the giraffe got its neck: ‘unicorn’ fossil could...


Audio long read: The brain-reading devices helping paralysed people to move, talk and touch

Brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) implanted in the brains of people who are paralysed are allowing them to control prosthetics that are restoring a range of skills. Although the field is relatively young, researchers are making rapid advances in the abilities that these implants can restore. In the past few years, commercial interest in BCIs has soared, but many hurdles remain before these implants can be brought to market. This is an audio version of our Feature: The brain-reading devices...


Robot exercises shoulder cells for better tissue transplants

00:47 The robot shoulder that exercises cells Recreating the movements that tendon cells experience as they develop in the human body is necessary for growing tissue for transplantation, but this has been difficult to achieve in a laboratory setting. Now, a team has developed a system that uses a robot shoulder to stretch and twist these cells, which they hope could be used to improve the quality of tissue grafts in the future. Research article: Mouthuy et al. Video: A robotic Petri dish:...


Coronapod: 'A generational loss' - COVID's devastating impact on education

Despite the devastating loss of life caused by COVID-19, some researchers are arguing that the longest lasting impact of the pandemic will be on education. UN agencies calculate that more or less all school students on the planet - 1.6 billion - have faced an average of 4.5 months of school closures owing to the pandemic, the largest disruption to education in history. Teachers have been under immense pressure to keep their students happy and learning, but it is an uphill battle. In this...


X-ray analysis hints at answers to fossil mystery

00:45 The puzzle of Palaeospondylus Over a hundred years ago, palaeontologists discovered fossils of the aquatic animal Palaeospondylus. But since then researchers have been unable to place where this animal sits on the tree of life. Now, new analysis of Palaeospondylus’s anatomy might help to solve this mystery. Research article: Hirasawa et al. News and Views: Clues to the identity of the fossil fish Palaeospondylus 08:18 Research Highlights A strong, silk-based version of mother of...


How galaxies could exist without dark matter

00:47 The mystery of the missing dark matter Dark matter makes up most of the matter in the Universe, and is thought to be needed for galaxies to form. But four years ago, astronomers made a perplexing, and controversial discovery: two galaxies seemingly devoid of dark matter. This week the team suggests that a cosmic collision may explain how these, and a string of other dark-matter-free galaxies, could have formed. Research article: van Dokkum et al. News and Views: Giant collision...


Coronapod: 'viral ghosts' support idea that SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs could be behind long COVID

Millions of people around the world have been left managing the complex and amorphous syndrome that is long COVID. But the underlying cause of this myriad of symptoms is not clear. One hypothesis is that the virus is able to find a safe haven in the body from which it can bide its time and potentially re-emerge - a viral reservoir. Now researchers studying long COVID have found evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in a series of organs around the body, most notably the gut, months after the infection...


Retinas revived after donor's death open door to new science

00:57 Reviving retinas to understand eyes Research efforts to learn more about diseases of the human eye have been hampered as these organs degrade rapidly after death, and animal eyes are quite different to those from humans. To address this, a team have developed a new method to revive retinas taken from donors shortly after their death. They hope this will provide tissue for new studies looking into the workings of the human eye and nervous system. Research article: Abbas et al. 08:05...


Swapping in a bit of microbial 'meat' has big eco-gains

00:46 How a move to microbial protein could affect emissions It’s well understood that the production of meat has large impacts on the environment. This week, a team show that replacing 20% of future meat consumption with protein derived from microbes could reduce associated emissions and halve deforestation rates. Research article: Humpenöder et al News and Views: Mycoprotein produced in cell culture has environmental benefits over beef 08:21 Research Highlights How saltwater...


Coronapod: COVID and diabetes, what the science says

The true disability cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unknown, but more and more studies are adding to the list of potential fallout from even mild COVID 19 infection. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss a massive association study which links COVID-19 cases with an increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. We delve into the numbers to ask how big the risk might be? Whether any casual relationship can be drawn from this association? And what might be in store from future...


How virtual meetings can limit creative ideas

00:56 How video calls can reduce creativity As a result of the pandemic, workers around the world have become accustomed to meeting colleagues online. To find out if this switch from face-to-face meetings came at a cost to creativity, a team compared the number of ideas generated by workers collaborating either online, or in-person. They showed that people meeting virtually produced fewer creative ideas than those working face-to-face, and suggest that when it comes to idea generation maybe...


Audio long-read: The quest to prevent MS — and understand other post-viral diseases

Results from a huge epidemiological study found that infection by the Epstein-Barr virus increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis 32-fold. This result, combined with emerging mechanistic insights into how the virus triggers brain damage, are raising the prospect of treating or preventing MS. These advances come at a time when researchers are more interested than ever in what happens in the months and years following a viral infection, and highlights the issues untangling the...


We could still limit global warming to just 2˚C — but there's an 'if'

00:46 What COP26 promises will do for climate At COP26 countries made a host of promises and commitments to tackle global warming. Now, a new analysis suggests these pledges could limit warming to below 2˚C — if countries stick to them. BBC News: Climate change: COP26 promises will hold warming under 2C 03:48 Efficiency boost for energy storage solution Storing excess energy is a key obstacle preventing wider adoption of renewable power. One potential solution has been to store this...


Coronapod: Infected immune cells hint at cause of severe COVID

Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a debate amongst researchers about whether the body's immune cells can themselves be infected by SARS-CoV-2. Now two new studies show that they can - and what's more, the work has revealed a new mechanism for the massive inflammatory response seen in severe COVID. In this episode of Coronapod, we dig into the papers, asking why it has taken so long to get an answer to this question? How immune cell infection could lead to severe disease? And...


Why do naked mole rats live as long as giraffes?

00:54 How Mammals’ mutation rates affects their lifespan For biologists, a long-standing question has been why some animals live longer than others. This week a team have attempted to answer this, by measuring the rates that different animal species accumulate mutations. They show that longer-lived animals acquire mutations at a slower rate, which helps to explain why cancer risk does not scale with lifespan. Research article: Cagan et al. News and Views: Mutational clocks tick...