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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: the latest on COVID and sporting events

Early in 2021 the United Kingdom, along with several other countries, allowed mass gatherings as part of a series of controlled studies aimed at better understanding the role events could play in the pandemic. The goal was to inform policy - however early results have provided limited data on viral transmission. As the Olympic games kick off in Tokyo, we delve into the research, asking what the limitations have been, if more data will become available and whether policy makers are likely to...


How the US is rebooting gun violence research

Funding for gun violence research in the US returns after a 20-year federal hiatus, and the glass sponges that can manipulate ocean currents. In this episode: 00:45 Gun violence research is rebooted For 20 years there has been no federally-funded research on gun violence in the US. In 2019, $25 million a year was allocated for this work. We speak to some of the researchers that are using these funds, and the questions they are trying to answer about gun violence. News Feature: Gun...


Coronapod: Does England's COVID strategy risk breeding deadly variants?

The UK government has announced that virtually all COVID restrictions will be removed in England on Monday 18th July. This will do away with social distancing requirements, allow businesses to re-open to full capacity and remove legal mask mandates. This decision comes, however, amidst soaring infections rates in the country, driven by the delta variant. Now scientists are questioning the wisdom of this policy and asking whether the combination of high transmission and a partially...


How deadly heat waves expose historic racism

Why heat waves disproportionately impact minorities in US cities, and the researcher that critiqued his whole career on Twitter. In this episode: 00:45 How heat waves kill unequally Researchers are beginning to unpick how historic discrimination in city planning is making the recent heat waves in North America more deadly for some than others. News Feature: Racism is magnifying the deadly impact of rising city heat 11:59 Research Highlights A graphene layer can protect paintings from...


Coronapod: Will COVID become a disease of the young?

For much of the pandemic, the greatest burden of disease has been felt by older generations. But now, for the first time, vaccine roll outs are starting to skew the average age of those infections towards the young. This has led many researchers to ask what this might mean for the future of the pandemic. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss what we know and what we don't know about this change in the demographic profile of COVID infections. We ask how this might impact global vaccination...


Food shocks and how to avoid them

Addressing the problem of sudden food scarcity in US cities, and the up-and-coming field of computational social science. In this episode: 00:45 Food shocks Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical crises can cause food shortages. To tackle this issue, Alfonso Mejia and colleagues have modelled how to best mitigate these food shocks in US cities. Alfonso tells us about the new analyses and what steps cities could take in the future. Research Article: Gomez et al. News...


Coronapod: the biomarker that could change COVID vaccines

Since the beginning oft he pandemic, researchers have searched for a biomarker which indicates immune protection from COVID-19 known as a correlate of protection. Now, the team developing the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have published the first results of their so-called 'breakthrough study' which indicated puts forwards thresholds of neutralising antibodies that they suggest correlate with protection. The hope is that, should these results be confirmed, such biomarkers could speed...


The scientist whose hybrid rice helped feed billions

A historian reflects on the life of Chinese crop scientist Yuan Longping, and the possible influence of geothermal energy production on earthquake aftershocks. In this episode: 00:46 Remembering Yuan Longping Yuan Longping, one of China’s most famous scientists, died in May at the age of 90. Known as the ‘father of hybrid rice’, we reflect on his life and the impact of his research, which helped feed billions of people. Obituary: Yuan Longping (1930–2021) 09:55 Research Highlights The...


Audio long-read: How COVID exposed flaws in evidence-based medicine

A deluge of trials has stress-tested the systems that produce evidence. Around the world, researchers have raced to test therapies to treat COVID-19. The speed and urgency of this task has revealed both the weaknesses in the collection and use of research-based evidence, and how well-run trials have helped save lives. This is an audio version of our feature: How COVID broke the evidence pipeline See for privacy and opt-out information.


Coronapod: should you have a COVID vaccine when breastfeeding?

Early vaccine trials did not include pregnant or breastfeeding people which left some people asking whether COVID vaccines are safe and effective for those who are breastfeeding. The latest data suggests that they are and in this episode of Coronapod we dig into the questions scientists have been asking. Could the vaccine make it into breastmilk? Can COVID antibodies be transferred to a breastfeeding child? And if so, how? News Feature: COVID vaccines and breastfeeding: what the data...


Quantum compass might help birds 'see' magnetic fields

Researchers isolate the protein thought to allow birds to sense magnetic fields, and astronomers pinpoint the stars that could view Earth as an exoplanet. In this episode: 00:45 Homing in on the molecule that helps birds find their way. How migratory birds sense magnetic fields is a long standing mystery in sensory biology. Now researchers have isolated a molecule, found within the eyes of these birds, which might act as a compass using quantum mechanics. Research paper: Xu et...


CureVac disappoints in COVID vaccine trial

After a slew of wildly successful vaccine trials, this week marked a more underwhelming result. The third mRNA vaccine to complete phase three trials, developed by CureVac, is just 47% effective at staving off disease according to preliminary data. This is a stark contrast with previous mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer BioNtec which returned around twice that efficacy in their trials. In this episode of Coronapod, we ask why the CureVac vaccine has faltered, and what this might mean for...


Communities, COVID and credit: the state of science collaborations

The pros and pitfalls of collaboration, with insights from researchers and beyond. This week, Nature has a special issue on collaborations, looking at the benefits to science and society that working together can bring. In this collaboration-themed edition of the podcast, we’re joined by Nature’s David Payne to discuss the issue, and the state of research collaborations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode: 02:49 How are research collaborations changing? To answer the...


Coronapod: Counting the cost of long COVID

The global burden of COVID-19 has predominantly been measured using metrics like case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths. But the long term health impacts are more difficult to capture. In this episode of Coronapod we discuss one way that public health experts are trying to get to grips with the problem using metrics such as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and quality adjusted life years (QALYs). As new data suggests that COVID could leave millions with lasting disability or...


Google AI beats humans at designing computer chips

An AI that designs computer chips in hours, and zooming in on DNA’s complex 3D structures. In this episode: 00:46 An AI computer microchip designer Working out where to place the billions of components that a modern computer chip needs can take human designers months and, despite decades of research, has defied automation. This week, however, a team from Google report a new machine learning algorithm that does the job in a fraction of the time, and is already helping design their next...


Coronapod: Uncertainty and the COVID 'lab-leak' theory

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been allegations that SARS-CoV-2 could have originated in a Chinese lab. A phase one WHO investigation concluded that a 'lab-leak' was "extremely unlikely" and yet, the theory has seen a resurgence in recent weeks with several scientists wading into the debate. In this episode of Coronapod, we delve into what scientists have been saying and ask how and why the 'lab-leak' hypothesis has gained so much traction. We ask if the way we communicate...


On the origin of numbers

The cross-discipline effort to work our how ancient humans learned to count. In this episode: 00:45 Number origins Around the world, archaeologists, linguists and a host of other researchers are trying to answer some big questions – when, and how, did humans learn to count? We speak to some of the scientists at the forefront of this effort. News Feature: How did Neanderthals and other ancient humans learn to count? 07:47 Research Highlights How sea anemones influence clownfish stripes,...


New hope for vaccine against a devastating livestock disease

A vaccine candidate for a neglected tropical disease, and calls to extend the 14-day limit on embryo research. In this episode: 00:46 A vaccine candidate for an important livestock disease African animal trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease that kills millions of cattle each year, affecting livelihoods and causing significant economic costs in many sub-Saharan countries. Developing a vaccine against the disease has proved difficult as the parasite has a wealth of tricks to evade the...


Audio long-read: How harmful are microplastics?

Scientists are trying to figure out whether these pervasive plastic specks are dangerous. Wherever they look – from the bottom of oceans to the top of mountains – researchers are uncovering tiny specks of plastic, known as microplastics. Scientists are trying to understand the potential impacts of ingesting these pervasive plastics but early results are ambiguous, as some experiments might not reflect the diversity of microplastics that exist in the real world. This is an audio version of...


The 'zombie' fires that keep burning under snow-covered forests

Smouldering fires lay dormant before bursting back into flame in spring. In this episode:  00:56 The mysterious overwintering forest fires Researchers have shown that fires can smoulder under snow in frozen northern forests before flaring up the following spring. Understanding how these so-called ‘zombie’ fires start and spread is vital in the fight against climate change. Research Article: Scholten et al. 07:39 Research Highlights Aesthetic bias means pretty plants receive the most...