Science Magazine Podcast-logo

Science Magazine Podcast


Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.

Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.


United States


Weekly podcasts from Science Magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.




Performing magic for animals, and why the pandemic is pushing people out of prisons

Staff Writer Kelly Servick joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss how jail and prison populations in the United States have dropped in the face of coronavirus and what kinds of scientific questions about public health and criminal justice are arising as a result. Also this week, Elias García-Pelegrín, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, talks with Sarah about his article on watching animals watch magic tricks. Do animals fall for the same illusions we do? What does it say about the...


Alien hunters get a funding boost, and checking on the link between chromosome ‘caps’ and aging

First up this week, Senior Correspondent Daniel Clery talks with host Sarah Crespi about how Breakthrough Listen—a privately funded initiative that aims to spend $100 million over 10 years to find extraterrestrial intelligent life—has changed the hunt for alien intelligence. And as part of a special issue on the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project, Brandon Pierce, a professor in the Departments of Public Health Sciences and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, joins Sarah to...


Fighting Europe’s second wave of COVID-19, and making democracy work for poor people

First up this week, Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Europe. Will what we’ve learned this summer about how the virus is transmitted and treated help prevent a second peak? Read all of our coronavirus news coverage. And as part of a special issue on democracy, Rohini Pande, a professor in the department of economics at Yale University, joins Sarah to discuss her review that asks the question: Can democracy...


Arctic sea ice under attack, and ancient records that can predict the future effects of climate change

Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about how Arctic sea ice is under attack from above and below—not only from warming air, but also dangerous hot blobs of ocean water. Next, Damien Fordham, a professor and global change ecologist at the University of Adelaide, talks about how new tools for digging into the past are helping catalog what happened to biodiversity and ecosystems during different climate change scenarios in the past. These findings can help predict the fate of...


Wildlife behavior during a global lockdown, and electric mud microbes

Staff Writer Erik Stokstad joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how wildlife biologists are taking advantage of humanity’s sudden lull. Scientists are launching studies of everything from sea turtles on suddenly quiet beaches to noise-averse birds living near airports to see how animal behavior changes when people are a little less obtrusive. Read all of our coronavirus coverage here. Next, as part of our special issue on mud—yes, wet dirt—Senior Correspondent Elizabeth Pennisi talks about...


A call for quick coronavirus testing, and building bonds with sports

Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about a different approach to COVID-19 testing that might be useful in response to the high numbers of cases in the United States. To break chains of transmission and community spread, the new strategy would replace highly accurate but slow polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests with cheaper, faster tests that are less accurate but can be administered frequently. Such tests cost between $1 and $3 compared with more than $100 for...


Why COVID-19 poses a special risk during pregnancy, and how hair can split steel

Staff Writer Meredith Wadman joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the risk of the novel coronavirus infection to pregnant women. Early data suggest expectant women are more likely to get severe forms of the infection and require hospitalization. Meredith describes how the biology of pregnancy—such as changes to the maternal immune system and added stress on the heart and lungs—might explain the harsher effects of the virus. Also this week, Sarah talks with Gianluca Roscioli about his...


Fighting COVID-19 vaccine fears, tracking the pandemic’s origin, and a new technique for peering under paint

Science Editor-in-Chief Holden Thorp joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss his editorial on preventing vaccine hesitancy during the coronavirus pandemic. Even before the current crisis, fear of vaccines had become a global problem, with the World Health Organization naming it as one of the top 10 worldwide health threats in 2019. Now, it seems increasingly possible that many people will refuse to get vaccinated. What can public health officials and researchers do to get ahead of this issue?...


How Hiroshima survivors helped form radiation safety rules, and a path to stop plastic pollution

Contributing Correspondent Dennis Normile talks about a long-term study involving the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Seventy-five years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the two cities in Japan, survivors are still helping scientists learn about the effects of radiation exposure. Also this week, Sarah talks with Winnie Lau, senior manager for preventing ocean plastics at Pew Charitable Trusts about her group’s paper about what it would take to seriously...


Reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking the heat out of crude oil separation

Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel talks about what can be learned from schools around the world that have reopened during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, few systematic studies have been done, but observations of outbreaks in schools in places such as France or Israel do offer a few lessons for countries looking to send children back to school soon. The United Kingdom and Germany have started studies of how the virus spreads in children and at school, but results are months...


A fast moving megatrial for coronavirus treatments, and transferring the benefits of exercise by transferring blood

Contributing Correspondent Kai Kupferschmidt talks with host Sarah Crespi about the success of a fast moving megatrial for coronavirus treatments. The United Kingdom’s Recovery trial has enrolled more than 12,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients since early March and has released important recommendations that were quickly taken up by doctors and scientists around the world. Kupferschmidt discusses why such a large study is necessary and why other large drug trials like the World Health...


An oasis of biodiversity a Mexican desert, and making sound from heat

First up this week, News Intern Rodrigo Pérez-Ortega talks with host Meagan Cantwell about an oasis of biodiversity in the striking blue pools of Cuatro Ciénegas, a basin in northern Mexico. Researchers have published dozens of papers exploring the unique microorganisms that thrive in this area, while at the same time fighting large agricultural industries draining the precious water from the pools. David Tatnell, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Exeter, talks with host Sarah...


Stopping the spread of COVID-19, and arctic adaptations in sled dogs

Kimberly Prather, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, San Diego, who studies how ocean waves disperse virus-laden aerosols, joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how she became an outspoken advocate for using masks to prevent coronavirus transmission. A related insight she wrote for Science has been downloaded more than 1 million times. Read Science’s coronavirus coverage. Mikkel Sinding, a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College Dublin, talks sled dog genes with Sarah....


Coronavirus spreads financial turmoil to universities, and a drone that fights mosquito-borne illnesses

Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Mervis joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how universities are dealing with the financial crunch brought on by the coronavirus. Jeff discusses how big research universities are balancing their budgets as federal grants continue to flow, but endowments are down and so is the promise of state funding. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Mosquito-borne infections like Zika, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya cause millions of deaths each year. Nicole Culbert and...


The facts on COVID-19 contact tracing apps, and benefits of returning sea otters to the wild

Staff Writer Kelly Servick joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the ins and outs of coronavirus contact tracing apps—what they do, how they work, and how to calculate whether they are crushing the curve. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Edward Gregr, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, talks with Sarah about the controversial reintroduction of sea otters to the Northern Pacific Ocean—their...


Why men may have more severe COVID-19 symptoms, and using bacteria to track contaminated food

First up this week, Staff Writer Meredith Wadman talks with host Sarah Crespi about how male sex hormones may play a role in higher levels of severe coronavirus infections in men. New support for this idea comes from a study showing high levels of male pattern baldness in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Read all our coronavirus coverage. Next, Jason Qian, a Ph.D. student in the systems biology department at Harvard Medical School, joins Sarah to talk about an object-tracking system that uses...


A rare condition associated with coronavirus in children, and tracing glaciers by looking at the ocean floor

First up this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel talks with host Sarah Crespi about a rare inflammatory response in children that has appeared in a number of COVID-19 hot spots. Next, Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of physical geography at the University of Cambridge, talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about tracing the retreat of Antarctica's glaciers by examining the ocean floor. Finally, Kiki Sanford interviews author Danny Dorling...


How scientists are thinking about reopening labs, and the global threat of arsenic in drinking water

Online News Editor David Grimm talks with producer Joel Goldberg about the unique challenges of reopening labs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though the chance to resume research may instill a sense of hope, new policies around physical distancing and access to facilities threaten to derail studies—and even careers. Despite all the uncertainty, the crisis could result in new approaches that ultimately benefit the scientific community and the world. Also this week, Joel Podgorski, a senior...


How past pandemics reinforced inequality, and millions of mysterious quakes beneath a volcano

Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade talks with host Sarah Crespi about the role of inequality in past pandemics. Evidence from medical records and cemeteries suggests diseases like the 1918 flu, smallpox, and even the Black Death weren’t indiscriminately killing people—instead these infections caused more deaths in those with less money or status. Also this week, Aaron Wech, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, joins Sarah to talk about...


Making antibodies to treat coronavirus, and why planting trees won’t save the planet

Staff Writer Jon Cohen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about using monoclonal antibodies to treat or prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2. Many companies and researchers are rushing to design and test this type of treatment, which proved effective in combating Ebola last year. See all of our News coverage of the pandemic here, and all of our Research and Editorials here. And Karen Holl, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, joins Sarah to discuss the...