Naked Scientists, In Short Special Editions Podcast

The Naked Scientists

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Probing the weird, wacky and spectacular, the Naked Scientists Special Editions are special one-off scientific reports, investigations and interviews on cutting-edge topics by the Naked Scientists team.

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952 episodes

Search and rescue rats

Apopo is a charity that trains African giant pouched rats for humanitarian purposes, with a view to combating some of the challenges faced by countries in the developing world. Originally, they trained these much shunned rodents to sniff out unexploded landmines left over from wars in countries like Mozambique. More recently, their keen sense of smell has also enabled trainers to develop them into excellent detectors of Tuberculosis carriers, so that patients can get diagnosed more quickly than before and receive treatment. Now, these Hero rats as they've been dubbed, are being prepared for a... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Jun 15
TV is influencing careers

Did you end up in your dream job? Or did you end up pursuing a career quite intensely for some reason that eludes you? Perhaps the media representation of your profession had a part to play. Shrikanth Narayanan and colleagues from the University of Southern California created a dataset to analyse 4000 professions in the subtitles of over 136,000 movies and TV shows and found that their representation may have influenced some of us to take up a career we loved watching on screen... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Jun 07
FIFA Fall Out with EA

There's news of a huge rift in the world of video games... EA Sports, who made the first ever FIFA football game in 1993, have announced that they will no longer be licensing the FIFA name. Chris Berrow, from the Naked Gaming Podcast, has been finding out why and what the consequences might be... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

2m
May 17
Did the lockdown make us more creative?

Now, I want you to cast your mind back to that first lockdown (if you can bear it) and to think about the ways you chose to fill all that new found free time. Perhaps, like the participants of a survey conducted by the Paris Brain Institute to learn more about the effects of the pandemic on creativity, you decided to sharpen your culinary skills, or spent more time pottering in the garden. But what can this uptick in artistic endeavours in such strange circumstances tell us about the way we react to new situations? This and more was the topic of conversation between James Tytko and... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
May 17
Dog and Dingo DNA sequences

Dingoes are native Australian dogs, although how and when they got to Australia isn't known. They were certainly already there by the time the first western explorers visited the continent, but fossil dingo remains go back only a few thousand years. So what is the relationship between dogs and dingoes, and the wolves they're both related to? Speaking with Chris Smith, Latrobe University's Bill Ballard got into this debate under slightly unusual circumstances... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

6m
Apr 29
Coffee without the coffee beans

Coffee prices are on the rise and the plant is said to decline by 60% before 2050, meaning new coffee alternatives are being considered in order to give us that caffeine hit. Harry Lewis speaks to Charlie Shaw from Atomo coffee to find out how they've been making our favourite beverage, without the use of coffee beans... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Apr 28
Recreating smells from the past

If I asked you to give up one of your five senses, which one would you choose? Chances are, instead of giving up your ability to see or hear, your sense of smell would be in pole position for the chop. Scientists in Germany think we're under appreciative of smell in our evolution as a species, with new research from the Max Planck Institute exploring biomolecular methods to bring smells from the past back to life. James Tytko spoke with Barbara Huber... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

5m
Apr 07
A new method for recycling plastics

The world has a huge problem with plastics. While they are a materials scientist's dream in terms of their properties, they are an environmentalist's worst nightmare, because they don't break down naturally and are very hard to recycle. But Athina Anastasaki, from ETH Zurich, has set herself the goal of making plastics that can be recycled more easily and now she thinks getting close. Chris Smith found out more... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Apr 04
Data storage in DNA

Researchers have been studying DNA as a method to store binary data. As data generation continues to increase in the information age, we need new methods to store it. DNA is extremely robust and can store data 100 times more densely compared to a computer hard drive. In order to capitalise on DNA as a data storage platform, modifications to the molecules that make up DNA are currently being studied. Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Mar 24
Solving puzzles to help cancer research

Playing games may be something you do in your spare time or in the queue at the supermarket, but striving for that elusive high score can also now contribute to science! Julia Ravey grabbed her mobile and caught up with Marc Marti-Renom; he's part of a team at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, where they've built a game for your phone that will help contribute to cancer research... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

5m
Mar 23
Pig grunts indicate their emotions

There are over 7,000 documented languages in the world to date, and now we might have another to add to the list: the one spoken by pigs. No, this is not an April Fool come early. Elodie Mandel-Briefer, from the University of Copenhagen, has assembled a vast dataset of pig noises. And by correlating the noises the animals produced in response to positive or negative experiences, she can pin emotions on sounds. Julia Ravey got in touch to find out if the research team responsible are completely off their trotters... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Mar 17
Indoor pollution from cleaning

Researchers from Indiana University studied the reactions of volatile compounds released when cleaning with ozone in the air. They found the reactions led to formation of nanoparticles classified as indoor pollutants. Evelyna Wang speaks to Phillip Stevens about this discovery... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Mar 11
The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons are at the forefront of news but what are they and how do they work? Anoushka Handa reports... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

3m
Mar 10
Creating Oxygen on the Moon

As NASA aims to send humans back to the moon in the upcoming years, research on how to supply oxygen to future settlements on the moon are underway. Oxygen can be genearted from lunar resources such as ice. A team of researchers including Mark Symes, from the University of Glasgow and the European Space Agency, have been studying the effects of low gravity environments on oxygen production... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Mar 02
Roman faeces housing fossilised parasites

Washing our hands has become paramount during the pandemic, but the Romans didn't seem to bestow any importance to this, leading to parasites and infections. Anoushka Handa spoke to Sophie Rabinow, to tell us more... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

2m
Mar 01
Blood clot tests with smartphones

Blood clotting is important in preventing excessive bleeding, but for millions of people, it can also mean increased risk of mortality due to certain medical conditions. Blood thinning medication is required for those suffering theses conditions as well as constant blood clot monitoring. A team from the University of Washington, including Justin Chan, has developed a method to take blood clot tests at home, using only a smartphone and a small drop of blood... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Feb 28
Shades of Blue Stop a Mosquito Biting You

Have you ever got a horrible mosquito bite whilst on holiday and wondered 'why me again?' And was your travel buddy someone who never got one? It could very well be to do with their fashion sense. Anoushka Handa spoke to Jeff Riffell to find out more... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

5m
Feb 25
Magnetic Fields Guide Migratory Birds

There's a growing body of evidence that birds can detect magnetic fields like the one around the Earth, possibly by "seeing" them. And this, researchers think, accounts for how migrating birds, like reed warblers, manage to find their way, seemingly unerringly, half way around the planet. But it's more subtle than just using the magnetic field like a compass. What Oxford University's Joe Wynn thinks is happening is that the birds are pre-programmed by their upbringing to fly in a certain direction, but they use the angle - or inclination - of the Earth's field, to work out how far north or... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

3m
Feb 23
Car Dependence in Greenfield Housing

Greenfield housing developments are residential communities built upon land which was not previously occupied by anything else. These modern homes are often very energy efficient, but a new report by Transport for New Homes has found that these developments are offsetting their positive contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of a lack of planning around sustainable modes of transport. James Tytko went to see for himself... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

5m
Feb 17
Why don't plants freeze to death in Winter?

Krzysztof wrote in to ask 'Why don't plants freeze to death during Winter?' and James Tytko tracked down Professor Howard Griffiths, from the University of Cambridge, to break the ice on this question. Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Feb 14
Black hole seen forming new stars

Black holes are known for their awesome destructive powers, ripping stars apart piece by piece. But now, scientists have seen evidence of a black hole helping to form stars. Using the Hubble Telescope, researchers at Montana State University have seen a massive black hole at the centre of a small galaxy called Henize 2-10 triggering star formation around it. Robert Spencer spoke to Zachary Schutte to find out more... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

3m
Feb 09
Trees for the Jubilee

Planting trees has a great impact on creating a greener environment. The Queen's Green Canopy is an initiative to encourage people to plant a tree in honour of the Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee. Robert Spencer and Anoushka Handa take a dive into the science of trees to find out more about these fantastic plants and to discover what they can do around Cambridge to help... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

23m
Feb 06
Game of Life still revealing secrets

Mathematicians Ville Salo and Ilkke Toermae from Finland have solved a long-standing problem in the field of cellular automata (The Game of Life). Despite being quite simple systems to describe, these automata often show quite complex behaviour. Now, though, we are starting to find out more about situations when these systems aren't quite so dynamic. Robert Spencer has more... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Feb 03
Organising our memories

Memories form a large part of human interaction. Scents, tastes and touch all can invoke us to remember particular events. But how do we know the order of these events? How do you remember that this time last week you were listening to our show... or at least we hope so! New research has shown that the human brain contains time cells to understand when an event has occurred. Anoushka spoke with Dr. Leila Reddy from the French National Center for Scientific Research... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Feb 02
Automating Blood Smears

Blood smear analysis is a repetitive, laborious, and time consuming job. Research at the University of Cambridge has led to developing a 3D printed device which both speeds up the smearing process and the quality of the blood smears. Julia Ravey talks to Samuel McDermott... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Feb 01
Making new year's resolutions SMART

It's the new year, and with that comes a tradition to commit to new year's resolutions. But the typical goals of giving up drinking, or losing weight, can be hard to achieve, especially without support from friends and family. Tricia Smith asked sport psychologist Helen Davis whether there was a smarter way to go about achieving her goal to "get fit" in 2022... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Jan 28
Ichthyosaur found in Rutland

The astonishing discovery of this jurassic era creature has been covered on our show before, but this recording features special insight into the dig itself. Mark Evans from the British Antarctic Survey and Emily Swaby from The Open University describe the significance of finding the skeletal remains of this marine reptile to Harry Lewis... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

6m
Jan 27
The Reforestation Re-evaluation

Tropical rainforests are deforested at an alarming rate to make way for cultivating crops and rearing livestock. But what happens when these forest areas are abandoned and left to recover in their natural way? Research published in the journal Science gives a message of hope, explaining how forests are able to recover to their original state on a much faster time-scale than first thought. Katie King spoke to lead author, Loorens Poorter, to find out more. Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Jan 26
Sleep and Alzheimer's

Changing the way the brain controls how we sleep, as a new study suggests, might be a way to cut the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's is the commonest form of a group of conditions known as senile dementia. They occur when brain cells are lost, progressively robbing us of our mental faculties. In Alzheimer's Disease it's caused by a buildup of a toxic chemical called a-beta; also known as beta amyloid. This naturally accumulates during the day and gets flushed out during a restful night's sleep. But, by studying mice that have been genetically programmed to develop a form of... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

6m
Jan 24
Do Asteroids Pose a Real Threat?

Katie King interviews Huw James, from the Royal Astronomical Society, about the reality of the chances planet-killing asteroids could collide with Earth. What these objects are, how they are found, and what methods are being trialled to prevent any potential collisions... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists https://www.thenakedscientists.com/donate

4m
Jan 19