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Pirate’s gold may not be that far off, as there are valuable metals embedded in potato-size nodules thousands of meters down in the depths of the ocean. Host Meagan Cantwell talks with Staff Writer Paul Voosen about the first deep-sea test of a bus-size machine designed to scoop up these nodules, and its potential impact on the surrounding ecosystem. In an expedition well above sea level, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu last month. And although the craft won’t return to Earth until 2020, researchers have learned a lot about Ryugu in the meantime. Meagan speaks with Seiji Sugita, a professor at the University of Tokyo and principal investigator of the Optical Navigation Camera of Hayabusa 2, about Ryugu’s parent body, and how this study can better inform future asteroid missions. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Daniel Clery about the many, many theories surrounding fast radio bursts—extremely fast, intense radio signals from outside the galaxy—and a new telescope coming online that may help sort them out. Also this week, Sarah talks with Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel about her story on researchers’ attempts to tackle the long-term effects of pediatric cancer treatment. The survival rate for some pediatric cancers is as high as 90%, but many survivors have a host of health problems. Jennifer’s feature is part of a special section on pediatric cancer. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Download a transcript (PDF) Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: ESO/L. Calçada; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 
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New archaeological evidence suggests the same black plague that decimated Europe also took its toll on sub-Saharan Africa. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about diverse medieval sub-Saharan cities that shrank or even disappeared around the same time the plague was stalking Europe. In a second archaeological story, Meagan Cantwell talks with Gustavo Politis, professor of archaeology at the National University of Central Buenos Aires and the National University of La Plata, about new radiocarbon dates for giant ground sloth remains found in the Argentine archaeological site Campo Laborde. The team’s new dates suggest humans hunted and butchered ground sloths in the late Pleistocene, about 12,500 years ago. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Ife-Sungbo Archaeological Project; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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In the wake of a devastating earthquake, assessing the extent of damage to infrastructure is time consuming—now, a cheap sensor system based on the accelerometers in cellphones could expedite this process. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about how these sensor systems work and how they might assist communities after an earthquake. In another Earth-shaking study, scientists have downgraded the height of the ancient Tibetan Plateau. Most reconstructions estimate that the “rooftop of the world” reached its current height of 4500 meters about 40 million years ago, but a new study suggests it was a mere 3000 meters high during this period. Host Meagan Cantwell speaks with Svetlana Botsyun, a postdoctoral researcher at Tübingen University in Germany, about her team’s new approach to studying paleoelevation, and how a shorter Tibetan Plateau would have impacted the surrounding area’s climate. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Martin Luff/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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In our first segment from the annual meeting of AAAS (Science’s publisher) in Washington, D.C., host Sarah Crespi talks with Cathy Binger of University of New Mexico in Albuquerque about her session on the role of modern technology, such as iPads and apps, in helping people with communication disorders. It turns out that there’s no killer app, but some devices do help normalize assistive technology for kids. Also this week, freelance journalist Sarah Scoles joins Sarah Crespi to talk about bringing together satellite imaging, machine learning, and nonprofits to put a stop to modern-day slavery. In our monthly books segment, books editor Valerie Thompson talks with Judy Gisel about her book Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, including discussions of Gisel’s personal experience with addiction and how it has informed her research as a neuroscientist. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: ILO in Asia and the Pacific/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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The app on your phone tells you the weather for the next 10 days—that’s the furthest forecasters have ever been able to predict. In fact, every decade for the past hundred years, a day has been added to the total forecast length. But we may be approaching a limit—thanks to chaos inherent in the atmosphere. Staff writer Paul Voosen joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how researchers have determined that we will only be adding about 5 more days to our weather prediction apps. Also this week, host Meagan Cantwell interviews Trygve Fossum from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim about his article in Science Robotics on an underwater autonomous vehicle designed to sample phytoplankton off the coast of Norway. The device will help researchers form a better picture of the base of many food webs and with continued monitoring, researchers hope to better understand key processes in the ocean such as nutrient, carbon, and energy cycling. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts About the Science Podcast [Image: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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Because of its genetic complexity, the potato didn’t undergo a “green revolution” like other staple crops. It can take more than 15 years to breed a new kind of potato that farmers can grow, and genetic engineering just won’t work for tackling complex traits such as increased yield or heat resistance. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Erik Stokstad about how researchers are trying to simplify the potato genome to make it easier to manipulate through breeding. Researchers and companies are racing to perfect an injector pill—a pill that you swallow, which then uses a tiny needle to shoot medicine into the body. Such an approach could help improve compliance for injected medications like insulin. Host Meagan Cantwell and Staff Writer Robert F. Service discuss a new kind of pill—one that flips itself over once it hits the bottom of the stomach and injects a dose of medication into the stomach lining. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Michael Eric Nickel/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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Orla Smith, editor of Science Translational Medicine joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about what has changed in the past 10 years of microbiome research, what’s getting close to being useful in treatment, and how strong, exactly, the research is behind those probiotic yogurts. When you’re sick, sleeping is restorative—it helps your body recover from nasty infections. Meagan Cantwell speaks with Amita Sehgal, professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, about the process of discovering a gene in fruit flies that links sleep and immune function. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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The “dank” smelling terpenes emitted by growing marijuana can combine with chemicals in car emissions to form ozone, a health-damaging compound. This is especially problematic in Denver, where ozone levels are dangerously high and pot farms have sprung up along two highways in the city. Host Sarah Crespi talks with reporter Jason Plautz about researchers’ efforts to measure terpene emissions from pot plants and how federal restrictions have hampered them. Next, host Meagan Cantwell talks with Dana Small, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale University, about how processed foods are perceived by the body. In a doughnut-rich world, what’s a body to think about calories, nutrition, and satiety? And in the first book segment of the year, books editor Valerie Thompson is joined by Erika Malim, a history professor at Princeton University, to talk about her book Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America, which follows the rise and fall of the “killer ape hypothesis”—the idea that our capacity for killing each other is what makes us human. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Wornden LY/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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It’s incredibly difficult to get an inkling of what is going on inside gas giants Saturn and Jupiter. But with data deliveries from the Cassini and Juno spacecraft, researchers are starting to learn more. Science Staff Writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about new gravity measurements from Cassini’s last passes around Saturn. Using these data, researchers were able to compare wind patterns on Saturn and Jupiter and measure the mass and age of Saturn’s rings. It turns out the rings are young, relatively speaking—they may have formed as recently as 10 million years ago, after dinosaurs went extinct. Megan Cantwell then talks to science writer Laura Spinney about how researchers are fighting conspiracy theories and political manipulation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the country’s ongoing Ebola outbreak. In a first, the government, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists are working with community leaders to fight misinformation—and they might actually be winning. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Stuart Rankin; Music: Jeffrey Cook]
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