Naked Scientists Special Editions Podcast

Naked Scientists Special Editions Podcast


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.


A new dimension for graphene production  

2D materials are objects that are only one or two atoms thick. Graphene is the most well known of these but many incredibly thin substances exist. These exotic materials are strong, flexible, semi-transparent and great conductors of electricity. But before they can be used in novel technologies we need efficient ways of making them. Graphite, as found in pencil leads, is made up of many layers of graphene and to isolate graphene all these layers have to be peeled away one by one until only a single layer is left. Researchers at UCL have found a new method of obtaining single 2D sheets from layered materials. Paddy Cullen, the study's lead author, spoke to Liam Messin about how they went about this

Bullying increases overweight risk  

We've just come to the end of anti-bullying week and with 25,000 children using Childline's counselling sessions in 2015 to talk about bulling it clearly is still a problem for the UK. This problem appears to go beyond playground trauma with research published this week showing that bullied children are more likely to be overweight at age 18. The study's lead author, Jessie Baldwin, explained to Liam Messin what they did

Malaria's drug-resistance genes found  

Malaria parasites in Cambodia are showing resistance to the front line drug Piperaquine making current treatment useless and putting lives at risk. Dr Roberto Amato, and his team, uncovered the genetic basis for this resistance; he took Liam Messin through the study starting with how they collected parasite samples

How to be an astronaut  

When you were little did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut? Well Michael Foale did and he actually made it happen. Born in the UK Foale completed both his undergraduate and doctorate degrees in Cambridge before joining NASA and going on to become the most experienced UK-born astronaut. Well he was back in Cambridge to talk about his experiences at a Pint of Science event and Connie Orbach went along to find out how a UK lad got to be a NASA astronaut...

Quantum leaps in quantum technology  

Quantum mechanics describes the properties of light, atoms and the even smaller particles inside atoms, like electrons and protons. On these tiny scales, we observe strange effects that contradict our everyday experience and we are beginning to harness these effects to build technologies that seemed impossible before. Kerstin Gpfrich went to the 2016 National Quantum Technologies Showcase in London to find out about the latest quantum leaps in quantum technology.

Bionic plant sensors  

Plants can be good for the planet, nice to look at and often pretty tasty. But what if they were also high tech sensors that we could harness to detect harmful chemicals and even explosives in groundwater or the air around them? Michael Strano and his group from MIT have produced just such a "bionic" plant by engineering spinach plants to produce more, or less, infrared light in the presence of certain chemicals. Connie Orbach heard how...

Lunar Origins Explained  

Compared to a lot of the objects in our solar system the Earth's Moon is a bit unusual. A new theory, published in the journal Nature, explains how the Moon got to where it is today. Professor David Rothery, from the Open University, wasn't on the paper but he took Liam through what Matja Cuk, the study's lead author had done. He started by explaining what makes the Moon such a space oddity...

Ice-free summers in the Arctic?  

The Paris agreement is an international climate change treaty signed earlier this year by 192 countries and it aims to mitigate man-made global warming. It kicks in from this week. But will its targets be sufficient? Over half of the Arctic sea ice area has been lost in the past 40 years and we may yet lose all of it. That's according to a new study from the Max Plank Institute for Metrology in Hamburg. Kerstin Gpfrich spoke to study's author Dirk Notz.

Are aliens out there?  

Now is there anybody out there? Or should I say is there anybody out there? Graihagh Jackson phones home to BBC broadcaster Dallas Campbell

Non-invasive prenatal DNA screening  

Conditions like Down's Syndrome, which are caused by babies carrying the wrong numbers of chromosomes in their cells, affect about one pregnancy in every 500. There are also many other inherited disorders that run in families but can't be diagnosed without a sample of the developing baby's DNA to test. But obtaining that DNA is risky; pregnant women have to undergo tests like an amniocentesis, where a needle is used to obtain cells from around the baby. When doctors do this, there can be up to a one per cent risk that the woman will have a miscarriage. These tests also cannot be performed until after the 11'th week of pregnancy. A better option would be one that doesn't involve needles and can be performed much earlier. Chris Smith spoke to researcher Sascha Drewlo, who reckons that the same system currently used to do a simple cervical smear test is the answer...

How small lies escalate  

White lies are widely accepted as an integral part of our everyday lives. And yet history has taught us how a series of small transgressions can snowball with detrimental outcomes. But can we really get desensitised to lying, and if so, what happens in our brains? Tali Sharot from University College London answered this question in her new study and Kerstin Gpfrich wanted to know more about it...

First ever fossilised dinosaur brain found  

When most people think of dinosaurs they'll likely conjure up images of the stabbing teeth of the T-rex or the cutting claws of a Velociraptor but what about the squishy bits of dinosaurs? To find out more Liam Messin went to the University of Cambridge's Earth Science Department to speak with Dr Alex Liu. Alex was co-author of a recent study detailing a fossilised dinosaur brain. Liam started by asking Alex precisely what he and his colleagues have described in the paper

UK opiate deaths double  

According to the Office for National Statistics, the ONS, in England and Wales deaths involving heroin and morphine have more than double since 2012. The ONS say this is partially driven by a rise in heroin purity and availability over the last three years. Age, they say, is also a factor because heroin users are getting older and they often have other conditions, such as lung disease and hepatitis that make them particularly vulnerable. But are these the only reasons? John Middleton, president of the UK's faculty of public health, in an editorial in this week's British Medical Journal, thinks that a change in policy towards the management of addiction, a few years back, might be more to blame. Chris asked him first what he thought of the ONS' own conclusions...

Gender equality in STEM  

We all know that men aren't really from Mars and women aren't really from Venus, we are both from Earth and there are more similarities between sexes and genders than there are differences. But, even after many decades of campaigning there are still issues with gender equality across many areas of life from equal pay for equal work to shared parental leave or even just differences in ways of working. One topic that's really important to us here at the Naked Scientists is the balance of men and women in STEM research, that's Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, so to delve into this a bit further Kat was joined by Dame Barbara Stocking, president of the women only Murray Edwards college at Cambridge

Practising Medicine  

On the 13th of October Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge turned 250 years old. As an established teaching hospital, it trains hundreds of medical students with the final three years their time spent on clinical placements. Connie Orbach went to meet up with some of these students to hear how they're getting on. Starting with 4th year Keerthi Senthil who Connie grabbed on his lunch break, only weeks into his first placement on the wards...

A powerful duo against HIV  

Over 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV. Treatments cost billions and don't come without significant side effects for the individual. Now, researchers from Emroy University may have found a new drug duo to eliminate the need for debilitating lifelong HIV treatments. Kerstin Gpfrich spoke to Prof Aftab Ansari to find out how it works...

Hospital Histories  

Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge celebrated its 250th birthday this week. To find out more about the history of the renowned hospital, Georgia Mills was shown around the archives by Hilary Richie, uncovering stories of naughty nurses, torturous medical tools and deathbed champagne.

Balancing the methane budget  

Levels in the atmosphere of the greenhouse gas methane released accidentally by the oil and gas industry might be up to 60% higher than climate scientists had budgeted for. A new method combining long term atmospheric measurements of methane levels with a way of fingerprinting where the gas has come from has enabled scientists at the University of Colorado to make more accurate predictions of the status quo. Grant Allen is an atmospheric scientist at the University of Manchester and wrote a commentary on the new study for the journal Nature, where it's been published this week. Chris Smith wanted to know about the findings and the implications

Genes linked to friendly dogs  

What makes dogs man's - or woman's - best friend? Scientists in Sweden gave a pack of dogs an impossible task to do: pushing along a plate that was actually stuck to the floor. The dogs that sought help from their owners were set up a different way genetically from dogs that like to be more wolf-like and independent. Georgia Mills spoke to researcher Per Jensen to hear what he's sniffed out...

Bee Happy!  

Now you'd "bee" forgiven for thinking that bees are just simple insects that buzz about collecting nectar and fertilising flowers. But it turns out they have emotions just like us. Chris Smith spoke to Clint Perry, who works at Queen Mary University of London...

Video player is in betaClose