Episodes

  • 01:04 A gel to safely transport proteins

    A gel that encases proteins could be a new way to safely transport medicines without requiring them to be kept cold, according to new research. To test it, the team behind the work posted themselves a protein suspended in this gel, showing that it was perfectly preserved and retained its activity, despite being dropped in transit and exposed to varying temperatures. The researchers hope this gel will help overcome the need to freeze protein-based medicines, which can be expensive to do and difficult to maintain during transportation.


    Research Article: Bianco et al.

    News and Views: Gel protects therapeutic proteins from deactivation — even in the post


    08:51 Research Highlights

    How an abundance of cicadas led to a host of raccoon activity, and how wine-grape harvest records can be used to estimate historical summertime temperatures


    Research Highlight: Massive cicada emergence prompted raccoons to run wild

    Research Highlight: Wine grapes’ sweetness reveals Europe’s climate history


    11:24 Making a plastic biodegradable

    By embedding a plastic with an engineered enzyme, researchers have developed a fully biodegradable material that can be broken down in a home compost heap. Plastic production often requires high temperatures, so the team adapted an enzyme to make it more able to withstand heat, while still able to break down a common plastic called PLA. They hope this enzyme-embedded plastic could replace current single-use items, helping to reduce the huge amount of waste produced each year.


    Research Article: Guicherd et al.


    19:53 Briefing Chat

    This time, how to make lab-grown meat taste more meaty, and a subterranean Moon cave that could be a place for humans to shelter.


    Nature News: This lab-grown meat probably tastes like real beef

    The Guardian: Underground cave found on moon could be ideal base for explorers

    Nature hits the books: Living on Mars would probably suck — here's why


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  • 00:45 In situ editing of the gut microbiome

    Researchers have developed a method to directly edit the genes of specific bacteria in the guts of live mice, something that has previously been difficult to accomplish due to the complexity of this environment. The tool was able to edit over 90% of an E. coli strain colonising mice guts, with other work showing the tool could be used to edit genes in pathogenic bacterial species and strains. It is hoped that with further research this technique could be adapted to work in humans, potentially altering bacteria associated with disease.


    Nature News: This gene-editing tool alters bacteria in the gut of living mice

    Research Article: Brödel et al.


    06:56 Research Highlights

    The ants that perform life-saving surgery on their nest-mates, and why amber’s scarcity led ancient artisans to make imitation jewellery.


    Research Highlight: Ants amputate their nest-mates’ legs to save lives

    Research Highlight: Fake jewellery from the Stone Age looks like the real deal


    08:46 How is bone health maintained during breastfeeding?

    During breastfeeding bones are stripped of calcium, while levels of oestrogen — which normally helps keep them healthy — drop off precipitously. This puts bones under tremendous stress, but why they don’t break down at this time has proved a mystery. Now, a team has identified a hormone produced in lactating mice that promotes the build up of bones, keeping them strong during milk production. Injecting this hormone into injured mice helped their bones heal faster, and the team hopes that their finding could ultimately help treat bone-weakening conditions like osteoporosis in humans.


    Research Article: Babey et al.


    17:55 Briefing Chat

    This time, new clues about the neurological events that spark migraines, and a quick chemical method to recycle old clothes.


    Nature News: What causes migraines? Study of ‘brain blackout’ offers clues

    Nature News: Chemical recycling’: 15-minute reaction turns old clothes into useful molecules


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  • 00:47 Searching for dark matter in black holes

    Researchers have been scanning the skies looking for black holes that formed at the very beginning of the Universe — one place where elusive and mysterious dark matter is thought to be located. If these black holes did contain dark matter, they would be especially massive and so researchers would be able to see the bending of light as they pass in front of stars. Such events would be rare, so to find them researchers trawled through a decades-long dataset. However, despite the large number of observations, the researchers didn't find many examples of these events and none that were long enough to show signs of much dark matter. So, the hunt for enigmatic material goes on.


    Research Article: Mróz et al.


    09:42 Research Highlights

    How some comb jellies survive the crushing ocean depths, and how giving cash to mothers in low-income households can boost time and money spent on children.


    Research Highlight: Deep-sea creatures survive crushing pressures with just the right fats

    Research Highlight: Families given cash with no strings spend more money on kids


    12:39 A simple, solution to tackle a deadly frog disease

    A simple ‘sauna’ built of bricks and a supermarket-bought greenhouse, can help frogs rid themselves of a devastating fungal disease, new research has shown. While options to prevent or treat infection are limited, the fungus that causes the disease chytridiomycosis has an achilles heel: it can’t survive at warm temperatures. A team in Australia used this knowledge to their advantage to develop saunas where frogs can warm themselves to clear an infection. Frogs who spent time in these hot environments were able to shake the fungus, and gained some immunity to subsequent infections. While this research only involved one type of frog, it offers some hope in tackling a deadly disease that has driven multiple species to extinction.


    Research Article: Waddle et al.

    News and Views: Mini saunas save endangered frogs from fungal disease


    20:06 Briefing Chat

    This time, we discuss what the upcoming UK election could mean for science, and the return of rock samples from the Moon’s far side.


    Nature News: UK general election: five reasons it matters for science

    Nature News: First ever rocks from the Moon’s far side have landed on Earth


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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  • In 2026, NASA aims to send humans back to the Moon's surface, as part of the Artemis III mission. In preparation, astronauts have been performing moonwalking simulations to ensure that they are able to make the most of their precious time on the lunar surface. In one dress rehearsal, a pair of astronauts took part in a training exercise in an Arizona volcanic field, working with a science team to practice doing geology work in difficult conditions designed to mimic some that will be experienced at the lunar south pole.


    This is an audio version of our Feature: How NASA astronauts are training to walk on the Moon in 2026


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  • 00:31 How open are ‘open source’ AI systems?

    Many of the large language models powering AI systems are described as ‘open source’ but critics say this is a misnomer, with restricted access to code and training data preventing researchers from probing how these systems work. While the definition of open source in AI models is yet to be agreed, advocates say that ‘full’ openness is crucial in efforts to make AI accountable. New research has ranked the openness of different systems, showing that despite claims of ‘openness’ many companies still don’t disclose a lot of key information.


    Nature News: Not all ‘open source’ AI models are actually open: here’s a ranking


    06:12 Why longer freight trains are more prone to derailment

    In the US, there are no federal limits on the length of a freight train, but as companies look to run longer locomotives, questions arise about whether they are at greater risk of derailment. To find out, a team analysed data on accidents to predict the chances of longer trains coming off the tracks. They showed that replacing two 50-car freight trains with one 100-car train raises the odds of derailment by 11%, with the chances increasing the longer a train gets. While derailments are uncommon, this could change as economic pressures lead the freight industry to experiment with ever-longer trains.


    Scientific American: Longer and Longer Freight Trains Drive Up the Odds of Derailment


    11:44 How historic wheat could give new traits to current crops

    Genes from century-old wheat varieties could be used to breed useful traits into modern crops, helping them become more disease tolerant and reducing their need for fertiliser. Researchers sequenced the genomes of hundreds of historic varieties of wheat held in a seed collection from the 1920s and 30s, revealing a huge amount of genetic diversity unseen in modern crops. Plant breeding enabled the team to identify some of the areas of the plants’ genomes responsible for traits such as nutritional content and stress tolerance. It’s hoped that in the long term this knowledge could be used to improve modern varieties of wheat.


    Science: ‘Gold mine’ of century-old wheat varieties could help breeders restore long lost traits


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  • 00:46 How light touches are sensed during sex

    150 years after they were discovered, researchers have identified how specific nerve-cell structures on the penis and clitoris are activated. While these structures, called Krause corpuscles, are similar to touch-activated corpuscles found on people’s fingers and hands, there was little known about how they work, or their role in sex. Working in mice, a team found that Krause corpuscles in both male and females were activated when exposed to low-frequency vibrations and caused sexual behaviours like erections. The researchers hope that this work could help uncover the neurological basis underlying certain sexual dysfunctions.


    News: Sensory secrets of penis and clitoris unlocked after more than 150 years

    Research article: Qi et al.

    News and Views: Sex organs sense vibrations through specialized touch neurons


    07:03 Research Highlights

    Astronomers struggle to figure out the identity of a mysterious object called a MUBLO, and how CRISPR gene editing could make rice plants more water-efficient.


    Research Highlight: An object in space is emitting microwaves — and baffling scientists

    Research Highlight: CRISPR improves a crop that feeds billions


    09:21 How fish detect the source of sound

    It’s long been understood that fish can identify the direction a sound came from, but working out how they do it is a question that’s had scientists stumped for years. Now using a specialist setup, a team of researchers have demonstrated that some fish can independently detect two components of a soundwave — pressure and particle motion — and combine this information to identify where a sound comes from.


    Research article: Veith et al.

    News and Views: Pressure and particle motion enable fish to sense the direction of sound

    D. cerebrum sounds: Schulze et al.


    20:30: Briefing Chat

    Ancient DNA sequencing reveals secrets of ritual sacrifice at Chichén Itzá, and how AI helped identify the names that elephants use for each other.


    Nature News: Ancient DNA from Maya ruins tells story of ritual human sacrifices

    Nature News: Do elephants have names for each other?


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  • 00:48 Short-haul spaceflight's effect on the human body.

    A comprehensive suite of biomedical data, collected during the first all-civilian spaceflight, is helping researchers unpick the effects that being in orbit has on the human body. Analysis of data collected from the crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission reveals that short duration spaceflight can result in physiological changes similar to those seen on longer spaceflights. These changes included things like alterations in immune-cell function and a lengthening of DNA telomeres, although the majority of these changes reverted soon after the crew landed.


    Collection: Space Omics and Medical Atlas (SOMA) across orbits


    12:13 Research Highlights

    Researchers have discovered why 2019 was so awash with Painted Lady butterflies, and the meaning behind gigantic rock engravings along the Orinoco river.


    Research Highlight: A huge outbreak of butterflies hit three continents — here’s why

    Research Highlight: Mystery of huge ancient engravings of snakes solved at last


    14:55 The benefits of working from home, some of the time

    A huge trial of hybrid working has shown that this approach can help companies retain employees without hurting productivity. While a mix of home and in-person working became the norm for many post-pandemic, the impacts of this approach on workers’ outputs remains hotly debated and difficult to test scientifically. To investigate the effects of hybrid working, researchers randomly selected 1,612 people at a company in China to work in the office either five days a week or three. In addition to the unchanged productivity, employees said that they value the days at home as much as a 10% pay rise. This led to an increase in staff retention and potential savings of millions of dollars for the company involved in the trial.


    Research article: Bloom et al.

    Editorial: The case for hybrid working is growing — employers should take note


    25:50: Briefing Chat

    Germany balks at the $17 billion bill for CERN’s new supercollider, and working out when large language models might run out of data to train on.


    Nature News: CERN’s $17-billion supercollider in question as top funder criticizes cost

    Associated Press: AI ‘gold rush’ for chatbot training data could run out of human-written text


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing: AI and Robotics


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  • In this episode:

    00:46 Making a molecular Bose-Einstein condensate

    For the first time, researchers have coaxed molecules into a bizarre form of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate, in which they all act in a single gigantic quantum state. While condensates have been made using atoms for decades, the complex interactions of molecules have prevented them from being cooled into this state. Now, a team has successfully made a Bose-Einstein condensate using molecules made of caesium and sodium atoms, which they hope will allow them to answer more questions about the quantum world, and could potentially form the basis of a new kind of quantum computer.


    Research article: Bigagli et al.

    News: Physicists coax molecules into exotic quantum state — ending decades-long quest


    9:57 How deplatforming affects the spread of social media misinformation

    The storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 resulted in the social media platform Twitter (now X) rapidly deplatforming 70,000 users deemed to be sharers of misinformation. To evaluate the effect of this intervention, researchers analysed the activity of over 500,000 Twitter users, showing that it reduced the sharing of misinformation, both from the deplatformed users and from those who followed them. Results also suggest that other misinformation traffickers who were not deplatformed left Twitter following the intervention. Together these results show that social media platforms can curb misinformation sharing, although a greater understanding of the efficacy of these actions in different contexts is required.


    Research article: McCabe et al.

    Editorial: What we do — and don’t — know about how misinformation spreads online

    Comment: Misinformation poses a bigger threat to democracy than you might think


    20:14: Briefing Chat

    A new antibiotic that can kill harmful bacteria without damaging the gut microbiome, and the tiny plant with the world’s biggest genome.


    News: ‘Smart’ antibiotic can kill deadly bacteria while sparing the microbiome

    News: Biggest genome ever found belongs to this odd little plant


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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  • In this episode:

    00:25 What the rise of AI language models means for robots

    Companies are melding artificial intelligence with robotics, in an effort to catapult both to new heights. They hope that by incorporating the algorithms that power chatbots it will give robots more common-sense knowledge and let them tackle a wide range of tasks. However, while impressive demonstrations of AI-powered robots exist, many researchers say there is a long road to actual deployment, and that safety and reliability need to be considered.


    News Feature: The AI revolution is coming to robots: how will it change them?

    16:09 How the cockroach became a ubiquitous pest

    Genetic research suggests that although the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) spread around the world from a population in Europe, its origins were actually in South Asia. By comparing genomes from cockroaches collected around the globe, a team could identify when and where different populations might have been established. They show that the insect pest likely began to spread east from South Asia around 390 years ago with the rise of European colonialism and the emergence of international trading companies, before hitching a ride into Europe and then spreading across the globe.


    Nature News: The origin of the cockroach: how a notorious pest conquered the world

    20:26: Rare element inserted into chemical 'complex' for the first time

    Promethium is one of the rarest and most mysterious elements in the periodic table. Now, some eight decades after its discovery, researchers have managed to bind this radioactive element to other molecules to make a chemical ‘complex’. This feat will allow chemists to learn more about the properties of promethium filling a long-standing gap in the textbooks.


    Nature News: Element from the periodic table’s far reaches coaxed into elusive compound


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  • Growing up in Alabama in the 1960s, mathematician Freeman Hrabowski was moved to join the civil rights moment after hearing Martin Luther King Jr speak. Even as a child, he saw the desperate need to make change. He would go on to do just that — at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, one of the leading pathways to success for Black students in STEM subjects in the United States.


    Freeman is the subject of the first in a new series of Q&As in Nature celebrating ‘Changemakers’ in science — individuals who fight racism and champion inclusion. He spoke to us about his about his life, work and legacy.


    Career Q&A: I had my white colleagues walk in a Black student’s shoes for a day


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  • AIs are often described as 'black boxes' with researchers unable to to figure out how they 'think'. To better understand these often inscrutable systems, some scientists are borrowing from psychology and neuroscience to design tools to reverse-engineer them, which they hope will lead to the design of safer, more efficient AIs.


    This is an audio version of our Feature: How does ChatGPT ‘think’? Psychology and neuroscience crack open AI large language models


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  • 00:45 The neuroscience of fentanyl addiction

    Research in mice has shown that fentanyl addiction is the result of two brain circuits working in tandem, rather than a single neural pathway as had been previously thought. One circuit underlies the positive feelings this powerful drug elicits, which the other was responsible for the intense withdrawal when it is taken away. Opioid addiction leads to tens of thousands of deaths each year, and the team hopes that this work will help in the development of drugs that are less addictive.


    Research Article: Chaudun et al.

    09:16 Research Highlights

    How an ‘assembloid’ could transform how scientists study drug delivery to the brain, and an edible gel that prevents and treats alcohol intoxication in mice.


    Research Highlight: Organoids merge to model the blood–brain barrier

    Research Highlight: How cheesemaking could cook up an antidote for alcohol excess


    11:36: Briefing Chat

    Why babies are taking the South Korean government to court, and Europe’s efforts to send a nuclear-powered heater to Mars.


    Nature News: Why babies in South Korea are suing the government

    Nature News: Mars rover mission will use pioneering nuclear power source


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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  • In this episode:

    00:45 A recyclable 3D printing resin from an unusual source

    Many 3D printers create objects using liquid resins that turn into robust solids when exposed to light. But many of these are derived from petrochemicals that are difficult to recycle. To overcome this a team has developed a new type of resin, which they’ve made using a bodybuilding supplement called lipoic acid. Their resin can be printed, recycled and reused multiple times, which they hope could in future contribute to reducing waste associated with 3D printing.


    Research Article: Machado et al


    10:05 Research Highlights

    How housing shortages can drive a tiny parrot resort to kill, and the genes that gave cauliflower its curls.


    Research Highlight: These parrots go on killing sprees over real-estate shortages

    Research Highlight: How the cauliflower got its curlicues


    12:27 To learn how to make safe structures researchers... destroyed a building

    Many buildings are designed to prevent collapse by redistributing weight following an initial failure. However this relies on extensive structural connectedness that can result in an entire building being pulled down. To prevent this, researchers took a new approach inspired by the ability of some lizards to shed their tails. They used this to develop a modular system, which they tested by building — and destroying — a two storey structure. Their method stopped an initial failure from spreading, preventing a total collapse. The team hope this finding will help prevent catastrophic collapses, reducing loss of life in aid rescue efforts.


    Research Article: Makoond et al.

    Nature video: Controlled failure: The building designed to limit catastrophe


    23:20: Briefing Chat

    An AI algorithm discovers 27,500 new asteroids, and an exquisitely-accurate map of a human brain section reveals cells with previously undiscovered features.


    New York Times: Killer Asteroid Hunters Spot 27,500 Overlooked Space Rocks

    Nature News: Cubic millimetre of brain mapped in spectacular detail


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

    Subscribe to Nature Briefing: AI and robotics


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  • In this episode:


    00:45 A nuclear timekeeper that could transform fundamental-physics research.

    Nuclear clocks — based on tiny shifts in energy in an atomic nucleus — could be even more accurate and stable than other advanced timekeeping systems, but have been difficult to make. Now, a team of researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of these clocks, identifying the correct frequency of laser light required to make this energy transition happen. Ultimately it’s hoped that physicists could use nuclear clocks to probe the fundamental forces that hold atoms together.


    News: Laser breakthrough paves the way for ultra precise ‘nuclear clock’


    10:34 Research Highlights

    Why life on other planets may come in purple, brown or orange, and a magnetic fluid that could change shape inside the body.


    Research Highlight: Never mind little green men: life on other planets might be purple

    Research Highlight: A magnetic liquid makes for an injectable sensor in living tissue


    13:48 AlphaFold gets an upgrade

    Deepmind’s AlphaFold has revolutionised research by making it simple to predict the 3D structures of proteins, but it has lacked the ability to predict situations where a protein is bound to another molecule. Now, the AI has been upgraded to AlphaFold 3 and can accurately predict protein-molecule complexes containing DNA, RNA and more. Whilst the new version is restricted to non-commercial use, researchers are excited by its greater range of predictive abilities and the prospect of speedier drug discovery.


    News: Major AlphaFold upgrade offers huge boost for drug discovery

    Research Article: Abramson et al.


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  • Ever since scientific enquiry began, people have focused mainly on men, or if studies involve animals, on male mice, male rats or whatever it may be. And this has led to gaps in scientists’ understanding of how diseases, and responses to treatment, and many other things might vary between people of different sexes and genders.

    These days, mainly thanks to big funders like the NIH introducing new guidelines and mandates, a lot more scientists are thinking about sex and, where appropriate, gender. And this has led to a whole host of discoveries.


    But all this research is going on within a sociopolitical climate that’s becoming increasingly hostile and polarized, particularly in relation to gender identity. And in some cases, science is being weaponized to push agendas, creating confusion and fear.


    It is clear that sex and gender exist beyond a simple binary. This is widely accepted by scientists and it is not something we will be debating in this podcast. But this whole area is full of complexity, and there are many discussions which need to be had around funding, inclusivity or research practices.


    To try to lessen fear, and encourage clearer, less divisive thinking, we have asked three contributors to a special series of opinion pieces on sex and gender to come together and thrash out how exactly scientists can fill in years of neglected research – and move forward with exploring the differences between individuals in a way that is responsible, inclusive and beneficial to as many people as possible.


    Read the full collection: Sex and gender in science


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  • In this episode:

    00:46 Using genomics to explain geographic differences in cancer risk

    The risk of developing cancer can vary hugely depending on geographic region, but it’s not exactly clear why. To get a better idea, a team has compared the genomes of kidney cancers taken from people around the globe. They reveal a link between geographical locations and specific genetic mutations, suggesting that there are as-yet unknown environmental or chemical exposures in different locations. They hope this work will inform public health efforts to identify and reduce potential causes of cancer.


    Research Article: Senkin et al.

    News and Views: Genomics reveal unknown mutation-promoting agents at global sites


    07:46 Research Highlights

    Research reveals that the extinct ‘sabre-toothed salmon’ actually had tusks, and a common fungus that can clean up both heavy-metal and organic pollutants.


    Research Highlight: This giant extinct salmon had tusks like a warthog

    Research Highlight: Garden-variety fungus is an expert at environmental clean-ups


    09:55 How disrupting a male mouse’s microbiome affects its offspring

    Disruption of the gut microbiota has been linked to issues with multiple organs. Now a team show disruption can even affect offspring. Male mice given antibiotics targeting gut microbes showed changes to their testes and sperm, which lead to their offspring having a higher probability of severe growth issues and premature death. Although it’s unknown whether a similar effect would be seen in humans, it suggests that factors other than genetics play a role in intergenerational disease susceptibility.


    Research article: Argaw-Denboba et al.

    News and Views: Dad’s gut microbes matter for pregnancy health and baby’s growth


    17:23 Briefing Chat

    An updated atlas of the Moon that was a decade in the making, and using AI to design new gene-editing systems.


    Nature News: China's Moon atlas is the most detailed ever made

    Nature News: ‘ChatGPT for CRISPR’ creates new gene-editing tools


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.


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  • Many people around the world feel lonely. Chronic loneliness is known to have far-reaching health effects and has been linked to multiple conditions and even early death. But the mechanisms through which feeling alone can lead to poor health is a puzzle. Now, researchers are looking at neurons in the hopes that they may help explain why health issues arise when social needs go unmet.


    This is an audio version of our Feature Why loneliness is bad for your health


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  • In this episode:


    00:46 Optical clocks at sea

    Optical atomic clocks are the most precise timekeeping devices on the planet, but these devices are huge and difficult to work with, limiting their use outside of the lab. Now, researchers have developed a portable optical clock and demonstrated its robustness by sending it on a perilous sea journey. The team hope that this work will pave the way to more practical uses of optical clocks, such as on satellites where they could help improve the accuracy of GPS technologies.


    Research Article: Roslund et al.

    News and Views: Robust optical clocks promise stable timing in a portable package


    09:34 Research Highlights

    Evidence of ritual burning of the remains of a Maya royal family, and the first solid detection of an astrophysical tau-neutrino.


    Research Highlight: Burnt remains of Maya royalty mark a dramatic power shift

    Research Highlight: Detectors deep in South Pole ice pin down elusive tau neutrino


    11:52 How marsupial gliding membranes evolved

    Several marsupial species have evolved a membrane called a patagium that allows them to glide gracefully from tree to tree. Experiments show that mutations in areas of DNA around the gene Emx2 were key to the evolution of this ability, which has appeared independently in multiple marsupial species.


    Research article: Moreno et al.

    News and Views: Marsupial genomes reveal how a skin membrane for gliding evolved


    19:22 Briefing Chat

    How overtraining AIs can help them discover novel solutions, and researchers manage to make one-atom thick sheets of ‘goldene’.


    Quanta Magazine: How Do Machines ‘Grok’ Data?

    Nature news: Meet ‘goldene’: this gilded cousin of graphene is also one atom thick


    Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.

    Subscribe to Nature Briefing: AI and robotics


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  • Humans setting up home in outer space has long been the preserve of science fiction. Now, thanks to advances in technology and the backing of billionaires, this dream could actually be realised. But is it more likely to be a nightmare?


    Kelly and Zach Weinersmith join us to discuss their new book A City on Mars and some of the medical, environmental and legal roadblocks that may prevent humanity from ultimately settling in space.


    A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through? Kelly and Zach Weinersmith Particular Books (2023)


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  • In this episode:

    00:46 Mysterious methane emission from a cool brown dwarf

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is revealing the makeup of brown dwarfs — strange space objects that blur the line between a planet and a star. And it appears that methane in the atmosphere of one of these objects, named W1935, is emitting infrared radiation. Where the energy comes from is a mystery however, researchers hypothesise that the glow could be caused by an aurora in the object’s atmosphere, perhaps driven by an as-yet unseen moon.


    Research Article: Faherty et al.

    10:44 Research Highlights

    The discovery that bitter taste receptors may date back 450 million years, and the first planet outside the Solar System to boast a rainbow-like phenomenon called a ‘glory’.


    Research Highlight: Bitter taste receptors are even older than scientists thought

    Research Highlight: An exoplanet is wrapped in glory

    13:07 How working memory works

    Working memory is a fundamental process that allows us to temporarily store important information, such as the name of a person we’ve just met. However distractions can easily interrupt this process, leading to these memories vanishing. By looking at the brain activity of people doing working-memory tasks, a team have now confirmed that working memory requires two brain regions: one to hold a memory as long as you focus on it; and another to control its maintenance by helping you to not get distracted.


    Research article: Daume et al.

    News and Views: Coupled neural activity controls working memory in humans

    22:31 Briefing Chat

    The bleaching event hitting coral around the world, and the first evidence of a nitrogen-fixing eukaryote.


    New York Times: The Widest-Ever Global Coral Crisis Will Hit Within Weeks, Scientists Say

    Nature News: Scientists discover first algae that can fix nitrogen — thanks to a tiny cell structure


    Nature video: AI and robotics demystify the workings of a fly's wing


    Vote for us in the Webbys: https://go.nature.com/3TVYHmP


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