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Each week, Charlie and James read the research papers behind headline science news and give you the details you can't get in the stories.

Each week, Charlie and James read the research papers behind headline science news and give you the details you can't get in the stories.
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Each week, Charlie and James read the research papers behind headline science news and give you the details you can't get in the stories.




Is intermittent fasting healthy?

Talk of intermittent fasting has grown in the news. Some feel intermittent fasting is a new dieting fad, others claim that it’s an amazing technique to improve health and lose weight. But what does the research actually have to say on the subject? Join us this week as James looks at a study on the effects of intermittent fasting. Check out the paper, news articles, and more at Like the show? Want more every month? Fan of universal constants? Check out...


Can you find a supernova in Antarctic snow?

Our planet is bombarded with tons of extraterrestrial dust every year. While much of the dust comes from asteroids, some of these particles may have come from supernovas - ancient stars that exploded nearly 20 million years ago! But finding this dust on Earth is tricky, and determining that the dust came from an exploding star is even tougher. This week Charlie takes on a new study from some “stellar” researchers who were up to the challenge. Thanks to Ben from Australia for the paper...


Are self-citations a problem for science?

Tracking the productivity and impact of research has always been problematic. Especially in the highly competitive environment of today where hiring and promotions can be tied to a single performance metric such as “total number of citations” or “h-index.” The problem is that these metrics don’t tell the full story of productivity. Different disciplines in science publish papers at different rates. And many times, your new papers are required to cite your old papers to avoid self-plagiarism....


How does an artificial tongue taste whiskey?

For the average person, the words used to describe whiskey can seem strange, if not completely arbitrary. Dignified vs. subtle, austere vs. rich, mouth-coatingly winey...the entire process of tasting feels extremely subjective. However, new research from the University of Glasgow is seeking to change that with their creation of an artificial tongue that can differentiate the subtleties between very closely related whiskeys. Join us this week as Charlie dives into exciting new research that...


Can you hide secret messages in music?

Check out the paper, news articles, and more at Like the show? Want more every month? Fan of universal constants? Check out!


Do you really need 10,000 steps a day?

Nearly everyone has heard the advice “walk 10,000 steps per day to be healthy!” As fitness trackers like FitBit have grown in popularity, many people use the 10,000-step benchmark as their goal for daily fitness. But where did this goal come from? And are there actually measurable health benefits if you walk 10,000 steps per day or more? Join us this week as Charlie dives into new research that seeks to quantify the benefits of your daily step tally. Check out the paper, news articles, and...


How is Neuralink hacking the brain?

News channels have been buzzing with the new press releases from Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company, Neuralink. The company hopes to develop new devices that could change the way humans interact with technology by interfacing directly to the brain. Join us this week as James dives into a publicly-available paper published by Neuralink to learn more about the technology that has lit up popular science news. Check out the paper, news articles, and more at...


Was Stonehenge built using pig fat?

Stonehenge has puzzled people for centuries. What was the purpose of such a massive rock formation? And how were people able to move such large boulders from quarries 50-150 km away? As scientists and archaeologists have learned more though, a new mystery has appeared: why is there such a high concentration of pig fat on pottery found in the area? Join us this week as Charlie explores a new paper looking at how pig fat may have facilitated the construction of this famous, mysterious...


Can your brain see into the future?

Recent research has sparked popular news headlines about the brain “seeing what’s around the corner.” Can your brain actually look around corners? Well, not quite...however, fascinating research from the University of Glasgow has shown that the parts of your brain responsible for vision actually try to predict what you’ll see next--even faster than the time it takes to move your eyes side to side! Join us this week as James breaks down this fascinating neuroscience paper. (Big shout out to...


How can you measure the expansion of the universe?

In the early 20th century, Einstein, Hubble, and other scientists confirmed the universe was expanding. With the exception of a few nearby galaxies, nearly all galaxies are moving away from us. Scientists have long been tempted by the challenging problem that arises from trying to measure how fast these galaxies are moving away, resulting in some fascinating findings. It turns out that by measuring the gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars, we might just find a better answer! Join...


Does caffeine make you burn fat?

Most people don’t need an excuse to drink caffeine in the morning. Pick your poison: whether it’s coffee, tea, or an extra large Red Bull, caffeine’s psychoactive effects are evident. But could that same drug be kickstarting your body to burn more calories than you would be otherwise? Join us this week as James looks at new research studying the effects of caffeine on “brown fat,” the fat we have that helps regulate our body temps and keep us healthy (as opposed to “white fat” that stores...


Can seals learn to sing and talk?

Researchers have long been puzzled about how human language evolved. Humans’ ability to create complex, flexible, spoken language stands out in the animal kingdom, but little is known about how language developed, and particularly, how animals evolved to repeatedly create novel recognizable sounds (“formant modification” as it’s called in the study). Could any other animals learn to manipulate sounds in a similar matter and associate these sounds with meaning? Join us this week as Charlie...


Is the Critical Brain Hypothesis correct?

In the 1980s, neuroscientists put forth the Critical Brain Hypothesis, which suggests our brain operates on a teetering edge between different "phases" of operation. These phase changes characterize the way we think and the way our brain functions. However, our brains have to sit right near the critical point that lies between these phases - just like the thin line between water and ice, for example. Obviously, this hypothesis has been incredibly difficult to prove true - but a new...


Does human endurance have a hard limit?

Humans love to test their limits. Some people run marathons, race triathlons, or climb the world’s highest peaks. All of these endeavors are challenging, but can we quantitatively compare how each undertaking pushes the human body? Join us this week as Charlie dives into new research that seeks to determine a ‘hard limit’ on human energy expenditure, both in relatively short duration tasks like running a marathon as well as long duration tasks like running 6 marathons a week for 20 weeks or...


Did supernovae make us walk upright?

Recent science news has been covering a paper drawing a connection between supernovae and the advent of human ancestors walking upright. The new headlines went viral, but their short titles made it hard to understand the actual findings of the research. Was this due to radiation causing genetic mutations? Did the supernovae impart some magical powers on our ancient ancestors? Or was it more circuitous than that? This week, James dives into the real research behind the headlines to uncover...


How deep does "bomb carbon" go?

Nuclear weapons have obviously had a big impact on the world since their development more than 70 years ago. But new research on the diets of small crustaceans in the Mariana Trench--the deepest known point in the world at more than 36,000 feet below sea level--indicates that elevated levels of the radioactive isotope Carbon-14 created by nuclear weapons testing can still be found in these remote, isolated creatures. This week Charlie dives into this interesting research that reveals new...


Are synthetic genomes in our future?

A huge breakthrough of the last few decades is our ability to sequence genomes - pulling out the order of bases in our DNA to understand exactly what makes organisms tick. However, a new field takes it a step further by creating synthetic genomes that are built from scratch to produce custom DNA. Scientists even hope to re-code pieces of DNA that are redundant to perform more tasks. This technique promises to revolutionize many industries, with the most imminent advancements in the...


Are moonquakes reshaping the Moon?

When people think of the moon, they often envision it as a cold, static body. However, when the Apollo moon missions landed on the moon’s surface, they were actually able to record seismic activity dubbed “moonquakes.” These findings suggested our cold, dusty neighbor was more geologically active than expected, but it was only recently that scientists were able to link these past seismic recordings to actual fault lines observed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter since its launch in 2009....


How bad is the Replication Crisis? feat. Ood Gallifrey from Occultae Veritatis

The so-called Replication Crisis has plagued all areas of academia, and especially psychology, in the last few decades. The astonishing number of studies published in peer-reviewed journals that are later found not to be repeatable is a violation of one of the core tenets of the scientific method. Joining us on this episode is Ood Gallifrey of the Occultae Veritatis podcast to discuss: exactly how bad is this crisis? What started it? What can be done to fix it? (And of course many side...


Is there a wrong side of the time zone?

Daylight Savings Time gets a bad rap every year when it's time to turn the clocks forward - it's bad for your health, it's bad for the economy...but DST has a friend no one warned you about: sunset time. Later sunsets mean later bedtimes, which leads to "social jetlag" - a desynchronization between your biological clock and your social obligations. Social jetlag could have a huge effect on your well-being and your wallet, so researchers decided to look at the perfect laboratory for comparing...