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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.




Can physical exertion lead to mental burnout?

Endurance athletes are used to pushing themselves; most people would give up if they attempted similar feats. Does this constant push towards finishing difficult physical goals carry a mental burden as well though? Join us this week as Charlie and James take on a new paper about the mental tax of training on athletes’ brains. Check out the paper, news articles, and more at Like the show? Want more every month? Fan of universal constants? Check out...


Nobel Prize edition: what was the first exoplanet?

The 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to three researchers whose work significantly advanced our understanding of the universe. Two of the researchers worked together to identify the first exoplanet in the universe that orbits a star similar to our Sun. Join us this week as James and Charlie dive into their research in astronomy and physics that won them a Nobel Prize! Check out the paper, news articles, and more at Like the show? Want more every month? Fan...


Is Planet 9 actually a black hole?

Astronomers have noticed a strange clustering of objects orbiting our solar system very far from the sun. Their grouping suggests that there might be a planet (dubbed “Planet 9”) responsible for this strange behavior. However, new research has proposed the idea that instead of being a planet, “Planet 9” could instead be a primordial black hole! Join us this week as Charlie dives into the paper behind this exciting proposition - and stay tuned to the end when Charlie blows James' mind with...


How is the "darkest black" created?

The material Vantablack made headlines a few years ago as being the “blackest black” color ever known. People were shocked by how this color would transform shapes, and the material even sparked deep running feud in the art community. Well now it turns out there’s a newer black that is 10X darker than Vantablack! Join us this week as James dives into a new paper about a process for growing carbon nanotubes that results in the darkest black we’ve ever seen. Check out the paper, news...


What’s the difference between vegetarians and meat-eaters?

Health studies continuously debate the pros and cons of different diets, particularly vegetarian diets vs. carnivorous diets. Will one type of diet lower your risk for certain disease? Could the same diet increase your risk for other diseases? Join us this week as Charlie breaks down a new study making waves in popular science news about the risks and benefits of vegetarianism and carnivorism. Check out the paper, news articles, and more at Like the show? Want...


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...