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The Guardian

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Science Weekly podcast will now explore some of the crucial scientific questions about Covid-19. Led by its usual hosts Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis, as well as the Guardian's health editor Sarah Boseley, we’ll be taking questions – some sent by you – to experts on the frontline of the global outbreak. Send us your questions here:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Science Weekly podcast will now explore some of the crucial scientific questions about Covid-19. Led by its usual hosts Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis, as well as the Guardian's health editor Sarah Boseley, we’ll be taking questions – some sent by you – to experts on the frontline of the global outbreak. Send us your questions here:


London, United Kingdom


The Guardian


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Science Weekly podcast will now explore some of the crucial scientific questions about Covid-19. Led by its usual hosts Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis, as well as the Guardian's health editor Sarah Boseley, we’ll be taking questions – some sent by you – to experts on the frontline of the global outbreak. Send us your questions here:




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Covid-19: what’s going on with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

After mounting concern over reports of rare but serious blood clots in a small number of recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, last week the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that healthy adults under 30 should have an alternative jab if they can. To find out what’s behind the change in advice, Nicola Davis speaks to Dr Sue Pavord about what this rare clotting syndrome is, and asks Prof Adam Finn about how the JCVI made its decision. Help support...


Covid-19: how does it cause heart damage?

Cardiovascular problems aren’t just a risk factor for Covid-19, but can also be a complication of having the disease. A growing number of studies are showing that many of those who have been hospitalised for Covid-19, as well as people who managed the initial infection at home, are being left with heart injuries including inflammation, blood clots and abnormal heart rhythms. Nicola Davis speaks to Dr Betty Raman to find out how the virus damages organs outside the lungs, and what’s being...


Why has the African elephant been split into two species?

Recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed the African elephant as two separate species – the forest elephant and savannah elephant. The move has increased these animals’ ‘ red list’ categorisation to endangered for savannah elephants and critically endangered for forest elephants. In an Age of Extinction extra for Science Weekly, Patrick Greenfield asks why it has taken so long for these two species to be officially recognised as such, and what the...


Should we determine species through DNA? (part two)

In part two of The Age of Extinction takeover of Science Weekly, Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston explore a relatively new and controversial technology called DNA barcoding that is helping scientists to differentiate between species – including fungi, which we heard about in part one. As the catastrophic loss of biodiversity around the world continues, could DNA barcoding at least allow us to accurately record the species that are perishing?. Help support our independent journalism at...


Why is it hard to get our head around fungi? (part one)

Our colleagues from The age of extinction, Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield, are back with two new episodes. We often talk as if we know what species exist in the world – but we don’t. Could misclassifying the notoriously cryptic fungi have broader implications for what we know about the environment, and how we care for it?. Help support our independent journalism at


You can't bullshit a bullshitter, or can you?

In 2019, Ian Sample delved into the mind of a bullshitter, talking to psychologists about what prompts people to spout nonsense and gibberish. Recently, one of the researchers he spoke to, Shane Littrell, published a study asking – can you bullshit a bullshitter? Not being able to resist diving into the dark arts of BS once more, Ian Sample invited Shane back on the podcast to hear the answer and find out what it might tell us about the spread of misinformation. Help support our independent...


Covid-19: what happens next?

On 23 March 2020, the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced the first lockdown in response to the growing number of cases of Covid-19. At the same time, countries around the world began to close their schools, restaurants, and offices and ask citizens to physically distance from one another. In the 12 months since, more than 2 million people have died, viral variants have emerged, and we have developed safe and effective vaccines. One year into the pandemic, Science Weekly is asking:...


Carlo Rovelli on how to understand the quantum world (part 2)

From electrons behaving as both particles and waves to a cat in a box that’s both dead and alive, the consequences of quantum physics are decidedly weird. So strange, that over a century since its conception, scientists are still arguing about the best way to understand the theory. In the second of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with the physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss his ideas for explaining quantum physics, and what it means for our understanding of the world. Help support our...


Carlo Rovelli on the weirdness of quantum mechanics (part one)

It has been over a century since the groundwork of quantum physics was first formulated and yet the strange consequences of the theory still elude both scientists and philosophers. Why does light sometimes behave as a wave, and other times like a particle? Why does the outcome of an experiment apparently depend on whether the particles are being observed or not? In the first of two episodes, Ian Sample sits down with physicist Carlo Rovelli to discuss the strange consequences of quantum and...


How do you make a convincing deepfake video? – podcast

Last week videos of what appeared to be Tom Cruise at home and playing golf appeared on TikTok. It later emerged the clips were actually AI-generated by a creator of ‘deepfake’ videos. Deepfake videos depict situations that have never happened in the real world, and are becoming increasingly convincing. Alex Hern goes behind the scenes to find out exactly how such videos were made, and how far this technology has progressed. Help support our independent journalism at...


What are we missing out on by not talking to strangers?

Social distancing measures mean most of us now have very little opportunity to talk to strangers and acquaintances. These chats might seem insignificant, but they can provide lots of psychological benefits. To find out more, Linda Geddes speaks to Gillian Sandstrom about what we’re currently missing out on. And, when told Gillian finds finishing a chat particularly hard, Linda gets in touch with the author of a recent paper asking why we find it so challenging to end a conversation. Help...


Does how we think influence what we think?

What we believe is influenced by an array of factors, from our past experience to who our friends are. But a recent paper has now looked at what role how we think plays in sculpting our world-views. Natalie Grover speaks to lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod about the research evaluating the link between cognitive disposition – differences in how information is perceived and processed – and ideologies. Help support our independent journalism at


Covid-19: why are we feeling burnt out?

It’s getting towards a year since the UK first went into lockdown. That’s almost 12 months of home-schooling, staying in at the weekends, and not being able to see groups of friends and family in person. For many, the pandemic has also brought grief, loss of financial stability and isolation. So it should come as no surprise that lots of us are feeling emotionally exhausted, stressed and generally worn down. But why are we hitting the wall now? And what can we do about it? Ian Sample is...


A practical guide to tackling the climate crisis

The first UN climate change conference was held in 1995 in Berlin. More than two decades later, our planet remains on track for three degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The answer to avoiding this catastrophe is both simple and staggeringly complicated: drastically reducing and reversing the amount of carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere. How do we do this? Science correspondent Natalie Grover speaks to Prof Mike Berners-Lee, author of There is No...


Did an ancient magnetic pole flip change life on Earth? – podcast

What would it be like if the Earth’s magnetic pole switched? Migrating animals and hikers would certainly need to reset their compasses, but could it play real havoc with life on Earth? Analysing the rings of an ancient tree pulled from a bog in New Zealand, researchers have been investigating what happened the last time north and south flipped – 42,000 years ago. Nicola Davis speaks to Prof Chris Turney about how it changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and, if combined with a period of...


Why do humans struggle to think of ourselves as animals?

The pandemic has demonstrated why humans are ultimately an impressive species. From monitoring the genetic evolution of Sars-CoV-2 to devising vaccines in record time, we have put our minds together to reduce the impact of Covid-19. Yet, the global spread of a new disease is a reminder that we are not invincible, and remain at the mercy of our biology and the natural world. Speaking to author Melanie Challenger about her new book How to Be Animal, Madeleine Finlay asks how we can come to...


Covid-19: why mix and match vaccines?

The Com-Cov trial run by the Oxford Vaccine Group in the UK will be testing the efficacy and safety of a ‘mix and match’ approach to immunisation. By giving some participants either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and a second dose of the other, the trial aims to find out if combining different jabs offers sufficient protection. Sarah Boseley speaks to Dr Peter English about where this technique has been used in the past, why it could be beneficial, and how mixing vaccines...


Covid-19: love in lockdown

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and for many couples this year will feel very different. Lockdowns, social distancing, and self-isolation have forced those in relationships to choose whether to be together all the time, or stay apart for potentially months on end. Linda Geddes speaks to Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez about how couples have navigated their relationships during the pandemic. Help support our independent journalism at


What can the evolutionary history of turtles tell us about their future?

Turtles have been around for more than 200m years, and can be found almost everywhere on the planet. Yet, they are surprisingly uniform and many species around today are facing an uncertain future – at risk from trade, habitat destruction and the climate crisis. Looking at a new study investigating the evolutionary history of turtles, Age of Extinction reporter Phoebe Weston talks to Prof Bob Thomson about what his work can tell us about the factors shaping their diversity and how we can...


From the archive: what's it like to live without smell?

For many people infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the first sign of contracting the disease is a loss of smell and taste; something we reported on last May. Studies have now shown that months later an unlucky minority will still be lacking these senses – while for others they may have returned somewhat distorted. While scientists try to fathom what exactly causes this and what treatments could help, we return to the archives to explore what it’s like to live without a sense of smell. The...