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The Naked Scientists Special Editions


Special items and features produced by the Naked Scientists team including coverage of the Cambridge Science Festival, the BA Festival of Science and the AAAS Conference.

Special items and features produced by the Naked Scientists team including coverage of the Cambridge Science Festival, the BA Festival of Science and the AAAS Conference.
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Barrington, United Kingdom




Special items and features produced by the Naked Scientists team including coverage of the Cambridge Science Festival, the BA Festival of Science and the AAAS Conference.




Dr. Chris Smith The Naked Scientists 36 West Green Barrington Cambridgeshire CB2 5SA +44 (0) 7092 01 96 9


Precision-injecting smart needle

Having an injection is an experience common to us all, and whether you are unfussed by the them or they make you feel faint, the actual needle used is the same for everyone and highly standardised. But given different parts of the body are more difficult to inject than others, this is not ideal. Scientists at Harvard Medical School realised this problem and have set about creating a more adaptive solution that could lead to big changes in healthcare. Jack Tavener spoke to Jeff Karp, who...


Creating cannabis chemicals in yeast

US scientists have engineered into yeast the genes needed to make the key chemicals in cannabis. To find out why and what's involved, Chris Smith looked at the paper with York University's Ian Graham, who wasn't involved in the project but has expertise in this area. We last spoke with him in 2015 when he uncovered the genes needed to perform a similar feat so yeast could make morphine.


Climate impact of lab-grown meat

The agriculture sector is responsible for about 25% of global warming according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so rearing livestock for meat is a significant problem. When ruminant animals such as cows and sheep digest food they burp large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. And growing the crops they are fed adds even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It is now possible to cultivate edible meat in a lab, rather than rearing livestock....


How bacteria resist antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, from what should be preventable diseases. Up to date, scientists have been trying to figure out the reasons in each individual case, until now A group from McMaster University in Canada has published a paper which shows for the first time the two common physical characteristics of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Mariana Campos has been talking to Maikel Rheinstadter, who explained what they...


Grasses are genetic thieves

Scientists have discovered that some grass species have information in their genes that's not come from their parents, and instead think they're stealing genetic information from neighbouring plants. By genetically enhancing themselves, they gain a competitive edge, which helps them thrive in more challenging environments. The species Alloteropsis semialata, a type of tropical grass found in Africa, Asia and Australia, has changed the way it produces energy, a process known as...


Treating asthma differently

About a quarter of a billion people around the world are affected by asthma, when the lungs' airways constrict, making breathing difficult. For decades we've treated the condition with drugs that relax the muscles in the airways and damp down the immune response that makes the airways tighten in the first place. But, recently, researchers have discovered that asthmatic airways also contain bulkier muscles than they should do. This is caused, they think, by the same inflammatory signals that...


Ancient javelins

Archaeologists working in the UK and in Germany have come across rare examples of what look like ancient wooden spears that would have been used by our ancestors 400,000 years ago. But scientists were pointedly stuck on whether these weapons were just for poking, or if they could have been thrown, like javelins. To find out, Annemieke Milks built replicas of the original spears and asked six experienced, sharp-eyed javelin throwers to see if they could throw them. She told Adam Murphy how...


Brain centre for laughter

Scientists have found a spot in the brain that, when stimulated, triggers laughter and is followed by a sense of calm and happiness that lasts 30 minutes.This discovery has direct implication for tens of thousands of people who undergo open brain surgery, and could be used in the future to treat anxiety, depression, and pain.


Dieting mosquitoes help prevent disease

Scientists have given a dieting drug made for humans to mosquitoes in order to curb their appetite. Researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York have worked through hundreds of thousands of molecule-receptor combinations to find the right one able to suppress the mosquito's hunger. As a result, mosquitoes were not interested in seeking a human blood meal and so this method could be used to help stop the spread of deadly diseases. Jenny Gracie spoke with Laura Duvall, lead author of...


Hundreds of genes control the body clock

If you are a night owl, getting up in the morning is something that you absolutely dread. On the other hand, morning people jump out of bed ready and chatty. Is this something hardwired? The answer's probably got a lot to do with the genes that influence your body clock. Chris Smith speaks to Samuel Jones from the University of Exeter to find out what the connection is.


Managing cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease which causes the muscle of the heart to thicken. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure, and it's quite common. But the therapies we have available at the moment treat only the symptoms and don't alter underlying disease course. Now new research from Harvard University, published in Science Translational Medicine, has identified the molecular clockwork that actually causes the condition, and they're testing a new drug that may help to...


Improving carbon capture

A new way to capture CO2 from factories or the atmosphere has been developed by researchers in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, located in the United States of America. The new technology uses a different molecule to 'soak up' the CO2 and it is 24% more energy-efficient than the existing technologies. On top of it, the molecules can be reused up to a hundred times, meaning even more savings. This improvement on technology may prove a big step towards large-scale adoption of carbon capture,...


Martian rock discovery surprises scientists

There is a mountain located in the middle of a giant crater on Mars, but how it formed is still a bit of a puzzle for scientists. Investigations of the rocks below the surface of the crater have been helping piece together an answer. The Curiosity Rover currently on Mars has an advanced suite of scientific instruments able to carry out experiments on the Martian surface. Kevin Lewis is a planetary scientist from Johns Hopkins University, who along with help from colleagues, has been able to...


Rocking adults to sleep

Lack of sleep or poor sleep is a problem that affects 1 in 3 people in the UK and America. Insufficient sleep is not only a health issue, contributing to heart disease, diabetes and obesity, but also an economic one. There's the direct costs of treating sleep disorders and their numerous side effects, plus the costs associated with reduced productivity, time off work and injuries resulting from fatigue. With such a big problem at hand, we need to think of a solution outside the box. Mariana...


Muscles really do have "memory"

Nearly every cell in the body contains a part called the nucleus which houses the genetic information needed to function. Muscle cells are the largest cells in the body, so they often need multiple nuclei to meet high power demands. New research from the University Massachusetts at Amherst, supports the contradiction of a widely believed theory linking large cells and nuclei numbers. Jenny Gracie spoke with Professor Larry Schwartz to find out why the relationship may no longer be true...


What's really in your e-cigarette?

It's common knowledge that smoking cigarettes is addictive, and this is because of the nicotine they contain. E-cigarettes are devices that heat up a liquid and produce an aerosol or spray which is then inhaled. If there's nicotine in the e-cigarette liquid then this gives a nicotine hit. In Australia, nicotine is classified as a poison, so it's illegal to sell e-cigarette liquids containing it, they have to instead be "nicotine free". But while studying the potential health impacts of...


Rare Pigment Fossilised in Teeth

Brushing our teeth keeps them clean and free from debris, but back in medieval times, dental hygiene wasn't part of your daily routine. This means that scientists can look at the teeth of skeletons to reconstruct what food they might have munched on back then and find out more about their lifestyle. But recently a team of international scientists, lead from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, found something a little more peculiar fossilised in the...


Opioid overdose detection via app

Every day hundreds of people die when they accidentally overdose on opiate drugs, like heroin or morphine. These agents depress breathing, causing respiratory failure. But, if an opioid antidote is administered sufficiently quickly, then the situation can be reversed. And a team at the University of Washington have developed a system that turns a mobile phone into a sonar device that can monitor a person's breathing and then sound the alarm if something goes wrong. Chris Smith spoke with...


Sleep quality and Alzheimer's disease

One terrifying prediction is that, by mid-Century, up to 30% of adults will be affected by a form of dementia, chiefly Alzheimer's Disease. This happens when proteins called beta-amyloid, and tau, build up in the brain and damage nerve cells. But scientists think this begins to happen decades before a person develops Alzheimer's symptoms, meaning we might have an opportunity to intervene and change the course of the condition if we can tell who's affected sufficiently early. Now, researchers...


Podcast Pioneers

Back in 2001, Dr Chris Smith launched a new show, The Naked Scientists, in the hope of making science accessible. It was one of the first radio programmes to be made into a podcast and is now one of the world's most popular science shows. In the past five years, the programme has been downloaded more than 50 million times. Dr Chris has travelled the world in search of the latest science topics and trends, through which he has won numerous national and international accolades. He joins...