Nature Podcast
Nature Podcast
Jan 13, 2021
The mysterious extinction of the dire wolf
Play • 32 min

DNA clues point to how dire wolves went extinct, and a round-up of the main impacts of Brexit on science.


In this episode:

00:45 Dire wolf DNA

Dire wolves were huge predators that commonly roamed across North America before disappearing around 13,000 years ago. Despite the existence of a large number of dire wolf fossils, questions remain about why this species went extinct and how they relate to other wolf species. Now, using DNA and protein analysis, researchers are getting a better understanding of what happened to these extinct predators.


Research Article: Perri et al.


11:43 Research Highlights

The secret to Pluto’s blue haze, and the neural circuitry underlying mice empathy.


Research Highlight: Ice bathes Pluto in a blue haze

Research Highlight: Brain maps show how empathetic mice feel each other's pain


13:31 Post-Brexit science

In December, a last minute trade-deal between the UK and EU clarified what the future relationship between the two regions would look like, after Brexit. We discuss the implications of this trade-deal for science funding, the movement of researchers, and data sharing.


News Explainer: What the landmark Brexit deal means for science


23:18 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, concerns about contaminating water on the moon, and the spy satellites that spied out environmental change.


Nature News: Will increasing traffic to the Moon contaminate its precious ice?

The New York Times: Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet 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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Science Friday
Science Friday
Science Friday and WNYC Studios
Tech Unions, Color Perception, Fish Vs Birds. Feb 19, 2021, Part 2
Reprogramming Labor In Tech More than 6,000 warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama are midway through voting on whether they should unionize. If the ‘yes’ votes win, it would be unprecedented for the company: The last time a unionization vote was held by Amazon’s United States employees, back in 2014, a group of 30 technicians ultimately voted not to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers. Meanwhile, at Google, a group of more than 800 have recently joined the Alphabet Workers Union, which was formed in early January. The AWU is a minority union, a kind of union that cannot negotiate contracts. But, the union has said, they will still be able to advocate for workers who would be excluded from a traditional union, like the temporary workers, contractors, and vendors who make up more than half of Google’s global workforce. And in the world of app-based gig workers, a debate has been raging for years about whether Uber and Instacart workers are full employees with rights to overtime and collective bargaining—or contractors, which have neither. In California, state law has changed twice in the last year to try to answer this question. SciFri producer Christie Taylor talks to legal scholar Veena Dubal, and historian Margaret O’Mara, about this rise in union activity, and the way tech companies have impacted our lives—not just for their customers, but also for their workers. Fish Versus Feather: Georgia’s Salt Marsh Smackdown At Science Friday, we love a smackdown, whether it’s a debate over which mammal has better sonar—dolphins versus bats—or which planet is the best to host signs of life—Mars or Venus? But when it comes to fish versus birds, we don’t need to manufacture drama. Nature gave us its own. Corina Newsome, a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, was studying how seaside sparrows adapt to nest flooding, an environment where the most likely predators are animals like minks and raccoons. That’s when she caught on film a very unusual interaction: A fish entered a sparrow’s nest, and killed one of the new hatchlings. Newsome joins Ira to explain what she saw, and how climate change is helping to turn the tables on this predator-prey relationship. The Neuroscience Behind Seeing Color The basic mechanics of how we see color sounds simple enough—light hits an object and bounces into our eye. Then, our brain processes that information. But how we perceive color is much more complicated. Neuroscientist and artist Bevil Conway is mapping out how the neurons in our brain respond to color to make a neurological color model. He explains how color might encode meaning, and the plasticity of our visual system.
47 min
Worldly
Worldly
Vox
Why Biden hasn’t reentered the Iran deal — yet
Zack, Jenn, and Alex break down why the Biden administration hasn’t yet reentered the Iran nuclear deal. They explain that the process of rejoining is more complicated than it might seem, but that it’s still likely the deal will come back eventually. They then debate the pros and cons of rejoining the accord and how well the Obama foreign policy team — many of whom have joined the Biden administration — handled the pact. One point of agreement: The Trump administration’s Iran policy failed. References: Alex wrote about the impending US-Iran talks over the nuclear deal. And he also wrote about Colin Kahl’s under-threat confirmation. Foreign Policy asks if Biden took too long to reengage Iran. Jenn noted a Politico magazine story detailing how the Obama administration let a Hezbollah criminal enterprise proceed to help strike the 2015 deal. Al Jazeera reported on then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands on Iran. He achieved none of them. Vox has a great visual explainer on the Iran deal. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), White House reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
46 min
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