Up & Atom

September 6th 2016

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Up & Atom | Podcast

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Up and Atom brings you the latest breakthroughs and discoveries in the ever-changing world of science.

Sometimes weird, sometimes confronting, always informative, come learn about the world around. Hosted by Dr Alice Williamson (@all_isee), University of Sydney lecturer and researcher for Open Source Malaria, each week on Up For It with Lucy Smith.

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Engineering Chicken Dinosuars & The Rise of Prejudice Robots

Today's Up and Atom sees our two ladies of science traverse timelines. Travelling to the past to talk about dinosaurs or rather chicken dinosaurs, and then heading to a future which could be populated by racist and gender bias robots. The beak is considered one of the most prominent features which make up the anatomy of the chicken. But, the current beak wasn't always as sharp and pointed as it is now. Realising the chicken needs two different genes to develop their beak, they suppressed one. The result.... some interesting effects on the embryo's beak, or should we say, snout! The two then power forward to a future of prejudice artificial intelligence. A recent AI tool used to revolutionise computers has been found to have some striking discriminations against certain genders and races, and of course, it's all the fault of us humans. Could these machines be absorbing deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of our own language? Lucy and Alice discuss.

The Dinosaur Special: A Restructure of the Dinosaur Family Tree & The T-Rex Shows Its Sensitive Side

Lucy and Alice discuss recent news regarding our Prehistoric predecessors. Over a century of dinosaur classification has just been turned on its head with some new research and scientists are now debating the origins of prehistoric beasts, with a small cat-sized creature from Scotland being the frontrunner. Also, It turns out the T-Rex isn't just the vicious monster we thought. Researchers now think T-Rex used to rub their snouts together as a form of courtship, and that their snouts were as sensitive to touch as human fingertips. Got to make up for those arms somehow.


Spider Venom To Help Stop The Effects Of Strokes & 12 New Clouds Added To The Cloud Atlas

From watching the ground to watching the skies, Lucy and Alice talk about spiders and clouds (Note: Unrelated topics just in case you're imagining spiders falling from the sky). Following up last week's venture into the use of Funnel Web spider venom as an insecticide. Now researchers think they might be able to create a drug from the deadly venom to ward off brain damage caused by strokes. The two science aficionados then let their heads drift off to the clouds as they discuss the twelve new cloud formations which have been added to the official Cloud Atlas. Their inclusion is all thanks to the Cloud Appreciation Society, which you can become a member of right now!

A Chimpanzee Mortuary-Like Ritual & A Spider Venom Insecticide

A Chimpanzee has recently filmed cleaning the teeth of a deceased chimp of their group in a mortuary-like practice. What insight does this give in terms of evolutionary practices and the compassion of animals? Lucy and Alice dive right into that question! The pair also bravely chat about spider venom and the possibility of using a Blue Mountain Funnel Webs venom as an insecticide. Don't be scared, have a listen!

New Planets Announced & Genius Bumblebees

Lucy and Alice dive into the mystery that is the alien solar system discovered which could support other life. We may not be alone! They also discuss the mad ball skills of Bumblebees who have learned to complete tasks, including manoeuvring balls into a hole for a tasty treat.


The New Continent Of Zealandia & A Hydrogel That Could Lead To Non-Surgical Vasectomies

Lucy and Alice get down to business today, talking about the newest prospective continent Zealandia (You get one guess as to who this might be). They also chat about monkey semen and the role it has to play in a hydrogel that could lead to a non-surgical vasectomy.


Do You Love The Smell Of Roses? Scientists Find Out Why Some Smell Sweeter Than Others

Scientists have discovered that some roses smell sweeter than others and as a result may have figured out a way to make the Valentine Day flower smell even sweeter.

The Soybean Oil Material That's Stronger Than Metal & An Illness Caused By Lychee Fruit In India

Alice talks us through the latest Scientific discoveries, including the use of soybean oil to create a material 200 times stronger than steel. Alice and Lucy also discuss the mysterious illness affecting the children of Mazzafarpur, India. Scientists believe the Lychee fruit might have something to answer for.


The first pig-human 'Chimera' and the cancer risk of overcooked toast

Scientists have created a human-pig hybrid which raises the prospect of being able to grow human organs inside animals for use in transplants. While the Food Standards Agency has warned that overcooked, starchy foods can contain acrylamide - a chemical linked to cancer.

The Feathered Dinosaur Tail and Using Platypus Venom to cure Diabetes

A feathered dinosaur tail was discovered in a piece of amber for sale at a market in Myanmar, plus: researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that monotremes, like the platypus and echidna, may hold the secrets to curing diabetes.

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