Up & Atom

September 6th 2016


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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Saying Sorry Is Good For You & Re-discovering The Lost Eighth Natural Wonder Of The World

Sorry, but is it cool if we talk science for a sec? Alice had a hot tip for Lucy this morning that apologising a lot may have actually have a stack of benefits for your health and for the way you're perceived - so if you feel like you maybe you apologise a little too much, chill out! They also looked across the ditch at the potential discovery of the location of the long-lost eighth natural wonder of the world, the pink and white steps of Lake Rotomahana.

The Brain In Love & How Old Are Humans, Really?

Alice joined Lucy once again to explain why our emotions go haywire when we have a sneaky pash with someone, and that the human race might be much older than we thought thanks to a new discovery in Morocco.

Gravitational Waves & Science In Politics - The Paris Agreement

Alice Williamson couldn't make it this week, so University of Sydney Science Communicator Tom Gordon joined Lucy in the studio to discuss the politics of climate change (given Trump's decision to pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement), and the revolutionary new ideas in our theory of gravity - gravitational waves.

Space Sperm & Game Theory - Charging Your Mates To Borrow Your Stuff

Lucy was a little under the weather today, so The Bridge's Lachlan Wyllie jumped behind the mic to fill in. Lachlan and Alice looked into game theory, more specifically, the idea that maybe you should be starting to charge your mates for the privilege of borrowing your stuff. They also talked about the implications of an exciting new experiment involving space sperm - scientists have successfully bred mice from freeze-dried sperm kept on board the International Space Station for about nine months. #interstellarsteak

Flooded Seed Vaults & Flushing Out Fallopian Tubes

Lucy and Alice talked about global doomsday prep this morning after the news that the Arctic stronghold designed to protect a massive stockpile of the world's seeds and ensure humanity's food supply forever was flooded with melted permafrost. Keeping things focused on keeping the human race alive, they also talked fertitlity, because a recent study has shown that an old-school method of flushing out fallopian tubes with poppy seed oil can actually boost fertility by getting rid of blockages that stop eggs moving into the uterus.

Are Old Violins Actually Any Good? & Where To Drink And Science This Week

Lucy and Alice went classical this week, because it turns out super famous old violins aren't as shit hot as we once thought. In a recent series of double-blind tests, a number of Stradivarius violins, which are hundreds of years old and often worth millions of dollars, were played by blindfolded violinists to blindfolded audience members alongside a series of top quality modern violins. The modern violins were thought to be better sounding nearly every time. Listen back to the podcast to find out why, as well as to hear all about some of Alice's upcoming events - Pint of Science and Two Up.

Breathalysing Dolphins & The Science Of Laughter

Lucy and Alice talked all about breathalysers today, but no, not the kind you'd see at an RBT. Scientists have been able to use a special kind of breathalyser to get insights into the health of dolphins exposed to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the results mean that they now have biomarkers for assessing the health of wild dolphins in a non-invasive way. In the spirit of the Sydney Comedy Festival, which is going down right now, they also delved into the science of laughter!

Treating Depression With Ayahuasca & Growing Lambs In Artificial Wombs

Alice and Lucy dove head first into some far-out medical science today, starting with the ancient hallucinogen ayahuasca and its potential as a treatment for depression. The psychedelic drug is legal in parts of South America, where it has been drunk for centuries as part of religious rituals, and tourists are increasingly giving it a go while holidaying there. The world's first randomised clinical trial of ayahuasca for treating depression has just been completed, and has found that it can rapidly improve mood over a short period, especially among people with depression that is resistant to antidepressants. Then they looked into something a little more futuristic - the incredible news that two lambs have been successfully grown in an artificial womb that could one day be used to help human babies that are born prematurely. It looks like a plastic bag filled with fluid, and it mimics a mother's uterus, allowing the foetus to continue breathing oxygen-filled liquid just as it would in a real womb. The team at the Centre for Foetal Research in Philadelphia tested their prototype on two lambs, and hope to have the technology available for humans in less than two years. This would be a huge step forward in the care of babies born prematurely, who suffer from a very high mortality rate and very high rates of illness. Alice also told Lucy all about her brand new podcast, Dear Science!

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.

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