Up & Atom


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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The Body Farm & Predicting Storms With Moon Haloes

With the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week upon us, Dr Alice Williamson filled Lucy in on some amazing research from two women killing it in Australian science.

Professor Shari Forbes is a forensic chemist and professor at UTS, and she's the lead researcher and coordinator of Australia's first body farm, where she's studing human decomposition and capturing the smell of death. She's presenting a keynote called Cracking the World of Forensics for the Sydney Science Festival. 

Masters student and Kamilaroi woman Karlie Noon is the first Indigenous person on the East coast of Australia to attain degrees in mathematics and physics. She's currently studying a joint Masters of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Advanced), and on top of that is doing research into weather predictions used by Indigenous Australians with Indigenous astronomer, Duane Hamacher. In particular, she's been looking at moon haloes, how they've been used for centuries to predict storms, and how modern science backs it all up. She's giving a keynote address at Indigenous Sciences: A Second Symposium... of Sorts.

Signs Of Life On One Of Saturn's Moons & Inspirational Slug Slime

Back in Sydney and fully recovered from Splendour in the Grass, Dr Alice Williamson brought some hot science goss to the studio this morning, with the news that some incredibly interesting signs of life have been discovered on Titan, one of Saturn's many moons. She also told Lucy all about the surprising uses for slug slime, which has inspired some potentially lifesaving medical glue.

Storing Video In DNA & The Passing Of Maryam Mirzakhani

Lucy was sick this morning, so Ted Dwyer filled in, and he and Alice talked all about how scientists have managed to store a piece of video within a section of DNA. Sticking with incredible achievements, they also discussed the amazing impact of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician who passed away a few days ago at just 40 years of age. She was a ground-breaking mathematician who was the first woman to ever win the prestigious Fields Medal - maths’ Nobel Prize equivalent.

Frog Kneecaps & A Revolutionary Treatment For Asthma

Frog’s legs for brekky? Not quite, but Alice and Lucy did talk all about the amazing new finding that frogs may have been the first lifeforms on Earth to have developed kneecaps. It’s early days for the research, but as it develops it may have an interesting impact on our theory of evolution! Going back to the realm of humans though, Alice and Lucy also looked at the news that an antibiotic used to treat a rare, deadly lung disease could actually be a lifesaver for adults with severe asthma.

Sexy Bird Drummers & Why Eggs Are Egg Shaped

It turns out that musos are kinda attractive in the bird world too, you guys! Lucy and Alice broke down the habits of cockatoos this morning on Up and Atom, more specifically, their talent for drumming and how that helps them attract a mate. Keeping the bird theme going, they also looked into why the heck eggs are shaped the way they are. Eggcellent.

The Spread Of Domesticated Cats & How Kangaroos Are Messing With Driverless Cars

Meow! Alice and Lucy got catty on Up and Atom this morning, looking into how the domesticated cat managed to spread itself to every corner of the globe, and in particular where the tabby cat got its markings. They also moved to the backseat to talk about driverless cars, and how they're actually struggling to get them to work down under because of the bizarre way that kangaroos move (and their propensity for causing car accidents).

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

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