The Nature Podcast highlights of 2023

Download the Nature Podcast 27 December 2023

In this episode:

00:54 Franklin’s real role

When it comes to the structure of DNA, everyone thinks they know Rosalind Franklin’s role in its discovery. The story goes that her crucial data was taken by James Watson without her knowledge, helping him and Francis Crick solve the structure. However, new evidence has revealed that this wasn’t really the case. Rosalind Franklin was not a ‘wronged heroine’, she was an equal contributor to the discovery.

Nature Podcast: 25 April 2023

Comment: What Rosalind Franklin truly contributed to the discovery of DNA’s structure

14:37 An automated way to monitor wildlife recovery

To prevent the loss of wildlife, forest restoration is key, but monitoring how well biodiversity actually recovers is incredibly difficult. Now though, a team has collected recordings of animal sounds to determine the extent of the recovery. However, while using these sounds to identify species is an effective way to monitor, it’s also labour intensive. To overcome this, they trained an AI to listen to the sounds, and found that although it was less able to identify species, its findings still correlated well with wildlife recovery, suggesting that it could be a cost-effective and automated way to monitor biodiversity.

Nature Podcast: 25 October 2023

Research article: Müller et al.

27:11 Research Highlights

The first brain recording from a freely swimming octopus, and how a Seinfeld episode helped scientists to distinguish the brain regions involved in understanding and appreciating humour.

Research Highlight: How to measure the brain of an octopus

Research Highlight: One brain area helps you to enjoy a joke — but another helps you to get it

30:24 Why multisensory experiences can make stronger memories

It’s recognized that multisensory experiences can create strong memories and that later-on, a single sensory experience can trigger memories of the whole event, like a specific smell conjuring a visual memory. But the neural mechanisms behind this are not well understood. Now, a team has shown that rich sensory experiences can create direct neural circuit between the memory regions involved with different senses. This circuit increases memory strength in the flies, and helps explain how sense and memories are interlinked.

Nature Podcast: 25 April 2023

Research article: Okray et al.

38:58 Briefing Chat

How elephant seals catch some shut-eye while diving.

New York Times: Elephant Seals Take Power Naps During Deep Ocean Dives

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