Nature Podcast

This is a transcript of the 17th July edition of the weekly Nature Podcast. Audio files for the current show and archive episodes can be accessed from the Nature Podcast index page (, which also contains details on how to subscribe to the Nature Podcast for FREE, and has troubleshooting top-tips. Send us your feedback to


The Nature Podcast brought to you by Bio-Rad's new ProteoMiner protein enrichment kit, a novel sample prep tool kit that enriches and detects low abundance proteins. Learn more at

End Advertisement

Adam Rutherford: This week we meet NASA's hot air balloon team.

Eric Hand: Most of them had moustaches and they all carried Buck knives around, country music television was on the TV, they all appeared very passionate about their jobs and what they were doing and they have a really good success rate.

Charlotte Stoddart: We experience life aboard a Canadian icebreaker.

Quirin Schiermeier: The ship which is a swimming laboratory if you will is also some kind of social laboratory with ice hockey game on the open ice if conditions allow us.

Adam Rutherford: And Kerri reports back from Europe's brainiest meeting.

Kerri Smith: And I'm here at the Federation of European Neuroscience Society's conference in Geneva learning among other things that if Einstein is with us today, he would have been a neuroscientist.

Adam Rutherford: This is the Nature Podcast, I'm Adam Rutherford.

Charlotte Stoddart: And I'm Charlotte Stoddart. First this week, a new technique that is making it possible to watch the building blocks of life in action. Transmission electron microscopes or TEM use beams of electrons to probe the microstructure of cells and materials. These microscopes can also zoom in on the molecules and atoms that make up these structures. Until now, capturing images of the lightest atoms such as hydrogen and carbon has been impossible, because their signals were drowned out by background noise. Now a team from the University of California at Berkeley has overcome this problem by using an ultra-thin graphene membrane which cradles the tiny atoms without interfering with the imaging process. I called Alex Zettl to find out more. Nature 454, 319–322 (17 July 2008)

Alex Zettl: One of the biggest challenges in transmission electron microscopy is that the samples you're looking need to be suspended somehow, because you're transmitting electrons through that in samples, so any suspension media, any sort of film can degrade the signal and so there you have a few options; one is to use something that has a lot of holes in it, something like Swiss cheese and to suspend your sample across the holes and the other option is to use a thin film or membrane that is more or less uniform but extremely thin and would not scatter the electrons very much.

Charlotte Stoddart: So what have you and your team used and have you used this sort of Swiss cheese, holey membrane, or have you used more of an Edam - a continuous membrane without holes?

Alex Zettl: well we have a used the Swiss cheese type of membrane for years and recently we've been trying to make very thin transparent membranes out of various materials like silicon nitrides. A breakthrough that came very recently was using a single sheet of graphite called graphene which is just one atom thick; has a very strong bonds and is made of, purely of carbon and that forms the ideal thinnest possible membrane you could have or TEM studies, so we have this suspended, kind of like a drum, and had a single sheet of this overhaul and then we can look at atoms and molecules sitting on top of the graphene.

Charlotte Stoddart: And using this very thin graphene membrane then, what exactly have you been able to observe?

Alex Zettl: We've been able to observe the lightest possible atoms with the TEM which has not been possible before. For example, we can see hydrogen, the lightest atom, we can see carbon, the interesting thing is we can see other lightweight molecules that sit on this membrane and have dynamics. So we can watch molecules scurrying across the surface and principle that could be used for biological samples and for watching chemical reactions that take place right before your eyes.

Charlotte Stoddart: So using this new technique, then you could actually watch individual atoms interacting during a chemical reaction. How do you think that biologists, for example, might use this in the future?

Alex Zettl: I think biologists are going to be very excited about this. Biologists have pushed TEM technology for several decades and one of the limitations for biological systems is actually seeing the individual atoms of the structure say, of your protein or other kind of molecule and often things are frozen, crystallized and then looked at with microscopy, but this opens up the possibility of seeing individual biological molecules and seeing all the atoms that are constituents of those molecules.

Charlotte Stoddart: In your paper you describe how you are able to study the graphene itself as well as the atoms supported by the graphene membrane. So what did you see when you looked at the graphene membrane.

Alex Zettl: Graphene is an extremely interesting material from a mechanical and electronic point of view. Because of these interesting electronic properties, one would like to study it by say manipulating where electrons flow in graphene or watching defects in graphene, if there is a missing carbon atom or there is an additional atom meaning an additional atom that's placed on top, it can alter the mechanical and electronic properties. So using TEM provides an ideal way to study not only things sitting on graphene but how that influences the graphene itself.

Charlotte Stoddart: Could this be really helpful then to researchers working with graphene to develop sort of nanostructures for electronic devices say?

Alex Zettl: Absolutely, there is a lot of theory work going on now of how you might manipulate edges or vacancies in graphene to give you an interesting, kind of, electronic property and having a method to really see where those defects are and how they then influence the electronic properties. The next step would be to take the geometry that we've written about in our paper and have electronic transfer measurements be done simultaneously in addition to the electron imaging.

Charlotte Stoddart: And do you have any plans to do this?

Alex Zettl: Absolutely! That's what we are working on right now and I am sure other people are going to be jumping in and trying to do some more things, but the nice thing about using the single layer graphene sheets is you don't need necessarily the most expensive electron microscope to, sort of, standard high-resolution microscope still yields very exciting and important information.

Adam Rutherford: Alex Zettl from the University of California at Berkeley. Now from a new technique to a well established one. Louise Brown, the first test tube baby turns 30 this month, after being conceived outside of the body by a technique we now call in vitro fertilization. In Nature, we went to meet some key players to see where IVF is going in the next few years. News Editor Gaia Vince has joined as. Gaia what are the experts saying about the future of IVF. Published online 16 July 2008

Gaia Vince: Hey Adam, well it's quite out of this world, we have artificial placenta suggested. We've artificial wombs, pots where babies could be conceived and grown until they are ready for birth, whatever that means in this future world. We could see old men giving birth. We could see babies giving birth, we could see anybody. There's an end to fertility in the predictions.

Adam Rutherford: Explain what you mean by old man and babies giving birth.

Gaia Vince: Okay, this is not a repeat of the media story from the US last week of the man that gave birth. This is basically using IPS technology; this is Induced Pluripotent Stem cells. So this is a technique where they take a skin cell or a cell from the body. They then re-engineer, they program this cell to become another type of cell. In this case they would program it to become a germ cell, a sperm cell or an X cell and these of course could be brought together to produce an embryo.

Adam Rutherford: Okay and earlier this year we saw IVF come under some scrutiny at least in the UK parliament as new legislation removed the requirement for a father during the IVF process. Now what are some of the other ethical issues that are going to emerge as this technology develops.

Gaia Vince: One question immediately that it raises is, should people bank their skin cells or some of their body cells, so that if they chose to have a baby in 60 years time, they would be able to. Because as we get older, our cells, the genetic material of our cells degrades. So that's one issue that might come up. But another bigger issue was raised by Scott Gelfand who is Director of the Ethic Centre in the Oklahoma State University. He said at the moment there are about a million abortions a year in the United States and one of the things that might happen if we produced artificial wombs that are actually useful, is that the pro-life lobby they might manage to get legislation through in order to compel people who wanted abortions to have their foetuses implanted in some pot, for later adoption, so this could be a crisis situation, where the whole of the United States was filled up with labs growing babies in pots and who is going to adopt these babies.

Adam Rutherford: That does certainly raise some interesting ethical questions. How are we going to deal with these questions, which are immensely complex?

Gaia Vince: Well, one way is the lack of regulation could mean that people are going to just go ahead anyway. In some countries, there isn't regulation. In other ways, I think that there will be a lot of debate and people will come up with a decision that the majority of the populous feels happy with. When IVF was pioneered 30 years ago, there was outpour about this, because not all the embryos would survive if you're implanting several embryos, so who knows if people will accept these new technologies as completely common place as you go and give up your artificial placenta.

Adam Rutherford: Okay, still just in the realms of Science Fiction then but getting closer to reality. Thanks very much Gaia. That special report is available on along with an essay by Ruth Deech. She is the former Head of Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.JingleEnd jingle

Charlotte Stoddart: Kerri is in Geneva this week and later in the show she'll be wrapping up the best brainy bits from the neuroscience conference there.

Adam Rutherford: But before she left, Kerri caught up with a couple of roving reporters.

Kerri Smith: The sparse New Mexico desert and the even sparser Arctic Ocean are the destinations of choice this week for two Nature reporters. Quirin Schiermeier was dispatched to the Beaufort Sea aboard the Canadian research ship The Amundsen, so find out exactly what it is cargo 50 scientists are investigating as they navigate the ice clubbed ocean. More about that in just a minute, but first Eric Hand, journey to the dusty plains of New Mexico to meet the people in charge of NASA's scientific balloon launches. Not for them, the high tech control rooms and shiny satellites of a typical NASA launch, but as Eric told me, that does not mean that their experiments are any less valuable. Published online 16 July 2008 Nature 454, 270–273 (2008)

Eric Hand: Balloons in general, the scientific balloons, they can do it all. They can look for x-ray, gamma rays, cosmic rays. They have measured anti-matter. They have made important discoveries with the cosmic microwave background. They can also look down at the Earth too and they do also to atmospheric chemistry. They really do all sorts of things.

Kerri Smith: So in that case then, I mean, that you know they are very wide ranging in their applications, but they do seem compared to NASA's other operations, pretty low tech really. So what's the advantage of using them?

Eric Hand: They are cheap. Balloons cost may be several hundred thousand dollars to make and get up in the air, whereas satellites, launching a rocket and putting a satellite into an orbit, that cause tens and tens of millions of dollars and it also takes, you know, sometimes a decade or more to do that whereas a balloon can be designed and put up with a scientific instrument in less than a year, but there are trade-offs. The balloons they only collect data for days or at best weeks whereas, satellites sit up in orbit for year and so that was the main point of this experiment in New Mexico they are trying to develop a new type of balloon that can survive for months and months and at that point balloons would really start to be competitive with satellites.

Kerri Smith: So tell us a bit about this location and they are launching this test balloon from the depths of New Mexico.

Eric Hand: That's right, Fort Sumner, New Mexico this time of the year, the stratospheric wind patterns are particularly good and also it is a very empty patch of land, they can send these balloons up, let them drift and in all likelihood they won't come down on anything other than a bit of desert. You know a lot of people have an impression of NASA being, you know, the pinnacle of technical authority and launches have to be super precise. In this case the scientists and the engineers have put these up and they rely a little bit more on intuition and so it's not that they are more relaxed there, they are just as professional, but it's definitely a different feel from anything else I have seen in NASA. They themselves pride themselves on being a, kind of blue collar working class version of NASA.

Kerri Smith: And you paint the very colourful picture of that sort of person in your feature. What kind of people did you meet while you were out there?

Eric Hand: Well, again they themselves say that, you know, they are sort of boots and blue jean sort of people, you know they are based in Texas and they also work a lot from this launch centre in New Mexico and most of them had moustaches and they all carried buck knives around, country music television was on the TV. Some of them have had college education and some didn't, but they all cared very passionately about their jobs and what they were doing and they have a really good success rate.

Kerri Smith: Sounds like a fun crowd.

Eric Hand: It was, it was.

Kerri Smith: And so when do you think I mean this is a test balloon as you said earlier but when are we expecting, sort of, the first fleet I suppose of balloons to start collecting data?

Eric Hand: Well this new fleet, this super pressure balloon that could last for three months or 100 days or more, this was a very important test but they still have probably another half dozen of these tests to do before they are going to certify these balloons to carry expensive scientific instruments. So I would say we've got a couple of years before this new fleet of super pressure balloons will be in the workforce.

Kerri Smith: Eric Hand there who reports for Nature from Washington DC. Another news feature this week sees Quirin Schiermeier go on an unusual type of cruise. Published online 16 July 2008 Nature 454, 266–269 (2008)

Quirin Schiermeier: The Amundsen is doing research in the study area in the Southern Beaufort Sea, North of the Canadian mainland. The Amundsen is involved in a 10-month study called the Canadian Flow lead study which started last October and most of the time, the Amundsen is either in open water in the so called polynyas, which are areas of open water where normally there should be ice but where there is no ice because of melting or ice movement and nobody really has ever done a one-year study in the flow lead of polynya system.

Kerri Smith: And what's it like on board, give us an idea, because the ship at least is in the Arctic for rather long time.

Quirin Schiermeier: Exactly, the ship is really crammed with scientific equipment and sampling activities are going on like for 24 hours especially during the time I was on board when there was daylight 24 hours long, but of course the ship which is a swimming laboratory, if you will, is also some kind of social laboratory with 50 scientists most of them young PhD students and doctoral students doing sampling day round but there is also socializing going on. They say they have two meals everyday, there are three bar, evenings there's satellite television, occasionally there is some ice hockey game on the open ice, if conditions allow us and a good thing about this is that people from many disciplines meet in the lounges, meet in the mess, talk to each other about the science and so the science is really evolving everyday as people speak to each other, talk about the samples, talk about their observations.

Kerri Smith: A bit of beer sampling going on alongside the scientific sampling they are collecting. Tell us a little bit about the latter of those, what kind of data are they specifically collecting here and what are they going to do with it.

Quirin Schiermeier: Well I guess 400 investigators were involved in the study, 50 of them are onboard at any given time, really sample everything you can even try to sample in such an environment from sea floor sediments to very physical properties of the sea ice to atmospheric gases like green house gases. These are the kinds of things that are sampled everyday and the idea of course is that the project is embedded in the large scale changes that we all know are going on in the Arctic.

Kerri Smith: What can the project tell us so far about the sort of hot topics that if you like that the sea ice loss, that kind of thing that we hear so much about in the media?

Quirin Schiermeier: Well we all had a chance to see how fast things are really changing in the Arctic and in particular when it comes to sea ice. It seems that this sea ice loss is accelerating with 2007 having been really dramatic sea ice loss; here some people say it was a catastrophic event. The big question is will we beat this record in 2008? It's not quite clear yet. Some scientists are actually starting to bet somewhere there, we'll be below the 2007 record in September this year, but people and scientists aboard can actually see these changes.

Adam Rutherford: Quirin Schiermeier ending that report by Kerri. You are listening to the Nature Podcast. Don't forget for your chance to win an iPod just complete our short survey about this show. Follow the links from

Charlotte Stoddart: Next up Geoff Brumfiel has been unravelling the story behind an ancient underwater extinction event.

Geoff Brumfiel: 95 million years ago something sucked oxygen out of the world's oceans. The result was a massive extinction of creatures living on the sea floor. Geologists suspected the culprit might have been under sea volcanoes, but they lacked a conclusive link. Now two marine geologists have used an isotope of the element Osmium to prove that a major eruption around the period was indeed behind the kill off. I spoke to Steven Turgeon at the University of Alberta in Canada to learn more. Nature 454, 323–326 (17 July 2008)

Steven C. Turgeon: Imagine a big swamp and there is no oxygen and therefore all the organic matter that's produced just does not decompose and accumulates at the bottom of the oceans and forms these, what we call black shale, so essentially sedimentary rocks with high organic matter content.

Geoff Brumfiel: When these events happen, I mean this does actually kill off things in the ocean or does it just prevent them from decaying properly.

Steven C. Turgeon: It is one of the characteristics; each oceanic and anoxic event is slightly different, but in each case there is an extinction event. Now it is not one of the big glorious events like for example Cretaceous Treasury Boundary that killed off the dinosaurs, it is typically more selective than that. For example oceanic anoxic event two selectively exterminated a lot of the shallow marine species at that time.

Geoff Brumfiel: And so what was the thing that would have caused it.

Steven C. Turgeon: Well people have come up with all kinds of explanations over years, but I think the most widely accepted theory at least, is that these were closely associated with the in-placement of large igneous provinces or LIPs and these were just big in most cases oceanic basaltic plateaus that erupted almost instantaneously or within a few tens of thousands of years.

Geoff Brumfiel: And so you're talking about an eruption that would literally be millions of square kilometres then, I mean, the entire plateau would go up.

Steven C. Turgeon: It would perhaps have gone up in stages, not all at once, but within a very short timeframe.

Geoff Brumfiel: So how have you linked these large igneous provinces, these LIPs, these big plateaus with the anoxic event because I think that's what you really managed to do with this paper, right?

Steven C. Turgeon: Absolutely and that's what was missing. What was missing was really a clear link in the sedimentary records, so what we've done is we've used a fairly novel isotope system the rhenium-osmium system and we've looked at particularly the osmium isotopes in sequences with containing black shale and from that we see a definitive shift in the numbers that we get from the osmium isotope what it shows from values that are what we call less radiogenic or more crustal, that means derived from the earth's crust to values definitely reflective of mantle processes.

Geoff Brumfiel: So you're basically seeing evidence that there was a lot of mantle in the ocean at that time and presumably it was coming from these LIPs, is that what's going on?

Steven C. Turgeon: Absolutely yes.

Geoff Brumfiel: I guess, you know, what's the next step in all this, I suppose is to understand how you could have these explosions of millions of square kilometres wide, right. That must be pretty big question on your mind at the moment.

Steven C. Turgeon: It is a pretty big question, but it's also question of oceanic dynamics. We are already pretty happy to have found this link at two different sites by the way. So we are pretty sure what's going on, but we have also found atleast at one site is that that the shifts from the crustal to the mantle isotopes in osmium happened just slightly before the actual oceanic anoxic event and that speaks a lot to oceanic dynamics at that time. Now what we presume about cretaceous oceans is that the ocean surfaces were very warm. There is evidence that oceanic surface temperatures were over 35 degrees in most places and the oceanic circulation wasn't quite as vigorous back then and now we have further indication that well may be we did have this magnetic pulse that came in but it didn't necessarily mix right away from bottom to top. So there is probably some stratification of the oceans and that took about 10 to 20 thousand years to break down and then we actually triggered this whole oceanic anoxic event. So there is still finer details, like what happened on a thousand-year scale or on a hundred-year scale that we still need to work out.

Charlotte Stoddart: Steven Turgeon at the University of Alberta there. You can find his paper along with all the other research featured on this show at

Adam Rutherford: Now it's over to Geneva for highlights from the meeting of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. Nature advance online publication 16 July 2008

Carl Petersen: One of the things that is becoming more and more apparent is how little we know about how the brain works.

Kerri Smith: It's with air of excitement rather than despair that neurophysiologist Carl Peterson makes this statement and that's the feeling that's widely shared by the other 5000 or so neuroscientists who descended on Geneva this week to showcase their work. More of the highlights in just a moment. But first we are staying with Carl Peterson who studies the brain's electrical activity at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne in Switzerland and who together with colleague James Poulet has published an article in Nature this week. They've been looking at the activity of groups of neurons as they go about their business where they act together and how they affect each other, almost like neuronosociology. I caught up with Carl after his talk on Monday and he explained the background. Nature advance online publication 16 July 2008

Carl Petersen: We have millions of neurons that form our brain and I think it is very clear that these neurons don't act, they speak to each other, they have connections, they have chemical transmission, electrical transmission between them and so they have to cooperate somehow and it is not clear whether there are very close correlations between nearby cells or whether individual cells behave very, very differently.

Kerri Smith: One reason why it's not clear is because neurons are a bit of a black box to work with. We can record the general activity of many of them using EEG monitors placed on a human head for example, or see what happens from outside a nerve cell by sticking an electrode in to the brain of a mouse.

Carl Petersen: But what we can't see is what's happening, going inside the cells, so we can't resolve with very high clarity what events are driving these action potentials and whether there may be other forms of simultaneous or synchronous activity inside nerve cells if we start looking with a higher resolution technique.

Kerri Smith: What's more to look for evidence of cooperation or synchrony between neurons? Recording from just one isn't enough. You need to look up pairs of cells doing this stuff in awake, moving animals, but this is a big job.

Carl Petersen: Technically these experiments are quite difficult and I mean the experiment James Poulet who carried out these recordings I think took on a great challenge, because even just recording from one cell in an awake, behaving animal is not so easy. We have, for the first time recorded the membrane potential of two cells and I mean if you tell this to most people this seems like it's something ridiculously simple that we ought to be recording from thousands or millions of cells but actually no one has ever done this before in an awake animal and so this is sort of quite strange and shows I think how basic our understanding of brain activity is.

Kerri Smith: So having got this tricky set up to work, Poulet and Peterson were able to record from two neurons in an area in the mouse brain that tracks whisker movements. Mice use their whiskers to explore their environment and when they come across something interesting they whisk them about, that's the technical term, to find out more. Do the neurons that control this have to act together to make it happen?

Carl Petersen: So when the animal was sitting quietly we had these slow oscillations where the membrane potential of two neurons that is sitting close to each other are almost identical so they move up and down the electrical field potential that's the membrane potential these cells is extremely highly correlated. Now when the animal begins to move its whiskers and this is something that happens very rapidly, so one second it is sitting quietly and the next second it starts moving its whiskers and during that time, the neurons become more independent and so the electrical fluctuations in these two cells become quite different.

Kerri Smith: From a calm state of synchrony then to this crazy independent pattern. Now the million dollar question why?

Carl Petersen: That's a great question and we would very much like to know the answer to that and in fact this is what James Poulet and I are now going on to study; that is to try to understand whether we could now get to at the level of molecules and synapses; what it is that is driving these state changes. We know a few things about it, we know that it is not information that's coming from the periphery; atleast not in terms of the whiskers; so we can inactivate the flow of sensory information from these whiskers or there predominantly to send sensory information to the brain, but if we cut the nerve then no sensory information comes from the periphery and we still get what we are thinking of as a brain state change, where we have a change in the synchrony of neurons and this does not seem to be affected by what's happening at the periphery. So somehow it is being generated internally inside the brain and we are now very excited in searching around different brain areas and different neurotransmitters that might be underlying the state change.

Kerri Smith: Carl Peterson there. These large science meetings can be tiring places and a lots of people here are relying on a few days of sleep depravation and doses of caffeine to keep them alert which may according to one poster presentation have opposite effects on how often false memories are generated. Sleep is thought to consolidate memories, but can often manipulate them as well. But what exactly during the remembering process are false ones made. I asked Susanne Diekelmann of the University of Lübeck who was presenting the poster. Published online 14 July 2008

Susanne Diekelmann: We didn't know exactly before when these false memories is generated and we suppose that they could be during the consolidation phase but there are also other theories that false memories could be generated at retrieval and resting. So that during retrieval you have to discriminate did I already see these words during learning or do I just falsely remember because they are associated to these words that I heard.

Kerri Smith: The team asked volunteers to learn lists of words, each list relating to a particular topic. They might learn the words white, dark, cat and night, all of which can be linked to the word black, but black itself would not be part of the list. They then tested their subject's memories after a night's sleep or a night spent awake. Those who've been deprived of sleep remembered more words falsely than those who had a night of slumber.

Susanne Diekelmann: Lot of subjects say, yes, these false, actually false words were represented before and they are absolutely sure and confident about it.

Kerri Smith: They are really convinced.

Susanne Diekelmann: They are absolutely convinced; they are even more convinced than on the real words sometimes.

Kerri Smith: I would see a lot of people at this conference, it's a tiring scenario, lot of us relying on caffeine to get through the days and that was one of your experiments as well, how did caffeine effect?

Susanne Diekelmann: This was a brilliant surprise because in our experiments we could confirm that if you actually look at sleep depravation and retrieval that makes false memories and so we suspect that that possibly caffeine could reduce this effect or abolish this effect and so we had two further groups that was sleep deprived for one night and the virtual testing was done in the morning and one group received placebo immediately or one hour before which we were testing and the other group who received caffeine and that was absolutely fantastic that this group that received caffeine had more than 10% less false memories than sleep deprived group with placebo.

Kerri Smith: Susanne Diekelmann there. If sleep loss does indeed cause people to falsely remember old things there are implications for situations that rely on memories being true, witness statements for example. Other implications of neuroscience research that's something that William Safire, Chairman of the Dana Foundation thinks need more attention.

William Safire: Any time you fiddle with the brain and you are fiddling with memory, you have to ask yourself what are we doing and is it the right thing to do and not only can it be done but is it the right thing to do. If you implant human cells in a mouse's brain and that leads to a changed brain then you implant some of those cells in a human brain, boy you're fiddling around with really basic stuff and now what's the time to ask those questions and not as the atomic scientists are found and not later when you certainly feel guilty.

Kerri Smith: A note of caution there but Safire also shares the general sense of excitement of what science is telling us about the brain.

William Safire: I was once invited to the Swedish embassy after the Nobel prizes were given out and I went there in Washington and I asked a question of the panel, if Albert Einstein were just starting out today 18 or 19 years old what field would he enter and the Nobel prize winner in physics said it's interesting about Einstein, he was not only a genius, he was a smart guy and if he were starting out today, he will probably be in the brain because some scientists are going to come up with a universal field theory of the brain that will put together all the great clues that we see now and really will be able to help people.

Charlotte Stoddart: William Safire ending that report by Kerri. Look out for the July episode of Neuropod for more on those stories from fans and more of related brain research that and all our other are at

Adam Rutherford: That's it from us. Next week all related science including poison, parasites, and catastrophe and the special report from China. This is the Nature Podcast. I'm Adam Rutherford.

Charlotte Stoddart: And I'm Charlotte Stoddart. Cheerio....


The Nature Podcast is sponsored by Bio-Rad, at the centre of scientific discovery for over 50 years. On the web at

End Advertisement