Listen to the latest from the world of science, with Nick Petrić Howe and Shamini Bundell.

In this episode:

00:46 Uncovering the origins of the Black Death

The Black Death is estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 60% of the population of Europe. However, despite extensive research, the origin of this wave of disease has remained unclear. Now, by using a combination of techniques, a team have identified a potential starting point in modern day Kyrgyzstan.

Research article: Spyrou et al.

06:57 Research Highlights

The cocktails of toxins produced by wriggling ribbon worms, and a tiny thermometer the size of a grain of sand.

Research Highlight: A poisonous shield, a potent venom: these worms mean business

Research Highlight: Mighty mini-thermometer detects tiny temperature changes

09:22 Researchers race to understand monkeypox

Around the world, there have been a number of outbreaks of monkeypox, a viral disease that has rarely been seen in countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Although infection numbers are small, researchers are racing to find out what’s driving these outbreaks and the best way to contain them. We get an update on the situation, and the questions scientists are trying to answer.

Nature News: Monkeypox vaccination begins — can the global outbreaks be contained?

19:20 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, doubts over claims that a Google chat bot has become sentient, and the automated cloud labs that let researchers perform experiments remotely.

New Scientist: Has Google's LaMDA artificial intelligence really achieved sentience?

The Washington Post: The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life

Nature News: Cloud labs: where robots do the research

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