Listen to the latest science news, with Shamini Bundell and Nick Petrić Howe.

In this episode:

00:47 How to make quantum computers ready for real world applications

Quantum computers have long held the promise of being able to perform tasks that classical computers can’t. However, despite this promise, there have been few applications that can only be accomplished by a quantum computer. Now though, researchers show that a quantum computer can resolve a physics problem concerning the orientation of quantum particles in a 2D material, which is difficult to accomplish with a ‘regular’ machine. They hope that this shows how quantum computers could be applied in real world research applications in the near future.

Nature News: IBM quantum computer passes calculation milestone

Research article: Kim et al.

News and Views: Quantum computer scales up by mitigating errors

10:11 Research Highlights

How some bacteria turned their defences into weapons, and a forecast of how quickly arctic sea ice will disappear.

Research Highlight: Cholera bacteria turn slime into an offensive weapon

Research Highlight: The Arctic could go ice-free in less than a decade

12:45 How psychedelics might work in the brain

Psychedelics are a group of drugs that affect perceptions of consciousness, and are of increasing interest in the treatment of conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. However, a lot is unknown about how they affect the brain. Now, researchers have shown that these varied drugs may have a shared mechanism: making the brain more able to forge new connections between synapses. They hope that this will inform how best to use psychedelics in treatments.

Research article: Nardou et al.

News and Views: Timing is key for behavioural benefits of psychedelics

20:17 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time a study showing that the energy drink additive taurine increases the lifespans of several animals, and how much reformatting research papers is costing science.

Nature News: Taurine supplement makes animals live longer — what it means for people is unclear

Nature News: Revealed: the millions of dollars in time wasted making papers fit journal guidelines

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