Download the Nature Podcast 23 August 2023

In this episode:

00:47 The brain-computer interfaces that help restore communication

People with certain neurological conditions can lose the ability to speak as a result of facial paralysis. This week, two teams demonstrate the potential of devices called brain-computer interfaces to help people in these situations communicate. These interfaces work by identifying the brain activity associated with the intent to say words, and converting this activity into speech-related outputs, such as text or audio. Both devices show marked improvements compared with previous interfaces, and show that the technology could represent a way to help restore communication to people with severe paralysis.

Research article: Metzger et al.

Research article: Willett et al.

News and Views: Brain implants that enable speech pass performance milestones

11:46 Research Highlights

How wind-tunnel experiments could help athletes run the fastest marathon ever, and an analysis that could help explain why birds are the colours they are.

Research Highlight: Physicists find a way to set a new marathon record

Research Highlight: Which birds are drab and which dazzle? Predators have a say

14:06 How much heat can tropical leaves take?

As the climate warms, tropical forests around the world are facing increasing temperatures. But it’s unknown how much the trees can endure before their leaves start to die. A team has combined multiple data sources to try and answer this question, and suggest that a warming of 3.9 °C would lead to many leaves reaching a tipping point at which photosynthesis breaks down. This scenario would likely cause significant damage to these ecosystems’ role in vital carbon storage and as homes to significant biodiversity.

Research article: Doughty et al.

21:01 Briefing Chat

This time, a reexamination of Ötzi the iceman’s DNA suggests he had a different appearance, and the failure of a Russian mission to the moon.

Nature News: Ötzi the Iceman has a new look: balding and dark-skinned

Nature News: Russian Moon lander crash — what happened, and what’s next?

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