Benjamin Thompson is a host of Nature Podcast.
Rick Bright exposed former president Trump's political meddling in the US COVID response. Now he is championing a new privately funded initiative to track viral spread and combat new variants. We discuss the challenges of collecting data on a rapidly spreading virus, from transmission dynamics to genomic surveillance. We also ask why a veteran government scientist like Bright, the ex-director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, would take a new path in the private sector.News Q&A: Pandemic whistle-blower: we need a non-political way to track virusesNews: Why US coronavirus tracking can’t keep up with concerning variantsSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
In 2020, the artificial intelligence (AI) GPT-3 wowed the world with its ability to write fluent streams of text. Trained on billions of words from books, articles and websites, GPT-3 was the latest in a series of ‘large language model’ AIs that are used by companies around the world to improve search results, answer questions, or propose computer code.However, these large language model are not without their issues. Their training is based on the statistical relationships between the words and phrases, which can lead to them generating toxic or dangerous outputs.Preventing responses like these is a huge challenge for researchers, who are attempting to do so by addressing biases in training data, or by instilling these AIs with common-sense and moral judgement.This is an audio version of our feature: Robo-writers: the rise and risks of language-generating AI  See for privacy and opt-out information.
From a sore arm to anaphylaxis, a wide range of adverse events have been reported after people have received a COVID-19 vaccine. And yet it is unclear how many of these events are actually caused by the vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, reactions are mild and can be explained by the body's own immune response. But monitoring systems designed to track adverse events are catching much rarer but more serious events. Now scientists need to work out if they are causally liked to the vaccine, or are just statistical anomalies - and that is not an easy task.News: Why is it so hard to investigate the rare side effects of COVID vaccines?Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.Never miss an episode: Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app. Head here for the Nature Podcast RSS feed.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Laser-cooled antimatter opens up new physics experiments, and the staggering economic cost of invasive species.In this episode:00:44 Cooling antimatter with a laser focusAntimatter is annihilated whenever it interacts with regular matter, which makes it tough for physicists to investigate. Now though, a team at CERN have developed a way to trap and cool antihydrogen atoms using lasers, allowing them to better study its properties.Research Article: Baker et al.News and Views: Antimatter cooled by laser light09:27 Research HighlightsA dramatic increase in Arctic lightning strikes, and an acrobatic bunny helps researchers understand hopping.Research Highlight: Rising temperatures spark boom in Arctic lightningResearch Highlight: Rabbits that do ‘handstands’ help to find a gene for hopping11:53 Cost of invasionInvasive alien species are organisms that end up in places where they don’t really belong, usually as a result of human activity. These species can cause loss of biodiversity and a host of damage to their new environments. This week, researchers estimate that the economic impact of invasive species to be over US $1 trillion.Research Article: Diagne et al.19:04 Briefing ChatWe discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the physics that might explain how a ship blocked the Suez Canal, and a new insight into octopuses’ sleep patterns.The Financial Times: The bank effect and the big boat blocking the SuezScience: Octopuses, like humans, sleep in two stagesSubscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
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Los Angeles, California, USA
Episode Count
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1 week, 1 day
Podchaser Creator ID logo 033172