Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Science Weekly podcast will now explore some of the crucial scientific questions about Covid-19. Led by its usual hosts Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis, as well as the Guardian's health editor Sarah Boseley, we’ll be taking questions – some sent by you – to experts on the frontline of the global outbreak. Send us your questions here: theguardian.com/covid19questions
Did an ancient magnetic pole flip change life on Earth? – podcast
What would it be like if the Earth’s magnetic pole switched? Migrating animals and hikers would certainly need to reset their compasses, but could it play real havoc with life on Earth? Analysing the rings of an ancient tree pulled from a bog in New Zealand, researchers have been investigating what happened the last time north and south flipped – 42,000 years ago. Nicola Davis speaks to Prof Chris Turney about how it changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and, if combined with a period of lower solar activity, what impact this could have had on the environment and evolution. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Why do humans struggle to think of ourselves as animals?
The pandemic has demonstrated why humans are ultimately an impressive species. From monitoring the genetic evolution of Sars-CoV-2 to devising vaccines in record time, we have put our minds together to reduce the impact of Covid-19. Yet, the global spread of a new disease is a reminder that we are not invincible, and remain at the mercy of our biology and the natural world. Speaking to author Melanie Challenger about her new book How to Be Animal, Madeleine Finlay asks how we can come to terms with ourselves as animals and why it might do humanity some good. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Covid-19: why mix and match vaccines?
The Com-Cov trial run by the Oxford Vaccine Group in the UK will be testing the efficacy and safety of a ‘mix and match’ approach to immunisation. By giving some participants either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and a second dose of the other, the trial aims to find out if combining different jabs offers sufficient protection. Sarah Boseley speaks to Dr Peter English about where this technique has been used in the past, why it could be beneficial, and how mixing vaccines actually works. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Covid-19: love in lockdown
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and for many couples this year will feel very different. Lockdowns, social distancing, and self-isolation have forced those in relationships to choose whether to be together all the time, or stay apart for potentially months on end. Linda Geddes speaks to Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez about how couples have navigated their relationships during the pandemic. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
What can the evolutionary history of turtles tell us about their future?
Turtles have been around for more than 200m years, and can be found almost everywhere on the planet. Yet, they are surprisingly uniform and many species around today are facing an uncertain future – at risk from trade, habitat destruction and the climate crisis. Looking at a new study investigating the evolutionary history of turtles, Age of Extinction reporter Phoebe Weston talks to Prof Bob Thomson about what his work can tell us about the factors shaping their diversity and how we can support turtles’ dwindling numbers. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
From the archive: what's it like to live without smell?
For many people infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the first sign of contracting the disease is a loss of smell and taste; something we reported on last May. Studies have now shown that months later an unlucky minority will still be lacking these senses – while for others they may have returned somewhat distorted. While scientists try to fathom what exactly causes this and what treatments could help, we return to the archives to explore what it’s like to live without a sense of smell. The episode was part of a special series from the Guardian called Brain waves exploring the science and emotion of our everyday lives. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
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