Twice a week, the Guardian brings you the latest science and environment news.
Is TikTok giving people Tourette’s Syndrome?
Clinicians around the world have noticed an increase in young adults, often women, developing ‘tic-like behaviours’ – sudden movements or vocalisations similar to what’s seen in Tourette Syndrome. Except these tics come on much later in life, and escalate more rapidly. Some have blamed the recent rise on social media – but the reality is much more complicated. Madeleine Finlay talks to Guardian reporter Sirin Kale and research psychologist Dr Seonaid Anderson about the young people experiencing this debilitating disorder, and what can be done about it.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Covid-19: how worried should we be about Omicron?
Last week, a new variant of Covid-19 was detected by scientists in South Africa. Since then, additional cases have been reported beyond southern Africa, including Belgium, Canada, Israel, Australia and the UK. And with the WHO warning that the Omicron variant poses a very high global risk, scientists around the world are scrambling to uncover clues about its transmissibility and how effective the current coronavirus vaccines will be against it. To find out what we do know about Omicron and what it could mean for the coming weeks and months, Madeleine Finlay spoke to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample. This podcast was amended on 30 Nov 2021. An earlier version incorrectly claimed that Covid cases in South Africa had reached around 6,000 per day. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Do lobsters have feelings? – podcast
Last week the UK government confirmed it would be extending its animal welfare (sentience) bill to include decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish), and cephalopods (such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish). The move followed a government-commissioned review of the scientific evidence, which found strong evidence that cephalopods and decapods do have feelings. Madeleine Finlay spoke to Dr Jonathan Birch, who led the review, to ask what it means for lobsters to have feelings, and what difference it should make to how we treat – and eat – them. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Astronaut Chris Hadfield on life in space
Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space, became commander of the International Space Station, and became a viral sensation after covering Bowie like no one else. He speaks to the Guardian’s science editor, Ian Sample, about life as an astronaut, the new race to the moon and his new novel, The Apollo Murders.. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Inside Delhi’s air pollution crisis
Over the past few weeks, a thick brown smog has enveloped Delhi. The pollution is so bad that the capital and surrounding states have shut schools and imposed work-from-home orders. Toxic air at levels 20 times higher than those deemed healthy by the World Health Organization has become a seasonal occurrence in India, causing about 1.6 million premature deaths every year. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Guardian South Asia correspondent Hannah Ellis-Peterson and environmental researcher Karthik Ganesan about what it is like to live with poisonous air – and what needs to be done. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod
Why does Covid-19 make things smell disgusting?
Growing numbers of people catching coronavirus are experiencing an unpleasant distortion of smells. Scientists are still unsure what causes this often distressing condition, known as parosmia, where previously enjoyable aromas trigger feelings of disgust. Madeleine Finlay talks to science correspondent Linda Geddes about her own parosmia, and chemist Dr Jane Parker discusses research into why the smell of coffee seems to be a trigger for so many people. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod