Science Weekly

The Guardian

Twice a week, the Guardian brings you the latest science and environment news

  • 16 minutes 15 seconds
    In their prime: how trillions of cicadas pop up right on time
    Right now, across much of the midwestern and eastern US, trillions of cicadas are crawling out from the soil. And this year is extra special, because two broods are erupting from the ground at once. The first brood hasn’t been seen for 13 years, the other for 17 years and the last time they emerged together Thomas Jefferson was president. Ian Sample speaks to entomologist Dr Gene Kritsky to find out what’s going on, why periodical cicadas emerge in cycles of prime numbers and how they keep time underground. Help support our independent journalism at
    21 May 2024, 4:00 am
  • 16 minutes 46 seconds
    AI, algorithms and apps: can dating be boiled down to a science?
    Last week the founder of the dating app Bumble forecasted a near future dating landscape where AI ‘dating concierges’ filter out prospective partners for us. But does AI, or even science, really understand what makes two people compatible? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Amie Gordon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, to find out what we know about why two people go the distance, and why she and her colleague associate professor of sociology Elizabeth Bruch, are designing their own dating app to learn more.. Help support our independent journalism at
    16 May 2024, 4:01 am
  • 15 minutes 29 seconds
    Backstabbing, bluffing and playing dead: has AI learned to deceive?
    As AI systems have grown in sophistication, so has their capacity for deception, according to a new analysis from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr Peter Park, an AI existential safety researcher at MIT and author of the research, tells Ian Sample about the different examples of deception he uncovered, and why they will be so difficult to tackle as long as AI remains a black box. Help support our independent journalism at
    14 May 2024, 4:00 am
  • 15 minutes 17 seconds
    How much protein is too much?
    Sales of cottage cheese are booming thanks to a boost from protein-hungry social media influencers. But do we really need all this extra protein? Madeleine Finlay speaks to Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, to find out what exactly protein is doing in our bodies, and what happens to it when we consume it in excess. Help support our independent journalism at
    9 May 2024, 4:00 am
  • 16 minutes 19 seconds
    Why are the world’s cities sinking?
    A study has found that more than two dozen US coastal cities are sinking by more than 2mm a year. It’s a similar picture across the world. Nearly half of China’s major cities, as well as places such as Tehran and Jakarta, are facing similar problems. These issues are compounded by sea level rises caused by global heating. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Manoochehr Shirzaei of Virginia Tech University and Prof Robert Nicholls of the University of East Anglia to find out what’s making our cities sink and whether anything can be done to rescue them from the sea. Help support our independent journalism at
    7 May 2024, 4:00 am
  • 13 minutes 15 seconds
    The extraordinary promise of personalised cancer vaccines
    Glioblastomas are an extremely aggressive type of brain tumour, which is why the news this week of a vaccine that has shown promise in fighting them is so exciting. And this comes right off the back of the announcement of another trial of the world’s first personalised mRNA vaccine for melanoma, a kind of skin cancer. Ian Sample talks to Prof Alan Melcher of the Institute of Cancer Research about how these vaccines work and whether they could one day be used to target cancer before it is even detectable on scans. Help support our independent journalism at
    2 May 2024, 4:00 am
  • 15 minutes 56 seconds
    The stream of plastic pollution: could a global treaty help us turn off the tap?
    Guardian Seascapes reporter Karen McVeigh tells Madeleine Finlay about a recent trip to the Galápagos Islands, where mounds of plastic waste are washing up and causing problems for endemic species. Tackling this kind of waste and the overproduction of plastic were the topics on the table in Ottawa this week, as countries met to negotiate a global plastics treaty. But is progress too slow to address this pervasive problem?. Help support our independent journalism at
    30 April 2024, 4:00 am
  • 15 minutes 5 seconds
    From birds, to cattle, to … us? Could bird flu be the next pandemic?
    As bird flu is confirmed in 33 cattle herds across eight US states, Ian Sample talks to virologist Dr Ed Hutchinson of Glasgow University about why this development has taken scientists by surprise, and how prepared we are for the possibility it might start spreading among humans. Help support our independent journalism at
    25 April 2024, 4:00 am
  • 20 minutes 5 seconds
    Hardwired to eat: what can our dogs teach us about obesity?
    Labradors are known for being greedy dogs, and now scientists have come up with a theory about the genetic factors that might be behind their behaviour. Science correspondent and flat-coated retriever owner Nicola Davis visits Cambridge University to meet Dr Eleanor Raffan and Prof Giles Yeo to find out how understanding this pathway could help us treat the obesity crisis in humans. Help support our independent journalism at
    23 April 2024, 5:18 am
  • 16 minutes 41 seconds
    Who really wins if the Enhanced Games go ahead?
    Billed as a rival to the Olympic Games, the Enhanced Games, set to take place in 2025, is a sporting event with a difference; athletes will be allowed to dope. Ian Sample talks to chief sports writer Barney Ronay about where the idea came from and how it’s being sold as an anti-establishment underdog, and to Dr Peter Angell about what these usually banned substances are, and what they could do to athletes’ bodies. Help support our independent journalism at
    18 April 2024, 4:00 am
  • 16 minutes 16 seconds
    Soundscape ecology: a window into a disappearing world
    What can sound tell us about nature loss? Guardian biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston tells Madeleine Finlay about her visit to Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, where ecologist Richard Broughton has witnessed the decline of the marsh tit population over 22 years, and has heard the impact on the wood’s soundscape. As species lose their habitats across the world, pioneering soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause has argued that if we listen closely, nature can tell us everything we need to know about our impact on the planet. Help support our independent journalism at
    16 April 2024, 4:00 am
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