Big Haply Family

IN THE LAST 20 years, genealogy websites have attracted more than 15 million customers by promising insights into your past. It’s deeply personal, affecting stuff. But when your family tree contains thousands, millions, even tens of millions of people, it’s no longer a personal history. It’s human history. Recently, scientists from the New York Genome Center, Columbia, MIT, and Harvard scraped crowdsourced public records into family trees the size of small nations. Their analysis, which was published today in Science, includes the single largest known family tree, containing 13 million people. Your cousins Jeff and Anthony discuss this story.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Deja View

Most of us know it – that weird, sudden feeling of experiencing something not for the first time. It’s called déjà vu – French for “already seen” – and it’s an uncanny feeling. But according to new research, that’s all it is. Just a feeling. The most accepted explanation is that it has to do with memory. Much like a word can be on the tip of your tongue, a memory could be on the tip of your mind – there, but not quite accessible. Jeff and Anthony think they might have done this story before.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Passing the Sniff Test

A dog searching for a lost child is typically given an item of clothing to smell. But what does that scent “look” like? To find out, scientists tested 48 dogs, half of which had special police or rescue training. Jeff and Anthony discuss whether or not this study stinks.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Special Aged

It’s pretty extraordinary for people in their 80s and 90s to keep the same sharp memory as someone several decades younger, and now scientists are peeking into the brains of these “superagers” to uncover their secret. The work is the flip side of the disappointing hunt for new drugs to fight or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Parts of the brain shrink with age, one of the reasons why most people experience a gradual slowing of at least some types of memory late in life, even if they avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s. But it turns out that superagers’ brains aren’t shrinking nearly as fast as their peers’.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Black Hole Fun

If you ever fell into a black hole, your body would most likely be ripped into shreds and become ‘spaghettified’ – At least that’s the theory put forward by most physicists today. But a new study is challenging that claim by suggesting there may be some black holes that you could survive – although doing so may put you into a strange reality. These black holes would destroy your past life and trap you in a parallel universe with an infinite number of possible futures. Jeff and Anthony weigh their options.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Nowhere You Are

In a triumph of data collection and analysis, a team of researchers based at Oxford University has built the tools necessary to calculate how far any dot on a map is from a city — or anything else. The research allows us to pin down a question that has long evaded serious answers: Where is the middle of nowhere?  More Details/Download MP3 →


Bio Shock Intimate

When Josiah Zayner watched a biotech CEO drop his pants at a biohacking conference and inject himself with an untested herpes treatment, he realized things had gone off the rails. Zayner is no stranger to stunts in biohacking—loosely defined as experiments, often on the self, that take place outside of traditional lab spaces. Most notoriously, he injected his arm with DNA encoding for CRISPR that could theoretically enhance his muscles—in between taking swigs of Scotch at a live-streamed event. So when Zayner saw Ascendance Biomedical’s CEO injecting himself on a live-stream earlier this month, you might say there was an uneasy flicker of recognition.  More Details/Download MP3 →

ski page

Olympic Meddle

Elizabeth Swaney is a 33-year-old skier from Oakland, California who competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics for Hungary. She is not a good skiier. Swaney, who said her grandparents came from Hungary, earned her Olympic berth more from attending World Cup events than actually competing. Women’s pipe skiing World Cups rarely see more than 30 competitors, so it’s not hard to meet the Olympic requirement for a top-30 finish. Jeff and Anthony go back and forth on this one.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Supple Built Skin

Biomedicine just took another leap forward. University of Colorado Boulder scientists created so-called electronic skin—e-skin for short. The e-skin is a thin, semi-transparent material that can act like your skin through measuring temperature, pressure, humidity and air flow. The new material, which was detailed in a study published Friday in Science Advances, could make better prosthetics, improve the safety of robots in the future and aid development of other biomedical devices. Jeff and Anthony feel this story out.  More Details/Download MP3 →