The science behind an 'uncrushable' beetle’s exoskeleton

The structure of a beetle’s super-strong exoskeleton could open up new engineering applications, and efforts to address diversity and equality imbalances in academia.

In this episode:

01:17 Insights into an armoured insect

The diabolical ironclad beetle has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being run over by a car. Researchers have identified how the structure of the exoskeleton provides this strength, and show that mimicking it may lead to improved aerospace components.

Research Article: Rivera et al.News and Views: Diabolical ironclad beetles inspire tougher joints for engineering applications

10:42 Coronapod

This week, the UK government announced plans to run a ‘human challenge trial’, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We talk about the process, the ethical and procedural hurdles, and whether such an approach will provide any useful data.

News: Dozens to be deliberately infected with coronavirus in UK ‘human challenge’ trials

22:46 Research Highlights

A method to assess the age of RNA, and how southern elephant seals helped to identify supercooled seawater.

Research article: Rodriques et al.; Research article: Haumann et al.

25:20 Efforts to address equity in science

Julie Posselt has been investigating the efforts of academic institutions to assess ingrained imbalances in diversity and equality. We talk to her about these efforts and her new book on the subject.

Book review: How to get more women and people of colour into graduate school — and keep them there

31:43 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, back pay for female professors at Princeton, and a newly uncovered superpower for the tiny tardigrade.

CNN: Princeton will pay nearly $1M in back pay to female professors in sweeping discrimination settlementScience: New species of water bear uses fluorescent ‘shield’ to survive lethal UV radiation


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