2019 Comes To An End

December 10, 2019

It’s December, and time for our traditional End of Year show where we look back at some of the stories that we particularly liked. And this year we want to know what stories had an impact on you! Let us know in the comments if there was any news that we talked about (or didn’t talk about!) that you want us to cover. Or click the Record A Voice Message button on the side of the screen to leave a recording, we might even use it in the show!

Here are all the stories we covered this year…


More Evidence that Planet 9 is Really Out There

Space Station Celebrates ‘A New Era’ In Exploration With Arrival Of SpaceX Capsule

Mars One, the Plan to Make a Reality Show on Mars, is Bankrupt

What’s the benefit of sample return?

Hayabusa2 has touched down on Ryugu!

Mars ‘mole’ hits blockage in its burrow

There may be 50 billion free-floating planets in our galaxy

Titan’s thick atmosphere may come from cooked organic compounds

Could The Milky Way Be More Massive Than Andromeda?

Holy spitting space rocks: Asteroid Bennu is active!

Exploding stars didn’t cause human bipedalism

That Explains a Lot. The Moon’s Largest Crater has a Chunk of Metal Embedded in it That’s 5 Times Bigger than the Big Island of Hawaii

Astronomers See Evidence of Supermassive Black Holes Forming Directly in the Early Universe

Astronomers trace a mysterious radio burst to its source… 3.6 billion light years away!

X-rays spot spinning black holes across cosmic sea

A Glowing Clue in the Search for Alien Life

Boyajian’s Star: Could its bizarre behavior be due to an evaporating exomoon?

The day our galaxy exploded

Titan: first global map uncovers secrets of a potentially habitable moon of Saturn

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Unexplained Oxygen on Mars

Astronomers Detect Water Vapor Around Jupiter’s Moon Europa

When We Finally Find Aliens, They Might Smell Terrible

We’ve Found a Serious New Health Risk to Human Spaceflight

Our Solar System Might Have a Black Hole From the Dawn of the Universe


After the floods come the mosquitoes – but the disease risk is more difficult to predict

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

The World Shifts When a Black Widow Squats

Plants Can Hear Animals Using Their Flowers

Plants trained like dogs in research seeking to break new ground

Daughters of stressed meerkat moms more likely to help out

Koalas can learn to live the city life if we give them the trees and safe spaces they need

Where there’s a quill: CSI uses DNA to catch echidna smugglers

The Mysterious Case of the Two Frigid Fish

Bonobo Mothers Are Very Concerned About Their Sons’ Sex Lives

Plants are working hard to keep pace with increasing carbon dioxide

Dogs’ eyes evolve to appeal to humans

The Tiny Fish That Break a Fundamental Rule of Vertebrate Life

Spiders are threatened by climate change – and even the biggest arachnophobes should be worried

Mapping the mouse brain, a neuron at a time

Precious escargot: the mission to return tiny snails to Pacific islands

Eat your heart out: native water rats have worked out how to safely eat cane toads

If the shoo fits: cows painted with zebra stripes keep flies in line

Rats feel less stressed when driving little cars

Cows Need Friends to Be Happy

Scientists in the Amazon Have Recorded the World’s Loudest Bird. It Hits a Painful 125 Decibels

Medicine / Psychology

Gut bacteria may have impact on mental health, study says

The Special Sleep That Kicks In During a Sickness

Australian scientists have universal flu vaccine in their sights following breakthrough

The Twins That Are Neither Identical nor Fraternal

A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

This Woman Can Smell Parkinson’s. It Might Help Lead To Earlier Treatment

Four new DNA letters double life’s alphabet

The surgeon had a dilemma only a Nazi medical text could resolve

Whole-body PET scanner produces 3D images in seconds

This is why it’s a good idea to chat to the person next to you in line

Common Cold Virus Completely Eliminates Tumor In Patient With Bladder Cancer

Psychologists Have Identified The Creatures We Find Most Scary And Revolting

The songs our brains love most follow a science-backed recipe

Some people ‘genetically wired’ to avoid veg

Humans placed in suspended animation for the first time

Very Old Things

We found lapis lazuli hidden in ancient teeth – revealing the forgotten role of women in medieval arts

A Medieval Grape Is Still Used to Make Wine

Oldest human skull outside Africa identified as 210,000 years old

Tyrannosaurus rex had ‘air-con’ in its head

First signs found of humans conserving food

Bones of ape living 12m years ago point to genesis of upright walking

When Snakes Had Use for a Pair of Legs

Artificial Intelligence

Australian researchers just released the world’s first AI-developed vaccine and it could prevent another horror flu season

Google’s AI boosts accuracy of lung cancer diagnosis, study shows

Ancient ritual bundle contained multiple psychotropic plants

How an AI trained to read scientific papers could predict future discoveries

Myths / Bad Science Reporting

A Popular Benefit of Houseplants Is a Myth

Debunked: The absurd story about smartphones causing kids to sprout horns

A British Teenager is Blind, But Not Because of Junk Food or “Fussy Eating”

Why the Myth of Period Syncing Won’t Go Away

Everything Else

Polar express: magnetic north pole speeds towards Russia

How ‘F’ Sounds Might Break a Fundamental Rule of Linguistics

A New Lake Grows in Kilauea Caldera

An Energy Breakthrough Could Store Solar Power for Decades