Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 24th Apr 2010

Archaeogenetics - The Past in Our Genes

Artists Impression of 'Inuk' (c) Nuka Godfredsen

We explore the marriage of archaeology and genetics in this week's Naked Scientists, finding out how modern genetic techniques are helping to reveal more about our past.  We ask what archaeogenetics can tell us about human origins and migration as well as the diseases that evolved alongside us.  We explore the genome of a 4000 year old man, which tells us he had dry earwax!  Also, new data that could help to predict the Asian monsoon, why dreams help you to remember and how it feels to be a pill - after you've been swallowed.  Plus, why many of us might have a little bit of Neanderthal in our genes!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:30 - Predicting the Asian Monsoon

    Researchers this week have presented, for the first time, a record of Asian Monsoon data stretching over 700 years. The Asian Monsoon affects nearly five billion people each year but it involves a huge weather system and it’s very hard to predict how it will change each year. Un...

  • 02:54 - Sleep on it – and dream about it – to remember it

    Have you ever found that the advice to “sleep on it” turns out to be true, whether it's solving a problem or trying to learn something? We've known for some time that sleep helps us to remember things, by helping the brain to file away and strengthen memories. Now new research f...

  • 05:50 - Following the squeeze on pills

    This week researchers in an international team from Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the US have managed to measure the forces felt by a small pill as it travels through the intestines.

  • 07:29 - Stretching the limits of stem cells

    Stem cells research is a really exciting area of science, and one we often cover on the show. Now new research published in the journal Nature reports an important step forward in our understanding of stem cells, and how we might be able to use them in the future.

  • 10:23 - The Neanderthal in your Genes

    A new genetic analysis of nearly 2,000 people from all over the globe suggests that our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals over at least two different periods. Professor Jeffrey Long, from the University of New Mexico, explains more...

  • 15:55 - What is Archaeogenetics?

    Colin Renfrew explains how genetics can be used to learn more about our ancestry...

  • 25:21 - Understanding the Past with Ancient Pathogens

    Helen Donoghue explains how analysing bacteria from ancient fossils can help us learn more about the evolution of disease and human migration...

  • 32:40 - DNA Profiling an Ancient Person

    As well as following the way populations have changed and migrated, we can use modern genetic techniques to really get to know an individual body as long as it’s preserved well enough. Professor Eske Willerslev and his team were able to sequence the genome of a 4000 year old ma...

  • 48:55 - How Old is My Grandmother?

    We have a great grandmother, but we're not sure exactly how old she is. According to the Home Affairs, she was born in 1902. We strongly believe that this is not the accurate age. How can we accurately establish in which year she was born?



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