A podcast from The Conversation - on everything from the curious to the serious
The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.

Latest Episodes

'Futuring' can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You're a futurist too

‘Futuring’ can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You’re a futurist too. The Conversation, CC BY14.1 MB (download)

Editor's note: Today, on Trust Me, I'm An Expert, we hear from Clare Cooper, design lecturer at the University of Sydney, on how futuring techniques can help us think collectively about life under a drastically hotter climate. Her accompanying essay is below. Australians, no matter where we are, are coming to acknowledge that our summers – and our autumns, winters and springs – are forever changed…

1 Host: Clare M. Cooper

The Dish in Parkes is scanning the southern Milky Way, searching for alien signals

The Dish in Parkes is scanning the southern Milky Way, searching for alien signals. The Conversation50.7 MB (download)

For John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope, astronomy has been his life's passion – starting from the age of six. "When I was six years old, I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon," he says of the radio telescope made famous in the film The Dish. "In fact, on the cover of my year nine mathematics textbook was a painting of the Parkes radio telescope…

1 Host: John Sarkissian

'The size, the grandeur, the peacefulness of being in the dark': what it's like to study space at Siding Spring Observatory

‘The size, the grandeur, the peacefulness of being in the dark’: what it’s like to study space at Siding Spring Observatory. The Conversation, CC BY54.3 MB (download)

How did our galaxy form? How do galaxies evolve over time? Where did the Sun's lost siblings end up? Three hours north-east of Parkes lies a remote astronomical research facility, unpolluted by city lights, where researchers are collecting vast amounts of data in an effort to unlock some of the biggest questions about our Universe. Siding Spring Observatory, or SSO, is one of Australia's top sites…

4 Hosts: Daniel Zucker, Lee Spitler, Richard McDermid and 1 other

Antibiotic resistant superbugs kill 32 plane-loads of people a week. We can all help fight back

Antibiotic resistant superbugs kill 32 plane-loads of people a week. We can all help fight back. The Conversation, CC BY48 MB (download)

You might think antibiotic resistance is something to worry about in the distant future. But it’s already having a deadly impact today. The number of people dying globally every week from antibiotic resistant infections is equivalent to 32 Boeing 747s full of people. And if that sounds scary, the projections for the future are even scarier. On today's episode of Trust Me, I'm An Expert we ask you to…

2 Hosts: Allen Cheng and Laura Christine McCaughey

Nearly all your devices run on lithium batteries. Here's a Nobel Prizewinner on his part in their invention – and their future

Nearly all your devices run on lithium batteries. Here’s a Nobel Prizewinner on his part in their invention – and their future. The Conversation41.5 MB (download)

British-born scientist M. Stanley Whittingham, of Binghamton University, was one of three scientists who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing lithium-ion batteries. L-R: John Goodenough; Stanley Whittingham; Akira Yoshino, the three scientists who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year for their work developing lithium-ion batteries. Niklas Elmehed/Royal Swedish Acad…

2 Hosts: Mark Blaskovich and M. Stanley Whittingham

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: forensic entomology, or what bugs can tell police about when someone died

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: forensic entomology, or what bugs can tell police about when someone died. The Conversation, CC BY58.8 MB (download)

A few episodes ago, we heard from forensic scientists at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) -- that’s the official name for what, in books and movies, they would call a body farm. It’s there, at a secret bushland site, researchers are making some surprising discoveries about how donated human bodies decompose in Australian conditions. One of the researchers there is…

2 Hosts: James F Wallman and Maiken Ueland

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to

What science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to. The Conversation, CC BY49.3 MB (download)

Everywhere you turn these days, there's a diet ad, or family member or friend raving about some new diet that apparently works wonders. But what does the research actually say about how to lose weight - and if you even need to lose it in the first place? To find out, The Conversation's Alexandra Hansen interviewed Clare Collins, a professor in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle…

1 Host: Clare Collins

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Queensland still mystifies too many politicians but its needs are surprisingly simple

Queensland still mystifies too many politicians but its needs are surprisingly simple. The Conversation119 MB (download)

The dust has well and truly settled on Scott Morrison's surprise victory in this year's federal election but opinion is still divided on exactly what happened in Queensland. Why did Labor perform so poorly in the Sunshine State? Is Queensland an inherently conservative part of Australia? During the campaign, were southern-born politicians talking about a state they essentially didn't understand? And…

2 Hosts: Anne Tiernan and John Cole

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: Why the Hong Kong protesters feel they have nothing to lose

Why the Hong Kong protesters feel they have ‘nothing to lose’ The Conversation29.5 MB (download)

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people again took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest against the government – the 11th straight weekend of demonstrations that began in June over a proposed extradition bill. But after more than two months of increasingly violent clashes between demonstrators and the police, this protest was peaceful. No tear gas was fired. China expert Graeme Smith, one of…

1 Host: Graeme Smith

What's the next 'giant leap' for humankind in space? We asked 3 space experts

What’s the next ‘giant leap’ for humankind in space? We asked 3 space experts. The Conversation, CC BY27.3 MB (download)

You've probably heard that this week marks 50 years since humans first set foot on the Moon -- a feat that still boggles the mind given the limitations of technology at the time and the global effort required to pull it off. If you're as fascinated as we are about the history and future of space exploration, check out The Conversation podcast, To the moon and beyond, a five-part podcast series from…

3 Hosts: Belinda Nicholson, Jonti Horner, and Katarina Miljkovic

'This is going to affect how we determine time since death': how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science

‘This is going to affect how we determine time since death’: how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science. The Conversation, CC BY77.2 MB (download)

On the outskirts of Sydney, in a secret bushland location, lies what's officially known as the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER). In books and movies, it'd be called a body farm. Maiken Ueland at the AFTER facility run by UTS. Supplied by UTS, Author provided Taphonomy is the study of how an organism breaks down after death. Research underway at the University of Technology…

2 Hosts: Maiken Ueland and Samara Garrett-Rickman

'People felt totally trapped': what it's like to be a pensioner renting privately as Australia's housing costs soar

‘People felt totally trapped’: what it’s like to be a pensioner renting privately as Australia’s housing costs soar. The Conversation, CC BY39 MB (download)

A growing number of older Australians don't own their homes. And whether they are private renters or live in social housing can make a big difference to their risk of loneliness and anxiety. That's the key finding of research led by Alan Morris, a professor at the UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance, who interviewed older Australians about how their housing situation may relate to the loneliness…

1 Host: Alan Morris

India election 2019: millions of Indian youth are underemployed and going to the polls

India election 2019: millions of Indian youth are underemployed and going to the polls. The Conversation, CC BY64.4 MB (download)

Here's an astonishingly large number. Around 900 million Indians are heading to the polls to decide if they want to reelect the current government of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). India Tomorrow is a seven-part podcast series by The Anthill (produced by The Conversation UK), exploring some of the major issues facing India – identity politics, the rise of Hindu…

1 Host: Craig Jeffrey

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever. The Conversation, CC BY69.6 MB (download)

Today, Trust Me, I'm An Expert brings you a special episode carried across from another Conversation podcast, Essays On Air. In the north-east corner of Australia's most populous state of New South Wales is a small former dairying and banana farming community. Today, however, that village is unrecognisable. Nimbin is now widely acknowledged as Australia's counter-cultural capital, a sister city to…

1 Host: Jeanti St Clair

'Labor will win this election. I think that's virtually unquestionable': political scientist Andy Marks on #AusVotes2019 and the key issues in NSW

‘Labor will win this election. I think that’s virtually unquestionable’: political scientist Andy Marks on #AusVotes2019 and the key issues in NSW. The Conversation, CC BY34 MB (download)

We are but a few weeks from a federal election, and the way the wind is blowing may depend on what state you're in. Trust Me, I'm An Expert – along with Politics with Michelle Grattan – is bringing you state-focused podcast episodes as polling day approaches. To catch up on all the political drama unfolding in NSW, I spoke to political scientist (and self-described political tragic) Andy Marks, who…

1 Host: Andy Marks

The myth of 'the Queensland voter', Australia's trust deficit, and the path to Indigenous recognition

The myth of ‘the Queensland voter’, Australia’s trust deficit, and the path to Indigenous recognition. The Conversation122 MB (download)

Today we're bringing you a special discussion about the federal election that took place at the launch of a book of Conversation essays, Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country. Recorded at Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane on April 17, the discussion featured Indigenous academic lawyer Eddie Synot from Griffith University and Griffith’s Dean of Engagement, Professor Anne Tiernan. Eddie Synot…

2 Hosts: Anne Tiernan and Eddie Synot

Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe

Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe. The Conversation71.5 MB (download)

Reader advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article may contain images of people who have died. A few years ago, the State Library of NSW was working with Moree's Dhiiyaan Centre to pull together archival photographs of the 1965 Freedom Rides, an Aboriginal-led protest against racist segregationist policies in NSW. Moree -- where Aboriginal people were once banned…

1 Host: Kirsten Thorpe

PODCAST: Michelle Grattan, Peter Martin and Tim Colebatch on the election-eve budget chock full of sweeteners

Michelle Grattan, Peter Martin and Tim Colebatch on the election-eve budget chock full of sweeteners. The Conversation27.4 MB (download)

Today's federal budget, as predicted, was chock full of sweeteners designed to woo voters on the eve of what promises to be a bitterly fought election. We've got loads of analysis and at-a-glance graphics over here but if you're just looking for the short, sharp version -- what was announced, who's affected, what it all means as polling day approaches -- you're in the right place. Today on Trust Me…

2 Hosts: Michelle Grattan and Peter Martin

It's your money they're spending in this election-eve budget. Here's how we're covering the story

It’s your money they’re spending in this election-eve budget. Here’s how we’re covering the story. The Conversation5.73 MB (download)

Next Tuesday night is budget night, and it's happening on the eve of a federal election where the Coalition is in for the fight of its life to hold onto government. The Conversation's team of editors and experts will be in the budget lockup at parliament house next Tuesday, where they'll have early access to what the government plans to do with our money this year. Read more: Expect tax cuts and an…

1 Host: Sunanda Creagh

Mark Latham in the upper house? A Coalition minority government? The NSW election is nearly upon us and it's going to be a wild ride

Mark Latham in the upper house? A Coalition minority government? The NSW election is nearly upon us, and it’s going to be a wild ride.

We are but weeks away from an election in New South Wales – polling day is on March 23 – and it will be eagerly watched. Not just for the outcome but for the implications for the looming federal election. That's according to Dr Andy Marks, a political scientist from Western Sydney University, who tells us on the podcast today that this state election outcome may give us some clues on how some global…

1 Host: Andy Marks

'I think we should be very concerned': A cyber crime expert on this week's hack and what needs to happen next

‘I think we should be very concerned’: A cybercrime expert on this week’s hack and what needs to happen next. The Conversation38.8 MB (download)

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week that a "sophisticated state actor" had targeted the big Australian political parties in a major cyber attack, the revelation threw up more questions than answers. Who did it and how? What data did they get their hands on? How vulnerable is our data -- and our democracy? Read more: We've been hacked – so will the data be weaponised to influence…

1 Host: Nigel Phair

A refugee law expert on a week of 'reckless' rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims

A refugee law expert on a week of ‘reckless’ rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims. The Conversation44 MB (download)

Today, we're bringing you a special episode of our podcast Trust Me, I'm An Expert for anyone wondering: what the hell happened this week? A sitting government lost a vote on the floor of parliament (which hasn't happened in decades) over a bill that aims to facilitate medical transfers from Manus and Nauru. (You can hear the MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for that legislation, give her…

1 Host: Daniel Ghezelbash

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: how to spot the work of a political spin doctor this election season

How to spot the work of a political spin doctor this election season. The Conversation, CC BY77.6 MB (download)

It’s February, the holidays seem like a distant memory and here we are barrelling toward a federal election, which the government has indicated will be in May. Remember in the olden days -- as in, a few elections ago -- we used to have a fairly set election campaign period of usually about six weeks? Now, of course, politicians seem to always be in campaign mode. They’re not doing that all by themselves…

3 Hosts: Caroline Fisher, Fabrizio Carmignani, and Michelle Grattan

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: What research says about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions

What research says about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. The Conversation, CC BY82.9 MB (download)

It’s that time of year when we all start to make promises to ourselves about how this year it’ll be different. This is the year I’ll get my health in order, exercise more, save money, cut that bad habit, do more of this, less of that, and just be better. But the fact is, change is hard. Most of us need help. So, we found some. Today, experts who have researched this terrain will be sharing with us…

2 Hosts: Amanda Salis and Lisa A Williams

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: the science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness

The science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness. The Conversation, CC BY52.8 MB (download)

How did you sleep last night? If you had anything other than eight interrupted hours of peaceful, restful sleep then guess what? It's not that bad -- it's actually pretty normal. We recently asked five sleep researchers if everyone needs eight hours of sleep a night and they all said no, you don't. Read more: Does everyone need eight hours of sleep? We asked five experts In fact, only about one quarter…

2 Hosts: Melinda Jackson and Roger Wilkins