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

250 years since Captain Cook landed in Australia, it's time to acknowledge the violence of first encounters

250 years since Captain Cook landed in Australia, it’s time to acknowledge the violence of first encounters. The Conversation, CC BY63 MB (download)

Captain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We're asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series here and an interactive here. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners should be aware the podcast accompanying this story contains the names of people who are deceased…

1 Host: Kate Darian-Smith

An honest reckoning with Captain Cook's legacy won't heal things overnight. But it's a start

An honest reckoning with Captain Cook’s legacy won’t heal things overnight. But it’s a start. The Conversation41.4 MB (download)

Captain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We're asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series here and an interactive here. Editor's note: This is an edited transcript of an interview with John Maynard for our podcast Trust Me, I'm An Expert. Aboriginal and Torres Strait…

1 Host: John Maynard

Childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, 75+: how your diet should change with each stage of life

Childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, 75+: how your diet should change with each stage of life. The Conversation, CC BY56.6 MB (download)

In today's episode, Clare Collins, a Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle, explains how our diets might need to change depending on what stage of life we're in. The Conversation's Phoebe Roth started by asking: what should kids be eating and how much should parents worry about children eating vegetables? An edited transcript is below. New to podcasts? Everything you need…

1 Host: Clare Collins

What does the coronavirus pandemic sound like? The voices of people struggling, secluding and surviving around the world

What does the coronavirus pandemic sound like? The voices of people struggling, secluding and surviving around the world.

What does the COVID-19 pandemic sound like? For this episode, Dallas Rogers – a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney – asked academic colleagues from all over the world to open up the voice recorder on their phones and record a two minute report from the field about their city. Many of those who responded to the call are struggling, just like…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Miles Herbert

Coronavirus and COVID-19: your questions answered by virus experts

Coronavirus and COVID-19: your questions answered by virus experts. The Conversation90.3 MB (download)

What do you need to know about COVID-19 and coronavirus? We asked our readers for their top questions and sought answers from two of Australia's leading virus and vaccine experts. Today's podcast episode features Professor Michael Wallach and Dr Lisa Sedger – both from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney – answering questions from you, our readers. An edited transcript…

2 Hosts: Lisa Sedger and Michael Wallach

We asked astronomers: are we alone in the Universe? The answer was surprisingly consistent

We asked astronomers: are we alone in the Universe? The answer was surprisingly consistent. The Conversation33.5 MB (download)

Are we alone in the Universe? The expert opinion on that, it turns out, is surprisingly consistent. "Is there other life in the Universe? I would say: probably," Daniel Zucker, Associate Professor of astronomy at Macquarie University, tells astrophysics student and The Conversation's editorial intern Antonio Tarquinio on today's podcast episode. "I think that we will discover life outside of Earth…

6 Hosts: Daniel Zucker, Danny C Price, John Sarkissian and 3 other

More than 70% of the Universe is made of 'dark energy', the mysterious stuff even stranger than dark matter

More than 70% of the Universe is made of ‘dark energy’, the mysterious stuff even stranger than dark matter. The Conversation17.1 MB (download)

You've heard of dark matter. You've probably heard there's a fair bit of it out there in space, and that astronomers don't know for sure what it is. But, strange as dark matter is, there's an even more mysterious thing out there in the Universe – and quite a lot of it. Dark energy, believed to be responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe, makes up the vast majority of space…

3 Hosts: Daniel Zucker, Orsola De Marco, and Sarah Caddy

'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