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Paper Boys

92 EpisodesProduced by Paper BoysWebsite

Each week, two PhD students read the research papers behind headline science news and give you the details you can't get in the stories.

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What happened to the mice of Universe 25? (BONUS EPISODE)

May 21st, 2020


What happens when you give a scientist, obsessed with biblical death, near unlimited control over a utopian city of mice? Well...a lot of death, it …

Is solar reflective pavement the cure for hot cities?

May 14th, 2020


As urban environments grow and natural vegetation gets replaced with concrete and asphalt, “Urban Heat Islands” develop, where urbanized areas retain much more heat than surrounding rural areas. The increased heat in …

What’s inside a Martian meteorite?

May 7th, 2020


Returning rock samples from planets and asteroids can provide new insights into how the solar system, the universe, and life formed. But how much can …

Is eating sugar a gut instinct?

April 30th, 2020


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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What happened in the Stanford Prison Experiment? (Bonus episode)

April 23rd, 2020


This week is a bit different - instead of a fresh episode, we are sharing one of our bonus episodes covering the Stanford Prison Experiment. Tune in …

Did Oumuamua come from a destroyed planet?

April 16th, 2020


Oumuamua is an interstellar object that passed through our solar system in late 2017. It originally made the news thanks to several scientists …

Does traffic spread like a virus?

April 9th, 2020


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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Why is Uranus losing its atmosphere?

April 2nd, 2020


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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Why do water balloons pop?

March 26th, 2020


Any kid can intuitively understand how much you need to fill a water balloon to effectively drench someone. But it turns out that predicting this quantitatively with physics is much more challenging! Join us James and …

How can we suppress COVID-19?

March 19th, 2020


The coronavirus, COVID-19, has been spreading around the world since it was first detected in December 2019. Since then, drastic measures have been taken in communities around the world to limit its spread. Recent …

Why do gray whales strand during solar storms?

March 12th, 2020


Gray whales have some of the longest migrations on the planet--between 10,000-12,000 miles long each year! Sadly, they often get stranded on beaches. As weird as it may sound, scientists have found that the whales are …

What has InSight discovered on Mars?

March 5th, 2020


Over a year ago we covered the challenges that NASA’s InSight lander overcame to land on Mars and begin performing the first detailed seismographic measurements of Mars. The InSight science team has just published the …

Can you stimulate consciousness?

February 27th, 2020


Consciousness is challenging to study. We interact with consciousness everyday, and yet there are still so many questions. Learning about how …

Why do extragalactic “fast radio bursts” repeat?

February 20th, 2020


Fast radio bursts are millisecond-long signals we detect coming from distant galaxies. They were only recently discovered in 2007 and we still have no clue what’s causing them. These radio bursts appear in short …

Do penguins speak like humans?

February 13th, 2020


It’s clear that birds can communicate. All you have to do is listen to their songs. But when they communicate, do their songs conform to the same linguistic laws as human speech? Join James and Charlie this week as they …

How should you talk to babies?

February 6th, 2020


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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How did Mount Vesuvius' victims die?

January 30th, 2020


In the year 79 A.D., the infamous Mt. Vesuvius transformed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum--as well as its residents. For a long time, …

How fast is the world's fastest spin?

January 23rd, 2020


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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Does tongue fat cause sleep apnea?

January 16th, 2020


It is estimated that sleep apnea affects nearly 1 billion worldwide. However, many of the mechanisms behind sleep apnea are still a mystery. New research has pointed to high levels of tongue fat as a primary factor …

What's OSIRIS-REx doing at asteroid Bennu?

January 9th, 2020


OSIRIS-REx is an exciting mission from NASA that seeks to return samples from asteroid Bennu back to Earth, providing insight into the original …

The best science of 2019

January 2nd, 2020


Join us this new year as we discuss the best science of 2019 that we never got to present on Paper Boys!

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Christmas special - Why do we believe in Santa?

December 24th, 2019


(WARNING: Do not listen with young children!!) For Christmas Eve, the Paper Boys tackle the everlasting mythos of Santa Claus. Why do parents encourage kids to believe? What reactions do kids have when they learn the …

Does Europa actually have water plumes?

December 19th, 2019


Jupiter’s moon Europa garners a lot of attention for its potential to house life, particularly thanks to what are predicted to be vast oceans beneath …

Why does Enceladus have “tiger stripes”?

December 12th, 2019


Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus is of great interest to scientists for its unique features and potential for life. Despite its far distance from the sun, a vast ocean exists under its surface, and geyser-like jets …

Is eating healthier better for the planet?

December 5th, 2019


Food has a big impact on the world. What we eat can drastically affect our health. It can also have major consequences for the environment. But is there any link between the health and environmental impacts of food? …

How does hibernation work genetically?

November 28th, 2019


With winter setting in, it’s easy to wonder why we humans can’t simply hibernate. How is it that animals like bears can simply bypass eating and drinking for such a long time? Join us this week as Charlie and James dive …

Is there a universal "bit rate" of speech?

November 21st, 2019


Certain languages have reputations for speaking faster. But, over the same amount of time do these languages actually convey more information than …

Can we save penguins from climate change?

November 14th, 2019


With their habitats heavily dependent on sea ice, Emperor penguins are extremely impacted by climate change in Antarctica. The 2015 Paris Climate agreement sought the commitment of nations to keep the global temperature …

Can lasers hack your voice devices?

November 7th, 2019


Cell phones, tablets, home assistants, and even cars are leveraging voice control technology to add convenience to our lives. But are our voice …

Did Google really achieve quantum supremacy?

October 31st, 2019


In a new paper in Nature, Google recently claimed that they achieved "quantum supremacy," or using a quantum computer to achieve a task that a …

Could Skin-On make your smartphone ticklish?

October 24th, 2019


Touch screens are ubiquitous in technology today. We’ve grown very accustomed to using our fingers to tap and swipe our way through most tasks. But …

Can physical exertion lead to mental burnout?

October 17th, 2019


Endurance athletes are used to pushing themselves; most people would give up if they attempted similar feats. Does this constant push towards …

Nobel Prize edition: what was the first exoplanet?

October 10th, 2019


The 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to three researchers whose work significantly advanced our understanding of the universe. Two of the researchers worked together to identify the first exoplanet in the …

Is Planet 9 actually a black hole?

October 3rd, 2019


Astronomers have noticed a strange clustering of objects orbiting our solar system very far from the sun. Their grouping suggests that there might be …

How is the "darkest black" created?

September 26th, 2019


The material Vantablack made headlines a few years ago as being the “blackest black” color ever known. People were shocked by how this color would …

What’s the difference between vegetarians and meat-eaters?

September 19th, 2019


Health studies continuously debate the pros and cons of different diets, particularly vegetarian diets vs. carnivorous diets. Will one type of diet …

Is intermittent fasting healthy?

September 12th, 2019


Talk of intermittent fasting has grown in the news. Some feel intermittent fasting is a new dieting fad, others claim that it’s an amazing technique to improve health and lose weight. But what does the research actually …

Can you find a supernova in Antarctic snow?

September 5th, 2019


Our planet is bombarded with tons of extraterrestrial dust every year. While much of the dust comes from asteroids, some of these particles may have come from supernovas - ancient stars that exploded nearly 20 million …

Are self-citations a problem for science?

August 29th, 2019


Tracking the productivity and impact of research has always been problematic. Especially in the highly competitive environment of today where hiring and promotions can be tied to a single performance metric such as …

How does an artificial tongue taste whiskey?

August 22nd, 2019


For the average person, the words used to describe whiskey can seem strange, if not completely arbitrary. Dignified vs. subtle, austere vs. rich, mouth-coatingly winey...the entire process of tasting feels extremely …

Can you hide secret messages in music?

August 15th, 2019


Check out the paper, news articles, and more at

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Do you really need 10,000 steps a day?

August 8th, 2019


Nearly everyone has heard the advice “walk 10,000 steps per day to be healthy!” As fitness trackers like FitBit have grown in popularity, many people …

How is Neuralink hacking the brain?

August 1st, 2019


News channels have been buzzing with the new press releases from Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company, Neuralink. The company hopes to …

Was Stonehenge built using pig fat?

July 25th, 2019


Stonehenge has puzzled people for centuries. What was the purpose of such a massive rock formation? And how were people able to move such large …

Can your brain see into the future?

July 18th, 2019


Recent research has sparked popular news headlines about the brain “seeing what’s around the corner.” Can your brain actually look around corners? …

How can you measure the expansion of the universe?

July 11th, 2019


In the early 20th century, Einstein, Hubble, and other scientists confirmed the universe was expanding. With the exception of a few nearby galaxies, nearly all galaxies are moving away from us. Scientists have long been …

Does caffeine make you burn fat?

July 4th, 2019


Most people don’t need an excuse to drink caffeine in the morning. Pick your poison: whether it’s coffee, tea, or an extra large Red Bull, caffeine’s …

Can seals learn to sing and talk?

June 27th, 2019


Researchers have long been puzzled about how human language evolved. Humans’ ability to create complex, flexible, spoken language stands out in the …

Is the Critical Brain Hypothesis correct?

June 20th, 2019


In the 1980s, neuroscientists put forth the Critical Brain Hypothesis, which suggests our brain operates on a teetering edge between different "phases" of operation. These phase changes characterize the way we think …

Does human endurance have a hard limit?

June 13th, 2019


Humans love to test their limits. Some people run marathons, race triathlons, or climb the world’s highest peaks. All of these endeavors are challenging, but can we quantitatively compare how each undertaking pushes the …

Did supernovae make us walk upright?

June 6th, 2019


Recent science news has been covering a paper drawing a connection between supernovae and the advent of human ancestors walking upright. The new headlines went viral, but their short titles made it hard to understand …

How deep does "bomb carbon" go?

May 30th, 2019


Nuclear weapons have obviously had a big impact on the world since their development more than 70 years ago. But new research on the diets of small crustaceans in the Mariana Trench--the deepest known point in the world …

Are synthetic genomes in our future?

May 23rd, 2019


A huge breakthrough of the last few decades is our ability to sequence genomes - pulling out the order of bases in our DNA to understand exactly what …

Are moonquakes reshaping the Moon?

May 16th, 2019


When people think of the moon, they often envision it as a cold, static body. However, when the Apollo moon missions landed on the moon’s surface, …

How bad is the Replication Crisis? feat. Ood Gallifrey from Occultae Veritatis

May 9th, 2019


The so-called Replication Crisis has plagued all areas of academia, and especially psychology, in the last few decades. The astonishing number of …

Is there a wrong side of the time zone?

May 2nd, 2019


Daylight Savings Time gets a bad rap every year when it's time to turn the clocks forward - it's bad for your health, it's bad for the economy...but DST has a friend no one warned you about: sunset time. Later sunsets …

Can you bring a dead brain back to life?

April 25th, 2019


Once an animal dies, there isn't much hope of bringing it back to life - especially when that animal is a slaughtered pig. There has been past research into brain activity after death, but the brain has to be …

Do mosquitoes hate Skrillex?

April 18th, 2019


Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on the planet (which we all know from Episode 10 of Paper Boys, of course!) so scientists are always looking for ways to stop their spread of diseases. Over the past several decades, …

How do you image a black hole?

April 11th, 2019


This week, the Event Horizon Telescope unveiled something truly groundbreaking - the first ever direct image of a black hole. The telescope …

Are eggs really bad for you?

April 4th, 2019


It's one of the most controversial topics in all of diet science: are eggs good or bad for you? It seems there are contradicting studies all the time - one day eggs are a superfood, the next day eggs will give you a …

Does space affect male and female astronauts differently?

March 28th, 2019


It's long been known that going to space can have negative effects on the health of astronauts. Space is a harsh environment with too much radiation …

Did F-words come from a change in diet?

March 21st, 2019


You may not realize it, but having an overbite makes it a lot easier to say words with "f" and "v" in them. Go ahead, bring your lower teeth forward and try saying an F-word (no, not that one) - it's noticeably harder. …

Why does pain hurt?

March 14th, 2019


When you touch a hot stove, you reflexively pull your hand away in an instant. If you get burned (and you're like us), you'll grunt and whine about …

Is Titan's organic atmosphere coming from inside?

March 7th, 2019


Titan is the only moon in the solar system that has an atmosphere, and its origin is still a hotly studied mystery. However, ESA's Rosetta mission …

How did tardigrades become immortal?

February 28th, 2019


It seems every few months, a news article pops up talking about the indestructible Tardigrade - otherwise known as the "water bear" or "moss piglet." These resilient little animals can survive radiation in space, …

Are female brains really "more youthful?"

February 21st, 2019


Some clues have indicated that female brains may stave off aging better than male brains, such as better cognitive ability later in life and longer life expectancies. However, the reason behind these observations …

Can you understand talking brain waves?

February 14th, 2019


Brain-computer interfaces promise to change everything about our lives in the future, but are still in their early infancy technology-wise. However, …

How did the Curiosity rover weigh a mountain on Mars?

February 7th, 2019


The Curiosity rover on Mars has some pretty amazing experiments aboard, but curiously enough never had a gravimeter, a device used for measuring the …

How can 3D printed filters improve chemotherapy?

January 31st, 2019


Even though it's our best way of fighting cancer today, chemotherapy can be extremely damaging to the human body. The drugs spread through your entire bloodstream just to target one small tumor. Scientists may have …

Why is the giant ice disk in Maine spinning?

January 24th, 2019


There's a giant ice disk hanging out in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine that's garnered international attention, and rightfully so - it's …

Can an LED control your nervous system?

January 17th, 2019


Optogenetics is a breakthrough technology that you may not have heard of. So what exactly is it and how might it change our future? James brings in …

Did Leonardo da Vinci have strabismus?

January 10th, 2019


When you look at Da Vinci's art, it's not hard to see why he's hailed as a genius. But he may have had a little trick up his sleeve that helped him see the world a little differently than most people, in the form of an …

How often did humans breed with Neanderthals?

January 3rd, 2019


It's long been known that many modern humans have around 2% Neanderthal in their DNA. However, scientists don't have an exact answer for how it got there. James brings in a paper that gets closer to an answer by …

Does negative mass explain dark matter?

December 27th, 2018


Cosmologists claim that all the matter we can see in the universe really only accounts for 5% of everything that's out there - the other 95% is …

How does an "ion plane" actually fly?

December 20th, 2018


Airplanes are responsible for 10% of the carbon footprint of the US. Recently the news reported on a new "ion plane" that could revolutionize the …

Did climate change cause the "Great Dying?"

December 13th, 2018


The worst mass extinction in known history happened 250 million years ago, wiping out an astonishing 96% of all marine life. Scientists have offered …

Could you prove you're human in one word?

December 6th, 2018


Hypothetical scenario: you and a robot are before a judge who cannot see you. You each must pick one word from the english dictionary to give to the judge. Based on these two words, the judge will decide who is human, …

How hard was the InSight Mars landing?

November 29th, 2018


It seems everyone and their mother watched the InSight lander touching down on Mars this past monday, and it was impossible to turn on the TV without hearing that the landing phase is a big challenge. But while the …

Is paralysis a thing of the past?

November 22nd, 2018


Most paralysis patients are told that if they can't regain the ability to walk in 6 months they will never walk again. Then how did three research …

Is Oumuamua an alien spacecraft?

November 15th, 2018


Last year, astronomers discovered a bizarre rock from outside our solar system zipping past Earth. This year, two researchers have made the …

Does cloud seeding work?

November 8th, 2018


What does a phytoplankton virus have to do with the annual snowfall at a ski resort? It turns out they're more related than you think! James brings in two papers on cloud seeding that explore the ways scientists have …

How many faces do you know?

November 1st, 2018


How many different people could you recognize if you passed them on the street? As it turns out, this is a question science had never answered until …

Should we kill all the mosquitoes?

October 25th, 2018


Did you know mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on Earth? (Neither did we!) With gene editing, it may be possible to eradicate these bugs that transmit diseases to humans...but is it a good idea to kill an entire …

Can we terraform Mars?

October 18th, 2018


From Carl Sagan to Elon Musk, people have discussed making Mars more like Earth through terraforming. But are we sure that Mars even has the ingredients we need to transform it? Charlie brings in a paper that may …

Can you hear meteors?

October 11th, 2018


When you wish upon a star, you'd be freaked out if you heard it falling. Witnesses reporting to hear the sound of meteors have been called crazy for centuries, but James brings in new research that may prove the …

Magnetic fields can blow up your lab

October 4th, 2018


Everyone knows about magnetic fields, but very few people know what they really are and what they're capable of. Charlie brings in a paper from an experiment that broke a magnetic field world record...and blew itself …

Are microwave weapons attacking the US embassy?

September 27th, 2018


US embassy workers abroad have been reporting strange sicknesses and hearing imaginary sounds, and news reports say that microwave weapons may be to blame. Listen as James uncovers the mind-blowing science behind these …

Can goats read your face?

September 20th, 2018


Next time you meet a goat, make sure you put your best face on...but be careful which side you're standing on. Find out why when Charlie unravels a …

Pollution is damaging your cognition

September 13th, 2018


Nobody likes pollution, but did you know it could actually harm your brain? James looks at a study on pollution in Chinese cities that will make you …

Saturn is whistling to Enceladus

September 6th, 2018


Want to know what a plasma wave from outer space sounds like? Well, it's kind of like whistling (or aliens, according to Nikola Tesla). Charlie …

How to find water on Mars

August 30th, 2018


When it comes to the search for life on other planets, scientists like to "follow the water." But finding water in the solar system is its own …

How do spiders fly?

August 30th, 2018


Do you know how spiders fly? (Who even knew spiders could fly?) Charlie brings in new research that turns two centuries of conventional wisdom on …

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