Saying farewell to Insight, connecting the microbiome and the brain, and a book on agriculture in Africa

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Published May 26, 2022, 6:00 PM

What we learned from a seismometer on Mars, why it’s so difficult to understand the relationship between our microbes and our brains, and the first in our series of books on the science of food and agriculture

First up this week, freelance space journalist Jonathan O’Callaghan  joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the retirement of NASA’s Mars InSight lander. After almost 4 years of measuring quakes on the surface of the Red Planet, the  lander’s solar panels are getting too dusty to continue providing power. O'Callaghan  and Crespi look back at the insights  that InSight has given us about Mars’s interior, and they talk about where else in the Solar System it might make sense to place a seismometer.

Also this week, we have a special issue on the body’s microbiome beyond the gut. As part of the special issue, John Cryan, principal investigator at APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, wrote a commentary piece  on tightening the connections research has made between microbes and the brain—the steps needed to go from seeing connections to understanding how the microbiome might be tweaked to change what’s happening in the brain.

Finally this week, we have the first installment of our series of author interviews  on the science of food and agriculture. In this inaugural segment, host and science journalist Angela Saini talks to Ousmane Badiane, an expert on agricultural policy and development in Africa, and a co-author of Food For All In Africa: Sustainable Intensification for African Farmers, a 2019 book looking at the possibilities and reality of sustainable intensive farming in Africa.

This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

[Illustration: Hannah Agosta; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

[alt: overlapping drawings of microbial populations]

Authors: Sarah Crespi; Jonathan O’Callaghan; Angela Saini

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