Evolutionary Arms Race

evolutionary-arms-raceA closer look at the evolutionary arms race between humans and the microbes that make us sick. What does each side bring to the fight? Dr. Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University is a computational biologist who uses math and computers to look into the genomes of humans and infectious microbes to see how both humans and microbes are evolving. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s People of the Year in 2014 for her role in the fight against ebola.

Origin Stories| 29th April 2016

The Sugar Conspiracy

Illustration by Pete GamlenHow did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long? In 1972, a British scientist John Yudkin sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. “If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered.
Written by Ian Leslie, read by Lucy Scott and produced by Simon Barnard
Illustration by Pete Gamlen

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 22nd April 2016

Welcome to the Land That No Country Wants


In 2014, an American dad claimed a tiny parcel of African land to make his daughter a princess. But Jack Shenker had got there first – and learned that states and borders are volatile and delicate things. “Bir Tawil is the last truly unclaimed land on earth: a tiny sliver of Africa ruled by no state, inhabited by no permanent residents and governed by no laws. To get there, you have two choices. The first is to fly to the Sudanese capital Khartoum, charter a jeep, and follow the Shendi road hundreds of miles up to Abu Hamed, a settlement that dates back to the ancient kingdom of Kush. Today it serves as the region’s final permanent human outpost before the vast Nubian desert, twice the size of mainland Britain and almost completely barren, begins unfolding to the north.”

Written by Jack Shenker, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 1st April 2016