Episode 33: Sweet and sour

By Peter Griffin 22/06/2012

A bumper edition this week of the Sciblogs podcast owing to the huge amount of interesting science news around the traps.

The last electric sports car?
The last electric sports car?

I kick off with my Science Media Centre colleagues John Kerr and Dacia Herbulock analysing what’s come out of the Rio20+ summit in Brazil – what have the world’s nation’s agreed on and is there any real potential to improve our performance on sustainability since we received a D- on our progress since the original summit in 1992? And what was the New Zealand delegating angling for in Rio – the multibillion dollar subsidies propping up unsustainable fisheries and fossil fuel subsidies was in their sights, but did the issue get any airplay?

We catch up with Ian Mirandah, the young lawyer who dropeed $100,000 on one of the last Telsa sports cars to be made. Elizabeth Yeaman fills us in on the unique characteristics New Zealand has that makes us especially suitable to electric cars, and Professor C.C Chang, the “grandfather” of the electric car outlines how New Zealand needs to aggregate demand with other small nations to get down the price of electric cars – which sell here at a 50 per cent premium compared to big markets like the US and Asia.

“Big Food” is in the gun this week with researchers in PLoS Medicine slamming the food and beverage industry for what they claim are cynical attempts to sell more fizzy drinks and junk food masquerading as social responsibility campaigns. Sciblogger and nutritionist Amanda Johnson joins us to discuss sugar – is it as evil and toxic as some public health advocates make out, and leading obesity expert Professor Jim Mann discusses whether its fair to compare Big Food’s tactics to that of Big Tobacco.

And we wrap up with Darwin Tunes, the crowd-sourced music evolution project that is giving researchers clues as to how music progresses based on the tastes of listeners.

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[audio: http://ia600505.us.archive.org/31/items/SciblogsPodcastEpisode33SweetAndSour/SciblogsPodcastEpisode33.mp3]

Show notes

Rio20+: rolling coverage at The Guardian

The Telegraph: Rio summit “destined to fail”

Electric cars – A Science Media Centre briefing featuring Professor C.C. Chang of Hong Kong University, Uniservice’s Will Charles and EECA’s Elizabeth Yeaman.

Coverage: Electric cars spark interest.

Tesla’s new sedan and a make or break play for the electric car maker

Big Food – the PLos paper ruffling feathers in the food and beverage industry and a round-up of expert commentary from the Science Media Centre.

The Age: With Darwin Tunes – who needs composers?

Darwin Tunes – evolving music by consumer choice