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Fossilized dinosaur proteins, and making a fridge from rubber bands

Science Podcast
closeup of a rubber band
Twila Cheeseborough/Flickr

Have you ever tried to scrub off the dark, tarlike residue on a grill? That tough stuff is made up of polymers—basically just byproducts of cooking—and it is so persistent that researchers have found similar molecules that have survived hundreds of millions of years. And these aren’t from cook fires. They are actually the byproducts of death and fossilization. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Gretchen Vogel about how these molecules can be found on the surface of certain fossils and used as fingerprints for the proteins that once dwelled in dinos.

And Sarah talks with Zunfeng Liu, a professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, about a new cooling technology based on a 100-year-old observation that a stretched rubber band is warm and a relaxed one is cool. It’s going to be hard to beat the 60% efficiency of compression-based refrigerators and air conditioning units, but Zunfeng and colleagues aim to try, with twists and coils that can cool water by 7°C when relaxed.

This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.

Ads on this week’s show: The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen

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[Image: Twila Cheeseborough/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]