26 December, 2013 – Episode 444 – This Week in Science

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It’s our end of year countdown show! What were the top science stories of 2013? We will count and recount them for you. Not just 10 of them, but the top 11 stories!

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
This Week in Science… coming up next

Number 11! – Science and Policy
The US Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring genes are not patentable.
US sequester cuts and shutdown limit science.

Number 10! – Microbes
A new weight loss method was achieved in chubby mice simply by having their gut microbes switched with those of skinnier mice.
Subglacial Antarctic Lake Vostok, which has been buried in ice for around 15 million years showed signs of life. Samples of the lake’s water obtained by deep drilling Russian’s discovered DNA from over 3,000 tiny organisms.
Scientists sequence the genomes of 201 microbe species.
Researchers have used a human gut microbe to reverse autism-like symptoms in mice.
LSU researchers discovered that microbes unfrozen after 750,000 years, did so because even though all bodily functions had ceased… active dna repair continued to keep things from falling apart
Our bodies are mostly microbes.

Number 9! – Animal Intelligence
Scientists report that dolphins have unique names, which they respond to like humans and dogs.
The first evidence of whisper-like behavior in non-human primates was observed.
Crocodiles use tools to lure in their prey.

Number 8! – Climate Change
A reconstruction of the global temperature record since the end of the last Ice Age based on 73 sites around the world confirmed that the 20th and 21st centuries have warmed with unprecedented speed.
Carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere reached 400ppm for the first time.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Working Group I’s summary for policymakers was released, finding a 95% probability that humans are the root cause of global warming.

Number 7! – Physics
CERN scientists confirm the Higgs boson.
The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”.
An extremely rare particle decay event suggests supersymmetry models might not be right. But, measurements of the B meson hinted at new physics beyond the Standard Model.
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility in California produced more energy from a fusion reaction than the fuel used to ignite it.
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory confirmed the first observation of very high energy neutrinos from outside our Solar System.

Number 6! – You Have no Control
Epigenetic effects were shown to propagate the memory of a fearful experience at least two generations down a mouse family tree.
Your brain makes decisions way before you think you have consciously made it. Scientists have found that unconscious brain activity can predict a person’s decisions, seconds before they are even aware of having made a choice.
Spooky brain action at a distance… cross campus finger twitching made the news.
Toxoplasmosis will get you, with or without a puddy tat. Oocysts have been found in otters simply swimming in the water which means toxo may be in our WATER SUPPLY!!
Data shows that a latent Toxo infection, which is assumed to affect the dopaminergic system, can lead to paradoxical improvement in human cognitive control processes.

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Number 5! – Fight against aging
Genetic modification of aging blood cells strengthened the immune systems of elderly mice.
Resveratrol improved the health and longevity of mice.
In separate studies, researchers extended the lifespans of mice by 20%: First by blocking a protein known as NF-kB that is secreted by the hypothalamus, and again by reducing the action of the gene called mTor.
The lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans was extended by five-fold, the equivalent of extending a human life to 400–500 years of age.
Harvard Medical School researchers rejuvenated muscle tissues in two year old mice to a mitochondrial state akin to a six-month old.

JUSTIN – Number 4! – Meteors, comets, exoplanets, NewSpace
Astronomers announced the discovery of seven new exocomets, which were discovered using the McDonald Observatory.
New observations of the asteroid 99942 Apophis suggest that it will not strike the Earth in 2036.
A massive (10-ton) meteorite impacted the Earth in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
The 130,000 ton asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within 17,000 miles of the Earth’s surface.
Scientists announced the discovery of the first known meteorite from Mercury.
Using infrared photography, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer discovered 28 asteroid families through the asteroid belt, as well as a large number of formerly concealed and unclassified asteroids.
The near-Earth asteroid 1998 QE2, which is passing 3.6 million miles away from the Earth, was reported to have its own moon.
The comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) passed roughly 1,100,000 kilometres (680,000 miles) above the Sun’s surface. Though it was highly anticipated that the comet would be visible to the naked eye on Earth once it orbited the sun,[623][624] it became increasingly evident that it had vaporized as it made its approach. Hours after it passed behind the sun, a part of the comet re-emerged, though significantly smaller. Over the next 24 hours, it too, faded.
Deep Space Industries announced plans to mine asteroids for precious metals starting in 2015.
Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully conducts its maiden flight of the Antares rocket.
Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipTwo hybrid space-plane successfully conducted its first rocket-powered flight.
Orbital Sciences launched and docked the first Cygnus spacecraft with the International Space Station.
China’s Chang’e 3 rover, Jade Rabbit, landed successfully on the moon.
KOI-172.02, an Earth-like exoplanet candidate orbiting within the habitable zone of a star similar to the Sun, was announced.
IT was calculated that 6% of all dwarf stars might host Earthlike planets.
Three new Earthlike exoplanets were discovered orbiting within the habitable zones of their host stars, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f, and Kepler-69c. Three more potentially Earthlike exoplanets were discovered orbiting a single star in the Gliese 667 system.
We have evidence of water in the atmospheres of five distant exoplanets: HD 209458b, XO-1b, WASP-12b,WASP-17b and WASP-19b.
NASA announced that Voyager I has officially left the Solar System. We are interstellar!
Caltech astronomers reported that planetary systems may be normal around stars in our galaxy. And, according to astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics there are “at least 17 billion” Earth-sized exoplanets in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The most distant, 10 billion light years, known supernova was discovered by Hubble.
The all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background was released by the Planck mission, suggesting the universe is a little older than previously thought.
Mars

Number 3! – Medicine

Number 2! – Brains

Number 1!!! – Human evolution

Honorable mention for horrific sex:
1st place to:
Hermaphroditic slug sex involving stabbing one-another in the head at climax.

2nd place to:
Suicidal marsupial sex punctuated with a 14-hour sex spree.

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