04 February, 2015 – Episode 500 – This Week in Science


Asteroid Didn’t Kill Dinos?, Dusty Skies, Consistently Aphids, Polar Bear Penis Peril, Bisexual Beetles, Light Controlled Clock, Toxo Troubles, No More Noro?, Code Within Code, Evolutionary Proof, And Much More…

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Asteroid Didn’t Kill Dinos?
Computer simulations and engineered experiments allowed researchers to recreate the intense heat of the Chixiclub asteroid impact, and conclude that the heat was not enough to ignite fires around the globe and thus kill the dinosaurs. It’s more likely that the dust and debris in the atmosphere resulted in life-killing global cooling.

Dusty Skies
Results from the Planck observatory confirm that space dust influenced approximately half of the signal from the BICEP2 experiment, making the signal too faint to be significant. So, we have no evidence of cosmic inflation yet, or of gravitational waves, but the search continues as we have no reason to believe they do not exist.

Be brave or a coward, just be consistent.
As an aphid resisting demise via ladybird, the winning tactic is to always act the same, regardless if that involves running or hunkering down.

Polar Bear equipment suffering from pollution
Back in February 2013, we discovered that otter bacula in europe were shrinking due to pollution. Now, it appears to be affecting polar bears, as well, and it also appears to be the same chemicals to blame…

Homosexual behavior in beetles has a specific upside
Mostly that girls and boys are super hard to tell apart. When there aren’t many ladies around, it is a good strategy to mate with anyone and everyone. Beetles are bi.

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Light Controlled Clock
Using optogenetics, Vanderbilt University researchers have determined that firing rate in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is essential as an input to resetting the circadian clock rather than just an output effect of the system at work. This work suggests that targetting the firing of neurons in this brain area might be used as a treatment for jet-lag, shift-work, and other clock-related disorders.

No More Noro?
A type of plasma, ‘cold plasma’, typified by a lack of thermodynamic equilibrium that exists at room temperature, was shown to significantly reduce the numbers of norovirus particles in lab experiments. It is suggested that this could be a possible anti-microbial agent for use in restaurants and other places where people’s hands tend to wander. But, what does it do to good microbes?

Code Within Code
The code for viral assembly is surreptitiously packed within the RNA that codes for the virus itself, but researchers have finally cracked the riddle. This knowledge might allow the development of drugs to more effectively combat the common cold.

Toxo found in muskrats and minks
It’s spreading!!

No More Evo
A bacterial species that lives in the mud, has not evolved in about 2 billion years… proof that change is not always necessary.

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