24 February, 2016 – Episode 555 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Rapidly Rising Waters, Cutting Out HIV, Probiotics For Cancer, Mama’s Little Helper, Fear for Forests, Dodo Brains, Climate For Change, Tracking Sleep Genes, Spider Webs!, And Much More!

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!
The history of humans on the earth is has been mostly written by humans with little knowledge of human history…
It’s not that our human historians have been lax in their duties,
it’s just that the subject matter predates most serious interest in the subject…
Adding to the problem, we have spotty record keeping,
A lack of written language for most of our history makes it nearly impossible to know the voice of the ancient ancestors…
And those that discovered the written word along the way, seemed to know very little of their own histories… and while the recording of current events became standard fair…
the past was invented as though a to fill a vacuum caused by the present, with frightful, fanciful and full on fantasy visions of a history… that could not have been further from the truth…
Day one of human history is also a difficult thing to put into context
and could have posed a problem even with a written language…
Would a Homo habilis historian covering Homo habilis history continue the work once Homo erectus arrived?
Or merely write… the end.
145 years ago today…
Charles Darwin published Decent of Man…
In it he considered whether humans,
like all the species he considered in Origin of the Species, are descended from an earlier form…
how it may have evolved and whether human racial differences are anything but natural selection…
And, if he were alive today, how much would he have enjoyed listening to
This week In Science…
Coming up Next!

Rapidly Rising Waters
Four papers in PNAS this week based both on computer models and actual data of historical changes conclude that sea level rise is the fastest it’s been in the past 2000 years.

Cutting Out HIV
Molecular scissors are being delevloped to specifically cut HIV out of infected human cells. It’s not CRISPR, but in this case it’s even better.

How probiotics can beat cancer
Good bugs make compounds that influence inflammation, and lead to better gut health.

“Hey mom and dad, do you mind if I crash at home for a few months?”
Bluebird boys that live with their parents an extra year may fair better in life. Should we hide this from the college seniors?

Fear is an important part of being a wild animal
Without large carnivores, ecosystem balance is thrown out of whack. This isn’t just because they aren’t eating, it is also because their prey gets comfortable and lazy.

The dodo wasn’t such a dodo after all…
Turns out it had a fairly average sized brain for a bird of its stature, and a very large olfactory bulb.

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Climate Change and Wealth Redistribution
Without proper assessment and planning, many natural resources will be squandered as they shift to new regions due to the effects of climate change.

Tracking Sleep Genes
The PER3 gene was found to be linked to sleep cycles, and possibly seasonal affective disorder, providing a possible molecular connection between sleep disorders and mood.

Penguin feathers could give us great new technology!
Snow proof stuff!

Toxoplasma Skepticism
A recent study found no evidence of human behavior changes with T. gondii infection.

Spider Webs!
A genetic analysis determined that the web came first in orb spinning spiders, but that ground hunting led to species diversification.

Homoeopathy Farce
Buy TWIS brand homeopathic vodka! You are sure to not ge drunk!

World Robot Domination!
Boston Dynamics is at it again.

Laminate Flooring?
Watch out for formaldehyde! The CDC has been underestimating safety because of a scientific units error. D’oh!

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.