03 February, 2016 – Episode 552 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

February 4th, 2016

Interview w/ Daniel Hummer re: The Carbon Mineral Challenge, CRISPR Alert!, Giving Babies Cooties, Let’s Go Renewable!, Not Peak Ocean, Safer X-Rays, Corvids-R-Smart, Disruptive Climate, Chubby Kitchens, And Much More!

Take our audience survey!!!

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!
The whirling dervishes of modern media have been spinning
and transfixing the attention of millions for so long
that for most Americans
It is quite possible that if it isn’t on television
or in the trending news section of an on the line browser portal…
it might as well not exist.
And we here at this week in science get that…
We understand that we could reach a greater audience with cat videos…
We know there is a huge audience for diet, beauty, and sports team ball tips…
Which new gadget has more mega whatsits or pixie floops?
How can I invest with confidence while not knowing anything about what goes on at the companies I’m investing in? Ah, there’s somebody in a suit saying xyz corp has a potential liquidity upside based on it’s initial earnings loss increase…
I guess I’ll bet my 401k on that pony…
We could do these sorts of shows, we simply choose not to.
Because to us, it’s worse than simply not as interesting or informative as
This Week In Science…
Coming up Next.

A British scientist has been given governmental permission to edit genes in human blastocycsts in order to study genetic control of human development.

Giving Babies Cooties
Researchers smeared babies delivered by C-section with vaginal secretions from their moms. When compared to the microbiomes of vaginally-delivered babies, the C-section microbiomes appeared almost normal. This suggests a proof of concept that could be fine-tuned for use in hospitals.

Let’s Go Renewable!
A recent analysis suggests that the US could massively reduce its CO2 emissions in just 15 years by improving energy transmission and expanding renewables.

Not at Peak Ocean… yet
North Atlantic doubles carbon intake

It’s OK, Superman won’t give you cancer…
X-Rays are safer than you think.

Support us on Patreon!

Interview w/ Dr. Daniel Hummer
Daniel Hummer (Carnegie Institution of Washington, USA) preparing equipment at one of the beamlines at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SSRL (in Menlo Park, California, USA) to conduct an experiment crystallizing titanium oxide minerals.

Did you know that we are missing some minerals? 145 carbon minerals to be exact, and the Deep Carbon Observatory is challenging amateur and professional rock-hounds alike to search for them. Dan Hummer is with us tonight to talk about this Carbon Mineral Challenge

This week in Corvids R Smart!
Ravens can sense when the opportunity for spying is available, whether or not there is another bird present. This brings consciousness in birds to a whole new level. You may never watch Hitchcock the same again!

Changing Climate, Changing Animal World
Disrupting bird nest rituals
Spreading diseases year-round to your pets

Out With Old
Using a drug to induce the removal of senescent cells in mice expanded that mouse lifespans by 35%. The next question is whether the method will work in humans.

Newest Diet Trick?
Clean your kitchen! A cluttered kitchen could make you fat!

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


27 January, 2016 – Episode 551 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

January 29th, 2016

Alzheimer’s Seeds?, CRISPR Update!, Computer Beats Man, Little Crumpled Balls, Weird Bird Navgation, Big Mammal Brains, No Striped Camo, Appalachian Dino, Consciousness In Balance, Genes For Scizophrenia, Hedgehogs For Teeth, And Much More!!!

Take our audience survey!!!

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!
Just a few days from now America will begin voting in the final candidates for the 2016 election…
And as with every US election, the fate of the world hangs in the balance…
It matters who will win this election…
How they lead will steer the course of our domestic spending,
our foreign involvements,
and will likely confirm two or more Supreme Court Justices
who will leave their mark upon the laws of the nation for generations to come…
But why would any of this matter to the world of science?
Science is neither progressive nor is it conservative…
Science does not involve itself in matters of ideology…
Science is just science…
It deals with matters of evidence
and is does not take heed of public opinion
nor care if it defies supernatural belief in its results…
One does not poll a population to find a popular position in science.
You follow the scientific method to a result…
and the result becomes popular by its reliable reproduction.
So without delving into the political sphere too far,
If there is a politician or political ideology that seems determined
To talk past science as one might disagree with an ideological point of view…
Be ware… wary… way wary even…
For the enemy of science… is the enemy of reality…
and what they would have you accept in its absence
Is nothing like what you are about to hear on this week in science…
Coming up next.

Alzheimer’s Seeds?
A recent reports adds evidence to the idea that alzheimer’s disease might be transmissable in certain situations.

CRISPR Update!
Scientists have used CRISPR-CAS9 to repair retinal stem cells with a defect for retinitis pigmetosa. The cells could potentially be transplanted back into the same patient to treat the disease.

Computer Beats Man
The game of Go is considered the most complex in the world with over 10e171 possible board positions. Last October, the AI called AlphaGo created by Google DeepMind beat the European Go champion, a feat considered at least a decade away. What does this mean for the future of AI?

Increasing oil’s performance with crumpled graphene balls
Using a novel method to form graphene sheets into a ball structure led scientists to create a new kind of lubricant that could help reduce friction in engines.

The magnetic field thickens, as does the plot?
Birds may be affected by polarized light when guiding their way via magnetic fields

Is bigger better?
It might be if you are talking mammalian brains…

Zebra stripes: revealed!
There is new evidence that the stripes do not give any extra camouflage from predators. Time to rewrite those textbooks!

Support us on Patreon!

Research team identifies rare dinosaur from Appalachia
And, Justin is shocked by ancient ocean splitting North America in two.

Consciousness In Balance
By looking at brain activity of individuals as they slipped out of consciousness, researchers are able to say that consciousness emerges with neural connectedness.

Genes For Schizophrenia
A massive study using genetic information from more than 65,000 people has determined that a gene called C4, which is involved in synaptic pruning, conveys the most risk of schizophrenia development.

Hedgehogs For Teeth
The bacterial populations from the surface of teeth have been mapped, and they work together beautifully.

The line between cold and warm-blooded is wearing thin
Tegus can raise ther body temp and keep it up during mating season, even without extra food or sunlight. A mystery’s afoot!

Fertile Faces
Women with high estrogen levels were more likely to pick pictures of ovulating women as potential man stealers.

Blue Origin Again!
Blue Origin reflew its reusable booster rocket, and again successfully landed it vertically.

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


20 January, 2016 – Episode 550 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

January 22nd, 2016

CRISPR Alert, Planet 9?, Memory Boost, Falcon Meal Plans, Ant Architecture, Squirrel Appreciation, Algae Brain Damage, 2015 Wuz Hot!, Snake Deodorant, Dissolvable Implant, And Much More!

Take our audience survey!!!

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!

The stories on tonight’s show came from… the INTERNET! But how did they get there???

15 years ago, if I needed to research squirrels, I would have to go to the library, or reference my wall of encyclopedias, or perhaps, I could pop in my Britannica CD-ROM.

What’s a CD-ROM, you ask? What’s Encyclopedia Britannica? Don’t ask me, go find the wiki!

I can say that today, because on January 15, 2001, Wikipedia was founded. Some may say it is not always accurate, others may say it needs a governing body to approve edits. Yet more may claim it has made our brains weak and lazy.

But I say a crowd-sourced, publicly funded, free encyclopedia at the tip of our fingertips is a great thing. It means that if I use a word, or reference an animal, that you don’t know, you can look it up, join the conversation, and get informed. It means that all it takes is an internet connection to have access to a wealth of information. It means that the playing field is just a bit more level for all of us seeking knowledge. It means that a science podcast and their Doctor in charge are a citable organization with a record on file. And it means that you don’t have to be paying into some conglomerate’s pocket to get out the truth.

Sure, that also means that silly things sometimes make their way onto the web, but enough Wikipedians are on the case to correct errors or spoofs. That being said, please, please, please don’t cite wikipedia in your essay for school, and we in return, will make sure our stories are the real deal, too. And we’ll be looking back at you for all of eternity, from the wiki page titled…

This Week in Science… coming up next!

It’s CRISPR’s history making news this week. Eric Lander of MIT published a history of the gene-editing system, which while a fabulous tale of the efforts of scientists from around the world also appears to have some glaring bias. Namely, to highlight the work of MIT and the Broad Institute who are vying for patent rights.

Planet 9?
Astronomers from Cal Tech say they have found a 9th planet. They haven’t seen it yet, but measurements suggest that it’s some 20 to 100 billion milles out there.

Memory Boost
Turns out our brains might be capable of more than a petabyte of memory storage.

Are falcons keeping small birds hostage for a later meal?
We’re not sure. Anecdotal evidence reports birds that have been plucked and crippled, trapped in crevaces, and this may have all been done by a falcon to keep their future meal “fresh.” If so, wow… Brutal…

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day! Now RUN IN FEAR
Squirrels are excellent problem solvers, but there are many variations in abilities and tactics among them.

Ants leave blueprints out for their coworkers
As ants build a nest, they deposit pheromones as they construct to leave instructions for their fellow worker ants. Now that’s teamwork!

Support us on Patreon!

Algae Brain Damage
An amino acid-like toxin produced by blue-green algae called BMAA was showed to cause neurdegeneration in vervet monkeys, conclusively linking this environmental component to dementia.

Pregnant? Don’t Travel Here
14 countries have been put on the CDC’s travel warning list for pregnant women due to viral outbreaks of a mosquito-borne disease called Zika that causes microcephaly.

2015 Wuz Hot!
Hottest year on record, and 2016 looks to be a scorcher as well.

Puff adders have figured out how to camouflage their scent.
Good thing we are not small rodents!

Dissolvable Implant
A new brain implant for wireless information transmission that dissolves over time without causing inflammation is in development, and has successfully been tested in rats.

Reanimated Tardigrades!
Japanese researchers revived the microscopic creatures after 30 years in dormancy.

Largest Prime Number!
Found in Missouri, we have a new big prime.

SpaceX Lessons
They almost landed on a boat.

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


13 January, 2016 – Episode 549 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

January 15th, 2016

Rumors On Waves, CRISPR Alert, The Anthropocene Arrives, Fuzzy Memory, PBS Sanity, Spiteful Little Monkeys, 3D Mantis Science, Selecting Your Sperm, Giant Canyon!, Estrogen Fights Flu, Interview w/ William Dichtel, And Much More!

Buy A 2016 TWIS Blair’s Animal Corner Calendar now!!!

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!
Tonight we are entering into a new phase of the show…
As I speak a highly suggestive, albeit entirely subjective test is taking place…
We have added to the broadcast a brain wave frequency
that is engineered to elicit a response from our listeners…
This frequency is based on the culmination of decades of
research into brainwave patterns…
Selected for our test is a very unique pattern that seems to be present in most mammals,
and an occasional member of the bird family including the
barn owl, the common crow,
and the blue-footed booby…  
also certain cephalopods have been known to respond…
The frequency cannot be heard by your ears,
will not disrupt your listening pleasure…
And the response we are attempting to elicit will not cause you any harm…
Though if you are driving or operating heavy machinery you may want to
pay close attention to what you are doing because
it’s time once again for
This week in science..
Coming up next.

Rumors On Waves
Rumors are rushing through the interwebs this week about evidence of gravitational waves being discovered. We must repeat that rumors are not science. We will wait for the evidence to be officially released before jumping to conclusions.

Not all CRISPR work has to do with gene-editing. Reearchers recently published work using CRISPR to identify gene enhancers invovled in cancer pathways. Understanding where these enhancers are and how they influence cellular death or division is essential to moving forward with treatments for various forms of cancer.

The Anthropocene Arrives
A new paper by an International team of scientists presents evidence to support the idea that a new geological epoch has begun — one that is powered by people — the Anthropocene.

Here’s to the FF’ing memories…
The brain uses different frequencies to encode various patterns of activity. Researchers think they have discovered the frequency for memory, and how it explains memory’s faults.

Why PBS is keeping us sane…
National public television seems to lead to a more thoughtful populous.

Monkeys can feel spite, and act on it, as we all wish we could
Capuchin monkeys punsihed those that received a disproportionate amount of food, without having been provoked. Don’t we all want to slap a lobster out of someone’s hands on occasion? No, just me?

3D glasses… for insects… for science?
By fitting preying mantises with teeny tiny 3D glasses, scientists were able to figure out how bugs see in three dimentions, potentially leading to better visual processors for computers and robots. Also, they look super cool.

Support us on Patreon!

WillDichtelInterview with chemist and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. William Dichtel, on his recently published Nature paper reporting a new material for water purification.

Aaaand, more science news:
Selecting your sperm
A new method makes sorting out male and female sperm cheap, easy, and quick. For laboratory animals and selective breeding, of course… What could go wrong??

Giant Canyon!
It’s in Antarctica and bigger than the Grand Canyon. Should we call it the Grander Canyon?

Estrogen Fights Flu
Women are better protected from the flu because of estrogen.

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


07 January, 2016 – Episode 548 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

January 12th, 2016

CRISPR Alert!!, Vaccination Reactions, Free Will Ish, Jumping Moths, Wild Lizard Trainers, Handy Limpets, Re-Engineered Ants, Epigenetic Aging, Jazz Your Head, King Kong Couldn’t, How Catch Mosquitoes?, The Periodic Table, IQ Genes, Robo-Locusts, Waiter Weight, Wild Fig Story, And Much More!

Buy A 2016 TWIS Blair’s Animal Corner Calendar now!!!

Welcome to TWIS! LIVE from STEM Fest 2016 in Manhattan!

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!
The following hour of programming is brought to you by…
the good people of science.

Reminding you…
that Science is awesome.

And by the Highest IQ’s in the room fund –
Smart people supporting education outreach  
“Because we’re smarter than everybody and that gets boring after awhile”…

And by the men and women with curious minds in society…
Who have no idea what the show is about, but can’t wait to find out…

Special mention also goes out to the Mainstream Media…
Who have so passionately failed to cover science news…
Most of the country remains ignorant of the progress that is taking place…

And last but not least…  
thank you to the listening audience…
Without you there truly wouldn’t be any
This Week In Science…
Coming Up Next…

CRISPR Alert!!
The gene-editing technique has reduced symptoms in mice with a disease similar to Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy.

Vaccination Reactions
In an analysis of people who received the H1N1 flu vaccine in 2009 it was discovered that age did not determine likelihood of a poor response, but that those who did report negative side-effects after receiving the vaccine showed higher levels of certain B-cells both before and after the event. This suggests that we might be able to determine which individuals are more likely to have adverse reactions before they actually happen.

Free will after all…
I have the will to NOT come up with a summary because Justin refuses to write his own. Thank you, conscious brain.

Holy jumping cocoons, batman!
Wasp larvae inside their cocoons will jump into favorable conditions, making our human babies seem even more helpless…

Training wild lizards, to cover our mistakes
Researchers are teaching wild monitor lizards in Australia that invasive toads are yucky. By feeding them young toads, they simply lose their lunch, and their taste for toad, instead of kicking the bucket.

Hands-on limpets more receptive to sex changes
Limpets respond to direct contact, and not chemical cues, to find out when to transition from male to female. This means limpet courtship may be more complicated than we thought…

Support us on Patreon!

Re-Engineered ants…
Biologists were able reprogram ants using very simple epigenetic controls. Are humans next?

Telomeres And Age
A study on birds links older parents to shorter telomeres in offspring.

Epigenes From Dads
Evidence suggests that tRNAs that hitch a ride on sperm as they travel down the epididymus alter protein expression in offspring and affect metabolism.

The intelligence genes have been discovered… 
Can you imagine a world populated by intelligent people?

King Kong Couldn’t
The inability to adapt to changing environmental conditions meant the end of the giant ape around 100,000 years ago.

Robot locust springs up to new heights
Researchers in Israel have designed a small, fairly cheap robot that could revolutionize search and rescue. Who doesn’t want to be saved by a locust?!

Trying to lose weight? Avoid that chubby waiter
A new study has shown that when being served by overweight restaurant staff, we are more likely to drink more, and order dessert. Will we soon only see XL+ waiters and waitresses at the Applebees??

How Catch Mosquitoes?
Use bait that smells like people. Scientists presenting at the SICB meeting this week found a species of orchid that emits compounds that are also contained in human body odor, potentially to attract Tiger mosquitoes for pollination purposes.

The Periodic Table
The 7th row of the periodic table has been completed with the acceptance of four new short-lived, heavy elements by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry: 113 – ununtrium, 115 – ununpentium, 117 – ununseptium, and 118 – ununoctium. Official names for the elements have not yet been determined, and ideas are being solicited. There is currently a petition on Change.org to name 117 Octarine, the color of magic, in honor of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

Playing jazz…
it’s all in your head…

Don’t Eat Wild Figs
Why? Well, it’s complicated… and involves worms. Tiny roundworms hitchhike to wild figs on the backs of fig pollinating wasps. Once there, it’s been found, they exploit different niches within the fig though a diversity of mouth shapes: differently shaped mouths allow them to feed on either bacteria, yeast, or other roundworms within the fig. The proportion of certain mouth shapes responds to changes in food availability within this intricate fig ecosystem.

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


30 December, 2015 – Episode 547 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

January 5th, 2016

We predict SCIENCE!!! It’s the 2016 Predictions show!

Buy A 2016 TWIS Blair’s Animal Corner Calendar now!!!

Join us in NYC next week!!!

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
The following hour of programming cannot be trusted…
For the content within is of a dubious and potentially subversive nature…
The hosts have set down their normal baton of bringing you science news
and are attempting to do a job normally held
by pollsters,
by psychics,
by horoscope writers,
by sports gamblers,
by sock market gamblers,
by weathermen and weather women…
Yes, this week…
This Week In Science looks not to a brilliant week past…
But to the shrouded future, the year yet to come…
And this is where the dubious nature of the program comes in…
For at no time in history have predictions of the future
been as useful to society as the addition of actual new knowledge…
So it bears repeating
Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
This week in science
Future prediction show
Coming up next…

We predicted all sorts of things for 2015. Some of them occurred, some did not. Listen to the show to hear how we fared in our tally!

Support us on Patreon!

And, for 2016…
Justin predicts:
– 2016 hottest year on record…
– Homo Naledi will be dated… Into the 3 million ish plus range… challenging Lucy as our early ancestor…
– Bring on the clowns… 2015 was the year that science died, at the hands of politicians…
Bad brained, junk branded, pre paid propaganda substituted for science over and over again…
– 2016 is the year scientists finally have enough… begin fighting back… by publishing several studies that suggest the political ideology of the republican party… doesn’t actually exist.
– Horoscope writers, fearing the loss or readership… will begin to get very specific, calling out readers by name with direct warnings… Hey Blair, avoid escalators today… Kiki, the answer to the pub quiz is Fenris… Justin, it’s not an aspirin, don’t take it
– Crispr-Cas9 is  once again in the news throughout the year… highlights include: Mosquito malaria experiment gets deployed after early success… with a 2017 prediction of Malaria being eradicated… and the Bill and Melinda gates foundation nets being re-purposed as soccer goal nets
– Several new drugs will be developed, to target specific gene functions in diseases… that were discovered using crispr cas9
– Mama said knock you out… Using crispr cas9 to knockout specific genes in order to study the effects down stream… will lead to a Nobel prize in 2016.
– And once again… this year, no gravity waves…

Blair predicts:
– We will find microscopic life in space, and tests will be feverishly conducted to see if it is contamination, a mistaken reading, or real extraterrestrial life… Results will be inconclusive.
– We will discover parthenogenesis in a species it has not previously been observed
– I will release a 2017 #blairsanimalcorner calendar, and we will sell out!
– White nose syndrome will be completely eradicated in a geographical region due to the new treatments available
– A mammothophant will happen, to my chagrin.
– A vaccine for toxo will go on the market… but for your cat
– Successful replacement of bodily organs with 3d printed ones in a human
– Cuttlefish will be discovered to use 3 kinds of camouflage! (visual, electroreception, and now, audio!)
– Tardigrades will find new ways to shock us in 2016 – they are LIKE ONIONS.
– There will be at least one question about climate change in the main presidential debates, but the issue will still be skirted.
– Water rationing will take place in the US in summer 2016.
– Spiders will find new ways to terrify and fascinate us in 2016.
– New methods of traumatic insemination will be discovered.
– HIV vaccine trials will begin
– Crows will continue to show us how smart they are
– Coffee will once again be shown to have positive health effects

Kirsten predicts:
– The LHC will discover that it’s unpredicted bump of 2015 was just a bump, and not new phyics.
– Gravitational waves will not be detected… again
– John Snow in wolf form will live to become King of Game of Thrones and marry Daenaris.
– The Arctic will melt in the winter night.
– 2016 will be the next warmest year on record.
– Private space flight will take it to the next level with sub-orbital flights.
– The Hyperloop pod tests will not be successful.
– The Juno will be wildly succesful, again showing NASA capable of doing amazing things on a tight budget. And, an expanded budget will lead to an expansion of proposed missions to possibly life-bearing moons in our solar system.
– CRISPR will continue to wow us with new discoveries about life.
– After last year’s epigenome description papers, expect to see more studies detailing how the epigenome influences organisms of all kinds.
– TWIS will enjoy a fantastic live show in NYC!

Some news to end the year:
Tardigrades produce a special glass-like protein that when dried out becomes rigid and encases molecules and enzymes, essentially protecting them from the possibility of breaking apart in the absence of water. This could be essential for developing drought-resistant crops, or vaccines with high longevity!

More smart crows!
Crows were caught on tape manufacturing tools in the wild, with naturally occuring materials, for the first time ever! Now we know it isn’t just a phenomenon related to captive study. Goooo crows!

Vitamin D For MS
A study showed success in using Vitamin D to reduce factors related to MS.

Don’t Eat
If you aren’t hungry.

Harbingers Of Failure
Some people predict the failure of some products.

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


22 December, 2015 – Episode 546 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

December 29th, 2015

So much SCIENCE! It’s the Top 11 science stories from 2015 as picked by the hosts of TWIS…

Buy A 2016 TWIS Blair’s Animal Corner Calendar now!!!

Join us in NYC next week!!!

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer
The end is neigh…
No not the end of the world, simply the end of another year…
But not just any year…
2015 was one of the greatest years for science in all of human history…
Take that year 150… 
You heard me 820…
No 1095… you didn’t get an honorable mention because this
isn’t that kind of list…
and don’t look at me like that 1802, you know I love ya…
And yes, yes… 1905, you make a great argument and will
always have a special place in my heart.
But the advances in the past year were greater
and more significant than those of years past because
Not only did we learn new things
But we added to existing knowledge of things learned in the past
And created new tools based on that knowledge
To learn even cooler stuff that we’ll be talking about next year…
More science
More discoveries
More knowledge
More better quality of life made possible from it all…
And as always…
More this week in science
Coming up next…

NUMBER 11! – Climate!
Climate Agreement
The Paris climate talks resulted in an agreement even stricter than previous meetings. Based on science, international representatives agreed to a 1.5 degree increase in temperature from pre-industrial levels rather than 2 degrees. Also, funding from developed nations will assist undeveloped nations in adopting clean-energy alternatives.
Hot In Here
The period from December to February is the hottest on record according to NOAA.

NUMBER 10! – Blood Scans
One Scan Rules
Often finding blood clots within the body takes several scans using multiple different methods. A new technique tested in rats has the potential to make only one scan necessary.
Fingerless prostate screening
Using a single drop of blood, a new test for prostate cancer antigens costs a dollar and is significantly more accurate than palpation with a finger.
Test For Infections
A new simple blood test could inform people what viruses have interacted with their immune systems over the course of their lives. However, it’s not ready for mass use yet as it is plagued by false positives, and not entirely accurate.

NUMBER 9! – Vaccines
AIDS Monkey Vaccine
Researchers report unparalleled success with a vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus, a close relative of the human immunodeficiency virus, that includes two artificial versions of the CD4 receptor targeted by the virus upon infection.
Possible H5N1 cure
Single-dose Ebola vaccine
This vaccine protected non-human primates against the African Makona strain of the ebola virus, suggesting it will be useful against multiple similar viral strains.
One Jab To Rule
The universal flu vaccine is on its way. Two papers this week report different methods of creating a vaccine using an important and relatively unvariable protein from the H1N1 flu virus strain. Both were 100% effective in protecting mice from the deadly and distantly related H5N1 strain.
Just add water
The vaccines of the future could be freeze-dried for rapid production in all areas of the world.

NUMBER 8! – Synthetics
New Letters For Life
Two new nucleotides have been created and shown to pair with natural DNA potentially enabling new functions and proteins.
Making Protein Makers
A study in Nature this week describes the successful creation of a synthetic ribosome, the organelle responsible for assembling RNA into proteins. The ribosome differs from the natural cellular component in that its two subunits are tethered permanently together. Yet, it does not seem to pose a problem as the synthetic ribosome kept bacteria lacking the natural organelle alive.

NUMBER 7! – Prosthetics
Prosthetic Arms
Three men have received robotic arm prostheses using brachial innervation.
Mind-Reading For Movement
New brain-computer-interfaces based on EEGs are making strides in controlling prosthetic limbs.
Haptic Handshake
In a world first, an astronaut on the International Space Station virtually shook hands with a person on Earth.
Memory Prosthetic
A new device may be on the way to help people with damage to the hippocampal brain regions form new memories.
Prosthesis With Feeling
DARPA research has shown that sensory information from a prosthetic hand can be conveyed back to the sensory cortex of the brain to provide useful information to the user.

NUMBER 6! – Water in Space
Water Everywhere!
Ganymede has a massive ocean, and Enceladus has hot hydrothermal activity on its seafloor.
Tears Of Mars
NASA announced that salty water has been discovered flowing on the surface of Mars. What does this mean for the possibility of life on Mars?
Water on the moon too…
Not just hiding in cold, dark shadows, water appears to be more available on the moon than previously thought, AND it came from asteroids.
Global Oceans
The Saturnian moon Enceladus holds a vast ocean beneath its frozen surface separating the crust from the core.

Support us on Patreon!

NUMBER 5! – Comet 67P
Philae Awakens!
We weren’t sure if the plucky little lander would wake up, but it did and till has data to send back to Earth via Rosetta. The ESA is working to get the Rosetta craft into a new orbit that puts it into more and better contact with the lander to fulfill further science on the comet.
Cometary Sinkholes
There are massive sinkholes on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Geramisenko, which are thought to have formed due to heating from the sun.
Many Layered Comet
Comet 67P is probably made up of two comets that collided at some point in the past. Additionally, it is eroding from the periodic build up and melt of ice in the shadows on its surface.

NUMBER 4! – Dwarf Planets
Pluto’s moons are crazy
They experience a chaotic orbital dance that works just right for them to avoid destroying one another.
Flowing ice and hazy skies???
That’s what the LORRI instrument on New Horizons detected when aimed back at the little planetoid. The haze seems to be double-layered, and the ice flows indicate recent geologic activity.
We made it, and we are learning so much. NBC Digital Senior editor and author of “The Case for Plutio” joins us to discuss the news from the dwarf
Pluvian Ice Volcanoes?
They aren’t confirmed yet, but images suggest that the surface of Pluto is marked by giant ice volcanoes.
Cere’s White Spots
White spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are becoming more visible and plentiful. Researchers believe the spots to be water ice.

NUMBER 3! – Microbiome
Anti bac babies = bad bac adults
Data suggests that anti-bacterials given to developing children have negative health effects into adulthood that arise from the disruption of natural bacterial populations.
Personal Microbe Space
You are surrounded by a unique microbial cloud. In effect, we are all Pig Pen.
Babies go viral…
Lots of viruses on and in newborns. Who knew? But, why?
Fat And Guts
Mice fed a lard-based diet gained more weight than controls fed a fish oil diet, and showed signs of inflammation and metabolic disease. Microbes seem to hold the key to this metabolic disaster.
Viral Skin
A recent study confirmed that we are covered in viruses — most of which had never before been identified. Thankfully, the majority of these virii were bacteria-infecting pages.
African Gut Swap
Researchers swapped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 rural Africans, and found that cancer-risk profiles switched as well. Eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat and protein might be better for the gut.
Mountain man anti-microbial might
Isolated tribes are found to harbor greater microbial diversity in their guts than people living in modern society. A recent study found active anti-microbial agents as well.

NUMBER 2! – Human Ancestry
Ancient bones telling tales…
Markings on 3.8 million year old bones have been revealed to be from stone tools making the emergence of tools within the age of Australopithecus, rather than Homo sapiens, much more likely.
3 million year old tool user???!!!
New evidence validates the idea that human ancestor was using tools well before the emergence of the Homo genus.
Another Hominid For the Tree
In a deep, hard to reach cave in Africa, the bones of a new hominid species and potential human ancestor have been found.

Editing People
A study published last week in the journal Protein & Cell described the mixed results of Chinese scientists to use the Cas-9/CRISPR gene-editing technique to edit preimplantation stage human embryonic cells. The study highlights the lack of specificity of the technique, and the problems inherent in trying to edit the human genome. Additionally, it has increased the conversation around the ethics of human genetic modification.
Will advancing genetic editing technology lead to the demise of the mosquito as researchers remove their ability to reproduce in an effort to fight disease around the world?
Jurrasic Park, here we come…
Mammoths are more likely to come back than ever, now that mammoth DNA has successfully been spliced in with elephant DNA. But should we do it, just because we can??
Japanese researchers have combined light activation with the CRISPR/CAS-9 system, in effect creating a way to edit the genomes of cell with greater accuracy and temporal on-off control.
A new protein called Cpf1 that is able to cut human DNA – potentially with greater accuracy than Cas9 – has been discovered by scientists at the Broad Institute, and might lead to scientific and intellectual property advances in the field.
This study did not result in bacon, but it did determine that CRISPR technology could be used successfully to remove a gene from pigs used by a troublesome virus to infect porcine cells. The resulting GM pigs remained infection-free while their normal brethren got sick.
Meanwhile, the international gene-editing community holds off on editing human DNA.
Editing The Editor
CAS-9 has been altered by MIT scientists to make it more efficient in its editing functions.
Engineering Mosquitoes
Using the CRISPR gene-editing system, researchers have successfully engineered mosquitoes to produce malaria-targeting antibodies, which could lead to 100% resistance in the wild if released from the lab.

Top 3 from Blair’s Animal Corner
Invertebrate sex story of the year
Worms stab themselves in the head with hypodermic penis
Spiders win MVP in the animal corner this year
Skydiving spiders, Sailing spiders, Spider silk catches prey DNA, Homewrecking spiders
Species on the brink get a helping hand!
First rehab tiger has wild babies, and facial tumor diease and white nose syndrome get vaccines!

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!


16 December, 2015 – Episode 545 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

December 17th, 2015

Bumps At The LHC, Pew, Pew, Pew!, Face Mite Genetics, Stickleback Science, Hot Penguins, Handy Parrots, Baby Tigers!, Bacon Is Better?, CRISPR Pigs, Pain Free Potential, Profit Pirates, And Much More!

Buy A 2016 TWIS Blair’s Animal Corner Calendar now!!!

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
The following hour of programming deals with breaking science news…
There will be no name calling or fact spinning…
as seen in political propaganda shows…
There will be none of the biased, information-less speculation
you might get from an economic propaganda show…
We don’t have the latest inside the locker room information on your secret man crush…
That a sports propaganda show might offer you…
Want to know who looks good in a bikini only days after giving birth and getting divorced?
You’ll have to check in with a celebrity propaganda show…
If you are a fan of a movie franchise and are desperately seeking spoilers…
A movie franchise spoiler propaganda show, this is not…
If on the other hand it is science-y new propaganda that you seek…
You have come to the right place because it’s time once again for
This Week in Science…
Coming up Next…

Bumps At The LHC
Both the Atlas and CMS detectors at the LHC have detected a bump at around the same energy point, which suggests that there might be an unexpected particle hiding in the midst. Neither finding is especially significant on its own, but together the matching bumps have physicists intruiged.

Face Mite Genetics
Yup, researchers are looking into the genetics of face mites, and they have been evolving with us for as long as we have been around.

Pew, Pew, Pew!
Around 37% of people online are interested in health and medicine, while 32% say science and technology. Women are more interested in health and medicine, while men profess interest in science. Only 11% of people polled share interest in health, medicine, science, and technology.

How one fish went from salt to fresh in just a few decades
It was simple, but rapid, evolution.

Penguins in the freezing arctic dodge overheating
Yes, you read that right. The huddles they form to survive the cold winter get so hot they could potentially die of heat stroke if they didn’t frequently break up the party

Parrots more than just smooth talkers
In the first ever account of a non-human using a grinding tool, vasa parrots have been observed using pebbles or pits to grind shells in order to ingest the calcium it provides.

First rehab tiger birth in the wild!
A real reason to celebrate 😀

Support us on Patreon!

Bacon is better than eggplant… if you’re a planet
A study suggests that eating meat is better for the environment than being a vegetarian. However, the debate is not over.

This study did not result in bacon, but it did determine that CRISPR technology could be used successfully to remove a gene from pigs used by a troublesome virus to infect porcine cells. The resulting GM pigs remained infection-free while their normal brethren got sick.

Pain Free Potential
New research suggests that a sodium channel in pain neurons not only regulates the passage of sodium into the cell, but also opioid activity. This double-layer of regulation might be the key to making people pain-free.

Writing for profit… in science
It is ok to make a profit as a scientist, but where one’s money originates is a crucial question that must be answered.

Climate Agreement
The Paris climate talks resulted in an agreement even stricter than previous meetings. Based on science, international representatives agreed to a 1.5 degree increase in temperature from pre-industrial levels rather than 2 degrees. Also, funding from developed nations will assist undeveloped nations in adopting clean-energy alternatives.

Update On DarkStar
The skeptics abound in their questioning of the recent finding of a dark object in the outer solar system.

Exoplanets Get Names
… and, they are weird.

Female spiders not agro, just unimpressed.
Female spiders that ate potential suitors appear to have done so, not because of agression or hunger, but just out of a lack of interest. Watch out, boys!

If You love TWIS, please consider making a donation below.
Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS, and to check out our Patreon page!