24 August, 2016 – Episode 581 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

August 26th, 2016

Interview w/ NASA Scientist Walt Meier, Plan-et B!, Getting There, Cool Your Buffer Gas, Gay Termites, Acid Sperm, Patent Settlement, Possum Panic, Octobot!!, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!
Historic perspective is against us!!!
And I don’t mean to suggest that people of bygone olden ages would judge us harshly…
It’s possible they would…
We wear revealing clothes, rarely kill wild animals with tools we made ourselves,
and spend far too little time sacrificing sheep…
But when we introduce them to the little things our modern ways have contributed to the day to day being on the planet…
Like Indoor light, the mobile phone, the dishwasher and toilet paper…
It’s likely they’d give up whatever god of hunting gathering and dishwashing they had invented and would be overjoyed even with single ply…
What I do mean to suggest is that at no point of looking backwards do we see a time in which people looking forward really knew what the future would bring…
We humans are eternally optimistic and pessimistic, hopeful and apathetic…
But the lesson from the ages is that regardless of what we think we know,
time will transform our understanding…
and one day the day will come where much of what we believe about the future will turn out not to be the future…
So a Historic perspective should make us leery of any concrete belief in things to come,
having seen so many of them crumble…
However… there are exceptions…
despite the fact that the historic perspective is against us,
one thread of history has weaved through the ages to connect observations to experimentation to a kind of knowledge that seems to tie the past to the present in a natural progression…
Yes science changes too, but It broadens, becomes more complex and comprehensive, it strengthens…
And while the predictions we make now may defy history…
There will likely be things to come we still cannot imagine…
In fact the only thing we can be absolutely certain of is
This Week in Science…
Coming up next!

Interview with Walt Meier
Walt Meier is a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory. His research focuses on remote sensing of sea ice, development of new sea ice products and sea ice climate data records, and analyzing changes in the Arctic sea ice cover.

Ice-free Northwest Passage
A southern route between Amundsen and Boffin Bays is almost clear, allowing cruise liners to make expeditions along the Northwest Passage.

Monitoring Sea Ice
As the ice in the Arctic decreases, NASA is using new methods to track the extent of the loos and make better predictions.

Ice Flows Game
A game to teach how ice sheet melt is affected by various factors… and it has penguins!!!

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Plan-et B!
If we destroy this planet, maybe there’s a Plan B for humanity! The ESO reported finding an exoplanet within the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri… the closest star to Earth aside from the sun.

Getting There
An analysis of the physical dangers to the StarShot campaign suggests that craft planning to accelerate to 20% the speed of light require special shielding and design considerations since they will even be damaged by impacts with atoms.

Huge find in buffer-gas cooling
It’s not the thermodynamic equilibrium we thought it was.

Gay Termites
Playing house protects the unmated males.

Acidified sperm play by different rules
Urchin sperm behaves differently at different pHs. This could have major implications for sea ecosystems as ocean acidification increases.

Patent Settlement
Nanopore gene sequencing is a new technology that will revolutionize the sequencing of DNA making it faster and cheaper, but its future has been uncertainly wrapped up in a patent dispute between Oxford Nonopore Technologies and Illumina, Inc. However, the companies recently came to an agreement based on the specifics of their patented nanopore designs that will allow both companies to continue offering their products to researchers.

Possums can flee in their sleep
But they can only wake up to run if it is warm enough outside.

Harvard engineers have created a soft bodied robotic octopus from silicone that relies on chemical reactions within pneumatic chambers to flex its many arms rather than wires and batteries.

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17 August, 2016 – Episode 580 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

August 19th, 2016

Hawking Radiation Evidence?, Force Of Nature, Contrails Not Chemtrails, Gutting Ahead, Choosy Fish, Bully Fish, Fish Pee, Marsupial Lion Elbows, Talking About Life, Salty Beaches, Precision Targeting, The Light!, And Much More…

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Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
The world you are living in has NOT,
I repeat NOT been all figured out yet.
Sure a lot of the major hurdles have been handled…
We can control electricity…
Harness it to do work and that work produces amazing advantages to being on the planet…
Like the light bulb, the computer, and the greatest of all inventions…
the dishwasher…
We have solved complex riddles of living things…
Giving us protections and treatments that manage disease and prolong our life spans…
We have delved into the atomic world that once seemed so small,
only to delve deeper and discover an even tinier world of subatomic particles…
We can manipulate this world to great effect despite having hands that are too large and clumsy for the job…
We have been to the moon and Mars and all the major bodies in our solar system…
Sent probes hurtling outside our solar system,
And have taken photos of other solar systems by the billions with Hubble…
These terrestrial eyes of ours have gazed upon galaxies that never could be seen or even imagined without our scientific advancements…
And despite all this…
The world we are living in has NOT been all figured out…
There are still greater mysteries out there…
Far further depths to delve into
And while nothing we have yet to accomplish may out awesome the invention of the dishwasher…
Anything new from here on out will be building on all past human knowledge,
And you will hear it first on
This Week In Science…
Coming Up Next…

Hawking Radiation Evidence?
Does a lab-made black hole simulation provide evidence that Hawking radiation is real? The story is compelling, but still just a simulation.

Force Of Nature
An update of this ongoing story, UC Irvine researchers have published a second paper providing evidence for their model of a protophobic X boson, a carrier of a proposed fifth fundamental force of physics.

Contrails Not Chemtrails
A survey of atmospheric scientists provides evidence against the existence of chemtrails. But, is a survey enough for the conspiracy theorists?

Go with your gut, or use your head…
They both influence each other, and not only through neural networks. Recent research implicates the immune system as well.

Female fish are choosy
Despite their fertilization being external, females can still favor the best fathers!

Male fish are bullies or cowards
Wimpy fish would rather take their chances with a predator than face up to the bully fish. How pathetic…

Fish pee deserves your thanks
Fish pee is what keeps coral reefs healthy. No, not your pee… NO, STEVE, STAY OUT OF THE REEF AND USE THE OUTHOUSE!

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Marsupial Lions?!?!
Elbow says not quite.

Recreating The Beginning
Scripps Institute researchers have evolved a ribozyme that can replicate short lengths of RNA and transcribe compex RNA structures. The development will help us investigate the ‘RNA world’ hypothesis that RNA preceeded DNA in biology.

Life Got Started
Maybe it was never a soup. Maybe it was a vent!

Salty Beaches
Increasing ocean salinity is increasing beach salinity, which might have dire consequences for intertidal life.

Precision Targeting
A species of bacteria that uses both magnetic and oxygen-level information to navigate was harnessed to deliver drug-filled nanoliposomes to low-oxygen areas of cancerous tumors.

The Light!
We may not need fluorescent markers to image DNA any longer. A new discovery found that at the correct stimulation frequency, DNA does naturally fluoresce.

Stay Healthy – Stay Home
Clock genes that fluctuate naturally on a daily and seasonal schedule might influence your immune system’s ability to protect itself from certain viruses.

Nothing can replace a mother cat’s love.
Or at least, when the kittens are in peril, it takes a female cat to save the day!

Going Borg
In an unexpected turn, virtual reality and brain-computer interfaces are changing the diagnoses of paralyzed patients.

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10 August, 2016 – Episode 579 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

August 12th, 2016

IT’S NOT ALIENS, Canyons On Titan, Old Tool News, Breathy Bees, Sharing Spiders Die, Firefly Buzzkill, Iceworm!!!, Back to Behavior, A Whale Ears, A Lotta No, DNA Everywhere, X-Prize AI, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
The world of man is the world of stories…
Stories forge our religions, form our ethics, frame our political leanings and foster our imaginations…
It is how we read and write our history.
Story telling is the power behind the urban and the legend, from Gilgamesh to camp fire ghosts.
It is the fuel our media runs on…
Books, movies, music, news, poetry, paintings, photographs, social media posts, sports, video games and even 20 second commercials…
are all telling us a story of the world…
In many ways each of us is living in a fable,
Stitched together by the stories that surround us…
And then, there are some stories that speak to us about a world beyond…
Beyond the ideological barn yard,
Past the pools of poetry and pontification,
Trending lightly over the latest hashtag hill,
And sitting there just outside the gates of fairytale town…
There is Science.
And the stories told by science can not only teach us our history beyond the fortunes and failings of its human inhabitants…
But teach us the history of our planet, our solar system and our universe…
As well as teach us ways we can write our own future…
And righting the course of future human history is exactly what we’ve come to expect from
This Week In Science…
Coming Up Next.

But, a new analysis of light from the star cum Dyson sphere cum star found that it has been steadily dimming over the past four years.

Canyons On Titan
Cassini has found evidence that there are liquid hydrocarbons flowing through a canyon system on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Really old tools found…
Thank goodness they weren’t very clean.

Bees work together to “breathe” as what is basically a super-organism!
This is some next level stuff. Bees ventilate the colony by directing air through the group of individuals. Even a marching band isn’t that well coordinated!

Sharing isn’t always caring
Spiders that overshare starve, so THAT’S WHY I DON’T WANT TO GIVE YOU A BITE OF MY LUNCH, KAREN!

Firefly buzzkill
Your porch light could be ruining a firefly’s sex life, so consider that before you ruin their summertime ambiance!

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It’s not really a worm, but climate change will expose it.

Back To Behavior
New research on an expanded population of New Caledonian crows suggests that Betty the crow (who was lauded for innovative tool-making) may have been simply following a behavioral routine.

Whale Ears
Fossils tell the tale of hypersonic hearing in early whales.

A Lotta No
This is the week of let-downs in physics! CERN researchers report that the hints of a graviton particle were just blips, and disappeared with more data. That’s not to say another version of the particle doesn’t exist at different energy level, but this particular particle most likely doesn’t exist at the point they analyzed.
The OMEGA Laser facility used laser power to investigate the nucleosynthesis of lithium during the Big Bang, and came up short — less lithium-6 than expected. Now, the question is whether the Standard Model is accurate with respect to atomic formation.
Finally, the IceCube neutrino detector project reports no evidence of sterile neutrinos. This result is disappointing to some because sterile neutrinos would be evidence of physics beyond the Standard Model, but regardless, it also helps put stricter limits on future experiments.

A new X-Prize $5 million competition in partnership with IBM’s Watson pits groups against one another “to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful AI technologies to tackle the world’s grand challenges.”

That’s quite the DNA test!
eDNA test could help us discover which species live in nearby water without ever seeing or catching any individuals.

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03 August, 2016 – Episode 578 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

August 5th, 2016

Plants And Parasites, Malarial Mechanisms, Zika Update, Orangutan Mimic, Sea Lion Beats, Wolfie Questions, Oily Palms, Frost On Io, First Private Moon, New Lasers, Neurons Line Up, Don’t Smoke ‘Em, Challenge Success, Theranos Still Going, ISS Design Challenge, Fungus Lichens Yeast, Junco Telomeres, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
There is possibility
And then there is probability
It is possible to win the lottery…
But if you buy the ticket you will most probably lose…
It’s possible to jump off the golden gate bridge and survive…
But a large majority of those that launch themselves off most probably end up as lunch for all manner of fishy eaters…
It is possible to be struck by lightning while hitting a hole-in-one on the 7th at Pebble Beach…
But your golf buddy probably just said he saw it go in because that’s what buddies do when riding in ambulances with friends who have just been struck by lightning…
It is possible that the government is secretly working with a an alien race of dinosaur people
To first enslave and later to eat all of mankind
in order to take over the planet… which would explain global warming
and the chem trails and why the show firefly was canceled
and why there is always somebody, whenever you are out in public, who seems to be watching you… following you… and how else would they know that you alone have figured it all out…
Why, they even know your name is Ed… Run Ed, run for the hills, they’re on to you!
But unless your name is Ed… this is most probably not true…
And while everything and anything may seem possible,
the improbable more often than not is improbable because it is not possible…
What is always possible and becoming increasingly probable, unless your name is Ed and I mean it Ed you’ve got to go now, is that you are about to enjoy yet another episode of
This Week in Science,
Coming up Next…

Plants And Parasites
Two studies out this week report on the finding of a proliferation mechanism derived from plants in both Malaria and Toxoplasmosis. The discovery offers the possibility of treatments with fewer side effects compared to those currently available.

Malarial Mechanisms
And, last week, another study determined that when the malaria parasite mutates to avoid an antimalarial called chloroquine, it actually opens itself up to attack by other antimalarial drugs. Such a discovery could enable the lengthening of antimalarial lifetimes if incorporated properly into treatment regimes.

Zika Update
The NIH is beginning its stage 2 trial of a DNA vaccine for Zika virus, which essential will test for safety and proof of concept in healthy volunteers. Of concern are reports from the Obama administration that funds are running low for such research, which will delay the research and production process. Additionally, Zika has now been reported in over 40 US military members and their dependants, and in many cities across the US.

Colorful Dinosaurs
Turtle eye oils tell of an ancient origin that implies the dinosaurs saw and were quite colorful.

Is that orangutan making fun of me?
Or is he just learning to speak? I don’t know which would be more upsetting… But the ape may have a clue in the story of the development of human language.

…And that sea lion is a better dancer than me!
The sea lion that was taught to keep a beat in 2013 has some new insight for us in the story of music.

Should we save hybrid species?
All wolves in North America may be one species. So do they really need our help? And do we want to preserve weird wolf/coyote hybrids??

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Oily Palms
Palm oil demand is driving growing production in continents around the globe. With that production comes the need for more farm area, and so deforestation in sensitive areas is becoming a major issue. The question is whether consumer demand for sustainable palm oil sources will force the market to shift in that direction. For information on products that contain palm oil click this link.

Frost On Io
The atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io gets turned to frost for about 2 hours out of every 42 as the moon passes through Jupiter’s shadow.

First Private Moon
Moon Express just received federal approval to put a coffee table sized lander on the moon.

New Lasers
Not just new, but VORTEX Lasers!!!

Neurons Line Up
In a landmark study of neuronal synapse structure, researchers have shown that some proteins on the sending side of a synapse are more likely to be localized together, and when they are they are more likely to be involved in neurotransmitter vesicle formation. Not only this, but the proteins on the sending side line up with proteins on the receiving side of the synapse.

Don’t Smoke ‘Em
E-cigarettes are harmful, just not as harmful as regular cigarettes.

Challenge Success
The Ice Bucket Challenge funded collaborations between researchers that culminated in the discovery of a gene variant that is present in 3% of ALS sufferers.

Theranos Still Going
The CEO of Theranos presented a new device, the miniLab for running assays, at a chemistry conference this week; again, presenting only internal data, and nothing that had been externally verified, and making grand promises.

ISS Design Challenge
It’s a contest for engineers/designers to team up with Grant Imihara to design a part for the ISS and 3D printed in space! Started by Mouser Electronics, the contest teams up with Made in Space to get useful 3D printable design into space.

Three isn’t always a crowd!
Yeast joins in the party with fungus and algae, and it turns out it was there all along…

The longer the flight, the shorter the telomeres
Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn’t be quite such the frequent flyer…?

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27 July, 2016 – Episode 577 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

July 29th, 2016

Red Hot Spot, Primordial Holes, Spinning Gas Cloud, Dingo Diet, Slothy Sloths, Interview with Bad Astronomer – Philip Plait, and Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
The future is not here yet…
Yes, we discovered the Higgs
Yes, can cut, splice, and program DNA and RNA…
Yes, there are self driving cars…
Yes, the most powerful computer you ever purchased fits in your pocket…
Yes, the first black president of the united states served two terms…
and Yes, he is likely to be replaced by the first female president…
But, this is just the present day…
The future has much more in store for us…
Not all of it positive…
But so much of it positive that we will propel ourselves into this future knowing that there are obstacles,
And knowing that we are alive in the generation that overcomes them…
The generation that solves hard problems,
And applies easy solutions to the problems that never should have stood as obstacles to begin with.
The future isn’t here yet…
But it’s about to be…
Here on This Week in Science
Coming Up Next…

Red Hot Spot
Astronomers taking Jupiter’s temperature found that the great red spot is the source of non-solar energy for heating Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Primordial Holes
Japanese researchers postulate that the observed LIGO black hole mergers have been not just black holes, but rather primordial black holes — old and massive holes that formed from the collapse of especially dense areas of space after the big bang.

Spinning Gas Cloud
NASA-funded research has found that the cloud of hot gas that surround the Milky Way Galaxy is spinning in the same direction as the galaxy and only slightly slower. The discovery gives us more clues about the formation of our galaxy, and how matter settles out of these hot gas clouds to form celestial bodies.

A dingo ate my dingo!
Cannibalism in dingoes may not be limited to those experiencing hard times, instead turning on each other as a food source just like any other. Does this fundamentally change how we look at cannibals?

Sloths are sloths for a reason…
…and won’t be rushed…. Leaves give so little to a sloth system that they move slowly and expend very little energy.

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And, an Interview with the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait. Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of “Bad Astronomy” and “Death From the Skies!”.

We spoke to him about skepticism, moonwalks, the space program, Hubble telescope, and much more… like, his wonderful goats.

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20 July, 2016 – Episode 576 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

July 22nd, 2016

Interview w/ Dr. Enrique Abreu re: ketamine therapy for depression, So Hot!, Brain Mapping Matters, Brilliant Ducks, Turtle Shells, Zero-Knowledge Time, Bonobo Mentors, City Punk Birds, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
a cat is a cat
and a fact is a fact
a cure is a cure
and a lie is a lie.
but how can you tell a cat, from a cure, and a lie from a fact?
truth can be a tricky thing, and many will tell you it is often relative.
but, the truth is most definitely,
completely the truth,
when it comes to science,
and it is our job,
each and every one of us,
to find it.
because when variables are isolated,
tested, and tried,
control groups are monitored,
and results are replicated,
truth can be defined.
we are here tonight to discuss new truths,
discovered through tried and true methods,
and unequivocally a part of
This Week in Science,
coming up next…

Interview with Dr. Enrique Abreu on the science of ketamine therapy for major depressive disorder.

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So Hot!
The first 6 months of 2016 have broken all temperature records! Are we on track to win once La Nina has an influence on conditions?

Brain Mapping Matters
A new study looking at the human brain has mapped 180 areas in the brain’s cortex, confirming 83 that were previously know and elucidating 97 additional areas per hemisphere.

How did the turtle get his shell?
The answer to this ancient mystery now has a highly unexpected development: he may have gotten it to dig!

Teeny baby ducklings are inherent geniuses
Ducklings can make logical decisions and associations that I am not confident I could make… At any age…?

Zero-knowledge Warheads
A theoretical detection system for discerning active, deactivated, or fake nuclear warheads has been described in the PNAS. With any luck it will be implemented to allow nuclear inspectors to detmine the state of various nation’s nuclear stockpiles without giving up any nuclear warhead design secrets.

Female bonobo elders protect young ladies
The plot thickens on why female-led bonobo societies are so peaceful. It looks like males continue to try to stir things up, but the dominant females shut. it. down!

Did the city bird rough up the country bird and take his wallet?
Suburban birds are shown to be more aggresive than their country cousins. Is this an area where humans face similar influences?

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13 July, 2016 – episode 575 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

July 15th, 2016

Shifting Clouds, JunoCam, Two Blind Mice, Cicada Turn On, Crow Clean Up, Raven Friends, Cannibal Neanderthals, Social Immune Brains, Bacterial Brains, X Marks Brainy Maps Echolocation For All, Monkey Tools, Monkey Smarts, Swimming Robot Domination, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!
Where ever you are…
Whatever you are doing…
Think for a moment that this is your last moment…
That however it happens, whatever the cause…
Suddenly this is to be your last moment alive…
Pause it here.
Rewind the week, the month and even the year…
How would you live differently in this frame of time?
Knowing the precise moment in which all moments end.
We can’t of course live productive lives thinking this way
But when given reason to reflect, we should make space for it.
Because nothing is guaranteed…
And death makes meaningless all work not done out of love
And all time spent on uninspired efforts, away from those we love
So eat, drink and be merry me hearties
For this week in science
Is coming up Next…

Shifting Clouds
An analysis of cloud cover from 1983-2009 found that cloud cover is tending toward the poles, and that storm clouds are reaching higher, both predicted effects of climate change.

JunoCam First light from orbit
JunoCam has started sending back images.

And now…. only two of the mice are blind
Third mouse gets vision restored

Cicada song is a turn on, and not just for cicadas!
Their melodious song encourages cicadas to mate, but it also brings their parasites to mate and lay eggs to feast on their flesh. How sweet…?

You guys, crows are important
They are pulling most of the weight when it comes to the nature clean-up crew.

Ravens learn best from their friends
Proximity and relationships have large influence on how much ravens will learn from one another.

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Evidence that Neanderthals were cannibals!

Social Immune Brains
An immune molecule was found to influence social behavior in mice, linking the immune system directly to the brain, and adding many questions about infection, parasites, and behavioral control.

X Marks Brainy Maps
Neuroscientists from the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University have imaged mouse brains in real time to see where and how in the brain x marks the spot.

Echolocation For All
A recent study looking at electrical activation of the brain determined that people, like bats and dolphins, are somewhat capable of object identification and spatial reckoning through sound.

Tool use in monkey is, like, way old
We’re talking around 700 years old. Woah..

Monkeys know what they don’t know.
Ya know?

Swimming Robot Domination
Engineers created a little swimming robot that swims remarkably like a skate from a gold skeleton, plastic body, and rat cardiomyocytes engineered with light-sensitive ion channels.

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06 July, 2016 – Episode 574 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

July 8th, 2016

Juno You Know, Extremophile Culture!, Fungi farming, Paper Wasps Misrepresentin’, Bonobo Lady Wiles, The American Ostrich, Faulty fMRIs, Beetle Penises, Matching Genomes, Octopus Eyes, Martian Moons, Titan Life?, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!
[Justin had a really good one this week, but he didn’t put it in the show notes…]
This Week in Science,
Coming up next…

Juno You Know
Successfully performing a brilliant entry into orbit around Jupiter, the tank-like spacecraft named after Jupiter’s wife begins its science mission.

Extreme-ophile Culture!
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Lab have succeeded in growing nanoarchaebacteria in the lab. These organisms survive in the crazy acidic hot springs in Yellowstone, and have eluded culturing before now. Thanks to genomic sequencing, the researchers were able to determine the metabolic needs of the bacteria, and design appropriate culture conditions… made to order!

Fungi farming
Plant growth responses to high carbon dioxide depend on symbiotic fungi.

Misleading bonobo ladies use their feminine wiles to keep the peace
Bonobo females conveniently swell at times only occasionally signaling their actual ovulation. This takes the decision of when to mate out of the male’s hands, and into the female’s. Clever girls…

Wasps would be poor sports at poker
Paper wasps aggressively punish rivals that misrepresent their strength and skill – sounds like a lose-lose to me…

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The American Ostrich
A fossil find proposes a possible North American ostrich relative.

Faulty fMRIs
More data is in suggesting that fMRI studies may not be giving us the information about our brains that we had hoped. Statistical software packages delivered false positives up to 70% of the time for cluster inferences that predict whether certain brain areas are active simultaneously.

How to have sex with a hyper-long penis (if your a beetle)
The mechanics might help with creating tiny syringe needles!

Matching Genomes
It turns out that a little mismatch between genomes is good when it comes to mitochondria and the nucleus. A recent study using mice found that those with greater ancestral mismatch were healthier overall despite experiencing increased oxidative stress.

Martian Moons
The two Martian moons might be relics from an ancient moon impact.

Titan Life?
Hydrogen cyanide polymers might provide support structures for the evolution of life on Titan.

Octopus eyes are full of odd-shaped surprises!
Cephalopods appear at first glance to only see in black and white, but why, then, do they signal eachother in fantastic displays, or how then, can they camouflage so well? This new research may have the answer, and it has to do with their odd-shaped pupils.

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