11 September, 2014 – Episode 480 – This Week in Science

September 12th, 2014

Boom! Goes The Sun, Solitons Make Me Nervous, Scared Outta Eggs, Back To Water, Fish Cooperate, Birds Are Loopy, Birds Are Loopy, Vitamin B1 For Brains, Bacterial Pharma Production, Thumb Wars, Purposeful Pelvises, Lips Like Jagger, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer!
The following is a conservation success story: this week marked the official return of California blue Whales to historical numbers. The blue whale, the largest animal on Earth, and at one time a creature driven to the brink of extinction, is back, at least along the California coast. So, what now? Are we done? No! This just shows that when the scientists, the hippies, the kids, and the media band together for something so implicitly positive as “save the whales,” it works. We can do it. We can protect and foster a species so gigantic our human brains can’t even comprehend it’s massiveness. So, let’s do it again, and again and again! Never stop! Find the conservation movements that are easy to get behind – and find ways to make all those others easier to get behind. Not one group of us can do it alone – we need each other. So, whether you are a tree-hugger, a chemist, a couch potato, a student, a news anchor, or an “other,” let’s band together for some… This week in science! Coming up next!!

Boom! Goes The Sun
A solar flare erupted from the sun aimed directly at Earth. Expect geomagnetic storms in the next few days.

Solitons Make Me Nervous
German researchers report the non-cancellation of nervous impulses traveling from opposite ends of a nerve, and suggest that it is further evidence in favor of a soliton theory of nerve conduction.

Frogs whose brothers get eaten are scared out of their eggs!
Treefrogs still in their eggs hatch sooner when some of the eggs get eaten. They somehow know and speed up the growing process to escape predation. Now that is precocial young!

Mosquito fish roll back to water in style!
Balance and orientation work the same in and out of water, it turns out. The “hop” onto land may not have been so difficult!

Trouts and eels are as good as chimps at working together
Trouts and eels work together to snag prey, and even pick the best partners for the task at hand – often with accuracy as good as chimpanzees! So much for a tiny fish brain…

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Birds Are Loopy
Research shows that many migratory bird species fly a looped path that follows “green wave” of vegetation.

Gettin’ Separated
Neo-tropical bird diversity is most likely to stem from birds moving beyond geographical barriers than to the formation of the barriers themselves.

Brain Keeps Chugging
You might go to sleep, but your brain keep working to make sense of the world.

Vitamin B1 For Brains
A lack of the vitamin was shown to lead to brain damage.

Bacterial Pharma Production
UCSF researchers suggest we should look to our bodies bacterial populations for production of the drugs we need.

Thumb Wars
Analysis of pressures on the digits, including the thumbs, during stone tool creation suggests that the thumb of the non-dominant hand was pivotal in evolution of dexterous hominid thumbs.

Whale pelvises are not vestigial, they are for sex!
Whale pelvic sizes are related to testes size and promiscuity, so maybe they are not so useless, after-all…

Lips Like Jagger
Ancient extinct swamp-dwelling hoofed anthracothere fossil discovered in Egypt, and named after Mick Jagger for its luscious lips.

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04 September, 2014 – Episode 479 – This Week in Science

September 5th, 2014

Your Vortex Needs Ice, Moving Rocks, Immense Heaven, Bird School, Salamander-boy, Fish Urine Aaphrodesiac!, Fearless Dreadnaughtus, Brain To Brain, Cancer Scanner, Martian Memory Wipe, Dead Russian Sex Geckos, Printed Robobirds, Eat Breakfast No Diabetes, Music Brain!, Pretty Low Sperm, And Much More…

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

Your Vortex Needs Ice
A study published in Nature Communications used observational data and modelling to propose a potential mechanism for the slippage of the polar vortex that causes extreme cold weather events outside of the norhtern pole region, suggesting that melting sea ice is to blame.

Moving Rocks
Death Valley’s famously sneaky rocks have been observed by scientists. Rare ice formation on the Racetrack playa coupled with light winds allows the normally still rocks to slide and create tracks that follow cracks in the ice and force from the wind.

Immense Heaven
Cosmic mapmakers have defined our local supercluster, called Laniakea, or Immense Heaven.

Bird School
Cockatoos learn to manufacture tools, and make improvements, after watching an older bird.

The new X-Man: Salamander-boy
Salamander skin may hold the key to super-human healing abilities!

Fish urine that calms males and excites females? Now that is an aphrodesiac!
Tilapia urine appears to have a pheromone in it that lowers testosterone in neighboring males and stimulates egg production in females. Now that is a shower of gold!

The handsomer the man, the lower his sperm count
Attractiveness was positively correlated with low sperm count in a recent study – indicating a trade off between characteristics for sexual selection and sperm count

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Fearless Dreadnaughtus
The largest dinosaur to date has been discovered, and it’s another plant-eater.

Brain Trade-offs
Two studies highlight the tradeoffs required by the brain. One focuses on development and energy allotment, concluding that toddlers grow less quickly due to the brain’s energy demands. The other concludes that the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex operates in part to balance honesty and self-interest, and that damage to the area results in more self-interested behavior.

Brain To Brain
Researchers successfully transmitted the messages ‘Hola’ and ‘Ciao’ over 5000 miles from the brain of the sender to the brain of the receiver via brain-computer interface and the internet. Receiving individuals experienced the message as phosphenes, or flashes of light, that they then translated appropriately.

Eating breakfast could keep you from getting diabetes
26% of students surveyed in the UK regularly did not eat breakfast. These students all had higher levels of blood values associated with type 2 diabetes.

Losing weight won’t stop diabetes
The type of food you eat is more important than the calories, so losing weight may not stop diabetes. Instead, eat healthier!

Music shapes your brain!
Disadvantaged youth showed congnative development after free community music programming

Cancer Scanner
A team of researchers have developed a handheld laser scanner that can detect Raman scattering nanoprobes contained in malignant tumor cells during surgery.

Martian Memory Wipe
NASA’s Opportunity rover is experiencing memory problems, and will receive a wipe to reformat its flash memory system and decrease reliance on malfunctioning flash memory cells.

Dead Russian Sex Geckos
5 geckos were sent into orbit by the Russians to have sex. None returned to Earth alive, and it is questionable whether they lived long enough to do the deed.

Printed Robobirds
A company called Clear Flight Solutions is 3-D printing robotic birds of prey to keep unwanted birds at bay.

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21 August, 2014 – Episode 477 – This Week in Science

August 22nd, 2014

Life Under Ice, Seals And TB, Understanding TB, Deep Sea Dandruff, Dead Star Toothpaste, Zombie Ants!!!, Big Brained Fish, Animal Talk, Spiders Getting Bigger, Interview w/ Garth Sundem on Beyond IQ, And Much More…

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer…
The things you already have are greater in value than the things you do not possess…
While this philosophical sounding statement my seem like physically impossible hooey at first listen…
Consider this…
the likelihood is that each listener to this show goes about their day to
day lives leveraging a decent dose of logic along the way…
One of the greatest gifts of the ancient world… Science!
It has allowed for societies to prosper and civilization to thrive…
It didn’t come about by easily or by accident mind you…
From tea houses in Babylonia to the stone cutters quarry in Greece…
From the mystic prequels to religion, to the early astronomers observations…
Science was forged logic by logic, one rational thought at a time over thousands of years…
We are surrounded by such wealth of logic and ability to reason that we sometimes
forget how lucky we are…
Yet look around…
and quickly you will notice places upon the earth still today where the
fires of logic and reason have been so poorly lit that they offer very little scientific
advantage to those who reside there…
Know that if you are hearing my voice now, you are living in a much more privileged world regardless
of personal wealth or national origin…
You have the ability to employ logic…
the resources to retain reason…
and the wisdom to tune into…
This week in science… coming up next!

Life Under The Ice!
Sub-glacial Antarctic Lake Whillans found to contain all sorts of previously unknown microbial species, mainly chemo-autotrophs.

Seals Brought Us TB
Genetic evidence suggests that people gave TB to pinnipeds, who then brought it to the new world and infected native peoples.

Understanding TB Latency
Interleukin 32 found to be an essential protein to protection from TB, but it only works in the presence of sufficient Vitamin D.

Deep Sea Dandruff
Where does dandruff come from?

Dead star toothpaste
What’s in my toothpaste?

Zombie Ants!!!!
At your doorstep…

Animal Language is far more complex than previously thought
Once again, humans have underestimated animal brains, assuming their languages were somewhat random – it turns out, perhaps not.

Big brained fish are better fathers
The male fish that give paternal care had larger brains – correlation, or causation?!

Spiders are getting bigger and it is our fault!
Orb weaver spiders are larger and more fecund in urban areas. Ack!

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Interview with Garth Sundem!
Garth writes books, speaks and blogs about science, math and the brain. He currently blogs at GeekDad, Science20.com, and PsychologyToday.com, was pummeled on the Hotties vs. Nerds episode of the gladitorial game show Wipeout, and is a TED-Ed speaker, former contributor to the Science Channel, and poker aficionado.
His most recent book Beyond IQ: Scientific Tools for Training Problem Solving, Intuition, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, and More“>”Beyond IQ” is available now.

Quick News Blurbs:
Ear tickle treatment?
Rubble Pile Forces
Young Songbirds Take the Slow Road
Yup, Neanders and Humans…
Coming Soon! Remote Controlled Moths
Hangover Cause and Cure!
Good food supply required for good ram sperm

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14 August, 2014 – Episode 476 – This Week in Science

August 15th, 2014

Triclosan And Pregnancy, Triclosan And Toothpaste, Fracking Ingredients, Robot Legs, Robot Nose, Laser Brains, Shark Week Lies!, Shadowy Parasites, Ever Increasing Testes, Family Macaque Face, Solving Diabetes, Mosquito-bourne Chikungunya, Cow cliques, Jet Lag Genes, Cybernetic Brains, Filling Face Holes, And Much More…

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer…
The history of mankind is one of continued progress…
And unrelenting opposition to said progress
The ancient mystics discovered logic and made myths to illustrate what they had learned
While those that followed made much of the myths
and kept little of the logic they were meant to teach
Modern science has made allowed a vision of the world without the use of mythology
And though we can often get lost in jabberwocky analogies of complex reality, the
reliability of the principals of science do not require belief or faith or inner
connection to mythical world…
The world science was there before we knew about it…
And will be there long after we are gone
But before we go we would like to offer you
This week in Science…
Coming up Next.

Let’s Talk Triclosan And Pregnancy
Researchers found triclosan in the urine of pregnant women and evidence that it transfers to the fetus. Additionally, they found a link between levels of butyl paraben (found in cosmetics) and shorter baby birth lengths. However, no long term effects are suggested.

Triclosan And Toothpaste
Triclosan in Colgate is coming under greater scrutiny as research used for FDA approval is made available, and endocrine interactions appear likely.

Fracking Ingredients
Science closes the gap on our knowledge about the ingredients used in the fracking process: 8 are toxic to mammals, a third of the 190 chemicals are not well-understood, and some effect aquatic life.

Robot Legs
Robot Nose
Laser Brain

What does population density have to do with testes size? A vole lot!
Voles have shown us that testes size changes as we might expect, but occasionallly surprises us…

Brood parasite competition – it’s fierce!
Cuckoos are not only in an arms race with their hosts, but also with eachother, trying to outsmart everyone into taking care of their babies. What lazy parents!

Macaques recognize their family, even if they haven’t met before
Facial features tipped monkeys off to their relatives so they didn’t make a very unfortunate mate-choice error.

More shark week drama
Shark week producers lied to scientists to get them to participate in shark week “documentaries”

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On diabetes trail…
Researchers have discovered a key signal in the metabolic pathway that leads to development of diabetes.

Factors For Virulence
Chikungunya virus, newly spreading in the United States, is spread by mosquitoes similarly to dengue and malaria. Recent research finds that the possibility of infection from a female mosquito depends on the temperature, mosquito strain, and viral strain, making control a complicated situation.

Scientists may have identified the gene responsible for jet lag!
Jet lag pills, come hither!

Cows pick who they hang out with – social cliques aren’t just for primates!

Our Cybernetic Future
Researchers are developing tiny, flexible nanoelectronics that could be injected into the brain to monitor and influence neuron activity.

Making Faces
A new material fills bone defects when mixed with water, and could help reconstruct facial deformity.

Gecko Toes Control Their Stick

Two-headed dolphin washes up on shore

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07 August, 2014 – Episode 475 – This Week in Science

August 8th, 2014

Taking A Comet’s Temp, Taking A Comet’s Picture, Ebola Chat, Momtopus, Deliberate Jellyfish, Butterfly Memories, The Impossible Drive, Human Shields, Kinder Gentler Society, Reprogram Your Brain, And Much More…

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer…
Despite the many versions that have come before… Humanity is
still in its beta testing mode…
The planetary and mental platform upon which everything is
being run… continues to prove itself unstable…
There are more bugs than there are people
More questions than there are solutions
And more societal glitches than there are political patches to keep the peace programs
from crashing
Thankfully, there are people attempting to maintain dedicated
service to a more stable world…
A world beyond bygone beta phase bugs, where an academically
administered alpha particle can be released to the benefit of all mankind
Scientists, programing a future of predictable performance
and dependable outcomes…
Despite all of this the will of course still be bugs crawling
about from time to time here on
This Week In Science…
Coming up Next.

Taking A Comet’s Temp
The comet is dusty.

Taking A Comet’s Picture
The ESA successfully completed a flyby of a comet this morning.

Ebola Chat
The Ebola outbreak is worsening. What is Ebola? What are the symptoms? And, what about vaccines and treatments?
Additional links:
WHO Factsheet

Deep Sea Octopus turns out to be Helicopter Mom
A species of deep sea octopus was discovered to brood over her eggs for four and a half years! Now that is a stay-at-home mom…

Butterflies remember the good ol days
Despite a catepillar essentially turning to soup inside its cuccoon, they can remember past experiences from its days as a larva.

Deliberate Jellyfish – Oxymoron?
Are the feeding strategies of jellyfish actually complex processes used also by supercomputers, or is it all just dumb luck?

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The Impossible Drive
NASA related engineers tested a model of what is called the “Em-Drive”, and found an anomoly that deserves further testing. Is this story another FTL neutrino or cold fusion thrill from the media?

Some monkeys use humans as human shields
Monkeys being studied by researchers were less concerned with being eaten by big cats when the humans were present.

Kinder Gentler Society
Looking at human skulls, we became more social and cooperative as our faces lost the testosterone edge.

Reprogram Your Brain
…with electromagnetic stimulation!

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24 July, 2014 – Episode 474 – This Week in Science

July 25th, 2014

Schizo Dollas, Climate Info, Analyzing Ice, Eat Green Drive Whatever, Internal Primal Ooze, No Water There, Sexy Fish Differences, Evolution wins!, Microbe Guts, Wide Face Race, No Moyle Briss, Saharabahamas, Lionfish Lessons, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
That last hundred years of human history have been the most human
filled hundred years of earths history…
More humans are sharing the planet at this moment than have
ever shared the planet before…
And so… now that we are here, in this, the most successful
evolutionary population explosion in human history… what shall we do with our
great numbers?
Shall we look to the
past and seek to better the accomplishments of our ancestors?
We could build a bigger pyramid… this time locating it somewhere
where tourists would feel safe traveling to…
Shall we look to the now and see what good we could do to immediately
impact our daily lives?
We could tackle the issues of today… only with so many of
us, it’s often hard to agree in common upon just what those are… though there
are plenty to choose from
Or shall we look to the future… and imagine the great
accomplishments we could set in motion today that would truly change the
destiny of all mankind for ever more?
We could set in motion the makings of a magnificent moon
colony, or pave the way to an energy independent tomorrow by investing in
alternative energies…
And while it is most likely that most humans sharing the
world today wouldn’t select any of these options… It has always been a small
percentage of the population with the vision and dedication to bring about
great things that improve the world and make the future a better place…
And that small percentage of people have never been so great
in numbers as they are today here on…
This week in science… coming up next

Show Schizophrenia The Money
Just as researchers publish 108 gene variants related to schizophrenia, the Broad Institute is promised $650 million to study the molecular underpinnings of psychiatric disorders and focus on treatment development.

Information Isn’t The Problem
Turns out people on both sides of the climate change issue know about the same amount of information about climate science. So, it isn’t the science that is the problem.

How Much Ice?
Software for the analysis of sea ice data was discovered to have overestimated the expansion of sea ice in Antarctica due to errors introduced during a software update.

Climate Change: It’s your steak’s fault
A new study suggests red meat consumption has a far greater impact on the environment and climate change than the emissions from cars. It’s time to change your meat-eating ways, America!!

The origin of all life alive and well today?
Ancient chemistry exists in the mitochondria of modern cells.

Planets, planets everywhere…
but not a drop to drink. Researchers found much less water on ‘Hot-Jupiter’ exoplanets than expected.

Fish show internal differences among the sexes
No, not there. That’s normal. But scientists have found differences in organs other than the gonads between males and females in some fish.

You win again, evolution!
Yet another case of convergent evolution has been found in the case of orb-weaver spiders (an old favorite). It turns out orb-weaving has come about more than once – I guess that means it is a strategy for success!

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Microbial Detox
Desert rats have gut microbes that enable them to eat Creosote bush leaves, which are toxic to other animals.

Making Ulcers
H. pylori homes in on microscopic injuries in your stomach, exacerbating the wounds and causing ulcers.

Carbs And Cancer
It looks like the Western high-carb diet is responsible for supporting gut microbes that cause colon cancer.

Sand in the Bahamas came from the Saharan desert.

Wide faces get ahead
Men with wider faces were better at negotiating, unless they teamed up.

The story you wish you hadn’t heard
A Jewish circumcision ritual is linked to Herpes in babies.

Bomb sniffing lasers…
Lasers are good.

Lionfish Lessons
Proper scientific citation is not followed by the media.

Cutting Out HIV
Using the CRISPR/CAS system, scientists are working at cutting HIV out of cells.

Mean Meerkat Mothers
They kill babies.

Covetous Canines
Yes, your dog gets jealous.

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17 July, 2014 – Episode 473 – This Week in Science

July 21st, 2014

CDC Messiness, Toxo Cures Cancer, Eating Elephants, Google Warming, 8000 Year Old Brains, Squirrel Urbanity, Baboon Schedules, Fish Memories, Dead Animals Tell Tales, What Ladies Wear, Baby Talk, Wisdom Of The Confident, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
We live in a world of leaders. People who make decisions on the behalf of
others and in doing so, shape the world we live in…
This is either a good system or a terrible one, but since it
is the only system we have ever known we have nothing to compare it to.
Yes we can point to this leader or that, this era of world
leaders or that and rate them as good, bad or mildly indifferent to the time in
which they led…
Even then it may matter more who is doing the judging of the
behavior than what the behavior is…
Genghis Khan was both a great leader and a bad neighbor,
depending on who you asked.
Hitler was unquestionably a ruthless genocidal Dictator with
a face only a Nazi mother could love… but oh how they loved him…
And so it goes right
down the line of human history and even today… nobody fights because they think
they are in the wrong, if anything WAR is an acronym for We Are Right!
But what if there were another way to run the world? A way that didn’t require leaders or armies
or warfare…
a world in which the most basic needs of humanity are met,
and the standards for civilized society are spelled out and complied with by
This world, this brave new civilization of un ending peace
and prosperity is much closer than you think.
I speak of course of the coming age of world robot
And when the day comes for our future robot masters to take control
of the mess mankind has made, I hope they take special notice of one segment of
humanity that has always worked the hardest to make the world a better place
for robot kind…
The scientists, the engineers, the programmers and of course
This week in science… coming up next

CDC Mess Ups
Oops, the Atlanta CDC lab accidentally contaminated a mild strain of flu with H5N1 (bird flu), and sent it to a low security agricultural lab.

CDC And Congress
CDC fesses up that they need to work on their “security”.

Toxo Cures Cancer
In the lab, a mutated version of T. gondii cures mice of cancer.

Clovis People Ate Elephants

Google Warming

8000 year old brains?!?!

Squirrel Life
Is urbanization a good thing or a bad thing for squirrels?

Baboons are on a tight schedule
The wily baboon starts picking nits early.

Fish have memory
And a really good one at that.

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What do kiwi, dodo, elephant birds and green pigeons have in common?

What Ladies Wear
Being scantily clad and wearing red makes other women like you less.

babies can talk
Or, at least, they know what we are saying long before they start talking.

Wisdom Of The Confident
Neuroscientists have discovered that wisdom of the crowd breaks down based on how biased individuals in the crowd are. Independent, “confident”, individuals lead to wiser crowds.

Mapping Ocean Plastic
A survey of plastics in the oceans has resulted in detailed maps of the distribution of such plastics, and understanding that not all plastics entering the oceans is accounted for.

Dry Ice Martian Gullies
Dry ice is responsible for gully-like geological formations that appear to be the consequence of flowing liquid water.

Pandas Eat Two
kinds of bamboo, that is.

Kudzu Is Bad News
The invasive plant drops material that is much easier for microbes to digest, so that less carbon-rich plant material degrades and is locked away, resulting in a net release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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10 July, 2014 – Episode 472 – This Week in Science

July 11th, 2014

The Planet That Wasn’t, Neand-Ear-Man, How Did We Come to Be, Birds Aren’t Dinos?, Revisiting Archaeopteryx, Bees Can Shout, Pesticides Affect Bee Foraging, It’s Not Just Bees, Spider Re-Animation, Your Skin Smells, Silence Or Shock?, No Mutants, Frameshifting Genes, Snapshots From Leaves, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
The world you are living in is the world of today.
It is not the world you were born into, and with some luck,
it is not the world you will die in.
In this day and age of here and now we have inherited a past
filled with innovation and ignorance…
As a people we have mastered nature, technology and
information as tools to increase our health wealth and knowledge…
On the shoulders of giants, we pioneered from the moon to
mars to beyond the solar system, we broke the genetic code, can carry the
library of Alexandria on a thumb drive, and in our pockets is a communication
device more powerful than anything every placed in the hands of individuals…
At the same time we have polluted our atmosphere to the
point of altering the climate to disastrous future consequence…
Our role in the present, the actions we take today will
reverberate out through the future timelines of our species…
No pressure…
It thankfully won’t take all of us to make a difference… but
will take you.
Because you, more so than most humans, are informed. You know the issue, the stakes and the
solution… and besides… you’ve seen who your neighbors are, and it isn’t them
the future is relying on
And you know this is right because right now you are
listening to This Week in Science…
Coming up next…

The Planet That Wasn’t
Gliese 581g turns out to be a misinterpreted blip in the data after closer scrutiny.

Inner ear bones indicative of neanderthal lineage were found in an early-human skull.

How Did We Come to Be
It was the climate and a diversity of traits that allowed Homo to spread around the globe.

Birds are birds?
Not flying Dino’s?

Revisiting Archaeopteryx
Feathers on a recent specimen indicate that feathers evolved first for insulation and communication, and secondarily for flight in theropod dinosaurs.

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Bees Can Shout
Talking about favored places to dine, animals usually whisper. But, this study finds some bee species shout the news of a great diner so that increased visits by friends will ward off visits by strangers.

Pesticides Affect Bee Foraging
Neonicitinoid pesticides were found to decrease the number of foraging bees and change the preference for forage choice.

It’s not just bees
Neonics also linked to declining bird populations in the Netherlands.

Spider Re-Animation
Scientists used cross-sections of a fossilized 410 million year old arachnid ancestor to graphically determine how it might have walked.

Smelling with your skin
You can do it. There are olfactory receptors in your skin.

Would you rather sit quietly or shock yourself?
More men than women like to shock themselves.

No Mutants!!!
Stem cells undergoing targeted gene replacement experience no more mutations than normal cells, easing fears that manipulating cells increases the mutation risk.

Frameshifting The Genes
Researchers found a messenger RNA that frameshifts an important immune respone gene about 10-15% of the time that the gene is transcribed, resulting in genetic gobbeldy-gook that gets thrown out with the cellular trash. It’s thought this is an important part of modulating the immune system’s inflammatory respone.

Snapshots from the edge
Using femto-second crystallography researchers have taken snapshots of photosynthesis in process, and aim to make a molecular movie in the near future.

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