10 April, 2014 – Episode 459 – This Week in Science

April 14th, 2014

Ocean On Enceladus, Hubble Sees Farther, Spinal Electrification, Vagina Lab, Organ Regeneration, Liquored Up And In The Mood, Lonely Death, Brave Stupid Fish, Neander Parenting, AntiBac Soap Smackdown, Cloudy Coughs, World Robot Domination, And Much More…

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Oceans on Enceladus!
A big old ocean has been found under the frozen surface of Saturn’s moon.

Hubble Sees Farther
Using a distant galaxy and the mathematical concept of trigonometric parallax, astronomers have developed a method to allow Hubble to see up to 10 times further away.

Spinal Movements!
Four paralyzed individuals were able to make limited movements at various joints when physical therapy was paired with electric stimulation to the spine suggesting that recovery from paralysis might be possible.

Vajayay farm?
Vaginas constructed from a structural lattice and patients’ tissues were shown to be fully functional when implanted.

First Animal Organ Regeneration
The thymus gland was fully regenerated using chemical signals for growth in mice.

Prarie Voles get in the mood with the aid of liquid courage
Prarie Voles are monogamous, as opposed to their cousin, the montane vole. This appears to be due to oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in the brain. However, when they imbibe alcohol, men get more promiscuous, and women get more faithful. What’s more, they have peer pressure!

Being lonely could shorten your lifespan
African grey parrots housed in isolation had significantly shorter telomeres, potentially leading to a shorter lifespan. Maybe it’s time to go speed dating?

Fish that use both sides of their brain are more brave
Fish that had lateralization of the brain (like right or left handedness) were more hesitant in ominous circumstances, whereas the fish without a brain side preference were bolder. Usually lateralization is related to a higher IQ, so is the bravery actually just stupidity?

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We did it… and Neander parenting
Research shows more and more definitively that humans interbred with neandertals. Also, the neanderthal race were surprisingly doting parents.

Antibac Soap Suds
Triclosan found in hand soaps promoted bacterial growth in the noses of some individuals, and might contribute to infection.

Cough And Cloud
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. The cloud of vapor and microbes that results sticks around and travels further than we thought.

A Robot’s Gaze
Eye-contact is found to be important in making people like robots. Staring or inappropriately timed eye movements make people uncomfortable when dealing with humanoid robots.

Bots and Roaches
Harvard University scientists created nanobots made of DNA and injected them into cockroaches as drug delivery tools.

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03 April, 2014 – Episode 458 – This Week in Science

April 7th, 2014

NASA Disses Russia, Old Man Moon, Not So Wet, Vibrators For Health, Spidey Smell, No More Whaling, Bowerbird Color Show, Fraudulent Or Genius, Low Cal Life, 7 Undeadly Portions, Middle-Fauna, Meatless Mondays, Hype For D, Snow No Water, Bionic Roo, And Much More…

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NASA Disses Russia
NASA suspends direct relations with Russia over tensions in the Ukraine. The suspension will immediately affect NASA’s space and science efforts. However, ISS activities are still allowed.

The Moon is old!
Using models of solar system formation and rare elements in the Earth’s crust, researchers constrained the impact that formed the moon to 95 million years after planets in our system started condensing, plus or minus 30 million years. So, probably some 4 million years ago.

Less Lunar Water?
A new analysis of the formation of hydrogen-rich apatite, the mineral that has us thinking there is lots of water on the moon, suggests that the moon may be quite dry.

Take two vibrators and call me in the morning

Spiders smell compatible women!
St. Andrew spiders can smell if a female has already mated twice and hence is clogged up. If he didn’t know, he could get eaten for coming too close!

Japan ordered to stop whaling for “science”
Japan claims it was for research, but they have killed thousands of whales and only publishd two papers. The have finally been told to knock it off.

Male bowerbirds know how to stand out in a crowd
Bowerbirds have figured out how to use color spectrums to their advantage, by making the bower highlight their brightest features.

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Messy genius or science fraudster?

Cut Calories, Live Longer?
Macaque monkeys on calorie restriction live 30% longer than those on an unrestricted diet, according to a new study out in Nature. But, it might not be a simple issue of calories in versus calories out, rather how lean you are to start with and how your body deals with certain foods might be at play.

7 undeadly portions

How do you wire a mouse?

Baby brain map

Meat and dairy adding more than we thought to climate change
If we are to meet to UN’s agressive climate change quota of 2 degrees celcius, we need to cut down on the meat and cheese.

It’s not the megafauna, it’s the middle-fauna!
Middle-sized animals are most vulnerable to extinction, a new study shows. We had forgotten to include predators in our models!

Don’t Need D?
Meta-review found no real benefit to taking Vitamin D supplements. However, 3rd trimester D levels in mothers did correlate to higher birth weight in babies.

Snow but no water

Bionic Roo for you!

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27 March, 2014 – Episode 457 – This Week in Science

April 2nd, 2014

Far Out Space Stuff, Meddling With Methane, Smart Crows, Shrinking Salamanders, Stupid Pandas, Natural History Needs You!, MindReading Is Real, Synthetic Chromosomes,Homeopathetic Remedies, And Much More…

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Ringed Asteroid!
A relatively small, rocky asteroid lying between Saturn and Uranus, named Chariklo, is encircled by two rubble-filled rings. The finding of which overturns the idea that only planets wear jewelry. Researchers think there must be a small shepherd moon responsible for maintaining the structures since the asteroid with its minimal gravity would have a difficult time doing so on its own.

New Distant Member of Solar System Found
Taking a look at the Oort cloud isn’t easy to do because it is billions of miles from Earth. Even so, astronomers have found an object known as 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden after the Vice President of the US, that measures approximately 450km in diameter, and orbits eccentrically with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units, or that is to say that the closest it gets to the sun is 80 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun. The discovery makes it the second object (the first was Sedna) to confirm the existence of the inner Oort cloud, and has scientists wondering if there might be another even larger object orbiting out beyond Neptune.

Crows are Smart
Crows understand causal relationships as well as a 7-year-old human child. That Aesop’s fable with the bucket and the pebbles? All true.

Climate Change is shrinking salamanders!
Higher temperatures mean cold-blooded animals have to eat more, and use more energy, leaving less to grow. Salamanders in North America are shrinking at a similar rate to climate change.

Stupid Pandas…
Pandas aren’t fat and lazy enough… they love sugar water, too. But seriously, this is important research! Listen!

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Faces From Brains
Yale University neuroscientists used fMRI and computation to “mind-read” and reconstruct images of faces people saw.

Building a Synthetic Yeast
An international team of researchers have replaced a chromosome within the yeast genome with a completely synthetic one. The man-made chromosome is sleeker, with 15% fewer genes than the original, and also potentially allows for the organism to translate synthetic amino acids into proteins.

Homeopathy Watch:
This makes my head hurt.

Vote for your favorite space suit!

doesn’t make you snotty

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20 March, 2014 – Episode 456 – This Week in Science

March 31st, 2014

Mining For Genes, Not By The Porpoise’s Chin, Chicken From Hell, Dogs Dig Odors, Python GPS, Old Faithful Owl Monkeys, Sharing Is Caring For Parrots, Sleep For Your Brain, Killing Pain With Cone Snails, Interview w/ BICEP2 co-leader Dr. Chao-lin Kuo, And Much More

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Mining For Genetic Expression
It’s not just what genes you’ve got, but how they are expressed that matters. At Berkeley Lab, researchers created the largest analysis to date of the transcriptome (the RNA that tells DNA to make something) using fruit flies, which are used as a model organism for human disease because they are similar in many genetic respects. They found new genes and rare RNAs involved in many tissues, unexpected complexity within the nervous system and brain, and surprising new aspects to the stress response.

Porpoise Gots Chin
An extinct California porpoise had an elongated chin, called a symphysis, measuring 83-84 cm longer than its closest living relative, the Crown porpoise. Researchers used CT scanning to discover it had significant internal nerve tracts that would have made the chin very sensitive, and allowed it to transmit all sorts of information to the porpoise as it probed the sea floor for food.

The Chicken From Hell
North America was once home to a giant demon chicken.

Your dog
digs your odor

Pythons have a GPS
What are they, pigeons?!

Owl monkeys are faithful
No cheating for these primates!

Parrots share
If they know it will benefit them in the long run…

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GUEST INTERVIEW: Dr. Chao-lin Kuo from Stanford University and the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica that recently detected evidence of the Big Bang.
Stanford SLAC press release



Chao-lin telling Andrei Linde about discovery (Video)

More Science!!!
Sleep loss causes permanent damage
Up to 25% of neurons died in the locus coerulus of mice on sleep schedule similar to that of people on shift-work. Making up for lost sleep by sleeping more did not repair the damage.

Cone snail Venom Kills Pain

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13 March, 2014 – Episode 455 – This Week in Science

March 19th, 2014

Water Everywhere, Time Matters To Brains, Tiny Arctic T-Rex, Parents Care Longtime, Spider Ant Bodyguards, Pachyderm Linguists, Sexy Cannibal Dinner, World Robot Domination, Two Kinds Of O, People Don’t Know Water, Hangovers Tech Nothing, Animals See Power, Monkey Segregation, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer
Science is amazing!
Science is evolving!
Science is the sum of trial minus error over time.
Hits minus misses.
But don’t diss the miss.
The miss is important,
almost as important as the hit.
The miss tells us where we are moving in the wrong direction, studying the wrong thing and it might even show us a hit we didn’t even think of.
We all want the hits, but the credit should go to all the misses we’ve befriended, who have pointed us on our journey to Hitsville and waved us on our way.
Here’s to the miss, hero of science.
But don’t miss
This Week in Science…
Coming up next!

Many thanks to Tony Steele for this episode’s Disclaimer!

Water Everywhere
Water found bound within a diamond suggests that much of our Earth consists of water.

Time Matters
Brain scans confirmed that the hippocampus categorizes memories by context, the who, what, when, where, and how of an event. When the order of events was changed researchers detected changes in the electrical patterns of the brain.

Tiny Arctic Dino
We don’t know if it was cute, but there was a pygmy T-Rex dinosaur living in the arctic many millions of years ago. And, by pygmy, we mean still taller than any of us.

Spider uses ant as bodyguard
What a pathetic spider! Can’t even fight his own battles!

Elephants are linguists
Elephants know different human languages

Cannibalism is sexy
… if you’re a spider

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WORld Robot Domination
We Will Obey
Would you obey a robot master? Many people will!
Fish Are Robots Too!
Robotic fish get smooth moves from gas hydraulics and silicone.

Two Kinds For Ladies
Of the Big ‘O’, that is… we discuss the news in an adult fashion, of course.

How much Water do you use?
Really, you are bad at estimating your actual water use. But, try to think more about being efficient, especially if you live in California.

Hangovers Teach Nothing
So, if you do drink, know that past hangovers won’t dissuade you from future drunks.

Animals can see power
Power lines flash and spark and have halos in the animal world. No wonder they avoid them.

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06 March, 2014 – Episode 454 – This Week in Science

March 12th, 2014

Ice Virus, Do You Like Music?, Chicken Tails, Beauty Under The Sea, Ladies Sing Too, Where Sea Turtles Swim, Getting Brainy: Sound, Math, And Bodies, Chemical Life Extension, Smarty Pants Plants, And Much More…

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This Week in Science…
Coming up next!

It Came From the Ice
While only infecting ameobas, this is the largest virus found to date, and the oldest; it was revived from 32,000 year old permafrost. The question arises whether there are more viruses to be found that would be a threat to humanity.

Blair’s Animal Corner
What happens when you give paleontologists chickens?

The most beautiful animal you’ve never seen

Bird song isn’t just for the gentlemen
It looks like Darwin got bird song backwards. It’s ok Charles, you still have your beaks!

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How Brains See the World
When Blind People See with Sound
The same area of the brain, the extra-striate body area, becomes activated by the human form in both sighted individuals and those who learned to see with sound.

Math is Art
Beauty is in the mind of the beholder, and when it comes to math equations it is in the mind of the mathematician.

Getting Out of Body
A college woman came forward after learning about out-of-body experiences in a class, revealing that she has been able to have these experiences since pre-school. fMRI concluded that visual areas of the brain are turned off and other motor areas are activated.

Plants are smart – even smarter than we thought
Plants may be using cost-benefit analysis to make decisions – wait… WHAT?!

SRT1720 For A Long Life
A chemical mimetic for calorie restriction called SRT1720 extended the lifespan of mice on a standard diet by 9% in addition to extending the lifespan of mice fed a high-fat diet.

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27 February, 2014 – Episode 453 – This Week in Science

March 5th, 2014

Radiation Ocean, Kepler Wins Big, Gaia In Orbit, Robots Publishing Gibberish, Palm Oil Farts, Feed The Cows, Undersea Tetrapod Cafeteria, Bleeding Crabs Dry, AntiVax Creeps, Female Brain Good, Cities Dry Up, Super Old Cheese, Baby Poop Sausage, Pandas Flee, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer
This is not a test.
All testing was done before the show started.

The stories you are about to hear are true
The facts have not been changed so that we may prevent our ignorance

Since claims you hear today are based on scientific experimentation
actual results will not vary

In the event of emerging data by future study of similar subjects
The hypotheses you hear here now will either be refuted or confirmed

Therefore, any offers of knowledge are subject to peer review approval
The only thing that will likely not be subject to change over time is this…

From the big bang to the latest advances…
We got more science news than Chinese zoos got pandas

on This Week in Science…
Coming up next!

Fukushima radiation hits the west coast!!!
But, it hasn’t hit the US yet, only beaches in British Columbia. Researchers reported at the AGU Ocean Sciences meeting that the Japanese radiation in the form of cesium-134 and 137 is not expected to reach levels of concern. Why? The ocean is a very big tub of water.

Kepler hits the jackpot!
Finds 715 new planets using new technique that doesn’t depend on outside confirmation by ground-based telescope.

Gaia is in orbit
The ESA launched the Gaia mission in December 2013 to do a massive survey of the sky with the largest camera in space to date. The telescope has reached its orbit point 1.5 million km from Earth, and opposite the sun from the Earth from where it will map stars in the Milky Way and look for potential Earth-bound asteroids.

Gibberish makes it into science
Papers created by artificial intelligence algorithm have been published by publishing companies such as Springer and the IEEE, as well as in conference proceedings for many conferences in China. The papers were filled with gibberish and included fake authors.

well… methane…
Palm oil isn’t bad enough as a rainforest destroyer
it releases asinine amounts of methane, too.

… and we can reduce the cow farts in our atmosphere
by feeding our livestock better

The earth’s first tetrapods ate underwater
proving genetic evidence, fossil evidence, and ecological evidence that we came from fishies.

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Bleeding crabs
bleeding horseshoe crabs for their bacterial sensing ability leaves them the worse for wear.

Pandas are troubled by livestock
pandas run away when horses come around, and then the horses eat all their bamboo. How much more pathetic can you get, Pandas?!

Female brains can deal
with more genetic mutations that affect brain development, explaining how more males develop autism than females.

Climate change ends big cities

Super old cheese

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20 February, 2014 – Episode 452 – This Week in Science

February 25th, 2014

Stem Cell Sagas, Dogs Listen, Kanga Climate Keepers, Snake Venom Keeps, White Water Ants, Manta Ray Parties, Short To Long, LASER Eugenics, Robo-Termites!, Shapely Math, Poop Is A Drug, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer
The time we humans have upon the earth is too short to waste on foolish things
Of course, the debate of what is and what is not a foolish thing has been going on for thousands of years and taken up the time and energy of so many millions of lives that that in itself may be a foolish pursuit.
So, it might be time to be more specific about how to avoid wasting the precious time we have here on our planet Earth.
One idea comes to mind: stick to those things that have never been considered a waste.
Things that are worth the time they take to accomplish.
Things that alter the course of future events for the better.
Things that have a positive effect on you, the people around you, or all of human kind.
Stick to those things that are rewarding, enlightening, inspiring, life-changing, titillating, scintillating, record-breaking, joy-making, or fascinating.
And how can you find those things? They are all too often found…
This week in science… coming up next

Stem Cell Saga Continues
It seems that every time there is a major advancement in stem cell research, it comes along with some kind of trouble. We know this isn’t always the case, as stem cell pioneer Shinji Yamanaka received last year’s Nobel prize. But, last week’s reporting by many news outlets of acid-bath reprogramming of skin cells to a pre-pluripotent state has turned into inquiry related to reporting irregularities. We will have to wait to hear whether replications of the technique by other labs pan out.

But, it’s not all bad news in stem cell town…

Stem Cell Success
Gladstone Institute scientists have used a chemical cocktail of small molecules to reprogram skin cells into beating heart cells. The work is being reported in the journal Cell Reports.

Return to Emoticons
In other news, last week I reported briefly that our brains are responding to emoticons as they would to faces. I overstated the results, and would like to clarify. Although, our brains are responding to emoticons featurally, (eyes, nose, mouth equal a face), the researchers suggest that emoticons are shorthand for the thing or idea they represent and thus take a different path thru the brain to the same end.

Mysterious Manta Ray Parties in Guam
Manta Rays hang out under the moon light, oddly during the time surgeonfish spawn… But WHY?

Snake Venom good for, well, pretty much forever
This is good news for snakes previously caught and milked for medicinal research

Kangaroo fossils can tell us about climate change
By studying the fossil record of kangaroos we can see how plants have changed, and from there figure out the relative climate.

Ants build raft to escape floods
Ants build rafts, with their queen in the middle, to survive conditions they would never make it through alone.

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From Short To Long
The non-disease forms of small proteins called prions are probably the key to long term memories, according to recent research by Kausik Si of the Stowers Center for Medical Research. The prion protein in fruit fly neurons is called Orb2. It comes is two variants: Orb2A and Orb2B. It’s the Orb2B variant that is able to form long chains, turns other prions evil, creates clumps within the neuron, and leads to eventual cell death. Orb2A is stable on its own, and when protected from cellular house-keeping machinery by a protein called TOB, can persist in the synapse. This allows a second protein called Lim kinase to phosphorylate the complex after the synapse is electrically stimulated. The actions of Orb2A are self-perpetuating in the synapse at this point, and function to maintain synapse activation, and the cellular equivalent of long-term memory. The key to maintaining a memory is self-propagation of chemical chain reactions under specific circumstances, which the prion seems to fulfill for good or for ill.

Higher Spectral Purity – Laser Eugenics
Researchers at CalTech have engineered a laser for optical communications with a higher spectral purity, an approximately 20-times narrower range of frequencies than possible in the older model currently in use. This means that if adopted by fiber-optic networks, the internet could see orders of magnitude increases in bandwidth… not that you would ever see them, really.

Termite Robots Build A New World
Harvard University designed TERMES robot teams are able to construct a human sized structure after seeing the blueprints, and without knowing what their counterparts are doing.

Mathematicians Find Shapes!
A whole new class of shapes, called Goldberg polyhedra, has been described based on research investigating a protein in the eye called clathrin. The basic idea for these shapes, which are based on Platonic ideals of the pyramid, cube, octagon, etc. , is that they bulge, but their faces have been divided by smaller shapes at various angles to one another to such a degree that the faces remain flat. The new category could allow better determination of natural structures like viruses.

FDA considers Poop a Drug
OpenBiome is collecting stool samples from healthy pre-screened individuals and sending them to hospitals for fecal transplants. The FDA is allowing them to do this under their current drug regulations.

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