01 July, 2015 – Episode 521 – This Week in Science (TWIS)


Add A Second, Cometary Sinkholes, Another Blowup, Neander-Human Hybrid!, Another DNA Base?, Tropical Wyoming?, Pew Pew Pew, Fruit Fly Sex, Invertebrate Self-Love?, The Sex Difference, Epigenetic Brain, Cats!, Babblers, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
The past week made history, as all weeks that pass do…
But of the weeks that pass, the last may live in memory
longer than most
For it is this week in which the American healthcare system
moved closer to first world status
Allowing the hard work of medical researchers to reach the patients
the work was intended for,
Improving quality of life…
The past week made federal law the civil right of marriage… overdue
as it may be, we now live on the right side of a historically discriminatory practice
Allowing for all citizens to be wed…
Improving quality of life…
And the past week we shot a rocket into the air and watched
as it landed there,
And there and there and all over over-there…
Proving that the theme of the past week still holds for the
future, that there is always room for improvement…
And while last week proved us to be improvable as a society
Nowhere else is the
improbability of proof more profound than what we find provided by the progress
of science each and every week right here on
This Week in Science…
Coming Up Next

Add A Second
We added a leap second last night, the fourth since the year 2000, to adjust for the discrepancy between our atomic clock and a slowing of the Earth’s rotation.

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.

Another Blowup
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after liftoff this past week.

Neander-Human Hybrid!
A 40,000 year old human fossil was unearthed in Romania with twice the amount of Neanderthal DNA as found in modern humans. The find suggests that the individual was removed from their Neanderthal ancestor by only 4-6 generations.

Another DNA Base?
Cambridge University scientists discovered a form of cytosine, called 5-formylcytosine (5fC), thought to be a transient epigenetic modification is actually stable in mouse tissues. The finding suggests that 5fC might be a 5th nucleotide used within the genome for regulation of gene expression.

Tropical Wyoming?
What once was may be again. Evidence suggests that the Wyoming climate was once balmy and wet. Will increases in CO2 lead our climate down this path again?

Epigenetic mechanism revealed in brain cells
More evidence, this time in the brain of all places, as to how changes in gene expression occur during our lifetimes. This particular epigenetic control system allows new synaptic connections between nerve cells and could influence changes in our behavior.

Female fruit flies can be too hot
Some females are so attractive that they spend so much energy fending off suitors that their reproductive success is forfeited. So maybe you can be too attractive…

The ins and outs of fruit fly sex
New research with fruit flies gives insight into the mating process, the mechanics, and chemical reactions involved.

Mass Extinction paved the way for our fishy future
Fossilized fish teeth indicate that ray-finned fished thrived after the meteor-caused mass extinction, and turned the ocean into the fish-dominated landscape we now see below the waves.

Invertebrate Self-Love?
Hermaphroditice flatworm uses “hypodermic insemination” to inject its own head with semen when no other worms are around for mating.

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Pew Pew Pew research poll…
So many statistics about how we view science and science-based political issues. Turns out education plays a significant role.

The Sex Difference
Researchers have found differences between male and female mice in the pain sensitivity pathway. Males utilize microglia to trasfer signals about nerve pain, whereas females use B or T immune cells. This signalling pathway is influenced by testosterone, but it’s not yet clear whether other species have a similar physiological difference.

More Aggressive
Statins were found to increase aggression in older women, whereas the picture is more complex in men. The importance of gender studies like this should be highlighted as we work to understand the physiological and behavioral effects of the drugs we use for specific therapeutic outcomes.

Human Evolution in the present day
Genetic diversity makes taller smarter humans

Babbling Birds
Australian Babblers don’t really babble at all. It seems they use a form of language.

Cats go where Coyotes aren’t
Cat owners are in denial
Both these stories help us assess how to control wildlife fatalities due to cats.

Saber-toothed Sabers
They grew throughout a cat’s life, and took years to grow.

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.