01 November, 2017 – Episode 643 – This Week in Science


Cooperating Chimps, Aging Is Inescapable, Peptide Life, Oceanic Kleptos, Vibrating Oysters, Speed Of Gravity, AI For Suicide, Aliens Like Us, Space Brain!, Attosecond X-ray, T-Rex Arms, Salty Saliva, And Much More…

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Nobody gets out of here alive…
It’s not a threat…
Just the cards you have been dealt by being alive…
That one day,
you will shuffle off this mortal coil…
And in the meantime…
Everything you see, hear, smell, taste and touch…
This is the world.
And yet,
the world is much bigger still than this…
For there is knowledge.
Knowledge that can take us far beyond see, hear, smell, taste and touch…
Knowledge that can fill our everything with just about anything
From the big bang to the microbial muck…
From genomic manipulations to rovers on mars…
From basic chemistry to advanced theories on how gravity works
Knowledge is to be found everywhere
And we humans are adept as can be at it.
And every new bit of knowledge that we have…
Gives our world, our life, our everything…
a little more
This Week in Science,
Coming Up Next…

This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“Dear Dr. Kiki, Justin, and Blair,

I live in Oklahoma City, where science struggles for respect. But we also have a lot of
wildlife out here, and that’s where science does so much for me. I am a pollinator gardener, and, thanks to countless hard-working entomologists and botanists, I have an x-ray view into the world of the fascinating insects that populate my gardens. Thanks to their studies, I can look at a Monarch butterfly, and fully appreciate the struggles that she has overcome, just to reach my garden. And it is deeply-satisfying to know that I am directly contributing to the survival of a threatened species. And I only know that, because of scientific research.

Scientists also allow me to peer into the inner lives of bees. For example, did you know that Queen bees determine the sex of their babies by choosing whether or not to add sperm to each egg? Entomologists told me that.

Here is another fun story about bees, full of intrigue and internecine warfare. Bumblebees are quite different from honeybees, because their queen isn’t the only one who lays eggs. In late summer, her daughter worker bees also lay eggs. Isn’t that amazing? But wait, there’s more. The Mother bee eats her daughters’ eggs, and they eat hers, and the reproduction battle is on. By the end of the season, the colony will end up with a certain percentage of males who are NOT the queen’s sons. Wicked crazy, right? Thank you, scientists, for this amazing discovery.

And thanks to the scientists who are working hard to find out how to save our pollinators. Our lives would be so boring without the bees and butterflies, not to mention their critical role in agriculture.

And, last but not least, thanks to our science mentors, like you guys. I enjoy your spirited debates. Justin’s crazy ideas are sometimes really spot-on. I’m so glad he thinks outside the box, and I’m also glad that Dr. Kiki and Blair are there to challenge his REALLY crazy ideas. There’s nothing more true to science than a lively debate. Keep up the great work! …..Holly Hunter, Oklahoma City”

Cooperating Chimps
A study shows that chimpanzees will cooperate to count to 8 to get a reward. We wonder what kind of a reward will be required for them to write a Shakespearean sonnet.

Aging Is Inescapable
Two researchers argue that aging is the invetable result of a balance between cell death and cancer, and that there is no way to escape it.

Life… how all that got started
Might not have been RNA first after all.

Kleptopredation – adding insult to injury in the open ocean.
Nudibranchs reportedly exhibit this newly discovered behavior, wherein they eat something that just finished gobbling down their own meal, thereby getting two meals for the price of one. At least the prey didn’t go out hungry?

“Little oysters! Little oysters! But answer there came none.”
And this was scarcely odd because… they were clamped down to hide from the racket you were making.

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Traveling at the speed of gravity
The recent neutron star merger discovery might have negative repercussions for some modified theories of gravity. It all depends on whether gravity travels at the same speed as light.

AI For Suicide
Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence learning algorithm that can identify suicidal brains on the basis of fMRI scans.

Aliens are just like us…
sort of… maybe…

Space Brain!
An MRI study of astronauts brains discovered structural changes to the brain that resulted after long periods in microgravity.

Attosecond X-ray
The fastest thing humans have ever done… create a laser pulse that can keep up with electrons.

No tACS For Memory
In the first study to test tACS direct influence on brain activation in humans, researchers found no effect on memory-related brain waves.

T Rex’s arms may be useful, after all.
Their structure has one researcher scratching his head (which t rex’s can’t do), suggesting that perhaps those stubby arms were used for slashing, if only in the juvenile state?

Salty Saliva
Is there an enzyme in saliva that might keep our salt consumption down?

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I'm the host of this little science show.