04 November, 2015 – Episode 539 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Antarctica Is Doomed, Antarctica Is Fine, Vampiric Microbes, Social Anti-Matter, Popeye Quack frog Sex, Cowbirds Get Out, Oxytocin Social, Dopamine Damage, New World Pompeii, Dating Mass Extinction, Viral Skin, How To Astronaut, Redaction, Sex Change Tree, Poop For Power, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer!
If you have ever gazed upwards on a starry night,
and wanted a closer look at the twinkling lights…
If you have ever noticed how sounds change as they approach and then depart…
If you have ever touched something rough or smooth or warm or wet
and wondered why it feels the way it does…
If you have ever pondered why some things taste sweet,
while others are bitter…
And why is it when I throw a ball in the air, it falls down…
every time… without exception…
The answers we are accustomed to accepting tell us little about why…
The twinkling lights are stars,
things that are wet feel wet because they are wet…
Things that are heated up feel hot…
ice cream feels cold and tastes sweet because it is frozen
and has sugar in it…
and when you throw something into the air it falls down
because that’s what down means…
or does… something about gravity…
If you have ever wondered what the world is like beyond your senses,
and beyond the simple answers…
Then you have within you the makings of a scientist…
Because that is what all of science is at its core,
a curious mind asking why, even after a simple answer is provided…
Each and every week we bring you the latest discoveries by
curious minds who have never tired of asking why…
and never feared the more complicated answer…
And together we will learn things we never even thought to question
Here on This Week in Science…
Coming Up Next

Antarctica Is Doomed
A computer simulation of the collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet finds that due to melting over the next few decades, it will collapse within several centuries and lead to at least 3 meters of sea level rise.

Antarctica Is Fine
An outlier study using new measurement and analysis techniques found that ice is increasing on the southern continent. The result is discussion and concern among the climate research community — most people do not agree with the result.

Vampiric Microbes
Who lurked in the seas 750 million years ago? According to a study of fossil micro-organisms, possibly vampire-like cellular predators that punctured their prey to suck out their juicy innards.

Anti-matter not anti-social
Turns out it likes its own kind just as much and at the same distances as regular matter.

Frog sex is complicated…
Muscular dudes wrestle their competitors and win the chance to mate, unless there are so many they don’t have a chance to fight them all. Then, it’s the guy with the biggest… Sperm?

Cowbirds avoid their false mother so as not to get confused
It was suspected that baby cowbirds followed their mother out of their host warbler’s nest to maintain their identity, but it turns out they go on nocturnal adventures all on their own.

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Oxytocin For Socializing
It appears that oxytocin increases levels of an endocannabinoid called anandamide in a part of the reward circuit called the nucleus accumbens. So does socializing. As a result, researchers think a drug could make people better at socializing.

Insulin For Reward
It has been confirmed that insulin stimulates dopamine-releasing neurons in the brain. In fact, the more insulin is in the brain, the more dopamine is released. So, seeking out food that contains glucose will release more dopamine, like a drug. The study authors suggest that this might explain why individuals with Type-2 diabetes continue to express unhealthy eating habits even though it would behoove them to consume less sugar.

New World Pompeii
The Mayan people experienced a volcanic eruption on the scale of Pompeii, and archaeologists are slowly unearthing a small city to discover more of their secrets.

New dating of mass extinction
A layer of ash has given geologists new information about the timing of the largest mass extinction to occur on Earth.

Viral Skin
A recent study confirmed that we are covered in viruses — most of which had never before been identified. Thankfully, the majority of these virii were bacteria-infecting pages.

How to be an astronaut
You need to apply, but you may or may not be able to go anywhere.

Sex changing tree:
An ancient tree in Great Britian thousands of years old is suddenly sprouting berries, after spending all of its recorded life as a male.

The study reported earlier this year where chimps learned each others’ term for “apple” was overstated and flawed. Whoops!

Poop For Power
We could use people poop to power homes around the developing world.

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.