05 September, 2018 – Episode 686 – This Week in Science (TWIS) Podcast


Chickens And Eggs, Sexy Brain Cells, Medical Gene Editing, Space Elevator, Color Hawk Eyes, Meals And Mating, Medieval DNA, Plant Promises, Old Cheese, Ladies Follow Ladies, Self-aware Fish, And Much More…

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The distant future is a long way off…
At least it used to be.
It used to be a lot further,
and much farther…
When people refer to the distant future these days,
They often mean what people used to mean when they would say that something was right around the corner…
From the beginning of space to the outer edges time…
The pace of things on planet earth is constantly picking up.
So every once in a while it’s worth slowing down…
And catching up on with all the wonderful things that go on in the world of
This week in Science
Coming Up Next…

Chickens And Eggs
In quantum weirdness, it doesn’t matter!

Sexy Brain Cells
Microglia look and act differently in the male and female mouse brains.

Medical Gene Editing
A very small trial of a CRISPR-based therapy to treat muscular dystrophy in dogs reported successful reinstatement of protein production in affected tissues.

Space elevator
Is this REALLY finally happening?

Harris Hawks have stunning color vision.
So I guess that’s another thing they can lord over Blair…

Are you hungry for steak or are you just happy to see me?
Cockroaches eat more protein with high mating frequency. So next time someone orders a meat-heavy meal, you can draw your own conclusions…

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“Hello TWIS,
Just over two years ago I woke up one early one morning with pain in my
abdomen. The pain worsened rapidly and my wife decided a trip to the
emergency room might be in order. By the time we had completed the half hour
trip the pain was so bad that I was rocking back and forth while moaning
constantly, simply trying to cope.
The staff at the hospital did an excellent job of getting the pain under
control and proceeding with a diagnosis. 7 hours later I was undergoing
emergency surgery.
Turns out my bowel had twisted and blocked itself. I found out later that
this was, in my case, extremely rare. It generally only happens when there
has been pervious abdominal surgery where the bowel can catch on the scar.
My belly had been a surgical virgin until the knife hit it that afternoon.
I also found out that later that the injury is very time sensitive. The
bowel can go into sepsis after as little as twelve hours. That is bad, very
I now realise that for 99 point several 9s percent of human history I would
have experienced a very slow and agonising death.
As it was, thanks to the expertise of the medical staff I left the hospital
two days later with a few stitches and a prohibition on lifting for a few

So, what has science done for me lately? Well there’s that.

Plus, of course, smart phones, safer vehicles, virtually unlimited access to
information, HD television, instant communication, streaming, a healthier
microbiome, pictures of Pluto,
productivity, instant banking, cleaner laundry, TWIS, a chance to feed the
world, a career, racing simulators, longer life expectancy, never washing
dishes, video games, some control of my cognitive biases, podcasts, robots,
more accurate weather forecasts, world travel, knowledge…..

Thanks for a very entertaining and informative show. Please keep up the
great work.
–Jorj ”

Medieval DNA
DNA shows us that people are just people.

Plant Promises
Australian scientists have managed to combine a CO2-eating carboxysome from blue-green algae with the cells of crop plants in the hopes that yieds will eventually increase some 60%.

Algae Future
Scientists in Cambridge have managed to wire photosynthetic bits from plants together with hydrogenase, an enzyme from algae, and water-splitting technology to improve upon nature’s designs, and possibly get us closer to cheaper, cleaner energy production.

Old Cheese
Cheese is older than bread.

Ladies Follow Ladies
Female vervet monkeys are more likely to copy other females than to learn from males. Whereas males aren’t as discriminating about their teachers.

Self-aware fish
Even the cleaner wrasse has enough self-awareness to know not to wear SOMETHING LIKE THAT ON CASUAL FRIDAY! LEARN HOW TO USE A MIRROR KAREN… FISH CAN!

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I'm the host of this little science show.