06 May, 2020 – Episode 772 – Celebrate the Science Teachers


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What is in the This Week in Science Podcast?

COVID19 Update, SMART Research, Dolphin Voices, Salmon Magnets, Neighborhood Black Hole, Hydrogen Worlds, Wireless Power, Mushrooms For Jet-Lag, Murder Hornet Mayhem, Sleeping Memory, Koala Licks, And Much More…

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Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!!!

It’s the one thing upon which the world is now relying to make civilization possible again.

While there have been significant advances in all areas of science over the past several decades….
While technology can cross continents and oceans to keep loved ones in contact
While new medicines can slow, prevent and even cure illnesses that once were swift and deadly
While we have discovered new planets, unraveled mysteries of human origin and learned so much about how our natural world functions…
While the fundamental way in which the physics of the universe is constructed continues to tell us stories through supercolliders, super novas and super cool space probes…

The one thing we could not do is remain vigilant to a threat that, while novel, is anything but new.
Our current predicament was not unimaginable, it was imagined, warned about, and not for nothing, because this has happened before.

We humans rely so much on science that we have gotten to a point where we simply take it for granted…
As if discovery were just a natural progression of time, bound to happen if we simply wait long enough.
As if there is a separate world where scientists are adulting full time, running worst case scenarios and attempting to anticipate threats to humanity with all the resources they need to complete the research required to avert tragedy.
And in a way, that’s true, except for the funded research…

If we take any lesson from this threat,
it is that research, not rhetoric creates makes this country great
That academic insight not just military might can keep our borders safe
And that This Week in Science
Is coming up next…

Let’s start with COVID-19 Update!

Beware The PrePrint!
PrePrints are a wonderful way for the scientific community to start wider conversations about their works that hopefully makes for better eventual publications. Unfortunately, wider media report Preprints as peer-reviewed publications, or underplay the fact that they aren’t vetted, resulting in potential social trauma due to hyping of cures , treatments, or tests for COVID. A recent publication on BioArxiv was sold by the LA Times as evidence that mutations are making it more infectious. This is still not known, and there are many problems with the interpretation. However, a peer-reviewed study in Science finds several mutations that we should definitely watch carefully.

French December
Playing into the question of just how long COVID 19 has been around, a new study describes a French patient who upon retrospective analysis is now diagnosed as having had the disease. There are so many issues with this study. Let’s not cherry-pick our data.

Antibody Accuracy
As we discussed last week, serology continues to be a big issue. There are a growing number of tests for SARS-CoV2 antibodies that would indicate whether one had been infected, and a growing number of analyses are finding that there is huge variablity in the accuracy of the tests. Until more of these test perform at an acceptable level, we will not be able to adequately use them at the individual level and potentially even at the population level.

Publishing in Nature researchers described a microwell array system using CRISPR-Cas9 called CARMEN to diagnose a variety of disease, including COVID-19.

SMART research aimed at making viruses more effective
Anti-phage mechanism discovered


Here is some SCIENCE!

SMART research aimed at making viruses more effective
Anti-phage mechanism discovered


Is it time for Blair’s Animal Corner???

So long, and thanks for all the fish
Pretty soon, we could be able to identify and track individual dolphins by their voice.

What do pigeons and salmon have in common?
No, it’s not their presence on a dinner plate, it’s their use of magnetic fields to get around!

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What has science done for you lately?

“Dear Kirsten, Justin and Blair,
What has science done for me lately.

Well, by lately, I mean most of my life. Starting about age 11 (this was in 1957), I discovered science and was hooked.

I remember lying in my bed at night as a boy, earpiece in my ear as I listened to my crystal radio. How I marveled that this little coil and crystal with no battery, no power, could bring me voices from all over the world.

Over the years my parents were victims of a merciless barrage of requests for science-y things: chemistry set, geology set, rock collecting expeditions, microscope set, ham radio, telescope, space for a laboratory at home – it only stopped when I moved out. I think the last straw was when I built a nuclear reactor in the back yard, and my dad had to check to when he got home from work so the neighborhood wouldn’t blow up.

They did their best to keep up, and with their encouragement, I eventually went to college. I was torn between astronomy and engineering, but eventually chose the one with the greater employment potential. However, I have always kept astronomy as my favorite interest. My wife can attest to the time and money invested!

Science has given me a logical foundation for discovering the world. It has given me hobbies, passions and a career. It has given me a profound sense of awe at the universe we live in. It has kept me up at 2 AM to observe the stars or watch Voyager sail by Saturn. It has given me things to say when people ask me “so what?” about our investments in science. It has allowed me to follow fields such as astrophysics, mathematics and quantum mechanics in a way that helps me deeply appreciate the complexities of our world.

Science has also added many happy and productive years to my life by helping me battle cancer, as I mentioned in a letter to a while back. But perhaps more importantly, it has brought me great joy in so many ways.

And lately, it has brought me to TWIS.

Science brings just as much excitement now, at age 73 as it did when I was 11. Few things in life can do that!

Thank you for your engaging show. I can’t wait to hear each new episode.

Yours truly,

Selden McCabe”

Write in to let us know what science has done for you lately. What does it do for you every day?
Leave us a message on our Facebook page – Facebook.com/ThisWeekinScience
OR email Dr. Kiki at kirsten@thisweekinscience.com


What science news does the second half of the show hold???

Neighborhood Black Hole
Only 1,000 light years away, the stars that orbit this black hole are viewable by the naked eye.

Hydrogen Worlds
Should we be looking for life on worlds with hydrogen dominated atmospheres?

Wireless power
Could wireless electric cars be in our future.

Mushrooms For Jet-Lag
The active compound in a mushroom known for increasing libido might also help with jet-lag.

Let’s finish strong with some quick stories!

Murder Hornet Mayhem
Don’t panic.

Sleeping Memory
Evidence that memories are replayed during sleep.

Koalas take a licking
Lapping up water from tree trunks is a prior unknown method for koalas to get water.

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