08 July, 2015 – Episode 522 – This Week in Science (TWIS)


In Pluto’s Shadow, Go FermiLab!, Dolphin Brains, Mammoth Matters, Quick Squirrels, Squirrel Disease, Sailing Spiders!, Mongoose Breeding Update, Aging And Immunity, Wherefore AR, Revealing Black Holes, World Robot Domination, Lady Domination, And Much More…

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Science is ever pushing the boundaries of what we know about
the world.
Further and further, more and more, greater and still
greater advances we see each day
New developments in technology
New insights into genetics
New findings in cosmology
New results in treating medical woes
New understanding of the evolution of life
New clues to animal behavior and comprehension
New leads to pursue in preserving our environmental peace
New this, new that, new new new new new…
So much new news is available to us each day on the
scientific front that it is sometimes alarming how little news reporting is
done upon the subjects of science…
A wealth of knowledge is fueling our future, and most people
will never know where it is taking us…
And while this will remain true for most of the planet’s
population, you have found a way to keep up with the present push of scientific
So now that you are here, let’s get right to the new
knowledge the world is newly not knowing about with
This Week in Science…
Coming Up Next!

In Pluto’s Shadow
As we get ready for New Horizons to reach Pluto next week, another experimental craft here on Earth known as SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) flew through the shadow of Pluto as it occulted a distant star to find out about Pluto’s atmosphere.

Go FermiLab!
FermiLab set a neutrino beam world recor this past week with the most powerful beam ever, 521 Kilowatts, which surpasses CERN’s efforts.

Dolphin Brains
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) of preserved dolphin brains suggests that the cetacean neural pathways for hearing are much more complex than thought. In fact, the pathways in the brain look similar to other distantly related echolocating mammals, bats, implying that convergent evolution might play a role here.

Mammoth Matters
Genetic analysis of mammoth DNA compared to modern elephants shows several places mutations changed proteins and led to new physiological adaptations.

Smart Squirrels
Squirrels not only remember where food is hidden, but also learn ways to be more efficient at finding hidden food. Basically, there is a reason they are in parks around the world. Squirrels are smart.

…And they will kill us all…
Squirrels are vectors for Lyme disease. Don’t feed the squirrels.

Sailing Spiders!
Spiders that fly thorugh the air, or “balloon,” use their legs as sails and silk as an anchor when they land on water. THE SPIDERS ARE EVERYWHERE – WE CAN’T ESCAPE THEM!

Mongoose breeding update
Mongooses may have taken a clue from Shakespeare (or visa versa)? The mongoose plot thickens this week…

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Age-related cognitive decline tied to immune-system molecule
Mice without B2M, a major-histocompatibility complex related compound, lived longer with less age-related cognitive decline. When injected with B2M the mice began to experience problems with their memories. Will this lead to a drug to combat human mental deterioration with aging?

Wherefore Art Thou AR?
Our brains might not be set up for all the information that heads-up displays can offer. What kinds of information are useful versus distracting? Which aid us in rapid decision-making or hinder our thought process?

Supermassive black holes revealed
With new eyes in the skies looking for x-ray signatures, these giants hidden from our view by cosmic dust clouds will hide no longer.

No Dutch Humanoids
Turns out the robot revolution in the Netherlands will not take a human form. The Dutch want the distinction between man and bot to be clear.

AI ‘Sees’ Galaxies
Using a techniques called unsupervised machine learning computer scientists at the University of Hertfordshire have taught a machine (i.e. developed an algorithm) to discriminate images of distant galaxies.

AI Finds Radiation
And, machine learning has also allowed the development of a system that can differentiate radioactive signals from benign ones more accurately than traditional methods.

Why did the seahorse have a square tail?
Not the beginning of a joke, but the newest finding in nature, and soon robotics! A square jointed tail is stronger, more durable, and graspier (is that a word?).

Go Ladies!
Women in academia are patenting at a faster rate than their couterparts in industry or individuals.

How Well Do We Smell?
A study once estimated the human ability to discriminate odors at 10 Trillion. Is this possible? A recent analysis suggests not.

Cat Urine Kills…

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.