09 August, 2017 – Episode 631 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Interview & Stories with Tom Merritt, Bees Know Zero, Gardening Cockroaches, Neutrino Bumpin’, Dark Matter Clumpin’, Tiny Ear Bones, Learn In Your Sleep, Diet For Learning, Pay-ola-opioid-pah-demic, And Much More…

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By far the most accomplished category of creature on planet earth
when it comes to certain things…
Harnessing, multiplying and applying energy to do work…
Humans are good at that…
They succeed at technology,
where other creatures seem un-inclined to endeavor…
In this, above all other actions, they are most successful…
Humans make tools,
and learned to fly…
Which is clever,
but only casually so when compared to a crow…
which can do both of these hands free.
Humans domesticated cat and dog to be subservient companion species,
for whom the humans toil to provide food and shelter,
and pick up after asking for nothing in return…
as if it is they in charge of the situation…
Human special effects in film and video seem fantastical feats…
Until you see in real time,
and in reality,
the shape shifting,
color changing cuttlefish’s skill at illusion.
Humans can tell a good tale,
though there are better bards amongst the beluga…
Termite mound architecture dwarfs even the tallest skyscraper by scale.
And, not even the fastest fast rapper can keep pace with a Kookaburra.
And, these are but a few examples…
Humans are not nearly the all accomplishing planetary firsters they believe themselves to be…
They act as if all category of accomplishment belongs to them,
simply because they refuse to invite any other species to the competition…
Though there is one accomplishment the Humans have made
that all the creatures of the earth are at once thankful and envious of…
This Week In Science…
Coming Up Next

This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“Besides science, my other passion in life has always been painting. Recently, I have picked up my old oil paints and brushes and have profited of hours upon hours of the soothing application of layers of paint in a canvas, letting my creativity unwind.
At the same time, it got me thinking about how this activity was done in the past. For instance, pigments and dyes used to achieve vibrant and intense hues that really stuck to the canvas were often obtained from rather hazardous materials. Many well-known examples include lead for whites, arsenic for greens, and mercury for reds, which were essential to obtain a long-lasting hue, but were also critically toxic. And in most cases, the reasons behind the debilitating conditions were not even well understood and thus couldn’t be cured, nor could they be treated.
Fortunately for artists today, toxicity is one of the main concerns in the production of modern supplies, whether that is paint, solvents, lacquers, and tools alike. It was science which lead to the identification of these compounds as the culprits of such a diminished quality of life: consequence of prolonged and improper exposure to such noxious substances. Moreover, science has allowed both the discovery and the synthesis of less-harmful alternatives than those compounds used in the past.
Today, painting is —for the most part— a no-longer-life-threatening activity which I can enjoy while listening to the reassuring and constant progress of science delivered by your amazing show!
Thank you for such an inspiring and entertaining effort to inform and spread the word about the wonders of what humans are able to do through careful and methodical thought. You make it seem like an easy task, but making a podcast like yours is a feat that requires extensive amounts of consistency, patience, organization, commitment and most of all, passion. Thanks for being an inspiration to myself as an aspiring scientist, about to finish my undergraduate studies as a chemical engineer, and eager to pursue research-oriented opportunities out there. Listening to you every week fuels my hope that humans are capable of changing our collective future through the power of SCIENCE! Keep up the good work! Greetings from Mexico!”
— Minion Fernando López Haro

Interview & Stories with Tom Merritt
Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont, the Daily Tech News Show, covering the most important tech issues of the day with the smartest minds in technology, Current Geek with Scott Johnson, CordKillers with Brian Brushwood, and Top5 for Tech Republic. He also writes books.

Focus On Hearing
Scientists at Columbia Engineering published a study in the Journal of Neural Engineering described a system that combines a little mind reading with some AI to create a hearing aid that can focus on one particular speaker. The system uses a deep neural network to separate speakers in a stream of audio, then monitor neural recordings of a person’s brain to match which speaker the person is focusing on and amplify that.

Sleep Learning!
Researchers at MIT have developed an AI that analyze radio signals to measure sleep stages. A box emits low-power radio waves and analyzes the reflections. The key was training a deep neural network to recognize respiration and pulse signals among the other irrelevant information. In a test of 25 healthy volunteers the new technique was 80% accurate, comparable to an EEG monitored by specialists. This means sleep studies would no longer be restricted to lab situations with electrodes attached to your head. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dina
Katabi led the study, which will be presented at the International Conference on Machine Learning on Aug. 9.

Bees understand what nothing means
Nothing, it means, like, the absence of something… but can you quantify what doesn’t exist? If you’re a bee, you can!

Cockroaches are tiny little gardeners!
Cockroaches are actually important seed dispersers. Who knew???

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Neutrino Bumpin’
Over 40 years ago it was predicted based on quantum mechanics that neutrinos can lightly bump into other particles. Finally, a group of physicists confirm that prediction with a device that could lead to portable neutrino detectors.

Dark Matter Clumpin’
A bunch of papers and data from the first year of the five year long Dark Energy Survey have been released supporting the idea that 26% of the universe is dark matter and giving us the most precise map of dark matter in the universe yet.

Common ancestor between apes and humans
A baby’s skull shares secrets of human evolution.

Learn In Your Sleep
A study now shows that we can learn during REM stages of sleep.

Diet For Learning
Or, you might consider limiting your intake of kynurenic acid…

How many doctors got kickbacks from pharma script writing?… THAT MANY!?!?!

Mexican Dead Zone
Researchers couldn’t even measure how big it was, it is so big.

Astronomer Job Available
China needs someone to run the world’s largest radio telescope.

Planetary Protection
And, NASA has a job opening… it has nothing to do with Men in Black.

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.