09 March, 2016 – Episode 557 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Snow-capped Pluvian Mountaintops, About Those Clouds, Adding To Antibiotics, Ant Brains, It’s Not The Sperm, Same Sex Power Play, Pump Water For Climytia, Magnetic Mind Control, World Robot Domination, Neat Bees, Zika Brains, And Much More!

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!
It’s big world out there…
Not just in the global geographical sense of things…
Yes there are a lot of places to go and see and a wildly diverse range of landscapes to take in…
But the human world is bigger than the planet we happen to be visiting…
For the human world has gone far beyond the visible horizons…
Because the human world is also the world of mind
And within the human mind we can take in landscapes without worldly location
We imagine our way into a thousand lives through our fiction,
as if living them out ourselves…
We walk through fields of physics,
plucking particles from the pasture as though they were wild flowers
We engineer our way to distant planets,
and invented vision to see far beyond our galactic borders
And we re-invent our understanding of everything at every opportunity to improve our knowledge,
our understanding,
and our ability to take on challenges that once had seemed impossible…
It’s a big world out there…
But there’s a much bigger one between your ears and nowhere is that made more clear than
This Week in Science…
Coming up next…

Snow-capped Pluvian Mountaintops
Mountains covered with methane abound on Pluto, according to new evidence from the New Horizon’s mission. An instrument named Ralph imaged the mountains rising out of a region named Cthulu, and found infrared evidence of ice on the mountaintops.

About Those Clouds
Whether or not Pluto’s thin atmosphere is able to form clouds, indicating an active gas cycle, is a question that was brought up this week with reports from New Scientist suggesting preliminary evience of said cloud formation. Note: no one from the New Horizon’s team has weighted in on this yet, so as of now we still don’t know. Please, stop using this as a reason to re-planetize Pluto.

Adding To Antibiotics
Scientists have developed a new method for reinvigorating old antibiotics: add another compound to the mix. When small, biologically inert chemicals called tarocins are added to antibiotics, like methicillin, it renders resistant bacteria once again susceptible.

Ant brains follow their environment
Visual brain areas increased in size or shrank according to visual needs.

Seminal fluid: the plot thickens
It turns out a male can transfer vital information through mating events, even when the female is not in a fertile stage. What mysteries the male “investment” still contains!

Same-sex behavior in beetles is a power play
Beetles may use same-sex sexual behavior to diffuse tension and feel out opponents, as well as to demonstrate social status. Well, that’s one way to get out of a fight!

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How to beat global sea rise?
Getting wetter while warming?

Magnetic Mind Control
Researchers reported developing a magnetically stimulated ion channel, which they linked to touch receptive cells in zebra fish and to dopaminergic neurons in mice. When stimulated, the fish tried to move their tails away from an imagined source of touch, and the mice spent more time in an area of their cage with a magnetic field. The work suggests a new tool has arrived for the study of the brain and behavior.

World Robot Domination
An unpublished study suggests that we might just follow them to our doom.

Our Immune Past
Endogenous retroviruses might be tightly involved in the functioning of our immune systems.

The Zika-Brain Link
Although preliminary, a study shows that neural progenitor cells can be infected with Zika, and the infection leads to a reduction in cell growth and division.

What Is Maturity?
It seems having a fully developed pre-frontal cortex plays a major role. A recently published study found that rather than inhibit certain actions, adult monkey’s brains act to strengthen alternatives.

Would you rather be smart or healthy?
Nature makes us choose. But is the trade-off worth it?

Bees are compulsively neat
…Because living in a hive weakens their immune system.

The AI Is Winning
One game down out of 5, and Google’s AlphaGo is the winner so far in a series of matches against one of the world’s best Go players.

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I'm the host of this little science show.