10 December, 2014 – Episode 493 – This Week in Science


Where’s The Plastic, New Old Bones, Smart Homo, Old Tiny Farmers, No Bald Bees, Suicidal Tendencies, Hovering Hummers, Vampire Birds, Handy Crows, No Cancer From Phones, Space News, Laser Life, AI Debate, Puffy Puffers, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer!
The view from planet earth is amazing or terrible depending
on who is looking, where they are looking and what they might be looking for…
If you look up on a clear night outside the influence of a
well lit city you can see the stars as our ancient ancestors once did… filling
the sky with countless suns, vast distances from our own…
We now know that this view is of only a tiny fraction of the
stars that populate our milky way galaxy…
And that our milky way is only one of hundreds of billions
of galaxies that populate the universe…
And as we set our sights nearer than the stars to our own
solar system…
We await our first detailed glimpse of a former planet that
has thus far been seen as a mere pixilated smudge in Hubbles lens…
Yes, there is still much to see and the view from here is
getting better all the time
Here on This Week in Science… Coming up next!!!

Where’s The Plastic
A new study of oceanic plastic levels estimates based on samples taken from various ocean sites that at minimum there are some 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons afloat. Additionally, microparticles of less than 4.75 mm in size were dramatically missing from the analysis.

New Old Bones
The fossil evidence of the first neoceratopsian dinosaur with an Asian origin during the late early Cretaceous was unearthed in Montana, and researchers have named it Aquilops americana, or American Eagle.

Smart Homo
Archaelogists have determined etchings on a shell were intentional, and the work of Homo erectus some 500,000 years ago.

Old Tiny Farmers
Ants have been culturing fungus gardens for about 50 million years.

No Bald Bees
The reason there are no bald bees? Propolis. It decreases inflammation, and stimulates hair growth in mice.

Suicidal Tendencies
They are all in your head. Brain scans indicate abnormalities in the pre-frontal cortex in adolescents who are potentially suicidal.

Hummingbirds use stationary landmarks to hover in one place.
Without the stationary reference points, the hummingbirds had a lot of trouble staying stable – those tiny brains are hard-wired for very specific skills!

Vampire Birds want to Suck Your Blood!!
Some birds (on opposite end of the planet) have adapted to subsist off the blood of larger animals – creepy!

Crows are right or left handed… er… beaked… er… eyed…
Crows favor one eye over the other when using tools and assessing their work. They are some of the only species of birds found to have this preference.

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Do electrical lines case cancer?
So far, all signs point to no.

New Horizons Awakes
The mission to Pluto came out of its 18th dormancy successfully on Saturday, and will rendezvous with the kind-of planet in July of 2015.

Lake On Mars
Curiosity has sent back images and data that have been interpreted as comprising an ancient lake that went through several sedimentation events.

Deuterium Data Drama
Data from the Rosina instrument on Rosetta suggest that comets could not have been the origin of Earth’s water, and asteroids might be worth a revisit.

Laser Life!http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/12/early-rosetta-data-causes-rethink-of-where-earth-got-its-water/
Using a high-powered laser focused on a lump of clay, scientists in Prague simulated an asteroid impact, which resulted in the formation of the 4 nucleotide bases required to form RNA.

AI Debate
What do you think? Hawking says we mess with AI at our peril. Others disagree.

Puffy Puffers
Pupper fish don’t hold their breath to puff up, but the process is still quite tiresome.

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I'm the host of this little science show.