10 January, 2018 – Episode 653 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


2017 Predictions Review, Predictions for 2018, CRISPR Troubles, Pregnancy Or Infection, Anaesthetics Are Weird, Microbioroccoli, People Of Ice And Snow, Coldigators, Shrimp Defense, And Much More…

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Those who cannot remember the past…
It has been said…
Are condemned to repeat it.
As if the past were only a thing to avoid…
Many good things have come from the past…
Every good thing in fact has its origins in the past.
Much of it worth repeating!
So it’s just as well that we point out…
Those who don’t remember the past…
Will have a hard time replicating the positive results.
In any case,
knowing the past will help you make good decisions about the future…
And in some cases,
that knowledge can even allow you to predict the events that will come before they happen…
Like a local weather forecast…
More than just a premonition,
a prognostication!
With the right knowledge you too can be a soothsaying,
fortune telling, crystal balling, tea leave scattering,
flight of bird watching, climatology-voyant, oracle of the future…
And on today’s show,
we will show you just how easy it is as we ring in the new year with our prognostications for science in 2018…
Here on, you guessed it,
This Week In Science…
Coming Up Next.

2017 Predictions Review!!!
(Listen to the show for the full run-down…)

2018 Predictions!!!
a large unguided man-made object will re-enter the atmosphere and crash to earth…
While it is most likely to crash into the ocean… satellite
It could make land fall…
Even so, it would be highly unlikely to crash in your country, your state, your county or your town…
And if it did crash land in your town, the chances of you being under the spot where it lands at the moment it is landing is so unfathomably remote as to defy the logic of even attempting to calculate the chances of such an event occurring…
And yet, because that chance is not zero, it just might happen… In fact, the chance of an object from space landing on your head is just about as good as it landing any place else…
so keep looking up this year, especially around late march… you never know…
The Japanese space agency will return to space with its Hyabusa 2 mission… to land on an asteroid… this time the landing will go off without a hitch… and will be found to be covered in tardigrades
Every time I have predicted that the Saints would win the Super Bowl, they won the Super Bowl… This year is no exception…
A discovery in San Diego that appears to be evidence of early humans hunting Mammoths 130,000 years ago will be turned on its head when the researchers discover that in fact, the mammoths were hunting us!
The microbiome will continue to reveal the way it works to scientists… eventually the cure to most illnesses will be addressed not with drugs… but with bugs…
This one might not happen this year but it is foreseeable that… the majority of Floridians will continue to vote for candidates who oppose climate science… despite the fact that the state of Florida is now only slightly larger than Delaware…
Fecal transplants will become so commonplace, and the benefits so well known, that people stop washing their hands… turns out, that was not a great idea as stomach viruses replace irritable bowl syndrome cases…

-Sperm: the new time-release capsule for your down-under, will begin clinical trials for cancer treatment!
-We will discover a new kind of cephalopod!
-Tardigrades will be discovered out in space, proving them to be the original alien.
-Coffee will be proven good, and then bad, and then good again.
-2018 will be the warmest year on record…
-White nose syndrome treatment will begin in the wild, saving some of the world’s bat populations!
-A scientists will run for congress in 2018 AND WIN.
-I will spend another amazing year on TWIS, and will once again find myself astounded at what a coffee shop interview for an internship in late 2011 became…
-TWIS will cross another state off our live show map!

– Climate: No rest for the wicked… more extreme storms and flooding of low-lying regions, the Arctic will melt, drought and fires in the Western US, more bad news about coral reefs, we will see the conversations about states water rights heat up this year… I am a total pessimist about climate in 2018. BUT I am an optimist that people, starting to learn more about these issues, will begin to act to make a difference (i.e. there will be less “”debate”” and more action).
– CRISPR & gene editing/therapy: the guy who trialled a gene therapy for Hunter Syndrome will report a successful recovery, we will see more development of CRISPR based CAR-T type therapies for cancer and HIV, Chinese CRISPR trials for HPV treatment will report success before the year’s end…
– Space: The Juno mission will be extended by NASA because it continues to bring in such amazing data & isn’t being as compromised by Jupiter as was expected, TESS will launch successfully AND begin to elucidate us about neighboring exoplanets before the end of the year, the INSIGHT mission to Mars will NOT find little green men living in tunnels beneath the planet’s surface but it will get to Mars in one piece before the year ends, someone will launch a successful mission to the moon before the end of the year, India will successfully send a lander and rover to the moon; the event horizon telescope will show us a beautiful black hole for the first time.
– AI: 2018 will continue to be a lot of talk about the pros and cons of AI, but we won’t see much more than chatbots continue to take over your Twitter and robots inhabiting the uncanny valley. Self-driving vehicles numbers will begin to grow.
– Microbes: there will be a report of a new antibiotic class, microbes will be successfully paired with immune system to treat disease, based on data from tribal people a new fad diet will hit the public consciousness involving root vegetables from Africa and seasonal meats, and a rogue scientist will develop a way to control politicians with microbes
– Physics: Again, no challenge to the standard model, any new particles will only serve to add resolution to our understanding; nothing ground-breaking on the dark matter front; no graviton; we still won’t understand why our universe is made of matter
– Synthetic biology: No Yeast 2.0, or truly synthetic bacteria… yet.
– TWIS will continue to bring you amazing weekly shows AND at least two live shows… starting with SF Sketchfest next week!

Here are some predictions from UC Davis!

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“I love the GPS in my phone and have an outboard GPS for my car. And I spent part of my career working on GPS navigation for the Space Shuttle.

Of course an enormous amount of science was needed to build the GPS system, from the electronics of the GPS satellites to the rockets that launched the satellites. But what interests me is that GPS wouldn’t work without relativity, a fact that is not obvious at first glance. The GPS satellites travel at 14,000 km/hour, which is a small fraction of the speed of light, so one might think adjusting for relativistic effects would be unnecessary.

The calculation of your position is accomplished by triangulating the distances to at least four satellites computed by computing distances to the satellites derived from the difference between the broadcast times of the precision clocks in the satellites with the time of the clock in your receiver. The receiver then solves four equations with four unknowns: the x, y, and z of your position plus how much your receiver’s clock is fast or slow. The distances to the satellites are so great that it turns out ignoring relativistic adjustments renders the calculation useless because extraordinary precision is required. The clock ticks of the GPS satellite clocks must be known to 20-30 nanosecond accuracy. There are two (opposite) relativistic effects that cannot be ignored, the apparent slowdown of the GPS clocks due to the satellites speed relative to us, and the apparent speedup of the satellite clocks due to our relative closeness to the earth’s gravitational field. These errors combined are 38 microseconds, or 38000 nanoseconds, which is way more than the 20-30 ns accuracy required of the receiver’s knowledge of the GPS clocks. Your GPS’s calculation of your position would be seriously off in just a couple of minutes, and the error would grow to 10 km each day! But with relativistic adjustments, if you have a good view of the sky, your GPS can calculate your position within 5 or 10 meters!

So what has relativity theory done for me lately? It helps my phone tell me where I am to within a few meters!
–Tim Wegner

1. Source: http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html
2. If you google “Top 4 Reasons Why GPS Doesn’t Need Einstein’s Relativity” you will see that there is such a thing as relativity denial!”

CRISPR Troubles
Will the human body’s immune system reject CRISPR, and make potential therapies useless or even dangerous?

Pregnancy Or Infection
Seems pregnancy in placental mammals is a game of optimally managing the inflammatory response that normally acts to fight infections.

Anaesthetics Are Weird
A study looking at how a common anaesthetic called propofol affected the synapses themselves found that a protein responsible for synaptic release of neurotransmitters was deactivated, leading to reduced connectivity between neurons in the brain.

People of the land of the ice and snow
Genes tell an ancient history.

Eat your vegetables… now with extra health!

Shrimp help fight cancer!
Bioluminescence, harnessed from deep sea crustaceans, may be a new piece to the puzzle of beating cancer! A cancer snitch is a snitch I like…

8th graders help wildlife with perseverance, a science teacher, and a 3d printer.
Peg the duck had a grim outlook, until some middle schoolers took her on and made her an artificial leg. Now that’s the power of science, school, a love for nature, and teamwork!

FYI, those alligators are fine.
They are brumating, which is like hibernating, but for reptiles. They’ll be fine, they lived through the last ice age…

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I'm the host of this little science show.