11 September, 2014 – Episode 480 – This Week in Science


Boom! Goes The Sun, Solitons Make Me Nervous, Scared Outta Eggs, Back To Water, Fish Cooperate, Birds Are Loopy, Birds Are Loopy, Vitamin B1 For Brains, Bacterial Pharma Production, Thumb Wars, Purposeful Pelvises, Lips Like Jagger, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer!
The following is a conservation success story: this week marked the official return of California blue Whales to historical numbers. The blue whale, the largest animal on Earth, and at one time a creature driven to the brink of extinction, is back, at least along the California coast. So, what now? Are we done? No! This just shows that when the scientists, the hippies, the kids, and the media band together for something so implicitly positive as “save the whales,” it works. We can do it. We can protect and foster a species so gigantic our human brains can’t even comprehend it’s massiveness. So, let’s do it again, and again and again! Never stop! Find the conservation movements that are easy to get behind – and find ways to make all those others easier to get behind. Not one group of us can do it alone – we need each other. So, whether you are a tree-hugger, a chemist, a couch potato, a student, a news anchor, or an “other,” let’s band together for some… This week in science! Coming up next!!

Boom! Goes The Sun
A solar flare erupted from the sun aimed directly at Earth. Expect geomagnetic storms in the next few days.

Solitons Make Me Nervous
German researchers report the non-cancellation of nervous impulses traveling from opposite ends of a nerve, and suggest that it is further evidence in favor of a soliton theory of nerve conduction.

Frogs whose brothers get eaten are scared out of their eggs!
Treefrogs still in their eggs hatch sooner when some of the eggs get eaten. They somehow know and speed up the growing process to escape predation. Now that is precocial young!

Mosquito fish roll back to water in style!
Balance and orientation work the same in and out of water, it turns out. The “hop” onto land may not have been so difficult!

Trouts and eels are as good as chimps at working together
Trouts and eels work together to snag prey, and even pick the best partners for the task at hand – often with accuracy as good as chimpanzees! So much for a tiny fish brain…

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Birds Are Loopy
Research shows that many migratory bird species fly a looped path that follows “green wave” of vegetation.

Gettin’ Separated
Neo-tropical bird diversity is most likely to stem from birds moving beyond geographical barriers than to the formation of the barriers themselves.

Brain Keeps Chugging
You might go to sleep, but your brain keep working to make sense of the world.

Vitamin B1 For Brains
A lack of the vitamin was shown to lead to brain damage.

Bacterial Pharma Production
UCSF researchers suggest we should look to our bodies bacterial populations for production of the drugs we need.

Thumb Wars
Analysis of pressures on the digits, including the thumbs, during stone tool creation suggests that the thumb of the non-dominant hand was pivotal in evolution of dexterous hominid thumbs.

Whale pelvises are not vestigial, they are for sex!
Whale pelvic sizes are related to testes size and promiscuity, so maybe they are not so useless, after-all…

Lips Like Jagger
Ancient extinct swamp-dwelling hoofed anthracothere fossil discovered in Egypt, and named after Mick Jagger for its luscious lips.

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I'm the host of this little science show.