12 July, 2012 – This Week in Science


World Gone Viral, California Happy Cows, New Plutonian Moon, Seducing Fireflies, Arsenic Life Update, Breast Size Determination, Brains, TWIWRD, And Much More…

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It’s a virus world
The HPV Herd
The HPV vaccine may have provided partial herd immunity in human women! However, the amount of non cancer-causing HPV is increasing. Still, a winning scenario…
Immune to outbreak
A version of the herpes virus that has attacked chickens reduces egg laying capabilities, so naturally scientists looked to develop a vaccine. Unfortunately, combining the three vaccines brought to market led to a stronger, deadly version of the virus.

Happy Cows DO Come from California!
Climate change appears to be affecting milk production in dairy cows, but moreso in hot, humid climates, such as in Florida. If climate change effects agriculture heavily enough, perhaps we can get more people on board to turn things around!

New Moon on Pluto?
The Hubble telescope has potentially discovered a new moon on pluto, donned “P5.” However, it’s physical attributes have yet to be affirmed. This means though that Pluto has five moons, but is still not deemed a “planet,” whereas Venus and Mercury have none of their own. Poor Pluto…

Blair’s Animal Corner
Female Fireflies – They’re Material Girls!
Male fireflies produce a series of flashes to seduce females. It turns out though, that females are more interested in the gifts the males might bestow upon them. The bigger the “present,” the more willing the female. What’s odd is that these “presents” are actually spermatophores, and size is everything, even though the fireflies internally fertilize. It sure is odd what some animals are into!

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Arsenic Life Update!
Two new papers published in Science strike a serious blow against research thought to indicate a new arsenic-based life-form. Scientists previously reported a microbe found in Mono Lake, called GFAJ-1, that withstood high levels of arsenic and possibly incorporated the element into its DNA in place of phosphorous. The new studies confirm that the bacterium is able to withstand high environmental arsenic concentrations, but reject the conclusion that arsenic is the basis for its unique physiology. However, this is not the last word on the topic.

Genes for Breast Size Found
The seven genetic markers responsible for bra and cup size were found through research from users of 23andme. Two of the seven were also associated with breast cancer risk.

Poker on the brain
The temporal-periatal junction was very active during poker playing. This area of the brain was previously never seen used during social interaction.
Pee-brained Research
Scientists monitored 12 female subjects in MRI machines who were asked to urinate. The brain was highly active during the activity, and they found a similar reaction in 5 of the 12.

World Robot Domination
Changing face
Scientists are developing robotic faces capable of expression. Children could even identify many of the expressions performed by the FACE robot.

Virgin Galactic Launch
A small “swarm” of satellites will be released from a Virgin Galactic launching vehicle sometime in the near future. Stay Tuned!

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