14 October, 2010 – This Week in Science


Slushy Moons, TWiThe End of the World OR Clymidia, Electric Microbes, GoupStress, TWiWorld Robot Domination, Minion Mailbag, And Much More!!!

Show Notes:
Microbial Electricity
Researchers at the University of Southern California, have discovered that some bacteria can grow electrical hair that lets them link up to form a microbial electrical circuit. This suggests that these bacterial colonies may survive, communicate and share energy by sometimes using these bacterial nano wires. The researchers grew colonies of a bacteria called Shewanella Oneidensus MR-1, which has plenty of these nano wires. They deposited the MR-1 bacteria across a microscopic surface covered with electrodes, and when the nano wires touched two electrodes, a closed circuit was formed, enabling a measurable flow of current.

Americans Trust Scientists More Regarding Climate Change.
A recent survey has concluded that more and more Americans trust scientists about climate Change. More and more people are turning to trusted science agencies, scientists, science programs and science museums for information. But there are many Americans who still get their information from biased sources like TV, media, the internet and climate deniers.

Carbon Dioxide, The Main Driving Force Behind The Greenhouse Effect
Researchers at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies ( GISS ) conducted a study into how greenhouse gasses and clouds effects our atmosphere. The new Atmosphere-Ocean Climate Modeling Study revealed that carbon dioxide has a big part to play in controlling earths temperature. Although water vapor and clouds contribute to global warming, the researchers discovered that non-condensing gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFC’s and ozone provide the core influence towards the greenhouse effect. In an experiment to remove these non-condensing gasses from the atmospheric climate model, the greenhouse effect promptly disappeared and the earth returned to an icy planet.

Enceladus throws a wobble, lets off steam
Saturn’s moon Enceladus is not as lifeless as it seems. In 2005, Nasa’s Cassini probe, photographed giant jets of water gushing from fissures on the surface. This left scientists baffled as to how a seemingly dead moon can be so active. They have since surmised that between the push and the pull of Saturn’s gravity and it’s elliptical orbit, a gravitational tidal forcing is caused. This then heats the ice under the surface by friction and tears the crust on the moon, resulting in the jets of water spotted by Cassini.

Titan, Life from the Atmosphere ?
Researchers have demonstrated that complex organic molecules such as amino acids and nucleotide bases, could be formed by chemical processes in the atmosphere of Titan. Using radio-frequency radiation as an energy source, scientists produced these building blocks of life in a reaction chamber, proving that these complex molecules could be formed without liquid water.

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Group Stress
Scientists in Israel have conducted studies to see how stress and anxiety affects large social groups. Using the natural predator and prey relationships between the owl and the vole, researchers were able to test the unified group responses to a common threat. They were surprised to discover that the stress levels amongst a group of voles that shared a particular dangerous experience, were equal in each vole, whereas voles that were stressed when alone, had different levels of stress between them. Their research could lead to a better understanding and treatments for victims involved in a trauma experienced as a group.

Robot Hit Me, But Be Gentle
Isaac Asimov must be turning in his grave. Scientists in Slovenia are encouraging robots to punch people. Asimov’s Law stresses that a ‘Robot may not injure a human being or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm’. So in order for robots not to harm people, they must first learn the limits of their powers and understand the forces that cause people harm or injury.

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