14 October, 2015 – Episode 536 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Chimeras Under Scrutiny, Silencing Shadowy PERVs, Digital Rats, Cretaceous Furball!, Zebra Chatter, Fruit Fly Nose, Skyrmions, Rearranging Bird Tree, What The Frack, Brain Booster, Tendency To Conspiracy, And Much More…

Chimeras Under Scrutiny
The US NIH has put a moratorium on funding research that involves injecting stem cells into embryos to see how they develop. Researchers are standing by.

Silencing Shadowy PERVs
PERVs, porcince endogenous retroviruses, cause a lot of trouble when it comes to transplanting pig organs into humans. Thanks to new research using CRISPR, the trouble may soon be overcome.

Digital Rats
The Blue Brain project has succeeded in digitally modelling a slice of rat brain.

The Cretaceous Furball
A new fossil find from 125 million years ago describes an early rat-sized mammal with many surprisingly modern traits.

Toxic runoff is killing coho – but there’s hope!
Runoff from roadways is killing coho salmon on the west coast when they travel upstream to spawn, often in less than 24 hours. The good news is that a cheap, easy filtration system renders the water virtually harmless! The question is, will we get these systems in place before the El Nino storms hit??

Zebra finches have a lot to say
Finch calls differ from time of year, to breeding receptiveness, to pair bonding. It turns out they are quite the little chatterboxes!!

The fruit fly nose knows.
Fruit flies leave chemical signals for each other to identify the best food and breeding grounds – which begs the question, what other insects do this as well??

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Rearranging Bird Tree
A new analysis of nearly 200 species has determined that the avian family tree should be redrawn. Turns out that it makes a lot of sense, too.

A new form of spintronic memory storage under development at UC Davis might have finally left the lab.

Tendency To Conspiracy
Conspiracy theorists are no more likely to see patterns where there are none than other people. However, they are more likely to be left-leaning politically.

Alien Stars
Did aliens build a Dyson sphere?

Unexpected brain booster
Mismatched perceptual information might make our brains more perceptive and discerning according to new research.

What the Frack
More miscarriages occur in areas near fracking operations.

Lifelike robotic finger out of… Florida??
A process of heating and cooling runs this new technology that moves, looks, and feels like a real finger. Neat? Ew? Both?

Familiarity Frequency
Scientists are stimulating rat brains and changing the way they perceive novel or familiar pictures. The findings suggests that familiarity may simply come down to firing frequency.

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I'm the host of this little science show.