15 October, 2014 – Episode 485 – This Week in Science


Stem Cell Discovery, Nerve Proteins Get New Use, Stem Cell Solidarity, Pro-Anti-Biotic-Turkey-Pox, Estro-powers, Fecal Transplant Pills, Cooperative Crocs, Collapsible Birds, Gecko Glue, D-listing Da Drought, Oil Rigs Beat Reefs, Kanga-Shoes, Kanga-Shoes, Walk With Feeling, Holding It, Ebola Update, And Much More…

Disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer!
The universe is stranger than you think.
Even if you woke up this morning thinking what a sane and rational
world it is you live in…
Even if you take the regular route to grab a morning coffee…
Even if your day is unusually uneventful…
Even if this evening, everything turns out the way you
expect it to…
Everywhere around you, all the time… just below the surface
of the way things appear…
Strange things are happening…
Not that they are actually strange things going on, seeing
as they go on all the time …
But atomic, sub atomic, quantum things… invisible-ish quirky
quarky things…
Taking vastly different paths through spacetime than you are
likely to encounter on your way to grab a Wednesday morning coffee…
Unintuitive worlds where Newtonian physics do not apply,
Where the tics and tocs of time are beat out to rhythms faster
than the speed of sound
Worlds without day or night or consciousness or coffee or casual
And yet, despite all this there is still
This week in science…
Coming up Next

Stem Cell Discovery
Possibly overturning conventional wisdom about stem cells, germ layers during development, and what cells can become which tissues, scientists discovered stem cells in the liver that could become both liver and blood vessel cells.

Nerve Proteins Get New Use
Nerve filament proteins are being used to create brush polymers for use in surface materials like paint and cosmetics.

Stem Cell Solidarity
Stem cells in the olfactory bulbs of mice were found to strengthen the organization of the brain area, and have been implicated in maintaining memory.

Turkeys might be giving us the next class of antibiotics. A strain of bacteria harvested from turkeys has a compound that kills other bacteria, which researchers are excited about.

Researchers are investigating whether the female powers of estrogen are related to infection resistance.

Fecal Transplant Pills
Poo pills are just as good, if not better than, invasive procedures to replace gut bacteria.

Cooperative Crocs
Citizen science data tells us that crocs may be working in groups to catch their prey (and after our previous story where they use tools – we are starting to get nervous).

Collapsible wings make birds better flyers
Closing their wings during turbulence and engaging in freefall allows the birds to fly on windy days. Dear god, please no collapsible wings on my airplanes!!

Geckos glue to gables with hinging hold
For the first time, scientists have studied gecko traction when traveling downhill. They rotate their wrists to keep their setae at the correct angle for maximum stickiness. Will the gecko never cease to amaze?!

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D-listing da Drought
California’s present drought is not worse than the 1934 conditions that created the Dust Bowl. In fact, although the ridge of pressure currently deflecting storms from the west is the same phenomenon that led to the 1934 drought, our land management is better and will likely not result in the same dust causing conditions.

Oil Rigs Beat Reefs
A survey of oil rigs and ecosystems determined that the biomass productivity for fish species is much higher than that found in natural reefs. More fish may be attracted to oil rigs due to their vertical orientation in the water column.

Sthenurine kangaroos, 550 pound carnivorous beasts with faces like rabbits that lived on Australia 100,000 years ago, were more likely to walk than hop according to recent research.

Feel blue? Walk it off
Body posture while walking was shown to affect peoples’ moods; straighter spines led to more upbeat attitudes.

Did an asymmetry between Higgs and anti-Higgs particles in the early universe lead to our matter dominant universe? And, can the Higgs particle explain dark matter?

Half As Much MAtter
Using a method developed one hundred years ago, astronomers calculcated that our galaxy contains half as much dark matter as thought. They also determined thed escape velocity for an object attempting to leave the clutches of the Milky Way.

Ebola Update
Nurse who treated the Dallas Ebola patient has contracted the virus, making this the first confirmed case of transmission in the United States.

Holding it – more complicated than you think
The muscles in your pelvic floor are linked to many other muscle groups in your body – and scientists are just starting to figure out which.

Flipping out

Sew what?

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.