16 September, 2015 – Episode 352 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Another Hominid?, Oats For Paleos!, Global Oceans, Viral Babies, Panda Upside, Caterpillar Poop, Monogamy And Bird Love, Pheromoned Fruit Flies, Ultrasound For Brains, Basque Links, Cholesterol Trouble, Colliding Black Holes, School Lunch Redux, Prothesis With Feeling, And Much More…

Disclaimer Disclaimer Disclaimer
Science is wrong!
Well, not wrong so much as, perhaps woefully incomplete…
And by woefully I maybe should have said enjoyably…
Yes science is enjoyably incomplete.
If we knew it all, if all mysteries that could be solved had been solved,
then what a boring world it would be…
So boring in fact that its inhabitants could only be
dullards content with a world where knowledge never changes…
or mad men, who’s questioning nature has driven them to delusion,
frustrated that every question has an answer, giving them nothing interesting
to think about…
Maybe I should have said thankfully…
Yes, thankfully science is incomplete…
And there are so many avenues of scientific inquiry left to drive down…
Even when we make a wrong turn, we might enjoy a discovery
or two…
And while scientific discoveries don’t just fall from the sky
They sometimes do…
Like a meteor fragment, or a neutrino from a distant star…
Other times we must climb, crawl and dig our way to new knowledge
Like a new dinosaur fossil… or a new species of human
recently discovered that…
Wait… another new species of human was discovered?
Thankfully it’s time for This Week in Science
Coming up next…

Another Hominid For the Tree
In a deep, hard to reach cave in Africa, the bones of a new hominid species and potential human ancestor have been found.

Oats For Paleos!
Evidence of oat and grain processing during Paleolithic times suggests that the Paleo diet did consist in part of these starchy foods.

Global Oceans
The Saturnian moon Enceladus holds a vast ocean beneath its frozen surface separating the crust from the core.

Babies go viral…
Lots of viruses on and in newborns. Who knew? But, why?

The other upside of Panda conservation
Protection of other species!!!

Catepillar poop fools plants
The poop, or “frass,” tricks the plant into thinking it is being attacked by a fungus, not eaten, and thus the pesky insect can feast on the now defenseless plant.

Pheromones – they’re not just for attraction anymore.
It turns out that the genes related to pheremone production in fruit flies are also related to fertility. What’s more, when their pheremones are not acting as they should, all flies in the area have lower fertility. Competition is required to have babies, so it seems…

Secret to penguins’ success with monogamy: Lots and lots of alone time.
Rockhopper penguins have successful monogamous pairings due in part to the fact that they spend 3/4 of the year apart. Sounds like these penguins don’t get lonely!

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Ultrasound For Brains
Devising a method similar to optogenetics, where nerves are stimulated by light, scientists have used ultrasound to stimulate the nerves in a simple flatworm. Could this method be used to stimulate deep structures in the human brain?

Where did the Basque people come from?
Ancient genomes link early farmers to Basques.

Cholesterol And The Brain
A new target for Alzheimer’s disease research has been discovered. Based on recent mouse trials, human trials are proposed to retrovirally infect sufferers with a gene to increase production of an enzyme that breaks down cholesterol into a form that can be removed from a brain.

Let the school lunch drama continue – kids need longer lunch periods!
Students given at least 25 minutes to sit and eat (after traveling to the cafeteria, waiting in line, and rushing through to get time to play) consume more healthy foods and less garbage foods. Longer lunches, people!!

When black holes collide
Astronomers are observing two black holes slowly collide. In the process, they are producing what appears to be an oscillating quasar as they orbit around one another into oblivioun. Expected impact in 100,000 years.

Prosthesis With Feeling
DARPA research has shown that sensory information from a prosthetic hand can be conveyed back to the sensory cortex of the brain to provide useful information to the user.

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.