18 October, 2017 – Episode 641 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Neutron Star Smash!!!, AIs Rule Go, Salty Science, Saltier Science, Smother Mothers, Venom Variation, Eruption And Famine, No Easter In Argentina, Reproductive Bacteria, Breast Cancer Awareness, Octopus Camouflage, Spider Labyrinths, And Much More…

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A great poet once said something deeply revealing of the human condition…
And spoke it so plainly,
in such a simple string of otherwise ordinary words…
That everyone who heard it felt changed from that day forward…
They were more bold,
and self-assured…
Yet more empathetic and dedicated to the betterment of all…
They all found great happiness and success in their endeavors because of this perspective…
Though unfortunately,
while setting off brightly into their futures,
nobody took the time to write it down.
And, while I have no idea what was said then,
partly because I made it up,
we all can imagine that there is a short and simple string of words
that could invoke our better natures…
I offer you mine here…
Once upon a long ago time…
On a planet near as near can be…
A creature was born that bore a striking resemblance to you and me…
It looked around and wondered…
Is this all there is to see?
This child of evolution,
this beast of biology’s past
Looked around and wondered…
Am I really up to the task?
With feet not quite made for walking…
And eyes pitch blind at night.
It stood up late one evening
And walked clear out of sight.
And where was this primitive child of history headed?
You may have already guessed.
This Week In Science,
Coming up next…

This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“I’m a resident of Houston, Texas and in mid-August I had some minor surgery in my arm which left me pretty-much home-bound for the following two weeks. Unfortunately during those two weeks, Hurricane Harvey decided to show up. However, I had science on my side. Due to advances in climatology, meteorology, hydrology, and computer science I was able to stay up to date on the path of the storm, including receiving real time alerts for flooding, heavy rain, and even tornadoes. Thanks to the advances in telecommunications, I was able to stay in touch with the friend who was going to evacuate me, though thankfully it never came to that point. Thanks to the engineers and material scientists I was able to stay warm and dry in my apartment throughout the storm. Thanks to the advances in the sciences of food preparation and stabilization, I was able to stay fed throughout the storm and recovery without having to go to the grocery store repeatedly. Though Harvey was a disaster for Texas, without science it would have been a lot worse.”
–Jay Schneiderman

Neutron Star Smash!!!
The LIGO/VIRGO collaboration announced the detection of the merging of two neutron stars in a specific region of space, and the observation by various telescope arrays of the light signals resulting from that merger.

AIs Rule Go
Google’s DeepMind AI initiative, which has succeeded at beating human masters of the game Go, developed a new AI competitor that was trained by other AIs. With 3 days of training, it consistantly beat human-trained AI predecessors.

Salty Science
Salts might be the future of batteries.

Saltier Science
New desalination process for brackish waters.

Scorpions adjust their venom accordingly
Scorpions can adjust their arsenal to protect, kill, or both. Yikes!

Guppy mothers take (s)mothering to a whole new level
Guppy gestation lasts longer when food is scarce, and shorter when predators loom. Mom sure knows how to give her DNA investment just what it needs. Awww….

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Eruption And Famine
Researchers made a connection between volcanic ash in ice cores and records of unrest in ancient Egypt.

No Easter in Argentina
It’s not in the genes.

Reproductive Bacteria
A study of the female reproductive tract found that the microbiota of the system is complex and varies in correlation with several factors.

Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer cells use ammonia as a source of nitrogen to fuel growth. This understanding could lead to new treatments.

Future soldiers will blend in better with seaweed and squid.

Dampeners… now with more spiders!

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.