23 August, 2012 – This Week in Science


Supernova Science, More Milky Ways, It’s Your Dad’s Fault, Gibbons On Helium, Semen Superpower, Classroom Air Heads, Curiosity Update, Self-Aware Sentients, Science Turns Back Time, Space-Time Smoothie, And Much More…

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This Week in Science… coming up next!!!

Supernova science
Palomar Transient Factory team, hailing from multiple institutions including scientists in Berkeley, Ca, has discovered a new type of supernova. They found a type 1A supernova that appeared to be like any other 1A supernova, but it has a much different origin from those we’ve seen before.

And, Two More Milky Ways
A 3D map of the local universe has helped to identify that two galaxies of the fourteen we can see appear to match ours almost identically, as far as we can tell. If they are in many ways identical, might they be able to support life, and if so, is there any hiding in there?

Anxious? It’s your father’s fault.
Stress in male mice can lead to changes in his sperm that can lead to psychological issues in their offspring, specifically daughters. So calm down, dad, you’re going to give your future daughter an anxiety problem!

Older fathers may make children more prone to Autism and Schizophrenia
Men over 40 are 2% more likely to have autistic or schizophrenic children. That may not sound like much, but these cases counted for 20-30% of all autism cases. Dads, just because you can have a baby at 50, doesn’t mean you should…

BLair’s Animal Corner

Gibbons on Helium – Opera Singers of the Wild
Gibbons have been shown, once exposed to helium, to use the same complex vocal techniques as soprano opera singers. This upends a long-believed theory that humans and humans alone have evolved the sophisticated method of matching the resonance of their vocal chords with the resonance of the sound they create.
Normal White Handed Gibbon Call

Semen’s Superpower
Seminal fluid has a compound in it that stimulates ovulation in females. New research has found NGF (nerve growth factor) in bull semen, and has been identified as the guilty party – OIF (ovulation inducing factor). Talk about a double-whammy!

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Carbon Dioxide in classrooms
With more crowded classrooms, longer school days, and more tightly-sealed rooms, carbon dioxide levels are a growing concern. A new device could help to detect the CO2 levels that make children drowsy as the school day crawls along.

Update on Curiosity
The Curiosity science laboratory currently on Mars has some news from the “chem cam”, a laser and camera that can determine rock materials. Unfortunately we don’t have any new information yet, but can confirm that it is calibrated to perfection! Curiosity has also done some calisthenics, stretching it’s arm, which is also in tip-top shape. Last, the “rover” is now successfully roving the planet’s surface. In short, Curiosity is ready to rock!

How does your brain construct your sense of self?
Self awareness was previously credited to three specific brain regions: the insular cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. However, it now appears that it originates from the entire brain network and the interactions of the whole, as opposed to specific nuclei.

And, octopuses are conscious and self-aware
Despite their “doughnut brain,” octopi have exhibited the ability to plan, recall, and think of the future. This has been dubbed “subjective awareness,” and has not yet been exhibited in any invertebrates. Go cephalopods!

Turning Back The Clock
Embryonic stem cells are very valuable, but also quite controversial. Researchers from Johns Hopkins have successfully induced normal cells, like blood cells, to revert back to a stem cell state. Previously, the only way to induce this reversion was with viruses, which can be risky, but, this new research used growth factors from plasmids instead, potentially making stem cell research a whole lot easier!

Space Time Smoothie?
Gamma ray bursts delivered particles from 7 billion light years away only a fraction of a second apart, indicating that spacetime is a lot smoother than we previously anticipated.

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