23 January, 2019 – Episode 705 – This Week in Science (TWIS) Podcast


Is Planet 9 Real?, Cloned Edited Monkeys, Listening Leaves, Crow Considerations, Budgie Boyfriends, Can Cure Cancer?, Check Your Gums, Reversing Alzheimer’s, Sediba Stories, Neander News, Little Dead Frozen Things, Go Go Gadget Gene Drive, Exercise Is Mental, Jesus Geckos, And Much More…

Want to listen to a particular story from the show? You can do that here. Just look for the time-code link in the description.

The wonderful thing about wondering about things
is the wonderful places that wondering can take you
No matter how far back in current human history you go
There is evidence of wondering about the unknown…
And one of the wonderful places that wonder often leads…
Is discovery.
Discovery can be the destination of wonder…
But it can also be the journey itself,
with many discoveries whooshing by…
And along that wandering journey of wondering
The many discoveries unwound from the unknown
will undoubtedly wheel us towards more wondering
Until one wonderful day when we discover what it is we’ve all been wanting…
Another episode of
This Week in Science!
Coming Up Next…

Is Planet 9 Real?
Maybe not, say some researchers who came up with a model and didn’t do any observation.
But, a brand new paper by Brown and Batygin lends heavy credibility to the idea of a planet out there.

Cloned Edited Monkeys
Chinese research has crossed a new threshold with the publication of two papers describing the CRISPR editing of macaque monkey embryos and the production of clones based on fibroblast cells taken from the embryos using somatic nuclear transfer.

Listening Leaves
Plants respond to specific vibrations in the environment.

Crows are smart. Again…
This time, it looks like they can infer how heavy an object is, by seeing how the wind might blow it around.

Intelligence is sexy. No really! Science says so!
…If you are a budgie… Being able to solve a puzzle makes unappealing males suddenly the life of the avian party. So take that, bullies!

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“Hi Dr Kiki, this is probably too long for you to read on the show… I unfortunately talk a lot, this gets transferred into me typing a lot. this is my What has Science done for me lately story.
Hi, my name is Ash and I’m a High School Science Teacher in Sydney Australia. I have been wanting to contribute to ‘what has science done for me lately?’ for a long time. However, not being able to quantify what lately actually means, nothing has really stood out, as I try and communicate science to whoever will listen, even beyond my time at school. Blair’s 700th episode note inspired me to write in as it made me think about the way I teach.
When I get a new grade of year 7 students (First year of High School in Australia) I always ask the class to draw a scientist for homework at the end of their first lesson. Rest assured 90% of the time their image is Einstein esq. sometimes there is the odd girl or Professor Frink from the Simpsons. After they’re finished, similar to Dr Kiki did for Blair, I ask student’s if they have ever asked “why?” about anything, solved a problem for themselves, worked out how to fix something, even tried different strategies to pass a really hard level on a video game. If so, they have engaged with at least part of the scientific method and they themselves are scientists. As they progress through high school they are going to learn the skills to be even better, more informed scientists, of which they are extremely enthusiastic about and eager to learn more. They repeat the activity drawing themselves as scientists and everyone is keen as beans to get learning. Unfortunately, there is some correlation between puberty and a demise in this enthusiasm, which I think kicks in when teenagers realise they know everything, fortunately for most their enthusiasm is rekindled in about grade 10 when they start thinking about their future.
BUT what has science done for me lately? In 2017 myself and 3 other teachers were selected by the Australian Science Teachers Association to go on Bush Blitz. A program funded by the Australian Government and various private organisations to send about 20 specialist taxonomists into the field of remote areas of Australia for two weeks with the goal of discovering new species and recording range extensions for known species. As a biologist this was a really amazing experience because the only fieldwork I did in my undergraduate degree was collecting rocks for one of my lecturers research. There were a few new plant and some animal species found as well as apparent new spider genus, but I haven’t seen a paper published on it yet so that may have fallen through. To sit around a table with all these specialists in their field, enthusiastically talking about their discoveries of the day over dinner was incredible and I wanted to spend as much time with all the scientists absorbing all the knowledge that I could.
This experience inspired me to be a more involved citizen scientist, using various app based technology to help with the recording of species within my local area. Furthermore it increased the cache of skills I have to teach my students, and has helped me engage them with their local environment. Giving me the necessary skills to head outside and confidently teach how to record abiotic and biotic data, catching and identifying spiders, insects and record sightings of larger animals with the aim of creating long term surveys, monitoring the health of our local ecosystem as we have an airport opening up 6km from us in 2026.
The experience also inspired me to return to university, and I am currently doing my Masters in Zoology (entomology) part time while working. I am loving all the skills I am learning and have come up with some research that I may look to undertake in regard to ecological education in the future.
Communicating Science is my life and I am a better educator because of TWIS. My students love hearing all the things that I have learnt from your show often diverging into a rabbit hole of tangents that have nothing to do with the curriculum. Some stories have even helped me improve my results, because you direct me to extremely current research in my assignments that my lecturers want to then discuss with me. Maybe when Uni is all done I’ll be able to collaborate with Blair as a colleague if I’m lucky enough to score a job as an educator at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
In summary, Science… It has made me who I am. Science, hockey and music are all I really talk about and whenever conversations hit a lull I start a sentence with “so have you heard about…” and will start talking about something that I have read or learnt from this show. It keeps dinners gatherings with my relatively conservative family interesting. I know this isn’t what you usually read out in the segment but I just wanted to contribute to the show. Good Science to you all.
(If you want to see my students loving Science check out @ashsix4 or #sciencewithmulcahy on instagram)”

Another cure for cancer…

Check Your Gums
A bacteria might act as one cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, and researrchers might be onto a treatment

Reversing Alzheimer’s
A team from University of Buffalo has reversed cognitive effects of Alzheimer’s disease in a mouse model. Great news for mice!

Australopithecus sediba
Acool walking skeletal animation, and more evidence of the braided stream.

Neander news
Long-term cohabitation was a thing.

Little Dead Frozen Things
found beneath the Antarctic ice.

Go Go Gadget Gene Drive
Researchers are looking at new techniques to improve gene drive results in mice.

Study links exercise to good mental health

Running on water – not just for saviors
Geckos have been recorded running on water – using a combination of surface tension, hydro[hoib skin, and slapping motions.

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