23 September, 2010 – This Week in Science


Malaria – Blame it on the Gorilla, Triclosan v’s Toxoplasma Gondii – The Lesser of Two Evils, Russian Anti Aging, Naval Research Battles Against Energy Waste, Have an Ice Life, Soil Bacteria in the Arctic, Oscillating Neurons, Urban Evolution, Neanderthal Complexities, Plants Learning to Live with Radiation and much more.

Show Notes:
Gorillas and Malaria
Scientists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham studying primate droppings for genetic material in their HIV studies, have discovered that gorilla malaria Plasmodium Falciparum is more similar to the human form of the parasite than chimp Plasmodium. Their research have led them to wonder if the malaria parasite Plasmodium Falciparum primarily jumped species from gorilla to humans, be it through eating gorilla bush meat or via mosquitos that tucked into gorilla blood before snacking on humans. If Plasmodium Falciparum is eradicated from humans, should we target eradicating it from the gorilla population too?

Triclosan v’s Toxoplasma Gondii
Many anti-bacterial products from soap to toothpaste, contains the ingredient Triclosan. But could Triclosan eventually lead to the creation of a superbug, which will eventually resist all forms of medication ? Also, when mixed with Chlorine, it’s possible that it could be carcinogenic. However, it also blocks the enzyme which requires Toxoplasma Gondii to thrive. This leave us with a dilemma, which is the lesser of the two evils?

Russian Anti – Aging
A Scientist in Russia, claims to have found a method to live longer and healthier. By creating a treatment for Glaucoma, he discovered that the substance he used, penetrated the mitochondria which reduced oxidation damage to the cells. Further research on mice using his treatment, resulted in the mice living 100% longer. How will society be effected if we all lived a healthier and longer life? Will the dynamics of society change?

The Navy researching for Better Use of Energy.
Researchers have designed a system that controls the electrical flow for lighting, which has reduced peak power usage by 39 %. This system harnesses and recycles residual magnetic power and also produces less heat and less electromagnetic interference and is hoped that overall energy consumption will be reduced considerably. . Good for the environment perhaps? Or will this lead to cheaper energy and more consumption?

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Did Life Evolve from Ice?
The general consensus for the beginnings of life, is that it evolved in a hot, volatile environments such as thermal vents or hot mud. But, could it have also evolved in icy conditions? Contrary to popular belief, Ice is not 100 % solid, it contains a microscopic network of channels and spaces, which allow cold loving RNA Ribozyme molecules to replicate better in conditions below freezing. These sub zero temperatures stabilizes the molecules and prevents them from breaking down. Perfect for RNA to take off.

Soil Bacteria in the Arctic.
Although plant and animal life is more diverse towards the tropics, the opposite is true for soil bacteria. Studies have revealed that the rules for determining plant and animal species patterns are different for bacteria. These findings will help to understand the biological and ecological factors that determine where and why species occur where they do.

Had an Oscillating Brain Wave Lately ?
Researchers have discovered that different neurons dance to different tunes, in the form of oscillating electrical activity and specific frequencies. The millions of neurons spread across the brain need to work together without interfering with other neuron groupings. But how do they do it? Could electrical activity in the brain organise these individual neurons to work in unison in a larger

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