25 April, 2018 – Episode 668 – This Week in Science (TWIS) Podcast


Interview w/ Sarita Menon, Uranus Stinks, Galaxies Old And New, Black holes Everywhere, Sweaty Trees, Male Moths Matter, Fruit Fly Rewards, Latrine Fly Bubbles, Telomerase Structure, Strong Kids, Warm Cells, And Much More…

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Interview with Sarita Menon, PhD
Dr. Menon got her PhD in cancer biology from the University of Iowa, and spent several years working as a post-doctoral researcher and adjunct faculty before making the jump from research to science education. She started a science enrichment program in the Houston area a few years back, and just last year launched her current endeavor, Smore magazine, with a Kickstarter.

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
“Hello TWiS Team,
I’ve been really enjoying your “”What has science done for me”” segment and I thought I’d share my own story.
A little over a year ago my wife and I mentioned to my three year old son’s pediatrician he had been experiencing headaches when waking up from his naps. She suggested we see a neurologist just to rule things out. The neurologist said it probably wasn’t a big deal, but scheduled an MRI for us just to again, rule things out.
The MRI revealed a brain tumor. His specific type of tumor is called a craniopharyngioma. It’s a really rare, noncancerous tumor that is most often diagnosed in children. It impacts the pituitary and optic nerves among other things.
Over the next several weeks we had a flurry of appointments. Eventually we found ourselves in the ER and then ICU awaiting his surgery due to the tumor’s progression. Shortly after that he underwent neurosurgery to remove the tumor.
His neurosurgeon and her team were able to remove most of the tumor. He has no neurological or sight impairments, but the tumor calcified his pituitary which has an incredibly important job. He spent the better part of two weeks in the hospital recovering from his surgery.
He is now on a number of daily medications to replace what his pituitary would normally do and we will be starting growth hormone injections soon.
We still have monitoring MRIs to check for regrowth and have to manage his condition with medications and keep an eye on him. But the thing is, he’s now a normal four year old boy. He doesn’t experience headaches like he used to. He goes to school and after school activities, has friends, plays with lego and everything that a normal four year old would do.
Truth be told, he went to summer camp several weeks after his surgery and was running around, blowing bubbles and running in sprinklers with his friends. You can’t even see his craniotomy scar anymore. No one even knows about his ordeal unless we tell them. To everyone he’s just like every other four year old.
It amazes me that medical science has advanced to such a point where my son could have a very normal life, despite needing to have such a critical part of his brain removed. Less than a hundred years ago he would have suffered immeasurably and probably wouldn’t have seen adulthood.
We owe his life to a huge team of medical professionals, from his pediatrician to his neurosurgeon, to his neuro-oncologist and endocrinologist, all of the amazing nurses, support staff and the summation of modern medical knowledge. All of this gave us our little boy back and for that we are profoundly grateful.
I know my story is a little long and it’s okay if you guys don’t use it (or its entirety) in the show. 🙂 I just wanted to add my story to the pile.
Keep up the great work,
Ed Godbois”

Uranus Stinks
…like rotton eggs. Thank you, science!

Galactic Shape
The shape of a galaxy is linked to its age. A new analysis finds that rounder galaxies are older than flat ones,

Galactic Collision
14 galaxies are colliding in the distant past, and scientists don’t really understand how it is possible.

Black holes Everywhere
There could be lots of them just in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Sweaty Trees
Trees expire and move water from the ground to the air. Should California cull their trees to save ground water?

Males could save us from climate change
In moths, a male-heavy population means increased resilience to climate change. OK boys, that’s one you’re good for – genetic variation!

Male fruit flies like to… ummm…
Research was able to isolate an ejaculation trigger in fruit flies, and identified that it was indeed pleasurable for them. What’s more, they were less likely to indulge in alcohol!

Awww… EWWWW!
Latrine flies blow bubbles to cool off! Awww! When they are living inside corpses… Eww…..

Telomerase Structure
The elucidation of telomerase’s structure will allow intelligent drug design, and potentially lead to drugs to combat both telomere-related disease and aging.

Why Kids Don’t Get Tired
Kids have muscles like adult endurance athletes.

It’s those GD T-cells
The cells you want to stay trim and healthy.

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