26 April, 2017 – Episode 616 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Science March Recap, Lamb Bags, Super Supernova Discovery!, Hobbit Origins, Hungry Hungry Caterpillars, Drunk Invertebrates, Buggy Bidding, No Air No Problem, Feet Hitting Pavement, Nutritional Issues, Phages Vs. Bacteria, Whispering Whales, And Much More…

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Don’t give up…
I understand,
believe me I get it…
somehow, nothing makes sense…
But so what?
So what if not all the puzzle pieces fit…
So what if the data sets seem a bit screwy…
The time line’s totally topsy-turvy…
So what if the conclusions you’ve come to,
conform to no prevailing theory…
If you’ve done things the right way…
Allowed the right method to motivate the mode of inquiry…
Followed facts as they were found…
Recorded results as they were revealed…
Then chances are…
you’ve got it right…
And if you’re wrong…
well that’s ok too…
Because regardless of how things began,
they’ve at least led you to…
This Week in Science…
coming up Next…

This Week in What Has Science Done For You Lately…
came from Minion Mike Hampton:
“You can have your TV, your computers, your internet, your electricity, etc.  How about the most obscure or taken for granted technology?  Like the greatest influence of science in the past 20 years has been pay at the pump (when buying gas).   Just think of all the countless hours that are saved every single day by not having to go into the convenience store to pay for your gas (which should never take more than 20 seconds) and having to inevitably always stand there for 5+ minutes stuck behind 3 other people who are buying cigarettes and scratch off lottery tickets at the register. Yea yea.. first world problems and all that. 🙂  It’s a basic technology that everyone takes for granted and no one ever thinks about, but no one would want to go back to not having it.” 

Science March Recap
Thousands marched world-wide generating varying amounts of media attention from many different viewpoints. We will see what happens next? Will science become politicized as many have predicted? Or, will science eventually find its proper place in political decision-making?

Lamb Bags
Fetal lambs at an age approximately equivalent to a 23-week old human fetus developed normally in artificial womb environments called Biobags for up to 4 weeks raising the possibility of eventually using this technology to support extremely premature babies.

Super Supernova Discovery!
A distant galaxy is gravitationally bending the light from a type 1a supernova. But, that’s not all, the gravitational warping created four separate lensed images that astronomers are using to test calculations of the expansion of the universe itself.

Origins of Indonesian hobbits
It’s an out-of-Africa story that adds to the rich diversity of human evolution.

Caterpillars could eat us out of our plastic problem
And no, they aren’t just chewing it into tiny pieces!

Social crayfish are drunken crayfish
Crayfish exposed to alcohol had higher sensitivity when brought up in a social environment. What does this mean for humans??

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Gut bacteria “speak” to the brain
And, they tell us what to eat.

No Air No Problem
Naked mole rats just got weirder… they can change their metabolism to survive without oxygen for up to 18 minutes.

“>Walking, running, but not bicycling, good for the brain…
There is something about feet landing on solid ground that triggers brainy benefits.

Nutrition Science Highlights Problems
This past week several studies and articles were published within the sphere of nutritional science, which we report on here at TWIS regularly. However, as a whole, they highlight trouble – not just with understanding how to apply the science to your daily lives, but with the scientific practice itself.

To start, a cohort study looked for links between sugar or diet soda drinks and stroke and dementia. The result are being reported all over as a reason to throw away your diet sodas, but the reality is that their statistical analysis seems more like a search for anything statistically significant at all rather than well-reasoned tests.

A second study brings data from 60 year old dusty cardboard boxes back to life with a finding that goes against the common idea that saturated fat is bad and should be replaced by unsaturated vegetable oils, and is a historical tale that should be a warning to scientists about cherry-picking data to fit hypotheses. This comes as doctors argue that the evidence supports a rethinking of our stance on dietary saturated fats.

And, finally, an analysis of a few papers by a prominent nutritional psychology researcher has come up with some inconsistencies that might lead to a deeper review of the scientist’s entire body of work – it was sparked by a blog post made by the scientist intended to inspire grad students to look for opportunities, but instead revealed questionable research practices.

None of this should tell you that science is generally bad, but remind us that science is currently under a period of intense self-scrutiny and evolution… hopefully, to a stronger and more efficient form.

Phages Vs. Bacteria
For the first time in the US, phage therapy was used to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infection.

Whispering whales
Mothers and calves “whisper” to one another, possibly to avoid predators.

From the TWIS mailbag:
“There is a major difference between hemp plants used for fiber, and marijuana used for THC. Marijuana plants make very poor fiber plants and hemp doesn’t have thc in useable quantities.

Growing strategies are also very different. in marijuana you want to keep all the leafy female plants in hemp the tallest make plants give the best fiber because the vast fiber is what holds the plant up and you want long straight fibers.

Here’s a link for more information.

I do spinning demos at a folk art festival in Seattle, WA where marijuana is legal medically and recreationally. I get a ton of questions.

Love the science,
Sara Faulds”

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I'm the host of this little science show.