26 December, 2018 – Episode 701 – This Week in Science (TWIS) Podcast


Top 11 of 2018!!!, And Much More…

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What a year it’s been!
Of course I’m not talking about the things covered in the regular human news cycle
Yes there were wonderful
/ mundane /
painstakingly tragic human tragedies and triumphs this year…
But as a dedicated science news junkie,
nearly none of the news that exists beyond the pale of
Propelling our knowledge of the world at large really matters…
Yes I know it matters, yes everything matters…
But what separates science news from the rest of human the noise
Is that when we expand our knowledge in science
When we expand our understanding of the planet upon which we live
The solar system our planet resides within
The universe our solar system was born from…
That knowledge is firmly passed on to generations to come
To scientists and laymen alike
When we build upon the past, we build towards the future.
And as we build towards the future we can correct courses
That may have been poorly navigated in the past…
Nowhere else the trajectory of human progress and prosperity more firmly asserted
Then right here on
This Week in Science
Coming Up Next!

Top 11 Countdown…
Number 11
Diamond Earth
A new analysis of the crust and upper mantle of Earth using sound waves estimates that there are up to a quadrillion tons of diamonds hiding below the surface.
It came from space!
And landed in Greenland.
Deep Life
The Deep Carbon Observatory, which has been assessing the carbon inside our planet, recently reported that there’s a lot of life down there.

Number 10
Black holes
Milky Way’s Black Hole
It exists!
Speaking of Holes
Astronomers reported discovering black hole mergers in multiple galaxies.
The black hole mergers list grows

Number 9
Water On Mars
A massive underground aquifer has been detected on Mars. The hypothesis s that it is full of liquid water.
Mars Insights Coming
After its months long journey to Mars, the Insight lander successfully landed in Elysium Planitia on the surface of Mars, sent back some images, and is getting to work on science preparations. We should begin to see results within the next month as it will be drilling into the surface of the red planet taking temperature and seismic readings.

Number 8
Gene Drive
Driving Genes
A research team from UCSD reported the first demonstration of successful gene drive in mammals.
Genie In The Lab
A CRISPR-based gene drive to destroy reproductive ability in female mosquitoes was successful in the lab.

Number 7
Active Mini-Brains
Scientists turned stem cells into brain cells, and then into mini-brains, which spontaneously began connecting and communicating thru electrical signals that were eventually comparable to the brain activity of preterm babies.
Brains In Brains
Researchers showed that mini human brains implanted into mouse brains survived and functionally integrated into the host tissue.

Number 6
There is a battlefield beneath your feet…
Fungi vs. bacteria
The Sixth Sense
Just like our other senses, there is a fast-acting sensory system in the gut that communicates with the brain by way of the vagus nerve.
Create the blood you need
Stomach bacteria could turn donor blood into whatever type you need.

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Number 5
Turtle Missing Link
We’re getting close to finding where turtles belong in the evolutionary tree!
Oldest animals
Cholesterol molecules allowed identification of earliest animals.
Viruses – Alive?
Giant viruses have the ability to make synthesize protein – should we reclassify them and allow them into our “alive” club?
Ancient Viruses
Date back to the beginning of vertebrates, at least.

Number 4
Secret Head Tunnels
Your brain and skull might have conversations about health. According to a new NIH-funded study, immune cells are more likely to travel to the damaged brain from the skull’s bone marrow than from other parts of the body. And, the cells move through special channels that connect the skull to the brain’s meninges.
Keeping your brain longer
Lymphatic vessels key to proper brain aging
Sexy Brain Cells
Microglia look and act differently in the male and female mouse brains.
Fixing Alzheimer’s
Using human cells, researchers at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco confirmed that the presence of a protein called ApoE4 leads to damage that potentially causes Alzheimer’s. Additionally, using a “structure corrector”, they were able to fix the mutant protein and reverse its cellular effects.
Viral Memory
An unexpected discovery found that a protein important for memory formation, called Arc, acts like a virus in that it shuttles between neurons. Understanding why and how it does this will help in the understanding of information transmission within the nervous system, and could also be a new way to get gene therapy into cells without using viruses themselves.
Memories can be transferred between organisms

Number 3
Baby Clone Monkeys
The first primate clones have been produced in China – two cutie-pie rhesus macaques.
You, Me, Uterus!
The Lancet reports the first instance of a live birth from a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor.
A Chinese researcher has been using CRISPR to edit embryos for HIV resistance. Apparently, twin girls have been born from this process. Independent analysis of the results is still pending, although the international community is in an uproar.
My Two Dads
An effort to create embryos from stem cells taken from two male mice was unsuccessful, but teaches us much.

Number 2
Climate Change
The Bad News
The IPCC issued a report this week recommending world governments take a drastic and unprecedented change of tack to meet a highly conservative global warming goal of only 1.5 degree Celsius in part through yearly reductions of more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions globally over the next decade, and ending all coal-power by 2050.
Climate Assessment
The US government’s fourth climate assessment was released last week on Black Friday, and concludes that the US will sufffer major economic impacts if we stay the course on climate.
Shrinking Birds
Higher global temps could shrink species (not just in number)
Damaging Male Fertility
Climate Change damages sperm in insects

Number 1
Neanderthal art
Finger Bone Finding
One finger bone is helping tell the story of human migration out of Africa.
Homo naledi’s brain
African origins were a multi cultural affair
Ancient human DNA O’plenty
New Neander News
A dou of Denisovan
Hobbit folk have mostly neanderthal DNA
Neanderthals made sculpture
Primitive human cave art not so primative… also not human
Compassionate Neanderthals
Neanderthal DNA conferred virus resistance to out of africanus humanus

And, honorable mentions go to…
They can be vegetarian and have fertilizing poop.

They give milk to their babies, even into middle age. They watch the stars to know when to take flight. And take the air on electrical fields, not wind. And, Zombie spiders tell us they live in colonies and work together.

And, New Caledonian crows for being so smart.

Also, we live in the future…
Car… In… Space
3D printed corneas
Contacts as Doctors

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I'm the host of this little science show.