27 February, 2019 – Episode 710 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


What is in This Week in Science?

Interview w/ Drs. Konstantin Batygin & Mike Brown About Planet 9, Thank The Clouds, CO2 Into Coal?, CBD From Yeast, Repellent Stripes, BIRDS ARE SMART, “Flying Bulldog” Rediscovered, Sweet And Sour, Abundant Life, And Much More…

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Say you want to say something that sums up everything that is known about a subject…
The easier a time you have doing so the less we likely understand about the thing you are summing up…
In fact there are few things worth thinking about that can be summed up succinctly.
There are just too many things we do not understand well enough
to say anything meaningful about them without leading us to more questions.
Which is fine…
it’s the way it has always been.
It is a big wonder filled world out there…
But there comes a time from time to time when humans attempt make demands of the universe…
To tell a story that sums it all up,
a text shall we say,
that summarizes the universe into chapters and verse…
As if to say…
Everything that is not understood by this time tomorrow…
does not exist!
This occasional human tendency to end the pursuit of knowledge
has come and gone and lingered lavishly throughout history…
But there is one place where the pursuit of new knowledge never rests…
Where wondering humans are never satisfactorily silenced by answers…
A place where the next question and not the last conclusion gets pulses pounding…
And that place is right here on
This Week in Science
Coming Up Next

An Interview with Drs. Konstantin Batygin & Mike Brown

Dr. Konstantin Batygin is an Assistant Professor of Planetary Science & Van Nuys Page Scholar in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. Also at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Mike Brown is the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy. With his Twitter handle @PlutoKiller, you may know him from the role he played in demoting Pluto’s status as a planet and his book, “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming”. We are thrilled to have them on the show to discuss their latest paper suggesting a path to discovering the so-called Planet 9… welcome to the show!

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?

“Greetings TWIS team from warm sunny Florida. I was fortunate to learn of TWIS after hearing Kirsten plug it on another science show recently and I must admit that I’m really digging your work! That being said, I was saddened to listen to a recent episode in which there was no listener participation for the segment “What Has Science Done For Me Lately”? So here is my first contribution. It is not ground breaking or revolutionary but it did ignite a supernova within my heart and mind.

I am a proud science geek and father of four young sons who runs a high complex laboratory. To break-up the monotony of my work week I often go for walks through a nearby county park that meanders through several different Florida ecosystems. Even though I am currently “”trapped”” in the lab I am still a field biologist at heart, so when I come across something interesting (various herpetiles, insects, shore birds, feathers, seed pods, etc) I will often snap a photo or bring home a specimen to share with my boys. Such was the case yesterday when I happened upon a large perfectly intact horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) molt!

Immediately I thought of my boys and wondered how they would react to my not uncommon but still strange find. When I arrived home from work I let them know that I had a science surprise to show them after dinner. The boys were supper excited. I thought they may even get a little scared when they saw what appeared to be a bizarre alien creature from some SciFi movie, but I was pleasantly surprised to see their eyes light up with interest as I pulled the shell from its box. They couldn’t wait to run their hands over its smooth surface and gently touch the many spines.

They thought it was an animal and were a little sad that it had died, but I took the moment as an opportunity to give a quick lesson on some differences between how invertebrates with exoskeletons and vertebrates with endoskeletons, such as themselves, grow. Then I explained how this was just a shedding and that as the horseshoe crab grows it has to molt; I pointed out the open seam in the front of the carapace were the living animal had crawled it’s way out and then explained how it’s “skin” would then harden to form a new shell. What happened next blew me away!

When the mini lesson was over, my 4 year old son Emmett looked up at me, his green eyes huge and full of wonder. Then with the biggest smile he ran around the table, wrapped his arms around my legs and said thank you Daddy!

So, What Has Science Done For Me Lately? It rewarded me with a beautiful memory of sharing a love for science with my children along with one very large, totally genuine and unsolicited hug from my very special little man!

I am looking forward to many new episodes of TWIS and catching up on all those archived goodies. Thank you!
Seth in St. Pete”

And, NOW, Some Science News From This Week in Science

Thank The Clouds
Marine stratocumulous clouds are responsible for a significant amount of atmospheric cooling. A new model solves an apparent mismatch between historic CO2 levels and temperature, and suggests new targets for concern in climate change.

CO2 Into Coal?
It’s still a long way from implementable, but chemists have managed to produce an efficient

CBD from yeast
Weed is on its way to becoming pharmaceutically produced.

Blair’s Animal Corner!… with Blair!

Fly-repelling nature of zebra stripes: confirmed!
How else, but by dressing up horses as zebras?? I LOVE SCIENCE.

Could you master a shell game? This African Grey could.

And, finally, Some Quick Science News Stories To End The Show

“Flying Bulldog” Rediscovered
This humongous bee resurfaced this week – proving they are alive and well!

Sweet And Sour
The tastes of citrus fruits and the color of petunias have a genetic commonality that turns a proton pump on or off to sequester protons within cells. More protons mean higher acidity and a redder color.

Israeli Mission Glitch
The private Israeli mission to the moon has suffered an unexplained glitch that may affect the craft’s ability to rendezvous with the moon.

Life is abundant…
… in places we have just begun to look

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