27 March, 2014 – Episode 457 – This Week in Science


Far Out Space Stuff, Meddling With Methane, Smart Crows, Shrinking Salamanders, Stupid Pandas, Natural History Needs You!, MindReading Is Real, Synthetic Chromosomes,Homeopathetic Remedies, And Much More…

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This Week in Science
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Ringed Asteroid!
A relatively small, rocky asteroid lying between Saturn and Uranus, named Chariklo, is encircled by two rubble-filled rings. The finding of which overturns the idea that only planets wear jewelry. Researchers think there must be a small shepherd moon responsible for maintaining the structures since the asteroid with its minimal gravity would have a difficult time doing so on its own.

New Distant Member of Solar System Found
Taking a look at the Oort cloud isn’t easy to do because it is billions of miles from Earth. Even so, astronomers have found an object known as 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden after the Vice President of the US, that measures approximately 450km in diameter, and orbits eccentrically with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units, or that is to say that the closest it gets to the sun is 80 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun. The discovery makes it the second object (the first was Sedna) to confirm the existence of the inner Oort cloud, and has scientists wondering if there might be another even larger object orbiting out beyond Neptune.

Crows are Smart
Crows understand causal relationships as well as a 7-year-old human child. That Aesop’s fable with the bucket and the pebbles? All true.

Climate Change is shrinking salamanders!
Higher temperatures mean cold-blooded animals have to eat more, and use more energy, leaving less to grow. Salamanders in North America are shrinking at a similar rate to climate change.

Stupid Pandas…
Pandas aren’t fat and lazy enough… they love sugar water, too. But seriously, this is important research! Listen!

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Faces From Brains
Yale University neuroscientists used fMRI and computation to “mind-read” and reconstruct images of faces people saw.

Building a Synthetic Yeast
An international team of researchers have replaced a chromosome within the yeast genome with a completely synthetic one. The man-made chromosome is sleeker, with 15% fewer genes than the original, and also potentially allows for the organism to translate synthetic amino acids into proteins.

Homeopathy Watch:
This makes my head hurt.

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