28 June, 2012 – This Week in Science


TWIWRD!, Dirty Diesel, Warm Dinos, Lonesome George Memorial, Hurricanes And Standing, Germline Edits, You Carb Girl!, Nano-Drug Factories, Grass Eating Ancestors, Lab Photosynthesis, A Curious Mind, And Much More…

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!!!
Despite everything you may have heard…
There is much more to the story than anyone has reported…
It doesn’t matter what story, on which subject or how carefully illustrated…
What does matter is that you fully appreciate that no matter what we know or how well we know it, there is always more knowing left unknown…
The level of complexity within any single point of data is by its nature a massive over simplification of a broader symphony of data points, each with their own complex ecology of factoids and on and on it goes…
A universe so complicated in its construction, yet so symmetrically simple in it conclusions…
A world of information, vast and infinite, flowing in every direction of time and scale
and yet decipherable to finite degrees and in the right hands… the information becomes a tool
a tool for building, curing and innovating the world around us…
that tool is our greatest accomplishment as a species and the main subject of conversation each week here on…
This Week in Science… coming up next

World Robot Domination and Machine learning!
A research team out of Google linked 16,000 processors and presented 10 million thumbnails from youtube to the “computer,” without giving it any directions for what to do with them. Naturally, it found and identified cats. In fact, they never told the computer what a cat was, but the computer “cat”egorized the felines in a group on it’s own. I can haz robot brain?

Diesel – not so clean after all
After analyzing soot particles of different origins, scientists discovered that particles from diesel exhaust leave around half of their brethren behind when you exhale. By contrast, only 20% of soot particles from wood fires stay in your body, as opposed to diesel’s 50%. Perhaps it isn’t a cleaner fuel after-all…

Blair’s Animal Corner – Extinct Edition!
Dinosaurs – they may have been warm blooded
We don’t know a lot about dinosaurs’ flesh and blood (and it’s temperature) but we know quite a bit about their bones. Dino bones show lines of arrested growth, or “Lags,” which previously we could only ever find in other ectotherms. In a recent study of mammal bones to see how they coped with past climate change, scientists stumbled upon a discovery – every mammal species they looked at had Lags on their bones. This throws the main point of argument for the cold-blooded nature of dinosaurs into question, leaving us to ask, were they actually warm-blooded?

And on a sad note, we said goodbye to Lonesome George this week:
Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta island giant tortoise, passed away this past Sunday at over 100 years old. Lonesome George was discovered in 1972 when his subspecies was thought to already be extinct, and has since served as a spokes-turtle for endangered species everywhere. Even in his absence, he has made an impact – his death inspired an international workshop set to take place in July to help restore tortoise populations around the world. He will be missed.

Get a free audiobook at Audible.com!

Standing while pregnant – Dangerous!
Standing or working for long hours during pregnancy could stunt fetal growth, according to a new study. Working women had healthier babies, but need to take frequent breaks to take time to sit to prevent low birth weight. So, get back to work, pregnant moms, but don’t work too hard!

Also, hurricanes are bad for your baby
Mothers that were within 30 km of a hurricane within their third trimester of pregnancy had a spike in abnormal conditions in their newborns.

Editing the germline
The world’s first genetically modified babies have been born, over ten years ago, thanks to the Institute of Reproductive Medicine in New Jersey. Apparently, two babies so far have tested positive to contain genes from three parents.

Carbs bad? Maybe carbs good.
Low carb, high protein diets linked to heart disease in women. A study including more than 43,000 women indicated that though that fad diet might reduce your waistline, it might also reduce your life expectancy. So you decide.

Treating diseases with minute drug factories
Scientists have produced minute spheres that contain no drugs, but instead the building blocks and mechanisms to make the drug “in house.” This is a great step forward for drugs that are harmful to the human body on their way to their destination. They can go in inert, and then are triggered by a laser, at which point they kick into gear making the drug.

Australopithecus ate a lot of grass…
By looking at some teeth, Texas A & M researchers have discovered that Australopithecus may have lived in a more woody area than previously thought. They discovered this from their diet – these hominoids ate leaves, fruits, nuts, and bark, leading us to believe their environment was more of a forest than a grassland.

Photosynthesis recreated in the laboratory
Using nano wires, scientists have found a way to harness the energy of the sun, as in photosynthesis. Perhaps this new technology could be used for clean energy in our homes!

A curious mind
Jonathon Allen, a biochemistry major at UC Santa Cruz, heard about an interesting spike in carbon-14 in tree rings in 774 AD. Some goggling led him to a description of a “red crucifix” in the night sky around the same year. Further research led him to the conclusion that it was most likely a supernova – hooray for the curious undergrad!

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