28 November, 2018 – Episode 697 – This Week in Science (TWIS) Podcast


Interview w/ Dr. Alex Himmel from FermiLab,CRISPR Babies, Climate Bugs, Star People, Whale Wax, Zombie Spiders, Climate Assessment, InSight, Ion Wind Power, Passing Legos, And Much More…

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Depending on how you arrived at this moment
you may have been told
that your existence was preceded by one or more of the following events…
A lump of clay fashioned just so
An extra rib put to better use
A delivery stork (that’s the one my grandmother told me)
A bolt of lightning into a pool of muck
A sperm an egg and an ancient ape
That you are simply made up of star stuff
As Carl Sagan once put it…
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.”
And while the answers to what we are made of and where we come from
are both mysterious to many and mostly known to science…
There are still gigantic questions left un answered
Often at the most minuscule of scales…
And tonight, we will find out once and for all, what some of those questions are
Here on
This week in science,
Coming Up Next…

Interview w/ Dr. Alex Himmel:
Dr. Himmel is an Associate Scientist at FermiLab on the NOvA and DUNE projects, and a Wilson Fellow, having received a 2017 DOE Early Career Research Award to optimize neutrino oscillation deciphering software. And, he’s been at this particle physics thing for a while now – he worked as a summer intern at FermiLab at the age of 16.

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?
I asked on Twitter, and this is what you said:
“Let’s me listen to podcasts, follow creators on a tablet, and watch Stan Against Evil on my dvr.” –Grandfather Paradox (@papadiabolous)
“I’m alive due to brain surgery in the 60s” — Randy LaMonda (@randylamonda)
“Science helped me complete a Maillard reaxn to have a crispy golden brown turkey. Thank you science you’re the best.” –Mike Lowery (@MikeLowery5)
“Heat in the oven raised the temperature of the sugar & butter mixture I poured over the top of this Apple pie and caused it to carmelize into a nice crunchy coating! Science!!!” –Dean Segovis (@HackAWeek)
“Without science I would not live anymore. I had a hole between the upper chambers of my heart. After a 12 hour medical intervention, i could really breath for the first time in my life. Thats 47 years ago in the early 70’s.” –Burkhard Dunkel (@BurkhardDunkel)
“Lately? It has been helping me since my first vaccine for polio. My father’s bypass surgery and handling of diabetes, and delivery of my first baby and how painless it was for my wife, ability to contact anyone on the planet with simple hand gestures. What more could one ask?” –Sai Krishna Vajjala (@Krish_NCC1701)
“Science kept my food cold until it helped cook it. Stored food safely until needed. Lights my house. Takes me to the store. Keeps me alive. Before it was science it was magic and still did all those things.” –Jeff Coffey (jcoffey1138)
“Most recently science is allowing this conversation to happen.” –Roger Williams (@halfacat)

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.

Climate Bugs
New species of bacteria have been discovered on the ocean floor that use hydrocarbons like methane as fuel, and might devour petroleum, too!

We really are all descended from star people
Or, at least people who looked at the stars.

Ah, let me sing ye a tale of whale ear wax
It’s a good thing whales don’t use q-tips, because that ear wax tells us a lot about life as a whale!

Zombie spiders, enslaved and eaten by wasps!
No, it’s not the latest horror film, it’s nature. Isn’t it beautiful???

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.

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.

ION Drive
Because EVERYONE sent this to me this week… MIT researchers have succeeded in engineering the first aircraft (small though it is) to use no moving parts, and be powered by ionic wind.

Thanks to science, we now know how long it takes to pass a lego.
The answer: about two days.

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About the Author

I'm the host of this little science show.