29 January, 2020 – Episode 756 – What’s up with nCoV?


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What is in the This Week in Science Podcast?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) Update, Speaking of Snakes, Fly Brain Map, Breathy Butterfly Wings, Forest Fashion Sense?, Bacteria Gonna Share, Trash To Flash?, Melting Faster, Jane Austen Sex Pheromone, Drug Lord Hippo Havoc, Wasp Face Buzz, Music Master, And Much More…

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At the time of this disclaimer
the world reeling from the threat of a growing pandemic
A new virus, the likes of which we’ve seen before,
Is spreading across the planet like the common cold.

Scientists are watching closely, looking for the source
Is it bats? Snakes? Something else?
Nations are taking drastic actions out of an abundance of precaution;
Recalling citizens from hot spots,
Airlines are cancelling flights,
Passengers that do fly are being quarantined.
Hand sanitizer sales often go hand in hand with such news.
This is a good time to be in the face mask business.

And while the world braces for the worst,
It is important to note that this is nothing new.
Mankind has been facing novel threats from our environment
Since the birth of agriculture and animal domestication.
Since the beginning of civilization.

When we first began to live together in large groups,
We exposed ourselves to an environment our evolutionary biology had not prepared us for.
Ever more so in this age of technology and globalization.

While lacking a current specific entry on the subject,
The words of the standard guide to all knowledge and wisdom come to mind:
“Don’t Panic!”
But, maybe keep your towel over your mouth for the duration of

This Week in Science,
Coming Up Next…

Let’s start with an UPDATE!

2019 nCoV UPDATE: Latest numbers and advice from the CDC
Was it snakes? + outbreak update
Coronavirus Outbreak Map via John Hopkins

Don’t panic, wash your hands, avoid sick people, and get your flu shot!

Now, for some SCIENCE!

Speaking of Snakes
Graduate students at Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology successfully generated snake venom gland organoids in the lab, opening the door to improved antivenom production and study of the cell biology of these organs.

Fly Brain Map
A portion of the Drosophila brain has been mapped. At 25,000 neurons, and more than 2 million connections, Janelia researchers published the hemibrain connectome of the fruit fly in the BioARchiv this week. This is the only the second organism ever to have been described in such a way.

Finally, it’s time for Blair’s Animal Corner!

What’s in a butterfly’s wings?
Far more than you bargained for…

…you’re wearing… that??
Some animals might care more about your fashion sense than you think…

Support us on Patreon!

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

“Hi Dr. Kiki,

I was just listening to the latest podcast, which was very interesting as always. I definitely enjoyed the interview.

I wonder if you could find an ecologist who could talk about the impact of Trump’s roll-back of the clean water regulations. I remember what things were like in the 1950s, and my parents were involved in the movement that led to the passing of federal regulations protecting wetlands. Now we seem to be going back to poisoning them.

Late in the podcast you and Blair talked about whether parrots go deaf as the get older. I live with a male blue & gold macaw, who will be 25 in May. He lives in my office and can scream so loud it hurts my ears and can drive me from the room. So I also wondered about this.

Then I learned from a scientist on Naked Science from the UK that parrots, and possibly other birds, actually regenerate the fine hairs in their ears that get damaged by loud noises. Research is going forward to determine the exact biological method for this in the hope that some day we will be able to trigger regeneration of human hearing. I hope to live to regain the hearing I had when I was a boy.

All the best, Bert”

We are going to open this segment of the show to more general letters and inquiries. Have a comment? A question? A poem about science?

Contact us, and we will read it on the show!

Now, let’s continue with SCIENCE NEWS!…

Bacteria are honey badgers
Regardless of human antibacterial practices, once antibiotic resistance arises in bacteria it spreads at a constant rate.

Trash To Flash?
Using a new flash heating method, Rice University engineers have developed a method to turn anything containing carbon into graphene, potentially improving our ability to reduce carbon emissions.

Melting faster
The ice in the Arctic, that is.

Jane Austen Sex Pheromone
Pride, Predjudice, and pheromones… a pheromone named darcin was shown to stimulate mating behaviors in female mice, and to activate a pathway in the brain from the olfactory bulb to the amygdala. Manipulation of the brain area similarly altered the associated behaviors.

Let’s end with some quick SCIENCE NEWS stories!…

Rachmaninoff is radical
Compared to other composers, he was the most innovative.

Drug Lord Hippo Havoc
Hippos are breeding freely in Colombia thanks to Pablo Escobar, and ecologists are trying to figure out what to do about it.

What’s with the face, buzz buzz?
Wasps can tell faces apart – and you thought their backsides looked similar!!

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