30 March, 2016 – Episode 560 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)


Venter’s Back!, Saturn’s Moons, Geysers of Enceladus, Hobbit Floresiensis Update, Out Of Africa, Blood-thirsty Prairie Dogs, Smart Skuas, Ant Antennae, Puppy Transplants, Cure For Aging, Stem Cells For Spines, Fridge Lasers, And Much More!

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Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!
The first time Human ancestors left the tree to go walking in the wide open world…
They must have been afraid of everything…
Everything must have been afraid of them…
Nothing much noticed them until it was much too late and Humanity had spread world wide
In any case… the few things that were noticed or not,
caused or overcame fear, had one thing in common
Our ancestors ability to acquire knowledge made them powerful enough to set out with ape brains
And conquer a planet
And so in the spirit of our ape brained heritage we offer you knowledge
That you may set out from the trees of humanity
And conquer the world as you see fit
Yes, it time once again for
This week in science
Coming up next…

Venter’s Back!
After a couple of years without a peep from the J. Craig Venter Institute about synthetic bacteria, they are back with a paper in Science detailing their work into creating the world’s most minimal genome, a key step in developing a genome from scratch.

Saturn’s Moons
A new model of ring and moon formation around Saturn suggests that the inner moons only formed recently within 100 million years or so. This interpretation doesn’t bode well for the possibility of life on Enceladus.

Geysers of Enceladus
Speaking of Enceladus, another paper modelling the dynamics of the water jets on inner moon of Saturn concludes that the forces might be self-sustaining for periods of up to a million years.

Hobbit floresiensis Update
Dating of tools left behind by Homo floriensis suggests that they died out earlier than previously thought… did they die while Homo sapiens spread?

Australopithecus out of Africa… (great rift valley anyway)
Fossil finds put A. afarensis much further east than previously discovered.

Blood-thirsty prairie dogs
Killing squirrels for sport. Or, because they asked for it?

Antarctic bird much smarter than we thought
An antarctic bird called a skua can differentiate individual humans, and they hold a grudge…

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Ant Antennae
Not just for picking up odors anymore! These insectoid tuning-forks are also for sending messages.

Fecal Transplants For Puppies!
Poop’s got what puppies need when they have diarreah.

Poop Safety
An analysis of fecal transplants found that non-pathogenic and bacterial viruses squeak through the screening process. It’s unknown what kinds of effects these microbes have on recipients.

The Cure For Aging
Is exercise. Older athletes were much better off than non-exercising peers in a recent study.

Stem Cells For Spines
For the first time, researchers showed regeneration of corticospinal pathways in injured spinal cords of paralyzed rats using stem cell grafts. These neurons specifically transmit signals for voluntary movement, and success in this area could lead to better prognoses for paralysis victims.

Green lights could save sea turtles
Turtles hate ’em, fish don’t mind ’em. Green lights are a win-win!

Micro-sanctuaries make all the difference
Some might say that saving a little forest doesn’t do any good, but it turns out that it just might save a species from extinction.

Fridge Laser?
Engineers come up with the darndest ideas.

Chicken Pox Possibility
In a study, researchers found a reduced risk of gliomas in those people who had chicken pox as children.

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I'm the host of this little science show.