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122 Searching for Mars Fossils and Finding Lost Species
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Life on Mars! No? Yes? Maybe? Now we’ve learned that the Mars Rover 2020 will be looking for fossils. And JD wants them to bring a hammer and smash some rocks. </span></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2> <strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Science News with Chris MacAlister</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Mars 2020 Rover is Going to a Place on Mars That’s Perfect for Preserving Fossils</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Life on Mars! Bloody life on Mars! People keep on going on about it. It may be living on Mars? Okay it isn’t. But it may be living in Mars! Can we have a look? No, not yet. But it may have been living on the surface in the past. Great, have we found any signs of it yet? We’ve found signs of water. Brilliant, any signs of past life? Nope, not yet.</li> <li>It feels like we are so close to somewhat confidently saying that Mars had life on it at some point in the past despite the not unsubstantial fact that we have precisely zero evidence for the existence of life on Mars. Okay, maybe that is a tad unfair, but the level of evidence that we are dealing with here is akin to being somewhat confident about the tooth-fairy’s existence because that incisor under your pillow mysteriously vanished in the night, only to be replaced by a coin.</li> <li>And it’s not just Mars, the moons Europa and Enceladus get people excited because they possibly could contain life, but we haven’t seen any direct signs of it yet; only data that doesn’t rule it out. Yet despite this, there are real life Astrobiologists. There is a whole field of science and scientists dedicated to stuff that may not even exist. No wonder mystics get their knickers all in a twist! Although to be fair, they are mystic, that may just be part of one of their rituals.</li> <li>But thankfully we are dealing with scientists here so there is always hope. The quest to discover life within Mars is not only technically daunting but here is also the huge risk of interplanetary contamination to consider if we go looking for it. War of the World’s only worked as a story because the Martians were invading us. Imagine how much it would have sucked if we’d have taken the common cold to Mars and wiped them out on their home planet. Apologies for the spoiler but the book’s been out for 120 years, you’ve had your chance.</li> <li>So NASA is now attempting to go the other way. Next year their Mars 2020 rover is going to the martian Jurassic coast. They are sending a rover to a site that should have been ideal for fossilisation, an area known as the Jezero Crater. Now we do have pretty good evidence that this area contained a lake some 3.5 billion years ago, and considering that we can find the fossils of primitive life on Earth from that long ago, fingers crossed that Mars could offer us similar.</li> <li>This marks a new generation of NASA exploration with a real focus on Astrobiology. Here we could possibly answer the question of whether we are alone in the universe without compromising any life that may still be there.</li> </ul> <p> <a href= "https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7539">JPL NASA</a>, <a href= "https://www.universetoday.com/144000/mars-2020-rover-is-going-to-a-place-on-mars-thats-perfect-for-preserving-fossils/"> Universe Today</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Stunning Amber Discovery Just Pushed Evidence of Pollination Back 50 Million Years</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>People often wonder what Charles Darwin would think if could see the world today and where the legacy of his work has taken us. Personally, I’d like to think that he would be more fascinated in the answers that we have discovered since his death. He’d be chuffed to bits to learn about the Morgan’s sphinx moth; the moth whose existence he predicted 40 years before it was discovered. He’d be tickled pink to learn where all the energy comes from to sustain the amount of fish that live on coral reefs (as we covered earlier in the year). And we’d probably have to sit him down before we introduce him to DNA and genetics. The poor man’s already died once, we wouldn’t want to finish him off again so quickly.</li> <li>But there are still plenty of Darwin’s enigmas that we still have not been able to solve yet. Like the “abominable mystery” as he described it, of how flowering plants, or angiosperms, suddenly bloomed into the fossil record in the early cretaceous period. </li> <li>The first evidence we have for angiosperms is 130 million years ago. Around 112 to 94 million years ago, the angiosperms blossomed to a level of dominance that they retain today. This correlates with the rise of beetles as well so it has long been thought that the two co-evolved.</li> <li>Now, this is where I wish that we had some creationist listeners. Who knows, maybe we do and if so, good for you and get a load of this. We’ve changed our mind! A new fossil, a beetle preserved in amber, has been discovered in Myanmar and published in PNAS. It completely discredits the picture of the co-evolution that I mentioned, so we’re scraping it, because that’s how science works.</li> <li>The reason that we are scrapping it is because this preserved beetle, dubbed <em>Angimordella burmitina</em>, is 99 million years old and it has been caught in the act. <em>Angimordella</em> has been linked to the modern tumbling flower beetle family, the Mordellidae. Like it’s modern ancestors it has a “humpbacked body, deflexed head, pointed abdomen, and stout hind legs,” and most of the modern species feed on angiosperm pollen – which is how the researchers were able to recognise the mouthparts. And if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well then there’s still some residual uncertainty at play that needs to be addressed.</li> <li>The smoking gun in this case was that the beetle was carrying 62 grains of angiosperm pollen at the time that it died. So not only is the beetle already perfectly evolved to transport pollen at this stage of history but analysis of the pollen also confirms that that was evolved to facilitate transportation via beetle. It pushes the earliest confirmed date of insect pollination back by 50 million years.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/11/05/1916186116">PNAS</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencealert.com/insects-were-already-pollinating-plants-99-million-years-ago-new-fossil-shows"> ScienceAlert</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ul> <li><strong>160th Anniversary of the publication of “On The Origin Of Species” by Charles Darwin. </strong></li> <li><strong>Drug-resistant microbes kill about 35,000 people in the U.S. per year</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cdc-drug-resistant-microbes-kill-about-35000-people-united-states-per-year"> Science News</a><strong>,</strong> <a href= "https://www.sciencealert.com/nightmare-drug-resistant-superbugs-are-causing-more-deaths-than-previously-estimated"> ScienceAlert</a>, <a href= "https://www.statnews.com/2019/11/13/cdc-report-35000-americans-die-of-antibiotic-resistant-infections-each-year/"> STAT</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Zero gravity made some astronauts’ blood flow backwards</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2755307"> JAMA Network Open</a>,  <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2223705-zero-gravity-made-some-astronauts-blood-flow-backwards/"> New Scientist</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Hayabusa 2 begins long journey home carrying Ryugu asteroid samples</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2223235-hayabusa-2-begins-long-journey-home-carrying-ryugu-asteroid-samples/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.universetoday.com/144015/its-time-for-hayabusa-2-to-come-home/"> Universe Today</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Incredibly Rare ‘Mouse Deer' Spotted in Vietnam After Vanishing For Almost 30 Years</strong> <ul> <li> <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/11/12/tiny-deer-was-feared-extinct-scientists-just-photographed-it-first-time-generation/">Washington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.huffpost.com/entry/silver-backed-chevrotain-rediscovered-vietnam-mouse-deer_n_5dcc341ce4b0a794d1f953aa"> Huffington Post</a><strong> </strong></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <img class="wp-image-2267" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/122_vietnamesemousedeer.png" sizes="(max-width: 533px) 100vw, 533px" srcset= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/122_vietnamesemousedeer.png 533w, https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/122_vietnamesemousedeer-300x225.png 300w" alt="" /> Vietnamese Mouse Deer<br /> <a href= "http://Southern%20Institute%20of%20Ecology/Global%20Wildlife%20Conservation/Leibniz%20Institute%20for%20Zoo%20and%20Wildlife%20Research/NCNP"> Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP</a> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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121 Cosmological Crisis
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The more you know, the more you don’t know. Ain’t that the truth! The more we know about the universe the more confusing and contradictory it seems to get. Nevena talks about this crisis in cosmology in today’s episode of Blue Streak Science.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Oh, there’s so much more than that. Join us. </span></p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Good dogs (there’s no such thing as bad dogs)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Shape of Things...of everything</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Scientists speak out...no, they scream out at the top of their collective lungs on the climate crisis</span></li> </ul> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Brains of girls and boys are similar, producing equal math ability</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Jessica Cantlon at Carnegie Mellon University led a research team that comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Their research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability. The results of this research are available online in the November 8 issue of the journal</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Science of Learning</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, and was funded jointly by NIH and NHS.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Cantlon and her team conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate biological gender differences in math aptitude of young children.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Her team used functional MRI to measure brain activity in 104 young children (3- to 10-years-old; 55 girls) while watching an educational video covering early math topics, like counting and addition. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The researchers compared scans from the boys and girls to evaluate brain similarity. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">In addition, the team examined brain maturity by comparing the children’s scans to those taken from a group of adults (63 adults; 25 women) who watched the same math videos.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">They found no difference in the brain development of girls and boys. In addition, the researchers found no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills and were equally engaged while watching educational videos. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Finally, boys’ and girls’ brain maturity were statistically equivalent when compared to either men or women in the adult group.</span></li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://neurosciencenews.com/boy-girl-math-ability-15185/amp/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Neuroscience News</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4800017/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Pharmacy Practice</span></a></p> <h3><strong>Bad dog? Think twice before yelling, experts say</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Whether you’re looking after a canine or a human there is no clear cut right way of doing things.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">There have been studies in working dogs that show negative side effects in dogs trained through corrective training rather than reinforcement training. But working dogs live very different lives from family pets, can we make the same inferences here?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro and her team at the University of Porto in Portugal have looked into this exact question. They recruited about 100 dogs, half from a reinforcement based training school and half from a corrective training school and then let the animal testing begin!</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">They started by bringing all of the dogs in for a training session. During the session they filmed the dogs and took saliva samples. With the saliva they can measure levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone, commonly known as the stress hormone. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team found that correctionally trained dogs do show increased cortisol levels during training. The reinforcement trained dogs showed no significant change. </span></li> </ul> <h3><strong>Cosmological crisis: We don't know if the universe is round or flat</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">According to some newly crunched data from the Planck observatory, our universe might actually be a sphere rather than a plane.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The focus of the observatory was to map the cosmic microwave background - a sea of light left over from the big bang.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">We know of the existence of an effect called gravitational lensing. A gravitational lens is a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant light source and an observer, that is capable of bending the light from the source as the light travels towards the observer. Such bending is due to the gravitational pull of such massive stellar bodies.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">However, with the latest calculations, astronomers seem to be observing much stronger gravitational lensing than expected.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">With a new model, researchers could explain the “extra” magnitude of lensing by factoring a shape of space-time different than what we’ve considered before. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">These Planck measurements indicate that the universe is 41 times more likely to be “closed”, or spherical, which would mean that if you travelled far enough in one direction, you would end up back where you started. That is because the extra lensing implies the presence of extra dark matter, which would pull the universe into a finite sphere instead of a flat sheet.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why some cosmologists call this a crisis is because it throws a lot of theories and models about other events in the universe down the crapper.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, the model of our ever-expanding universe, scientists have had some trouble explaining some of the things that happen in real life and at the same time, not able to prove or detect others which should be happening according to our model of a flat universe. With the closed one - the number of such discrepancies increases, even if with the data used to draft this closed model, we are using the most fine measurements of the sort to present days.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">On the bright side, the Simons Observatory, will be able to measure gravitational lensing even more precisely than Planck, and it should tell us whether or not there really is a cosmological crisis.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">On the flip of this though, we’ll have to live with the unknown for quite some time, as the Simons Observatory is still being built.</span></li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2222159-cosmological-crisis-we-dont-know-if-the-universe-is-round-or-flat/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">New Scientist</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_lens"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Wikipedia</span></a></p> <h3><strong>Climate Change: "Clear and unequivocal" emergency, say scientists</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong><span style= "font-weight: 400;"> </span></h4> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A global group of around 11,000 scientists have endorsed research that says the world is facing a climate emergency. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study, in BioScience by Dr Thomas Newsome et. al. looks back over 40 years worth of evidence and pulls no punches in pointing out that governments are failing to deal with the issue and that we are cruising toward “untold human suffering”.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">It also says that simply measuring global surface temperatures is an inadequate way of capturing the real dangers of an overheating world. Which is somewhat ironic considering that the study was released on the same day as satellite data confirmed that we have just had the warmest October on record. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">But rather than just bring us bad news, this study gives us six things that could be changed immediately that would make a big difference:</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Energy: Politicians should impose carbon fees high enough to discourage the use of fossil fuels, they should end subsidies to fossil fuel companies and implement massive conservation practices while also replacing oil and gas with renewables.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Short-lived pollutants: These include methane, hydrofluorocarbons and soot - the researchers say that limiting these has the potential to cut the short-term warming trend by 50% over the next few decades.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Nature: Stop land clearing, restore forests, grasslands and mangroves which would all help to sequester CO2.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Food: A big dietary shift is needed. With people eating mostly plants and consuming fewer animal products. Notice that they don’t say that we have to go full vegan. I would argue that bees are more of a help than a hindrance here and they can do with all the help that they can get. Reducing food waste is also seen as critical.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Economy: Convert the economy's reliance on carbon fuels - and change away from growing the world's gross domestic product and pursuing affluence.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Population: The world needs to stabilise the global population which is growing by around 200,000 a day.</span></li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50302392"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> BBC Science and Environment</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scientists-around-world-declare-climate-emergency-180973462/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Smithsonian Magazine</span></a></p> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h4><strong>Broadcom Masters contest</strong></h4> </li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Broadcom Foundation</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">and the</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Society for Science & the Public</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">announced Tuesday that 14 year old Alaina Gassler of West Grove, Pennsylvania, has won the Samueli Foundation Prize, </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS, which is the nation’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The five winners, all girls, were chosen from 30 finalists selected from 2,348 applicants by a panel of scientists, engineers and educators. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Alaina Gassler</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">of West Grove, Pennsylvania, won the Samueli Foundation Prize, for her project reducing blind spots in cars and her exemplary performance during the Broadcom MASTERS’s hands-on challenges. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Rachel Bergey</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, won the Lemelson Award for Invention. </span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Rachel developed a trap made of tinfoil and netting for the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species causing damage to trees in Pennsylvania.</span></li> </ul> </li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Sidor Clare</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">, of Sandy, Utah, won the Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation. </span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sidor developed bricks that could one day be made on Mars. </span></li> </ul> </li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Alexis MacAvoy</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">, of Hillsborough, California, won the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement by designing a water filter using carbon to remove heavy metals from water.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Lauren Ejiaga</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">of New Orleans, Louisiana, won the STEM Talent Award.</span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Lauren’s research focused on how current levels of ultraviolet light from the sun due to ozone depletion impacts plant growth and performance.</span></li> </ul> </li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Email us at:</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Please visit our good friends at</span> <a href="https://scicommjc.org/"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Science Communication Journal Club</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“your hub for keeping up”, home of the SciComm JC Podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">R</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">emember...follow the science!</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

120 Wildfire...again!
<p>In California we’ve noticed that winegrape harvests have shifted to earlier and earlier due to a warmer climate over the past few decades. Along with this shift in agriculture we’ve also experienced extended and more catastrophic fire seasons. </p> <p>Last week the huge Kincade fire swept through Sonoma County, and threatened several towns, including a neighborhood that was incinerated only two years ago. </p> <p>In today’s episode we learn of JD’s experience in this “new normal” of climate change. </p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Mini black holes</li> <li>Genetically modified rice</li> <li>The California wildfires</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with JD Goodwin and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Astronomers Just Found the First Evidence That ‘Mini Black Holes' Exist</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>This is a story about a fascinating new discovery about a less extreme, extreme of the universe’s extremities.</li> <li>Todd Thompson and his colleagues theorised that there may be smaller black holes existing as a part of binary star systems. Too far away to be sucking in material from the other sun, but still able to give us a clue to its presence.</li> <li>The team have detected a star that moves between positive and negative Doppler shifts and have calculated that it is orbiting a mini black hole some 3.3 times the mass of our sun.</li> <li>There is a chance that it could be a neutron star, however Todd Thompson says “I would actually be even more excited if that were true!” This is because the maximum mass calculated for a neutron star, before it turns into a black hole, is 2.6 times the mass of the Sun.  </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/mini-black-holes-could-exist-universe.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Block on GM rice “has cost millions of lives and led to child blindness”</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>In parts of Asia impoverished families must live on as little as a few bowls of rice a day. This diet can leave people lacking in vitamin A and it is a killer; a significant one.</li> <li>Vitamin A shortage kills more children than malaria and HIV and tuberculosis combined. Around 2,000 deaths per day.</li> <li>Peter Beyer, professor of cell biology at Freiburg University in Germany, and Ingo Potrykus of the Institute of Plant Sciences in Switzerland have developed a new type of rice, known as golden rice. The rice gets its golden colour from beta-carotene (the pigment that makes carrots orange). Aside from making it look pretty, the really important thing is that the body can use beta-carotene to synthesize Vitamin A. By simply changing the crop it could be possible to save thousands of lives each day.</li> <li>Golden rice was developed last century, some 20 years ago; and as yet it has not made its way to the people that it was developed to help.</li> <li>Why? Author Ed Regis has investigated this issue in his book “Golden Rice: The Imperiled Birth of a GMO Superfood” which was published last month.</li> <li>The core issue appears to be the fact that Golden Rice is genetically modified. Regis makes no qualms about placing the blame at the feet of organisations like Greenpeace. Greenpeace claim that Golden Rice is a hoax; a red herring to divert attention from the real issue of the crippling poverty that is creating this issue in the first place.</li> <li>Whilst Greenpeace haven’t helped the situation, they also aren’t the ones responsible for the complete lack of movement. That dubious honour goes to an international treaty known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which came into force in 2003.</li> <li>Principle 15 of this treaty states that if a product of modern biotechnology poses a possible risk to human health or the environment, measures should be taken to restrict or prevent its introduction”.</li> <li>Despite this, there is now finally work being done on trying to get these crops to the people who so badly need them. Steps have been made toward approval in the US, Canada and Australia (so countries that really struggle with malnutrition.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/26/gm-golden-rice-delay-cost-millions-of-lives-child-blindness"> The Guardian</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>California Fires</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>JD goes on a well-deserved rant about fleeing a wildfire. However, the circumstances and ultimate result were very different this go ‘round.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ul> <li><strong>Origin of modern humans ‘traced to Botswana'</strong> <ul> <li>A study published in Nature last week utilized mitochondrial DNA to reach the conclusion that modern humans originated in northern Botswana.</li> <li>However, many anthropologists are saying “not so fast”. </li> <li>Problem is, mDNA is just one line of evidence.</li> <li>Being mDNA also means that it is a small fraction of the human genome</li> <li>They could very well be on to something here, but it’s way to early to draw conclusions.</li> <li>Perhaps we could state it as, “mDNA study suggests origin of modern humans may be northern Botswana”</li> <li><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50210701">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://theconversation.com/botswana-is-humanitys-ancestral-home-claims-major-study-well-actually-126130"> The Conversation</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong> </strong><strong>Electric cars could charge in 10 minutes with a new kind of battery</strong> <ul> <li>A new type of lithium car battery may be able to power a drive of 320-kilometres with just a 10 minutes charge</li> <li>To accomplish this fast charge the battery temperature must be raised to 60 °C during the recharge. </li> <li>High-rate charging usually results in one of the batteries electrodes getting coated with lithium blocking the flow of energy and eventually killing the battery. But this pre-heating protocol allows the battery to fast charge will no ill effects. </li> <li>This could be on our roads in as little as 2 to 3 years. </li> <li><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2221740-electric-cars-could-charge-in-10-minutes-with-a-new-kind-of-battery/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03346-1">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/30/electric-cars-could-be-charged-in-10-minutes-in-future-finds-research"> The Guardian</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong> There's No Evidence Cannabis Treats Anxiety or Depression</strong> <ul> <li>Wayne Hall at the University of Queensland, Australia, and his colleagues evaluated all the published and unpublished research between 1980 and 2018 on the use of cannabinoids to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and psychosis.</li> <li>They found little evidence that medicinal cannabinoids helped to treat either the overall disorders or their individual symptoms. </li> <li>In one study of 24 people, THC actually made symptoms of psychosis worse.</li> <li>83 studies, total of 3000 participants</li> <li>Only 40 studies were randomised controlled trials, the gold standard for medical evidence.</li> <li><strong> </strong><a href= "https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(19)30401-8/fulltext">The Lancet Psychiatry</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/weed-cannot-treat-depression.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2221327-there-is-little-evidence-that-cannabis-helps-mental-health-problems/"> New Scientist</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>A Man Kept Getting Drunk Without Using Alcohol. How?</strong> <ul> <li>46 year old man</li> <li>Became prone to falls, aggressive behavior, and “brain fog”</li> <li>Arrested for driving while intoxicated, but insisted that he didn’t drink at all…that he doesn’t drink</li> <li>People were convinced that he was tipping the bottle in secret</li> <li>Instead, he was experiencing Auto-brewery Syndrome</li> <li>Stool samples revealed abnormally high levels of Saccharomyces boulardii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae</li> <li>Further had the patient eat some carbs and the yeast converted those carbs to alcohol, which was detected in a blood test at 0.05%.</li> <li>Treatment and close monitoring for two months seemed to do the trick, though he did have a relapse when he ate some unauthorized pizza and sugary soda</li> <li>The good news is that his gut flora seem to be back in balance and he can enjoy carbs and all that good stuff.</li> <li><a href="https://bmjopengastro.bmj.com/content/6/1/e000325">BMJ Open Gastroenterology</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/drunk-man-actually-had-autobrewery-syndrome.html"> Live Science</a></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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119 The Blob!
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>A new land speed record</li> <li>Are we alone? Are <em>we</em> intelligent life?</li> <li>A brainless blob</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Scientific integrity bill advances in U.S. House with bipartisan support</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>The US House of Representatives' science committee has advanced bills promoting scientific integrity policies with bipartisan support.</li> <li>The Scientific Integrity Act would codify principles of scientific integrity for federal agencies that fund, conduct or oversee scientific research.</li> <li>If adopted into law, the bill would require the head of each agency would have to develop, adopt and enforce their own policy for dispute resolution and integrity code and submit it both to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to Congress.</li> <li>The agencies would also be required to appoint a scientific integrity officer, who would be charged with posting annual reports on the agency’s misconduct record.</li> <li>It would prevent agency officials from interfering with scientific research, including through putting their thumbs on the scale of findings or blocking the distribution of data or public communications. </li> <li>The measure would give scientists the right to review information their agencies distribute about their work to correct any technical inaccuracies.</li> <li>Federal scientists would be free to talk to the media if contacted, and agencies would be required to offer scientists the option to respond directly to press inquiries about their work.</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Desert ant runs so fast it covers 100 times its body length per second</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li><em>Cataglyphis bombycina</em>, the Saharan Silver Ant lives in a desert, a very hot desert. The ground temperature can regularly reach 60oC (140F).</li> <li>Whilst the coast is clear the use their impressive speed to scavenge for anything that has fallen victim to the intense heat.</li> <li>This record had been suspected for some time. An estimate was made in 1983 that they may be able to travel at around 1 meter per second.</li> <li>An estimate is all that has remained for nearly 40 years until Sarah Pfeffer and her team at Ulm University in Germany came along armed with high speed cameras. Whilst the ants did fall shy of the 1 meter per second estimate at 85.5 cm per second they weren’t all that far off.</li> <li>Pfeffer has posted her findings in the Journal of Experimental Biology where she also reveals that the ants unusually short legs take up to 40 steps per second. Not only are their legs unusually short but the ants move them in an unusual pattern too, although it seems likely that this has less to do with generating speed and more to do with efficiently moving over the sandy ground.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2220211-desert-ant-runs-so-fast-it-covers-100-times-its-body-length-per-second/"> New Scientist</a><strong>,</strong> <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03124-z">Nature</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Evolution tells us we might be the only intelligent life in the universe</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>This paper outlines the fact that human intelligence required a lot of other evolutionary developments to come into existence. By multiplying the probabilities of each individual evolutionary step we get the overall probability of intelligence as the ultimate evolutionary development to occur. The roughly estimated odds become one in 100 trillion.</li> <li>However, there is a part from that article which according to me is intrinsically flawed. The article assumes the only probable type of intelligence is human intelligence. On this podcast, we have discussed before that the human centric intelligence is probably a significant bias introduced by scientists looking for an intelligence similar to ours.</li> <li>I personally have the same problem with us looking for life elsewhere than Earth. We operate under the same presumption that life can only exist based on carbon, RNA or DNA and metabolic processes similar to what we can observe on Earth. We do that because we can’t rationally imagine other types of life-forms and respectively can’t go look for them. </li> <li>We know that it's definitely possible for life to have evolved based on silicon. But we have no idea how this life would have evolved, given that silicon has very similar properties to carbon but also being a different element it might have led to different molecular structure of life and hence evolution.</li> <li>It might be completely impossible for us to detect life, and by extension intelligence, elsewhere outside of our planet if we focus entirely on looking for life or intelligence of the same type as the earthly ones. And yes human type of intelligence may well be one in a trillion flukes of evolution, but that doesn't mean that intelligence altogether is not common in the universe.</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Paris Zoo Unveils Bizarre, Brainless ‘Blob’ Capable of Learning—and Eating Oatmeal</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>So, this story comes to us from Smithsonian.com where it is entitled “Paris Zoo Unveils Bizarre, Brainless ‘Blob’ Capable of Learning—and Eating Oatmeal”. And in its most basic form this story is about a zoo opening a new exhibit. And rather than calling this creature by its real name, they have dubbed it “the blob” in honour of a 1950’s grabe B horror flick.</li> <li>As a zoology graduate I was always going to be all over this story, however this creature is not an animal. And I use the word creature intentionally as it’s not a plant or fungus either. But it is one of the most fascinating creatures on this planet. It’s actually called a slime mould (<em>Physarum polycephalum</em>) and if a zoo offered to show you a creature that looks like someone has sneezed on a log then you’d probably not be too keen to check it out. </li> <li>Personally, I would go and check it out. Not because it is an impressive visual spectacle but more as an acknowledgment of what it is. You can go and see a decent painting anywhere but people flock to see the Mona Lisa because of the meaning that it carries and this is what slime moulds are like or me, sort of. So if you’re already at the Louvre, why not jump on the Metro to take you 9km to the zoo too?</li> <li>So why am I waxing lyrical about slime moulds? Firstly, they are an evolutionary odd-ball, formally classified as a “what the hell is that?” or to give it its proper scientific title a Protist.</li> <li>It’s not just their classification that is weird. They are amoeboid, singled celled creatures, but they can grow to be meters in size. They contain multiple nuceli within the single cell. Whilst they can spread in a mould like fashion, they can also locomote and they travel woodland floors hunting microbes and fungal spores. The zoo raised theirs on oatmeal. And whilst there are people struggling to cope with the fact that humans can have multiple genders, slime moulds have 720 sexes!</li> <li>Whilst all of these things are interesting, my favourite thing about slime mould is that it is intelligent. It doesn’t have a brain, it doesn’t have brain cells, it is a cell!</li> <li>Slime moulds can solve mazes and this is still at the basic end of what they can do.</li> <li>They aren’t great fans of light, preferring dark, damp areas. Back in 2006, at the University of Southampton, a robot was built and provided with a slime mould pilot. The mould was able to drive the robot away from light to hide in shaded areas.</li> <li>In fact, slime moulds are so intelligent that humans are starting to turn to them for wisdom. In 2010 researchers from the University of Oxford and Hokkaido University in Japan found that slime mould formed networks amazingly similar to the Tokyo transit system when linking up oat flakes positioned like surrounding cities. Let’s just focus on that for a second. A mould has managed to recreate a complex and efficient transport system designed by professional, qualified humans!</li> <li>It’s slime moulds ability to exhibit this decentralised intelligence that are making them a case study for people looking to develop intelligence systems that could be used in things like autonomous cars.</li> </ul> <p> <a href= "https://www.sciencealert.com/paris-zoo-s-new-blob-exhibit-is-no-monster-but-something-we-can-all-learn-from">ScienceAlert</a>, <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/paris-zoo-unveils-bizarre-brainless-blob-capable-learning-180973363/"> Smithsonian</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Can you keep up with our crack team of quiz masters?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Shout out to Abby Tabor, one of the early guests of Blue Streak Science, and now doing some brilliant work with the NASA Ames Research Center.</p> <p>Abby hosts <a href="https://youtu.be/xwd1TiuuEgs">NASA in Silicon Valley Live</a> on YouTube. </p> <p>Check it out!</p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><a>podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p><a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a></p> <p><a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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118 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Paleo Soup Cans, and Good News from the UK
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <p>As science news went this week, it was all over the map. Continuing from last week's Nobel Prizes, we moved to Pleistocene food storage, and a green milestone for the UK.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Nobel Prize in Chemistry</li> <li>Prehistoric Cans of Soup</li> <li>Good news from the UK regarding energy consumption</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Nobel Prize in Chemistry</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Science Nobels are traditionally awarded to 3 people and the 3 people accepting this award are Stanley Whittingham of the State University of New York in Binghamton; John Goodenough of the University of Texas in Austin; and Akira Yoshino of Asahi Kasei Corporation in Tokyo. </li> <li>Stanley Whittingham was the first person to show that the concept of a Lithium battery could work.</li> <li>John Goodenough realised that the problem with Whittingham’s battery was the materials that he was using. By switching the materials around he managed to create a lithium ion battery that was almost twice as powerful as Whittinghams. Despite the improvement, the battery still wasn’t commercially viable as it was still liable to overheating and would not cope with many recharges.</li> <li>The final leg of our story lays with Akira Yoshino. By substituting the use of pure lithium within the battery with lithium ions he made the batteries safer and more durable without compromising on the power output. His work was the final step that allowed lithium ion batteries to become marketable.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/nobel-prize-chemistry-goes-development-lithium-batteries"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.huffpost.com/entry/2019-nobel-prize-chemistry_n_5d9d867de4b087efdba4fd43"> HuffPo Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Bones Filled with Marrow Served as Prehistoric Humans' ‘Cans of Soup'</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <ul> <li>There is now evidence from the Pleistocene Epoch that our ancestors employed a novel method for preserving nutritious fats and proteins</li> <li>Fossil evidence they looked at was over 400,000 years old</li> <li>The findings show that these paleolithic humans didn’t eat everything immediately after making a kill</li> <li>In most of these cases the prey were Persian fallow deer</li> <li>The researchers examined more than 80,000 bones collected from this cave called Quesem Cave, near Tel Aviv</li> <li>The leg bones brought back to the cave often showed cut marks which were different than the butchering marks</li> <li>The researchers suspect these cut marks were made later to remove dried skin which was wrapped around the bones to aid in preservation</li> <li>According to lead author Ruth Blasco of Tel Aviv University, “We discovered that preserving the bone along with the skin for a period that could last for many weeks enabled early humans to break the bone when necessary and eat the still nutritious bone marrow”</li> <li>This bone marrow preservation strategy demonstrates the cognitive ability of these Pleistocene humans to plan for future needs, using a method which helps to reduce energy expenditures to achieve the required caloric intake necessary for survival. </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/marrow-bones-prehistoric-soup-cans.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/10/eaav9822">Science Advances</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Renewables overtook fossil fuels in UK electricity mix for first time</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>The UK has just had its first ever annual quarter where more of the country’s energy was generated by renewable sources, rather than from fossil fuels. </li> <li>The figures came from a study by climate website <em>Carbon Brief</em></li> <li>Over the period, 40% of electricity generation came from renewables. With half from wind farms and the rest from biomass, solar and hydropower. By comparison, gas power stations provided 38 per cent of electricity, with coal supplying just 1 per cent. Nuclear’s share was around 20 per cent.</li> <li>The figures are provisional though. The Carbon Brief figures are based on a preliminary analysis of government and industry data.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2219592-renewables-overtook-fossil-fuels-in-uk-electricity-mix-for-first-time/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ol> <li><strong>Title:</strong> <strong>Alexei Leonov: First person to walk in space dies aged 85</strong></li> </ol> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50017409">BBC World</a></p> <ol> <li><strong>Title:</strong> <strong>Cows painted with zebra stripes repel flies</strong></li> </ol> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/11/if-the-shoo-fits-cows-painted-with-zebra-stripes-keep-flies-in-line"> The Guardian</a></p> <ol> <li><strong>Title:</strong> <strong>A supermassive black hole shredded a star and was caught in the act</strong></li> </ol> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/supermassive-black-hole-shredded-star-caught-act"> Science News</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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117 In Praise of the Negative
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>We have negative results</li> <li>The war on science</li> <li>Some yummy primordial soup</li> <li>And it’s Nobel Prize week!</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Highlight Negative Results to Improve Science</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Devang Mehta spent 4 years attempting to use CRISPR gene-editing technology to establish viral resistance in cassava, a tropical root crop and staple food for almost a billion people. What he ended up demonstrating was an increased level of viral resistance to CRISPR.</li> <li>The methodology of this work was considered solid in peer review, but it soon became clear that there was precious little interest from potential publishers. </li> <li>Now, you may think that Mahta’s position is simply a case of sour grapes, and it may be, but regardless of motivations, he backs up his position with evidence.</li> <li>Mehta cites a 2012 paper by Daniele Fanelli. This paper was a review of over 4000 published papers. It found that between 1990 and 2007 the proportion of papers that confirmed positive results to hypotheses increased by 22%, resulting in positive result rate of more than 85%. She concluded that scientific objectivity in published papers was declining.</li> <li>Publication is the lifeblood of academic research science. Funding is very closely linked to the prestige of publishing. So how can we ensure that science remains honest and impartial when the very foundations that sustain it demonstrate hefty prejudice?</li> <li>Aside from the dangers of feeding a positive feedback loop into theories and stifling contradictory evidence. There is also a more practical danger from this.</li> <li>If no one is interested in sharing the knowledge of failure, then how many more people will have to waste their time and limited resources repeating the failed experiments of others? </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02960-3">Nature</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Trump Administration's War On Science Hits ‘Crisis Point'</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Nonpartisan taskforce of former government officials was formed at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, </li> <li>co-chaired by Christine Todd Whitman, former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is a Republican, and former governor of New Jersey, and Preet Bahara, former United States Attorney</li> <li>The group is called the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy.</li> <li>They report “almost weekly violations” of previous criteria</li> <li>According to Christine Todd Whitman: “Politics is driving decisions and has been for some time,“Right now, any finding that seems to be restricting business, especially the energy industry, appears to be destined for elimination.</li> <li>The Hurricane/sharpie incident is not the only time <ul> <li>At the Department of Agriculture economists published research showing that Trump’s trade policies would be harmful to farmers. Those economists were relocated</li> <li>A climate scientist published a science of the impact of global warming on communities in the Arctic, which earned that scientist a reassignment. </li> </ul> </li> <li>According to the task force <ul> <li>Advisory boards at the EPA have been shuffled and stuffed with more industry representatives</li> <li>EPA leadership ordered scientists reverse their scientific research which showed that protecting wetlands from pollution conferred an economic benefit</li> <li>At the same time this EPA leadership quashed a study which showed a particular toxic chemical in water was a much greater threat than previously known</li> </ul> </li> <li>The task force states this problem has ballooned under the Trump administration due to the influence of special interests, and the appointment of unqualified cronies</li> <li>What do we do about this? <ul> <li>The report recommends new scientific integrity standards</li> <li>New rules to discourage suppression or manipulation of scientific research</li> <li>Better public access to government research</li> </ul> </li> <li>Would that deter THIS administration? </li> <li>What we need is new leadership before we can even begin to think about crafting and implementing those changes.</li> <li>And the best way to do that? <ul> <li>An overwhelming showing at the polls in November 2020</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/03/science-trump-administration-crisis-point-report"> The Guardian</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Lab-made primordial soup yields RNA bases</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>RNA world theory supports the position that early genetics only existed in RNA, with DNA joining the party further into the future.</li> <li>This theory has been provided a boost thanks to the work of Thomas Carell et. al., published in Science last week. Carell and his team have managed to synthesize all 4 of the RNA nucleobases in conditions that are feasibly consistent with each other.</li> <li>Although, that’s not to say that these conditions are straightforward. But they are summarised quite nicely by Davide Castelvecchi writing about the study in Nature.</li> <li>The process requires two ponds and some seasons. You start off with simple molecules in a nice hot pool of water, your classic primordial soup scenario. But then, you cool your soup and let it dry out, forming a residue of crystals. A rinse, or downpour of water washes away some soluble molecules and this paves the way for further reaction to occur. Follow this up with a final mix up and you start to see you nucleobases appear.</li> <li>Of course, we can never know whether this is how nucleobases first formed but that isn’t really the point. By showing that this can be done makes the argument that it did occur spontaneously, and possibly even here on Earth, even more compelling.</li> <li>dingly lucky event, but one that is likely to happen on many other planets</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02622-4">Nature</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Nobel Prize week</strong></h3> <p>Two Americans and a British scientist have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”</p> <p>William G. Kaelin Jr. of Harvard University, Gregg L. Semenza of Johns Hopkins University, and Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe at the Francis Crick Institute in Britain and Oxford University</p> <p>They identified the molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying oxygen levels.</p> <p>This morning the The Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to James Peebles of Princeton University, and he gets “half” the award. </p> <p>The other half will be shared by Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and Didier Queloz who is at both the University of Geneva and the University of Cambridge</p> <p>In particular, Peebles award was for “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology,” </p> <p>Mayor’s and Queloz’s was “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,”</p> <p>More Nobel Prizes coming all week long.</p> <p>We’ll keep you posted on Twitter and in next week’s episode.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a>podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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116 A Bad Case of the Vapers
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Giant Planets</li> <li>Bad news for the vapers</li> <li>Planet Nine from Outer Space</li> <li>Some really old bugs</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Giant planet around tiny star ‘should not exist'</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Scientists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain have discovered a planet almost half the size of Jupiter orbiting a star much smaller than our Sun.</li> <li>They used the so called radial velocity method – if a star is orbited by an object like a planet, due to the gravity of that object it will also wobble in space as the two bodies – the planet and the star will have their gravity forces working in opposite directions of each other.</li> <li>However, the ratio of the planet to star size was so big, that they originally thought that it’s a system of two stars orbiting each other that they are detecting.</li> <li>Usually planets form gradually when a mass of material due to its gravity collects more and more materials, dust and debris from interstellar collisions and by doing so forms its own core.</li> <li>This one, however, is so big that it’s impossible for it to have formed in this way, according to the principal investigators of the project, Juan Carlos Morales.</li> <li>The alternative hypothesis is that a disk of gas spontaneously collapses to form the core of a planet all at once.</li> <li>Apparently this is the first time astronomers are able to observe a planet which must have followed that pattern of development.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49855058">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2217808-an-unexpectedly-enormous-planet-is-orbiting-a-tiny-star/">New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Vaping-Related Illnesses Hit Nearly Every US State</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>In August of 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was investigating 94 possible cases of “severe lung illness associated with vaping” in teens and young adults.</li> <li>The CDC have now announced 805 confirmed or probable cases across 46 U.S. states. This includes 12 fatalities.</li> <li>Whilst patients report symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughs, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. The cause of the illness remains a complete mystery. There are some possible links to certain chemicals but that’s about the best that we have.</li> <li>There appears to be a high correlation with patients vaping cannabis products and there are concerns that black market vaping products can also contain cannabis oils.</li> <li>The CDC recommend that people consider not using e-cigarettes while the investigation is ongoing. They also say that e-cigarettes should not be used by youths, young adults, pregnant women or adults who don't already use tobacco products. And, do not buy e-cigarette products off the street or modify the products or add substances that aren't intended for vaping by the manufacturer.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/vaping-related-lung-illnesses-states.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>‘Planet Nine’ may actually be a black hole</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Scientists are exploring a new hypothesis that Planet Nine may not exist, that it is not a planet at all.</li> <li>Since it is so far from the Sun a planet is very hard to detect and it will receive very little light from the sun, and reflect very little light to be detected. A black hole won’t be easier to detect.</li> <li>However, the scientists who propose this alternative hypothesis will sieve through the data from the Earth-orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to try and test for it.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/planet-nine-may-actually-be-black-hole?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Fossilised microbes from 3.5 billion years ago are oldest yet found</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Raphael Baumgartner at the University of New South Wales in Australia and his colleagues now have oldest credible fossil claim of around 3.48 billion years old.</li> <li>Their rocks came from Western Australia from a site known as the Dresser formation. It contains layered structures called stromatolites which are known to form when microbes grow into thin layers. </li> <li>So how do you get credibility for such a precious artifact? You drill a hole into it. Inside, they discovered “exceptionally preserved organic matter” according to Baumgartner. There are even structures consistent with those seen in biofilms.</li> <li>Further validation came in the form of various chemical analyses which suggest that there was organic matter that had originated from living organisms.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2217747-fossilised-microbes-from-3-5-billion-years-ago-are-oldest-yet-found/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Meme Busters</strong></h2> <p>Fact Checking Greta</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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115 How Dare You!
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>New ideas on why we move around on two feet instead of four</li> <li>A story about a missing link I bet you didn’t even know was missing</li> <li>Climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers a powerful and critically important speech at the United Nations</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <h3><strong>Mystery of why humans walk upright may be explained by surprise fossil</strong></h3> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2217300-mystery-of-why-humans-walk-upright-may-be-explained-by-surprise-fossil/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Missing Link Between Simple Cells and Complex Life-Forms Possibly Found</strong></h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/transition-simple-complex-cells.html">Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Greta Thunberg: “How Dare You!”</strong></h3> <h4>JD Goodwin</h4> <p>United Nations Global Climate Action Summit</p> <p>Greta Thunberg's speech:</p> <p>“This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!</p> <p>“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!</p> <p>“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.</p> <p>“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.</p> <p>“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.</p> <p>“Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.</p> <p>“So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.</p> <p>“To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.</p> <p>“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual' and some technical solutions? With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.</p> <p>“There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.</p> <p>“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.</p> <p>“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.</p> <p>“Thank you.”</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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114 Going Bananas!
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Scientist who can’t agree</li> <li>Were humans really in Europe 210,000 years ago? Really?</li> <li>And if you think that’s bananas then you’ll love the first story</li> <li>World experienced hottest June on record in 2019, says US agency</li> <li>Massive, Human-Size Jellyfish Stuns Divers Off the Coast of England</li> <li>Ebola Outbreak in Congo Is Declared a Global Health Emergency</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><a href="https://bluestreakscience.com/applepodcasts" target= "_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label= "bluestreakscience.com/applepodcasts (opens in a new tab)">bluestreakscience.com/applepodcasts</a></h2>
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113 Apollo 11
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <p>Fifty years since Apollo 11 first brought humankind to the Moon? No, it doesn't seem like yesterday. It's been way too long since we've left the comfort and safety of Earth orbit. Let's go back to the Moon and beyond!</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>A recent visit to an asteroid</li> <li>Why catching a cold may not be such a bad thing after all</li> <li>And a not-so-recent visit to the moon</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Hayabusa-2: Japanese spacecraft makes final touchdown on asteroid</strong></h3> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/hayabusa2-touchdown-asteroid-ryugu-second-sample-subsurface"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/10/science/hayabusa2-ryugu-asteroid-japan.html">The New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/first-japanese-spacecraft-appears-have-collected-samples-inside-asteroid?rss=1">Science</a></p> <ul> <li>It was only a few years ago that we were getting so excited by NASA’s Rosetta mission which orbited a comet, and its Philae lander which (kind of) successfully landed on it.</li> <li>As if this isn’t impressive enough, Haybusba-2 is basically showboating now because it’s not just gone down to the asteroid once, it’s now done it twice! </li> <li>On its first landing (in February) it collected some surface material; and this was pretty much the best that could be hoped for since the asteroid turned out to be much rockier than anyone had thought back when they were planning the mission.</li> <li>The people at JAXA know how to deal with stubborn space rock. In April, the spacecraft dropped a two-kilogram copper cylinder from about 500 meters above the surface to blast an artificial crater about 10 meters wide and 2 meters deep into its surface.</li> <li>This operation released material from deep within the asteroid. The team back on Earth watched where this debris settled and then sent Hayabusa down to pick some up.</li> <li>Hayabusa-2 will leave Ryugu in November (which I daresay will be a significant relief to Ryugu) and is due to return to Earth in 2020. At this point the coverage of this story in Science News says “That’s when the team will confirm that the spacecraft successfully collected the dust.”</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>A Common Cold Virus Wiped Away Bladder Cancer in One Patient</strong></h3> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65908-cold-virus-might-treat-bladder-cancer.html"> Live Science</a></p> <ul> <li>A group of researchers have just published a paper in the journal Clinical Cancer Research which reports that cancer is vulnerable when exposed to a cold virus. </li> <li>Whilst there are many, many forms of cancer there are even more pathogens that cause common colds. This is precisely why you never build immunity to colds, because you’re not just dealing with one disease. </li> <li>This study falls firmly into the small but promising category. It only involves 15 patients who were all suffering from bowel cancer. It this won’t sound pretty but these patients were delivered a sizeable dose of common cold, in the form of Coxsackievirus-A21.</li> <li>This hour long viral jacuzzi was delivered and repeated for each patient before they were taken into surgery to have and remaining tumour removed.</li> <li>Why did they find? There was evidence that the tumours had been damaged by the virus in all the patients, but in one lucky patient the tumour had been completely destroyed!</li> <li>So what’s going on? One of the problems with cancer is its ability to sidestep the immune system (since it is made up of your body's own cells). The Coxsackievirus damages cells which then coaxes the immune system into action, removing any compromised cells, cancer or otherwise.</li> <li>The biomechanics of this leave the cancer cells more vulnerable to this virus than healthy cells, which turns Coxsachievirus into a type of magic bullet.</li> <li>What is exciting about this study is that it’s not just an idea, this is evidence of the treatment working in practice. What’s more, it’s not using some sophisticated bespoke designer virus, this is a wild strain common cold virus that is already kicking around and could theoretically work on any human with no tweaking needed. </li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Moon Landing Footage Would Have Been Impossible to Fake. Here's Why</strong></h3> <p><a href= "https://theconversation.com/moon-landings-footage-would-have-been-impossible-to-fake-a-film-expert-explains-why-118426"> The Conversation</a>, <a href= "https://theconversation.com/to-the-moon-and-beyond-2-how-humanity-reacted-to-the-moon-landing-and-why-it-led-to-conspiracy-theories-120046">The Conversation(2)</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ul> <li><strong>Earliest modern human found outside Africa</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48913307">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24332384-900-our-species-got-to-europe-165000-years-earlier-than-we-thought/">New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/skull-fragment-greek-cave-suggests-modern-humans-were-europe-more-200000-years-ago?rss=1">Science</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe</strong> <ul> <li><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-bird-found-encased-amber-had-bizarrely-long-toe">Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/11/science/bird-amber-toe.html">The New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/ancient-bird-sported-ginormous-toe?rss=1">Science</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Southern right whale moms and calves may whisper to evade orcas</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/southern-right-whale-moms-calves-may-whisper-evade-orcas"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2209660-whale-mothers-and-calves-whisper-to-avoid-attracting-predators/">New Scientist</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Cats in Australia Kill Over 2 Billion Wild Animals Each Year</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0390-y.epdf?referrer_access_token=_8RZDgzW_ss1Yyk5LHT9X9RgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0OeUNfG-NMEvDf5TU-dUvbeUZVxSxyPAalwH_vluszkiFDVcby29pQvksBdO69RTKZ9yUx0TXuzS7WZADYT1K9J7KeGV2-whmdsc1TWSmX68_2V2KDzAQ3CJuT-eJgq4mwi1A7kLut0z2a3ccq3hI0QGUd9mGzsWzzZhhUiJ9DW3YWyCmDVArHVoYqcHOHGj4LMEKG0FGGQv8dZ6igDDLCH&tracking_referrer=www.livescience.com"> Nature GeoScience</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65897-largest-volcano-record.html">Live Science</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>French healthcare will stop paying for homeopathic treatment in 2021</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2209510-french-healthcare-will-stop-paying-for-homeopathic-treatment-in-2021/"> New Scientist</a></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div> <div class="clearfix-slt"> </div> <div id="comments" class="comments-area"> </div>
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112 We Go to the Dogs
<p>Do we love our pets, or what? Today’s episode is sure to please many of our canine family members. It may also annoy more than a few felines in the audience, though I suspect their reactions will be more toward haughty indifference. </p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Why people seem to match up so well with their pets</li> <li>How we can tell if someone or some <em>thing</em> is conscious</li> <li>Why our dogs are so frightened of fireworks</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Why pet people's personalities match those of their pets</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>First, using online questionnaires to establish the main traits of one’s personality, Sam Gosling from the University of Texas established, that there is partial truth in the common conception that there are dog-people and that there are cat-people and that in general, the personalities of dog people differ from those of cat people.</li> <li>“Compared to cat people, dog people tend to be more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious, and less neurotic and open,” says Gosling. That means they tend to be cooperative, goal oriented and, perhaps surprisingly, more empathic and thoughtful than cat people. Self-confessed cat people, meanwhile, were more likely to say that they disliked structure and agendas.The biggest surprise was that they were also more adventurous and unconventional than dog people – something you might not expect of more neurotic, introverted types.</li> <li>These character distinctions go even further – they vary sometimes with the breeds and the different qualities we attach to them.</li> <li>Next, researchers developed a personality test for the animals – obv one that is being filled-in by the pet-owner.</li> <li>Based on those two personality tests (owner and pet) a study found that the personalities of owners are more similar to those of their dogs than to those of their friends or spouses.</li> <li>Obviously each pet owner is convinced their pet is the most amazing, smart, cute, loving and loyal pet in the history of pets. But what if we actually attribute our own qualities to our pets?</li> <li>On one-hand, obviously, some pet breeds are preferred by their new owners exactly for their specific qualities.</li> <li>On the other hand though, it seems that pets character gets influenced a lot by the one of their owner and carer. </li> <li>“With higher neuroticism were more likely to have pets suffering from a range of issues, including obesity and stress-related illnesses,” says Daniel Mills at the University of Lincoln, UK.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24332370-700-why-cat-people-and-dog-peoples-personalities-match-those-of-their-pet/">New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>How Can You Tell if Someone (or Something) Is Conscious?</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Psychologist Tam Hunt of the University of California, Santa Barbara has written a piece for Live Science about the work that she has been doing Johnathan Schooler, another psychologist from the same institute. </li> <li>They are building a framework that will allow for a more nuanced assessment of consciousness, and there are various measures that they are using to assess this. Since there are no direct measures of consciousness available, they are instead having to look for indirect measures.</li> <li>Possibly the closest thing that we have to a direct measurement of consciousness are brainwaves. Not only do these waves show great correlation to normal conscious states, but they are also a good indicator of whether vegetative or minimally conscious patients are likely to make significant recoveries. Such tests have been used to assess newborns, who perform reassuringly well.</li> <li>Possibly one of the biggest changes in this field is the attitude toward animal consciousness. For years this has been an absolute no, no, with any credit being accused as anthropomorphism. But any cat or dog owner will swear blind that that their pet has feelings and it seems like academics are finally starting to pull their fingers out their ears and stop going “la-la-la, I can’t hear you” and are actually starting to address the question rather than dismiss it. </li> <li>The correlation between the behaviours of conscious beings like us and other mammals cannot be overlooked. Their brains may not be the same as ours but then, maybe their consciousness isn’t either. There is no doubt that human consciousness is remarkable, but it may not be the only show in town, and once you start considering that this entire field gets a whole lot more interesting.</li> <li>But what about the machines? One symptom of consciousness is its ability to leave an intentional physical impression of itself. Art is a great measure of this and it’s something that AI is already having a rather successful pop at. So much so that an Art-Turing test is fast becoming a realistic prospect.</li> <li>The final approach involves information. If you consider any system that processes information as having some level of consciousness (including your microwave) however small, you can start the quantity things. But it’s not all about processing power. Remember we are also looking for patterns and synchrony in the information handling.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65874-tests-for-consciousness.html">Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Why Dogs Hate Fireworks, and How You Can Help Them</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Nevena Hristozova</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Fireworks are terrifying for most pets, but especially for dogs. </li> <li>That’s because for dogs, like it is for humans, loud noises are usually associated with danger.</li> <li>The main difference is – dogs are not such idiots to blow stuff up for fun, nor do they know what on earth we all of the sudden are.</li> <li>Much like in my previous story, different breeds do different things to cope with the stress of the firework noise and light – some pace nervously, others hide, some whine.</li> <li>And like with people, stress in animals can have long lasting effects, so if you see unusual behaviour esp in response to noises you might want to take your pupper to the vet to be on the safe side.</li> <li>Some dogs, especially older, start associating noise with pain since due to the stress some muscles might get thence and wake up elderly aches, which can make your dog ultra sensitive every time there’s noise and make its ageing worse and painful.</li> <li>In some cases, spraying calming pheromones in a dark and quieter room can help your pup to find a safe place from the annoying celebrations. </li> <li>Also, if your pet seems to feel comforted by it, give it attention, hold and pet it to console its scared soul.</li> <li>And make sure you give it some tasty treats to make up for the weird human habit of blowing their world up every time there’s a big holiday.</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Toxic processionary caterpillar plague spreads across Europe</strong> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48880468">BBC News Europe</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Lava lake discovered</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48852670">BBC News Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65872-rare-lava-lake-antarctica.html">Live Science</a></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>The largest seaweed bloom ever detected spanned the Atlantic</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/largest-seaweed-bloom-ever-detected-atlantic-ocean-2018"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65873-record-breaking-sargassum-bloom.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/9000-9000-km-belt-of-seaweed-spanning-the-atlantic-threatens-marine-life/">New Scientist</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Large Earthquake Rocks Southern California</strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65883-bigger-quake-strikes-southern-california.html"> Live Science</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>CSI Paleolithic: Scientists Pin 33,000-Year-Old Murder on a Left-Handed Paleo Killer </strong> <ul> <li><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2208455-modern-forensics-solves-stone-age-murder-mystery-after-33000-years/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65849-paleolithic-man-murdered.html">Live Science</a></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova and Chris MacAlister.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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111 Limits of Human Endurance
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>A weird star just rapidly dimmed and we don't know why</li> <li>Trump administration doubles down on anti-science</li> <li>Study of marathon runners reveals a ‘hard limit’ to human endurance</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3>Crazy Star</h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>Little green men were being given the credit for some brief and irregular dips in luminosity of a star in the Cygnus constellation: the fetchingly named KIC 8462852. Maybe I should call it Kate for short. </li> <li>Whilst we don’t know for sure what caused these dips, the leading theory is that some interstellar dust may have been the culprit. Which is slightly more probable than extraterrestrial spacecraft.</li> <li>But it seems that Kate hasn’t finished bamboozling astronomers just yet. Anecdotal accounts of this star dimming between 1890 and 1989 lead Josh Simon and Ben Montet of Carnegie and Caltech to perform a review of data from this star using a series of Kepler calibration images that had not previously been used for scientific measurements.</li> <li>What they found was that over the first three years of the Kepler mission, Kate dimmed by about 1%. Over the next 6 months it dimmed 2% and remained there for the remaining 6 months of the mission. Doesn’t that seem odd?</li> <li>It may “seem” odd, but that’s not how we do things in science. So Simon and Montet compared this data with another 500 stars, to see just how odd it really is. Turns out this is quite odd. A handful of stars also dimmed over time, but none did to quite the same extent as Kate.</li> <li>So how do we explain something like this? A collision or breakup of a planet or comet in the star's system could explain the rapid 2% dimming, but explanations are thin on what is causing the longer term trend. Especially if it has been going on as long as the rumours suggest.  </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://phys.org/news/2016-10-galaxy-most-mysterious-star-stranger-astronomers.html"> Phys.org</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Trump administration halts fetal-tissue research by government scientists</h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <ul> <li>From the journal Science by Meredith Wadman on the 5th of June</li> <li>United States President Donald Trump has ordered the elimination of federally funded research that depends on fetal tissue from <em>elective</em> abortions</li> <li>Will also be tightening regulations on non-fetal stem cell research</li> <li>The result is that the Department of Health and Human Services will no longer allow government scientists working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct studies that use fetal tissue. </li> <li>On top of that HHS also said <em>university</em> scientists who want NIH funding for such studies must now have each proposal examined by a government advisory board. </li> <li>At least one theologian must be on that government advisory board</li> <li>The Trump government is also killing a roughly $2 million annual contract between NIH and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) </li> <li>UCSF has been a leader in stem cell research for years. </li> <li>Why did this happen?</li> <li>Special interest and lobbying groups encouraged Donald Trump to make this move, and are delighted about the elimination of fetal stem cell research.</li> <li>This new policy also means that any university researchers who submit applications that pass scientific review and score high enough to be funded by the NIH will have yet another barrier to clear, a wall against science..which will be that government advisory board</li> <li>The Secretary of HHS can overrule the advisory board if he/she decides</li> <li>According to HHS, the new ban on fetal tissue research by NIH scientists will put an end to three active projects. </li> <li>Including the NIH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana</li> <li>This project used fetal tissue to create mice with human-like immune systems, and was examining whether an antibody might prevent HIV from establishing reservoirs in the human body.</li> <li>There are currently clinical trials using fetal stem cells to treat diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s, and even spinal cord injuries. </li> <li>And research using fetal stem cells is giving us a window into understanding globally important diseases like the Zika and Nipah viruses, HIV, and cancer. </li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01783-6">Nature</a>,  <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/us/politics/fetal-tissue-research.html">New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/06/trump-administration-restricts-fetal-tissue-research?rss=1">Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Study of marathon runners reveals a ‘hard limit’ on human endurance</h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <ul> <li>A new study in Science Advances quantifies a “ceiling” for endurance activities such as long-distance running and biking.</li> <li>When exercising for up to a few hours, it’s well established the mammals max out at about five times their resting, or basal, metabolic rate. But what about over longer periods?</li> <li>Study on the Race Across the USA in 2015. Runners covered 4957 kilometers over the course of 20 weeks in a series of marathons stretching from Los Angeles, California, to Washington, D.C.</li> <li>Put on by Bryce Carlson, an endurance athlete and former anthropologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.</li> <li>Calories use was examined using, what I like to call, wonky-water. Where the traditional H2O is replaced with harmless, uncommon isotopes—deuterium and oxygen-18. This allowed the team to trace how these isotopes flush out in urine, sweat, and exhaled breath, scientists can calculate how much carbon dioxide an athlete produces. CO2 production directly relates to calorie burn.</li> <li>They found that no matter the event, energy expenditure sharply leveled off after about 20 days, eventually plateauing at about 2.5 times an athlete’s BMR. </li> <li>At that point, the body is burning calories more quickly than it can absorb food and convert it into energy, representing a biologically determined ceiling on human performance. After an athlete hits this ceiling, their body must dip into fat reserves for energy.</li> <li>It also finds that pregnancy’s metabolic toll resembles that of an ultramarathon.</li> <li>It’s hypothesized that humans evolved their remarkable endurance in order to hunt down large rewarding prey animals, because human endurance really is impressive among mammals. It’s also thought that this led to our species losing so much body hair in relation to other primates. Now, those same metabolic adaptations appear to allow human mothers to birth larger babies with bigger brains we are now presented with another chicken and egg situation.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/06/study-marathon-runners-reveals-hard-limit-human-endurance?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Other Science News this Week</strong></h2> <ul> <li><strong>A “pumping” heart patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by a heart attack, according to researchers</strong> <ul> <li>Sewn on to the heart, the 3cm by 2cm patches, grown in a lab from a sample of the patient's own cells, then turns itself into healthy working muscle.</li> <li>It also releases chemicals that repair and regenerate existing heart cells.</li> <li>Patient trials should start in the next two years, according to the British Cardiovascular Society.</li> <li><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48495313"> BBC Health</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>New DNA research shows that ancient Siberians may have set the stage for the first Americans</strong> <ul> <li>Northeastern Siberia hosted migrations of three consecutive ancient populations that created a genetic framework for Siberians and Native Americans today, scientists say.</li> <li>As each new population surged into Siberia they replaced those already living there, but not without some genetic mixing. </li> <li>Teeth from two children unearthed at Russia’s 31,600-year-old Yana Rhinoceros Horn site yielded DNA representing a previously unknown population that the team calls Ancient North Siberians. Those people migrated from western Eurasia to Siberia around 38,000 years ago</li> <li><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dna-reveals-ancient-siberians-set-stage-first-americans"> Science News</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Tiny plastic debris is accumulating far beneath the ocean surface</strong> <ul> <li>We recently heard that plastic bags and candy wrappers have been spotted as deep as the Mariana Trench. </li> <li>Now, a survey of microplastics at various depths off the coast of California suggests that this debris is most common several hundred meters below the surface, scientists report online in <em>Scientific Reports</em>.</li> <li>The researchers sampled microplastics in Monterey Bay at depths from five to 1,000 meters. </li> <li>The team also measured pollutants in the guts of 24 pelagic red crabs and eight mucus filters from giant larvaceans — both of which eat organic particles about the same size as microplastics.</li> <li><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mirco-plastic-debris-accumulating-far-beneath-ocean-surface"> Science News</a></li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Special protections are planned for minke whales and basking sharks in their feeding grounds around Scotland</strong> <ul> <li>A consultation has been launched on creating four new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering about 13,000 square kilometers of sea.</li> <li>These proposals would also protect Risso's dolphins and a wide range other life.</li> <li>The proposed sites are at the southern trench in the outer Moray Firth, north east Lewis, the Sea of the Hebrides and Shiant East Bank.</li> <li><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-48542985">BBC Scotland</a></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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110 Summer and Science!
<p>Summer is here. The pool is finally warm enough, and the barbecue grill is doing its magic. Time for some grillin’ and chillin’!</p> <p>Plug in your earpods as you flip those shrimp on the barbecue, drink that ice cold beer, and listen to this awesome episode of Blue Streak Science!</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Lessons learned from the mole rat</li> <li>We’re talking about fungus again</li> <li>Also, some interesting news on the Ebola front</li> <li>A report on eastern European universities…from an eastern European</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule, and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3><strong>A type of African mole rat is immune to the pain of wasabi</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <ul> <li>Almost all animals including mice, flies, flatworms will try and naturally avoid allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), the compound responsible for wasabi’s pungent taste.</li> <li>Study published in Science last week reported that a species of mole rat, the highveld mole rat, a native of South Africa were completely insensitive to AITC.</li> <li>Numerous species have evolved from the naked mole rat species in various parts of Africa. The environment around them could possibly have given them theses qualities</li> <li>With a goal of finding out the differences in sensitivity to pain among the species, the research team used 8 kinds of mole rats and two other rodent species to assess their sensitivity towards acid, capsaicin and AITC.</li> <li>When the substance was injected in the animals paw, the animal sensitive to the substance would flinch or lick the paw. The naked mole rats including most of the others in the group did not react well to AITC.</li> <li>However, the Highveld mole rat did not even flinch. Even after being administered a range of dose from 0.75% to 100%, these rats were just simply impervious to AITC.</li> <li>Dr. Lewin and colleagues found that the neurons in Highveld rats had anl ion channel NALCN, whose activity was 6 times higher compared to other species.This ion channel acts like a short circuit that leaks currents and prevents neurons from firing even when they receive a pain signal.When you block this ion a channel or the short circuit with drugs, the Highveld rats DID respond to AITC.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2204849-a-type-of-african-mole-rat-is-immune-to-the-pain-caused-by-wasabi/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/30/science/mole-rats-pain.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mole-rat-pain-resistance-could-point-the-way-to-new-analgesics/?redirect=1">Scientific American</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>GM fungus rapidly kills 99% of malaria mosquitoes, study suggests</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <ul> <li>We’ve been fighting malaria for really long time and with only moderate success.</li> <li>One of the most efficient barriers to infection yet is an insecticide covered bed nets deployed first in Burkina Faso in the 80s.</li> <li>Problem is, as with every type of chemical for disease prevention, the pests develop resistance sooner or later and in most cases – sooner rather than later.</li> <li>Now scientists have returned to Burkina Faso to conduct another controlled trial to eradicate the origin of the disease by using GMO fungi.</li> <li>The work of collaborators from the USA and Burkina Faso is published in the journal Science</li> <li>Many attempts have been made before to breed a fungal species which would be specifically active against malaria carrying mosquitoes, but none proved good enough.</li> <li>So scientists decided to engineer one by giving it a gene from a venomous spider which gets activated only when the fungus gets in contact with the mosquito equivalent of blood – it’s hemolymph.</li> <li>The lab experiments with those showed the new super-fungus to be very efficient in killing malaria mosquitoes</li> <li>Researchers together with the local authorities have created a testing ground in Burkina Faso for antimalarial products called the MosquitoSphere – it’s a huge area of the countryside, covered with mosquito nets so population-wide experiments on the mosquitoes can be done without releasing anything that hasn’t been shown safe to the outside environment.</li> <li>In the experiment described in the paper by Brian Lovett and collaborators, the super-fungus eradicated 99% of all mosquitoes compared to the control insecticide groups.</li> <li>Burkina Faso has adopted “approval on proof of safety” legislation for genetically modified organisms.</li> </ul> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48464510">BBC Health</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/fungus-weaponized-spider-toxin-can-kill-malaria-mosquitoes">Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/fungus-venom-gene-could-be-new-mosquito-killer?rss=1">Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>An experimental cure may also protect against Nipah virus</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <ul> <li>Nipah virus emerged in around 1999 and is primarily found in Bangladesh and India. The virus can cause severe respiratory distress as wells neurological diseases leading to pneumonia and encephalitis.</li> <li>It is lethal in about 70% of cases. The World Health Organization has listed Nipah as an emerging pathogen, which has a potential to cause major epidemics or even Pandemics.</li> <li>It is transmitted to humans via bats. Fruit bats are natural hosts of the virus and pigs are intermediate host. The virus can also be transmitted from person to person.</li> <li>The recent Nipah outbreak in Kerala, India resulted in 23 cases and 21 deaths. Resurfaced this week – 1 case reported so far.</li> <li>An experimental monoclonal antibody is the only current treatment, which was tested during the outbreak in India last year.</li> <li>In a new study an experimental drug, which was mainly studied to treat Ebola, might be effective against Nipah virus too.</li> <li>This antiviral drug- Remdesivir is currently underway to the Democratic Republic of Congo to treat Ebola.</li> <li>This drug has completely protected African green monkeys against infection with a lethal dose of Nipah virus as reported by a collaborative study published by CDC and NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)</li> <li>For this trial, eight green African monkeys were infected with Lethal dose of Nipah Virus. Half of them received intravenous Remdesivir 24 hour post infection and then a daily intravenous dose for a total of 12 consecutive days. The four that did not, died within eight days.</li> <li>The NIAD team observed the animal for 92 days and studies clinical samples intermittently during this time. Two monkeys developed respiratory illness- which was resolved in 2 week but the other two showed no signs of the illness</li> <li>The drug has shown effectiveness against two other diseases with potential pandemic threat- Lassa Fever and MERS. These are preliminary studies in cells and mice.</li> <li>Also, the viruses which cause  these have a very different outer shell, however, the DNA or gene copying enzyme known as polymerase share similar characteristics. Remdesivir targets this enzyme making effective against a more than once infectious disease.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/health/nipah-ebola-treatment.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://thewire.in/health/nipah-virus-ebola-cure-remdesivir">The Wire</a>, <a href= "https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/11/494/eaau9242">Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Eastern European universities score highly in university gender ranking</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <ul> <li>Nowadays, when everything is metrics (whether that’s good or bad is a whole different story), universities set their development goals also by following internationally accredited rankings based on specific metrics.</li> <li>Until recently, such metrics were overall or average impact factor of the published articles, number of students, number of collaborations, rate of open access publishing.</li> <li>Naturally, some of the biggest institute’s names were always on top of those rankings – MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Johns Hopkins etc. So said rankings were kind of boring after the fifth time you’d see them.</li> <li>Now though, a new factor has been included which made things suddenly much more interesting, but may be for the wrong reasons – gender balance.</li> <li>The Leiden Ranking – out of the univ of Leiden in the Netherlands, created an algorithm to assess the ratios of female vs male authors of publications coming from respective universities and research institutes.</li> <li>Out of nowhere really, the big names in global research were ranking much much lower than some much less known organisations.</li> <li>The first American University ranked by this factor is the univ of San Diego on 42nd place!!!!!</li> <li>Before that, almost without exceptions, universities are from Eastern Europe, South America and Thailand.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01642-4">Nature</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Don’t you, forget about me…the corporate polluter</strong></h3> <h4>Tom Di Liberto</h4> <p>Ok folks, it’s time to stop being polite and start getting REAL. For American listeners of a certain age, that reference was just KILLER! For everyone else…sorry. It was a reference to the show Real World on MTV, which ostensibly started as a show where young people from diverse backgrounds were put into a house together to see how they interacted and hopefully grew. But eventually it just became a show that put a bunch of hot people from diverse backgrounds in a house to fight drink and have sex. Basically it started reality TV.</p> <p>Today in the Lounge I want to touch on a more provocative topic that riles people up. In reality it’s not that provocative, but nuanced. However, in today’s world nuance is dead. And that topic is well…let me read you the title of the op-ed, ”You can’t save the climate by going vegan. Corporate polluters must be held accountable” by Dr. Michael Mann and Jonathan Brockopp in USA Today</p> <p>Yes, let’s discuss individual action versus collective action on climate change. This is often treated as a battle between the two. Folks on one side asking “How can we convince people that climate change is a problem if we don’t advocate changes in how ourselves live?” Folks on the other side saying, “Focusing on the individual is a distraction from the things doing the ACTUAL pollution, the fossil fuel industry and corporations”. The answer of course is that BOTH ARE RIGHT. Everyone hear that before I get hate mail. BOTH ARE RIGHT. WE NEED BOTH. I’M YELLING.</p> <p>The problem this op-ed is talking about, and one in which I agree, is when our efforts swing to one side too much. The op-ed starts off with a famous example of marketing in the United states, that of the crying Native American that first ran on Earth Day 1971. The advertisement was clear who was the cause of the littering problem, the major corporations that massively increased their plastic use damaging our environment, our pollution generating corporate practices… just kidding. It was us, not the corporations. A subtle difference that shifted the blame. And was it solved. No, of course not! Those corporate practices continued, and it wasn’t their fault. It was OUR fault. Looking back, it’s not that the whole ad campaign was a disaster. However, the Native American actor they used in that ad wasn’t even Native American! He was an Italian American…sigh. And now the authors of the op-ed are afraid this is happening again.</p> <p>Of course, the authors are not saying that personal actions to reduce climate impact are bad. On the contrary, they say they are worth taking. They are just saying that if folks think the only way to combat climate change is to go vegan, or stop flying or move into a cave and berate anyone who isn’t doing what you’re doing, well, we’re screwed. If we make a purity bar for those who want to enter into the conversation on dealing with climate change, we exclude a lot of people and make us all look bad.</p> <p>Not everyone CAN take personal actions that others can. If you’re poor, live in a food dessert, have medical issues etc, you can’t simply go vegan. So why exclude. On the flip side, and I want to re-emphasize this, if you CAN take personal actions, you should! BUT you should also be holding the fossil fuel industry, politicians and the whole damn system accountable too.  We need MASSIVE changes to fix climate change. MASSIVE changes to our energy grid, food production, transportation uses. And it’s not going to get fixed by debating whether we should all go vegan. (But I mean we should eat less meat).</p> <p>It’s not an “either/or”, people. IT’S BOTH. LET’S DO ALL OF THESE THINGS! And let’s not forget who is the real problem here, not us but the fossil fuel industry, corporate practices and a political reality that makes it impossible to live as carbon-free as we like. So listen to THIS crying Italian American, and let’s get to work, talk with your family and friends about climate change, call your politicians, and oh yeah, don’t drive or fly if you don’t have to. We can do it all and we’ll need to because we’re all in this together.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/06/03/climate-change-requires-collective-action-more-than-single-acts-column/1275965001/"> Op-Ed</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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109 Rocks, Fungi, Fish, Satellites, The Climate Lounge, and Pub Quiz
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <p>Dateline: United Kingdom, Belgium, Washington, and California. Chris, Nevena, Tom, and JD bring you the latest science and discussion from around the world. Seriously, how cool is that?</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Old rocks</li> <li>Old fungi</li> <li>Tiny fish</li> <li>Internet satellites</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3>Organic matter from space preserved in 3.3 billion year old rocks</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <ul> <li>The mountains of South Africa and Swaziland contain 3.3 billion year old volcanic rock which contains carbon filled layers.</li> <li>Geologists from France & Italy have been examining these layers and were surprised to find a thin layer where the profile of the carbon was consistent with an extraterrestrial origin.</li> <li>Whilst finding extraterrestrial organic matter is not unprecedented, to detect it 3.3 billion years later means that there must have been a lot of it there in the first place.</li> <li>If this can happen on Earth then it can happen elsewhere. So if we find it, will we know if it is native to the planet or an offworld contaminant?</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2204354-organic-matter-from-space-preserved-in-3-3-billion-year-old-rocks/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Oldest fungi fossils may tell story of how life arrived on land</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <ul> <li>The oldest fossils of fungi known until recently were dated to be about 400 million years old and were found in Scotland in the beginning of the 20th century</li> <li>With the help of genetic sequencing and comparative genetics between modern existing fungal species though, researchers now estimate that the oldest common ancestor of the modern fungi should be at least 600 million years older than the fungi from those Scottish fossils</li> <li>In the meantime, scientists on an expedition at the Canadian Arctic found microscopic imprints embedded in stone, which seem to be fungal fossils too</li> <li>Dr. Rainbird (the arctic scientist who collected the fossils) sent the material to Emmanuelle Javaux, a paleontologist at the University of Liège in Belgium to study them</li> <li>In another sample, which the teams studied with electron microscope and infrared imaging, they saw two properties very much telling of an ancient fungal species: 1st – a double cell wall (which could hint to fungi or plant cells) and 2nd – a chemical signature of the cell wall indicating the presence of chitin – a sugar which is found <em>only</em> in the cell walls of fungi and not plants</li> <li>Even cooler is the fact that these might be the first land fungi out of the ancient oceans. Why? Cause fungi feed by decomposing matter outside their cells by secreting enzymes and then internalising the nutrients. However – if those fossils <em>are</em> of fungi, there weren’t land plants that early in prehistory to feed on, which means that it might have not been plants that first colonised land, but fungi (for the record some fungi <em>can</em> in fact feed on inorganic matter too, which would help if on the land there wasn’t anything organic to munch on yet when those guys decided to live outside the oceans).</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1217-0">Nature</a>, <a href="https://www.livescience.com/65559-oldest-fungus-fossils.html">LiveScience</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/science/fungi-fossils-plants.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>The tiniest fish are the most important for healthy coral reefs</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <ul> <li>Coral reefs take up 0.1% of the marine environment but house 25% of all marine species despite lacking a clear source of nutrition to support them all. But we may now have an answer.</li> <li>Cryptobenthic reef fishes: gobies, blennies,cardinalfishes the smallest of all marine vertebrates.</li> <li>These fish breed fast and plentifully, which is just as well as they appear to making up 60% of the fish food in coral reefs.</li> <li>How do you calculate the biomass of numerous small fish who like to hide? You sink nets that scare off big fish, pump in anesthetic and count the floaters!</li> <li>Cryptobenthic fish larvae don’t disperse into the open ocean like most other larvae.Instead, it’s been found that these larvae stay close to their parents' reefs, yielding many more survivors among their babies. These larvae then replace their rapidly ravaged elders, sustaining the growth of larger reef fishes.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/these-tiny-mysterious-fish-may-be-key-solving-coral-reef-paradox?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2204346-the-tiniest-fish-are-the-most-important-for-healthy-coral-reefs/">New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tiny-snackable-fish-are-linchpins-of-coral-reef-ecosystems/?redirect=1">Scientific American</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>SpaceX launches 60 internet satellites</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <ul> <li>The heaviest payload yet to be delivered into earth orbit by the F9 rockets – 60 comms satellites.</li> <li>These satellites move in relation to the surface of the Earth and by creating a tight network above it, will make broadband internet coverage a thing for everyone on the surface of the planet.</li> <li>The satellites are designed so that once they are about to be decommissioned, they will deorbit.</li> <li>They are made of materials which will disintegrate once the satellite re-enters earth's atmosphere.</li> <li>This was the third time this 1st stage of the F9 rocket was recovered.</li> <li>The potential benefit of such satellites compared to the existing geo-stationary ones is that they are much lower in earth orbit so the signal to earth surface will have to travel much much shorter distance, hence the lag of the internet connection will be much decreased.</li> <li>We will need many more than the 60 satellites in low earth orbit for even a minor broadband coverage, but at least the success of this mission is already a darn good start.</li> </ul> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riBaVeDTEWI">Live feed of the mission</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48289204">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/science/spacex-launch.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Listening to experts on Sea Level Rise</strong></h3> <h4>Tom Di Liberto</h4> <p>What do you do when you need an opinion on whether to buy something, or vote a certain way, or just what to believe? Who do you go to? If you said the fever swamps of social media such as Facebook/Twitter, well you might just be the crazy uncle/aunt in your family, and you just described why things have gotten all anti-intellectual across the globe recently.</p> <p>No, I was looking for something along the lines of “I look for expert opinion”. If I wanted advice on the best layout on a sandwich, I wouldn’t go ask someone who works at an ice cream shop, I’m headed to those sandwich artists at Subway. You get the idea.</p> <p>In climate science, often those expert opinions can be found summarized in one of a number of massive collaborative consensus reports. The IPCC report is an example and more recently and here in the US, the National Climate Assessment is another. But those reports can be massive and even too conservative (small c, not large C) at times when it comes to certain projections. And today in the lounge, I’m going to talk about just one of those projections, sea level rise.</p> <p>Sea level rise projections are hard to make confident because of the uncertainties that lie in how fast the ice sheets will melt. Because of this broad uncertainty, the IPCC report is generally conservative with its estimates of global sea level rise.</p> <p>However in a new article published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists asked 22 climate experts to predict ice sheets affect on sea level rise under two scenarios: global temp rise of 2C and 5C (which is unchecked ghg emission growth or business as usual.</p> <p>Using this technique of expert opinion, the paper reported that sea level rise could plausibly exceed 2 meets (7.5 feet) by 2100 1.78 of which is from melting ice sheets, more than twice as high as the upper limit in the IPCC report. This would displace oh, 187 million people, flood cities like New York, New Orleans, Miami, Shanghai, and Mumbai, wipe island nations off the map. It’s grim folks. REALLLY GRIM.  </p> <p>And the most nonchalant quote on this comes from co-author of the paper Jonathan Bamber at the University of Bristol, who told NBC news that “Two meters is not a good scenario”.  You don’t say Jonathan…</p> <p>And if ghg continued unchecked to 2200 (which let’s be real, they won’t if the impacts are THAT severe) sea levels would rise to 7.5 meters or 24 feet. I say this not to scare but to put into context what sea levels are like when co2 levels get so high</p> <p>In the 2C scenario, ice sheets would rise 0.8 meters or 2.5 feet. Which is much better than 2 meters but also,…not good.</p> <p>The key thing here is that a 2 meter sea level rise, while not likely, is plausible, which means that coastal communities have to prepare for that scenario. This paper helps decision makers by highlighting the potential high end estimates of SLR</p> <p>The novel aspect of this paper is how they came to their conclusions (ok, well yeah, that’s obvious). In particular, ice sheet modeling is a very difficult task which leads to highly uncertain estimates of sea level rise. Recent research has even suggested the behavior of the ice sheets in greenland and antarctic are more uncertain. So instead of relying on mathematical modeling, they looked at the thoughts of 22 climate experts.</p> <p>Using a standardized interview technique called structured expert judgement, they asked the experts to predict the ice sheets affect in the two scenarios I mentioned before. The Structured expert judgment technique allowed the scientists to give their scientific rationales for their uncertainty judgements related to sea ice contribution and even helped highlight poorly understood but potentially critical processes related to ice sheet melting.</p> <p>So I guess what I’m trying to tell all of you is that, asking experts for their thoughts can be a really important thing when you have to plan for the negative outcomes related to those experts lines of work. Who’d a thunk it.</p> <p><strong>Sources:</strong> <a href= "https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/rising-sea-levels-could-swamp-major-cities-displace-almost-200-ncna1008846">NBCnews</a>, <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/05/14/1817205116">PNAS</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div> <div class="clearfix-slt"> </div> <div id="comments" class="comments-area"> </div>
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108 New Form Of Water Discovered, Iterative Evolution, and Sea Otters
<p>“How can anybody in his right mind be against science?”</p> <p>― <strong>Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle</strong></p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Ice-nine?</li> <li>A case of iterative evolution</li> <li>Sea otters are bouncing back</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Amrita Sule, and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>A Bizarre New Form Of Water Is Discovered</strong></h3> <p>It’s been long known that ice exists in two solid forms – an amorphous one and a more ordered crystalline one. Now scientists have created a new form of water called the supersonic water/ice, which exists in a solid and liquid state.</p> <ul> <li>Water molecules consist of two hydrogen atoms attached to oxygen, which forms V shape. All these Vs can connect to form an airy structure. When squeezed the oxygen and hydrogens shuffle around to form other crystal structures.</li> <li>In order to make supersonic ice, scientists compressed water between two diamonds by subjecting it to very very high pressure. This squeezes the water into a type of ice known as ICE VII (60% denser than normal water).</li> <li>This compressed water was then zapped with a pulse of laser – heating it to thousands of degrees.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Unlike the familiar ice found in your freezer or at the North Pole, supersonic ice is black and hot. A cube of it would weigh four times as much as a normal one.</li> <li>This kind of of water may not exist on earth, however might be present in the mantles of the ice giants of our solar system Neptune and Uranus.  </li> </ul> <p><strong>Quotes</strong></p> <ul> <li>Lars G.M. Pettersson, a theoretical chemical physicist at Stockholm University, said in the statement. “In a nutshell: Water is not a complicated liquid, but two simple liquids with a complicated relationship.”</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.wired.com/story/a-bizarre-form-of-water-may-exist-all-over-the-universe/"> Wired</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/59612-liquid-water-exists-in-two-forms.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/science/superionic-water-neptune-uranus.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Living Example of Iterative Evolution</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Sediments from the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean show that in the past it had been completely submerged by the ocean on multiple occasions.</li> <li>It happened again ~136,000 years ago the Aldabra atoll was reclaimed by the ocean, and that it virtually extirpated all the terrestrial animals that lived there <ul> <li>Including the Aldabra rail</li> </ul> </li> <li>This research is from the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum and published last week in the most recent edition of Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society</li> <li>Tens of thousands of years later the Aldabra rail is back! <ul> <li>Or is it?</li> </ul> </li> <li>What’s happening is an example of “iterative evolution: <ul> <li>a rare process that involves the evolution of “similar or parallel structures” from the same ancestral lineage, but at different times.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Hundreds of thousands of years ago white-throated rails flew from their native home in Madagascar to the Aldabra atoll, part of the Seychelle Islands. <ul> <li>This atoll lacked predators, as is often the case in remote oceanic islands.</li> <li>With no predators around they became flightless, and evolved into a new subspecies, the Aldabra rail.</li> </ul> </li> <li>The founding population still remained on Madagascar, these white-throated rails <ul> <li>Madagascar, having predators, required that these birds have wings</li> </ul> </li> <li>About 36,000 years after the Aldabra rails were wiped out by the ocean an ice was happening <ul> <li>Sea levels dropped and the atoll reappeared above the surface of the waves</li> </ul> </li> <li>Of course, the flightless Aldabra rails had been wiped out</li> <li>But then some more white-throated rails arrived from Madagascar it seems, and that founding event occurred once again.</li> <li>Because the conditions on the atoll and selective pressures were nearly the same, and the founding species was the same the white-throated rails once again lost their ability to fly. <ul> <li>Again, no predators</li> </ul> </li> <li>This means that white-throated rails had colonizing populations that evolved flightlessness twice! Iterative evolution.</li> <li>How do they know this? <ul> <li>by comparing the bones of the ancient flightless Aldabra rails — both those that existed before and after the flood — to more recent birds. That includes the more modern bones of flying rails and the flightless Aldabra rails (<em>Dryolimnas cuvieri aldabranus</em>) that still live on the atoll today.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Quotes</strong></p> <ul> <li>Leader of the research Julian Hume said in a statement: “These unique fossils provide irrefutable evidence that a member of the rail family colonized the atoll, most likely from Madagascar, and became flightless independently on each occasion.”</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65477-flightless-bird-evolves-twice.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/this-once-extinct-bird-came-back-from-the-dead/">IFLScience</a>, <a href="https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2019/may/birds-on-an-island-in-the-indian-ocean-evolved-flightlessness-twice.html">Natural History Museum</a>, <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-evolution-brought-flightless-bird-back-extinction-180972166/">Smithsonian.com</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Sea Otters Are Bouncing Back – And Into The Jaws Of Great White Sharks</strong></h3> <p>Conservation efforts to increase sea otter populations in parts of the North Pacific have been successful. However, now it seems they are becoming targets of great white sharks.</p> <ul> <li>Do Sharks like to savor otters?? <ul> <li>Not really! Sharks usually prefer more meaty sea lions or seals. And these bites on otters appear to be more investigative where they wind up with just fur in their mouths.</li> </ul> </li> <li>These shark bites, even if the shark is just investigating, often result in injuries fatal to the sea otters.</li> <li>Jerry Moxely and colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium started their investigation when growing numbers of dead bitten otters were washed ashore.</li> <li>On compiling the data on seasonal movements of sharks they found that sea otters were bitten more frequently in summer.</li> <li>It is around summer that the sharks venture close to the shore and being low on fat reserves after their migration mistakenly target otters and even humans.</li> <li>Moxely and colleagues observed that it was mostly the young male otters that fell victim as they are more pioneering and tend to venture in new territories.</li> <li>This could affect re-establishment of otters in such areas and the otters may start seeking refuge from sharks in more protected estuaries.</li> <li>A similar phenomenon was seen in Aleutian island in Alaska where sea otters hid in shallow bays from orcas.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Quotes:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Moxley says “By documenting when and where otters are most at risk of shark bites,” says Moxley, “we can adjust rehabilitation and release practices to support survival post-release.”</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2203631-sea-otters-are-bouncing-back-and-into-the-jaws-of-great-white-sharks/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, and me, JD Goodwin.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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107 From the Challenger Deep to the Moon
<p>Tom and JD once again take the helm of the U.S.S. Blue Streak Science (DD-981). Our voyage takes us down to the Challenger Deep, and all the way up to the Moon. Along the way we make port calls in England and New Zealand.</p> <p>Permission to come aboard? Permission granted!</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The Challenger Deep</li> <li>Moonquakes</li> <li>Killer Frog Virus</li> <li>Parrot gets its noggin patched up</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Deepest dive ever finds plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Explorer and businessman Victor Vescovo descended 10,927 meters (35,853) feet into the Pacific Ocean, breaking the record for deepest dive ever</li> <li>3.5 to 4 hours to reach the record-breaking depth</li> <li>The pressure at that depth is about 1,100 kg/square cm</li> <li>Total of five dives</li> <li>Observed many species including four possible new species of amphipods, like crustaceans without shells</li> <li>Also, a plastic bag</li> </ul> <p>This journey to the Challenger deep spent <em>hours</em> in that extreme environment and not only was there life, there is a thriving ecosystem. Life finds a way…but so does our garbage.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65468-explorer-breaks-record-deepest-ocean-dive.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Apollo Era Moonquakes Re-interpreted 50 Years Later</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Moonquakes recorded during the Apollo missions in the late 1960’s and mid-70’s have been linked to specific cracks on the lunar surface</li> <li>The Apollo sensors measured 28 shallow moonquakes with some reaching magnitude 5.5</li> <li>The new research was able to pinpoint the epicenters more accurately and even associate them with observable geological structures on the surface of the Moon</li> <li>The researchers also saw disturbances in the lunar soil and boulder movements in these areas.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2202490-apollo-era-moonquakes-suggest-lunar-colonies-must-be-shake-proof/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Killer Frog Virus Strikes England</strong></h3> <ul> <li>A deadly frog disease called ranavirus is spreading in England</li> <li>Warmer temperatures now and in the next 50 years could cause entire populations to disappear, according to the study published in <strong>Global Change Biology</strong> <ul> <li>Study was carried out with Queen Mary University of London, UCL and University of Plymouth.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Already four out of 10 species are on the edge of extinction globally due to factors such as disease, habitat loss and climate change.</li> <li>The study found mass die-offs matched historic temperature changes, with outbreaks predicted to become more severe, widespread and over a greater proportion of the year within the next few decades, if carbon emissions continue unchecked.</li> <li>At present, the disease is confined largely to England, but climate change could lead to outbreaks across the UK and earlier in the year.</li> </ul> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48219217">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Endangered kakapo parrot gets pioneering brain surgery</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Veterinarians in New Zealand have recently performed life-saving brain surgery on a critically endangered kakapo parrot in a world-first procedure amid efforts to save the species.</li> <li>Kakapos – the world's fattest species of parrot – are flightless and nocturnal.</li> <li>The chick had a hole in its skull</li> <li>Surgeons adapted techniques used on humans and other mammals to operate on the 56-day-old chick</li> <li>There are now just 144 kakapos left, but they did have a banner searson in reproduction recently</li> <li>The surgery was a success, and the baby kakapo is making a “remarkable recovery”.</li> </ul> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48229317">BBC Asia</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Global report card: the quarter-mark</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>We’ve reached the quarter-mark of the year so it’s as good as ever to have a sit-down with planet earth and have our quarterly discussion of how it’s doing. It’s like an employee evaluation in that Earth is responding to our directives of never-ending greenhouse gas emissions, but unlike an employee evaluation Earth’s reactions to our “discussion” can lead to the boss, us, getting fired.</p> <p>A lot has happened over the first four months of 2019. Honestly, in the US a week feels like several years. So four months is roughly equivalent to 42 years. Some major global climate disasters that have occurred so far: we’ve had two major cyclones make landfall in Mozambique in March and April bringing unbelievable destruction to that African nation. We’ve had recording breaking river flooding across the central United States, which is saying something. In fact, the US is experiencing its least amount of drought on record because it’s been so freaking wet. Meanwhile, Australia experienced its warmest January on record. and hot temperatures extended to South America, too. Let us know what extreme weather has affected you so far in 2019. Or just your general thoughts on the year so far. Basically, what I’m saying is that I’m lonely and want to talk with you.</p> <p>Now that this segment has gotten real let’s dig into some specifics.  Temperatures first. From the beginning of the year through March 2019 has gotten off to the third warmest start on record, and including April is still on pace to be either the 2nd or third warmest year on record. Could things be not as warm going forward? Sure, but it would still see us only drop to 4th or 5th because, um, climate change… you’ve listened to this segment before right? Now you may be thinking “what makes a year more likely to break a record since not every year is expected to set new heat records year after year?” The major influence is El Nino. When waters warm abnormally in the tropical Pacific it acts to increase global temperatures, too. And with a weak El Nino favored to last through the fall, it’s possible 2019 will set a new record. But more likely to place in the top 3 as we continue this march upwards into the unknown.</p> <p>Enough with the air, what about the water? After all, upwards of 90% of extra heat from greenhouse gases gets absorbed by the oceans. Well, ocean heat content for the upper 700 meters and 700-2000m of the ocean are at record highs. Unlike Air temperatures, ocean heat content is likely a better measure of climate change as there is year to year variability, and most of the extra heat ends up there anyway. 2019 is likely to set a year OHC record and the long term record shows an acceleration consistent with what you’d expect. YAY</p> <p>Oh, and sea levels also continue to rise with an overall rise of 8.5cm since the 1990s and 22cm since the 1880s.</p> <p>Arctic sea ice has also been at or near record lows for most of 2019 and while this doesn’t mean we will set a new record low later this September, it ain’t good folks. A normal summer now has nearly half as much sea ice in the Arctic than it did in the 1970s and 80s.</p> <p>So to end this evaluation, I’m going to mark down a grade of F. Not a grade for the Earth mind you, it’s not its fault. This poor grade is on US. Because while we are taking much better action and talking about climate change more, it still isn’t enough.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.carbonbrief.org/state-of-the-climate-heat-across-earths-surface-and-oceans-mark-early-2019"> Carbon Brief</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Tom Di Liberto and me, JD Goodwin.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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106 United Nations Report on Extinction
<p>It’s just Tom and JD today.</p> <p>Can they keep the most awesome science podcast off the rocks?</p> <p>Tune in and find out! Oh, the suspense!</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Blue Streak Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Humans Are Speeding Extinction at an Unprecedented Pace</h3> <p>On the heels of a report earlier this year that shows insect populations worldwide are crashing we have new summary report from United Nations that finds more than a million plants and animals are facing extinction as a result of human activity.</p> <ul> <li>One in four known species are at risk of extinction.</li> <li>Human suffering will increase as a consequence of our actions</li> <li>Loss in biodiversity is putting our food and water resources at risk, as well as human health</li> <li>The report was compiled by hundreds of international experts and was based on thousands of scientific studies</li> <li>Is the most comprehensive report on the decline in biodiversity on the planet</li> <li>Summary was released in Paris on Monday</li> <li>Full report to be published later this year</li> <li>Native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more over the past 100 years</li> <li>Global warming has now become a major driver of biodiversity decline</li> <li>Biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics</li> </ul> <p>A lot of horror movies begin with the premise of people ignoring the warnings of scientists. And scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades, but decision makers and governments have ignored the warnings.</p> <p>Let’s not be under any illusion that they’ll suddenly start paying attention out of the goodness of their hearts. They won’t.</p> <p>Reports will keep coming, and will keep being ignored. This is going to take decisive action by the citizens of the world.</p> <p>Vote. Become the change you want to see in the world. That’s how we can change this trajectory.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/biodiversity-extinction-united-nations.html"> New York Times</a><strong>,</strong> <a href= "https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2019/05/07/earth-already-experienced-five-big-mass-extinctions-now-humans-are-driving-the-next-one/#b005af47ed2c">Forbes</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>New Solar Power System Activated at Blue Streak Science HQ</h3> <p>As many of you know I’m a big proponent of solar energy for the home. And that’s more true today than ever.</p> <ul> <li>20 panels and two Tesla PowerWall batteries</li> <li>Tesla app</li> <li>Argument against: <ul> <li>Expensive</li> </ul> </li> <li>Arguments for: <ul> <li>Home security <ul> <li>Home security system always on</li> <li>Lights on, even during grid power outages</li> <li>The system automatically diverts power to charge batteries if a storm is approaching</li> </ul> </li> <li>National security <ul> <li>Worried about terrorism? If more people and business can function off the grid then that take away a target for terrorist and hackers</li> </ul> </li> <li>Long term money saver</li> <li><strong>At the moment</strong> you start using solar you reduce your carbon footprint</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>Solar power is something that many of us can do today. It’s not a future technology. It’s here, and it’s getting more affordable by the day.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Tree rings and Drought and Climate Change – Oh My!</strong></h3> <p>Tom Di Liberto</p> <p>Today in The Climate Lounge I’m going to be talking rings around you. TREE RINGS. God, I’m funny. Sighhhh… silence (crickets)… moving on.</p> <p>Tree rings are incredibly useful tools that scientists use to take a look back at what sort of conditions existed during that trees lifetime. You have to remember that our observing network of temperatures and precipitation was never initially set up to monitor climate. Back in the day a hundred years ago, no one was thinking about climate change. They instead were thinking about the weather. As a result, the observing locations tended to be focused near where people live and were not in general plentiful, or didn’t even exist before that because well technology. Tree rings help to complete that picture by relating the size of the tree rings with the things that cause that size, namely precipitation. By correlating those two thing together, tree rings can serve as a proxy for climate conditions in the past. Yay science! Corals, ice cores, mud cores are also things that serve as proxies too as paleoclimatologists continue their climate detective work on the past to help inform our future.</p> <p>That’s a long set-up to say that there is new research published in Nature that shows clear evidence that human emissions of greenhouse gases had an affect on global drought conditions as early as 1900. And they did this via.. You guessed it. A arrangement of edible fruit bouquets. No Tree Rings.. I thought that was obvious.</p> <p>Research done by scientists at Columbia University’s Earth institute used Tree Rings to tease out a greenhouse gas signal in global drought in the early 20th century. One of the lead authors, Dr. Kate Marvel noted on twitter that “The signal of climate change is a background note against a symphony of natural variability. In the early 20th century, it’s not loud, but we argue that we can hear it in the tree rings “<br /> <br /> This signal was dwarfed in the middle of the 20th century by the increase in aerosols and pollution helped to drown out that note but since then, as we cleaned up some of that pollution that note is now more of a shout.</p> <p>They determined this by using tree ring data to reconstruct the Palmer drought severity index (a drought indicator that is used by scientists today. Their data spanned the past millennium but they concentrated on three distinct periods which were identifiable in climate models, obs and reconstructions of the 20th century.</p> <p>THe interesting thing was that climate models had said that there should be GHG gas signal in drought during the early 20th century. And for the first time, this was shown in the tree rings.</p> <p>The 1900-1949 period showed the strongest signal similar to what climate models showed. They found that parts of the world from Australia to the Mediterranean were drying while other areas were getting wetter. Things got murkey from 1950-1975 even as tree rings matched the climate models. Then 1981-2017 saw human influence appear again in drought and moisture.</p> <p>And this signal is likely to get stronger as we move through the next century.</p> <p>While this supremely cool that human influence on our climate can be seen in trees, what’s also cool is that this was another example where climate models said there should be something but we didn’t have the observations to say whether that was right or not. And then boom, once we got the observations, there was the signal.</p> <p>In science, that is rare. Something working out as you’d expect. Which is a kudos to not only these scientists but to all the other scientists who’ve worked in this field already.</p> <p>Also, climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s us, there’s hope, let’s join others and do something about it.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/climate-change-linked-drought-past-century-via-tree-rings/"> Nat Geo</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Tom Di Liberto and JD Goodwin.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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105 The Latest Buzz on DEET, and Measles Cases Spotted Again
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And you thought measles had been eradicated in the United States, and that it was a harmless childhood annoyance. Guess what? Not so much.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Measles kills, as does science illiteracy.</span></p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Science news of the week</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Pub Quiz</span> </li> </ul> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">More than 1,000 quarantined amid measles fears at Los Angeles universities</span></h3> <h4><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you remember a few weeks ago when we spoke about flat Earthers? And we agreed that whilst they pay be as potty as a pantry, at least they aren't doing anyone any harm. We'll we can't say the same for anti-vaxxers and this as been demonstrated in LA where over 1000 people have been quarantined or sent home over measles fears in universities.</span></h4> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The U.S. is experiencing a 25 year high in measles cases</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Quarantine was imposed on people who were at risk of exposure to people with confirmed measles cases based on shared study spaces. It was also legally binding.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Quarantine also covered no travel on public transportation, including planes, trains, buses or taxis.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">38 cases have been confirmed. Over 3x more than at the same time last year.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Numbers of quarantined:</span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline;"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cal State-LA reported 875 students, faculty and staff</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">UCLA, 129 students and faculty were quarantined</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most have been released</span></li> </ul> </li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Those under the quarantine are</span> <strong>legally</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">required to stay at home and avoid contact with others.</span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline;"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Forbidden from traveling by public transportation</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If they had to travel for an emergency, they were told to notify public health officials first.</span></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I would seriously like to end this story on a positive note, which I appreciate is hard. But with this worrying anti-science movement that is getting a lot of attention at the moment, maybe, just maybe, when kids really starting getting horrifically ill and inevitably dying. Hopefully that will act as a wake up call for why we should probably listen to people who know what they are talking about, so we can the deal with potentially bigger issues, like y’know, the climate?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Critics always say that scientists promise disaster but it never happens. You can’t really argue against dying kids.</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/25/measles-quarantine-ucla-los-angeles-vaccination"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Guardian</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://time.com/5578510/measles-outbreak-quarantine-los-angeles-university/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Time</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/04/26/two-la-universities-quarantine-more-than-students-staff-measles-outbreak/?utm_term=.7ac27f2266f4"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Washington Post</span></a></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scientists Think They've Finally Figured Out Why DEET Is So Effective</span></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Summer’s just around the corner, and what could be nicer than a summer evening with friends in the back garden by the grill, having a few beers. Sounds like a perfect…</span></p> <h4><span style="font-weight: 400;">I hate mosquitoes and whatever works against them I’m happy to use, irrelevant of its mechanism of work! However, a long lasting myth on how a popular bug-repellent works was recently busted!</span></h4> <div style="margin-left: 2em;"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">DEET has long been known to be the most effective mosquito repellent available, but researchers weren't sure why or how it worked.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Question: what is DEET?</span></li> <li style="list-style: none; display: inline;"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>DEET</strong><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, or</span> <strong>diethyl-meta-toluamide</strong><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents</span></li> </ul> </li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Before, it was believed that the chemical blocks the mosquito olfactory receptors for volatile molecules in human sweat and breath, essentially making them blind for where the source of their bloody dinner was.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">According to a new study published online in the 6 May edition of Cell Current Biology,</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">DEET works because mosquitoes can taste our body with their legs, and it makes them think our skin tastes bad.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Earlier research showed that DEET doesn't keep mosquitoes from landing on people.</span></li> </ul> </div> <p> </p> <ul> <li><strong>This new research had six stages:</strong></li> </ul> <p> </p> <div style="margin-left: 2em;"> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">First, the researchers offered mosquitoes one of three foods: sugar water, sugar water mixed with DEET or sugar water mixed with another bitter chemical. The insects preferred the plain sugar water to either chemical mixture, but didn't distinguish between DEET and the bitter substance.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next, they took that bitter chemical, not the DEET, and covered their arms in it at high concentrations. The mosquitoes weren’t impressed, and just landed and began drinking the blood of undergraduates</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then they served up a sample of warm blood protected by a membrane that mimicked skin. When DEET or other bitter substances were mixed in the blood the mosquitoes rejected it.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Here’s where it starts to get interesting. They then applied the chemicals to the membrane, but the blood underneath was clean, analogous to an actual person. Result: Mozzies where not disturbed by the bitter compounds, but didn’t want anything to do with the DEET covered membrane.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Fifth, they then presented a patch of membrane with DEET on it with blood underneath. But the patch of skin was too small for them to land on and drink the blood at the same time. They still drank which suggests that DEET doesn’t bother their mouths.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">And finally, they then put a special adhesive on their legs to shield their leg taste buds. The mosquitoes still drank the blood. This suggest that it’s DEET’s effect on their legs that is repelling them.</span></li> </ul> </div> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65334-how-does-deet-work-mosquitos.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">LiveScience</span></a></p> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</span> </p> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have any suggestions or comments email us at</span> <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</span></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can subscribe to our show on</span> <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Apple Podcasts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Google Podcasts,</span> <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Spotify</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by</span> <a href= "http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Pro Podcast Solutions</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m JD Goodwin.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thank you for joining us.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And remember...follow the science!</span></p>
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104 Happy Earth Day to You
<p>Happy Earth Day (week), everyone! It was back in 1970 that the first ever Earth Day was celebrated at over two thousand colleges and universities, even more primary and secondary schools, as well as hundreds of cities and towns across the United States. Today more than 190 countries take part in Earth Day activities.</p> <p>Celebrate our beautiful Earth!</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Science News</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and Dr. Amrita Sule</strong></h2> <h3>The Significance of Significance</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>So, it appears the statisticians have significant concerns over the significance of significance. So much so that they have decided that our old measures of significances are no longer significant. And I have decided that this story will work much better if I significantly increase my vocabulary for the remainder of it.</p> <p>Statistics has been the bane on many a student’s life. I for one studied biological sciences for 2 reasons; 1 I love it and 2 it involves much less maths than any of the others. So you can imagine my joy when I rocked up to Statistics 101 and had to contend with ANOVA, the t-test and P values. So did that mammoth slog end up being a total waste of my time? Mercifully not.</p> <p>As hard as maths may be to understand, the wonderful thing about it is that it does not go out of date. Logic is logic and maths is the system of logic that we use to underpin this institution of science. It is the foundation that we build our knowledge upon. Change it and you literally have to start working from the ground up again. So the maths is going nowhere. What some 800 statisticians are proposing, in its own special edition of the American Statistician publication, is that we only bin the concept of statistical significance.</p> <p>Afterall, we need statistics to make science work. In a field of academia where there are no certainties beyond maths, all this leaves us with is uncertainty and uncertainty is no use to anyone unless you can quantify it. You then, at least, know what it is that you’re dealing with; and statistics allow us to do that and there are various statistical tests that can help us with this.</p> <p>In particular it is the P value that is coming under the heaviest fire. And it is easy to see why. P values have become judge, juror and executioner to papers across the scientific spectrum. This single number that interprets the probability that the results of your experiment are repeatable has become the gold standard, not just for result significance, but overall experimental design and credibility.</p> <p>And here’s the best bit. The very point of statistics is to interpret raw data in a way that allow us to make informed judgment calls upon it, in the full knowledge that nothing in science is absolute. We then go and stick an absolute cut-off onto that interpretation. P=0.05, or 5%. We don’t even provide a margin of error! Sorry Dr. Watson, you study was only P=0.051, no funding for you today but congratulations Mr. Holmes your study with a P=0.049 represents stirling work, here have bucket load of cash to continue your studies! This may sound like a ridiculous over exaggeration, but shit like this really does happen. And the worse thing about it is that the difference between a P of 0.051 and 0.049 is not even statistically significant!</p> <p>So where did this mystical P=0.05 even come from? Considering its level of importance, surely some rigorous work went into establishing it. Well, its origins can be traced back to 1925 and famed statistician Ronald Fisher. In a monogram he proposed this cut-off and wrote: “it is convenient to take this point as a limit in judging whether a deviation [a difference between groups] is to be considered significant or not.”</p> <p>Convenient?! We use this number because it is convenient?! I’m sure that it’s not all that convenient to poor Dr. Watson! But I get his point.</p> <p>If I learnt anything in Statistics 101 it’s that statistics is not an easy game. There are some truly fiddly sums in there so it’s not practical to expect everyone to pull out the most appropriate statistical test all of the time. Standardising the system would make things much easier for everyone… in 1925.</p> <p>But times have changed. We carry more computational power in our pockets these days that we had sitting our desktops only a few years ago. Power that would have look like black magic to Roland Fisher, power that can work out those statistics for you. We are not constrained by the same limitations that we were a century ago, so why do continue to apply those same limitations to our science?</p> <p>Mainly because we have become institutionalised. We may well know the faults but we don’t necessarily know the solution. We are talking about changing something that has become fundamental to the current scientific establishment. Whilst I hate to make the comparison, but I’m british so I can’t help it, it’s a bit like Brexit. We know what we don’t want but we don’t know what we do want as an alternative.</p> <p>But when scientists like Darwin, Galileo, Boyle & Franklin managed to achieve what they did in an age before statistical significance. Surely we can find a way for science to work afterwards.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/statisticians-standard-measure-significance-p-values"> Science News</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Ancient Horse Unearthed with Liquid Blood in its Veins</h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>A team of Russian researchers have found the frozen carcass of a 42,000 year old foal in the permafrost of the Verkhoyanks region in Siberia. This Lena Horse foal belonged to the Lemnyaska breed which went extinct 4000 years ago.</p> <p>And that’s not it. This discovery was a surprise because the foal carcass showed the presence of liquid blood and urine.</p> <p>Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the Mammoth Museum at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk remarks that prior to this only once was liquid blood found in an animal of the Pleistocene epoch. In 2013 Grigoreiv’s team discovered a carcass of mammoth about 11,700 years old in which liquid blood was found.</p> <p>If we just think about this for a second, blood should technically coagulate or has been seen to turn into a powdered form in several well-preserved carcasses in the past. However, in the case of the foal or the mammoth the biological fluids were preserved well due to the permafrost conditions.</p> <p>Grigoriev’s team has been working on cloning and resurrecting the woolly mammoth. They have been working on retrieving viable DNA from the mammoth carcass, which would then be inserted into an elephant embryo. An elephant could be then used as a surrogate to clone the Mammoth.</p> <p>On similar lines, Grigoriev is working in collaboration with a South Korean team to clone the foal. They have been trying to retrieve viable DNA from the organs of the foal carcass for the past two months, with no success. If successful, modern horses can be used as a surrogate to clone the Lena horse.</p> <p>It is important to make a note that the South Korean collaborator, Hwang Woo-suk was under fire and guilty of faking data on human stem-cell cloning experiments in 2004-2005. However, after laying low for several years he has cloned around 1000 dogs so far and is working on the mammoth cloning project as well.</p> <p>With respect to cloning an animal from tens of thousands of year old carcasses, the biggest issue is finding good quality DNA. The degradation process starts immediately post the animal’s death and in spite of excellent preservation like permafrost, in this case, one may not find good quality DNA.</p> <p>Although they have not been successful yet, Grigoriev says “<strong><em>we in Russia say that hope dies last.</em></strong>“</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65268-oldest-liquid-blood-siberian-foal.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/18/europe/prehistoric-foal-liquid-blood-urine-trnd-scli-scn-intl/index.html">CNN</a>, <a href="https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/04/17/russian-scientists-find-liquid-blood-in-extinct-siberian-foal-dating-back-42k-years-a65269">The Moscow Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and Amrita Sule.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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103 HPV Vaccine, Fossil Death Pit, Superbug Fungus, and so much more
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <p>We welcome back our very own Amrita Sule. Hey, that’s Doctor Sule to you, buddy! She was out there in the world doing all that science-y stuff like traveling, going to conferences, socializing, networking. Oh, and doing science. It’s our privilege to present Amrita, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto for our 103rd episode.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Walking whales</li> <li>New Yorker article carks it in fossil death pit</li> <li>Planet survives death of its sun…barely</li> <li>Public health success story in Scotland</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3>Fossil of ancient four-legged whale found in Peru</h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>Researchers have found well-preserved bones of an ancient whale along the coast of Peru.</p> <p>This is a 42.6 million-year-old fossil of a whale, which had legs with hooves and was a land-dwelling mammal.</p> <p>Olivier Lambert, from Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels and his team, had been digging around the barren coastal regions of Peru. His team found a jawbone with very large teeth. They kept digging to find bone after bone.</p> <p>Although the bones were millions of years old, they were well preserved. When assembled and put together the skeleton, the hip and limb structure made the whale  look like an animal which once walked on the land.</p> <p>But its long appendages and tailbones made them look like an otter and suggest swimming proficiency.</p> <p>What makes the evolution of whales fascinating is that we usually think of mammals evolving out of the sea onto the land. However, for whales, this process happened backwards. And this discovery will certainly help us understand how earth’s largest mammals made the transition from land to sea.</p> <p>This is the first evidence of a four-legged or quadrupedal whale in all of the southern hemisphere and the Pacific.</p> <p>Until now it was thought that ancient whales travelled to North America from Africa before migrating to South America. However, location of this specimen suggests that ancient whales travelled across South America before travelling up to North America.</p> <p>It’s kinda cool how fossils not only are the missing links in evolutionary history but also provide information when and how a certain organism traversed to different parts of the world.</p> <p>The team which made this discovery have named it <em>Peregocetus pacificus</em>, meaning “the travelling whale that reached the Pacific”.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47822228">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65156-ancient-four-legged-whale.html">Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Fossil ‘Death Pit' Preserves Dino Extinction Event … But Where Are the Dinosaurs?</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>I honestly don’t get that story <em>but at all</em> – for me this is nothing more about a journalistic blunder and nothing to do with science.</p> <p>So the actual science behind this story is about a paleontological site in North Dakota (part of the fossil-rich Hell Creek Formation). Turns out that this place contains almost every Cretaceous fossil that we can think of – from living things which were all buried at once(creepy I know).</p> <p>What’s amazing about it is that it came into existence just minutes and hours following the asteroid impact that extinguished much of life on Earth around 66 million years ago.</p> <p>The issue is that the New Yorker, which allegedly reported on this exact research publication by Dr DePalma and colleagues, quotes the finding of a bunch of dino fossils, while in actuality, there were very few to be found at the site, according to the peer-reviewed publication.</p> <p>May be the reporters from the New Yorker dreamt the pile of dino fossils at the site, or they just really <em>wanted</em> them to be there, but the fact is that for some reason, appart from a hip-bone, so far no dinos have been found there… Does this mean that the dinos might have died out before the big splash of the Chicxulub impact? Or that dinos just didn’t like North Dakota and hung out elsewhere? Who’s to say!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65132-cretaceous-death-pit-tanis.html"> LiveScience</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Planet survives the death of its sun</h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>Before we travel into the intergalactic world let’s take a moment and think what will happen if OUR SUN dies?</p> <p>First, it will run out of all of its nuclear fuel. It will swell up to 100 times of its size to become a red giant and in that process swallow Mercury and Venus and maybe even Earth.</p> <p>And finally, it will collapse, shedding it’s out layers until it turns into a dense glowing sphere about the size of earth. This is what we call the white dwarf.</p> <p>We can only guess how our solar system will look like after the sun dies. but, a new discovery might provide some insight.</p> <p>Christopher Manser at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK and his colleagues have discovered remains of a planet orbiting around a dead star – a white dwarf, around 410 light years away.</p> <p>The team were observing a dusty ring which is formed around the star post the explosion of the dying star. They noticed a fluctuation in the wavelength of the dust and this signal was repeated every two hours suggesting that something was moving around the white dwarf very rapidly.</p> <p>Manser says that this is most probably an asteroid or piece of a planet with a radius of around 400 Km. It is probably very close to the white dwarf as it completes a full orbit in just 2 hours.If you compare that to our solar system, it would be inside the sun.</p> <p>This piece of the planet it probably made of a very dense metal like iron or so which is why it hasn’t disintegrated yet in spite of being so close to this white dwarf.</p> <p>Most of the planets in the galaxy are composed of the same elements we could share the same fate when our sun dies which is estimated to be in 5 billion years or so.  Currently, the thought is that mercury, Venus and earth will most certainly not survive the explosion, but Mars and the outer planets might. </p> <p>So, I suppose the search for life on other planets continues.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/science/white-dwarf-fragment.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2198693-a-dead-planet-is-orbiting-a-dead-sun-in-a-distant-dead-solar-system/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=SOC&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1554464866">New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Scotland's HPV vaccine linked to ‘near elimination' of cervical cancer</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>Those damn vaccines are causing biodiversity loss, JD! However, THAT type of biodiversity loss I’m all in for, ‘cause I’m just being silly and talking about eradicating a whole type of cancer, and that’s my favourite type of news!</p> <p>The place – Scotland and the cancer – cervical.</p> <p>According to the World Cancer Research Fund, Cervical cancer is the 4th most commonly occurring cancer in women and the 8th most commonly occurring cancer overall. There were over 500,000 new cases in 2018.</p> <p>Virtually all cervical cancers are associated with the human papilloma viruses (HPV). And while being one of the very prevalent and scary types of cancer, we seem to be best equipped to fight it, as the 5-year survival rate (while varying between countries and races) is steadily above the 50%, as well as is the early detection rate.</p> <p>One of the best things about this types of cancer is that we actually have a working vaccine against it.</p> <p>Some very good news came out in the Journal New Scientist in relation to this vaccine. In the UK, ten years ago, a preventive vaccination programme was started where all girls from the age of 12 onwards were given the chance to be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine, now we have some very convincing statistics to support the health benefits of the vaccine. In Scotland (currently part of the UK), health authorities reported 90% reduction on pre-cervical cancer conditions detected in girls who were part of that programme, as compared to girls born earlier, who were at the vaccination age before the vaccine became available.</p> <p>The original study is published in the British Medical Journal and the health officials reported that they will expand the vaccination programme to boys too in the coming months.</p> <p>So yeah – vaccines work!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2198814-scotlands-hpv-vaccine-linked-to-near-elimination-of-cervical-cancer/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3>Where are the mosquitos going?</h3> <h4>Tom Di Liberto</h4> <p>Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, smack smack,,,,bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. WILL SOMEONE SHUT THAT DAMN WINDOW! Smack. Ow!</p> <p><br /> Annnnddd scene! Thank you! This was from a reading of my one person play “Tom and the Mosquitos” soon to be playing on any number of warm humid buggy days this spring and summer in Washington DC.</p> <p>I’m not alone in hating mosquitos. Besides being disease carriers, they also suck….blood out of your body. See what I did there? Honestly, how many outdoor activities were ruined because these suckers decided to go vampire on you? Plenty. Well guess what, climate change impacts just how far north these suckers can go. Because of course climate change does. Let’s dig deepers.</p> <p>In a new study released in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases looks at how the habitat and range of two types of mosquitoes <em>Aedes aegypti</em> and <em>Aedes albopictus</em><em> </em>will change in a warming world. These two types of mosquitoes can carry diseases like dengue and yellow fever, as well as several emerging threats like chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis.</p> <p>The scientists found that “within the next century, nearly a billion people could face their first exposure to viral transmission from either mosquito in the worst-case scenario, mainly in Europe and high-elevation tropical and subtropical regions”</p> <p>The scientists used four climate change scenarios to see how the evolution of temperatures changes the viral transmission of diseases from the mosquitoes. Specifically, the use the temperatures in an empirically parameterized model of viral transmission to predict the cumulative monthly global transmission risk in curren climates and compares that to the projected risk in 2050 and 2080.  </p> <p>Simply put, the both <em>Aedes aegptyi </em>and <em>Aedes albopictus</em> will range farther north. However, there is important nuance here as just because a mosquito can range farther north doesn’t mean that the habitat is good for them. For one, this range north will be led by the albopictus (asian tiger mosquito) because they are more adapted to the cold. However, at the same time, they would die out in the tropics where temperatures become too hot.</p> <p>But also, even if these mosquitos range north to Alaska they would only last a week or two before dying, a small amount of time to deliver diseases.</p> <p>The greater risk are therefore not on the fringes of the new mosquito habitat but on those places where the mosquito threat becomes year round due to a rise in temperature including major cities in China, the US and Europe. Exposing a huge population to a threat it has no built-up immunity for.</p> <p>As one of the authors of the paper Colin Carlson said in a piece on NPR “If you have a population that has no vaccination, no protection and one person comes in with measles, you get a huge explosive outbreak. Mosquito-borne disease works the same way.”</p> <p>And, he says, while “there's no guarantee that any introduction leads to an explosive outbreak,” climate change makes it a whole lot more likely.</p> <p>That seems like an apt metaphor, comparing this to measles, as currently we have a bunch of people totally fine with measles outbreaks so long as it doesn’t affect them.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/28/707604928/chart-where-disease-carrying-mosquitoes-will-go-in-the-future"> NPR</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Google Podcasts, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast any other podcast player of your choice. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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102: Flat Earthers Planning To Go On A Cruise
<p>We’re well into the 19th year of the 21st century and we still have people who don’t understand the reality of climate change, and the benefit of vaccines. Not to be outdone by the aforementioned, the Flat Earth Society is alive and well. Better yet, they’re planning a cruise to the edge of the Earth.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Huge fossil discovery made in China</li> <li>Flat Earthers go on a cruise</li> <li>Sun bears mimic one another’s facial expressions</li> <li>Good news for sufferers of postpartum depression</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and Sophie McManus</strong></h2> <h3>Huge fossil discovery made in China</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>Let me take you back in time. Back some 500 million years ago to a period called the Cambrian. Of all the Earth’s eras, the Cambrian is one of the better know, mainly because it was the setting for something called the Cambrian explosion. It refers to an explosion in the diversity of life. All of the major branches of animal life emerged in this period of history. The fundamental structures for complex life were forged at this time and they haven’t really changed ever since.</p> <p>So it’s clear to see why any fossils from this period are invaluable to paleontologists trying to learn about how these structures developed. So far our best source of Cambrian fossils has been the Burgess Shale in Canada but there may be a new challenger coming on to the scene.</p> <p>Paleontologist Xingliang Zhang was experienced in working on the Burgess Shale and when he was on an expedition of Cambrian rock layers in Qingjiang, China, he noticed some riverside rocks that he immediately recognised were exactly the kind that you may find fossils in. Cracked some open, and the rest is history.</p> <p>This happened in 2007 but last week they published that almost 4,500 fossils have been analysed, and that’s of the over 20,000 that they discovered. What’s more is that there is very little crossover between the species that are being found here versus those present in the Burgess Shale. In particular, there lots of fossilised Jellyfish and comb jellies which could help answer questions like whether they, or sponges, are the more primitive for of life.</p> <p>In paleontology, excavation is always a bit of a lottery and these guys have just hit the jackpot!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-47667880">BBC</a>,<a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/china-fossil-cache-cambrian-explosion"> Science News</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Flat earther group plans a cruise</h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Some people believe that the Earth is flat. They are members of the FES and have planned a trip to the ‘ice wall’ that they say holds back the oceans, so they don’t, you know, slop over the edge of the Earth. The cruise will go ahead in 2020.</p> <p>I was curious and looked on FES website. ‘Join us this November to learn why we dissent from the spinning heliocentric theory of cosmology. At the 2019 Flat Earth International Conference, we will uncover and debunk pseudo-scientific “facts” while presenting the true evidence which shockingly points to our existence on a flat, stationary plane.’ The writers of the Flat Earth Society website say that they grew up with a ‘heliocentric round’ vision of the world but came to the shocking realisation that…it’s flat. The leading <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/14754-ingenious-flat-earth-theory-revealed-map.html">flat-earther theory</a> holds that Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees, they say, guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc.</p> <p>They believe NASA is lying and all the information we have about the round Earth is a conspiracy theory. God knows WHY anyone would start such a theory, but there you go. Also, the ancient Greeks actually showed the Earth is round 2000 years ago. Plus the GPS technology that the cruise will presumably use only works because the planet is NOT flat.</p> <p>Interestingly, the soc president, Daniel Shenton, does agree that the Earth (round or otherwise) is being subjected to man-made climate change. Also agree with evolutionary theory. They just really, really think the world is a disc, not a marble.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65053-flat-earther-cruise-antarctica-ice-wall.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Sun bears copy each others’ facial expressions</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>I’m going to have to issue a cute alert here because this story is adorable.</p> <p>It’s about sun bears, which are the smallest of the true bears. They’re not small, about 5 foot in length, but they are the smallest bear. So any other type of small bear that you may be thinking about; koala, red panda, teddy, I’m sorry, they’re not really bears. If you aren’t familiar with sun bears then they look very beary, they’re mostly back but they have a distinctive pale collar on their upper chest as well as a pale muzzle.</p> <p>They are adorable animals, but what makes them even more so is this new discovery that they mimic the facial expressions of other bears when they play with them.</p> <p>A team from Portsmouth played their cards right and got to go to Malaysia to study these bears in a conservation centre. They found that, during play,  when one bear opened its mouth, the other one would too within 1 second of observing it.</p> <p>What’s really interesting about this is that it is not something that we see often. Humans do it all the time, as do great apes, which is no great surprise. Other primates can do but to a lesser degree, as can dogs. Clearly dogs are a slightly different case as they’ve been domesticated for some 15,000 years.</p> <p>Dogs and bears are quite closely related but what makes this so interesting is that Sun bears are largely solitary but we associate behaviours like this with more socially complex animals. So the question now becomes; do we only tend to see this behaviour in social animals because they are the ones that do it, or because they are the only ones where we look for it?</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2197319-sun-bears-copy-each-others-facial-expressions-to-communicate/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>FDA approves first drug for postpartum depression</h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Great news, with a few caveats. The US FDA has approved a drug (brexanolone, marketed as Zulresso) specifically for postnatal depression. This is a very common complication of pregnancy and can be debilitating. In extreme cases, women can feel suicidal and attempt self-harm. There isn’t necessarily a predictor for who will get PND. Even if the pregnancy and labour were relatively straightforward someone can still suffer. Current options – anti-depressants – take two or three weeks to kick in, a LONG time for someone with a new baby, whereas the new drug should be effective within 48 hours.</p> <p>The downside is it has to be infused continually over 60 hours, during which a new mother must remain in a certified medical center, under supervision should she get dizzy or faint, as several patients did in clinical trials. Also, I imagine it will be expensive (won’t touch on US health insurance here) – for example, I don’t imagine the NICE/NHS in the UK will pay for it, or at least not for a while.</p> <p>A bit more about the drug…Brexanolone is a synthetic form of allopregnanolone, a hormone produced by progesterone in the brain that may help ease depression and anxiety by dampening neural activity – this is according to Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the principal investigator for the brexanolone studies.</p> <p>The research presented to the F.D.A. consisted of three clinical trials that were led by Dr. Meltzer-Brody and funded by Sage Therapeutics, which was also involved in the study design, data analysis, interpretation and writing of the reports. The women in the trials had given birth within six months of getting the infusion and were experiencing severe or moderate depression that had started in the third trimester of pregnancy or within four weeks after childbirth. Participants could not have psychosis or bipolar disorder. Their symptoms could include suicidal thoughts but not a recent suicide attempt. They were asked to stop breast-feeding during the trial.</p> <p>So the major potential issue here seems to be the 60-hours infusion aspect of treatment – very expensive and probably not possible for a lot of hospitals and their new mothers. However, a pill, which could be taken at home, is showing promise in trials, so perhaps that will also be available in a couple of years.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/health/postpartum-depression-drug.html"> New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Overcast and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and Sophie McManus.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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101: Butterfly Invasion. Good News on Heart Attacks. Climate Strike!
<p>Spring has arrived! It’s been a cold, snowy, and wet winter in North America while the rest of hemisphere seemed much warmer than normal. But hope springs eternal with the new season. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and young people are on strike for climate action.</p> <p>There’s something in the air, that’s for sure.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Switch to soft foods affected human speech</li> <li>An invasion in California</li> <li>Good news when it comes to heart attacks</li> <li>An explanation for my magnetic personality</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Ancient switch to soft food gave us the ability to pronounce ‘f’s and ‘v’s</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>This is so interesting! I can blame evolution for my horrendous need for braces as a teenager. Maybe.</p> <p>This story concerns a study recently published in the journal <em>Science </em>by an international team of researchers, with affiliations in Switzerland, the US, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Singapore.</p> <p>The emergence of agriculture allowed early human diets to change, meaning they began to eat softer, more processed food (a trend that continues to this day…). This shift in lifestyle actually altered the shape and structure of the human jaw, leading to overbites becoming more common – that’s the conclusion of this paper. A consequence of developing an overbite appears to be an enhanced ability to pronounce words with ‘v’ and ‘f’ sounds in them. The newly favored consonants, known as labiodentals, apparently helped spur the diversification of languages in Europe and Asia at least 4000 years ago.</p> <p>Postdocs Damián Blasi and Steven Moran set out to test an idea proposed by the late American linguist Charles Hockett. Hockett noted in 1985 that the languages of hunter-gatherers lacked labiodentals, and conjectured that their diet was partly responsible: Chewing gritty, fibrous foods puts force on the growing jaw bone and wears down molars. In response, the lower jaw grows larger, and the molars erupt farther and drift forward on the protruding lower jaw, so that the upper and lower teeth align. That edge-to-edge bite makes it harder to push the upper jaw forward to touch the lower lip, which is required to pronounce labiodentals. But other linguists rejected the idea, and Blasi says he, Moran, and their colleagues “expected to prove Hockett wrong.” However, their computer modelling actually supported Hockett’s ideas.</p> <p>Linguist Nicholas Evans of Australian National University in Canberra finds the study's “multimethod approach to the problem” convincing. Ian Maddieson, an emeritus linguist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, had a couple of queries about their methodology, but agreed overall that the study shows external factors like diet can alter the sounds of speech.</p> <p>The findings also suggest our facility with f-words comes at a cost. As we lost our ancestral edge-to-edge bite, our pronunciation may have become more sophisticated, but our jaws also got more crowded leading to more tooth problems – and a higher likelihood of needing fillings! That’s an f word right there.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/ancient-switch-soft-food-gave-us-overbite-and-ability-pronounce-f-s-and-v-s?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Huge migration of painted lady butterflies in California</strong></h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>There are some saying that the apocalypse is here. Well that’s not news, there’s always someone saying that the apocalypse is here. But the new group of people being associated with this phrase (even if they aren’t personally using it) are entomologists. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are experiencing an unprecedented decline in all types of insect life.</p> <p>Why is this happening? For the same reasons that other species are declining. The difference with insects is that there are so many of them that you need to have a dramatic drop in them before you begin to notice the difference. Regardless of whether you like creepy-crawlies or not, this potentially has massive implications for all of us but the bigger implication right now is that this is isn’t what this story is about.</p> <p>Because, amid the backdrop of this entomological endgame there is a success story to be seen in a butterfly, the Painted Lady (<em>Vanessa cardui</em>). California has been inundated with them this month as they migrate from the Mojave & Colorado deserts up to Oregon, Washington, possibly further North.</p> <p>So how are these lepidoptera bucking the trend? Well it seems that what was meant when they were called painted ladies was actually warpainted bad-asses! They are the most abundant butterfly in the world. They are resistant to a bewildering range of plant toxins, which gives them an impressively diverse pallet, they can shiver to generate their own body heat and, despite only living for some 25 days, they have been known to migrate up to 2,500 miles!</p> <p>But even these superpowers don’t protect them from everything. Their numbers took a real beating last year, so what’s the difference this year? Rain. Desert rain has brought a plant bonanza, creating the conditions for caterpillar ladies that lunch.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/migrating-painted-lady-butterflies.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-butterflies-desert-explosion-20190312-story.html">LA Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>U.S. heart attack mortality hits a two-decade low in 2014</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>A good news story! Heart attack acute mortality fell from 20% to 12% in the States over two decades. What’s more, fewer people are HAVING heart attacks, quite apart from the fact fewer sufferers then die. Declines were seen across sex, race and age in over 4 million patients, all over 65 years of age.</p> <p>Why is this? The causes for these improvements appear to be the following – more consistent application of effective treatments, as well as a greater focus on diet and exercise. What confuses me is the fact that obesity is more prevalent in the US (and the world) now than it was 20 years ago. So i would not expect there to be a big improvement in diet and exercise uptake in that time.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/us-heart-attack-mortality-reached-two-decade-low-2014"> Science News</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Human brains can detect Earth’s magnetic field</strong></h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>The Earth has molten rock deep beneath its surface. The iron moving in this molten rock creates a magnetic field around the Earth, and this is a good thing. Mainly because this electromagnetic field deflects harmful radiation from the sun, thus preventing it from irradiating all life Earth, which is nice.</p> <p>The other helpful byproduct of this magnetic field is that it can help us find our way around. Whilst many animals naturally can detect this magnetism and use it to help them navigate, humans have built tools that allow us to do the same (like a simple compass).</p> <p>But now there has been a study released claiming that humans can indeed directly detect this magnetic field. This is an impressive claim considering that various people have been looking for evidence of this since the 1980s and have, rather ironically, ended up a bit lost.</p> <p>The success of this study, where others have previously failed, is due to brain waves. There are various patterns of electrical activity seen in the brain, and these patterns change in response to external stimuli. For example, alpha brain waves get calmer when you detect a signal like light or sound.</p> <p>This study put people into a darkened room and then messed around with the magnetic field in there, and what they found is that certain changes in the field did generate a dampening of these alpha waves.</p> <p>The problem with this study is its size. There were only thirty-four people tested in this way, and out of those, only four showed this reaction.</p> <p>But regardless of the reliability of the study, the overwhelmingly obvious fact is the humans are unable to use this ability, even if they do have it. People lost in the wilderness are reputed for walking in circles, which is something that you would argue people would avoid doing if they could.</p> <p>So this low rate of detection in humans, coupled with our apparent inability to be able to use magnetism has lead some to suspect that it is vestigial; like the tonsils of the brain. It is possible that some of our non-human ancestors may have possessed this ability, but with no selection pressure to keep this ability working to perfection the system begins to break down. It doesn’t just vanish overnight. It maybe that we have discovered this ability at it’s 3am stage. There’s some evidence that it was at the party but the memory is pretty vague and you wouldn’t trust it to drive just yet.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/65018-human-brain-senses-magnetic-field.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2196865-our-brains-might-sense-earths-magnetic-field-just-like-birds-do/">New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Climate Strike!</strong></h3> <h4>Tom Di Liberto</h4> <p>I complain about a lot of things. Some of them are real complaints. Others not so much. Okay, most of them not so much. But for the most part, my complaints stop right there. I imagine I’m like a lot of you. We don’t like something. We think something is wrong. We complain about it, but we don’t know what to do beyond that. What’s that next step?</p> <p>For me all too often the next step is moving on. You can see how bad this is if the thing you are complaining about actually is really important. I say all of this because right now, kids… KIDS(!), a generation that always gets stereotyped as coddled and lazy are mobilizing en masse to deal with climate change. They complained, THEN DID SOMETHING. Revolutionary if you ask me.</p> <p>On Friday, 15 March 1.4 million children from 123 countries went on a climate strike to demand stronger climate policies from their respective governments. It was likely one of the largest environmental protests in history. The strike leader was Greta Thunberg who I’ve talked about before. Her reason for the movement? She said, “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. We knew there was a climate crisis. We knew because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.”</p> <p>What do they want? From an op-ed in the Guardian, “they want to keep fossil fuels in the ground, phase out subsidies for dirty energy production, seriously invest in renewables and start asking difficult questions about how we structure our economies and who is set to win and who is set to lose”.</p> <p>The other goal is to simply get more people talking about climate change, and elevating the conversation. One good way to do that is to get 1.4 million people to march. Of course, this needs the media to join as well. And as we all know the media tends to not focus on climate change even though the problem will likely dominate the discourse over the next century. <br /> <br /> So if the media won’t talk about it the grassroots have to force the conversation. Now things seem to be changing in the US as folks advocating for reality, I mean climate action, are playing the offensive. With this strike, the Sunrise Movement, the Green New Deal, and even a major party presidential candidate Jay Inslee making climate change the focus of his run. <br /> <br /> This doesn’t mean there aren’t people tut-tutting all of this. From Theresa May to whole political parties in the US, and others in Australia and elsewhere. There are still plenty of obstacles in the way of a proper response to climate change. But in order to finish an obstacle race, you need to start it.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/3/15/18267156/youth-climate-strike-march-15-photos"> VoX</a> <a href= "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/03/kids-climate-march-strikes-around-the-world-fridaysforfuture/">NatGEo</a> <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/15/world/climate-strike-students/index.html">CNN</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Sophie McManus, Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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100: All the SCIENCE you can stand, and more!
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>New study regarding the measles vaccine and autism</li> <li>Green icebergs</li> <li>Type D killer whales</li> <li>Expert birders are full of crap</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with JD Goodwin and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>More than 100 new insect species discovered on island</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>Did you ever think that whatever can been discovered has already been found by someone, somewhere else, some other time?<br /> It can feel like that. However, in the field of biology, in this case entomology, there’s a lot out there we know nothing about. </p> <p>Last week it was announced in the journal Zoo Keys that 103 new species of beetles have been discovered, described, and named. <br /> And all came from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. All are weevils, only a few millimeters in length, and were named after things like Star Wars characters like Yoda. Others were names for scientists like Charles Darwin. </p> <p>To put this discovery in perspective, only a single species of weevil had ever been found before on Sulawesi, and that was in 1885.<br /> This is essentially because nobody’s been looking. According to researchers, that means there are likely thousands of yet discovered species on this forested island.</p> <p>Well, it used to be forested. Sadly, at the same time we’re discovering this treasure trove of biodiversity we are also losing many that we’ll never even know existed. </p> <p>Indonesia’s forests are being cut down at a rapid rate, and once gone these species are lost forever.</p> <p><a href= "https://zookeys.pensoft.net/article/32200/">ZooKeys</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>New study finds ‘no association whatsoever’ between measles vaccine and autism</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>I’m going to cut straight to chase on this one, so make sure that you’re sitting down. This is a scientific discovery that is going to blow your friggin’ socks off. There is “no association whatsoever” between the measles vaccine and autism!</p> <p>I’ll just let that sink in with you for a minute. Okay? Over the shock yet? Great, so let’s delve a little deeper.</p> <p>This is new study from Copenhagen’s Staten’s Serum Institute which has evaluated 11 year’s worth of data looking at vaccine administration, autism diagnoses, sibling autism history and a whole host of other possible risk factors and the result that has come back, in a typically cautious scientific way is “The appropriate interpretation is that there’s no association whatsoever”.</p> <p>Of course the question that you may be asking, I know I have, is why? Why bother to go through all of this effort to demonstrate this thing that we already know? The anti-vaxxers of this world aren’t going to swayed by one scientific paper, hell, they’re not going to swayed by any amount of empirical evidence because we’re all part of conspiracy. Now can someone pass the tin foil so that I can make a new hat, because I was just feeling thirsty and then an ad for Coke came on the telly so my last one must not be working!</p> <p>Although the measles vaccine/autism question may well have been tucked in, given a warm cocoa and read a story; the question hadn’t been fully put to bed.</p> <p>Whilst there is no known mechanism that can link the this vaccine to autism and there is no obvious connection between the two, no one has ever gone to these lengths to demonstrate it before. No one has ever collected enough data on the matter to statistically demonstrate that the association between the two are so entirely insignificant.</p> <p>Even without this new clarification, there are so many reasons why vaccinating is preferable to not doing so, just on the basis of basic risk assessment. But what this study does is that it proves what’s already been said, so far as you can prove anything in science, and this is important. Without the best possible data to back you up, you just become another opinionated person screaming into cacophony believing that the validity of your opinion is somehow reflected in the strength with which you hold it.</p> <p>For me, this is actually a rather depressing story. Depressing that we have had to go to these lengths to discredit a fraudulent paper written by crooked doctor who wanted to invent a problem that he could then make a fortune solving. Depressing that the crooked doctor has and continues to make a fortune from his fraud. Depressing that this paper, that so entirely exposes that fraud, will not succeed in convincing its supporters. And depressing when you think about what more worthwhile work could have been done with the resource that has been poured into this.  </p> <p><a href= "https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-measles-study-vaccine-doesnt-cause-autism-20190305-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/well/oregon-child-tetanus-vaccine.html">New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/technology/facebook-anti-vaccine-misinformation.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Scientists discover why some icebergs are green</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>So you’re on a ship in the Southern Ocean and you see icebergs. Big deal. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. White ones, blueish ones. Icebergs is icebergs.</p> <p>Then suddenly you see a huge iceberg that’s green!</p> <p>Green icebergs in the Southern Ocean are a real thing.</p> <p>The reason why these icebergs are green has been a mystery, until now.</p> <p>When study leader Stephen Warren of the University of Washington first began taking samples of this green ice over 30 years ago they thought its color was caused by organic material suspended in the ice. In particular they thought it could be dissolved carbon, which is yellow. Add a yellow hue to blue ice and you get green, or so they thought.</p> <p>This new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Ocean, shows that something different is happening. They now think that the green hue is caused by iron oxide dust that’s carried by glaciers from the mainland.</p> <p>The green ice itself doesn’t come from glaciers. As the ice-bound iron oxide make contact with seawater it turns green. It has been measured to have 500 times more iron than the ice above it.</p> <p>When this green ice breaks off the ice shelf it can carry this iron very far away into the Southern Ocean. Iron is a critical component for the growth of phytoplankton and these icebergs deliver it to what would otherwise be an iron poor environment.</p> <p>So these green icebergs may be more than just a visual curiosity. They may play an important role creating an environment conducive to phytoplankton, which in turn, is the foundation for nearly all life in and around Antarctica.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64960-why-antarctica-icebergs-are-green.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Type D Killer Whales in the Southern Ocean</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>You know when you hear a news headline and then it turns out to be really disappointing when you get to details? Stories like, Early morning exercise is bad for you! Really, oh no, skipping sleep to do the exercise is the problem. Or Radishes grown on Mars! No, you’re sh***ing me. Yes we are, we meant radishes grown in really nutrient poor soil. Or even Obama illegally bugged my phone! Maybe the less said about that one the better.</p> <p>Often stories about new species discoveries fall into similar territory. Ooh, a new species! Aw, it’s just a beetle, or a fly, or a bacteria. Well don’t let it be said that the Blue Streak Science Podcast doesn’t deliver for you. We’ve got a new species, and it’s a friggin’ whale! And not just any whale, a Killer Whale. Yeah, that’s more like it.</p> <p>The one caveat to put in here is that this isn’t confirmed yet. Years ago it may have been but these days we need to wait on the results of genetic tests to confirm it.</p> <p>So what does it look like? Well, it looks like a killer whale. Unless you’re really into your cetaceans then you probably won’t be able to tell the difference (and if you don’t know what a cetacean is then you’re not). They are smaller with some noticeable differences in body shape and markings.</p> <p>Of course, the other question is where have these massive animals been hiding for ever? Well it turns out that this discovery isn’t completely new. These animals were witnessed washed up on a beach in New Zealand in 1955, but with such a small sample size the animals were dismissed as a somewhat deformed family.</p> <p>But in 2005 the search began in earnest as pictures emerged of strange looking Orca stealing from fishermen in the southern indian ocean and after 14 years of searching a pod of 30 of these so-called Type D whales has been found, and samples taken for genetic analysis.</p> <p>The whales were found in the southern ocean, and if you’re not too familiar with your nautical geography, the southern ocean is notorious for being the most treacherous sailing waters in the world, on a latitude with so little landmass that waves can reach heights of up to 78 feet. No wonder they’ve been so illusive.</p> <p>This story just reiterates how little we know about our oceans and their contents. If they can hide pods of whales for over a decade, the what the hell else could be down there?</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64957-new-killer-whale-species.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/science/type-d-killer-whale.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Expert birders are full of crap</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>This is a story about something that’s been obvious to me for years, since I’m among the demographic of this study group.</p> <p>In a study on the reliability of bird identification by birdwatchers, Julia Schroeder of Imperial College London and her colleagues surveyed 2700 amateur ornithologists across the United Kingdom. They had them identify pictures and drawings of six common species, including the house sparrow, robin, and European starling.</p> <p>And the results are in: Many birders who describe themselves as experts, dozens of them even, misidentified some of these common species as rarities. One expert birder called a starling an Asian brown flycatcher. Another expert twitcher said a greenfinch was a yellow bunting, which a rare Japanese bird.</p> <p>To their defense, some of the plumages of juvenile European starlings are remarkably difficult to differentiate. That one isn’t as obvious as one would think, which is quite to the point of this article.</p> <p>The experts did identify more species correctly overall. However, they also were much more likely to draw on their greater knowledge of world birds and misidentify a common bird as one of these.</p> <p>People who were more modest were more likely to just say “I don’t know”, while the experts would come up with some strange answer.</p> <p>Schroeder says she doesn’t know if it’s overconfidence or “wanting to show off”. But that we should always take amateur experts’ sightings as provisional until further confirmation.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2196041-hawkward-expert-birdwatchers-misidentify-common-birds-as-rarities/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Environmental detour</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>This time in the climate lounge we are going to take a bit of a detour from the normal climate change stuff to talk about a tangential issue that highlights the fundamental unfairness in society. I’m talking specifically about how some of us (ME) are short and other people are Tall. It’s not fair.</p> <p>Just kidding, I like to start off with something petty because, don’t lie, we all sometimes find ourselves wishing we could change one little thing about us even though we know it doesn’t matter. Height, type of car, type of house, type of phone. You get the picture. Because this story I’m about to tell will put things into perspective about how unfair our society is and how our choices as consumers have impacts.</p> <p>It has been well known to scientists and well just people who have the think critically that Black and Hispanic AMericans often live in places with more air pollution than white people. And because this exposure to air pollution can cause myriad health problems, this difference in residence location could drive unequal health outcomes across the United States.</p> <p>But now a recent study published in the Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences adds a new sorta wrinkle into that scientific narrative by looking at the consumption of goods and services that lead to the pollution. After all, if it wasn’t for consumer demand for products, there wouldn’t be the factories of power plants as sources of the pollution.</p> <p>Long story short, air pollution is disproportionately caused by white people’s consumption of goods and services but is inhaled by black and hispanic americans. This may seem obvious that minorities bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution caused mainly by white people but as the authors note, this effect has not previously been established or quantified… until now.</p> <p>How unfair is all of this that those of us who contribute less to the problem, suffer more from it.. Sounds like a familiar theme right? And how environmental and social justice are intertwined with truly dealing with climate change.</p> <p>The study was led by Jason hill at the University of Minnesota and really tackles a complicated problem that seems simple. Just think about it. To answer it, you have to first know how polluted the air was, who was exposed to it, and the consequences. Then know the sources of pollution and THEN figure out what goods and services came from those emissions. AND THEN who consumed those gods and services which help to drive those sectors of the economy.</p> <p>Specifically for this study, researchers looked at PM2.5 pollution which is the one you look to for human health impacts generating a map of different emitters. Then the scientists used past research on health effects to estimate premature deaths per year. Then to tie it back to consumers they followed consumer spending backwards to the main emitters using data from the bureau of labor statistics that showed how much money people spend in things like food, energy and entertainment. They basically CSI’ed our consumer habits to the level of the farms that grow the food or the fuel farmers buy.</p> <p>And what did they find? Account for pop. sie differences, white people experience 17% less air pollution than they produce through consumption, white black and hispanic people experience 56 and 63% MORE air pollution then they cause by their consumption.</p> <p>Importantly, as one of the researchers Christopher Tessum notes, this was not due to white people consuming different kinds of things. They just consumed more and more and more of them</p> <p>Inequality is the name of the game. And if it truly is a game, then inequality is kicking ass. Full disclosure, I HATE losing games, so if we are going to turn this thing around, it’s time to start taking inequality seriously in all aspects of our lives.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.theroot.com/study-finds-white-americans-primarily-cause-air-polluti-1833232148"> The Root</a> <a href= "https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/11/702348935/study-finds-racial-gap-between-who-causes-air-pollution-and-who-breathes-it">NPR</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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099: SpaceX Crew Dragon, Hoodwinker Sunfish in California, and a Farewell to Wally
<p><!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:list --></p> <ul> <li>Hoodwinker sunfish washes up on California beach</li> <li>SpaceX launches Ripley to the ISS</li> <li>Second Adult In The World To Be Considered Cleared Of HIV</li> <li>You can’t make it up on the weekend (sleep)</li> </ul> <p><!-- /wp:list --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Hoodwinker sunfish washes up on California beach</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But first we’re going to start off with a story that’s a great example of what I love most about doing this podcast. That’s discovering something is not as I thought it was, at having my assumptions turned over.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I had always thought there was just one kind of giant sunfish in the ocean, the ocean sunfish, or Mola mola.</p> <p><!-- /wp:image --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>They look like a giant fish head without the body, and their unlikely fins propel them in an unlikely way. They get huge, like over a metric ton huge. Some even as much as two tons!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>They eat small fish, crustaceans, and jellyfish.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But I always thought it was just one species, until this story came up.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Last week, at the unfortunately named Coal Oil Point Reserve in southern California an intern happened upon a huge 2 meter long fish that had washed ashore. She alerted her colleague Jessica Nielsen, a conservation specialist at the University of California Santa Barbara.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>At first they thought it was a Mola mola, the awesome, but not uncommon fish I just mentioned, the ocean sunfish.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Nielsen posted some pics of this sunfish on Facebook. Another researcher took more pics and then posted them on iNaturalist.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Then a sunfish expert from Australia called Marianne Nyegaard saw the photos and to her astonishment realized it was a hoodwinker sunfish.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Hoodwinkers are pretty much only known from the Southern Hemisphere, and in fact, were only described as a species in 2014, and here’s one washing up on the beach near Santa Barbara, California.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>How did it get there? A mystery. Perhaps they wander further than previously known, or maybe there’s an as yet discovered population of this fish in the northern hemisphere.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47424072">BBC US & Canada</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>SpaceX launches Ripley to the ISS</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>It’s time for the latest installment from the continuing adventures of Elon Musk; the case study on what happens if you give an epic fanboy an even more epic budget. Bowie’s Starman now has a real physical presence, cruising in the first ever interplanetary roadster. The millenium falcon may not be the fastest hunk of junk in <em>this</em> galaxy but it has inspired the names of SpaceX’s Falcon rockets. The next tribute is to Alien with a dummy named Ripley.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>At the time of recording, Ripley is docked at the ISS, with a live camera feed. The sole passenger on the first ever commercial crew vehicle to dock there, Crew Dragon.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Crew Dragon is a modified version of the Dragon Cargo capsule which has already been used to supply the ISS for some time. NASA are funding this work in an attempt to bring crew launching back to the United States for the first time since the space shuttle programme ended back in 2011.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Clearly, there is a slight different between transporting supplies and humans, so Ripley’s mission is to test that the set-up is safe. This means that she’s not just a dummy, she’s a humanoid laboratory of sensors; providing all kinds of data about what real human passengers will experience.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But Ripley isn’t completely alone up there. Despite all of the hi-tech equipment in the capsule, there is also the most lo-tech gravity detector available; a plush Earth toy. How does it work? If it floats, it’s weightless, if it doesn’t then it’s not.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But if all goes well on the mission, the plan is to start using the Crew Dragon for real crew transport as soon as this summer.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2195401-spacex-is-about-to-launch-a-dummy-astronaut-called-ripley-to-the-iss/"> New Scientist</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Second Adult In The World To Be Considered Cleared Of HIV</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This story is comes to us from the journal Nature, and is a true account about a man who once had HIV, but now seems to be completely free of the virus.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So about 12 years ago Timothy Brown, an American man who was treated in Germany and became known as the “Berlin Patient” became the first patient to be effectively cured of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Both of these patients underwent after a stem cell transplant for blood cancers.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>These transplants are really dangerous. They involve the complete eradication of the patients bone marrow and then replacement with new stem cells.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>It works sometimes, but the treatments can also fail, and with dire results.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Using this solely as a treatment for HIV is impractical.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>However, the apparent success with the London patient shows that Timothy Brown’s case wasn’t a one-off, and could be repeated.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The London patient, whose identity remains anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>He didn’t start taking drugs to control it until 2012, but he developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>He underwent the stem cell transplant in 2016.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But why did this result in a possible cure for this patient?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>His doctors screened potential donors, not only for compatibility in treating the lymphoma, but they also searched for a donor with a gene mutation that could confer a resistance to HIV.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>They found a donor who had this gene. That was incredibly lucky because less than 1% of people of northern European have this mutation.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This mutation is rare, but it does provide resistant to most forms of HIV.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>After the treatment the patient agreed to stop taking his HIV drugs to see if the virus would come back. It didn’t.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Can you imagine how frightening that would be?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>And after 18 months there’s still no sign of HIV in the patient.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.huffpost.com/entry/london-patient-hiv-aids_n_5c7dea3ce4b0129e36be16fb"> Huffington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/health/aids-cure-london-patient.html"> New York Times</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Weekend lie-ins don’t compensate for week-long exhaustion</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I hope that you realise, dear listener, that science is your friend. And do you know how you can tell? Because it doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear; it tells you what you need to hear. And what you need to hear now is that those lazy, sleep-in weekend mornings are doing you no good whatsoever!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Sleep is one of those things that we are all so familiar with, yet we know so little about it. But ask any parent with young kids and they'll tell you just how important it is! Isn’t that right, Tom?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>One reason why the direct benefit of sleep is so hard to track down is because there appears to be many of them. For example, did you know that if you aren't getting at least 7 hours of sleep then you are more likely to snack after dinner and put on extra weight?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This effect had just been used to gauge how effective a weekend lie-in is at making up the sleep that you have lost during the week, and the results don't look promising.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Whist the snack attacks can be put off at the start of the following week, once the lack of sleep kicks in again, the snacking returns with a vengeance, so much so that you would have been better off not catching up on your sleep in the first place!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But here comes the warnings. This study was only run over a cycle of a week and a half so we don't know the longer term implications. Also, we've already said that benefits of sleep are multifaceted. Whist this particular aspect may not benefit, that doesn’t mean that is the same story across the board. The main reason that people sleep in when they can is because it feels good and usually things feel good for a reason; because it is doing us some good.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2195341-weekend-lie-in-cant-undo-the-health-damage-caused-by-lack-of-sleep/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00723-8">Nature</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Farewell Wally</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Welcome to another “fun” time in the lounge. I put bunny quotes on fun because well, I often talk about crazy things like NO CLOUDS*. I put a star over that statement because of necessary scientific caveats. You get the point. I’m not fun at parties.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But today’s story is not going to be about some crazy new research, or the latest dumb thing said by some climate denying celebrity or politician. Instead, I want to send my thanks to one of the greats in the world of climate science who passed away a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Wallace Broecker (pronounced Broker).</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Now, I’m not one to venerate any person. We’re all human and treating any of us like a god is a quick way of putting yourself in an awkward position should that human show one of the many human foibles that we damn well know exist. I, instead of deifying people better than me, like to get insanely jealous of their talents, in a positive way. And I was damn jealous of Wally Broecker’s brain and creative thinking.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Who was Wally? He was world renowned geologist and climate scientist. Who spent most of his career, 67 years to be exact, at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. There he studied well the Earth and everything related to it. It’s climate, it’s oceans, it’s ice. It’s everything. Broecker had an amazing way with words coining many incredibly well known phrases still used today. Sometimes even against his wishes.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>In 1975, he published a landmark study called Climatic Change: Are we on the Brink of Pronounced Global Warming”, which vaulted the phrase global warming into scientific lexicon and forever cemented him as the grandfather of global warming. In that paper he predicted that global temperatures would rise due to an increase in CO2. Not bad. In 1984, he testified in the first congressional hearings on climate change led by??? Any guesses? Al Gore.  He’s even had a children’s song written about him called Uncle Wally’s Tale by Tom Chapin a popular kids artist</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But he was a throwback to a different time, he never typed or used a computer instead writing his manuscripts by hand. And he was sometimes a curmudgeon an opinionated, often arguing hard for his ideas but always let science lead the way.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>He also coined the phrase global conveyor belt to describe the way that ocean water cycles from the surface to the ocean depths. I’ve talked about this in the past whenever I discussed the AMOC or Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. It was Dr. Broecker who led that charge. As noted in his NY Times obituary “He pioneered techniques using carbon isotopes and other tracer elements to map the world’s ocean currents” These techniques made their way into many other fields including archeology.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>It was this research about how radical climate swings could happen if the Gulf Stream and AMOC slows down bringing warmth to Europe that was butchered when Hollywood made the Day After Tomorrow about a sudden catastrophic cooling.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>He did a lot. And importantly he wasn’t afraid to talk about it all, continually ringing the bell about climate change. In his final message to scientists he actually pushed for geoengineering solutions as the price of continued inaction could be “many more surprises in the greenhouse known as earth.  He wasn’t pushing for it to be done, per se, but for us to get to know more about the potential need.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Dr. Wallace Broecker died on February 18 at the age of 87. And I will leave you with one of his most famous phrases on our climate, and one of mine too.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>“The climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks”</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Here’s to you Dr. Broecker!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/wallace-broecker-who-helped-popularize-term-global-warming-dies-at-87/2019/02/19/3f8bd7e0-3458-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html?utm_term=.5b3ee5d9bb20"> WAPO</a> <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/19/obituaries/wallace-broecker-dead.html"> NYTIMES</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Our hosts today were Tom Di Liberto, and Chris MacAlister.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --></p>
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098: Where'd The Clouds Go?
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Bacteria living on insects could provide new antibiotics</li> <li>New letters to the DNA alphabet</li> <li>A story of interspecies communication</li> <li>The latest buzz on a new species rediscovered</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova, and Sophie McManus</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Bacteria living on insects could provide new antibiotics</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>We’ve heard of the crisis with spreading antibiotic resistant pathogenic bacteria, which can be very very big problem in a very very short time. Until now, for the most part, antibiotics are discovered either by identifying new species producing them, by growing in the lab said species from soil samples and then isolating compounds they produce with antimicrobial properties. The problem with that is, that many bacteria are not easy to grow in the lab, because they only live in complex environments and in microbial communities. This means that the traditional way to stumble across new antibiotics to replace the useless ones due to antimicrobial resistance are becoming increasingly ineffective.</p> <p>An interesting fact about antibiotics though is that they are so-called secondary metabolites. This means that they are synthesised by bacteria or fungi only after they pass the exponential growth phase of the colony and their synthesis depends on the availability of specific nutrients in the environment.</p> <p>This and the need to find out alternative sources or ecosystems where antibiotic bacteria live, let researchers to exploring insects. Like pretty much any other imaginable place in the world, insects are a host of a plethora of bacteria and fungi normally growing in or on them. As it turns out, scientist from the Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered more than 10k strains of bacteria isolated from insects and some of them proved to be synthesising novel antibiotics able to kill even the most resistant fungi and bacteria that we know today and which could pose a severe threat to human life, being resistant to pretty much every existing antibiotic. More can be read in the article published in Nature under the title The antimicrobial potential of Streptomyces from insect microbiomes.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324507.php">Medical News Today</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Four new letters added to the DNA alphabet</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Crazy story!</p> <p>DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the carrier of our genetic information. DNA is made up of four ‘letters’ – A, C, T, G. Adenine, cytosine, thymine, guanine. Arranged in different combinations, these letters build up the ‘language’ of our genes – all 22,000 of them, in the case of humans.</p> <p>In research published a few days ago in <em>Science, </em>Florida-based researchers have doubled the natural number of life’s building blocks, creating for the first time a synthetic, eight-letter genetic language. This seems to store and transcribe information just like natural DNA.</p> <p>According to Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist not involved with this work, this is a real conceptual breakthrough. It implies there’s nothing inherently special about the combination of chemicals in DNA and that synthetic life could be supported with this new kinda alphabet soup.</p> <p>Normally, as a pair of DNA strands twist around each other in a double helix, the chemicals on each strand pair up: A bonds to T, and C bonds with G. Apple tart, chocolate gateau.</p> <p>For a long time, scientists have tried to add more pairs of these chemicals, also known as bases, to this genetic code. For example, ‘unnatural’ bases were actually generated back in the 1980s. In 2014 a pair of unnatural bases was inserted into a living cell.</p> <p>But this is the first time it has been to demonstrated that the complementary ‘unnatural’ bases recognise and bind to each other, and that the double helix that they form actually maintains its structure.</p> <p>Finally, the team showed that the synthetic DNA could be faithfully transcribed into RNA. “The ability to store information is not very interesting for evolution,” says Steven Benner, the lead researcher of the study. “You have to be able to transfer that information into a molecule that does something.”</p> <p>The researchers call the resulting eight-letter language ‘hachimoji’ after the Japanese words for ‘eight’ and ‘letter’. S B P Z.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64829-hachimoji-dna.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00650-8">Nature</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>How gut bacteria controls gene expression through “interspecies communication”</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>What if I told you that free will is not a thing? It seems that we have the proof for this, at least at a metabolic level.</p> <p>A new study reveals for the first time that certain bacteria can secrete a compound called nitric oxide which is known to regulate gene expression. We’ve known that nitric oxide is involved in gene expression regulation for a while. This new study though, examined how bacteria producing NO might be using it to alter the expression of the genes of their host worm.</p> <p>Researchers describe this interaction between host a worm and a bacteria as a form of “interspecies communication.” In the lab they tested what would happen if a bacteria on which the worm feeds, produces excessive Nitric Oxide amounts. Turns out the genetic expression of the worm is altered since Nitric Oxide is a naturally occuring signaling molecule in gene expression and it ends up developing deformities and dying prematurely. In reality, this doesn’t happen, but now that such mechanism of interspecies genetic control is known, the scientists are setting off to discover if similar mechanisms are not causing some pathologies in humans too. With the massive expansion of the field of gut microbiota and the search for the healthy microbiome and the gut microbial community imbalances which contribute to development of diseases, this new piece of the puzzle sure makes things even more interesting.</p> <p>The study in question is published in the journal Cell under the title Regulation of MicroRNA Machinery and Development by Interspecies S-Nitrosylation.</p> <p><a href= "https://newatlas.com/gut-bacteria-gene-expression-dna-control/58595/"> New Atlas</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>World’s largest bee rediscovered</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Tune out if you have a phobia of large insects…..</p> <p>The world’s largest bee has been found once more in Indonesia. This is after decades that we thought it was lost to science forever.</p> <p>A single live female was found. The species is known as Wallace’s Giant Bee, named after famed naturalist Alfred Wallace who characterised it in 1858. It’s as big as an adult human thumb, if that means very much. More precisely it is over 4 cm long with a wingspan of 6cm. Something you’d hope would avoid your lemonade glass.</p> <p>Lovely – “It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog' of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore, to have real proof right there in front of us in the wild,” said natural history photographer, Clay Bolt, who took the first photos and video of the species alive. “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible. “</p> <p>Wallace described his namesake as a large wasp like black insect with immense jaws.</p> <p>There are no legal barriers to trading this bee. “By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation, we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion,” said Robin Moore, of Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47311186">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/largest-bee-rediscovered-Indonesia">Science News</a>,</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Where’d The Clouds Go?</strong></h3> <h4>Tom Di Liberto</h4> <p>There are a few things that I do when things get crazy to calm myself down. To remind myself to breathe and to put things into perspective (and I’d love to hear yours too!). Over the last several years, I’ve had a need to do this a lot. All I’ve had to do is turn on Twitter to see the latest dumpster fire to crank out a few curse words and an “Are you f***ing kidding me!”.</p> <p>One thing I love to do and is so entirely on brand for someone who studies the atmosphere like me, is to go outside and just look at the clouds for a bit. I’ll put animals to the shapes I’ll put grotesquely correct latin names to the clouds. And I’ll just sit and watch then blow away as if they take with them the anger I’ve been bottling up.</p> <p>Flash now to this week, I turn on Twitter because I’m a masochist and what do I see that pisses me off? Well, a brand new study that says that if we warm the planet 6˚C CLOUDS DISAPPEAR which then leads to an additional warming of 8˚C. WHAT?!!</p> <p>Okay, technically it’s just the type of clouds known as stratocumulus clouds, but those low clouds cover about 20% of the tropical oceans, and are everywhere in the subtropics too. These clouds cool the planet by shading the surface from the sun.</p> <p>Now clouds have always been a sort of X-Factor when it comes to global climate change. 56 million years ago an already warmer than now earth went into overdrive warming by an additional 6˚C during a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM (i just made up that pronunciation, I apologize). During this time, a massive global extinction event happened oceans became jacuzzi hot in the tropics, mammals became smaller to deal with less nutrition, and violent storms wrecked the planet massive flash floods and droughts occurred. It was an awful time to be alive, but the thing was, the PETM got hotter and more extreme than our climate models have theoretically predicted. And the reason that is becoming more evident is the impact from clouds.</p> <p>The process is simple enough. Warming leads to less clouds which means less sunlight reflected meaning a warming earth and boom a feedback loop. But this was all speculative. Research published in the journal Nature has taken a closer look at this. Tapio Schneider and colleagues used a high resolution climate model simulation to see how warming affecting stratocumlus clouds. They found that reduction in clouds could explain how temperatures got so warm during the PETM.</p> <p>Basically what Tapio Schneider of Cal Tech and Colleen Kaul and Kyle Pressel have done is highlight a major uncertainty that exists when we keep warming the planet. But again how did they do this? It’s hard to model clouds because they are much smaller than the grid cells in climate models. So Dr. Schneider and colleagues ran a roughly 25 km2 patch of stratocumulus clouds off California through their models for 2 million core-hours on supercomputers in Switzerland and California. The clouds disappeared for two main reasons, as Earth’s sky and surface get hotter it makes things more turbulent in the clouds mixing the moist air up and brining dry air down in a process called entrainment. This breaks up the cloud.</p> <p>Second, the greenhouse effect makes the upper atmosphere warmer and more humid, which means the cooling of the top of the clouds from above is not as efficient. This cooling is needed because it lets cold moist air sink in the cloud allowing warm moist air from the surface to rise. Less cooling thinner clouds.</p> <p>And just as interesting, they found a tipping point. Once CO2 level got to 1200 ppm (we are at 400 now but could reach 1200 in a worst case scenario during the next century) stratocumulus clouds disappear and temperatures rapidly increase by 8˚C in addition to the 4˚C from CO2 induced warming. Um… that’s really really really bad.</p> <p>As Natalia Wolchover puts it in her article in Quanta Magazine, imagine crocodiles in the Arctic and scorched mostly lifeless tropical regions. Not good.</p> <p>But before you go off worried that the clouds are disappearing please remember that if we even get close to that point there already would have been humongous and horrible climate change impacts already including rapidly rising seas and ice melt, a de-oxygenated ocean and super dooper heat waves. And as Brian Kahn says in Earther, more likely than not some group would have tried geoengineering at that point to makes things better. So while this research is important in finding out more about our climate don’t worry about the clouds. It’d be a sort sh*t cherry on top of globally warmed sh*t sundae.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.quantamagazine.org/cloud-loss-could-add-8-degrees-to-global-warming-20190225/"> Quanta</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, Sophie McManus, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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097: Opportunity Lost. InSight Gained.
<p><!-- wp:heading --></p> <p>During his radio show “The Saint” in 1947 actor Vincent Price delivered a message that is, unfortunately, as relevant today as it was 72 years ago.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:list --></p> <ul> <li>Ukraine's science revolution stumbles</li> <li>Opportunity lost</li> <li>InSight gained</li> <li>Life began to move 2.1 billion years ago</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> <li>And a special appearance by Mr. Vincent Price</li> </ul> <p><!-- /wp:list --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule, and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Ukraine’s science revolution stumbles five years on</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Around five years ago in February 2014 a revolution took place in Ukraine known as the “Euromaidan” revolution, or the “Revolution of Dignity”, which ended with change in the leadership.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The new leadership in Ukraine aligned with European Union. This raised hopes among scientists that more fruitful collaborations will form with the western world.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Initially this looked very promising. In 2015 Ukraine was able to apply for EU research programs and in 2016 a law was passed to strengthen science, technology and innovation.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>However, five years later the national science spending is still low and inefficiency in funding and low salaries is steering talented students away from pursuing careers in science.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Overall there is very less amount of money which goes to the research institutes, result of which is inability to buy state of the art equipment and updating top-class infrastructure. This limits their ability to compete with other EU countries.   </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This has resulted in very low funds coming their way from EU funded grants compared to other east European countries like Poland and Hungary.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU) which employs 15000 people over 160 institutes gets most share of the funds. A review of 94 institutes of NASU between 2016-2018 deemed that 21 of them were underperforming leading to closure of around 200 research departments. The institute which attracts most of the taxpayer money in Ukraine is criticized for being outdated and over staffed.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But things are changing and new funding mechanisms which will be in place this year will fund individual scientists and groups from universities over the country after peer review.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The research policy wing of the Ukrainian govt. is currently focusing on mapping out plans to make reforms to become more competitive in science. Just have to wait for the implementation of the same.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p> </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00512-3?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20190214&utm_source=nature_etoc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190214&sap-outbound-id=28F87D25C8D5FBA70AF45B3E6852B28ED2577F49"> Nature</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Opportunity Lost</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Following NASA is like a non-stop emotional rollercoaster. From the excitement of launches like TESS, or the upcoming James Webb Telescope; to the sad and inevitable ends. The Saturnine Fireworks that brought the demise of Cassini or Mars Rover: Opportunity’s less spectacular conclusion last week.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>We reported, last summer, that “Oppy” was hunkering down for planet wide martian dust storm which would render its solar panels useless. The storm finished in October and NASA have since made over 1000 attempts to re-establish contact, all to no avail. This means that the rover either suffered critical damage during the storms or its solar panels became too dust-coated to work.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But in the same way that Cassini surpassed all expectations, Oppy has been breaking records like an on-trend boyband. The original mission was due to last just 90 martian days (or sols) and cover a distance of a kilometer. At the end of the mission, Oppy has completed that first ever extraterrestrial marathon and lasted more than 5000 sols, some 15 Earth years, a feat that could leave a certain battery promoting pink bunny somewhat fearful for his job.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So what did Opportunity achieve? Geology. Lots of geology. It’s actually a little depressing that the best known geologist on the planet is an inoperative robot on another one. One it’s headline achievements was collecting a extra martian meteorite, which I guess is a bit like when I went to Japan but still headed into the first Starbucks that I saw.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So Opportunity has set the standard for future rovers. Two rovers are looking to break this record; NASA’s other Mars rover, Curiosity and China’s Moon rover Yutu 2. And possibly Brexit.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47231247">BBC News Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-opportunity-rover-obit-20190213-story.html"> LA Times</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Nasa's InSight mission: Mars 'mole' put on planet's surface</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Let’s talk about some more action happening on the red planet. Remember the robotic lander InSight? (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport).</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Insight was launched in May 2018 and landed on Mars surface in November 2018. The main purpose of this lander is to study the Mars seismic activity and monitor marsquakes.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>On the 12<sup>th</sup> of February NASA’s Insight tweeted “The gang’s all here: my seismometer, its cover, and now the heat flow probe! It’s no easy task to set up such sensitive instruments on the surface of another world. Together we’ll unlock some of Mars' deep secrets.”</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So, what is it talking about? The InSight lander has positioned second of its surface instruments on Mars. This is a heat flow probe also referred to as HP3. HP3 was picked off the deck of the lander with a robot arm placed next to the SEIS seismometer package, which was deployed in December.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Together with the on-board radio was experiment these sensor systems will be used to understand how the sub-surface rocks on the Mars are layered as well as understand present day surface activity.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So how does HP3 work? It incorporates a mole to drill down up to 5 meters below the surface. The SEIS system will listen for “marsquakes” and impacts of meteorites. The SEIS will also monitor HP3 while it drills and collect information about the underground materials in the surrounding local area.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I can’t wait to hear about all the insight we gather from the lander!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47227660">BBC News Science and Environment</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Fossils suggest life began to move 2.1 billion years ago</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. The oldest life on Earth could be as old as 4.2 billion years old. Microbial life is then all that we see until just 635 million years ago. This has led to the idea that life can start fairly easily, however the emergence of complex life is remarkably difficult and rare.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>But what took nature some 3 billion years to achieve doesn’t replicate in the laboratory. The shift to multicellular life has been recreated in yeast and multiple cases of multicellular activity in the most simple types of cells (prokaryotes) suggest that this leap may no be quite so difficult.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>So are we missing a piece of the puzzle? A team of international scientists believe so after their claim to have found the first evidence of life moving itself through our world.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>They have discovered fossilized pits and trails containing chemical signatures that have led them to the conclusion that a creature, like a slime mould, was travelling across the ancient seabed.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>What is so remarkable about this story is the date. 2.1 billion years ago. This is older than the first accepted complex cells (eukaryotes) that all complex multicellular life is made of, including us and slime moulds.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This means that the story of live of Earth may not be about its limiting inability to develop. 2.1 billion years ago there was a period of high oxygen content in the atmosphere. Shortly after the levels dropped again until that key moment 635 million years ago. If the conclusion of this team are correct, live may have been ready to go all along, it was just the inadequate accommodation that was to blame.]</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2193557-controversial-fossils-suggest-life-began-to-move-2-1-billion-years-ago/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://theconversation.com/how-the-oldest-evidence-of-movement-could-change-what-we-know-about-life-on-earth-111759"> The Conversation</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Let's get small!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2>Public Service Announcement</h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Vincent Price delivers a timeless message. His words are as meaningful today as they were in 1947.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a>, Overcast and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>You can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, and Chris MacAlister.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --></p>
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096: Greta Thunberg Brings the Heat
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Good news for those who like to sleep</li> <li>Good news for those who like to eat</li> <li>Good news for those who like to sh*t</li> <li>Good news for those who like to brush their teeth</li> <li>The Climate Lounge: Greta Thunberg Drops the Mic</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Rocking puts adults to sleep faster and makes slumber deeper</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>This is one of those findings in research that may seem obvious, but so often what appears to be obvious just ain’t so. This study seems to confirm…the obvious.</p> <p>I’m talking about sleep. Sweet sleep.</p> <p>This study from the 4 February issue of Current Biology confirms that being rocked to sleep, even for adults, seems to do the trick.</p> <p>According to Aurore Perrault of the University of Geneva a rocking bed could provide a benefit to people suffering from sleeping disorders, as well as older people.</p> <p>This wasn’t a huge study, so the results should be considered preliminary. The subjects were 18 men and women with an average age of 23.</p> <p>The test subjects spent three nights sawing logs in the lab.</p> <p>Their rocking beds were suspended from each corner and were pushed 10 cm back and forth every 4 seconds. The subjects reported that it was a pleasant sensation.</p> <p>As a result they fell asleep faster and reported sleeping better. Tests indicate they spent more time in deep sleep and didn’t wake up as often during the night.</p> <p>This sounds like my kind of lab test!</p> <p>Okay, they did have to memorize word pairs before going off to dreamland. Not surprisingly, they did better in memory tests in the morning after their rocking slumbers.</p> <p>Like I mentioned, this is an early study. Aurore Perrault said that their next step is to do these sleeping tests over a longer period of time.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/rocking-puts-adults-sleep-faster-and-makes-slumber-deeper"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191608-people-appear-to-sleep-much-better-when-rocked-throughout-the-night/">New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/mice-people-liked-be-rocked-sleep?rss=1">Science</a>,</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Finally a genetic link to weight loss?</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>So we’re waving bye-bye to January, the most depressing day of the year (Blue Monday) has already been and gone, and it probably wasn’t made any better if you still haven’t managed to shake those extra pounds that are still hanging around from the festive season.</p> <p>If this sounds familiar then I may have a bit of reassurance for you. It’s not your fault. Well, stuffing your face like an aspiring diabetic over Christmas was, but your struggle to lose that weight is not.</p> <p>A large, joint study of some 14,000 people in the UK has found that there are numerous genetic factors that appear to have a high correlation to whether people are overweight or underweight (but in a healthy way, so we’re not talking eating disorders).</p> <p>This study adds to the growing weight of evidence that it’s our genes, and not just our behaviour, that decide our weight.</p> <p>This would go a long way to explain why some people can eat whatever they like without gaining any weight. It would also explain middle aged spread when you consider that different genes often get activated at different times of life.</p> <p>But aside from taking some guilt away, there are more practical outcomes from this study. Once we start to understand the physical processes at play here, this then opens the possibilities for new treatments.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190124141538.htm">Science Daily</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Fecal Transplants Benefit From Super Donors</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>Over the past couple of years we’ve covered several stories on fecal transplants.</p> <p>But…in case you missed those stories, let me give you a review on what a fecal transplant is. Don’t want anyone falling behind.</p> <p>In particular, persons who are infected with Clostridium difficile can be helped, sometimes dramatically by a fecal transplant. Often, people get infected with C. diff when they’ve been taking antibiotics. The antibiotics can do their work, but often leave a person’s intestinal flora devastated. C. diff can then proliferate and the patient can wind up with some awful intestinal distress that can be maddeningly persistent.</p> <p>However, for some other types of gut infections the results have been inconclusive.</p> <p>In a new review published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Biology researchers taken a new look at this therapy and found something quite interesting.</p> <p>Super-donors.</p> <p>It seems that some people’s poop have a high success rate in helping restore normal function for people with ailments like inflammatory bowel disease.</p> <p>And as we’ve learned over the years our digestive systems is not only for digesting food. We’re discovering more and more that our digestive system affects, and even moderate other things like our immune systems.</p> <p>“The last two decades have seen a growing list of medical conditions associated with changes in the microbiome — bacteria, viruses and fungi, especially in the gut,” says senior author Dr Justin O’Sullivan of the University of Auckland.</p> <p>According to senior author Dr Justin O’Sullivan of the University of Auckland, “We know already that changes to the gut microbiome can contribute to disease, based on studies in germ-free mice as well as clinical improvement in human patients following restoration of the gut microbiome by transplanting stool from a healthy donor.”</p> <p>The typical success rate for recurrent diarrheal infections is over 90% with fecal transplants, but for things like inflammatory bowel disease the results are closer to 20%.</p> <p>But that’s with average donors.</p> <p>Super donors have been shown to have double that success rate.</p> <p>O’Sullivan and his team reviewed fecal transplantation trials for clues to the origin of super-donors, or more specifically, why they are super donors.</p> <p>In particular, super donor stool tends to have high levels of  ‘keystone species’. These are bacteria which produce chemicals whose lack in the host gut contributes to disease.</p> <p>Also, the balance of other species seems to have an effect the retention of keystone species.</p> <p>Ultimately, O’Sullivan and colleagues acknowledge that super-donors may not fully account for successful fecal transplantation.</p> <p>Dietary intake, viruses, and the disposition of the subject’s immune system likely all play a role in the success of fecal transplants.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00002/full"> Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology</a>, <a href= "https://scienceblog.com/505437/fecal-transplants-benefit-from-super-donors/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29">Science Blog</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3><strong>Gum disease–causing bacteria could spur Alzheimer’s</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>I’m going to head right back to guilt again now because, for me, there is no health care professional who inspires a greater sense of guilt than the dentist. Sitting in that chair to the repeating chorus of “You should be flossing more!”</p> <p>Well, now they could be about to get even worse!</p> <p>Whilst poor oral health has long been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s been hard to work out whether this cause or effect. After all, I don’t have Alzheimer’s and even I forget to floss every once in a while.</p> <p>Now whilst I have heard of the gum disease gingivitis, it was only when researching this story that I heard about the bacteria that causes it, <em>Porphyromonas gingivalis</em>.</p> <p>This story is that the evidence is now shifting towards poor oral health being a cause now that gingivalis has been discovered in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers. Some argue that the characteristic plaques that form in brains during Alzheimer’s are signs of an immune response to an bacterial infection in the brain.</p> <p>Whilst people are sceptical that this is the sole factor that contributes to Alzheimer’s it is becoming increasing accepted that the disease does have a microbial element.</p> <p>So just be warned that dentists will now have another thing to make you feel awful about. After all, I don’t have Alzheimer’s and even I forget to floss every once in a while.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/gum-disease-causing-bacteria-could-spur-alzheimer-s?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3333">Science Advances</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Greta Thunberg Brings the Heat!</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>I love kids. I have two of ‘em. And most people after meeting me say that I have the humor of one.</p> <p>One of the greatest things about kids is that they don’t take shit from anyone and they say what’s on their mind. In the US, it’s kids leading a massive movement for gun control Marching For Our Lives. Globally, it’s a youth movement to force action on climate change. And in my house, it’s a courageous stand against the tyranny of using the potty</p> <p>I could talk about any of these burgeoning movements (and I will in the future) but for this Climate Lounge I want to talk about the bravest, and most badass woman who is crushing things recently. Sixteen year old Swede Greta Thunberg. Greta became world famous after going on strike in her native Sweden every day during school hours, standing on the steps to Parliament demanding the government take radical action to deal with climate change. And forgive me for a second for saying radical because for the youth of this world, there is nothing radical about it since it’s that climate changed world they are inheriting. Radical is sensible.</p> <p>Since then she’s been everywhere (but not by plane as she refuses to fly). She’s given TED talks, and has been to the major climate conferences. And She calls bullsh*t OUT!</p> <p>She called out the common argument in Sweden that says “listen guys, everyone here agrees that climate change is a big problem which is why it’s not a political issue”.  </p> <p>She literally explained how Sweden is no role model, “When you think about ‘the future’ today, you don’t think beyond the year 2050. By then I will, in the best case, not even have lived half my life. What happens next?”<br /> <br /> “The year 2078 I will celebrate my 75th anniversary. If I have children and grandchildren they may want to celebrate that day with me. Maybe I will tell them about you? How do you want to be remembered?”</p> <p>BOOM!</p> <p>Fast forward to the meetings of the global elites, err, i mean egotistical billionaires, err I mean World Economic Forum. This is a place where 1,500 planes flew to Davos, Switzerland so a bunch of super-rich can talk about, among other things, how to deal with climate change. Sigh.</p> <p>Greta was in attendance and gave, according to CNN, an impromptu speech during a lunch panel that included Bono and Will.I.AM, for some Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, former Goldman Sachs head Gary Cohn, and numerous other bankers, investors, and grossly rich people. And she brought pure FIRE.  </p> <p>I quote: “Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created, but that is not true, because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame,” Thunberg said “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”</p> <p>She said this TO THEIR FACES. At the same time in Brussels 35,000 students marched for climate, in no small part due to Greta’s example.</p> <p>The next day she participated in a formal panel on climate disruption and continued to drop truth bombs. I really have nothing to add to what she already said so let me end by simply repeating the end to her speech.</p> <p>“We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility.</p> <p>“Adults keep saying ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t what your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”</p> <p>“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if your house in on fire. Because it is”</p> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/25/our-house-is-on-fire-greta-thunberg16-urges-leaders-to-act-on-climate"> The Guardian</a>  <a href= "https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/25/europe/greta-thunberg-davos-world-economic-forum-intl/index.html">CNN</a>  <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-fifteen-year-old-climate-activist-who-is-demanding-a-new-kind-of-politics">New Yorker</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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095: Gardening on the Moon, and Anti-Vax Movement Listed as Threat to World Health
<div class="secondline-themes-blog-single-excerpt"> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Anti-vaccination movement hits the big-time</li> <li>Gardening on the moon</li> <li>Silencing a type of brain cell can reduce pain</li> <li>Mitochondria kicking bacteria butts</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule, and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Anti-Vaccine Movement Joins Ebola, Drug Resistance on List of Top Global Threats</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>Every year the World health organization (WHO) comes up with a list of issues which threaten global health. This year they’ve laid out a list of 10 problems which need attention from the WHO, and their health partners.  </p> <p>Some of the issues in the list were pandemic flu, dengue, climate change, and superbugs. But guess who has also made it to the list? Anti-vaxxers!</p> <p>The anti-vaccine movement, which has mostly been prevalent in the United States, is now an international concern and poses a significant threat to the whole world. The WHO’s list refers to it as “vaccine hesitancy.”</p> <p>A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of unvaccinated children under 35 months age had gone up four-fold between 2001-2005.</p> <p>A number of people refuse vaccination or are reluctant to get vaccinated due to complacency, lack of confidence or poor access to vaccines.  There are about 18 states in the US that allow vaccine exemptions ‘conscientious objector' or ‘philosophical/personal beliefs'.</p> <p>A survey from mid-2018 showed that vaccination support had fallen by 10% in the US in last 10 years.</p> <p>Vaccine hesitancy can pose a serious threat to herd immunity. So by choosing not to vaccinate children (and adults) for preventable diseases you are putting the entire population at risk.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64523-anti-vaccine-movement-top-global-threats-who.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/20/health/who-10-threats-to-global-health/index.html?utm_term=image&utm_source=twCNN&utm_content=2019-01-20T21%3A24%3A00&utm_medium=social">CNN</a>, <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/world-health-organization-who-un-global-health-air-pollution-anti-vaxxers-1292493?adbsc=social_20190116_2668011&adbid=1085586596303298560&adbpl=tw&adbpr=17819033">Newsweek</a></p> <h3><strong>Growing Cotton on the Moon</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>That’s it! The Chinese did it again – quietly working on something and then BANG! This time the bang was more of a very little “pop” as a cotton seed sprouted on the surface of the Moon.</p> <p>This is the first time plants have sprouted there. The leading scientist of this experiment, which was on board the latest Chinese lander which landed on the far side of the moon, Liu Hanlong said “Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base”.</p> <p>The Chinese space programme is actually planning the establishment of a lunar base with manned crew in the 30's and this is one of the biggest steps to maintain living conditions and certain level of independency from Earth of such crew.</p> <p>They not only grew a plant on the Moon, they also were the first one to have a plant die on the moon. Unfortunately, the cotton sprout did not last long. The lunar lander has to power down for the duration of the lunar night (14 earth days), which means that with no oxygen, temperature or water control the seedling had no chance of survival. Bummer! Still – next up, I hope, is rice cause I ain’t going anywhere if there’s no sushi!</p> <h3><strong>Silencing brain cells in mice can make them no longer care about pain</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>Imagine that you accidentally burn your hand while making a pan of brownies. Ouch, that’s painful. Now in such a scenario, the brain will notice two things. One that there was a burning sensation and two that it was pretty unpleasant one.</p> <p>In a study conducted at Stanford University, a group led by Dr. Gregory Scherrer has identified brain cells that are responsible for the negative emotions of pain.</p> <p>There are pain receptors all over our body and while nerves detect pain there is no emotional distress until it reaches the brain.  The researchers identified an ensemble of cells in the amygdala region of the brain. The amygdala is associated with emotion and fear and also acts as an on/off switch for pain aversion.</p> <p>Their experimental set up to identify these specific cells in the amygdala was very neat. They engineered cells in mouse brains such that they would light up when they were active. On pain stimulus only certain cells lighted up in the amygdala.</p> <p>They also used a miniscope attached to the mouse’s head to monitor the activity of cells in the amygdala. This way they identified that a group of cells called the basolateral were active when mice were exposed to some kind of uncomfortable stimuli.</p> <p>To further confirm if these cells were indeed associated with the emotional aspect of the pain the scientists made these cells inactive, and observed the mice. They made them walk on a track, which was warmer/ colder than normal. The mice with the inactive basolateral cells seemed undeterred by the temperatures compared to the normal mice.</p> <p>This is really cool and more than that a significant discovery. Chronic pain is real problem and there is no good treatment. Patients are prescribed opioids for pain management which is a driver of the ongoing opioid epidemic. The scientists who led this study hope that this could be new avenue to treat pain. They want to study if any drugs can be developed to target these basolateral cells in the amygdala for treating pain.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191174-silencing-brain-cells-in-mice-can-make-them-no-longer-care-about-pain/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2019/01/researchers-discover-the-brain-cells-that-make-pain-unpleasant.html">Stanford</a></p> <h3><strong>Mitochondria Play an Unexpected Role in Killing Bacteria</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>At least once in our lives most of us had to use antibiotics to control and kill a bacterial infection. But the truth is – there is <em>so much</em> in our own body to fight infections, that you gotta give kudos to the bugs that actually succeed in making us ill!</p> <p>Obviously I’m talking about our immunity. But did you know how many different parts of our body are involved in the immune response at a given time? Now scientists inform on yet another tool our organisms use to fight bacteria – our mitochondria.</p> <p>This info just came out as a peer reviewed scientific article in the Journal Cell Host Microbe and it shows how tiny bubbles of subcellular size are released by the mitochondria when there’s an infection in the body. The mitochondria normally are full of reactive oxygen species (the things that scientists think make us old, ill or messed up in a number of ways). Normally the mitochondria and the cells in general are very thoroughly cleaning up those reactive oxygen species (or ROSes) so they don’t damage the components of the cell. Which is why the body produces the well-know and often-fad-pseudoscience-abused <em>antioxydants</em>.</p> <p>Turns out though that the mitochondria are keeping a small stock or are ready to quickly produce more of those ROSes when a bacterial cell attacks the body. These ROSes get sent via these minute bubbles (think of them like little hand grenades) to the phagosome.</p> <p>The phagosomes are another type of cellular compartment which are usually the first encounter of the bacterial cell after it enters the host organism cell. So the bacteria gets engulfed in these vesicles, full of nasty super destructive and corrosive chemicals and gets… Well… Destroyed.</p> <p>As a result, if this is happening for example in an immune cell, the different leftovers of the “neutralised bacteria” like proteins, sugars, DNA and RNA and lipids, can be used by the host cell to signal to the immune system what exactly the invader is and help it then recognise it faster and fight it better.</p> <p>Kudos to the first author Dr Basel H. Abuaita for finding out the origin of these ROSes in the phagosome – this has been a mystery for a while!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.the-scientist.com/the-literature/mitochondria-play-an-unexpected-role-in-killing-bacteria-65246?utm_campaign=TS_DAILY+NEWSLETTER_2019&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8CGoDXMrmQO1HlfG5AtecnqqBd5RjsFW05irnfELjMRsOq-7X4xC5_jDfutBS9dRZMsTwBuzXkpsSko5w5d6xln6cqwnr99bN4H34Pw8UVP-SEI_s&utm_content=69040235&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=69040235"> The Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>If You Thought 2018 Was Bad, Just Be Glad It Wasn’t 536</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>Today’s Lounge story has us looking on the bright side of things. Yes, it may seem like 2019 is just as much a dumpster fire as 2018. Yes, there are lots of bad things going on. BUT, there are also lots of good things going on, led by great people. So don’t lose faith people. Oh also, um… just as an FYI… actualllllllllllllllllllly the year 536 was a million times worse.</p> <p>Let me paint a bleak picture. According to Michael McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for Science of the Human Past (what an awesome title for something, btw), “536 was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year.” In 536, a mysterious fog enveloped Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia in darkness for 18 months! I get annoyed for how long it’s dark during winter! This darkness was noted by historians at the time as “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year.” You all obviously know who wrote those words right. I mean, who doesn’t know Procopius when they hear him.</p> <p>As a result temperatures in the summer of 536 fell around 2C, and it started the coldest decade in the last 2300 years. Snow fell in China, crops failed people died. In 541, the plague came to the Roman port of Pelusium in Egypt starting the Plague of Justinian which killed 1/3 to ½ of the eastern Roman Empire.</p> <p>None of this was unknown of course as tree ring studies from the 90s showed that 540 was particularly cold. What WAS unknown is what caused this extremely dark period in the Dark Ages. And that brings us to the climate lounge. An analysis of ice from a Swiss glacier by an intrepid team of scientists include McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski at the Climate Change Institute of the University of Maine has found the culprit in a study published in the journal Antiquity. A ridiculously huge and long lasting volcanic eruption in Iceland which threw so much ash into the northern hemisphere in early 536 to darken the sky. This eruption was followed by two more in 540 and 547 to run ashy salt in the climate impacting wound.</p> <p>What type of wound given a plague, freezing temperatures and a lack of food?  Well Europe entered a period of economic stagnation that last a hundred years to 640. How can we be so specific? Scientists discovered another signal in the ice, an increase in airborne lead marking the resurgence of silver mining.</p> <p>Ok, I haven’t really explained how scientists used ice to determine an icelandic volcano was the culprit. When volcanoes erupt they throw sulfur, bismuth, and other junk high into the air, where they cool the planet. Scientists used these elements as tracers in the ice record from Greenland and Antarctica to know that a volcano caused this cold period. But they couldn’t nail down a location. Mayewski and crew used an ice core from the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in the Swiss alps and a laser to carve out 120 micron slivers of ice that represented a few days or weeks of snowfall. In that ice Grad student Laura hartman found microscopic particles of volcanic glass. After finding the chemical fingerprint of the glass, they found they resembled glass found earlier in lakes and peat bogs in Europe and a Greenland ice core. And THOSE particles resembled volcanic rocks from Iceland. And Voila.</p> <p>A big volcano, and unfortunate wind pattern lead to a 100 year freeze in europe's economy. Never underestimate mother nature.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/why-536-was-worst-year-be-alive"> Science</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p> <strong>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</strong></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, Overcast, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a>, Stitcher and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>Check out our app in the Apple app store. It’s totally free. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p> </div>
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094: Fast Radio Bursts, Nobel Laureate inserts foot in mouth, and more...
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>First use of Bluetooth discovered</li> <li>Some new fast radio bursts discovered</li> <li>Another case of foot in mouth</li> <li>News of a proper space rocket</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister, and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3>Blue tooth reveals unknown female artist from medieval times</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>This story has, like the light from Rigel, travelled to us over the centuries to provide a small but noticeable illumination to our modern world.</p> <p>Our story starts with a team of intrepid scientists making an heroic survey of ancient tooth plaque. A movie premise that is bound to get you popcorn munching and creating some tooth plaque all of your very own.</p> <p>Studies of this tartar can provide us with a many clues as to the otherwise forgotten lives of people who WILL be direct ancestors of many of us.</p> <p>This dental bacterial film has been found to contain DNA, living bacteria, textiles, pollen, food and even tiny insect wings; which I’m really hoping don’t qualify under the heading of food. Although, this was a time where the drinking water was reputed for its tendency to contain “creeping things”!</p> <p>Like any great story, this team made a discovery that was not expected. Blue tooth; well blueish tooth; well teeth with bits of blue on them to be precise. Blue in the form of lapis lazuli, a name that is embarrassingly sexy considering that it literally translates into english as Blue Stone! And that’s exactly what it is. But lapis lazuli is so important because blue is a rare pigment to come by, so this rock was THE blue pigment and was therefore highly valuable.</p> <p>The most likely explanation for the blue spangled teeth was that they belonged to an artist. Books from these days were all handwritten and were commonly decorated with beautiful and intricate illustrations. An artist moistening the tip of their brush with saliva may well have deposited pigment on their teeth. This theory is bolstered by the discovery being made on the grounds of a religious site, as monks were the people who performed most of this work.</p> <p>But the big surprise was that this person was not a monk. SHE couldn’t have been. She was a nun. This may not seem like a big deal today, but the jobs that women were allowed to do all of those years ago were very restrictive and working on intellectual materials like books was not previously considered to be within the remit. It may be that tartar, of all things, is helping us to rewrite history!]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dental-tartar-identify-woman-medieval-book-painter"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/09/science/10-archaeology-teeth-painting.html">New York Times</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Thirteen New Fast Radio Bursts Discovered</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>It’s finally happening – they are speaking to us! If aliens were to radio-signal us they’ve found probably the friendliest nation to contact!</p> <p>Enough of stereotypes – Canadian scientists have detected fast radio bursts from a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away. Thirteen of them! Coincidence? I don’t think so!</p> <p>This is only the second time an observation like this has been made, and the first one was done by a different telescope.</p> <p>Scientists have no clue what this might be, but just to calm the spirits down – one of the most notable other times when astronomers detected frequent radio bursts in a pattern – we also thought it was aliens, and it turned out to be pulsars. Which if you ask me is even cooler!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46811618">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/second-repeating-fast-radio-burst-tracked-distant-galaxy">Science News</a></p> <h3>Lab Boots James Watson, Citing ‘Unsubstantiated and Reckless’ Remarks</h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>It’s often said that you should never meet your heroes for fear of being disappointed. But sometimes people save you the trouble and broadcast their cockwombledry for the world to see.</p> <p>Enter James Watson; the walking lesson on why admiring the achievement does not mean that you also have to admire the man!</p> <p>To many, James Watson is the pioneering hero of Watson & Crick fame who brought us the landmark discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. But to an increasing demographic he is that unbearable bigoted dinosaur who often opens his mouth and leaves everyone else wishing that he hadn’t.</p> <p>Can you guess where I’m going with this yet?</p> <p>People have been in no doubt about Watson's general attitudes to those he considers inferior. Rosalind Franklin's overlooked contributions to the discovery of the double helix may not have been solely down to Watson, but the disrespectful account that he gives of her in his book “The Double Helix” leaves no readers in any doubts as to his opinions.</p> <p>Having already been expelled from his chancellorship of New York's Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in 2007 for classic points of view such as being “gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says, not really”</p> <p>Watson said that while he hopes everyone is equal,  “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.</p> <p>Wow!</p> <p>Watson did manage to limit the damage at the time by apologising for his statements but the same institution who took action against him in 2007 has now revoked all titles and honours that were once bestowed on him after his comments on a recent documentary.</p> <p>When asked if his opinions had changed on the matter he said “Not at all. I would like for them to have changed, that there be new knowledge that says that your nurture is much more important than nature. But I haven’t seen any knowledge. And there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic”</p> <p>In case anyone is in doubt, I would like to clarify that it is not. According to genetics there is not even any empirical support for the idea of race. More genetic variation is seen within races rather than between them.</p> <p>Yes middle aged white academic men do perform best in IQ tests but that is mainly because IQ tests were invented by middle aged white academic men. It doesn't mean that white men are more intelligent, it just means that they are better at IQ tests, which are already highly questionable as to their effectiveness at measuring what is really a very abstract collection of skills!</p> <p>Rant over, now breathe. With Tom not here I don’t want to be the host who takes over screaming into the void. And I’d just like to remind everyone that you have not been listening to the Ass-Hole of the Month feature. This is just the news!]</p> <p>Note about the Asshole of the Month that I’ll share with audience: the reason we’re not doing that is because it has become redundant during these years of the Trump Presidency.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/science/watson-dna-genetics.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/13/james-watson-scientist-honors-stripped-reprehensible-race-comments">The Guardian</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3>Elon Musk Reveals SpaceX's New Retro Test Rocket</h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>Elon Musk keeps trying to bring us to Mars and this time, he’s doing it in retro style.</p> <p>SpaceX revealed a model of a sub-orbital flight craft for vertical take off and landing which looks like one from the 1950’s film Destination Moon.</p> <p>The prototype should be ready for test-flight in June, so keep your eyes open, people.</p> <p>SpaceX also plans the development of an orbital ship of the same class, which will be taller and with slightly different geometry to facilitate actually going into orbit. Both are the new generation space-craft from SpaceX which inherit the work done by Falcon Heavy, and are from a production line called StarShip.</p> <p>To be honest, the rocket looks a bit too smooth to look real, but who knows – we might have had the right design already in the 50s’ science fiction movie.</p> <p><a href= "https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/11/elon-musk-shows-off-the-assembled-starship-test-rocket/"> TechCrunch</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2190418-elon-musk-reveals-starship-test-rocket-that-looks-like-1950s-sci-fi/">New Scientist</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p> <strong>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</strong></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>We are delighted to have Mary McMorris as our newest supporter on Patreon.</p> <p>Thank you, Mary.</p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and Nevena Hristozova.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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093: Cricket Diplomacy
<p>We ring in 2019 with news of lovelorn crickets, the far side of the moon, food allergies, and a new branch on a big tree. But the proverbial elephant in the room is the ongoing shutdown of the United States' government.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The far side of the moon</li> <li>Food allergies?</li> <li>Remember those reports of sonic assaults by the Cuban government against US embassy staff? We have some surprise information about that.</li> <li>We close with some discussion about a new kingdom of life and what it really means</li> </ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>What Does China Want To Do On The Far Side Of The Moon?</strong></h3> <h4>JD Goodwin</h4> <p>On the 3rd of January China’s Chang’e 4 lunar explorer landed on the far side of the moon. This is the first time we’ve done a soft landing on that obscure part of the moon.</p> <p>Okay, so let’s talk about <em>why</em> the far side of the moon is so interesting.</p> <p>The moon is tidally locked to earth, that is, it doesn’t rotate in relation to our planet. We only see the one side of the moon, whether it’s illuminated or not.</p> <p>The far side is also geologically very different. The crust is much thicker and older, and consequently it has been struck with more rocks and asteroids.</p> <p>On <em>our</em> side of the moon we can see those dark areas, called mare. There are very few of those on the moon’s far side.</p> <p>Chang’e touched down in a 180km crater that itself is within another huge basin, the South Pole-Aitken Basin. This basin was formed when an asteroid perhaps 500km across slammed into the moon billions of years ago.  A big hole in a big hole.</p> <p>Putting the lander at this location should give it access to some of the moon’s oldest rocks…kind of like being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And the lander is gonna examine and do science on these rocks.</p> <p>They also have a lunar penetrating radar which can map out and study the subsurface down to a depth of 100m.</p> <p>Being on the far side of the moon will also give the researchers a chance to look into the universe without being hindered by light from the earth. So to take advantage of this the lander has a low frequency radio telescope that will allow it to look at a frequency band that we can’t use on earth because of electromagnetic interference.</p> <p>And the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry experiment. This experiment was created by researchers in Germany. It’s goal is to look at radiation on the moon in great detail so that humans will be able to shield themselves on future missions.</p> <p>So, watch this space!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46748602">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>Many People Who Claim to Have a Food Allergy Actually Don’t</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>We probably all know people with a food allergy. Some of these allergies can be deadly, others more of an irritation or inconvenience. The most prevalent food allergens among U.S. adults are shellfish (affecting 7.2 million adults), milk (4.7 million), peanut (4.5 million), tree nut (3 million), fin fish (2.2 million), egg (2 million), wheat (2 million), soy (1.5 million), and sesame (.5 million).</p> <p>There’s some surprising news out this week that in fact many people who believe they have an allergy…don’t.</p> <p>A study was carried out in the US on 40,000 adults. 19% of these people stated they had an allergy to a type of food, whereas the researchers found that only 10% of them actually had an allergy. Bizarre!</p> <p>Lead study author Dr Ruchi Gupta is a paediatrics professor at the Northwestern University Freiburg school of medicine. Dr Gupta stated that symptoms may reflect food intolerances rather than true allergies.</p> <p>Genuine food allergies can of course be dangerous and should always be considered. But it seems as though a lot of us are simply intolerant, or deciding that we are, rather than really allergic.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64423-food-allergies-overestimated.html"> Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>The Sounds That Haunted U.S. Diplomats in Cuba? Lovelorn Crickets, Scientists Say</strong></h3> <h4>JD Goodwin</h4> <p>There were a lot of things happening back in late 2016. Lost in all that noise was the story of American diplomats who suddenly became ill in Havana, Cuba. </p> <p>They reported hearing various types of unpleasant sounds. This happened in housing maintained by the Cuban government as well as in hotel rooms. </p> <p>The personnel actually showed symptoms consistent with brain injury, although no head trauma of any kind was shown. </p> <p>U.S. officials <em>immediately</em> suspected that the Cuban government was behind this. </p> <p>Well…new research suggests there many be another reason. </p> <p>Crickets. Really loud ones. </p> <p>Recordings were made of these so-called attacks, and were released by the Associated Press. </p> <p>So some researchers took that recording and discovered that its parameters lined up perfectly with the Indies short-tailed cricket.</p> <p>And according to the researchers their findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, <em>do</em> provide strong evidence that crickets were indeed making the sound on the recording. </p> <p>Now that doesn’t rule out any nefarious activity by the Cuban government or others. But blaming the Cubans is not looking good at this moment. </p> <p>This was no small incident. The U.S. government expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington as a result of this. </p> <p>All the while the Cuban government insisted that it had nothing to do with any of this. In fact, they even worked with U.S. investigators to determine the cause of the health issues.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/04/science/sonic-attack-cuba-crickets.html"> New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Recently, researchers found a rare microbe called a hemimastigote in a remote area of Canada. Analysis of its DNA led to the startling finding that this organism represents a different class of life altogether – its genetic material was distinct from any animal, microbial, plant, fungal or protozoan. This discovery therefore represents a new and startling branch in the tree of life.</p> <p>The PhD student who made this finding is Yana Eglit. When she was hiking in Novia Scotia back in 2016 she stopped to take a sample of the soil (she terms this behaviour a ‘professional hazard’). Back in the lab she soaked it in water and kept an eye on it through the microscope for a few weeks. Eventually she noticed movement, from a single elongated cell in the sample, covered with flagella. She thought it might be a hemimastigote and the lab all got involved to investigate further. The subsequent work showed that this organism represented its own pocket of life as we know it.</p> <p>The reason the researchers can be sure this represents a distinct branch lies in technology. Single-cell transcriptomics has revolutionized such studies – this approach enables researchers to sequence large numbers of genes from just one cell. For for hard-to-study organisms like hemimastigotes, single-cell transcriptomics can produce genetic data of a quality previously reserved for more abundant cells, making deeper genomic comparisons finally possible.</p> <p>The team sequenced more than 300 genes, and <a href= "http://www.ettemalab.org/laura-eme/">Laura Eme</a>, a postdoc at Uppsala University in Sweden, modelled how those genes evolved to infer a classification for hemimastigotes. “We were fully expecting them to fall within one of the existing supergroups,” she explained. Lab members were instead stunned to find that hemimastigotes fit nowhere on the tree. They represented their own distinct lineage.</p> <p>It  has been termed ‘the sort of result you hope to see once in a career’ by lead scientist Alistair Simpson, of Dalhousie University.  </p> <p>The tree of life has changed an awful lot in the last couple of decades, and it seems likely this change will continue. Darwin would be fascinated!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-a-newfound-kingdom-means-for-the-tree-of-life-20181211/"> Quanta Magazine</a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>The Lounge is SHUT DOWN!</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>Podcast listeners, the Climate Lounge piece you are trying to access is not available at this time due to a lapse in appropriation…and judgment…and decency.</p> <p>[silence]</p> <p>Ok, just kidding. That only applies to small things like the place I work and 800,000 federal employees of the United States. Yay. You all might be thinking, “This seems dumb, why are they doing this? Or perhaps “What does this mean for science”. (more likely the first one but I’ll talk about both.</p> <p>For listeners outside the United states who might not be aware of what’s going on in the US right now, in late December, funding ran out for parts of the federal government. How could this happen? Well, the US government was on the verge of funding everything including a unanimous vote in the US Senate. Then Fox and Friends and other far right media folks got pissy and the president decided he wasn’t going sign the bill without funding for an idiotic (and environmentally disastrous) border wall. And shut the government down. This meant that hundreds of thousands of workers either were forced to stay at home and not work, or forced to work, all without pay. The problem being of course, that while most folks will get paid for the time they missed, bills are still due when they are due.</p> <p>But this is a science podcast so let’s briefly touch on the science and environmental impacts. For one, the national parks have been kept open, but with a hugely reduced or non-existent staff. This means that folks can come in and do whatever they want. And they are. Trash is overflowing, toilets clogged, human waste left…anywhere and trespassing aplenty. This will have long-lasting impacts on the natural environments that draws people to the parks in the first place.  </p> <p>Science-wise, for folks like me, the largest conference of meteorologists in the country, the meeting of the American Meteorological Society is taking place sans 700 federal employees, meaning the schedule took a huge hit as tons of talks were scrapped, meetings impacted, and conversations silenced.</p> <p>But some folks (dumb folks) would say oh that just’s a trip BOONDOGGLE! Not folks who listen to this podcast of course, but some folks. To those people I also will note that scientists are not allowed to check experiments that are currently ongoing, potentially ruining them. They are not allowed to perform observations, collect data, conduct tests, or share their results. That fieldwork trip? Unless it was forward funded, CANCELED. We are legally not allowed to science. Heck, we can’t READ science in some cases too with proposals left unread.</p> <p>For me, I’m lucky for now. My contract is forward funded so I can work, from home, as long as I have tasks to do. But geez is it hard. I’m still making forecasts for major climate patterns with global implications knowing that if something breaks, a model doesn’t run, a product can get the right data, that there will be no one to fix it because they are furloughed. I know that even with a good forecast, our ability to do outreach on what it means will be hampered.</p> <p>It’s all so very very very stupid. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue my 2018 tradition into 2019, by screaming into the void.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p> <strong>The latest science news in quiz form. Can you beat the Blue Streak team?</strong></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. </p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Sophie McManus, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. </p> <p>And remember…follow the science!</p>
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092: Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich
<p><!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The best in science communication tells a compelling story, and this week we have a great one! Gabriel Montejo-Kovacevich joins us to talk about her research in Central and South America studying butterflies of the genus Heliconius, also known as longwings. She shares her story of the hard work and the gratifying rewards of field research in challenging conditions. Gabriela is at the front line of science, and we are grateful to her for sharing her adventure and her research with us.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:list --></p> <ul> <li>Science News of the Week</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> <li>Interview: Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich of the University of Cambridge</li> </ul> <p><!-- /wp:list --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Sophie McManus</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>NASA’s Voyager 2 Probe Leave the Solar System</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>“Houston, I’m out of here” is probably what Voyager 2 said when it officially left the Solar System and is now roaming in the deep space between stars.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The craft was launched before Voyager 1. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it was set on a different trajectory that Voyager 1, so it left our star space 6 years after Voyager 1 did, hence it was already originally planned as Voyager 2.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Why is this a big deal? For many reasons:</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:list --></p> <ul> <li>The twin crafts are the furthest existing man-made objects in the universe. They are (at the time of the recording) at more than 21 billion kilometres away.</li> <li>They are the first man-made objects to leave the solar system.</li> <li>They keep working - this is how we knew they have left the solar system - the instruments on board are measuring the density of solar particles and when a drop in this density was observed, scientists knew they are out! It was a bit of a strange experiment, since the astronomers were expecting them to <em>stop</em> detecting stuff, which is a hard thing to anticipate since at the edges of the system stuff is very far from each other to begin with.</li> <li>The Voyagers upped the bets of everyone - their original mission was to explore the outer planets of the solar system, but they just kept going and going and their instruments kept working so the project scientists were just not going to quit until the Voyagers did so they kept collecting data and analysing it.</li> </ul> <p><!-- /wp:list --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Next up for the twins is a minefield of comets loosely gravitationally bound to our Sun. Hopefully they won’t meet their demise there, but even if they do - they’ve done so much more than anyone expected from them that it’d be a well deserved rest.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>If they survive that hurdle, they will be orbiting the center of our galaxy for billions of years and it will take Voyager 1 another 40,000 years to reach another star system despite its looming speed of 61,000 kilometres per hour. </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46502820">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-voyager-2-interstellar-space-20181210-story.html"> LA Times</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>The Great Barrier Reef is Fighting Back</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>We’ve spoken at length about the horrific bleaching happening on the GBR, the world’s largest coral reef. Coral reefs are vast colonies of hard coral, an organism which extracts calcium carbonate from seawater to construct a limestone structure for protection. The tiny animals in coral are clear. They get their bright reds and vivid purples from colourful algae called zooxanthellae that live in their cells, providing the oxygen that the corals need to grow — albeit slowly. Coral reefs, which by some estimates support a quarter of all ocean life, are harmed by warming oceans. Bleaching occurs when the ocean temperature rises. If prolonged, bleaching causes coral to die. And this was the case last year and the year before last. The 2,300 kilometre long reef was severely bleached by back-to-back heatwaves in early 2016 and early 2017, causing half the coral to die.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Aerial surveys led by researcher Terry Hughes at James Cook University show that the Great Barrier Reef survived last year’s extreme summer better than the previous year’s, hinting that it is becoming more resilient. However, some coral species are faring better than others, meaning the reef is likely to look very different in years to come.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>“Despite the fact that 2017 was hotter, we saw less bleaching over all across the whole reef,” Dr. Hughes said. The reason, he said, was a novel concept scientists call ecological memory: the idea that the past experience of a biological community can influence its ecological response today or in the future.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This sounds good news for the Reef, but doesn’t change the fact that in order to recover as much as possible from a bleaching event a reef needs 10 years. With rising ocean temperatures becoming more common, the world’s coral is set for more bleaching and death in years to come, which doesn’t only represent an avoidable human tragedy, but an ecological disaster.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This research is published in Nature Climate Change.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2187654-the-great-barrier-reef-is-fighting-back-by-losing-weak-species/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/climate/coral-reefs-natural-selection.html"> New York Times</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>Seals Keep Getting Eels Stuck Up Their Noses</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I’ve been congested for three weeks now and I can tell you it’s <em>super</em> annoying! So I truly commiserate with the poor seals who keep getting something far worse stuck up their noses - eels! That’s right they are figuratively snorting unagi-sushi!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program informs via the website Live Science that a live eel getting stuck up a seal nose is not a unique case.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The monk seals feed on or near the bottom of the ocean. So, they go for the food, for example eels, whose strategy is to hide at the bottom of the ocean.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Scientists don’t know how the eel got up its nose - it could have, rammed itself into the nostril and maybe got stuck in the heat of an attempt to escape. Or may be the seal brought the eel out to the surface to eat the prey, and the eel could have whipped around and got into the nose…</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>It can be also a case of “not knowing better” since this phenomenon has been observed only in young seals, who might just be inexperienced at hunting.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Or the seal might have sneezed or regurgitated the eel through the wrong pipe.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Not to worry though - the seal’s day turned for the better as researchers managed to remove it from its nose. The eel however did not have the same luck as it died. Maybe it got a fatal scare of how dark the nose of the seal was?</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64249-seal-eel-stuck-nose.html">Live Science</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} --></p> <h3><strong>River Bounces Back After World’s Largest Ever Dam Removal</strong></h3> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:heading {"level":4} --></p> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>After my hideously pessimistic take on the last story it is time for some optimism.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Freed from two large dams, a small river in Washington state USA has efficiently flushed vast amounts of mud, sand and gravel towards the sea.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This is the world’s largest dam-removal project so far. Two barriers on the Elwha River (32 and 64 metres high respectively) were dismantled between 2011 and 2014 to restore the river’s flow. Amy East at the US Geological Survey in Santa Cruz, California, and her team monitored river flow and topography before, during and after the dams’ removal.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The release of 20 million tonnes of sediment that had been trapped in the reservoirs behind the dams substantially altered the shape of the river, filling pools and creating new sandbanks. But five months later most of the change had settled down and the 20 million tons of debris had in the main reached the Strait of Juan de Fuca.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Rivers of sufficient stream power seem to be able to cope with large dam removals without serious harm, the authors conclude. I assume this is good news for recovery of various ecosystems and species supported by the river. I looked into how dams affect rivers.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Notes from <a href= "https://www.internationalrivers.org/environmental-impacts-of-dams"> https://www.internationalrivers.org/environmental-impacts-of-dams</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The dam wall itself blocks fish migrations, which in some cases and with some species completely separate spawning habitats from rearing habitats.  The dam also traps sediments, which are critical for maintaining physical processes and habitats downstream of the dam (include the maintenance of productive deltas, barrier islands, fertile floodplains and coastal wetlands).</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Another significant and obvious impact is the transformation upstream of the dam from a free-flowing river ecosystem to an artificial slack-water reservoir habitat. Changes in temperature, chemical composition, dissolved oxygen levels and the physical properties of a reservoir are often not suitable to the aquatic plants and animals that evolved with a given river system. Indeed, reservoirs often host non-native and invasive species (e.g. snails, algae, predatory fish) that further undermine the river's natural communities of plants and animals.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>The alteration of a river's flow and sediment transport downstream of a dam often causes the greatest sustained environmental impacts. Life in and around a river evolves and is conditioned on the timing and quantities of river flow.  Disrupted and altered water flows can be as severe as completely de-watering river reaches and the life they contain. Yet even subtle changes in the quantity and timing of water flows impact aquatic and riparian life, which can unravel the ecological web of a river system.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>A dam also holds back <a href= "https://www.internationalrivers.org/node/2221">sediments</a> that would naturally replenish downstream ecosystems. When a river is deprived of its sediment load, it seeks to recapture it by eroding the downstream river bed and banks (which can undermine bridges and other riverbank structures, as well as riverside woodlands). Riverbeds downstream of dams are typically eroded by several meters within the decade of first closing a dam; the damage can extend for tens or even hundreds of kilometers below a dam.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>IN SUMMARY  Large dams have led to the <a href= "https://www.internationalrivers.org/node/1314">extinction</a> of many fish and other aquatic species, the disappearance of birds in floodplains, huge losses of forest, wetland and farmland, erosion of coastal deltas, and many other unmitigable impacts.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I realise we use dams to prevent floods, hence reduce the occurrence of natural disasters affecting human life. (Although the 3 Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river led to the displacement 1.3 million people and led to the loss of many cultural sites.) Another great benefit of dams is the hydroelectric power they can generate, providing cleaner energy than fossil fuels.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07707-0">Nature Geophysics</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Interview: Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich of the University of Cambridge</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:image {"id":1604,"align":"right","className":"size-full wp-image-1604"} --></p> <div class="wp-block-image size-full wp-image-1604"><img class= "wp-image-1604" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/GMKOV.png" alt="" /> Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich</div> <p><!-- /wp:image --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>A PhD candidate in Zoology at the University of Cambridge. Gabriela's work is on the ecology, physiology and genomics of thermal adaptation to altitude in <em>Heliconius</em> butterflies. More information on her study system can be found at <a href= "http://www.heliconius.org/">http://www.heliconius</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p><strong>Listen to today's episode to see you can do better than our panel!</strong></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:separator --></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><!-- /wp:separator --> <!-- wp:heading --></p> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p><!-- /wp:heading --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>You can also get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Sophie McManus.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --></p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p> <p><!-- /wp:paragraph --></p>
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091: Fourth National Climate Assessment, and more
<p>A year ago we were in shock and disbelief in the days after the Tubbs Fire in Northern California incinerated our neighborhood, and our home. One year later and that scene of apocalyptic devastation has been replaced by a community coming together and rising from the ashes. </p> <p>I'm overjoyed to announce that we can put that awful year behind us. My family and I have moved back into our wonderful neighborhood, and we're looking forward to more and more of our neighbors' return.</p> <p>A million thanks to the Blue Streak Science team. You are simply the best. I'm indebted to you, and it's my honor to work on this project with you. </p> <p>Thanks to our incredible audience for sticking with us during the past year. For you, we pledge to take the Blue Streak Science Podcast to the next level. The future is gonna be awesome! </p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The science news of the week</li> <li>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</li> <li>And the Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule and Sophie McManus</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Cosmic Airburst May Have Wiped Out Part of the Middle East 3,700 Years Ago</strong></h3> <p>We all have seen shooting stars at night. Millions such small asteroids are thought to orbit on paths that bring them near Earth. So, once in a while as noted in history a comet or a meteorite can come very very close to the earth surface and explode - causing massive destruction events called cosmic airbursts.</p> <p>A team of researchers from Jordan’s Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project have found evidence that a cosmic airburst took place about 3,500 years ago. This explosion of a comet or a meteor destroyed around 500 square kilometers, wiping out all human life and a vast area of fertile land north of the Dead Sea called Middle Ghor.</p> <p>This airburst left the fertile lands barren as they were deposited with anhydride salts from the Dead Sea due to a tsunami which was caused by the aftershocks from the airburst. It took almost 600 years for the area to recover before any civilization could be restored.  </p> <p>How did the archeologists come across the evidence of this airburst? They found and studied 3,500 year old pieces of pottery from the Tall el-Hammam excavation site and discovered that it was vitrified, turned into glass. This would require extremely high temperatures around 4,000˚ C. Just for reference the temperature on sun is about 5,600˚ C.</p> <p>This was so powerful that zircon contained in the pottery turned into glass. Radiocarbon dating at the site indicated that mud-brick walls “suddenly disappeared around 3,700 years ago, leaving only stone foundations.”</p> <p>A similar air burst that took place in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908 had a blast radius of 2,000 square kilometers, suggesting that the explosion which destroyed the Middle Ghor region occurred at a low altitude, possibly not more than one kilometer above the ground.</p> <p>The most recent airburst took place in February 2013 when a meteor exploded over Central Russia. This event injured about 1,500 people and damaged thousands of buildings.</p> <p>These cosmic airbursts continue to be an impending threat to the planet. Scientists are working on developing warning and response systems to deal with such cosmic events.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/64179-ancient-cosmic-airburst-middle-east.html"> Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Fox, 'Cosmos' Producers Investigate Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Host Neil deGrasse Tyson</strong></h3> <p>[caption id="attachment_1591" align="alignright" width="300"]<img class="size-full wp-image-1591" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/91_300x400NdGT.png" alt="" width="300" height="400" /> Neil deGrasse Tyson[/caption]</p> <p>Neil deGrasse Tyson has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct and an investigation will take place shortly.</p> <p>In one allegation, Katelyn Allers, an associate professor of astronomy and physics at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, claimed Tyson inappropriately touched her in 2009 while admiring a space tattoo on her upper left arm. Another woman, Ashley Watson, claimed that she quit a position as Tyson's assistant due to inappropriate sexual advances. Those claims follow an earlier allegation by musician Tchiya Amet, who claimed Tyson raped her while both attended graduate school.</p> <p>deGrasse Tyson has written a piece addressing the claims titled ‘On Being Accused’.</p> <p>"I'm the accused, so why believe anything I say? Why believe me at all?" Tyson wrote. "That brings us back to the value of an independent investigation, which FOX/NatGeo (the networks on which Cosmos and StarTalk air) announced that they will conduct. I welcome this. … Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly. I see myself as loving husband and as a public servant – a scientist and educator who serves at the will of the public.  I am grateful for the support I’ve received from those who continue to respect and value me and my work.”</p> <p>Trial, or rather manhunt, by social media is ridiculous, so it’s good that Fox and NatGeo are getting on with an investigation. I read both Degrasse Tyson’s account and one of the blogs detailing the assault, for this story. I have my own opinion, but given that I’ve just denounced trial by social media I think I’ll keep it to myself…!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/arts/neil-degrasse-tyson-sexual-misconduct.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/42606-fox-cosmos-investigate-claims-against-neil-degrasse-tyson.html"> Space.com</a></p> <h3><strong>As Natural As Spider’s Milk</strong></h3> <p>The kingdom Animalia never ceases to surprise us. And one of the recent discoveries is about jumping spiders, Toxeus magnus. According to a study published in Science, Female Toxeus Magnus spiders secrete a milk like fluid to feed their offspring. But wait! Spiders are not mammals, and isn’t breastfeeding is fundamental to being mammals?</p> <p>Apparently not. Over time scientists have discovered that animals such as flamingos, cockroaches and male emperor penguins produce nutrient rich milk-like substances to feed their young.</p> <p>The discovery that Toxeus magnus spiders secrete a milk-like fluid was carried out by lead author Zhanqui Chen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Chen observed that young T. magnus spiders were slow to leave their breeding nests – suggestive of extended childcare. Chen's team noticed in the lab that the newborns and the mother remained in the next for about 20 days. A closer they revealed that during first week the mother deposited droplets of white fluid from her underside on to the nest, which the newborns would drink. After that the newborns directly drank from the underside of the mother.</p> <p>The mother continued to provide milk for 20 more even when the young spiders would leave their nests to forage. These young spiderlings returned to the nest for mother’s milk until finally weaning at 40 days of age.</p> <p>When Chen blocked the opening (same when they lay eggs) from which the fluid was secreted, the hatchlings did not survive beyond 11 days which shows their complete dependence on this fluid. Chen and colleagues found that this milk like white fluid was extremely rich in proteins. It contained four times as much protein as cow’s milk. The authors are okay with calling this fluid spider’s milk even though it does not come from a mammary gland. They are more interested in how it supports the offspring.</p> <p>Chen and colleagues plan to study how does T. magnus generates this fluid. This discovery challenges the dogma that lactation is uniquely a mammalian trait. They don’t know yet if this is seen in any other spiders.</p> <p>These rare variants in the animal kingdom will help in providing insights about evolution of lactation and parental care.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/science/spiders-milk.html">New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>Researcher who created CRISPR twins defends his work</strong></h3> <p>Lots to think about here. Let’s refresh briefly on what exactly has happened.</p> <p>A few days ago, a researcher in China claimed to have CRISPR-edited human embryos to prevent them from contracting HIV. He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in nearby Shenzhen, China, said he was “proud” of the work, which he said could lead to disease prevention “for millions of children.”</p> <p>While CRISPR technology has been used in a preliminary way in human material, what’s truly controversial about this work is the claim that the edited embryos were allowed to develop to term. That’s right - this work apparently resulted in the birth of two babies. The announcement he had done this was only made when the twin girls had been born.</p> <p>Earlier this week, He announced in an Associated Press (AP) interview and a series of YouTube videos that his team had engineered the genomes of twin baby girls to cripple a key receptor, CCR5, that HIV uses to infect white blood cells—a modification they may pass onto their descendants. Mutations in the <em>CCR5</em> gene confer HIV resistance, and He said previous experiments have suggested <em>CCR5</em> was a promising target for editing. But He didn’t explain how gene editing could help the world prevent the disease; nobody thinks it’s feasible to edit the genomes of entire populations.</p> <p>Several things to consider.</p> <p>Did this work actually happen? Or is it a poorly judged attempt at some sort of fame/notoriety?<br /> If the researcher indeed edit human embryos which were then born, what has this work done to them other than (possibly) mediating their risk of contracting HIV? A long-winded way of saying, what other stuff has he messed with?! CRISPR is known as an incredible tool to modify genetic information, but it is also known to cause many undesirable off-target effects.<br /> Did the parents really understand what was being done? Apparently He claimed this work was part of a vaccine development project to some potential patients.</p> <p>For any listeners unfamiliar with the furore surrounding the potential of CRISPR, this work represents a lot of controversy. This technique isn’t considered clinically safe. Nor have we reached any consensus on whether it is morally acceptable to tamper with the genome of human embryos. Particularly otherwise HEALTHY embryos. The phrase ‘playing God’ is likely to be bandied about.</p> <p>The water is murkier still. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the huge moral repercussions of gene editing human embryos, it appears this work was not funded or sanctioned by the scientist’s research institution. They are now investigating him! Another point worth making is - who’s going to publish this? Reputable journals would be likely to reject this work on ethical grounds alone. He says the work has been submitted to a peer reviewed journal, but many unanswered questions remain, for example which hospital he did the work at, why he hadn’t mentioned this work earlier (for example when the woman was pregnant), what success rate he found, what adverse effects may have arisen in failed attempts.</p> <p>Back to the actual aim of this work, to make the girls resistant to contracting HIV. But, I mean, were they at risk of contracting HIV in the first place?  Why alter ostensibly healthy embryos while risking off-target genetic effects? Even if they are exposed to HIV, which they have been ‘edited’ to avoid, you know they COULD still get it. I mean some people are naturally immune to HIV, but they STILL can get it, if it gets through an alternative route!!! There are ways to avoid HIV that don’t involve gene editing! This isn’t an unmet medical need. There’s no way to prove that this work has benefitted the girls, as if they don’t catch HIV, that isn’t necessarily because of He’s work!</p> <p>I’ll close with some comments made by Jennifer Doudna, one of the inventors of CRISPR as we know it today. Doudna is ‘horrified’ by this story, if it is true.</p> <p>If you want to know more about the fallout, I recommend a great Atlantic article by Ed Yong titled <a href= "https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/12/15-worrying-things-about-crispr-babies-scandal/577234/"> The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse By The Day</a>.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/researcher-who-created-crispr-twins-defends-his-work-leaves-many-questions-unanswered?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p><strong>United States</strong><strong> National Climate Assessment and the start of COP24</strong></p> <p><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></p> <p>It’s good to be back in The Lounge. A lot has happened since I last ranted….I promise I’m going to try and rant less and hope more. So instead of trying to cover every specific last thing that’s happened climate-related on this planet, I’m going to talk about a broad new report that was recently released by the US Government, the Fourth National Climate Assessment.</p> <p>First a disclosure, everything I say is my own opinion and does not reflect upon my employer. Also, I work at one of the agencies that helped produce the report but I did not have a hand in making it. With that said, let’s get into it.</p> <p>The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released on Friday, 23 November, better known as the day after Thanksgiving, which sigh…obviously was done to reduce the number of eyeballs paying attention. WHY would this have been done? Well, let me read verbatim what is under the "Communities" header in the summary findings</p> <p>“The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities. Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality. Impacts within and across regions will not be distributed equally. People who are already vulnerable, including lower-income and other marginalized communities, have lower capacity to prepare for and cope with extreme weather and climate-related events and are expected to experience greater impacts. Prioritizing adaptation actions for the most vulnerable populations would contribute to a more equitable future within and across communities. Global action to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions can substantially reduce climate-related risks and increase opportunities for these populations in the longer term.”</p> <p>This report is following the science and because of that is pulling no punches. You might be thinking how in the world was this released by the current US government? Well, the National Climate Assessment is a Congressionally mandated report that comes out roughly every 4 years by law. This report has been in the process of creation starting before the current administration took office and they had no right to stop it. Now, for our international listeners, this report does NOT go into the global impacts currently and in the future of climate change. Instead, it has a specific focus on how climate change is impacting and will continue to impact the United States (and all that entails). It looks at all scenarios for the future and explains what will happen to extreme weather impacts, climate change impacts on coastal, interior, mountains…you get the picture. In fact, it breaks down the US into regions and each region gets its own section to discuss impacts. It is a thorough and massive effort done by tons of scientists, a lot of whom did this in their free time not getting paid a scent. Now the reaction to this release has been predictable. With fabrications, deflections and did I mention fabrications? A lot of lies out there trying to downplay this report's conclusions....including insisting it wasn’t based on data. Uhmm, it’s basically all data! Each statement has a citation after it leading to a peer reviewed journal article. It’s a data nerd's dream!</p> <p>Or that scientists were getting rich off of this. Which, HAHAHA, oh lord that’s a good one!</p> <p>Or that it was only based off a worst case scenario. It wasn’t. But you get this picture.</p> <p>Now they tried to bury this report so I think all Americans should do our part to keep talking about it. It also includes sections on what to do about the problem, and reducing risks which are great things to focus on. Solutions are good, people. Because climate change isn’t going away and it’s going to get worse.</p> <p>Now before I leave, I’d be silly not to mention that the annual UN Conference on Climate Change or COP24 is taking place currently in Poland. I recommend folks google searching stories about it and following those journalists and activists in Poland for the latest news. And check back to the lounge in the future for a run down of what went down. (psst, Poland had coal companies sponsor the event including have multiple coal displays...I’m not joking…goodness). There will be a lot to talk about, including some amazing efforts globally by the world’s youth to force action. Inspiring stuff, people.</p> <p><a href="https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/">Fourth National Climate Assessment</a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/government-climate-report-warns-of-worsening-us-disasters/2018/11/23/9f4e516e-ef82-11e8-8b47-bd0975fd6199_story.html?utm_term=.717f4c26589d"> Washington Post</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p><strong>Today's Pub Quiz was on the human anatomy.</strong></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>Next week we’ll be talking with Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich of the University of Cambridge. We'll get an inside look at her field work in South America studying a very interesting genus of butterflies, the Heliconians. Don't miss it!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Dr. Amrita Sule, Sophie McManus, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
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090: Get Out the Vote for Science!
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Cosmonauts make emergency landing after Soyuz rocket malfunctions</li> <li>Big Bird Misbehaves and eats a Neanderthal Child</li> <li>Stephen Hawking's final science study is released</li> <li>Increase In Cases of Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness in the US</li> <li>We have a big election coming up, so Blue Streak Science is giving endorsements to our favorite science-friendly candidates</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Dr. Amrita Sule</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Cosmonauts make emergency landing after Soyuz rocket malfunctions</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>Two scientists sitting in a rocket. What can go wrong? Pretty much everything when you are sitting on several hundred litres of highly flammable fuel.</p> <p>On 11 October this is exactly what went wrong. Two astronauts were on their way to the ISS in a rocket powered by the Soyuz engines when a problem in the detachment of one of the stages caused the rocket to plunge back to earth, not only before it delivered the cosmonauts to the ISS, but in a trajectory less like the one of a space vessel, but more like a ballistic rocket. And if you are in that thing you really don’t want to be falling like a bomb down to Earth.</p> <p>Luckily, the Russian and American astronauts were well prepared with their training because they employed some 20-year old emergency training techniques which saved their buts. While landing they experienced forces that normally astronauts are not supposed to feel at any stage of the flight. Such forces that an average-weight person would feel like 10 times heavier.</p> <p>Both of them seem to be well and kicking, but there will be an investigation on what exactly happened, why and how to avoid it in the future.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63804-soyuz-iss-launch-abort.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/42134-soyuz-launch-abort-eyewitness-video.html"> Space.com</a></p> <h3><strong>Neanderthal Child Eaten by Giant Bird</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>Imagine getting your hand or finger chewed off by a bird of prey. Ouch!! Sounds kind of painful isn’t it? About 115 thousand years ago a Neanderthal child wasn’t having a very good day.</p> <p>Archaeologists have found two finger bones- about an inch in size, from the hand of a Neanderthal child aged about 5-7years. In a press release Paweł Valde-Nowak from the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków said that the bones were dotted with holes – which could be a result of passing through the digestive system of a large bird.</p> <p>It is difficult to say if the bird just chewed off the child’s fingers , killed the child or just happened on its body and scavenged its remains.</p> <p>Theses bones were discovered at the Jaskinia Ciemna cave in Poland and are the oldest hominid remains found in that area. They were found a few years ago but only now after in depth analysis the researchers are confident of its Neanderthal origin. They were found in a deep cave a few meters below the present earth surface. However,the bones are too deteriorated for any DNA analysis.</p> <p>This is of interest because Neanderthal remains are very rare in this area. Tools such as knife and scrapers, which could be used to cut and scrape dating back to about 220 thousand years have been found in Poland. Priors to this the oldest remains found in Poland were 3 Neanderthal molars dating to 55-40 thousand years ago.</p> <p>These discoveries mostly come from Southern Poland suggesting that this region was more favored by the Neanderthals as opposed to the northern which was covered by glaciers during ice age. Discovery of these finger bones is so far the only evidence from the last ice age in this area.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/poor-neanderthal-child-was-eaten-giant-bird-180970524/"> Smithsonian.com</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63801-giant-bird-ate-neanderthal-child.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/oldest-bones-ever-found-in-poland-and-dating-back-115000-years-belonged-to-neanderthal-child-whose-fingers-were-chewed-by-a-giant-bird-2561"> The First News</a></p> <h3><strong>Hawking's Final Science Study Released</strong></h3> <h4>Nevena Hristozova</h4> <p>Professor Hawking will continue to tease the minds of us - poor simpletons still alive with his science from beyond the grave for really long time. He was SO smart, that his work will be tested, and retested, and his theories proven and revised for at least a hundred years ahead, I bet on that!</p> <p>Anyway, the last paper Prof Hawking worked on and submitted before his death was recently published. It deals with nothing less, but the possibility for Black Holes to retain information on the objects once they pass the point of no return and are ripped apart to energy and a little nothingness. In his paper, Hawking built on the work of another genius whose work we are not even halfway through tackling - Einstein.</p> <p>According to their theories, and contrary to the popular knowledge that NOTHING escapes black holes, they (black holes) have temperature. Which in physics means that they release energy in the form of heat. The principle that each physical system loses part of its energy in the form of heat is thought even in school and is known as entropy - the strive of everything in the universe to eventually dissolve into chaos.</p> <p>This would mean that eventually a black hole should run out of energy to release and thus seize to exist. This, if valid for black holes too imply that every piece of information (which is in essence energy, as property of an object) will eventually get destroyed in the process of evaporation of the black hole.</p> <p>Hawking’s article, or rather the math in it, shows that the event horizon’s bright edges might be actually accounting for that entropy.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45826748">BBC News Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/hawking-s-final-paper-posted"> Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Increase In Cases of Rare 'Polio-Like' Illness in the US</strong></h3> <h4>Amrita Sule</h4> <p>This year, more than half of the states in United States have reported cases of  a polio like rare disease called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM. It mainly affects children.</p> <p>AFM was first  identified in 2014 – which saw 120 cases. According to CNN in this year as of Oct 16th there have been 47 confirmed cases and 49 more that were suspected or being investigated, for a total of 96.</p> <p>According to Centers for Disease control and prevention (CDC),AFM is very rare – affects less than 1 in a million. AFM affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Like some neurological conditions, AFM can have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic predisposition.</p> <p>The symptoms are usually sudden weakness in arms and legs, facial drooping, difficulty swallowing, sudden inability to speak - similar to complications of infection with certain viruses, including poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, adenoviruses, and West Nile virus.</p> <p>According to NIH, AFM- related viral infections can be prevented by staying upto date with Polio-vaccines.  Treatments like, Immunoglobulin, corticosteroids, plasma exchange and antiviral therapy have been tried.</p> <p>There is no cure as far we now. Some patients recover quickly, while others may need long-term care. Physical and occupational therapy are important for recovery.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63803-acute-flaccid-myelitis-us-cases-2018.html"> Live Science</a> , <a href= "https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/15/health/acute-flaccid-myelitis-cases-states/index.html?utm_term=image&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twCNN&utm_content=2018-10-16T00%3A52%3A04"> CNN</a>, <a href= "https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/13142/acute-flaccid-myelitis"> NIH</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Blue Streak Science Endorsements for Congress</strong></h2> <p>Since the early 1990’s there’s been a rising tide of anti-science growing in the United States. Religious groups, predominantly evangelical Christian, have fought to remove science from public classrooms. Thankfully, their efforts have mostly failed judicial review. Still, they keep coming. Their strategies change, but the goal is the same: the complete removal of any science that doesn’t comport with their particular brand of theism.</p> <p>In recent years this anti-science evangelical movement has piggy-backed on, and reaped the benefits on the alarming upsurge in white nationalism and racism in the United States.</p> <p>They were rewarded in 2016 with an amazing trifecta, the election of a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and the grand prize, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, in this new government’s view making America great again meant doubling down on the removal of any inconvenient and offensive science from their decision making process.</p> <p>The have repeatedly called climate change a hoax; hoax that is being perpetuated by China. They’ve appointed numerous science deniers to key positions in the government. They’ve slashed scientific research budgets and attacked everything from the Clean Air Act to the Endangered Species Act. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, and completely relinquished our leadership role in reversing climate change as well as squandering our opportunities in the green energy marketplace.</p> <p>This shock to the system has motivated scientists all over the world to stand up and mobilize to not only save science, but to save democracies.</p> <p>This is a pivotal moment in our history. As a result, women and scientists have run for Congress in 2018 in numbers never seen before.</p> <p>And we at Blue Streak Science want to make sure that you’re aware of some of the outstanding scientists, and science-friendly candidates we have running for Congress.</p> <p>This isn’t even close to being a comprehensive list, but here we are featuring some of the more stand-out candidates...candidates we are proud to endorse. Candidates that we urge you to vote for.</p> <h3><strong>Sean Casten</strong></h3> <p><a href="https://castenforcongress.com/">Support Sean Casten</a></p> <p><img class="alignright wp-image-1532 size-medium" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/90_Casten-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" />First on the list is <strong>Sean Casten</strong> who is running to represent the <strong>6th district of Illinois</strong>.</p> <p>He has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry. He also has Master's degrees in engineering management and biochemical engineering from Dartmouth College.</p> <p>In an email announcing his candidacy he stated, regarding the Trump Administration, "They are increasing the risk of global warming... but the truth is ignoring reality hurts so much more. They are putting millions of people's lives and health at risk with their assault on the health-care system. They are putting women's health at risk. They are putting seniors at risk with their assaults on Social Security and Medicare; the list goes on and on and on."</p> <p>Among his accomplishments in the clean energy field Sean Casten co-founded Recycle Energy Development LLC whose mission is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the recovery of waste energy...and to do so profitably.</p> <p>We enthusiastically endorse Sean Casten for 6th district of Illinois.  </p> <h3><strong>Chrissy Houlahan</strong></h3> <p><a href="https://www.chrissyhoulahanforcongress.com/">Support Chrissy Houlahan</a></p> <p><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1534" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/90_Houlahan-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" />Our next endorsement goes to Chrissy Houlahan who is running to represent Pennsylvania’s 6th district in Washington.</p> <ul> <li>She earned her engineering degree from Stanford and received her Master’s in Science in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.</li> <li>She was a science teacher in North Philadelphia</li> </ul> <p>And the following comes from her website:</p> <blockquote> <p>Climate change is real.  So also is its threat to our home on this planet if we don’t manage to arrest and eventually reverse the processes that are heating our world, changing its weather, raising sea levels, accelerating desertification, and threatening traditional agriculture.</p> </blockquote> <p>In Congress, I will be a champion for our environment and will work to combat the threat of climate change and the assault on truth and data.</p> <p>Blue Streak Science is proud to support Chrissy Houlahan for Congress. If you live in or around Philadelphia then, by all means possible, get out and vote for her! We need her in Congress.</p> <h3><strong>Joseph Kopser</strong></h3> <p><a href="https://kopserforcongress.com/">Support Joseph Kopser</a></p> <p><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1535" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/90_Kopser-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" />Our next endorsement goes to Joseph Kopser who is seeking to represent the 21st Congressional District of Texas.</p> <p>Kopser founded a tech company in Austin that helped to cut carbon emissions for commuters.</p> <p>He was also the co-founder of the National Security Technology Accelerator which works to improve US Energy Security policy.</p> <p>From his website:</p> <blockquote> <p>Climate change is real and scientists globally accept that emission of carbon dioxide through human consumption of fossil fuels is its principal contributing cause.</p> <p>I support a gradually increasing fee on carbon dioxide emissions, along the lines proposed by the Brookings Institute. Consistently, studies have shown that a carbon tax is the most efficient and effective way to reduce carbon emissions.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a huge race. This district was held by Republican Lamar Smith since 1987. But when Smith saw what he was facing in his changing district with Joseph Kopser he decided to not seek reelection.</p> <p>Lamar Smith is the head of the Republican-controlled House Science Committee. Smith is one of those anti-science types I described earlier, and and considers climate change to be a hoax.</p> <p>So let’s put the science back in the House Science Committee and vote for Joseph Kopser. That’s right, you guessed it. The Blue Streak Science Podcast is delighted to endorse Joseph Kopser for the 21st district of Texas.</p> <h3><strong>Mary Barzee Flores</strong></h3> <p><a href="https://marybarzeeflores.com/">Support Mary Barzee Flores</a></p> <p>Our final candidate is Mary Barzee Flores, who is running for Florida’s 25th district.</p> <p>This district includes much of southwest Florida, from Lake Okeechobee, Collier County and across to southwestern Miami-Dade County.</p> <p><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-1536" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/90_BarzeeFlores.png" alt="" width="350" height="350" />Mary majored in Music at the University of Miami, and then went on to the University of Miami Law School.</p> <p>After graduating law school Mary became a federal public defender, and in 2002 was elected to be a Florida Circuit Court Judge, where she served for 8 years.</p> <p>A few years after she was nominated by President Barack Obama for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this was blocked by Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Mary was never even given a hearing in the Senate judiciary committee, much less an up or down vote on her nomination.</p> <p>Now you may be asking, okay, she sounds like an awesome person but I don’t hear a word about science in there. What’s that all about?</p> <p>Well, Mary and I have been friends since 1977. We met at Coral Gables High School. She is without a doubt one of the most intelligent and honest people I have had the honor to call my friend.</p> <p>I remember a conversation we had about how we loved science in elementary school, about how we’d come home from school excited to tell our parents this new and awesome thing we learned that day. And later when I was working at the University of Miami School of Medicine in vascular cell biology I recall her keen interest in the scientific details of what my research was all about.</p> <p>Mary may not be a scientist, but she understands the importance of science in making critical decisions, and in good government.</p> <p>This is from her website:</p> <blockquote> <p>South Florida is ground zero for climate change, and we must lead the way in combating it. We are already seeing the effects of stronger storms and increased flooding. By 2100, South Florida will be underwater–we cannot wait for action. As of January 2018, the Trump Administration has already overturned 33 environmental protections implemented under the Obama Administration. We must start divesting from fossil fuels and invest in green energy. America needs to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and show global leadership in innovating for a sustainable future that incentivizes jobs in renewable energy.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, our final endorsement goes to Mary Barzee Flores of Florida’s 25th District.</p> <h4><strong>Conclusion</strong></h4> <p>You may not live in the districts of these science candidates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them get elected.</p> <p>All candidates need funding to get elected, especially when trying to replace well-entrenched and well-financed incumbents.</p> <p>I kindly ask that donate and support these worthy candidates so that you can do your part in putting science and scientific thinking in our government.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3>Deeper Dive Into The 1.5˚C Report</h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>Last time, I rage screamed into your ears for an interminable amount of time about a special report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the topic of the impacts of 1.5C of global warming. Well, I thought that was so nice, I’m going to talk about it twice! So break out those brown bags, because this time let’s rage scream together.</p> <p>But this time, the rage screaming is going to be on a more niche and pedantic topic within this voluminous new report. Yes, that’s right folks. Strap yourselves in because I’m taking you on a pathways to 1.5C˚ ride. Full of some ups, and a lot of optimistic downs. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. And just like a real rollercoaster, you might throw up in the end.</p> <p>Pathways basically describe ways forward that society can take to keep warming to 1.5˚C by 2100. Importantly, this doesn’t mean we can’t exceed 1.5˚C for a period of time during the next century. But for these overshooters, something must be done to remove GHG from the air to bring warming back down to 1.5˚C by the end of the century.</p> <p>I’ll talk about four today that sort of give us a good idea of what it means to keep warming at 1.5˚C levels.</p> <p>And one thing to note, is that all of these require some sort of carbon dioxide removal removal technique. IE. Some technology natural or not that gets CO2 outta my air. (and into my car...for all those 80s children and Billy Ocean fans). But seriously, this is needed because not all sources of emissions will be easy to just shut off completely. And the amount of negative emission technology is incredibly important as they come with repercussions to society and wildlife themselves.</p> <p>Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage for instance requires lots of land to grow crops, burning them to produce energy and then capturing their co2. There are ethical AND land use questions there. Afforestation requires turning barren land into forest. If produced at scale, this increase in land use would encroach on food production and natural habitat.</p> <p>First, let’s start with P1. Here the world rapidly reduces fossil fuel emissions by 2020 by decreasing demand for energy by switching to more energy efficient techs and behaviors. The only negative emissions would be achieved by afforestation by turning an area roughly twice the size of Argentina into forest.</p> <p>P2! This one also sees a switch to better consumption patterns, better tech and managed land systems but with the addition of bioenergy and carbon capture negative emissions.  This one also includes a huge amount of land turned to forest.</p> <p>P3 is more of a middle of the road scenario where things relating to social, economic and tech trends continue. Progress to national sustainable goals moves forward but slowly. Reduction in emissions come from changing energy production and to reductions in demand. This scenario requires a large amount of bioenergy, exceeding afforestation which means a decrease in pasture land for food production.</p> <p>And P4, known as a resource and energy intensive scenario where there is in increase in demand for things like air travel and meat, which require higher amounts of energy. Unlike the previous three, this scenario overshoots 1.5˚C and only returns back during a large amount of negative emissions achieved mainly through bioenergy and carbon capture.</p> <p>The one major downside to all this bioenergy carbon capture reliance is that at current, carbon capture and storage has only been shown at small scale at a few sites. And it has never been combined with bioenergy at scale. There is a major reliance here for technological advancement and development in the future, which, is entirely possible. But doesn’t give me the warm fuzziness.</p> <p>It’s a daunting task no doubt. But even if we try our hardest and don’t get to 1.5˚C. It’ll still be a lot better than the alternative. So ends this week’s class on Climate Change and our future. And this class never ends.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-qa-ipccs-special-report-on-climate-change-at-one-point-five-c?utm_source=NEW+Weekly+Briefing&utm_campaign=86febf2fdd-Carbon_Brief_Weekly_12_10_2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b6e0a2d2ef-86febf2fdd-303572181&ct=t(Carbon_Brief_Weekly_12_10_2018)&goal=0_b6e0a2d2ef-86febf2fdd-303572181"> Carbon Brief</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, Amrita Sule, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

089: Rage Screaming for Science!
<p>There were many interesting science stories this week, but none more important than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5˚C Report. This may be one of the most important news stories of our lifetimes. Our government's failure to recognize its importance, and their continued contempt for inconvenient truths warranted a collective rage-scream by the Blue Streak Science Team.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>More Nobel Prizes</li> <li>A new immune system strategy for treating cancer</li> <li>A Geyser in Yellowstone spews rubbish</li> <li>Good news for any of our listeners who happen to be bitten by a black mamba</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News</strong></h2> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <h3><strong>Caltech Scientist Among Three Awarded Nobel Prize In Chemistry</strong></h3> <p>If you tuned in last week then you would have heard about some of this year’s Nobel Prizes, and we’re not finished with you yet! The final science award to be announced this year is the Chemistry prize; and it’s a chemistry prize with a very biological feel to it.</p> <p>Our good friends the Creationists often like to point out that Darwin never won a Nobel prize (largely on account of there being no Nobel prize for biology and him dying over 20 years before the first Nobels were awarded). But now, 3 people have been awarded a Nobel Prize for applied evolution.</p> <p>Whilst humanity have been sculpting species through artificial selection for millennia, this award for two separate projects marks a significant shift in our utilisation of it.</p> <p>The first was for Frances Arnold of Caltech and her efforts to create an enzyme that could break down the milk protein casein in an organic liquid. The current enzyme works in water and rather than do it herself, she decided to outsource the R&D; to bacteria.</p> <p>She engineered bacteria that would produce the existing enzyme for breaking down casein, but replicated this with various mutations. Once set up, she let nature take it course; selected the best performing strains and at the end of the line collected her newly forged enzyme. Clever huh?</p> <p>The other project is less easy to get your head around and involves phages. They went to Gregory Winter and George Smith of the universities of Cambridge and Missouri respectively.</p> <p>Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and Smith has used them to develop a method called phage display, where the these viruses allow you work out what genes are responsible for creating specific proteins.</p> <p>And this is where Winter came in. The backbone of our immune system are antibodies. These are the things that recognise infections in our bodies and kickstart the immune response. Winter used the phage expression technique, not to produce produce proteins that can be correlated to genes, but to produce antibodies.</p> <p>Using a similar selection techniques to Arnold he fine tuned an antibody that could bind to a target molecule. What this does it that it paves the way for the production of off-the-shelf antibodies. Miss that vaccination and caught the infection? No worries, we’ll just administer a dose immune response.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-nobel-prize-chemistry-evolution-20181003-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/speeding-evolution-create-useful-proteins-wins-chemistry-nobel"> Science News</a></p> <h3><strong>Immune System Reveals Potential Treatment for Cancer</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>First story covers research that concerns potential blocking of some of the complex signalling pathways present in cancer.</p> <p>A hallmark of cancer is overproduction of growth factors, which–you guessed it– leads to abnormal degrees of cell division. One such growth factor is epidermal growth factor, or EGF.</p> <p>We have current therapy options such as Erlotinib, that block EGF signalling (in some lung and pancreatic cancers), but an issue with these is that the patient can develop drug-resistant mutations.</p> <p>A possible new option is presented by Salvador Guardiola and colleagues - camelid‐derived single‐domain antibodies developed. Camelid is the family of animals that includes the camel (!) llama and alpaca. Who’s your favourite, Chris, JD, Tom?</p> <p>Anyway. This is a nice example of lateral thinking in research...it links quite nicely to my next story as well.</p> <p><a href= "https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/anie.201807736">Wiley Online Library</a>,</p> <h3><strong>A Geyser Erupted in Yellowstone and 80 Years of Human Trash Poured Out</strong></h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>We’ve all had those experiences, where you have a bit of a spring clean; clear out that Monica cupboard and think; huh, so that’s where that went!</p> <p>Well it looks like the Yellowstone National Park has been having a little spring clean of its own; specifically the Ear Spring geyser.</p> <p>[caption id="attachment_1518" align="alignright" width="450"]<img class="size-full wp-image-1518" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/89_EarSpring.png" alt="" width="450" height="300" /> Ear Spring - Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming, USA[/caption]</p> <p>This geyser has just delivered its most powerful eruption in 60 years and when this happens you get more than just geothermally heated water gushing out. The most common thing to accompany it is rock, but on this occasion there has been something a little more interesting. So interesting, in fact, that curators are taking an inventory of all the things that were jettisoned.</p> <p>Probably the least surprising things found in this hawl are coins. Lots and lots of coins, many rusts scorched and crumbled. But there’s more.</p> <p>Whilst many see the Yellowstone geysers as one of nature’s marvels it appears that others see them as one of nature’s dustbins as the contents include; a large chunk of cinderblock, a broken bottle, some old aluminum cans, plastic cups and cigarette butts.</p> <p>Then we get to the less common waste. A rubber heel insert, which begs the question; where is the other one? Some metal warning signs, which presumably said something “Warning: geysers”, A vintage pacifier from the 1930s; now this one really fascinates me since the last big eruption was in the 1950s! Who even takes a 20 year old dummy to a national park; let alone dump it into a geyser! The final item of note was a 20 cm long drinking straw. I’m hoping that this was just another result of lazy littering and not some kind of drinking challenge gone wrong.</p> <p>Lighthearted approaches aside; before you go getting ideas about what could possibly go down a geyser that could give people a laugh in 60 years time, remember that there is a reason that water gets so forcibly ejaculated from these geysers; and if they become so blocked that they water can’t come straight out then that pressure will find another way to escape; in something called a hydrothermal explosion! And that's a term that doesn't sit comfortably in any sentence. ]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63768-yellowstone-geyser-garbage-eruption.html"> Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Breakthrough in Treating Snake Envenomation</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Snakes are brilliant! They can also be deadly.</p> <p>Two million people are bitten by snakes each year, and 100,000 of these people die, while 400,000 require amputations. Snake bites and their repercussions are mainly a problem for poorer countries. There might be some positive news, however. A paper released in the journal Nature Communications describes a promising step forward in developing human antibodies that neutralise black mamba venom.</p> <p>This is particularly promising given that the black mamba is a very venomous snake, highly feared in many African countries. While shy, like most snakes, if it feels threatens it will strike multiple times and inject potent neuro- and cardio-toxins. Before the development of antivenin, anyone bitten by a black mamba would die within 20 minutes. Antivenins are comprised of antibodies (proteins) that bind to the venom and neutralise further damage in the body - they do NOT reverse the effects already suffered via a bite.</p> <p>So today we do have antivenin, but this is derived from large domestic mammals, which are injected with small amounts of the venom in question. The domestic host then produces antibodies against the venom which are harvested from the blood and purified for use in clinic. This is not ideal for a number of reasons. People receiving antivenin can suffer from side-effects (such as serum sickness). However, when bitten by a highly venomous snake, you don’t get a lot of options.</p> <p>The “proof of concept” research described in <em>Nature Communications</em> identified key components, including dendrotoxins, in the black mamba’s venom which contribute to venom toxicity. Human antibodies were generated to these dendrotoxins using IONTAS Phage Display Technology and cocktails of IgG-formatted human antibodies were then shown to protect mice from dendrotoxin-mediated neurotoxicity <em>in vivo</em>.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.technologynetworks.com/cancer-research/news/black-mamba-snake-venom-neutralized-with-human-antibodies-310282"> Technology Networks</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06086-4">Nature Communication</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>IPCC 1.5˚C report</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>The Lounge was buzzing over the last couple of days. A large swarm of bees got in somehow. But once that was taken care of, all of us Climate Loungers dove head first into the latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC on the feasibility of keeping temperature rise to only 1.5˚C and the impacts that would global temperature rise would on the planet.</p> <p>You know how I’ve been doing some fun, less depressing climate stories in the lounge recently. This is not that. First, the stats, this report was edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who looked at more than 6000 scientific studies, white papers and policy studies. Note I didn't say blog posts, or media diatribes, or rantings of the unqualified. I said scientific studies.</p> <p>Specifically, 1.5˚C (2.7˚F) was looked at as a threshold over the more generally considered 2C due to requests from the heads of small island nations over fears of sea level rise wiping out their countries.</p> <p>If you've heard of the 2C threshold, or anything threshold, it’s important to know that threshold is in quotations, bunny ears. There is no on switch that goes off once you pass that number. Climate change impacts are a spectrum and don't magically get turned on all at once but grow gradually. And recent research has suggested that they are getting worse faster.</p> <p>We are expected to reach 1.5˚C by 2030 to 2052, And at that global temperature rise many island nations will become uninhabitable due to sea level rise, 70-90% of the worlds coral are dead, Wildfires will increase, poverty will increase. It just sucks. Thats my scientific bottom line. 1.5˚C sucks. Especially for the, you guessed it. The Poor.</p> <p>What will it take to get there? A reduction in GHG by 45% from 2010 levels (that’s 58% by 2015 levels) by 2030 and100% by 2050. By 2050, coal has to go from almost 40% to 1-7%. Renewable energy will need to increase from 20% to two thirds during the same time. In response, the world coal association said..wait, who gives a shit what they said. Moving on. In sum, let me quote Gain Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies about this report, “The key thing to remember is that it’s clear that the best time to reduce emissions was 25 years ago. But the second best to reduce emissions is right now.”</p> <p>This transition would involve an investment of $2.4 trillion annually from 2016-2035. Which is a ton more than we currently are spending. But, on the flip side, this report attempted to put a price tag on the effects of climate change, which were $54 trillion from 1.5˚C to $69 trillion from 2˚C and increasing ever after.</p> <p>But even with that said 1.5˚C is still better than 2˚C. It could reduce the number of people exposed to climate related risk and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050, which is better than 3˚C which is better than 4˚C, which is better than [cue clock music], which is better than… you get the point. But in case you don't, there will ALWAYS be a need to fight climate change and stop our emissions of greenhouse gases, regardless of how much warming happens. So let's have none of this, it's too late business. That’s nonsense. It’d be like taking a test and not knowing the first question, so instead of taking the rest of the test, you just give up and hand it in. A 90% is a lot better than a zero folks.</p> <p>In conclusion, We are already halfway to 1.5˚C. And we only have roughly 20 years to when we might reach 1.5˚C. That may seem like a lot of time. But it’s not. 20 years ago Saving Private Ryan was released. If that doesn’t seem like a long time, than 2040 isn’t a long time away either.</p> <p>I’m angry. I’m p*ssed. And you should be too. I’m angry at our political leaders. I’m angry at the general populace for not caring. I’m angry that I’ve been hearing the same damn thing, roughly, from scientists for decades and yet here we are. But anger isn’t going to do anything. If you’re angry, Vote! Vote for people who don’t have their heads in the sand and actually care about our future. If you’re angry, volunteer! Spend your time with any number of organizations helping those who can’t prepare, adapt. If you're angry, GREAT! Turn that anger into the courage to speak up to anyone who will listen.</p> <p>And now I will go rage-scream into a paper bag. Be back in a few.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45775309">BBC </a> <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/climate/carbon-tax-united-nations-report-nordhaus.html"> NYTimes</a>  <a href= "https://earther.gizmodo.com/we-have-a-decade-to-prevent-a-total-climate-disaster-1829585748">Earther</a></p> <p> </p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>This past weekend the Hubble Space Telescope was put into “safe mode”. Why?</li> <li>On 8 October in Nature Geosciences researchers report that a type of structure called penitentes may be present on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Describe these structures.</li> <li>On 3 October astronomers reported in Science Advances that the Hubble Space Telescope may have spotted a type of object for the first time ever. Hint: it orbits around a planet...but not a planet in our solar system. What is it?</li> <li>A spike in the occurrence of the bacterial disease typhus has been reported in the Los Angeles area this year. What animal is the vector?</li> <li>Swallowing a vibrating capsule could help relieve what common ailment?</li> </ol> <p>That’s it for the Pub Quiz.</p> <p>And today’s winner is: Chris!</p> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>In next week’s episode the Blue Streak Science Podcast will be giving endorsements to candidates who will put science into their decision-making.</p> <p>We’ll tell you who these candidates are and why you should cast your ballot to put them into Congress.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, Sophie McManus, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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088: Nobel Prize Week Begins!
<p>Last week it was the fun stuff, but this week it's that most serious of awards ceremonies, The Nobel Prize Awards. Sophie gives us the low-down on this year's winner in the category of Medicine and Physiology. JD breaks in with a newsflash, as one does, with Nobel Prize in Physics.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Nobel Prize Week</li> <li>Scientists De-Code How the Brain Processes Speech</li> <li>Hayabusa Rovers Send New Pics of Comet</li> <li>CDC: 80,000 Died From Flu In 2017</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Cancer Immunologists Win Nobel Prize in Medicine</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Sophie McManus</strong></h4> <p>The Ig Nobels took place recently, but now it’s time for the Nobels. The winners for the Nobel Prize in medicine are two scientists who have pioneered immunotherapy for cancer.</p> <p>Their names are James Allison and Tasuku Honjo. They separately discovered proteins that act as a brake on the immune system. They later found that releasing these brakes would allow the immune system to attack cancer cells. Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have resulted from this discovery and immunotherapy is considered a hugely promising way to treat cancer.</p> <p>Honjo was inspired to cure cancer back in the 1960s after a classmate died from gastric cancer. By the 90s, he had discovered a protein with the name PD1. This protein is a checkpoint in the immune system, or a ‘brake’ - when PD1 is disabled then the immune system goes into overdrive. It was discovered also that some cancers can produce PD1 interactors which enable them to dodge the immune system. Hence BLOCKING PD1 can give the immune system a boost - to tackle abherrant  cancer cells. Today, PD-1 inhibitors such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab have been found to shrink tumours far more effectively than chemo- and radiotherapy and crucially also have much milder side effects.</p> <p>Working independently of Honjo, James Allison, then at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of several scientists who studied a ‘checkpoint’ protein, CTLA-4, that acts as a brake on immune cells called T cells. In 1997, Allison and his colleagues engineered an antibody that could bind to CTLA-4, removing the brakes on T-cell activity and unleashing them to attack cancer cells in mice. A clinical study in 2010 found that the antibody had a striking effect on people with advanced melanoma, a form of skin cancer.</p> <p>Allison was woken at 5.30 by his son delivering the good news and by 6.30 his group had turned up with champagne for an impromptu party - before the Committee had even got through to him!</p> <p>Thanks to Honjo and Allison immunotherapy is regarded as a strong pillar in the work to treat cancer.</p> <h4><strong>Newsflash!</strong></h4> <p>The Nobel Prize in Physics was <em>just</em> awarded this morning at the time of this podcast recording on Tuesday. It was awarded to three scientists for their work in using super intense lasers to capture incredibly fast processes, and to accurately manipulate objects as small as cells and viruses .</p> <p>The scientists are Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Ontario; Gerard Mourou, a former colleague of Strickland who is currently at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey.</p> <p>Together Strickland and Mourou developed techniques to create the highest frequency, and most intense light pulses ever. These light pulses are now being used in many fields of science to probe physical processes once considered to be instantaneous.</p> <p>In separate research Arthur Ashkin developed “optical tweezers” using lasers. These beams of light are used to manipulate and move objects as small as viruses.</p> <p>One more thing; Donna Strickland is the first woman recipient of the Physics Prize in 55 years. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to make mention of such facts...the day when there’s gender equality across all the sciences.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/public-health/new-immunotherapy-suppresses-hiv-for-months-and-could-simplify-treatment/"> European Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06773-8">Nature</a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2181067-cancer-immune-therapy-recognised-with-nobel-prize-for-medicine/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06751-0">Nature</a></p> <h3><strong>Scientists De-Code How the Brain Processes Speech</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>It feels like we have stories every week that just leave you bewildered about what humanity can achieve and for me, this is another one of those stories.</p> <p>Whilst the human brain remains one of the great enigmas of nature, we have moved yet another step closer to getting a handle on what is going on in there.</p> <p>Brain scanning technologies have allowed us to map our brains and link certain functions, such as movements, senses and emotions to particular parts of the brain and over time the precision of these scans has improved. One of the most impressive applications of this understanding has been the production of prosthetics that respond directly to brain signals. So it is now possible for people who have lost limbs to control their prosthetic with the power of their mind alone, not entirely unlike how they would have controlled their original limb.</p> <p>This most recent study by Northwestern Medicine and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences has looked at language and how the brain encodes that information. This study has precisely mapped how the brain works when we speak. Not only has it mapped the physical motions made by our mouths and tongues; they’ve be been able to correlate this with another part of the brain that generates the cues for the movements. So just to be clear, they have directly witnessed the brain speaking; the very intent of language, clear and unflustered by tongue-ties or twisters.</p> <p>So to feed back to what I said earlier. The plan now is generate an algorithm that can translate these brain signals directly into speech. If they can manage this then they will have created a neurally controlled prosthetic voice box. A machine like this could literally speak your mind for you. And whilst this may sound like a pretty cool party trick, imagine how much more important it would have been for someone like Stephen Hawking. Few people appreciate just how long it took for Hawking to form a sentence using the technology that was available to him. Imagine the difference it would have made for him to just think those words for them to be sent to his computer.</p> <p>And this is what really inspires me about stories like these. The time, effort and money that is put into helping other people; not just ourselves. No sooner have we discovered something remarkable and new about the brain and the first question that the people involved ask themselves is “how do we use this to help people?”</p> <p><a href= "https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2018/september/scientists-unlock-secret-of-how-the-brain-encodes-speech-2/"> Northwestern University</a>, <a href= "http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-09/29/c_137499947.htm">Xinhuanet</a>, <a href= "http://www.jneurosci.org/content/early/2018/09/26/JNEUROSCI.1206-18.2018"> Journal of Neuroscience (abstract)</a></p> <h3><strong>Hayabusa 2 Rovers Send New Images Ryugu Surface</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Sophie McManus</strong></h4> <p>I am going to <strong>jump</strong> to talking about hopping robots on a space rock! (agh, worst attempt at a pun ever).</p> <p>So, the Japanese space agency (JAXA) sent spacecraft (Hayabusa II) over to an asteroid called Ryugu. The journey - all 319 million km of it - took three and a half years and the spacecraft finally arrived in June. For a couple of months, Hayabusa took images from above Ryugu, before descending 60 metres above it to deploy two rovers on the 21st September. Their mission was to explore Ryugu’s rocky surface.</p> <p>This is the first time rovers have successfully landed <strong>and</strong> sent back videos of an asteroid’s surface. What’s extra special about these rovers is that they hop, rather than travel on wheels. There is low gravity on the asteroid surfaces, so hopping takes them pretty far. (As a side note, it’s known that our most famous Earth-bound hoppers, kangaroos, are amongst the most efficient travellers on Earth - I don’t know if Hayabusa engineers were inspired by marsupials in their rover design though).</p> <p>There were concerns that the rocky surface of Ryugu might hamper the rovers’ transport, but it seems they are working well despite the challenge - they can hop up to 15 metres, staying airbourne for up to 15 minutes at a time!</p> <p>It is hoped that studying the surface of Ryugu might teach us more about the formation of our own planet. Asteroids such as Ryugu are made from the cloud of gas and dust debris (solar nebula) that arose from the formation of the Sun. A quote from Helena Bates, a PhD student at London’s Natural History Museum who studies asteroid formation ‘[Asteroids] are little snapshots of what the solar nebula looked like before there were planets'.</p> <p>The two rovers will be joined at the beginning of October by a third lander called MASCOT to measure the structure of the minerals, thermal behaviour and magnetic properties of the asteroid. Towards the end of the month, Hayabusa2 itself will descend and touch Ryugu to pick up its first sample.</p> <p>“The image taken by MINERVA-II1 during a hop allowed me to relax as a dream of many years came true,” said Hayabusa 2 spokesperson Takashi Kubota.</p> <p>Very cool...</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2180447-japanese-space-hoppers-reveal-glorious-sci-fi-vision-of-asteroid-ryugu/"> New Scientist</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45667350">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>CDC: 80,000 People Died From Influenza In 2017</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>I’ve actually got 2 stories in 1 here.</p> <p>The first one is somewhat sombre as last year has officially been a stinker for influenza infections with an estimated 80,000 deaths in the US. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, there were also some 900,000 hospitalisations due to flu. It has been the worst season for flu in 11 years.</p> <p>The big problem with flu is it’s compulsion to change and this makes the flu a bit of a lottery every year, the lottery being how severe the symptoms of your flu will be. Which brings us on to the second story which is the discovery of what makes some flus so dangerous.</p> <p>Really, it makes no sense for viruses to be fatal. Unlike bacteria they are 100% reliant on their host for survival, so killing your host makes bad news for you. Now, this new study, looking at the great flu pandemic of 1918, points to these strains of flu as being bad viruses.</p> <p>Much viral variation comes from mutation and most mutations are not beneficial. What this means that you end up with some strains of flu that struggle to reproduce themselves. This struggle creates a by-product which is a mini-RNA molecule. Whilst viruses go around trying not to be spotted, this RNA byproduct is actually very conspicuous and your immune system goes to town on it. Since flu infects the respiratory tract, this can lead to people drowning in their own immune response.</p> <p>The thing that makes this the good news story of the two is that now we understanding this mechanism we can now start looking for treatments that could save lives.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/cdc-says-80000-people-died-flu-last-year"> Science News</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Game Night</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>It may be stormy outside (and I mean that in any literal or figurative sense you’d like. Good lord the news has been horrid. I believe Dr. Ford.), but in the climate lounge, it’s time for GAME NIGHT! With a twist.</p> <p>So leave your settlers at home. Don’t even bother opening Carcassonne. And you’ll have to prove how “funny” you are at Cards against Humanity at a later date because today, we are talking Climate games.</p> <p>First, let’s talk about a game for all of us! Regardless of age. The only requirement is a desire to be incredibly nerdy. Scientists with the nonprofit Climate Interactive have developed a role playing game based upon World Climate Negotiations. Players have to save the world from climate change as participants to a United Nations conference. Every single decision made by the players is then fed into a climate policy model called CROADS. It takes the policy decisions and uses current climate science to shows the impact on the global climate system. That includes economic prosperity, health, safety from natural disasters. You win if you save the world. That’s a pretty good thing to try and win at.</p> <p>This game is supposed to be run with 8 to 50 people but has been scaled for up to 500 people. And has a game time of 2-3 hours (although a truncated version lasts 45 minutes.)</p> <p>The scientists survey over 2000 players before and after the game and found that the knowledge of climate change causes and impacts increased, as even more importantly the players sense of urgency increased.81% said their desire to learn and do more about climate change had increased.</p> <p>Now if you follow the social science research on climate change, you’d know that one of the hardest things to do is get people who otherwise understand and accept climate change to get up and actually do something about it. To have that sense of urgency. With all that goes on in the short term in a person’s life, it’s hard for a long-term problem like climate change to crack that top 10. But this game seemed to do that. Which is good, cause, um guys, climate change is like an urgent problem.</p> <p>Ok, one more quick climate game to round out a fun evening of playing in the lounge. And this one is particularly good because it made me feel like ancient. Climate FORTNITE! You may know the online playing battle royale game climate fortnite. Perhaps, you have kids who play it. Perhaps you play it. Either way, you’ve heard of it. For those who haven’t, it’s sorta the current hotness when it comes to the pop culture zeitgeist. People by the 10s of thousands watch other people play this game at places like Twitch (for livestreaming video games) and on youtube. Basically, numbers that you’d wish would exist for climate science based youtube videos but instead go to vids of people doing epic kills. (God I’m old). Anyways, some climate scientist thought, Hey, let’s take advantage of that and do live-streams and videos of us playing fortnite but also talking climate change. And that’s what they’ve done.</p> <p>It started with a MIT graduate student named Henri Drake and has included a bevy of climate scientists including folks like Andrew Dessler who plays with his kids (his kids are much much much better than he is). So while their squad works to kill ‘em all, the scientists end up talking about how climate models work, the latest arctic research or how ice ages came about. It’s an incredibly creative way to do climate communication so check them out. They play every Tuesday 830-1030pm Eastern and you can check out more updates from them at the twitter and Twitch handle ClimateFortnite.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/scientists-hope-spark-action-climate-change-turning-it-game?rss=1"> Climate game</a>, <a href= "https://earther.gizmodo.com/these-scientists-formed-a-fornite-squad-to-teach-player-1828886797"> fortnite</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>A very rare animal was photographed for the first time ever in Semuliki National Park in Uganda. What animal?</li> <li>Bird watchers in the UK are being urged to give up 20 minutes every week to listen out for the "twit-twoo" call of what species?</li> <li>A study in 27 September issue of <em>Frontiers in Environment and Ecology</em> suggests that what method of rat control in New York City simply does not work?</li> <li>Speaking of rats, A man in Hong Kong recently became the first human to be infected with a type of infection that's only been seen in rats. What infection?</li> <li>The European particle-physics laboratory, CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, has suspended recently suspended a theoretical physicist. Why?</li> </ol> <p>That’s it for the Pub Quiz.</p> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Sophie McManus, Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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087: Japan Threatens To Resume Industrial-scale Whale Slaughter
<p>Science marches forward, but sometimes nations march backward. This is certainly true in recent years with my own country, and we're not alone in our reversion to a lesser form of ourselves. The government of Japan is throwing an international temper tantrum because most of the rest of the world don't want to go back to the awful days of wanton and senseless slaughter of whales for commercial purposes. Yes, we're judging. And the verdict speaks poorly of this great nation. Japan can, and must do better.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Science News of the Week</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>A****** of the Month</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Skeletal Stem Cells Found In Humans</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Amrita Sule</strong></h4> <p>Today’s stem cell story is super exciting because it is the very first time researchers have identified these very specific stem cells in humans, which differentiate into the skeletal cells.</p> <p>Stem cells have been studied rigorously for their ability to self renew and differentiate into more specialized cells. Stem cells, however, differ in their ability as to what they can do and what they cannot. There are different kinds of stem cells in our body, formed at different times present in different places of the body. It has not been an easy journey to pin down a stem cell type that forms the skeletal tissue like bone and cartilage.</p> <p>Skeletal stem cells were first identified in a mouse model called the rainbow mice. Well, what is a rainbow mouse? In these mice each type of stem cell was color-coded and its differentiation into different organs or tissues was tracked. How cool is that! However, it is not possible to do this in humans (no rainbow humans).</p> <p>So instead, the researchers looked at cells which had gene signatures similar to that found in the mice skeletal cells. They worked with fetal bones from the fetuses that were aborted or did not survive. They isolated stem cells from the growth plate which is a region in the bone where new cells are made.</p> <p>These cells when grown in lab dishes formed new bone and cartilage. Voila!!! We have a bone in a dish! But can these cells form bones or cartilage if we inject them in body?</p> <p>To test that these stem cells were transplanted under the outer kidney layer.  And yes, they grew into bones and cartilage.</p> <p>This discovery carried out by Longekar group in Stanford and was published in the journal Cell this past week. These scientists were able to create a family tree for the skeletal stem cells. With skeletal stem cells being at the apex followed by pre BCSP (bone, cartilage stromal progenitor) followed by the BCSP, which then gives rise to the bone, cartilage, and stromal cells, respectively.</p> <p>This discovery has great implications in diseases like osteoporosis as well as any kind of bone injury and change the field of orthopedics.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/skeletal-stem-cells-found-humans-first-time-promising-new-treatments-fractures-and?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <h3><strong><em>Dickinsonia</em></strong><strong>, The Animal Kingdom’s Oldest Member</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister </strong></h4> <p>Whack on your lipstick, pucker up and lay a wet one on your fridge, a window, a family heirloom or even a total stranger. It doesn’t really matter, provided that you leave a mark. Because if you think about what that distinctive lip mark looks like then you’re also thinking what the fossil remains of a creature called <em>Dickinsonia</em> looked like. Although, at up to a meter long, not even Mick Jagger would be able to make an accurate recreation of one this way.</p> <p>We have a rich a varied fossil record available to us today but it’s a simple fact is that, the further back in time you go the hazier things get, and this is where <em>Dickinsonia</em> may be of some assistance.</p> <p>Even though they they lived around 550 million years ago they are now providing some ammunition for a really bad low budget horror flick as in 2016 a naturally mummified <em>Dickinsonia</em> was discovered.</p> <p>Paleontologists are known to get very excited about fossils, but there’s a whole other level of excitement reserved for mummies. Because whilst bones and hard bits of creatures can tell you a lot, soft, squishy, gooey stuff can tell you so much more and in within mummification, this stuff fossilizes too. For example; within the gooey stuff of this <em>Dickinsonia</em> was a fossil of colesterol.</p> <p>This may not sound to exciting on the face of things but let me paint the scene because, to be perfectly honest, our knowledge of life at this point of history is pretty lousy. This fossil is from a time before the period known as the Cambrian explosion, where practically every arrangement of life that is familiar to us today first developed. This means that we have virtually no frame of reference for everything existing before and our knowledge is so scant we are struggling to classify things at the kingdom level. The kingdom level! That means that we don’t know whether <em>Dickinsonia</em> was an animal, a fungus or something completely different. But colesterol? Colesterol has only ever been seen within animals, which is the best clue the we have yet as to what is creature actually was.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/say-hello-to-dickinsonia-the-animal-kingdoms-newest-and-oldest-member/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6408/1246">Science</a></p> <h3><strong>This Research Group Seeks To Expose Weaknesses In Science</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Amrita Sule</strong></h4> <p>I think we all can agree when I say that one way forward to scientific progress is “transparency”. However, there is an emergent trend where we see falsified data or even poor-quality data which has led to numerable retractions. Several of these retractions were based on the results not being reproducible.</p> <p>This reproducibility crisis is prevalent in many fields including basic and clinical biology and often the result of poorly designed experiments if studies just attain highest statistical significance. Academicians live by the three words, “publish or perish”, and this is definitely one of the reasons why poor quality studies get published.</p> <p>The problem being identified, the question is how can we circumvent this? Two psychology researchers Marcel van Assen, Tilburg University and Jelte Wicherts assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam identified this issue in their field when a prominent psychologist Diederik Stapel from Tilburg University confessed of fabricating and faking data for over 15 years.</p> <p>This was big. But the bigger question was how did everyone miss this? And this is just one person.  More importantly how do we fix this?</p> <p>These two psychologists pioneered the formation of a group of meta researchers which basically will study how scientists operate. With a grant from the European Research Council they are trying to build software which will allow researchers to analyze their data and reduce the risk of bias at the same time. There exists counterparts of such groups, e.g., the Center For Open Science in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the Society For The Improvement Of Psychological Sciences.</p> <p>One of their projects is call Statcheck. Statcheck can scan papers for statistical significance. Think of it like a mathematical spell check. This algorithm identified that 1 in 8 papers out of around 30,000 it scanned (1985-2013) have errors with regards to statistical significance. And there is a chance that many of these are accidental errors, but they still get published unchecked.</p> <p>The group wants to study the data published in 200 psychology studies and analyze it in different ways to check if there were any biases when the study was conducted. But the hindrance here is that not all researchers are OK with sharing data. And that will make such a study difficult.  </p> <p>Many journals now across the different fields are making it mandatory to share data and the number of open-data publications is going higher every day. This brings me back to the point of transparency I started with.   </p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/research-group-seeks-expose-weaknesses-science-and-they-ll-step-some-toes-if-they-have?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <h3><strong>TESS Spacecraft Has Discovered Its First Alien Worlds</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister </strong></h4> <p>This story is making me a little nostalgic. I’ve been appearing on this podcast for about about six months now and one of the stories from one of my very early episodes was about the launch of TESS. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite was sent to replace the Kepler space telescope as our number one exoplanet spotter and it’s already logged its first find.</p> <p>The new exoplanet is about 60 light years away, orbiting a star called Pi Mensae.</p> <p>People often wonder how planets can even be detected around stars many light years away, and there are several methods which can be employed to work this out such as wobbles in the star’s position as the gravity of its planets pull back or dips in the star’s luminosity as a planet passes in front of it. But what gets me is level of detail that can be calculated from this data.</p> <p>According to the data, this new planet, Pi Mensae C is twice the size of Earth, it orbits its sun every 6.27 days (which would make it a great place to visit if you love New Year) and is probably gaseous, like a mini Neptune. I don’t know about you but that seem ridiculously specific, especially when you consider that these deductions had to take into account the effects of Pi Mensae B. This is the other planet already discovered around this star and one of the biggest planets ever discovered anywhere, 10 times bigger than Jupiter!</p> <p>The team at NASA thought that it was too good to be true, to find this at pretty much the first thing that the new telescope looked at. But whilst we’re at it; they’ve actually found another one as well!</p> <p>Forty-nine light years away we now have LHS 3488b, which is 1.3 times the size of Earth and an even better place for fans of New Year as it’s solar orbit lasts only 11 minutes. Those would be some seriously hot parties and I mean literally because surface temperatures there are over 500oC!</p> <p>So to all of you LHSians out there, Happy New Year!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2180324-nasas-new-exoplanet-hunter-has-spotted-its-first-alien-worlds/"> New Scientist</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Life on an Arctic Survey</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>Just right off the bat, let me say that anyone trying to pretend that Maria and the poor relief effort afterwards didn’t kill thousands of people is a dumb***. Moving on.</p> <p>This week in the climate lounge, I’m taking you someplace really really cool. So cool, it’s cold. How cold is it? Cold enough to serve as the desolate remote outpost for research surveys into the Arctic. I’m talking about Station Nord, a itty bitty military outpost of the Danish military in northeastern Greenland 575 miles from the geographic North pole. Like imagine a map of Greenland. Imagine a place really far north of on that map. Great. No go farther north. That’s where Station Nord is. And that’s where science happens, so lets learn how.</p> <p>Now Global warming has so many canaries in a coal mine that that damn coal mine is basically a bird exhibit at a zoo. But a number of those canaries are wearing their best down jackets high in the Arctic. #1 among them is the state of Arctic sea ice. Arctic sea ice extent is rapidly dwindling over the last 30 years (13% by decade), no doubt due to the fast rising global temperatures which are amplified in the Arctic. But another thing that is incredibly important is sea ice volume or how thick the ice is. Thinner ice breaks up easier. And knowing the location of the thicker ice can let scientists know if the winds are blowing old thick ice out into the open ocean to melt or not. But measuring thickness from satellites has its flaws, especially in the summer months when ice is melting. There is a need for on location monitoring. And that’s where Station Nord fits in.</p> <p>Since 2011, scientists from the Alfred Wegener institute have been using Station Nord and placing sensors on a souped-up DC3 airplane and flying over the arctic measuring ice thickness</p> <p>Station Nord is staffed by six soldiers on two year tours. From October through March they are alone except for the companionship of two dogs who help alert everyone to the presence of polar bears. Scientists begin to show up in late Winter into early Spring. The Wegener institute scientists (a total of nine people) showed up in late July and August. But a lot of their time was spent waiting for the right weather window to fly their planes. In total they made only nine flights which was pretty good actually. But means there is a lot of down times. So what do you do in the middle of nowhere? What happens in station Nord does not stay there because that’s a horrible way of thinking about anything and no location, however remote should allow for things to occur that never get out.</p> <p>There are weird rituals. Every Saturday for instance, everyone has to wear a tie when going to dinner. They also host an Arctic/Greenland style medieval games complete with jousting while riding in the bucket of  carrier bike while people scream and blow horns in their ears. Oh and somehow they have a pig roast once a year. They actually transport a whole hog to the far north. In between doing science of course.</p> <p>So I guess it could be worse but still this is a harsh harsh environment that scientists put themselves in for weeks or months at a time to tell us the latest news from the arctic. Away from their families, away from their friends, away from civilization. But sometimes, things are worth that struggle. At least they aren’t the military folks stuck there for 2 years!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/climate/greenland-arctic-ice.html"> NY Times</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>A****** of the Month</strong></h2> <p>Dateline - FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL – Japan’s attempt to resume unabated commercial whale hunting was rejected earlier this month by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).</p> <p>Masaaki Taniai, vice minister for fisheries in Japan, said he “regretted” the vote’s outcome Friday and threatened Japan’s withdrawal from the IWC.</p> <p>Anti-whaling nations led by Australia, the European Union and the United States defeated Japan’s “Way Forward” proposal in a 41-27 vote.</p> <p>The IWC was set up in 1946 to conserve and manage the world’s whale and dolphin populations. They began a moratorium on commercial whale killing in 1986 after some species, such as humpbacked whales had been slaughtered to near extinction.</p> <p>Currently Japan ostensibly observes the moratorium but takes advantage of a loophole to kill hundreds of whales every year for “scientific purposes”, and then that whale meat ends up on dinner plates.</p> <p>So, the IWC adopted Brazil’s “Florianopolis Declaration,” which envisions whale protection in perpetuity...which I’m sure pisses off those who want to return to commercial whale slaughter.</p> <p>The “Florianopolis Declaration,” is currently non-binding, but anti-whaling nations herald it as an important indicator of the IWC’s future direction.</p> <p>Kitty Block, head of Humane Society International, said “the IWC’s moral compass” had led it to reject Japan’s proposal. “It’s clear from exchanges this week that those countries here fighting for the protection of whales are not prepared to have the IWC’s progressive conservation agenda held hostage to Japan’s unreasonable whaling demands.”</p> <p>So, the government of Japan, for your petulant response, and threatening to leave the IWC and to resume the slaughter of whales...you are the Blue Streak Science A****** of the Month.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>How long can a sperm whale stay underwater on one breath?</li> <li>Give me one good reason that scientists believe whales were once land-based animals?</li> <li>What is the name given to a method employed by many whales to find prey and locate obstacles in the water using sound waves?</li> <li>How are whales able to eat while submerged without drowning?</li> <li>When a person observes a whale spout, what can they tell about the whale that created it?</li> <li>What is a baleen?</li> <li>What species of whale has the nickname “sulfur bottom”?</li> </ol> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>In next week’s episode we’ll be talking about the one year anniversary of the wildfires in northern California. It was in the early hours of 9 October in 2017 that the single most devastating wildfire in the history of California changed the lives of so many people, including yours truly.</p> <p>So be sure to tune in to next week’s episode, number 88.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Amrita Sule, Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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086: Time And Relative Dimension In Space
<p>A slight diversion from the usual format today. But hey, do we know how to turn out a science podcast or what? Chris and JD talked about everything from cigarette smoking kids to self-administered colonoscopies. And of course, this episode was custom-made for all the Whovians out there. You know WHO you are.</p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>More kids in Europe are starting to smoke tobacco</li> <li>We have a heaping helping of Nuclear Pasta</li> <li>California Announces that it’s gonna launch its own damn satellite</li> <li>The Ig Nobel Prize winners for 2018</li> <li>Doctor Who!</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>More Children In Europe Have Started Smoking</strong></h3> <h4>Chris MacAlister</h4> <p>Has anyone got a light?</p> <p>The question’s rhetorical since I am a part of a statistical majority of European non-smokers. This is largely a good news story as the number of people who are taking up smoking in Europe has been greatly declining since 1980 onwards but, you know, there are some people out there who can’t just let good news be good news. People who think every silver lining has a cloud; and on this occasion these people have found that smoking levels have actually gone up in one age group: 11 to 15 year olds.</p> <p>The idea of 11 to 15 years olds smoking makes my head spin even before we start talking about an increase and any signal like this in the youngest bracket of our population should set alarm bells ringing. Is this indicative of an emerging cultural shift?</p> <p>I wouldn’t be getting too concerned just yet. The number of cases that we are looking at small and there are some massive unknowns associated with this data. For example, the study does not look at how frequently people smoke, it does not take into account whether these kids regular smokers or are just experimenting, hell, it doesn’t even know whether these kids are smoking conventional or e-cigarettes!</p> <p>However, this did make me think of one cultural risk that could surround this issue. Such great efforts have been made to stop glamorisation of smoking and this, along with other strategies have clearly been effective at reducing smoking levels. But most smokers do not provide glamour. Your stereotypical image of a smoker is probably not a suave sophisticated figure in lounge jacket, it’s probably something a bit less healthy and possibly more sleazy and definitely more smelly. With these images fading too we are losing both the carrot and the stick of influence.</p> <p>This potentially leaves you with what I like to call the Google+ school of promotion, which says that if no old people are doing it then just maybe young people will think it is cool. It hasn’t worked for Google and hopefully it won’t work for smoking either. But the older generation is not going out of its way to stop you from using Google; and there is nothing more tempting to a teenager than forbidden fruits; so the story may well not be over yet on this one...</p> <p><a href= "http://sciencenordic.com/more-children-europe-have-started-smoking"> ScienceNordic</a></p> <h3><strong>Nuclear Pasta In Neutron Stars</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>This is from an article in New Scientist, and it’s about pasta! But this is nuclear pasta, and it’s my guess that it would fully absorb any sauce you throw at it</p> <p>In report in Physical Review Letters this nuclear pasta is said to be really strong stuff. Breaking it would require 10 billion times the force needed to break steel.</p> <p>This pasta is found in neutron stars. Neutron stars form when a dying star explodes, leaving behind a neutron-rich remnant that is squished to extreme pressures by powerful gravitational forces, resulting in materials with strange properties.</p> <p>A kilometer or so below the surface of one of these stars atomic nuclei are packed together so close that they merge into clumps of nuclear matter, a dense mixture of neutrons and protons. These theoretical clumps are thought to be shaped like blobs, tubes or sheets, and are named after types of pasta such as gnocchi, spaghetti and lasagna.</p> <p>Even deeper in the neutron star, the nuclear matter fully takes over. The burnt-out star’s entire core is nuclear matter, like one giant atomic nucleus. This nuclear pasta is incredibly dense, about 100 trillion times the density of water.</p> <p>Researchers used computer simulations to stretch nuclear lasagna sheets and explore how the material responded.</p> <p>Neutron stars tend to spin very rapidly, and, as a result, might emit ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves, which scientists could detect at facilities like the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO. But the spacetime ripples will occur only if a neutron star’s crust is lumpy — meaning that it has “mountains,” or mounds of dense material either on the surface or within the crust. A stiffer, stronger crust would support larger mountains, which could produce more powerful gravitational waves. Due to the intense gravity of neutron stars, their mountains would be a far cry from Mount Everest, rising centimeters tall, not kilometers. Previously, scientists didn’t know how large a mountain nuclear pasta could support.</p> <p>The results of the simulations suggest that nuclear pasta could support mountains tens of centimeters tall — big enough that LIGO could spot neutron stars’ gravitational waves. If LIGO caught such signals, scientists could estimate the mountains’ size, and confirm that neutron stars have amazingly strong materials in their crusts.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/nuclear-pasta-neutron-stars-may-be-strongest-material-universe"> New Scientist</a></p> <h3><strong>California To Launch Its Own Damn Satellite</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>We go from looking to space for some super strong stuff to looking to space for something much less fragile, our climate. Yes, in the sad absence of Tom Di Liberto this week it falls to me to delivery your regular climate update.</p> <p>We’ve discussed the feasibility of California being its own nation a few times on this show, albeit from a purely theoretical position; but it seems that Jerry Brown may be taking things a step further.</p> <p>The Governor of California has announced something not entirely unlike a Californian space programme. Whilst there are only about 13 space agencies in the world (Europe has even had to club together to make theirs). This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for the state whose economy would be the 5th largest in the world if it were a sovereign nation.</p> <p>The mission that Gov. Brown has announced is a satellite to monitor carbon levels in the atmosphere. Whilst NASA is already doing this, it may come as no surprise that the Trump administration are doing their best to demobilise this operation.</p> <p>Whist this news is quite remarkable itself, the thing that I love the most about it is how it came to be. In the wake of the withdrawal from Paris climate accord and the bloody disregard that Trump and his lackeys clearly have for this one sanctuary for life in an otherwise infinite universe of death; thousands of mayors, regional leaders and corporate executives have come together in San Francisco for a Global Climate Action Summit. This was basically a forum for every American with a position of influence and a shred of moral integrity to come together and say: Balls to you Donald; not on my flaming watch!</p> <p>I should just clarify that this really isn’t a Californian space programme. The satellites will be purchased from a company called Planet Labs. This firm was started by 3 ex-NASA employees who have developed a fleet of micro-satellites. But the important point here is that by going private, California can sidestep the influence that the state has; a luxury that is not afforded to state funded organisations such as NASA.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Brown-announces-California-plan-to-launch-13230706.php"> San Francisco Chronicle</a></p> <h3><strong>2018 Ig Nobel Prizes</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>Every year, this time of year, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts a special ceremony is held. And last week it was once again time for the Ig Nobel Prizes, put on by the esteemed journal The Annals of Improbable Research.</p> <p>So let’s get right to it: The Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to researchers who discovered that riding roller coasters may be an effective method for dislodging kidney stones.</p> <p>The inspiration behind the roller-coaster research began several years ago when one of Prof David Wartinger's patients at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine returned from a holiday trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.</p> <p>The patient reported that one of his kidney stones became dislodged after a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain ride. Wondering whether it was caused by the ride or a coincidence, the patient went on the ride several more times and each time a stone popped out.</p> <p>Intrigued by the story, Dr. Wartinger built a silicone model of his patient's renal system, including artificial kidney stones, and took it with him on numerous rides. He discovered that Big Thunder Mountain was indeed effective - more so than other rides such as Space Mountain</p> <p>Dr. Wartinger concluded that this was because Big Thunder Mountain involves more up and down and side to side movements that "rattle" the rider.</p> <p>Japanese gastroenterologist Akira Horiuchi won the medical education prize for an experiment in which he reviewed the comfort and efficiency of self-colonoscopy in the sitting position by performing a colonoscopy on himself while seated. He reported only “mild discomfort.” There are pictures of him performing this procedure. Of course there are.</p> <p>Other winners included a team that demonstrated that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual (Literature Prize).</p> <p>For the Ig Nobel Peace Prize researchers surveyed Spanish drivers to determine the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while in a car.</p> <p>The Economics prize went to a group that investigated whether using Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses makes employees feel better.</p> <p>Finally, the Chemistry prize was awarded to a team that tested the effectiveness of a “spit shine” by cleaning 18th century sculptures with saliva and and compared the results to several alcohol-based cleaners. Spit won.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/ig-nobel-prizes-honor-do-it-yourself-colonoscopies-curious-use-postage-stamps-and-other?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45513012">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>Doctor Who Returns!</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>Normally we don’t cover entertainment news on this podcast...unless of course, it has to do with Star Wars, Star Trek, or other significant sci-fi stuff. Among that venerable stuff is Doctor Who.</p> <p>I tip my hat to the producers of this incredibly long running television program because this next series we will be welcoming a new Doctor among that pantheon of Time Lords. What’s special about this is that the new doctor is a woman.</p> <p>Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long. But this is one among <em>many</em> glass ceilings I’m happy to see broken.</p> <p>Broken? I mean <em>shattered</em>. I just read that the woman playing the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, is getting paid the same as what the boys did.</p> <p>This is significant because there’s been quite a row recently about pay disparity among female and male BBC employees. Thankfully, such is not the case with Doctor Who.</p> <p>When asked about this by Metro News, Jodie Whittaker replied, “I absolutely know that I’m not being paid less than any other Doctor”.</p> <p>I’m talking about Doctor Who’s who go all the way back to William Hartnell, to Tom Baker, to Paul McGann, to David Tennant and all those in between.</p> <p>Quite a Whose Who of Who’s, isn’t it?</p> <p>I’m really looking forward to beginning this next journey with the new Doctor, and that begins on 7 October with the episode titled The Woman Who Fell To Earth.</p> <p>Don’t miss it. Doctor Who on 7 October!</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/ig-nobel-prizes-honor-do-it-yourself-colonoscopies-curious-use-postage-stamps-and-other?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45513012">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>On what date did the very first Doctor Who premiere?</li> <li>Why was this a particularly unfortunate date to debut a television show?</li> <li>Who played the very first Doctor?</li> <li>The fourth Doctor, played by the inimitable Tom Baker, is known for a particularly extreme version of what item of clothing?</li> <li>What did the fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison, wear on the lapel of his jacket?</li> <li>Peter Davison has a famous son-in-law. Who, and I repeat, Who is it?</li> <li>The 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith, had a favorite food. What was that?</li> <li>What does TARDIS stand for?</li> <li>Alex Kingston was among four actors who played the character River Song. Who are the parents of River Song?</li> <li>What is the planet of the Time Lords?</li> <li>Why does the TARDIS make that awful screeching sound?</li> </ol> <p>And today’s winner is: Chris MacAlister!</p> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>Be sure to mark your calendars, because next week we present our own award episode. You didn’t know we had an awards show? We have one every month. It’s the Blue Streak Science A****** of the Month!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Thanks to Chris MacAlister</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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085: Climate Change and Hurricanes - What's the Deal?
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>A better late than never physics prize for 1967 pulsar discovery</li> <li>The International Space Station gets drilled</li> <li>Fishermen haul in the huge skull and antlers of an extinct elk</li> <li>Governor Moonbeam takes California into the future with clean energy</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Jocelyn Bell Burnell wins big physics prize for 1967 pulsar discovery</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>This is the exciting news about the discovery of something sending sweeping beams of radio wave pulses through space. It is thought that these beams are originating from expired suns; neutron stars. These small but massive bodies produce radio wave signals like the ones that we’re talking about and the spinning of these neutron stars produces the sweeping waves which have been detected. These bodies are being referred to as pulsars.</p> <p>I’m sorry? What’s that? You’ve heard all this before and it’s not really science news? Well, I grant you that this discovery was made in 1967 so there is a chance that you may come across it before. So why are we talking about this in our news section? Because Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the Cambridge graduate student who made the discovery, is finally receiving an award for this work.</p> <p>Now, I don’t think that anyone would argue that this work deserves a big prize like this (and it is a big prize; a $3 million big prize), but what gives with waiting so long to award it? If you thought that it took a long time to get a Nobel prize, that’s nothing in comparison to this 50 year wait.</p> <p>To be fair to the issuers of this prize, the Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics, it was only founded in 2012 and since that time it has been only been awarded 3 other times: for the theorising of Hawking radiation and the discoveries of the Higgs Boson and gravitational waves. All of which, I think that you will agree, are pretty big deals.</p> <p>Of course, 50 years on and Burnell is no longer actively researching so she has decided to donate the money to initiatives that promote diversity within the sciences.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/jocelyn-bell-burnell-physics-prize-pulsar-discovery-interview"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/07/she-made-the-discovery-but-a-man-got-the-nobel-a-half-century-later-shes-won-a-3-million-prize/?utm_term=.799fcf80a8bd"> Washington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45425872">BBC News Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>ISS: Spacecraft hole could be 'deliberate'</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>Remember last week when we reported on the air leak on the International Space Station? There was some speculation that it could have been caused by a micrometeoroid.</p> <p>Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case.</p> <p>According to Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency, it looks as though this little hole was created by a drill and not some hypersonic space pebble.  Furthermore, Rogozin suggested that this may have been “deliberate”.</p> <p>If you remember from the story last week this leak was not catastrophic. It was more of an annoyance. And they patched it up with space duct tape.</p> <p>Rogozin said, "There were several attempts at drilling,” and if you look at the pictures you can tell this is true because it was a shi**y job of drilling...the drill bit apparently skipped on the surface before biting through.</p> <p>The discussion right now seems to be on where this hole was drilled...as in, did this happen in space, or did the unauthorized drilling occur on the ground?</p> <p>The good money says it happened on the ground. They expect that a technician goofed, and covered up his hole with some kind of adhesive, which eventually dried up and fell away.</p> <p>However, in a televised interview Mr. Rogozin seemed to go all-in when he said: "What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions? We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."</p> <p>An investigation is going on right now and they intend to identify whoever did this, by name, accident or not. Russian politician Maxim Surayev even suggested that it could be one of the cosmonauts who wanted to cut short his or her low orbit holiday. He said, “We’re all human and anyone might want to go home.”</p> <p>I’ve a feeling this isn’t the last we’re gonna hear about this story.</p> <p>Watch this space. Get it?!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45423225">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/someone-drilled-hole-international-space-station-180970208/"> Smithsonian</a></p> <h3><strong>Fishermen Haul in Monstrous Skull and Antlers of Extinct Irish Elk</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Chris MacAlister</strong></h4> <p>Let me paint a picture for you. You’re at sea, on a fishing ship. Working long hours and lacking in sleep. So how quickly do you believe your own eyes when your net comes out of the sea containing a skull. I’m not a commercial fisherman but I’d imagine that they pick up random stuff from the sea floor all the time, but this time is was different. This was no ordinary skull.</p> <p>The skull was 6 feet wide! Let me stress that again: 6 FEET WIDE! This was due to two massive antlers sticking out of it.</p> <p>Now, I must admit that this story isn’t completely accurate. The fishing boat was actually only about half a mile from shore and the water was no more than 20 foot deep, but that’s where my liberty taking ends: everything about the skull is true.</p> <p>It turns out that this skull is at least 10,500 years old and it is the remains of an Irish Elk and I guess that the people who originally discovered this species did not want anyone to be in any doubt about its size when they dubbed it <em>Megaloceros giganteus</em>. For those of you not up on your latin and greek, let me translate: Large Horns Gigantic. Subtle, don’t you think? And appropriate as these are the largest example of this type of animal ever discovered.</p> <p>I can poke fun at the name as much as I like but it’s a damn sight better than the common name: Irish Elk as the animal was not exclusively irish and it wasn’t even an elk! This DEER lived throughout Europe, Northern Asia and Northern Africa, it’s just in Ireland where most examples of it have been discovered.</p> <p>The local irish authorities ares still working out where this skull will eventually call home. Until then Raymond McElroy, who found it, has it safely preserved for posterity...in his garage.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63521-giant-elk-skull.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/antlers-of-extinct-giant-irish-elk-found-at-the-bottom-of-a-lake-1.3620791"> The Irish Times</a></p> <h3><strong>California governor signs law for clean energy by 2045</strong></h3> <h4><strong>JD Goodwin</strong></h4> <p>California, the land of fruits and nuts, and probably the most sensible place in the United States when it comes to climate change.</p> <p>My home state just passed a bill, signed into law by our governor Jerry Brown, that commits us to using 60% carbon free electricity sources by 2030, and to using exclusively carbon free electricity by 2045. Governor Brown also pledged to abide by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.</p> <p>I’m sure the Trump administration is <em>thrilled</em> by this...<strong>NOT</strong>...especially after they pulled the United States out of the same Agreement.</p> <p>This is no empty gesture. If California were its own country, an idea that sound more appealing with each day, if we were our own country we’d have the fifth strongest economy on the planet.</p> <p>Predictably most Californians are very happy with this new law, but there has been some predictable opposition by utility companies. A statement from a Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson stated that this wouldn’t be affordable or sustainable.</p> <p>Most homes in California can meet ALL of their electricity needs by installing solar. Solar is already being required by building codes in many areas, and it won’t be long before having solar and a home battery will be just another part of owning a home. Free electricity from the sun, and a way to store it on site.</p> <p>Now you can see why utility companies are against this.</p> <p>Also, this new law has been enacted with a bit of good timing.  </p> <p>This week Governor Brown is hosting the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, which started yesterday and ends tomorrow.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Climate Change and Hurricanes - What’s the Deal?</strong></h3> <h4><strong>Tom Di Liberto</strong></h4> <p>This episode in The Lounge we are going to talk hurricanes. Mostly because the tropics have gone absolutely <strong><em>nutso</em></strong> with tropical cyclones right now. There are nine storms spread across the Atlantic and Pacific right now with a potentially historic and horrible hurricane currently churning in the Atlantic bound for the east coast of the United States. The other reason I want to talk hurricanes is that well, though I host The Climate Lounge and work in climate communication and science, I originally got started with this whole atmosphere thing as a meteorologist. So talking about the current forecasts for hurricanes is sorta my thing too. Don’t worry I’ll get to the climate angles eventually… like… RIGHT NOW</p> <p>Hurricanes and climate change. What can we say? I’m sure you’re thinking I’ll say that you can’t attribute any one storm to climate change but as I’ve said before, that’s just a really silly way to frame this. You can’t really attribute one storm to natural causes entirely either… which means that your framing of that question is dumb. So let’s not do that.</p> <p>Instead let me quickly list the ways that climate change affects hurricanes and their impacts. Then I can get into all the weather info about hurricane Florence.</p> <ol> <li>Sea level rise has made coastal flooding easier and more dangerous. This is one of those sorta obvious things. If you start with a higher sea today than two storms on that occurred 50 years ago and one today wouldn’t have the same flooding impacts. Todays storm would push water higher than the storm 50 years ago. And our coastal infrastructure wasn’tbuilt for that.</li> <li>We can’t say if the number of storms themselves are increasing but we can say that the stronger storms are getting stronger globally. Research suggests a roughly 8m/s increase in wind speed per degree celsius of warming.</li> <li>Warmer oceans mean more moisture in the air which means heavier rains from hurricanes. Research here suggets a roughly 7% increasein moisture in the air for each degree Celsius of increase in SSTs.</li> </ol> <p>This is all pretty conclusive science without getting into more complicated nitty gritty stuff like how storms are tracking farther to the north and will continue to do so since SSts are warming up enough to sustain them.Or that there is research that suggests that a warming arctic may lead to more stalling storms.</p> <p>So with just that we can see that climate change can have an impact. But let’s talk about this current storm briefly and a concept that is important in a world that will experience more weather/climate extremes.</p> <p>Hurricane Florence, as of this recording has 130mph winds and is expected to make landfall near the South Carolina North carolina border as a major category 3 hurricane around September 14 and then stall out somewhere. Depending on where it stalls out and for how long could mean the difference between 5-10 inches of rain or an absurd 20-40 inches of rain. And while we often talk about winds when it comes to impacts from hurricanes, it’s actually water (storm surge and inland flooding which kills most people in a storm.</p> <p>So how do some people stay and dont evacuate? Beacuse people often fear wind more than water and often have difficulty comparing once in a lifetime events to anything else. After all, how do you imagine the impacts of something that’s never been seen before.We often see quotes from people being rescued that say “but ive never seen it this bad”. But even then, the people who don’t leave are often those who can’t. The poor, immobile, eldery. They don’t have the ability to up and run when a storm is coming. They don’t have access to local disaster plans. They might live in old flood prone areas.  And that gets into topics of environmental justice.</p> <p>So let’s hope for the best with hurricane Florence and everywhere else affected by hurricanes. But let’s keep in mind that these extreme events also help to make much more visible the sort of environmental vulnerability that exists in our societies that often times are hidden away on a sunny day.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>What was the last year in which Atlantic hurricanes were named exclusively after women?</li> <li>In 1979 the new era of giving hurricanes male as well as female names began, and it did so with the second named storm of that year. What was that hurricane’s name?</li> <li>Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2009 until 2017, made news recently. Why?</li> <li>A rare disease that's related to smallpox has shown up in the United Kingdom for the first time. What disease is this?</li> <li>Staying in the U.K., the children’s novel “Wind In The Willows” features a character named Ratty, based upon a real-life mammal. The real-life version of Ratty has just been reintroduced to a stretch of river in Somerset. What mammal is this?</li> </ol> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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084: A Leak On The International Space Station
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The observation of a decaying Higgs’ Boson | Skull tunnels | Troubleshooting on the International Space Station | Rates of STD infections in the United States go way up |The Climate Lounge |Pub Quiz</span></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Physicists Observe the Higgs Boson’s Elusive Decay</strong></h3> <p>We struggled for 50 years to detect it, and now we can’t wait to see it die! It’s the Higgs. The boson, not the Professor! Luckily, Professor Peter Higgs is still alive and well at the age of 89.</p> <p>And I’m talking about the decay of the higgs boson - because only by knowing how a particle is born and how it dies one can truly understand it - I’m so poetic! But it’s true.</p> <p>Now the two largest experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva ATLAS and CMS have found another manner via which the boson decays - into bottom-antibottom quarks. This most common decay pattern was surprisingly hard to detect, even if more than 50% of the time the higgs decays like this. Previous observations included its decay into two photons and an electron–antielectron pair, when counterintuitively this is predicted to happen just about 0,2% of the time.</p> <p>But then again, I never claimed that theoretical and particle physics were in any way intuitive to me!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06130-9">Nature</a>, <a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/after-years-effort-physicists-spot-higgs-boson-decaying-most-ordinary-way?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/physicists-observe-the-higgs-bosons-elusive-decay/"> Scientific American</a></p> <h3><strong>Newfound skull tunnels</strong></h3> <p>We did indeed, so let me return to our tale of brains, bones and blood.</p> <p>Humankind has been examining all aspects of our bodies, both inside and out, for as long as we have had them, which makes it even more remarkable that we are still finding new features in it. The most recent being a network of tiny tunnels within the cranium.</p> <p>These tunnels are like a window to the bone marrow which is immensely important for a variety of reasons but notably, it is where our blood is made. Not only our red-blood cells but also the white blood cells that form the backbone of our immune system (no pun intended).</p> <p>It used to be believed that first response white blood cells (neutrophils to be precise) travelled from all areas of the body to wherever they happen to be needed. Note the “used to be” guess what’s coming next!</p> <p>By providing the cranial marrow with fluorescent dye the team from Harvard were able to measure the proportion of these cells that were appearing in the brains of stroke sufferers, where the immune system is having a field day. What they found was that most of the cells, by far, had originated in the cranium rather than elsewhere in the body.</p> <p>So the question was now; how do the neutrophils get from the marrow to create this sprinkler system of a immune response? This is what inspired the search that eventually discovered these tunnels.</p> <p>A key part of the body’s standard immune response is inflammation. Whilst it does a great job, there can be times where it causes more problems than it solves and the brain tends to be one of these cases. Additional pieces of information like this about how the immune system works within our brains could eventually lead to advancements in the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/skull-tunnels-immune-cells-brain-injuries"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/tiny-tunnels-run-from-the-skull-to-the-brain--study-64730"> The Scientist</a></p> <h3><strong>Air Leak on the ISS</strong></h3> <p>Oh oh! We’re in trouble! This is how the international space station would have sounded like few days ago if there was enough atmosphere up there to sound like anything at all.</p> <p>A small dip in cabin pressure was noticed by ground control on Wednesday 29 august. Then the astronauts started searching for the hole. Turned out, the leak was via a 2-millimeter-wide hole in one of the two Russian Soyuz spacecraft that's currently docked to the orbiting lab.</p> <p>As of today, the damage is repaired and no risk threatens the integrity of the ISS or the life of the astronauts.</p> <p>Russian space officials have said that the puncture was caused by a micrometeoroid, but NASA has not confirmed this. Was it may be a piece of space debris? Or may be normal wear and tear of the materials? Or an alien laser weapon?</p> <p>What I was most curious is HOW you find a 2mm hole in a 108.5 meters by 72.8 meters pace ship covered with insulation, thousands of pipes, tubes, instruments etc…. I tried to find out, JD, but it didn’t say… I place my bet on releasing some compressed air with a colorant in it and following where does it escape from. If NASA or the ISS are listening - call us - we want to know!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/small-air-leak-detected-on-international-space-station/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/41694-space-station-air-leak-fixed.html">Space.com</a></p> <h3><strong>S.T.D. Diagnoses Reach Record 2.3 Million New Cases in U.S.</strong></h3> <p>Well, JD; what have I got for you. Chlamydia, how does that suit you? No? Not for you? Okay, what about syphilis? Gonorrhea? Take your pick, I’ve got them all.</p> <p>I mean, not me personally; but my story has, because this is the news that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the United States.</p> <p>Not only are they on the rise, they have just hit a diagnosis record with 2.3 million new cases in 2017. In the previous 4 years syphilis cases have increased by 76%. So what the hell is going on?</p> <p>It’s often tricky to make a direct link between cause and effect and in science we must always remember that correlation does not equal causation, but that said. Here are some fun correlations:</p> <ol> <li>Screening and diagnosis is improving. If you are checking more people in more effective ways then you are bound to discover more cases. And this then inflates because as you diagnose new and expecting mothers you then go on to check their new babies who are getting diagnosed as well.</li> <li>Online dating is increasing and it is successful. So when more swipey-swipey leads to more bouncy-bouncy then you get more itchy-itchy.</li> <li>Condom use is decreasing. Can you believe that in this day and age we are actually going backwards in this? This could in part be down to men assuming that women are taking control of contraception but it could also be linked to correlation number 4...</li> <li>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s STD budget has been slashed by 40% since 2003. Now we give the Trump administration a fair bit of stick on this show, and rightly so, but multiple administrations bare some responsibility for this one. Trump may claim to be different from his predecessors but even he has a further 17% cut lined up for next year.</li> </ol> <p>Some may argue that people don’t need telling about how STDs spread so no budget is needed, but not everyone realises that you can spread one far and wide before you even present any symptoms. That’s exactly why these diseases spread so well.</p> <p>They say that the world needs more love and I stand by that sentiment, but for pitties sake people; be careful when you go out to do your bit.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/08/gonorrhea-syphilis-chlamydia-budget-cuts/568837/"> The Atlantic</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/health/std-chlamydia-gonorrhea-syphilis.html"> New York Times</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Welcome! Let’s start today’s Climate Lounge with a poetry reading. More like a poetry line reading from one of the poems that the US makes its high students read. John Donne, Meditation 17. No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent. But plenty of places are what’s called Urban Heat Islands. (geez what a forced opening line. I know the poem is about something deeper.. I get it, not my best, but it’s hot where I am and that’s the best I’ve got).</p> <p><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-1430" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/hotenoughforya.png" alt="" width="400" height="300" />An urban heat island is a metropolitan area that becomes much hotter than its surrounding areas due to built up human infrastructure. Things like concrete and asphalt can absorb radiation during the day and re-radiate it not only throughout the day but also at night leading to drastically warmer daytime and nighttime temperatures in cities compared to surrounding areas. Now if you don’t want to take my word for it. Test this out the next time it’s hot outside.Stand on an asphalt pavement and then walk over to a grassy shaded area and tell the difference in heat. There’s a difference. Or just take my word for it and don’t bother making yourself feel uncomfortably hot and get all sweaty and gross and yuck.</p> <p>In the summer, this can mean hot days that tip to extremely and dangerously hot days affecting the elderly, sick and young. In fact excessive heat is seen as the greatest weather-related cause of death in the United States.</p> <p>Now satellites have been able to map this on a large scale but scientists with NOAA, Portland State and the Science Museum of virginia has started doing on the ground heat island studies to map just how different conditions can be from neighborhood to neighborhood. This level of detail is missed out on satellites and can have profound effects on how cities deal with heat in the future as temperatures continue to warm due to human caused climate change. Washington DC for instance averages 5 days a year over 95. That could jump to 20 days by 2030, 40 days by 2050 and 80 days by 2100.</p> <p>Recently, these scientists along with citizen scientists and volunteers in Washington DC and Baltimore maryland, headed out with temperature sensors mounted to their car windows to monitor conditions through different transects through each city at three times during the day, morning 6am, peak heating during the mid afternoon 3pm and evening 7pm. Soon enough scientists will be able to look through the data and see exactly which areas are hottest due to the urban heat island.</p> <p>But we don’t have to wait to see this sort of impact. A similar study led by the same scientists, Jeremy Hoffman, and Dr. Vivek Shandas was completed last year for Richmond,VA. They found a 16 degree difference 87 to 103 at the hottest part of the day in the same city! And more importantly, they were able to show that the neighborhoods that tend to get smacked hardest by the urban heat island are poorer neighborhoods and areas where ambulances are already called more often to deal with heat related problems.</p> <p>Now we can fix this. Cities can use more reflective materials when building, remove pavement for grass, plant trees, add living roofs but it’s an effort that has to be taken at a city-county-state and federal level to deal with. And this sort of study is just the first step in helping cities find out just exactly where things are the worst and where actions need to be taken immediately to help community members. Because often times the folks hardest hit, are often already the most vulnerable people in our communities.</p> <p>So let me end with the final lines from that poem I started off with as I think it’s a great reminder in our climate changed worlds.</p> <p>Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.<br /> <br /> Our Climate bell is ringing.</p> <p><a href= "https://wamu.org/story/18/08/30/d-c-s-hottest-neighborhoods-science-wants-know/"> WAMU</a> <a href= "https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-case-studies/where-do-we-need-shade-mapping-urban-heat-islands-richmond"> Climate.gov</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>According to a Swiss study published last week in the <em>Journal of the American College of Cardiology</em> children born through <em>in vitro</em> fertilization may have higher risk of what?</li> <li>Researchers reporting in the journal Science on 30 August announced that using CRISPR/Cas9 techniques in a dog model have fixed a genetic mutation that causes what disease?</li> <li>There is a species of corn native to Oaxaca, Mexico that stand over 5 meters tall. That’s about twice the height of typical corn you see being cultivated. And sticking out from the stalks are aerial roots, which look like red fingers. And they’re covered in gooey slime. Why are scientists excited about this corn?</li> <li>This past Sunday a 200 year old science and antiquities museum was gutted by a huge fire in what country?</li> <li>While a subway was being excavated in Melbourne, Australia workers discovered a gruesome cache of over 1,000 human teeth in the sediment. How did those teeth get there?</li> </ol> <p>And today’s winner is: Nevena!</p> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, Chris MacAlister, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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083: Evidence of Neanderthal/Denisovan Hybridization
<h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seriously, an empathy expert under fire for bullying? | Mama is a Neanderthal and Daddy is a Denisovan | Earth's Quick Flippin' Magnetic Field | Ancient Turtle Had No Shell | A****** of the Month: Tokyo Medical University | Pub Quiz</span></h3> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Amrita Sule and Sophie McManus</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Empathy Researcher Accused of Bullying</strong></h3> <p>I think this story deals with a very important issue in academia which is often not reported: bullying. Tania Singer, a 48 year old neuroscientist, director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany has been accused of bullying and intimidation by her former colleagues.</p> <p>She is one of the world’s leading experts on empathy research and has spent her entire career studying and understanding human nature.</p> <p>Max Planck institute was brought to notice about this bullying behavior last year. They started investigating the allegations last year and allowed her a year long sabbatical. However, they plan to bring her back to the lab and this is when the current and former lab members spoke to Science.</p> <p>In an interview with science magazine, 8 former and current researchers from Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have accused Singer for manipulative and abusive behavior. The allegations include but are not limited to emotional abuse. Many one on one meetings have ended in tears for the lab members. Also, singer frowned up any female members getting pregnant and made no allowances for any medical appointments among others.</p> <p>This is also ironical because one of Singer’s goals emphasized in a book she wrote in 2013) is to bring more attention to compassion in our society.  </p> <p>More and more bullying cases are surfacing every now and then. A leading cancer geneticist Nazneen Rahman from Institute of Cancer research UK faced harassment and bullying allegations which dated around 12 years back. She is quitting her job next month.</p> <p>But let’s not forget that the onus is is on the institutions to take these matters more seriously and also create a work environment where employees can fearlessly report such instances.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/08/12/shes-world-renowned-for-studying-empathy-her-colleagues-say-shes-an-intimidating-bully/?utm_term=.9bf15e543bd7"> Washington Post</a></p> <hr /> <h3><strong>Mama is a Neanderthal and Daddy is a Denisovan</strong></h3> <p>Researchers have analysed DNA from the fragment of an ancient child’s bone. This bond represents the first example of a first-generation hybrid human - Dad was a Denisovan, Mum was a Neanderthal. The girl, named Denisovan 11, affectionately nicknamed Denny, died 90,000 years ago. The study is published in the journal <em>Nature.</em></p> <p>The team, led by palaeogeneticists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, conducted the genome analysis on a single bone fragment recovered from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Russia. This cave gives its name to ‘Denisovans’, a group of extinct humans first identified on the basis of DNA sequences from the tip of a finger bone discovered there in 2008.</p> <p>Scientists already knew that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and homo sapiens interbred in the past - but this discovery is the first example of genetic material from the first generation of these couplings. In fact, Svante Paabo, one of the leaders of the study, thought his colleagues must have ‘screwed up’ when they first told him what they had found.</p> <p>The group knew the bone fragment came from a girl because they checked the bone fragment’s sex chromosomes. The density led them to estimate Denny was at least 13 years old when she died. The scientists even know which parental side was Neanderthal, and which was Denisovan, by looking at the bone’s mitochondria - the ‘powerhouses’ of cells. The genetic material in the mitochondria was recognised as Neanderthal. This shows the girl’s mother was Neanderthal because we only inherit mitochondrial DNA from our mothers. This finding corresponded with the fact that half her genomic DNA was matched to a Neanderthal. The Denisovan dad was confirmed by comparing the remaining genetic material to samples of Denisovans, homo sapiens and Neanderthal. Sort of like an ancient and elaborate dot-to-dot.</p> <p>“To find a first-generation person of mixed ancestry from these groups is absolutely extraordinary,” - quote from population geneticist Pontus Skoglund at the Francis Crick Institute in London. “It’s really great science coupled with a little bit of luck.” As ever, scientists need that little bit of luck!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/meet-first-known-child-neandertal-and-denisovan"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06004-0">Nature</a></p> <hr /> <h3><strong>Ancient Fossil Turtle Had N</strong><strong>o Shell</strong></h3> <p>A 228 million year old fossil of a turtle has been discovered in Guizhou province of south west China. The almost complete fossil is around 2 meters long and has been named <em>Eorhynchochelys</em> <em>sinensis</em> which means "dawn-beaked turtle from China”.</p> <p>What is so special about this discovery? This turtle fossil lacks the iconic turtle shell but has a toothless beak (which is seen in modern day turtle as well). This fossil had a long tail and probably lived near shorelines.It is possible that its broad ribs, flattened shape and strong limbs were adapted for digging the mud to hide itself , bury eggs or find food.</p> <p>This is the earliest turtle ever found with a sign of turtle -like beak. It joins the list of other fossils discovered previously.  A fossil aged 220 million years old Odontochelys semitestacea had a partial shell but no beak. Until now there have been many gaps in the evolution of turtles.</p> <p>But, this discovery will help scientists in filling the gaps in the evolutionary puzzle.  The fact that <em>Eorhynchochelys</em> developed beak before odoctochelys but not the shell indicates that some traits can evolve independent of each other.</p> <p>Modern day turtles have both beaks and shells, but the evolution did not take place in straight line. Some predecessors only had the beak while some had shells. This fossil discovery is going to prove helpful for scientists to understand how present-day turtles have evolved.  </p> <p>Even though this discovery offer new insights into turtle evolution, scientists are still not sure where they will fit in the evolutionary tree. Past genetic studies have placed crocodiles, dinosaurs and modern birds as the close relatives of turtle.</p> <p>Studying this fossil will shed more light on the evolution of the turtle body plan  and how turtles relate to other reptiles.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45261121">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <hr /> <h3><strong>Earth's Magnetic Field Can Reverse Poles Ridiculously Quickly</strong></h3> <p>Our planet is shielded by a magnetic field, which protects us from the hottest radiation thrown out by the Sun, thereby preventing Earth from deteriorating into a barren wasteland (although stay tuned for the next Climate Lounge to hear how we are achieving that goal all by ourselves!)</p> <p>The magnetic field is thanks to the molten iron core of the Earth. So far, so good!</p> <p>However, a few times every million years or so, Earth's magnetic field reverses polarity. Imagine an enormous magnet inside our planet gets flipped upside down - the magnetic North Pole would become the magnetic South Pole, and the energy field that typically makes up our planet's magnetic armour would weaken and break. Studies modelling this suggest that such an event would reduce the shield's protective strength by up to 90 percent. Hmm, do visions of an electrified wasteland beckon.</p> <p>The last full reversal of the field was around 800,000 years ago and took hundreds of years to unfold. But wait - maybe we should worry! A new study is out in PNAS, suggesting such reversals may occur more rapidly than previously thought. Uh oh.</p> <p>The team of scientists analyzed millenia of geomagnetic history coded into the atoms of an ancient stalagmite in China. This story written in stone told them that once, about 98,000 years ago, the planet's magnetic field suddenly flipped polarity in as little as 100 years — roughly 30 times faster than the generally expected rate, and 10 times faster than what was thought to be the fastest rate possible.</p> <p>For now, we don’t have to worry - but if such a magnetic field reversal occurred in tandem with a solar storm, the likely result of this solar tantrum would be power outages on a scale never seen before.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63414-magnetic-field-rapid-reversal.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/41604-magnetic-field-rapid-reversal.html">Space.com</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>A****** of the Month</strong></h2> <h3>Tokyo Medical University</h3> <p>In Japan the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been boasting about its program of “womenomics” (women economics?). This has been more of a goal than a reality certainly as, according to the World Economic Forum’s rankings of gender equality, Japan remains mired down at number 114 out of 144 countries.</p> <p>So it came as a shock to some, and not shocking at all for others, when it was announced that Tokyo Medical University has been subtracting scores for women’s exams to get into this prestigious medical school. This has been going on for more than a decade.</p> <p>An investigation showed they were subtracting scores for women applicants in a deliberate effort to keep their numbers down, and also falsifying exam scores to help specific men get into the school, like the sons of politicians.  </p> <p>The managing director of the university, Tetsuo Yukioka said, “We have caused a great amount of trouble to everyone and betrayed the trust of society. I apologize from my heart."</p> <p>Here’s how the manipulation worked: in the essay section of the entrance exam, which was scored out of 100, they first subtracted 20 percent from all marks. Then it gave 20 bonus marks to men who had taken the exam three times or less. So if a woman and a man had both taken the exam and scored 70 out of 100, the woman was given a score of 56 while the man was given a score of 76.</p> <p>The proportion of women admitted to Japanese medical schools has risen steadily when it peaked at 34 percent in 2003, but hasn’t moved since then.</p> <p>Interesting fact: Japanese women have a higher pass rate on entrance exams for almost every other university subject.</p> <p>However, in medicine the pass rate is 6.85 percent for men and 5.91 percent for women.</p> <p>Even with these incredible obstacles women pass the the test at less than one percentage point less than men.</p> <p>Why the hell would they want to keep their best and brightest out of medicine?</p> <p>Sources at the university have stated:</p> <ul> <li>This was done because women are more likely to leave medicine when they have children which puts pressure on already overworked doctors.</li> <li>The University has the legal right to accept whoever they want.</li> </ul> <p>I’m ignorant of Japan’s maternity leave structure, but one good step towards making the above point moot is to provide both mothers and fathers equal time of paid leave when a new child comes into their homes.</p> <p>In any case, this policy of institutional suppression is complete bull**** and must be ended immediately, and there better be some jail time as a result of this.</p> <p>Tokyo Medical University, you’ve been crowned the month of August’s Blue Streak Science A****** of the Month.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>A mind-bending problem in pasta physics was finally solved last week, but the solution comes with a twist. What am I talking about?</li> <li>Scientists have discovered that female narwhals and beluga whales have something in common with human women. What is it?</li> <li>Scientists found a strange new type of neuron in human brains: what are they calling it?</li> <li>A beach in France was closed recently due to the amorous behavior of what animal?</li> <li>Secret tunnels were discovered! In the human body! Where?</li> </ol> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com.</a></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>And our hosts today were Amrita Sule, and Sophie McManus.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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082: Dr. Kaeli Swift - Crow Thanatology
<ul> <li>We talk with crow researcher Kaeli Swift about a really interesting aspect of crow behavior</li> <li>Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Cancer drugs may help the liver recover from common painkiller overdoses</strong></h3> <p>Painkiller overdoses can be lethal. In America, these overdoses occur around 100,000 times a year, both accidentally and in suicide attempts. Consequently, such overdoses are the leading cause of acute liver failure.</p> <p>A study published in <em>Science Translational Medicine</em> raises hope that experimental cancer drugs may alleviate the damage caused by painkiller overdose - and do so better than the current antidote, N-acetylcysteine, which must be administered within four hours to avert death or avoid the need for transplant. The new drugs were still effective 12 hours after overdose had occurred.</p> <p>The cancer drugs tested appear to work by blocking action of a common molecule, TGFbeta, which in this case is activated by inflammation and can cause liver cells to enter senescence - a pre-death state.  </p> <p>It’s hoped this strategy might be effective in clinical trials, thereby buying doctors in A&E some extra time with which to deal with OD.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cancer-drugs-may-help-liver-recover-common-painkiller-overdoses"> Science News</a></p> <h3><strong>Earliest galaxies found 'on our cosmic doorstep'</strong></h3> <p>When you think about the oldest known galaxies in the Universe then your thoughts may be drawn to MACS1149-JD. I know that mine is!</p> <p>This is the most distant galaxy ever observed. Over 13 billion light years away and thanks to the speed of light we know that it’s over 13 billion years old.</p> <p>So how bizarre would it be to learn that there are galaxies just as old, if not older, right here neighbouring the milky way? This bizarre because that is exactly what is happening! They’ve been discovered by a team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics at Cambridge.</p> <p>Now if you are like me then you will be thinking, how can they tell that these galaxies are so old? Well I’m glad that you asked; it comes down to their luminosity function, which is a measure of the radiation that they generate.</p> <p>The luminosity of these galaxies has a distinct signature consistent with that theorised to be produced in the cosmic dark ages. This was a unique period of the universe’s history when atoms first formed and the cosmic microwave background, along with all other electromagnetic radiation started to form.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45198764">BBC News Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>Crows Tidy Up Amusement Park in France</strong></h3> <p>Crows have been taught how to tidy! It's a shame more people haven’t. Rooks will be deployed this week at Puy du Fou, a French park that hosts events and re-enactments. The birds were bred in captivity and then trained by Christophe Gaborit, a falconer and project manager with the park's Academy of Falconry.</p> <p>These birds are highly intelligent and you might see them around sifting through bins to try and find something to eat. Because of this intelligence and ability to sort items, Christophe decided to turn this behaviour to good use. He raised and trained his first pair of trash-collecting rooks in 2000, with a little help from a special cabinet — when the birds deposited rubbish in the drawer, a second compartment would be opened to reward them with a tasty treat. Repeating this action led the rooks to associate rubbish removal with food.</p> <p>Sometimes they’d try to trick the system by dropping bits of wood in the box instead of rubbish. Gaborit explains all this on his blog.</p> <p>The logic behind employing rooks instead of humans is interesting - Gaborit hopes that the sight of crows picking up litter will prompt people to be a bit more thoughtful in how they dispose of rubbish. After all, it isn’t hard to drop something in the bin...</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63320-crows-pick-up-trash-theme-park.html"> Live Science</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1403" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/82_image-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" />Interview with Dr. Kaeli Swift about Crow Thanatology</strong></h2> <p>Firstly, congratulations to Dr. Kaeli Swift! Kaeli successfully defended her dissertation and was awarded her Ph.D. between the time we talked last week and the date this episode was released. How awesome is that?</p> <p>So please have a listen to the podcast as we talk about crow thanatology. What's crow thanatology? Ain't tellin'! You gotta listen!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>The Earth Is One Heck Of A Resilient place</strong></h3> <p>Power was finally restored to everyone in Puerto Rico recently but today’s voyage into the Climate Lounge is going to take a different tack on my usual Puerto Rico storyline. Today, I’m going to talk to you about re-birth.</p> <p>In a beautiful article in the Huffington Post, Kaia Findlay reports on just how resilient ecosystems (both natural and human-influenced) in Puerto Rico have been in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The story also comes with unbelievable videos of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the storm.</p> <h4>El Yunque Rain Forest</h4> <p>[caption id="attachment_1405" align="alignright" width="400"]<img class="size-full wp-image-1405" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ElYunque.png" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> El Yunque Rain Forest[/caption]</p> <p>Let’s start with the rainforests. Forests cover 60% of Puerto Rico and are a vital part of what makes Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico. And after Maria, an estimated 23 to 31 million trees were killed or damaged. The famed El Yunque rainforest was turned a shocking brown. Just listen to this quote.</p> <p>“It was a toothpick forest...like a bomb hit,” said Grizelle Gonzalez, a soil scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry.</p> <p>As someone who adores autumn and the leaves changing color, and who loves a nice winter stroll through a barren forest, that last quote got me.</p> <p>But, you can’t keep El Yunque down. You can’t keep nature down. Nature has a long history with the weather. And it’s ecosystem is already rebounding because it’s adapted to do so. Plants who love the sun quickly rose up under the brand new open canopy of the rainforest. Eventually they will grow tall enough to offer enough shade for the shade loving plants to flourish. And the rainforest begins anew.</p> <h4>Tabonuco Tree</h4> <p>Take the Tabonuco tree. One of the larger trees in the rainforest, they are found along the higher ridges, in areas more susceptible to high wind speeds during hurricanes. Yet after Maria, there they stood. Leaf-less but alive. How?They have evolved to the risk of storms by having a large interconnected root system which help to anchor them all. And once the storm passes, they can quickly grow back their leaves.</p> <p>There are more resilient tree species like the <em>Cecropia schreberiana</em> which can rapidly grow 50 feet in the post-Maria landscape. Six months after Maria hit, all of those sun-loving plants had already begun to cover the rainforest floor with trees already poking through the undergrowth. In 10 to 15 years, a visitor won’t be able to tell that anything happened. And in 100, it would take hard scientific research to even know a hurricane came through.</p> <h4>Farmer Prepares for Storm</h4> <p>That’s nature though. But there are farmers in Puerto Rico who have taken this natural adaptation of Puerto Rico’s land and applied it to their farms. Ian Pagán Roig woke the day after Maria to see his farm decimated, trees down, surrounding forest denuded, pools of water everywhere. Yet a month after Maria, there he was producing crops again.</p> <p>How? Prior to the storm, Pagan took important steps like digging trenches for water drainage, removing the roof of his greenhouse to allow for the wind to blow through. And prior to the hint of any storm, Pagan built permanent infrastructure like ponds and a greenhouse to make returning to normalcy quicker. And most important, his farm equipment ran on grass not fuel. While fellow farmers waited hours and hours on line for gas, his two oxen where out plowing land.  Combining these choices with natural agricultural practices that enhanced his soil vitality had his farm up and running so quick after Maria.</p> <p>The main thing is that the earth is resilient. And people can be too… if we put the effort in.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/puerto-ricos-natural-revolution-after-hurricane-maria_us_5b5f3dffe4b0b15aba9b4daf"> HuffPo</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>Using data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, scientists have identified three specific signatures that definitively prove there is what on the surface of the moon?</li> <li>This week, a consortium of more than 200 scientists from 20 countries published the first fully annotated sequence of the genome for what very important species of plant?</li> <li>What food was recently found in a 3,200 year old Egyptian tomb?</li> <li>A 'Fireball' 40 Times Brighter Than the Moon was seen streaking across the sky of what U.S. state?</li> <li>A purple celestial phenomenon, recently discovered by citizen scientists, has been given a name. What name?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>Hey, you don’t wanna miss next week’s episode. We have science news, the Climate Lounge, Pub Quiz….and...the Blue Streak Science A****** of the Month!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thanks to Dr. Kaeli Swift for joining us today. And best of luck on your future work with Canada Jays. </p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com.</a></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Sophie McManus, Chris MacAlister, and Tom DiLiberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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081: Amber Stuver, Ph.D. - Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory
<ul> <li>Dr. Amber Stuver of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory</li> <li>Blue Streak Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3><strong>New Horizons Sees Glow at Edge of Solar System</strong></h3> <p>It’s time for another update from my favourite little space probe; New Horizons. The explorer who brought us Pluto in all of its glory; with its heart and fart dunes, has something new to report on its way to its next rendezvous with Ultima Thule, an ultraviolet glow.</p> <p>So what could be causing a glow in deep space? Well the experts are all in agreement. It’s aliens. Aliens people, they’ve finally come! If only we had a space force to save us.</p> <p>Sorry, my error. It’s not aliens, it’s Hydrogen. The general consensus is that this glow is emanating from the edge of the heliosphere.</p> <p>The heliosphere is our solar system’s bubble, created by the sun’s solar winds blowing out through the solar system and it keeps interstellar matter from drifting in. So this glow is thought to be where the winds stop. Forming a hydrogen wall at the point where the wind gets weak enough for the universe to push back.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-horizons-may-have-seen-glow-solar-systems-edge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63297-hydrogen-wall-glowing-interstellar-space.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>New Drug for Relapsing Malaria</strong></h3> <p>Malaria is a disease caused by a total of 170 plasmodium species. Some infect humans, other - other animals, some cause slightly different symptoms of the same disease. In the majority of cases, the malaria plasmodium is transmitted by mosquitoes, and one species is known to be transmitted to humans via small primates. An estimated 600 million people worldwide are affected by malaria and about one to three million die each year.</p> <p>The good news is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved tafenoquine for malaria prophylaxis.</p> <p>Some of the malaria-causing plasmodia can remain dormant in the liver of affected patients and cause recurring infections of the patient months after the initial condition, and what is worse - they are also potentially contagious if a mosquito bites them.</p> <p>This new drug was specifically developed against this recurring species.</p> <p>It also has a strong negative side-effect though. For people with a X-chromosome related genetic condition causing deficiency in the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme which protects the red blood cells from oxidative damage, taking this pill can cause hemolytic anemia - destruction of their red blood cells, so that’s a pretty significant drawback.</p> <p>The approval of FDA comes with the conditions for the pharma companies that make the drug to carry out further extensive pharmacovigilance tests once the drug is on the market and provide detailed reports of the results.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/first-preventative-antimalarial-in-almost-2-decades-gets-fda-approval-" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pharmacy Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-food-and-drug-administration-approves-arakoda-tafenoquine-tablets-for-oral-use-first-preventative-antimalarial-approved-in-almost-two-decades-300694787.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PR Newswire</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/newly-approved-drug-could-be-boon-treating-malaria" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Science News</a></p> <h3><strong>Debate On How People Arrived in The Americas</strong></h3> <p>During the last ice age, pioneering humans crossed the Bering Strait on an ice bridge and became the first human population in the New World. Simple, eh?</p> <p>Maybe not. Once on the continent there is still the small matter of making your way south and there are some conflicting ideas about how this would have happened.</p> <p>One theory says that the explorers would have hugged the coast on their way down, whilst the other says that a more inland route would have been taken, passing between two ice sheets.</p> <p>There is evidence to support each case, and we all know what happens when you have conflicting theories in science; fiiiiiiggggghhhhht!</p> <p>Mercifully, a international team of multidisciplinary experts have come together to try and shed some light on this puzzle and stop some of the carnage and bloodshed.</p> <p>Archeology, geology, anthropology and genetics have all been put to task to try and solve this question once and for all, the results are in, and the winner is…..La La Land. Sorry wrong card. The winner is…..we don’t know!</p> <hr /> <p>[caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignright" width="300"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-1383" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AmberStuver-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" /> Amber Stuver, Ph.D.[/caption]</p> <h2><strong>Interview with Amber Stuver, Ph.D. - LIGO</strong></h2> <p>Dr. Amber Stuver is an assistant professor of Physics at Villanova University and is also a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, better known as LIGO. Dr. Stuver has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since 1999. She’s also a terrific science communicator having done videos with Tedx Talks and Ted-Ed.</p> <p>Please have a listen to our conversation about this completely new way of discovering our universe.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Welcome to the lounge! I see that last week we covered how the death toll for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was finally increased… something that should have occurred a long time ago. I was going to say that it should be a scandal. But it IS A SCANDAL. Even if most of the media has moved on and people have moved on. I’m imploring you to not move on. The island still have years, decades even left ahead in its rebuild. Is it going to be a climate resilient rebuild, or a patchwork effort that will lead to failure the next time a storm hits? I sure hope these stories reach the light of day… Ok.. onto this weeks science story. Let me set the stage…</p> <p>A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, if by galaxy, I mean region and if by region I mean Central America, I digress, a predominant technologically advanced civilization crumbled into non-existence due to, according to a new study, a change in the climate. God, please don’t let this be foreshadowing on all of us.</p> <p>Ok, I’m talking about the Mayans here. An incredibly, for their time, advanced civilization when it came to math and astronomy and agriculture and lore located in the Yucatan peninsula. Built up over a thousand years, the Mayan civilization collapsed in just a few hundred potentially during the 8th and 9th centuryish. What the heck happened? (pedantic note, technically we are talking about how the Mayans abandoned they massive cities in the southern lowlands of their territory over just a couple hundred of years. They didn’t vanish. And some form of mayan civilization continued for hundreds of years)</p> <p>Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but scientists have lots of theories. Disease, Over-population, deforestation, aliens to name a couple but one theory I want to talk about today involves a change in climate. Specifically,  a stupidly bad drought.</p> <p>In a new paper published in Science, scientists attempted to quantify just how bad the drought was that impacted the region during the Mayan Collapse. It was called “Quantification of drought during the collapse of the classic Maya Civilization”. THREE CHEERS TO NOT PRETENTIOUS OR CONFUSING RESEARCH TITLES.</p> <p>(another pedantic note: this paper didn’t discover this drought, they just quantified it. Probably lots of things caused the collapse)</p> <p>To do this, scientists took sediment cores from Lake Chichancanab. Basically, just like an ice core, layers of soils can hold within them clues about the precipitation and temperature.</p> <p>What did the paper whose first author was Nick Evans a graduate student at Cambridge (have to give shout outs to first author grad students HUZZAH) find? There was a 50% decrease in annual precipitation for over 100 years from 800 to 1000 AD. And at worst, it was as much as 70%.</p> <p>How did they figure this out? Basically as water in the soil evaporates, lighter elements go first, leaving heavier elements behind. During particularly bad droughts, gypsum crystals form keeping within them lake water. The chemical properties of this fossilized lake water is what Nick Evans and colleagues looked at to determine how bad the drought was.</p> <p>A pretty amazing climate detective case. Now we still don’t know what caused the drought. It could ahve been changes in the atmospheric circulation. Maybe there were more long lasting and bad El Ninos which lead to drought? Maybe something with the Medeval warm period, a time with less volcanic activity and a stronger sun. But really that is sorta besides the point.</p> <p>What’s interesting for us today in a world impacted daily by human-caused climate change is just how easy it potentially was for a natural climate event, drought, to upend a thousand year old civilization. And all of those people had to go somewhere.</p> <p>Now think about the implications today for areas that potentially could dry out over the next century due to climate change. Add on a natural drought and you get a particularly bad scenario. And then you have millions of climate refugees. Are we are a society prepared for that? I’ll leave that one hanging. But I’m sure you might have answered that for yourself already.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/08/02/an-ancient-lake-holds-secrets-to-the-mayan-civilizations-mysterious-collapse-study-finds/?utm_term=.beb583682ecb"> WaPo</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Taking part in the pub quiz today are: Chris MacAlister, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto</p> <ol> <li>There was an annually occurring meteor shower last week. What is it called?</li> <li>What dangerous substance has The United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed to allow for the approval of "new uses"?</li> <li>A study published in Nature Scientific Reports last week suggests that cremated human remains from Stonehenge most likely came from whe</li> <li>In honor of it being the Dog Days of Summer, something I take Sirius. I have a question about dogs. A new study suggests that some dogs may be lying about something when they have a pee. What are they lying about?</li> <li>New archaeological research from The Australian National University has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of human, went extinct, at least in part, because they were what?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>We’ll be talking with Kaeli Swift of the University of Washington who has been studying some really interesting behavior about my favorite birds...crows! We may have to re-think what it means to be a bird brain after this. Don’t miss it!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thanks a million to Amber Stuver!</p> <p>Thanks to our audience, especially our <a href= "https://bluestreakscience.com/patreon" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">Patreon</a> supporters. We’ve only recently begun our Patreon campaign, but soon we’ll be offering some incentives.  Perhaps extra content. Live streaming? Maybe the opportunity to sit in with us while we record the podcast? Or even a completely new Patreon-only live stream. We’re looking at all these ideas. So, watch this space, and get in early!</p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a> and the podcast directory of your choice. </p> <p>If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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080: Grant Ballard - Point Blue Conservation Science
<ul> <li>Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico over 1,100</li> <li>The Trump Administration Proposes to Scrap Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards</li> <li>Also, Donald Trump picks a White House science officer</li> <li>The US state of California Hits Its Emissions Target Years Early!</li> <li>Interview with Dr. Grant Ballard, Chief Science Officer of Point Blue Conservation Science</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico over 1,100</strong></h3> <p>It is a story we keep mentioning and we will keep mentioning for as long as it’s necessary. Puerto Rico - the American territory which seems to be completely forsaken by the American administration, probably because they don’t have fancy golf courses there right now. The government claims 64 deaths between landfall in September 2017 and December 2017, while the official average comes to about 1140 people who lost their lives. Talk about fake news the government seems to be the best in cooking these up. Next to that the, months-long power shortages, the contaminated water supplies, the extreme flooding are part of the daily struggles of the people of Puerto Rico a year after the hurricane hit. Good job, to president Trump and his cabinet for taking care of their own people...]</p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-hurricane-maria-deaths-20180802-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2175853-how-many-people-did-hurricane-maria-really-kill-in-puerto-rico/"> New Scientist</a></p> <h3><strong>GOP Administration Proposes to Scrap Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards</strong></h3> <p>Last Thursday, Donald Trump released a proposal to scrap federal fuel-efficiency standards for passenger vehicles. His administration has also threatened to remove California’s ability to set its own emissions guidelines.</p> <p>The reaction from the science community, as well as government officials in California was swift and negative. On Twitter, Governor Jerry Brown wrote, “California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”</p> <p>What’s the Trump administration’s argument?</p> <ul> <li>Current standards drive up vehicle prices</li> <li>these standards would  increase the number of deaths from traffic accidents by encouraging consumers to keep driving older cars that aren’t as safe as new ones.</li> </ul> <p>According to John DeCicco, a University of Michigan engineer who studies the environmental impact of vehicles, “I don’t believe the administration has any solid engineering or economic ground to stand on. It is basically political opportunism.”</p> <p>With Trump’s new proposal the projected CO2 emissions would increase by roughly 20% compared to the projected output under the current regulations.</p> <p>Trump’s plan would also revoke a waiver granted to California that allows the state to set air-quality standards that are stricter than those enacted by the federal government. The waiver also lets other states to adopt California's standards.</p> <p>Even car makers are advising the GOP administration to back off because this could create a legal mess that could get dragged out for years.</p> <p>We’re not gonna let this happen.  </p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05832-4">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/climate/trump-auto-emissions-california.html"> New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>New Pick for White House Science Office is Not Bad</strong></h3> <p>Our next story takes us back to you know who! Donald Trump.</p> <p>Mr. Trump assumed office more than a year and half ago. Among his accomplishments is the fact that he has gone longer without a science adviser than any first-term president since 1976.</p> <p>Here’s the biggest surprise. His choice to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is not a d*%#head.</p> <p>He is a meteorologist and his name is Kelvin Droegemeier. He’s an expert on extreme-weather events, and has been the vice-president for research at the University of Oklahoma since 2009. Kelvin Droegemeier also served on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, under presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.</p> <p>This guy is a good choice.</p> <p>Granted, he’ll be stepping into an Office of Science and Technology Policy that has been eviscerated from a staff of 130 employed by President Obama to that of only 50 by Donald Trump.</p> <p>But this one appointment is a good choice, and Donald Trump should be commended for it.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/trump-s-pick-head-white-house-science-office-gets-good-reviews?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-taps-meteorologist-as-white-house-science-advisor/"> Scientific American</a></p> <h3><strong>California Hits Its Emissions Target Years Early!</strong></h3> <p>JD, for a country that pulled out of the Paris agreement, showing nothing but disregard for scientific and popular opinions by the office running it, your own state is doing really well! California set a goal in 2006 to reduce its greenhouse emissions to levels equal those of 1990 by 2020. A recent study published by the Air Resources Board reviewing data from 2016 shows that California has already hit that target with few years to spare!</p> <p>Emissions from the power sector mark the biggest drop - around 35%. At the same time California’s economy was still growing, mind you - for those who believe that degrowth is the only way to return to healthier planet. And also, for those who believe the greener future is a poorer future - you are wrong and California just proved you wrong with very convincing numbers!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/26/world/california-met-ambitious-2020-greenhouse-gas-emissions-target-2016/#.W2PCwdhKjUI"> Japan Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.greenmatters.com/renewables/2018/08/01/1Vbqjx/california-2020-emissions-goal-reached"> Green Matters</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Dr. Grant Ballard, Chief Science Officer</strong></h2> <h2><strong>Point Blue Conservation Science<img class= "alignright wp-image-1361 size-medium" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/80_350x350-300x300.png" alt="" width="300" height="300" /></strong></h2> <p>It was my privilege today to talk with Grant Ballard, the Chief Science Officer of <a href="http://www.pointblue.org" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Point Blue Conservation Science</a>. We discussed the history, mission, and current projects being undertaken by this many-faceted conservation organization.</p> <blockquote> <p>Point Blue is a leader in climate-smart conservation, helping to ensure that wildlife and our own communities continue to thrive in the decades to come. We believe that our collaborative climate-smart conservation actions today can lead to ecosystems that sustain healthy wildlife and human communities well into the future. As leaders and innovators in conservation science, we have the vision, scientific rigor, passion, and ability to inspire others to act to make positive conservation outcomes possible for a healthy blue planet.</p> <ul> <li>Point Blue Conservation Science website</li> </ul> </blockquote> <p> </p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Recommended by The Team<img class= "size-medium wp-image-1360 alignleft" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Unthinkable-199x300.jpg" alt="" width="199" height="300" /></strong></h2> <p><strong>Book:</strong> <a href= "https://www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-Extraordinary-Journey-Through-Strangest/dp/006239116X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533669249&sr=8-1&keywords=helen+thomson+unthinkable" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Unthinkable</a> - And Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains</p> <p><strong>Author:</strong> Helen Thomson</p> <p>In <em>Unthinkable</em> Helen Thomson tells the stories of nine extraordinary people. From the man who thinks he's a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them.</p> <p>This is a terrific book that helps us to understand ourselves by helping us to understand the unique brains of some extraordinary people.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>Interview with Dr. Amber Stuver of Villanova University</p> <p>We talked all about LIGO and gravitational waves.</p> <p>Don't miss it!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thanks to Grant Ballard of Point Blue Conservation Science</p> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. And if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the new Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>And our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and me!</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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079: Heatwaves and Wildfires in the Climate Lounge!
<ul> <li>General Relativity passes the black hole test</li> <li>A day by the lake...on Mars</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>And more!</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Amrita Sule and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Animals Frozen for 42,000 Years Wriggle to Life</strong></h3> <p>Not a lot of us are excited when we hear the phrase, "blast from the past”. But this time we do have news that goes about 40,000 years back.<br /> <br /> A team of researchers revived 2 nematodes from samples of permafrost in Siberia.  Scientists claim that these two nematodes have been frozen since the Pleistocene, thousands of years!</p> <p>Previously, nematodes that were frozen for about 39 years and also tardigrades frozen for about 30 years have been revived. However, this is the first time a complex organism like a nematode has been revived after thousands of years of frozen dormancy.<br /> <br /> For this new study Russian scientists worked in collaboration with Princeton University researchers and found two viable nematodes while analyzing about 300 soil samples collected from the melting permafrost. Both are believed to be females.<br /> <br /> One permafrost sample about 32,000 years old came from northeastern part of Yakutia in Russia and the other about 42,000 years old permafrost sample came from the Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia.<br /> <br /> As these isolated worms warmed, they started moving and eating.</p> <p>A number of organisms native to Arctic and Antarctica are known to undergo cryo-protective dehydration i.e when they encounter freezing temperatures they rapidly dehydrate – remove water from their cells. This prevents damage to their tissues  which could occur otherwise when the water in their cells could freeze and form crystals.<br /> <br /> More information would be indeed vital to understand how these two nematodes survived for thousands of years in frozen state. They would also be key in understanding evolutionary divergence between ancient and present nematode populations.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63187-siberian-permafrost-worms-revive.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-roundworms-allegedly-resurrected-russian-permafrost-180969782/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=socialmedia"> Smithsonian Mag</a></p> <h3><strong>Einstein theory passes black hole test</strong></h3> <p>The theoretical physicists come up with these elegant equations to explain everything in the universe from the very small to the very large. But it takes scientists who can design experiments to find out if the predictions of these theories line up with what’s out there in the real world.</p> <p>General Relativity has been experimentally confirmed many times. But one of the best things you can do with a scientific theory is to test it in the most extreme conditions to see if holds up. If it doesn’t then you have to scrap it, or revise it if possible.</p> <p>For the first time scientists have been able to test Relativity with an extremely massive object. How massive? Is 4 million times the mass of the Sun big enough for ya?</p> <p>We’re talking about the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. This black hole is known as Sagittarius A.</p> <p>In particular, there’s one star called S2. And S2 goes around Sagittarius A in an elliptical orbit every 16 years at 3% of the speed of light.</p> <p>There are other stars in the area, and only a few years ago observing these would have been impossible. But these four telescopes, located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, can overcome distortions from the earth’s atmosphere. By bringing the light together from all of them it creates a virtual super telescope.</p> <p>What they were looking for is a gravitational redshift. That’s when the light from this star gets stretched out as a result of a strong gravitational field.</p> <p>Gravitational redshift is predicted by General Relativity, and has been observed before, but not from such a massive object with its intense gravitational field.</p> <p>Until now.</p> <p>These astronomers followed S2 before and after it streaked by Sag A on 19 May and they measured it every hour.</p> <p>And they saw that the light from S2 was stretched, that is red-shifted, by the black hole exactly as predicted by the Theory of General Relativity.</p> <p>They’re not done looking at S2. The more we observe this unusual star whipping around Sagittarius A the more we can learn about the extreme conditions so close to a supermassive black hole.</p> <p>These results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/star-s-black-hole-encounter-puts-einstein-s-theory-gravity-test?rss=1"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/star-orbiting-black-hole-einstein-gravity-general-relativity"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44967491">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>Mars May Have a Lake of Liquid Water</strong></h3> <p>Water is the most essential requirement for life. When planets are explored for the possibility of life, scientists first look for evidence of slightest amount of water.  </p> <p>And much to their surprise the Italian scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced that the Mars orbiter has found a lake of liquid water below the southern ice sheets on Mars.</p> <p>In the past, there have been indications of presence of tiny amount of water on Mars. However, this is the very first evidence of a liquid lake that spans 20 km across and sits under the planet’s southern polar cap.</p> <p>Temperatures below the ice sheet could be as low as -68 degree C and pure water would freeze at such low temperatures. There is probably lot of salt dissolved in the water- thereby lowering its freezing point.</p> <p>This lake was discovered by the The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument, or Marsis instrument developed by the Italian space agency. This instrument bounced radar beams on the ice sheets and the reflection revealed presence of a triangular region beneath the sheets – speculated to be a basin into which water had flown.</p> <p>The Italian scientists matched these radar measurements to similar ice lakes in Greenland and Antarctica on earth to confirm their observations.</p> <p>So, is this the evidence of life on Mars we’ve been looking for all along? Not yet. More confirmation is needed. If this holds true, it would be substantial in understanding if any organisms can, or have survived.</p> <p>Since, no other orbiter has detected this in spite of using a similar technology, for example NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, there might be debate about this and a assessment of this martial polar region might follow.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44952710">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mars-may-have-lake-liquid-water-search-life"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/25/science/mars-liquid-alien-life.html"> The New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>Carrie Fisher will be Leia again in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’</strong></h3> <p>Last Friday the cast for the next Star Wars film was announced. And guess who’s in it?</p> <p>Hint: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.”</p> <p>Not just Princess Leia Organa...but Carrie Fisher herself is playing Princess Leia. This is no little hologram or CGI generated image of her, either!</p> <p>Yes, Carrie Fisher died in 2016. That really happened.</p> <p>How are they going to do this?</p> <p>Star Wars: Episode 9, directed by JJ Abrams, is going to use previously unused footage from the filming of Episode 7: “The Force Awakens”.</p> <p>According to Abrams this has the blessing of Fisher’s daughter Billie.</p> <p>“Episode 9,” begins shooting next month, and is scheduled to be released December 2019.</p> <p>Another notable casting appearing in the new film will be Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/07/27/carrie-fisher-will-be-leia-again-in-star-wars-episode-ix/?utm_term=.7e749afaf0ae"> Washington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/27/movies/carrie-fisher-star-wars-film.html"> The New York Times</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Heatwaves and wildfires: What is going on?</strong></h3> <p>This week in the lounge we are just going to take a quick tour of the planet and see how things are going. I’m just going to, um, open up a browser real quick here, surely you’re impressed with my preparation, alright, let me type in weather disasters into this here google search...and. Oh god. The world’s on fire… let’s talk about this</p> <p>First, Europe. Europe has been sitting under a dome of high pressure that has basically let the continent slow cook. Temperatures reached into the 30s C or 90F as far north as the Arctic Circle...normal.. England has been baking. So has France.. So has… you get the picture it’s hot. A preliminary study suggests the heat wave was made 5 times more likely in northern Europe thanks to climate change. In Greece, the recent hotness combined with unusually strong west winds caused wildfires near Athens to grow incredibly out of control. The kineta fire to the west burned through rural areas and didn’t cause too much damage. But the Rafina fire 10 miles to the west was horrible. The hot dry gusty winds made the fire grow rapidly and even worse unpredictably. The fire quickly overtook the seaside resort towns near Rafina including Mati on July 23 forcing residents onto the narrow streets which quickly became clogged with cars. This led people to rush to the beaches and into the sea to protect themselves as the fires burned all the way to shore. Videos of the residents in the water while ash clouds the sky and fire burns in the distance were terrifying. Over 90 people died with dozens still missing. Making it the 5th deadliest wildfire in the past century and the deadliest in Europe. It’s a horrible shocking thing. And this happened in a place that, to be honest, wasn’t that dry. The winds were the unusual part. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre released in January a <a href= "https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/0e99c069-ff3b-11e7-b8f5-01aa75ed71a1/language-en"> report</a> specifically looking at the risk of wildfires in Europe in a future dominated by man-made climate change.  The report found that for the Mediterranean region, the fuel needed for fires will become even drier increasing the risks for weather-driven forest fires.  Making matters worse, drying conditions will extend farther north from the Mediterranean, while the large source of moisture found in the Alps will decrease as temperatures warm.</p> <p>In the US, hot weather has led to dumbly (is that a word, it should be) hot temperatures in California. Redding hit 110 on July 26. And it’s been hot and dry for quite awhile. A bit different than Greece. But similarly, fires broke out and rapidly grew in size. The Carr fire has burnt 110,000 acres andis only 27% contained and has burned into Redding itself. It has destroyed over 1200 buildings and killed 7 people so far including two firefighters. The freaking fire even creating this rotating fire hellscape that was like a tornado. It created its own weather. There is even a photo of a steel pipe wrapped around a tree. Meanwhile, the Ferguson fire near Yosemite killed two firefighters and caused the largest park related fire closing since 1990 burning nearly 57,000 acres. Country-wide, so far this year the burned area is 25% above-average. That’s alot</p> <p>Air quality in California as a result of all of the fires has been incredibly dangerous for those outside as well.</p> <p>Climate change… it’s making this worse but I’ve never felt comfortable saying “new normal” but I never was eloquent enough to say why. Thank god for smarter people. So let me quote Crystal Kolden a fire scientist at the University of Idaho. She noted that the behaviour of the Carr fire is not the behavior firefights are used to seeing in the middle of the night, instead it’s more normal during the hottest parts of the day. She says” That sort of extreme, it’s something we have seen a lot in the past couple years, but it’s something we’ve been seeing more frequently with a greater magnitude ofr the last 20, 30  years. “ But she pushed back on saying this is a new normal because “That implies that it’s not going to get that much worse. But what our projections tell us is that it’s going to get worse”</p> <p>Of course she’s right. SHE’S A FREAKING FIRE SCIENTIST. As temperatures warm, the fire seasons get longer, the fuel gets drier, and drier more plentiful fuel means if fires form they grow fast and large. Not surprisingly,  In <a href= "https://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/risk-very-large-fires-could-increase-sixfold-mid-century-us"> recent research</a> looking at trends in weeks where conditions are favorable for very large fires, scientists found that the potential for the development of very large fires is expected to be up to six times as likely by mid-century (2041-2070) compared to 1971-2000 in the mountain west. 2 to 4 times in California.</p> <p>It hasn’t been lost on me that I’m doing another story on wildfires and the host of this podcast JD has gone through the terrifying ordeal himself after his home burned down last year. Fires that grow large so fast and going to encroach on that urban wild interface. Another bit about how infrastructure is not built for the extremes we are ALREADY seeing, let alone what may happen in the future.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/5th-Deadliest-Wildfire-Globally-Past-100-Years-Greeces-87-Deaths-Mondays-Fires"> Wunderground</a> <a href= "https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Onslaught-California-Wildfire-Kills-Least-7"> Wunderground</a> <a href= "https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/strong-winds-whip-deadly-wildfires-greece-late-july-2018"> climate.gov</a> <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2018/07/30/how-climate-change-is-making-disasters-like-the-carr-fire-more-likely/?utm_term=.55d1a31ac7b6"> WaPo</a> <a href= "https://www.axios.com/science-behind-carr-fire-tornado-redding-california-f77a451d-9aec-46bd-8091-acb0dd45fff0.html"> Axios</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Taking part in the pub quiz today are: Amrita Sule and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>What are the rules? The first rule of Pub Quiz is you do not talk about Pub Quiz.</p> <p>I ask a science question and our panel of dangerous intellectuals provide their brilliant answers along with some witty repartee’.</p> <ol> <li>A pair of papers posted on the preprint server arXiv last month suggests that this cosmological Theory results in far fewer universes than previously thought. What Theory am I talking about?</li> <li>On Friday, 27 July what notable celestial event took place?</li> <li>A bite from this animal can make a person deathly allergic to red meat. This week researchers announced that its bite may also be linked to coronary artery disease. What animal is it?</li> <li>In recent weeks hundreds of dead fish, seabirds and sea turtles have been washing up on the beaches of what U.S. state?</li> <li>According to a new study published in Nature Geoscience on 23 July, the oldest evidence for life on land was found in what country?</li> </ol> <p>That’s it for the Pub Quiz!</p> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <p>What? You want the answers? Then you're just gonna have to listen to this episode!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Recommended by The Team</strong></h2> <p>Are there any birders out there? Of course there are! Well, I have an awesome way for you to waste 90 minutes of your life.</p> <p>On Twitter there’s a thing called TrickyBirdID. It’s #TrickyBirdID. It’s run by Jason Ward, and you can find him at JasonWardNY.</p> <p>This is a daily contest on Twitter. Jason posts pictures of birds, and you try to guess what they are! It’s not always easy because the pictures may be backlit, blurry, or maybe a partial picture. It’s meant to be a challenge, and it it.</p> <p>He gives everyone 30 minutes to give their answers, and whoever answers correctly first wins that round. There are a total of three rounds.</p> <p>I was in rare form on Monday and won two of the three rounds. That last one was a white-eyed vireo, but I answered with yellow-throated vireo.</p> <p>Still, this is a great way for birds nerds to waste time, and for that reason I recommend hashtag TrickyBirdID on Twitter.</p> <p>#TrickyBirdID on Twitter</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Next Week’s Episode</strong></h2> <p>Dr. Grant Ballard, the Chief Science Officer of Point Blue Conservation Science.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. And if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the new Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>And our hosts today were Dr. Amrita Sule, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us.</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

078: Let's Get Political!
<ul> <li>Our first political endorsement!</li> <li>The Blue Streak Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>The Asshole of the Month</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Political Endorsement</strong></h2> <h3>Dr. Shannon Hader, Democrat for the 8th Congressional District in Washington</h3> <p>We’re coming up on that silly season again, but this time around it seems so much more urgent because so many of us failed to see the reality that we faced during the last election. Part of that reality is that the anti-science and alternative-truth segment of our society have seized power. And folks, they’re making the most of it to roll back scientific progress and education.</p> <p>[caption id="attachment_1215" align="alignright" width="263"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-1215" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/78_350x400-263x300.png" alt="" width="263" height="300" /> Shannon Hader[/caption]</p> <p>However, in November we have a chance to slow them down. If we can elect candidates into Congress who understand the importance of science and critical thinking in good government then that will go a long way toward slowing down the damage to our nation and the world that is current happening unabated.  </p> <p>So this election season the Blue Streak Science Podcast will be endorsing candidates who hold true to the values of science, equality, long-term economic progress, and the preservation and restoration of our natural heritage, both in America and worldwide.</p> <p>The first candidate we’re endorsing is Dr. Shannon Hader who is running to represent the state of Washington’s 8th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Dr. Hader is the former director of the Division of Global HIV & TB at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p> <p>Do you want to know what the Trump administration is doing to the CDC? Their 2018 budget slashed its funding by $1.2 billion. That a 17% reduction.</p> <p>Dr. Hader also worked for three years as director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration at the District of Columbia Department of Health.</p> <p>In making her announcement Dr. Hader said, "Science-based decision-making is under assault at NASA, at the EPA and the CDC, where I felt its effects directly.”</p> <p>Well, we can turn this around by supporting Shannon Hader in her run for Congress. If you live in District 8 of Washington state I strongly urge you to vote for Dr. Hader in the primary on 7 August. If you don’t live in the district then you can show your support for science and good government by contributing to her campaign at:  <a href="http://drshannonforcongress.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.drshannonforcongress.com</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Baby snake 'frozen in time'</strong></h3> <p>I have Christmas come early, but not as we know it. For most of us, Christmas presents come in boxes and nice wrapping, with little bow on top. But if you are a paleontologist then Christmas present come wrapped in amber. And things have come along a bit since Jurassic Park and John Hammond’s preserved mosquito on his walking stick since now we’re starting to get fossilized vertebrates, mostly from Myanmar. So far we’ve had a bird wing, a chick, a lizard and even a feathered dinosaur tail!</p> <p>This time it’s a snake. Rather tragically it is a baby snake that didn’t get a great run at life, but the upshot of this is that a lot of the animal has been preserved inside.</p> <p>Remains like this are like russian dolls: a fossil within a fossil, as the amber itself is a fossil of tree resin. The fact that it started life as a thick sticky tree sap is how creatures come to be trapped in it in the first place, preserved in a stone considerate enough to be transparent and so beautifully that it could make a pharaoh blush!</p> <p>Although the head is missing, there is enough animal left for it to be identified as a new species. (<em>Xiaophis myanmarensis</em>). It would have lived about 99 million years ago and appears to be a very primitive member of the snake lineage.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44872148" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63095-baby-snake-fossil-amber.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05742-5" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Nature</a></p> <h3><strong>A New Geologic Age</strong></h3> <p>You might wonder - anyone can subdivide the time of Earth’s existence in periods entirely up their will and imagination. But that’s not how official geology works! Also, dividing the Earth’s history into eons, eras, periods and ages is much less arbitrary than you might think, and …. well… much more scientific! Go figure!</p> <p>So how does it work, you ask? It rocks! A new geological period is defined when significant chemical trace different from the period before is found in the rock deposits of the Earth’s crust. Deposition of such chemicals usually relates to some pretty major climatic event on the planet, which is naturally worthy of marking the start of a new geological period.</p> <p>The newly categorised period we live in now is called Meghalayan. The name comes from Meghalaya, a northeastern state in India, whose name means "the abode of clouds" in Sanskrit. And a rock scientists analyse from there actually made them consider updating their historical nomenclature for earth’s periods. By analyzing a stalagmite growing on the ground of a cave in the Indian state, geologists found that each layer had different level of oxygen isotopes (versions of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons). This change marked the weakening of monsoon conditions from that time. And the change they estimated was significant - between 20-30 percent decrease of monsoon rainfall, so that def qualifies as a new era, I’d say! It apparently started about 4200 years ago and some scientists think it’s still too soon to start classifying it as a new era, since it’s not well established how widespread the effects of these changes are, but if we have evidence for something for 4200 years, why not take it as rather established.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63103-meghalayan-age-within-holocene-named.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/living-new-geologic-age-called-meghalayan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44868527" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">BBC Science and Environment</a></p> <p><a href= "http://www.stratigraphy.org/ICSchart/ChronostratChart2018-07.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">International Chronostratigraphic Chart</a></p> <h3><strong>The Great British Butterfly Count</strong></h3> <p>Calling all my fellow Brits, this is an urgent call to action; Sir David Attenborough needs you. I get two stories this week and I get to mention a different Attenborough brother in each, fantastic!</p> <p>The legendary Sir David is calling people to take part in the Great British Butterfly Count. This is a massive citizen science survey of British butterfly populations. It’s been happening seasonally since 2010 and this year it is running from the 20th of July to the 12th of August, so it really isn’t too late to get involved.</p> <p>The reason that this year in particular is so important is because the conditions at the start of this year means that we should be having a bumper year for butterflies, but in case you haven’t noticed; it’s recently been very hot and very dry. Drought really isn’t a friend of butterflies and with hose pipe bans starting to be seen we could be running into tricky conditions for caterpillars. This means that this could be a really important year for monitoring how conditions affect these beautiful lepidoptera.</p> <p>You don’t need to be a lepidopterist to take part. If you get over to bigbutterflycount.org then they have all of the information that you need there for you to help out. It’s also a great thing to do with your kids, I intend to get out there with Matilda.</p> <p>But this does remind me of a question that I’ve never found an answer to, so if anyone listening can help, please get in touch. Why do caterpillars get a fancy name when all other larvae just get called a “whatever it is” larvae?]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/20/sir-david-attenborough-urges-british-public-to-join-butterfly-count" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Guardian</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/world/europe/uk-big-butterfly-count.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.npr.org/2018/07/20/630848449/britains-big-butterfly-count-begins-with-david-attenborough-leading-the-charge" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NPR</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.bigbutterflycount.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Big Butterfly Count</a></p> <hr /> <h3><strong>Researchers use 36 years of bike race footage to illustrate Belgium's changing climate</strong></h3> <p>Now first I gotta say a big thanks to Amrita for alerting me on this story because I have missed it and to JD for letting me talk about it.</p> <p>Since I live in Belgium for 6 years now, this feels like home and I’m dying to cover interesting science from around here cause for such a small country the universities and research centers are doing pretty darn well!</p> <p>Anywho! To the story! Once upon a time, there was a very observing climatologist, who was also a passionate cyclist (for the record half of Belgium (the northern half, closer to the Netherlands are) called Pieter De Frenne. He works in the department of water and forest management in the Gent University.</p> <p>He had the brilliant idea to use archive footage of Tour of Flanders from decades back to do a comparative study on the changing climate of the region through the years. This race is one of the most regular ones - always taking place early April each year and always in the same area if not exactly the same route.</p> <p>So he and his colleagues went through more than 2000h of footage since 1981 until today and selected several landmarks that appear in all the footage through the years and compared them. They mostly settled for trees as these are most easily traceable/recognisable.</p> <p>What they noticed is that the majority of the trees in the early 80 had barely any leaves yet in early April. Compared to back then, now almost every year most of the trees were well leafed up, meaning that spring is consistently coming much earlier than just two decades ago.</p> <p>While this might sound like a pleasant thing, it’s not necessarily a good thing on a big ecological scale. The consistent changes in the tree part of the ecosystem has a significant effect on all other parts too - insects, birds and other animals in the area whose life is somewhat related/dependant on the trees. For migratory birds for example it can have quite dramatic effects - if they arrive to the usual destination after trees have bloomed, they might be unpleasantly surprised by the fact that their food (larvae or eggs of insects) have already matured/hatched and are either completely gone or much harder to catch and feed the bird’s hatchlings.</p> <p>Also, all vegetation which grows under the trees will be affected - if the tree crown is already in full bloom by the time gras, bushes and flowers show up, they might have much less access to light to be able to complete their life cycle which in turn affects other animals relying on them for food and so on and so forth - the whole ecosystem can change quite dramatically, quite fast.</p> <p>The scientists then went on to compare their results with other already published scientific data for the ecology of the region and established that they are in fact right and that this “out of the box” method is actually valid and working. They published their own data in the Methods of Ecology and Evolution.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/bike-race-footage-climate-change-1.4736912" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CBC</a>, <a href= "https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/2041-210X.13024" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Methods in Ecology and Evolution</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Today’s story time feature in the lounge is sure to Tickle you brain. It will certainly help you tick off things on your “To-Learn” lists. It definitely won’t have you bored listening to the tick tock of the clock. This story is about ticks.</p> <p>I’m not a big bug person so you’ll excuse me if I don’t paint an incredibly intricate picture of what a tick is. But it’s a small arachnid whose big fame in the United States is as a carrier for Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and found generally throughout the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast United States (Think Washington DC to Boston) as well as around the Great Lakes. I grew up in New York and can attest to the fear of lyme’s disease. Short story, my older brother was at a soccer tournament when we were young and I, being a dick, hid and scared him into some woods. The rest of his 10 year old boy teammates when in after him. And we never saw him again...No of course not, he walked out the other side and was back to the team in 3 minutes. But in those three minutes in the woods, 4 or 5 kids came back with ticks on them. So knowing what’s going on with ticks is sorta important. Lyme disease can be a debilitating bacterial infection affecting the joints, heart and nervous system.</p> <p>Enter Nathan Nieto and his lab at Northern Arizona University.  From August 2016 to January 2017, his lab ran a pretty cool deal. If you found a tick, you could send it to his lab and he would give all the info you need on the little evil thingie (I’m adding irrational personal feelings here so don’t yell at me…). For tick research, they normally get 100 ticks at a time by pretty basic methods like dragging a piece of fabric behind a truck, any adrenaline loving ticks hop on.. TO THEIR DOOM for science. For this public science effort, they budgeted for 2400 ticks, yet received nearly 16,000! They just published their results in PLOS One.</p> <p>Dr. Nieto’s lab were sent ticks from 49 states (no Alaska) and Puerto Rico. Once received they tested them for 4 pathogens including <em>Borrelia burgdorferi</em>, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. They found some rare ticks but also ticks capable of carrying Lyme disease in 83 counties where they hadn't been recorded before.This really shows the power of citizen science as tick research can be incredibly difficult. A study of this size could never have been done without public involvement.</p> <p>How does this tie to climate change? Ticks occur on earth. Moving on… No really, ticks rely on warm temperatures to live. As temperatures warm, as winters shrink, as spring comes earlier and fall lasts longer, ticks can be out there for longer. Plus, warmer temperatures can enhance the rate at which a baby tick becomes fully developed. Tick development rates have increased by two times in the US and 5 times in Canada.<br /> Not surprisingly, the rate of Lyme disease has doubled since 1991, from about four cases per 100,000 people to eight.</p> <p>And where does the name come from, since I’m sure you’re wondering? Well Lyme Regis in southern England, indirectly. The first case diagnosed as lyme disease occurred in Old Lyme, CT, named after Lyme Regis. Not to go off too far on a tangent but it’s interesting so here we go. The northeast US is scattered with town names in reference to England (I grew up in a town called Smithtown inNY) but things get really weird near new york as english settlers ran into dutch settlers who founded New Amsterdam (after stealing land from the native population) which later became New York after the dutch lost to the english in 1674. But the dutch left a legacy in New York as many neighborhoods still bare dutch names. Brooklyn, Bronx, Coney Island, Harlem are all dutch. And even common words used in the US like boss come from the dutch. Ever wonder why Americans call them cookies and the english call them biscuits. THE DUTCH. Fascinating stuff. Tangent over.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/12/628491294/researchers-study-thousands-of-ticks-collected-by-the-people-they-bit" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NPR</a> <a href= "https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ticks-that-carry-lyme-disease-are-spreading-fast/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CBSnews</a> <a href= "https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/climate-change-tick-s-best-friend-lyme-disease" target="_blank" rel="noopener">SierraClub</a> <a href= "https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/6/6/15728498/lyme-disease-symptoms-rash-ticks-global-warming" target="_blank" rel="noopener">VOX</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Asshole of the Month</strong></h2> <p><strong>Donald Trump, President of the United States</strong></p> <p>In 1962 when I was a year old, Rachel Carson published her landmark book on environmental science called “Silent Spring”. That lit a fire in the American consciousness about the environment.</p> <p>In the 1960’s the air in our cities was awful. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1968. Seriously, it caught fire!</p> <p>I remember hearing about how birds of prey were disappearing because of pesticide pollution. In particular, the pesticide DDT (or more accurately its breakdown product DDE) would move up the food web getting more concentrated with each step, until it was consumed by apex predators such as California Condors, ospreys, and peregrine falcons. The effect of DDT on these raptors was that it caused them to lay eggs with very thin shells, or no shells at all. Those thin shells would crack under the weight of incubation. And this caused their populations to plummet. The iconic bald eagle was nearly extinct in the contiguous states in the 1960’s and 70’s, as was the peregrine falcon and many other birds.</p> <p>As a result of increased environmental awareness we made real progress with the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.</p> <h4>The Endangered Species Act.</h4> <p>This is the single most important piece of legislation in the United States for conserving biodiversity and slowing down the extinction of species. The Act was passed in 1973 with overwhelming bipartisan support (the House voted 355-4 in favor of the law), and it was done so at the urging of a Republican president, Richard Nixon. How times have changed.</p> <p>Since its passage, the Endangered Species Act has helped reverse the impending extinction of species from the magnificent Grey Wolf to the Schaus’ Swallowtail Butterfly of the Florida Keys. Still, over the decades the law has been criticized by big business and agricultural interests who feel that the Act limits their ability to generate a profit, and to do whatever the want with their property.</p> <p>Enter the Trump Administration. Last week they proposed to severely restrict the scope of the Endangered Species Act.</p> <p>This led to Congressional hearings on the Act and has raised the alarm nationwide that one of the nation’s best ideas is about to be eviscerated.</p> <p>Consider this:</p> <ul> <li>A 2011 Harris Poll showed that 84% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, with Democrats having the strongest support at 93%.</li> <li>64% of Americans believe it acts a safety net and a balanced solution to save wildlife, plants and fish that are at risk of extinction.</li> <li>63% of Americans believe decisions about whether to remove the Endangered Species Act’s protections should be based on science, and not politics.</li> <li>92% of Americans agree that decisions about wildlife management and which animals needs protection should be made by scientists, not politicians.</li> </ul> <p>Seriously, 92% of Americans don’t agree that the sky is blue on a sunny day! Yet the same number actually agree that this is a decision that should be made by scientists, and not politicians. There are some issues like gun control and reproductive rights which are terribly partisan, but the Endangered Species Act is not one of those issues.</p> <p>So, for going against the will and interest of the American people, and for selling out our country’s natural heritage to special business interests for a profit, Donald Trump, you are the the Blue Streak Science Asshole of the Month.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Joining us today are the Chris MacAlister, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>Here’s how it works. I ask a science question and our team of science dweebs offer up their witty answers.</p> <ol> <li>Remember the online name search last year for that research ship? The consensus was Boaty McBoatface, but they decided to name it after Sir David Attenborough. There’s another naming contest going on in the science world...what’s it for?</li> <li>This past week a paper came out that suggests Neanderthals could do something the rest of us can do quite easily. What is that?</li> <li>It was announced this week that a fossil of Bigfoot has been found. But that’s just what they’re calling it. What kind of animal was it really?</li> <li>What gelatinous pink species is invading the waters of the American Pacific Northwest?</li> <li>A Chinese tree shrew loves to eat this food that most animals avoid, but oddly enough, many humans crave. What food is it?</li> </ol> <p>For the answers to today's Pub Quiz just have a listen to the podcast! Ain't we sneaky that way?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Recommended by The Team</strong></h2> <p><strong>Tom</strong>: It’s not science but it’s still fascinating. If you are curious to learn more about the Dutch influence on New York City and on thus on the United States, I highly recommend reading The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto. Even as a New Yorker, the history of New Amsterdam is glossed over in our history books, but the legacy of dutch culture, you could argue, has given New York City the identity it has to this day as a cultural melting pot. Plus, it’s crazy to see a place as terraformed as Manhattan depicted as it likely was to Native Americans when the first European colonizers reached it.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> I’ve been to a roundabout in Chester. I little bit random I’ll grant you, but I’m afraid that it gets no less random when I say that I went there to play a gig to a guy on a treadmill!</p> <p>What’s actually going on is that a guy called Steve Hughes is on a mission to raise funds to build the UK’s first <a href= "http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/attractions/supertree-grove/facts-and-figures.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">supertrees</a>. They have some magnificent ones in Singapore.</p> <p>They are essentially big hollow metal trees and they can be used a frame for plants to grow up, they create habitats for all manner of flora and fauna in the middle of city, returning some biodiversity to places where it has been all but eradicated.</p> <p>The ones that Steve are trying to fund are nowhere on the scale of Singapore but they will also provide an space for people to come and learn about the trees and what they do, as well as containing weather stations.</p> <p>So far Steve has run 7 marathons in 7 days in 7 countries and last weekend he ran 100km in 10 hours on a treadmill. He made an event of it, this why I was playing.</p> <p>If you want to know more or support him the you can check him out on <a href="http://chestersupertrees.org" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">chestersupertrees.org</a>. </p> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> Just coming from a panel discussion on cities and urban life beyond growth - how can  cities be drivers of change in production practices and consumption patterns.</p> <p><strong>Tom:</strong> If you find yourself in Washington DC you might catch me in an improv comedy show with the Washington Improv theater. </p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> I attended another lecture at Bodega Marine Lab. This one was titled “Saviors of the reef? Context-dependent control of algae by coral reef fishes”. The speaker was Mike Gil, who is a postdoctoral researcher in Environmental Science and Policy. He is working on coral reef ecology projects in Thailand.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena: </strong>Going to a bi-weekly civic hack night - organised by the Civic Hack lab BXL. This edition will be about InfluencAir - citizen science project to measure air quality in Brussels. Never been part of a citizen science project so I’m very curious and excited to see what’s it about! </p> <p><strong>Tom:</strong> So on Saturday August 4th at 6pm, my science improv comedy team The Hypothesis will be performing at the 12th annual Baltimore Improv festival. We’re a team made up of all different types of scientist and science enthusiasts who like to walk on the funnier side of science and the sciencier side of comedy.</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> It’s back to the Bodega Marine Lab for me. “Phototaxis and phototropism in symbiosis” by Dr. Shawna Foo of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>I’d like to thank our newest Patreon supporter, our friend Sam Danby from Norway! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!</p> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com" target="_blank" rel= "noopener">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Spotify</a> and any number of podcast directories. And if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the new Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/" target= "_blank" rel="noopener">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, Nevena Hristozova, and Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>I’m JD Goodwin.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us. And remember...follow the science!</p>
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077: Michael MacFerrin, Ph.D. - Glaciologist
<ul> <li>Conversation with Michael MacFerrin, Research Glaciologist</li> <li>Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>An Origin of Cosmic Rays Discovered</strong></h3> <p>In a galaxy far far away…</p> <p>For real though - it’s really far - 4 billion light-years away. My calculations show that with the current tech for space flight we have, we could get there in 76.32 trillion years so it is freaking far!</p> <p>But anyway, the point is that this galaxy is a blazar - a type of an active galactic nucleus with a relativistic jet directed very nearly or directly towards Earth. These jets are essentially ionized matter traveling at nearly the speed of light. Relativistic beaming of electromagnetic radiation from the jet makes blazars appear much brighter than they would be if the jet were pointed in a direction away from the Earth. So far we knew that blazars are powerful sources of emission across the electromagnetic spectrum and are  sources of high-energy gamma ray photons.</p> <p>Now though we know something new - because that’s the whole point of science! It appears, according to the latest data coming from the so called The IceCube Collaboration, that this blazar galaxy is a source of high-energy neutrinos - one of the most elusive particles in the universe! Their article was published in Science under the title <em>Multimessenger observations of a flaring blazar coincident with high-energy neutrino IceCube-170922A</em>.<br /> <br /> The astrophysicist Francis Halzen of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a leader of IceCube, himself said that so far no one was able to pinpoint the source of this type of neutrinos.</p> <p>By basically tracing the trajectory of the heavy neutrinos detected in the IceCube, the scientists could determine its place of origin somewhere close-by Orion. In intergalactic distances, this is probably like searching for a sand grain in all the oceans on our planet. But employing a bunch a telescopes including the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, they’ve found the blazar <strong>TXS 0506+056</strong> (I’m so naming my firstborn like this!). And the best part is that we were able to trace this neutrino back to home because it is essentially so elusive! Neutrinos (as their name shows) have no charge so they travel through the universe without much effect from other matter in it. Exactly this reluctance to interact with other matter is the reason why generally neutrinos are so hard to detect and study… It’s a beautiful catch 22 in this case!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/high-energy-neutrinos-blazar-icecube"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44786125">BBC News</a></p> <h3><strong>Cancer Fighting Cancer Cells</strong></h3> <p>They say that you can’t fight fire with fire, but this isn’t true if you’re smart about how you use your fire. Controlled burning is best measure available for controlling wildfires. So could the same be said for cancer? Can you have a little bit of controlled cancer to protect you from the main article? Maybe so, if you’re clever enough. It appears that Clemens Reinshagen and a team at Harvard are clever enough as they appear to have pulled this off, in mice.</p> <p>They have done this by turning cancer cells into double agents. Cancer cells loose in the bloodstream can detect and home in on other tumours and this is the key skill that the team use.</p> <p>Once our double agent cancer cells have infiltrated the tumour, they commence the next stage of their operation. They release a protein that triggers cell death in the cancer cells; that is, all the cells except our double agents. CRISPR based technology has been used to alter these cancer cells to provide them with protection, so that they can continue their job.</p> <p>But even once the job is done, you’re still left with a patient full of cancer cells, which is clearly less than ideal. So for the final part of the process, a drug is used to prompt the altered cancer cells to do the honourable thing and kill themselves off.</p> <p>So there we have it; double-agent, assassin, samurai cancer cells. You heard it here first people!]</p> <p><a href= "http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/10/449/eaao3240">Science Translational Medicine</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cancer-cells-engineered-crispr-slay-their-own-kin"> Science News</a></p> <h3><strong>Earliest Evidence of Humans Outside of Africa</strong></h3> <p>2 million years ago! This is a long time ago! Much longer than we thought the early hominids have ventured out of Africa. 2.12mln to be precise - precision is important!</p> <p>At the same time, a giant rodent weighing nearly 700 kg used to live in South America, just to give you a perspective how different the world was back then.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there were already established members of the genus Homo who decided that Africa is old news and they went travelling, reaching as far as China.</p> <p>This is known now thanks to some stone tools unearthed at China’s Shangchen site. They were dated to roughly quarter million years before what was previously thought to be the oldest evidence of Homo genus on the Eurasian continent. Unfortunately, no hominid fossils have ever been discovered from this period in the site. Until they do find similarly dated hominid fossils in the area, we’ll not know for sure if the representative was a Homo erectus or an earlier hominid.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05696-8">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/shangchen-stone-tools-put-early-hominids-china-earlier"> Science News</a></p> <h3><strong>Otzi’s Last Meal</strong></h3> <p>I reckon that you guys should all come over to mine for a big Blue Streak Science get together sometime. I’m already having some ideas for what I’m going to cook you. We could start off with some cereal, followed by a nice piece of venison, and I’ll serve that with some poisonous fern. How does that sound?</p> <p>You know what? I’m thinking that maybe cuisine has come along a bit in the last 5,300 years. This is the story that the stomach contents have been analysed of a man who was naturally mummified in about 3,100 BCE, a man known as Otzi the Iceman,.</p> <p>His diet of cereal, Ibex and deer was probably pretty standard for him. It’s unlikely that treated himself to a lavish last supper as it looks like he was killed in a surprise attack.</p> <p>With that in mind, the really confusing part of these findings is the poisonous ferns. Why would he be eating poisonous plants? The leading theories that the team have is that it may have been medicinal, to help combat internal parasites, or that he may have wrapped his other food in it leaving some toxic spores behind to be consumed. The team don’t know if the food that Otzi ate was fresh or not, so maybe wrapping it in something toxic could help prevent spoilage, or to ward off scavengers.</p> <p>Although, considering the amount of smoking and recreational substance abuse that still goes on today, maybe it was just what all the cool kids did back then. He may not even have known that it was toxic.</p> <p>Either way, the amount of detail we are getting about Otzi, over 5000 years after he died, is incredible. And as if this isn’t amazing enough, the next objective is to use this information to try and recreate what Otzi’s gut microbiome may have looked like, providing another way to peer back in time and see what his life have been like.]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heres-what-oetzi-the-iceman-ate-before-he-was-murdered/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/63044-otzi-mummy-last-supper.html">Live Science</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <h3><strong>We’re not getting any Younger (Dryas) over here!</strong></h3> <p>Sometimes the news just makes me want to go back to a simpler time. A time without the internet, meddling and farcical meetings. I’m not talking the 20th century either. I’m thinking even farther back. About 13,000 years back when the human population was less than 1 million, and boy did the environment think that was swell, and things were a bit chillier. The planet was just coming out of an ice age. And that meant temperatures were on the upswing along with oceans. It was a wonderful active time…. Geologically. Painfully slow changes humanely.</p> <p>Then…. All of a sudden (and I don’t mean SUDDEN geologically, I mean human sudden like several decades suddenly), the northern hemisphere was plunged back into a colder climate that lasted for a thousand years. A well known abrupt climate change  whose cause has been studied and questioned and fought over (scientifically so it’s friendly) for years. It’s what is known as the Younger Dryas, named for a flower whose official name is latin mc-latinface… or dryas octopetaia. Either one.</p> <p>Anyways, recent research led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute or WHOI has a new claim as to what happened. They took sediment cores in the eastern Beaufort sea near where the Mackenzie river empties into the ARctic Ocean which also happens to be near the border of the Yukon and Yellowknife territories. By looking at oxygen isotopes in the shells found in the cores, they determined that a massive glacial flood occurred there near the time of the abrupt Younger Dryas.  This truly humongous flood would have dumped tons of fresh water into the Arctic that the researchers say would have made its way into the Atlantic Ocean.</p> <p>Where did the water come from? Melting glaciers. Specifically the Laurentide Ice sheet. As it melted it formed massive lakes including Lake Agassiz, a ginormous lake in the middle of modern day canada.. But as the ice sheet melted, what kept those lakes in place suddenly disappeared, allowing them to empty. Now for awhile, the water flowed south through the Mississippi. But eventually, it shifted to flow north. Some researchers have thought it emptied through the St Lawrence seaway into the Atlantic. What makes this research novel is that the meltwater instead flowed north into the Arctic. Now, not all scientists agree...they never do… but regardless of where the meltwater entered the Northern atlantic/Arctic, it’s what it does afterwards that’s interesting.</p> <p>Why does that matter? Well it makes more sense as to the mechanism that actually caused the cold change. All of that freshwater slowed or stopped the giant Atlantic ocean conveyor belt known as the “Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” (or AMOC) which brings warm water to Europe. Normally, that conveyor belt of water becomes saltier as it moves north, becoming denser and sinking. The injection of freshwater in the Arctic/North Atlantic disrupts this by freshening the water and not letting it sink. This slows down the conveyor belt which means less warm water to Europe and a plunge into coldness.</p> <p>Why do we care now? Well there is a HUGE amount of freshwater locked into Greenland. As it melts, it is also depositing fresh water into the North Atlantic, albeit much slower than the sudden Younger Dryas event. However, there is research that says the AMOC is slower than it used to be. While scientists don’t think a shutdown is imminent, past events like the Younger Dryas abrupt cooling can give interesting insight into just how our climate system works, especially if we stress it in certain ways. The climate is super duper complex and what may seem like a small regional climate change somewhere can easily snowball (pun intended for this story) into something much bigger, like hemispherically bigger. Let’s also keep that thought in mind whenever we talk about geoengineering.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/following-the-fresh-water">WHOI</a> <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/07/11/scientists-may-have-solved-huge-riddle-earths-climate-past-it-doesnt-bode-well-future/?utm_term=.6241e0bec71e"> WaPo</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Interview with Michael MacFerrin, Glaciologist</strong></h2> <p>This past winter I had the privilege to chat with Michael MacFerrin, glaciologist, and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder. We talked about his work and discoveries on the Greenland's immense ice sheet. Science is hard work, folks! But the rewards and experiences last a lifetime and beyond. Join us as Mike shares his incredible experiences from this frozen wilderness.</p> <hr /> <h2>Pub Quiz</h2> <p>All in favor of doing the Pub Quiz say “aye”! The ayes have it!</p> <p>Joining us today are the incredibly intelligent Nevena Hristozova, the immensely imaginative Chris MacAlister, and the intermittently inclement Tom Di Liberto.</p> <p>Here’s how it works. I ask a science question and our team of incomprehensible intellectuals initiate their ingenious answers.</p> <p>It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.</p> <ol> <li>What animal possesses the most massive eyes?</li> <li>Swiss physician Adolf Fick is credited with fitting the first what in 1888?</li> <li>What is the world’s most common eye color?</li> <li>This eye color is in what part of the eye?</li> <li>When you go to an ophthalmologist for an eye exam, you are often asked to look at a chart that has rows of letters in decreasing sizes, with a very large "E" at the top, followed by other letters. What is the name of this chart?</li> <li>Which eye disorder causes an opacity, or clouding in the lens?</li> <li>Your doctor says you have an orbital ecchymosis. What would just about everyone else call it?</li> <li>What would a pirate wear to improve his/her eyesight?</li> <li>Our eyes can detect about 500 shades of what?</li> <li>People of this eye color have a common ancestor who lived about 10,000 years ago. No, what color eyes?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena: A</strong> bit of shameless self-promotion - I was invited on the 3rd of July to a panel discussion as part of the plenary session of the summer school Let's talk science. It's a collaboration between the Flemish universities and includes half day plenary talks on scicomm topics and 2 or 3 days of workshops on various scicomm skills. I was one of the six reps of universities representing my university as sort of a scicomm role model (yeah baby). So we had a discussion on what's scicomm for us all, what it gives us and why we do it, what's our fav media for scicomm and apparently I stirred the audience by saying that I myself am my fav media because I just love the most to sit and talk with people about science. It was extremely cool and it felt a great honor to have been part of this.</p> <p><a href= "https://sgseventcenter.webex.com/mw3300/mywebex/default.do?nomenu=true&siteurl=sgseventcenter&service=6&rnd=0.259603886242068&main_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsgseventcenter.webex.com%2Fec3300%2Feventcenter%2Fevent%2FeventAction.do%3FtheAction%3Ddetail%26%26%26EMK%3D4832534b00000004cf3ad56ff9c182086c30620384b8675da1e2684a64d0201bb8a33edb6ff59aa3%26siteurl%3Dsgseventcenter%26confViewID%3D100959156532413720%26encryptTicket%3DSDJTSwAAAAQyFdS3-yzIOuSqne86gA4Hm5HLFZqBb3kCgpJTkAcc-w2%26" target="_blank" rel="noopener">SGS Food Webinars</a></p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> I’ve been to family wedding in Cornwall, which is limited in its level of scientific interest if I’m completely honest. But whilst I was there I was talking to by wife’s cousin who is a tattoo artist. This conversation included tattoos, how training tattoo artists need to practice on themselves and the inevitable spectre of unwanted or regretted tattoos. This compelled me to go into science communication mode and share the findings of a surprisingly recent study on why tattoos last for as long as they do, considering how quickly our skin gets replaced. The key is our immune system. The tattoo ink gets locked inside white blood cells that try, in vain, to destroy the ink. This actually ends up preserving them inside and as each immune cell dies, a new one takes its place to continue the preservation. The useful thing about knowing this is that immunosuppression can be used to aid the tattoo removal process.</p> <p><strong>Tom:</strong> I’ve been taking a 2.5 year old to gymnastics classes where they attempt to get a bunch of toddlers to play group games together. My toddler disagrees and immediately makes a run for the balance beam. In good news, he has great balance and is seemingly indestructable. In bad news, for the other kids, he tends to bounce off everything even other children. Those kids arent so lucky.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> On the 19th of July, Thursday I'll be attending an online seminar by SGS. It's a Food safety webinar entitled 'How to Improve Food Authenticity, Traceability and Safety using Next Generation Sequencing'. If it's not too late for our listeners with interest in knowing how can authorities can use latest technologies to ensure that what we eat is what the label says. It's at 10am Central European time @sgseventsenter webpage.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In the Blogosphere</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena</strong>: If I may - an episode of my other podcast, the one I actually produce is just out - it's only our 4th and it's with guests from an account on Twitter called Latino labs promoting diversity in academia. You can listen to it on my blog incubatorium.eu of the right hand side directly or anywhere you catch your podcasts if you search for the Scicomm JC podcast.</p> <p><strong>Chris</strong>: In addition to recent posts about whether dogs can smell fear and how to recreate radiation using a skipping rope. This week, on Matilda’s Lab I’ve finally dealt with a subject that I’ve been meaning to for a long time: Uncertainty. One of the big misunderstandings of people who question modern science is that we don’t prove things; only Mathematicians can do this, instead; all we can do is to minimise our uncertainty about things and accept that what we know can change depending on where the evidence takes us. Ultimately, we are in a non-ending war against ignorance. Ignorance is our default state, so if you (like so many people) are fearful or ashamed about your ignorance, don’t be, we all have it. Instead, get out there and do something about it!.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thanks to Michael MacFerrin for sharing his amazing work in the frozen (but thawing) north.</p> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href="mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A">Spotify</a> and any of the usual podcast directories such as Overcast. And if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the new Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>And please check out our website is at bluestreakscience.com</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>And our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, Chris MacAlister, Tom Di Liberto, and JD Goodwin.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us. And remember…follow the science!</p>
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076: Mariana Di Giacomo - Paleontologist
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>We get an inside look on fossil restoration and paleontology with Mariana di Giacomo of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History</li> <li>Science News</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and Dr. Amrita Sule</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Wetlands Protection Rule put ‘too much emphasis’ on science, Trump officials complain</strong></h3> <p>It’s time for the continuing adventures of the Trump administration and their valiant efforts to protect you from the scourge of the environment and its evil plans to keep you healthy and alive!</p> <p>As scientists we shouldn’t make assumptions about things but I reckon it’s pretty safe to bet that if you’re taking time to this science podcast then you probably aren’t a fan of White House at the moment. So I’ll try to avoid preaching to the converted because there is some other interesting stuff going on.</p> <p>The broad picture is this. The United States has a Clean Water Act. It’s a law that gives isolated wetlands and waterways automatic federal protection. Whilst this may be one of the few environmental protection measures that Trump isn’t scrapping, his administration argues that the interpretation of this law is not in keeping with its wording.</p> <p>To be fair to them, they have a point; the law is impressively vague. The Act says it should apply to "navigable waters of the United States". “What do they mean by that?” you may ask. The Act defines them as "waters of the United States." I’m sure glad that they clear that up! The Supreme Court has attempted to decide what that phrase means 3 times and how far have they got with this? They’re split.</p> <p>To cut a long story short; the Obama administration interpreted the law in a way that not only protected the areas in question but also protected the waters that feed into these waters. After all, what’s the point in putting your valuables into a safe and then leaving the door wide open? But it is this interpretation that the White House is questioning stating that Obama’s Environment Protection Agency (the EPA) put “too much emphasis on science”. Ken Kopocis, who lead the agency at the time, said that "It's baffling for a science-based agency to say that they relied too much on science" and I can see his point. You wouldn’t accuse Roger Federer of paying too much attention to Tennis.</p> <p>But the reason why this accusation is being made is because EPA should rely both on science and law when developing regulation. The defence of the EPA is that, with such a vague law to work with, what’s left to rely on other than the science.</p> <p>For me, the really worrying thing isn’t that this argument is being made, it’s why is this argument being made? Why would you want to remove protection from these areas; what possible better use could they put it to? Don’t go all Big Yellow Taxi on me America, it may not be paradise but we don’t need another parking lot!</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/obama-s-wetlands-protection-rule-put-too-much-emphasis-science-trump-officials-argue?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Human Implants Invaded by Microorganisms</strong></h3> <p>This story definitely makes me think of the time when I had a screw and a rod in my ankle due to a fracture.  But who knew that when these implants were removed a year later they had likely become home to number of microorganisms found in the human body.</p> <p>Implants like screws from joints, pacemakers, or plates from skulls when first implanted are completely sterile – which makes sense because you don’t want any infection. But recent studies showed that, once in place, they start being colonized by fungi and bacterial species which naturally occur in the body.</p> <p>Previously there have been studies on microorganisms on implants surrounded by infected tissue. However, this is the first time studies have been carried out on implants from people with no such complications.</p> <p>This study, which was carried out at Costerton Biofilm Center at the University of Copenhagen, looked at around 100 implants from infection free patients. They also looked at implants from patients who were due to have them removed, as well as from deceased patients.</p> <p>The group found that about 70% of implants were covered with microorganisms. These are not harmful as they had not attacked by the body’s immune system.</p> <p>This is pretty cool because although it is be well known that human bodies are home to microorganisms it has been thought that our tissues and blood are free of them. But given this observation that might not the case, as one possibility is that the bacteria and fungi reach the implants via blood stream.</p> <p>More studies need to be done to answer questions like – What is the role of these microorganisms who make these implants their home OR Does this colonization by good bacteria/fungi prevent infections?</p> <p><a href= "http://sciencenordic.com/human-implants-are-invaded-microorganisms"> ScienceNordic</a></p> <h3><strong>The End of the Road for Kepler Space Telescope</strong></h3> <p>One of our great eyes in the sky is about to close for the last time. The Kepler Space Telescope is about to run out fuel. Supplies have got so low that it has been put into hibernation until the start of August when it gets its slot on the Deep Space Network. At this point it will awake, use the last of its fuel to point its antenna toward Earth, transmit its final message, and then it will be goodnight Kepler. So here at Blue Streak Science, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate Kepler and all that it has achieved.</p> <p>This NASA mission was named after Johannes Kepler, a 17th century German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer (no one’s perfect). He formulated the laws of planetary motion and was one of the giants whose shoulders Newton, in his own words, so famously stood upon.</p> <p>Kepler was launched in 2009, charged with the task of discovering Earth sized exoplanets. It cost six hundred million dollars, and do you want to know what you get for that kind of money? One instrument: but, oh what an instrument; it’s photometer can monitor the brightness of 150,000 stars at once, watching for those characteristic dips in radiation caused by a passing satellite.</p> <p>So how did this one trick pony perform? Well its earthbound predecessor, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, has discovered 134 exoplanets but it’s had a five year head start. Kepler’s total is 2,512 with 5,011 candidates still awaiting confirmation.</p> <p>Kepler’s legacy will be the confirmation that exoplanets are very common. And this has massive implications for the greatest question of humanity; are we alone in the Universe? Because the more planets that there are out there, the more chances there are that something may be living on one.</p> <p>But the search does not stop here, TESS the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April of this year (as was so expertly covered on this podcast) and should have started collecting data last month. It is expected to discover another 20,000 exoplanets, which is great news for anyone looking for work in exoplanet astrology. You guys are gonna be busy!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.space.com/41099-kepler-space-telescope-hibernation.html"> Space.com</a></p> <h3><strong>Raptors of a Feather</strong></h3> <p>Let’s go back in time guys. We have a story from the Jurassic World. So, who is it this time? The RAPTORS – my personal favorites, who have made appearance in the entire Jurassic park franchise yet.</p> <p>Now in the movies we have seen how these intelligent Velociraptors work together and hunt in packs.  <strong>But</strong> did they do that in real life as well??</p> <p>Velociraptors as they have been called were similar to another animals called <em>Deinonychus.</em> Bonebeds of <em>Deinonychus</em> surrounding bones of herbivores have indicated that they worked in packs to hunt the prey however this notion has been questioned over years.</p> <p>But there is another line of evidence, which comes from their tracks which also indicates the same at least in part. In 2008 paleontologists described that velociraptor –like animals walked side by side for a time.</p> <p>The imprints discovered had the signature of two-toed imprints - with the killing claw held off the ground, indicating that they belonged to deinonychosaurs. And just this year another set of deinonychosaur tracks indicating signs of similar interaction was found.</p> <p>These tracks are among the aggregation of 300 dinosaur footprints in the  Early Cretaceous rock of eastern China. There are four trackways with 15-18 foot prints and alongside each other in the same direction. </p> <p>Theses footprints initially look single toed but then if you think of modern ostriches – who have two toes but them most of their body weight rests on one toe – making an imprint look like single toed.</p> <p>These footprints were pretty small about 10 cm in length thus likely made by a smaller animal. The most important thing that stood out was that these tracks are very close to each other and go in same direction. At one point you see that one track crossed the other and that one Deinonychosaur was lagging behind but more or less they followed same path.</p> <p>Now, from these tracks it is difficult to say if this particular pack was hunting or just out on a stroll. Well I guess for this moment back in time, birds of feather were just flocking together.</p> <p><a href= "https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/laelaps/raptors-of-a-feather/"> Scientific American</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Thanks JD! It’s summer in the climate lounge, so we’re going to talk about summery things. Cold drinks with umbrellas. A relaxing day at the beach. And scorching temperatures that have caused horrible things across North America and serve as a scary reminder at what may be not a rare event come the next 50-100 years. Things jumped up a notch there at the end huh? Yeah, I know. Here in the climate lounge we go from 0 to 50….celsius REAL QUICK.</p> <p>So over the last several weeks a giant heat dome has sat itself in the upper troposphere over much of North America. This has led to sinking, warming air, and a lack of clouds allowing for the summer sun to simply bake the continent. Now it hasn’t done all of this in the same place at the same time. The focus of the dangerous heat has shifted across North America (and even been located in Europe).</p> <p>Chris: [Tell me about it!]</p> <p>First, temperatures were hot over eastern North America. Temperatures in Washington DC didn’t drop below 80 for a couple of days. But the scarier stuff happened farther north in Canada. The hot temperatures in Quebec have led to at least 54 deaths, 24 of which were in Montreal as scorching temperatures descended on a region that is simply not used to that sort of heat. Many of those who died were older and lived in places without air conditioning. Temperatures in montreal stayed near 35 C for nearly a week, the longest period of warmth since 1965. Long lasting heat and warm nights are a very bad combo for the elderly and young. The body simply has no time to recover.</p> <p>Moving west, the heat dome led to some frankly startingly temperatures out in California. On July 6, the temperatures set all-time recor in 6 locations in southern California. Including 117 in Van Nuys, 118 in Riverside and 111 at UCLA. Downtown LA only hit 108 a daily record that beat the old one by 14 degrees. According to the US’s National Weather Service, it hit 120 at Chino which would be the highest ever temperature recorded by an automated site in the region of southern California (coastal or valley). That’s absurd. It’s sorta hard to explain why because my jaw literally dropped when I first saw that and has remained that way. I mostly subside now on bugs that mistakenly fly into my mouth. It’s a living.</p> <p>What makes this nuts is that California normally sees its hottest temperatures in September when dry winds called the Santa Anas zoom down the mountains and warm as they compress, leading to hot temperatures. To be setting temperature records like this in early july is again, absurd.</p> <p>So it was hot. Who cares? Its weather right NOT climate. That’s sorta missing the point. But listen to an expert Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, "[i]n probabilistic terms, climate change increased the chances of the heat wave by about 20 to 50 times," adding that there is at least a 99% likelihood that human-induced climate change "<a href= "https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2018.03.001">increased the severity of this heat wave</a>."</p> <p>Climate change is affecting temperatures now. It’s beginning to show its weather cards on the table… As temperatures continue to warm, events like this will become more and more common. And while some folks who are used to hot temperatures may be thinking Psht I can handle that, the last two weeks show some pretty big vulnerabilities. During the heat wave in California, electricity demands skyrocketed and power went out for 12-24 hours. Yes. It was 115 degrees in a place that normally gets hot. And the power still went out.</p> <p>But even scary is what happened in Canada. Simply put, it’s a region not used to the type of heat wave that may be common in 50 to 100 years. And because of that, many residents simply don’t have the technology that people more used to the heat do, like air conditioning. And when that happens, sadly people die.</p> <p>Now it will get hot every summer. It is summer after all. But every year we see glimpses of what in the future we may see as normal. And that could mean drastic changes to the way people, cities and regions exist. Now that is not fatalistic. I’m not saying we’re doomed. What I’m saying is, let’s acknowledge what we are seeing, and take steps to make it not so bad. Oh and maybe think about who among us will be most affected the quickest thanks to climate change. A little empathy goes a long way...</p> <p><a href= "https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/07/us/heat-wave-los-angeles-wxc/index.html"> CNN</a> <a href= "https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/heat-wave-ending-1.4736509?cmp=rss"> CBC</a> <a href= "https://www.wunderground.com/news/2018-07-03-southern-california-record-heat-southwest-monsoon-moisture"> Wunderground</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Interview with Mariana Di Giacomo, paleontologist</strong></h2> <p>Today's interview with Mariana Di Giacomo was like getting a personal behind-the-scenes tour in a science museum. And our tour guide is a paleontologist who specializes in fossil restoration at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. What a treat!</p> <p>Have a listen to this interview!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Joining us for this humdinger of a hootenanny are the hippest of hipsters Chris MacAlister, the humble and housebroken Tom Di Liberto, and the heartwarmingly highfalutin Amrita Sule.</p> <p>Here’s how it works. I ask a science question and our horse stable of highbrow hotshots heartily holler back.</p> <p>It’s not just the letter H today. It’s animals that begin with the letter H.</p> <ol> <li>Sharp-shinned, Shikra, red-tailed, and the Cooper’s are all types of what?</li> <li>Naturally occurring only in Asia, Africa, and Europe there are 17 species of this small spiky mammal.</li> <li>Any of several species of low-flying diurnal raptors or a British military aircraft.</li> <li>There are four species of this carnivore that range from Africa to southern Asia. One species might be welcome in the audience of a comedian.</li> <li>The name of this species means “water horse”? What is it?</li> <li>What birds have the highest metabolic rate of any homeothermic animal?</li> <li>Name any insect from the taxonomic Order Hymenoptera.</li> <li>What is the only known comet visible to the naked eye that may appear twice in a human lifetime?</li> <li>This hard-shelled invertebrate, named for its resemblance to equine footwear, is related to arachnids and evolved about 500 million years ago.</li> <li>This type of whale ranges from 12 to 16 meters in length and weighs around 25 to 30 tons, and was featured prominently in the film Star Trek IV “The Voyage Home”. What is it?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Recommended by The Team</strong></h2> <p><a href="https://www.thebritishhistorypodcast.com/">The British History Podcast</a></p> <p>Host Jamie Jeffers takes us on a history adventure. Well, not exactly. Yes, it’s a history adventure, but it’s also a storytelling adventure with every episode.</p> <p>It’s a chronological retelling of the story of Britain beginning in the most recent Ice Age and it goes forward from there. That’s a lot of ground to cover! But Jamie makes every episode worth listening to...sometimes more than once.</p> <p>So I highly recommend you begin at the beginning, episode one, or you may become lost without the stories that lead up to the current episodes.</p> <p>You can find that on Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.</p> <p>We’ll put links in the show notes.</p> <p><a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-british-history-podcast/id440985304?mt=2"> Apple Podcasts</a><strong>,</strong> <a href= "https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-british-history-podcast">Stitcher</a>, <a href="https://www.thebritishhistorypodcast.com/">Website</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> As I mentioned last time I was on; I’ve been to the Lake District, a little way from Penrith and whilst I never got around to making it to Beatrix Potter’s house I managed to capture another type of experience. On our first night at the campsite I took my dog, Cassini, for a short walk before the sun completely set. I’m so glad that I did as I soon became aware that we were not alone. All around me, darting through the air were bats, pipistrelles. “Wow” I thought, “Matilda would love this!” And then responsible parenting thoughts kicked in: “Agh, we’ve just put her down to sleep”. But sod responsible parenting, there’s bats everywhere, so I went to get my daughter out of bed. Now I should probably explain at this point that Matilda LOVES bats. Spooky moods in kids TV are ruined because every time a colony of bats emerge unexpectedly Matilda is delighted! We are so lucky to have one of the best zoos in the UK on our doorstep, Chester Zoo, and Matilda’s favourite place in the zoo is the bat cave, where Rodrigues Fruit bats and Seba’s short-tailed bats are free to fly around you, and possibly shit on you. So the expression on Matilda’s face as the pipistrelles started to emerge before her eyes is something that I will never forget. It was one of those moments that reminds me exactly why I do science communication, because there is no greater spectacle than the wonder of nature and no greater feeling than sharing that with someone.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Going to a lecture at Bodega Marine Lab in stunningly beautiful Bodega Bay, California. It’s titled “Saviors of the reef? Context‐dependent control of algae by coral reef fishes”. The speaker is Mike Gil of the University of California at Davis, and this will be happening on Wednesday, 18 July.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Once again, our thanks to Mariana Di Giacomo for sharing her stories from the field and the lab</p> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on <a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blue-streak-science/id815309082"> Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href= "https://open.spotify.com/show/6jYepU8bgbSyaXj5qx8gqu?si=yi526eBCTbqcy5BJiZ7U2A"> Spotify</a> and any of the usual podcast directories such as Overcast. And if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the new Blue Streak Science app from the App Store.</p> <p>And please check out our website is at bluestreakscience.com</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by <a href="http://www.propodcastsolutions.com/">Pro Podcast Solutions</a>.</p> <p>And our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, Amrita Sule, Tom Di Liberto, and JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us. And remember...follow the science!</p> <p> </p>
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075: Chris Ryu - Dorset Science & Technology Centre
<p>Today we begin our pivot towards doing more interviews on the podcast. And we could not have chosen a better person to talk with than our good friend and science outreach superstar Chris Ryu. We had a terrific time talking about the Dorset Science & Technology Centre and the Atom Club. Chris' passion is in science, technology, and coding and his mission is to share this with children and adults in some of the more rural areas of southern England. We applaud the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in this important science outreach development. </p> <h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Interview with Chris Ryu of the Dorset Science and Technology Centre</li> <li>Science News with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Crow vending machine skills 'redefine intelligence’</strong></h3> <p>Last week a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports revealed further evidence for their cognitive abilities, and shows that these so-called “bird brains” can memorize tool shapes and even recreate them from memory. The subject of the research is the New Caledonian crow. They’ve been studied for quite some time now. In their native habitat they’ll fashion hooks to very precisely snag grubs and other tasty treats from holes and crevices.  </p> <p>Where does this behavior come from? Are they just copying other crows without thinking about it? Is this a hard-wired behavior that all of these crows possess as instincts? It also could be possible that these crows are memorizing tool designs, and recreating them.</p> <p>This research was led by Dr. Sarah Jelbert, a post-doctoral research associate in psychology at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Jelbert and her team designed this experiment to see if this behavior, this cumulative cultural evolution, is happening with these crows. They had 8 subjects, and the first order was the train them to recognize what a proper tool looks like. The one that’ll “do the trick”.  In this case the right tool for the job was a correctly sized piece of paper. The experimenters offered the crows differently sized pieces of paper that they could use on a specially made vending machine...one that dispensed meat.</p> <p>The crows had to figure out if the larger pieces of paper would release the delicious treat, or a smaller piece of paper. When the correctly sized paper was put into the slot a hidden experimenter opened the hatch and a tasty treat would come rolling out. So the birds were conditioned to understand which size of paper would do the trick.</p> <p>Here’s the best part.</p> <p>The crows were then given larger sheets of paper. Instead of giving up they used their gray matter to figure it out. The crows began to use their bills and talons to tear and shape the paper into the properly sized tools. They were trained to know what sized tool was needed. This information had to be stored as memory. Then they had the ingenuity to take that information and create the right tool for the job.</p> <p>This is just one experiment. But it has given researchers a lot to go on for further testing and also observation of crows in the wild. For instance, how long does this memory last? Can a completely different reward experiment be done, and would the crows remember how this one worked when presented with it later? But right now, it looks like one more unique human trait is falling by the wayside.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-27405-1">Nature</a>, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44654098">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/science/crows-toolmaking.html">New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencealert.com/crows-can-remember-tool-shapes-recreate-them-cumulative-cultural-evolution"> ScienceAlert</a></p> <h3><strong>Scientists are counting seal pups in the Thames Estuary</strong></h3> <p>Maybe a glimmer of good environmental news, for a change!</p> <p>First we go back in time 60 years, when London’s Thames estuary was declared ‘biologically dead’. The river was dirty and almost devoid of wildlife. Since then, things have turned around to some extent - and today we have 3500 seals in the Thames. There are two species, harbour and grey seals. Some of them are about to give birth, so scientists are doing a count to work out how they’re doing.</p> <p>Thea Cox, conservation biologist at the Zoological Society of London, says that "Knowing how many there are is a really good indicator of the health of the estuary, what habitat is available to them, what food source is available to them."</p> <p>This good news story has a sting in the tail - although the river is generally less polluted, we naturally do have to worry about plastic pollution, in particular microplastics, both for our own health as well as that of the seals.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44647967">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/seals-river-thames/">iNews - Environment</a></p> <h3><strong>Marshmallow test re-visited</strong></h3> <p>Do you know what the marshmallow test is? It’s a test that was first conducted by Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel to see if there is any correlation between early childhood self-control and later childhood success.</p> <p>Here’s how it worked. The experimenter placed a marshmallow on a table in front of a preschool aged kid. Then the grownup promised to give the kid two marshmallows if they could resist stuffing the first one in their cute little face for 15 minutes.</p> <p>They did these tests in the 1960’s on 90 children in a local Stanford preschool. Decades later they came back to their test subjects to measure their success over the years. And yes, there seemed to be a greater degree of success in kids who resisted marshmallow temptation, including higher test scores and a lower body mass index.</p> <p>The results of this research were published in 1990 and has been a measure of children’s willpower since that time.</p> <p>But a new paper published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that this test, the marshmallow test, may just be a lot of fluff.</p> <p>The new study was led by Dr. Tyler Watts of New York University, and Dr. Greg Duncan and Haonan Quan, both of the University of California-Irvine. And these researchers made a few changes to the test. They increased the sample size from 90 to 900, and they also included a much greater diversity of kids. And these background factors were given consideration when they analyzed the results.</p> <p>And according to Dr. Watts the results showed that once the kid’s backgrounds were factored in, any differences in delaying gratification didn’t result in any statistically meaningful increases in success at a later age.</p> <p>The results suggest that a child’s ability to resist a marshmallow is more influenced by their socio-economic backgrounds. Think about it. If you’re growing up not sure about anything in your life, including when your next meal is happening...then you better grab any food while you can. Also, such a background is more likely to sow distrust in adults promising to give them something...like that second marshmallow. And their future success in school and in life is probably far more influenced by the economic disadvantages of their childhood than by any ability to resist a marshmallow, or other food reward.  </p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/kids-waiting-longer-classic-marshmallow-self-control-test"> Science News</a>, <a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/why-marshmallow-test-may-be-nothing-fluff"> Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-research-marshmallow-test-suggests-delayed-gratification-doesnt-equal-success-180969234/"> Smithsonian</a></p> <h3><strong>Poliovirus could treat brain cancer</strong></h3> <p>Glioblastoma is a devastating form of brain cancer - it’s the most common type of malignant brain tumour and patients typically do not live for long after diagnosis - best-case scenario is around 20 months. A study published last month by a team at Duke University indicated that a modified form of poliovirus may have some benefits in prolonging life expectancy.</p> <p>But how would POLIO help with brain cancer? The polio treatment is one of several “oncolytic viruses” being investigated as anti-cancer agents. So researchers have long viewed such viruses as potential tools for directly killing cancer - and the virus kills tumour cells and they now suspect that the viruses might be more effective at marshaling the body's immune system against malignancies, according to the National Cancer Institute. As I said, the virus has been modified, so it will not cause polio (this being a horrible disease, causing paralysis and possibly death). It’s modified as follows - the part of the virus that targets and kills nerve cells during a polio infection was swapped with a piece of the common cold virus.</p> <p>Of 61 people with recurring glioblastoma who were treated with the modified virus, 21 percent were alive after three years. In a “historical” comparison group of 104 patients, who would have been eligible for the treatment but died before it was available, 4 percent lived as long.</p> <p>The paper is in New England Journal of Medicine. It is an early phase trial and will naturally face much scrutiny in months and years to come.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/poliovirus-treatment-helped-patients-deadly-brain-tumors-live-longer"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/06/26/polio-virus-treatment-increased-survival-in-patients-with-deadly-brain-tumors-study-shows/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7d018a2ff158"> Washington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62938-poliovirus-could-treat-brain-cancer.html"> LiveScience</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Today in the Lounge, I wanted to step back from climate change per-se and talk about an interesting climate feature. DUST! Specifically, Saharan dust that gets transported thousands and thousands of miles across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, causing all sorts of issues.</p> <p>Every year hundreds of millions of tons of dust gets picked over West Africa and blow west by the trade winds over the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the dust is born at the Bodele depression in north central Chad at the southern end of the Saharan desert. It is actually a dry lake bed that is the lowest point in chad. Winds get funneled through nearby mountains, accelerate through and pick up dry diatoms (microorganisms) left over from a time when the lake was an actual lake and transport them west with the prevailing winds.</p> <p>Now this dust causes some unbelievable sunsets across the Caribbean but provides a gross hazy view during the day. The view is like when you mistakenly touch the lenses part of your glasses and then put the glasses back on. The dust is your wayward fingers.</p> <p>But you might be thinking, I’ll deal with a hazy day for a good sunset. Well, the dust can also combine with the normal every day human-caused pollution emitted near cities to create extremely hazardous air quality days. In Dallas Texas, 7000 miles away from Africa, the dust combined with human pollution to cause levels of pm2.5 (particles that smaller than 2.5 microns or 0.0001 inches) which were highly elevated.</p> <p>Why care? Outdoor air pollution, dominated by PM2.5, is responsible for around 4.5 million deaths a year (<a href= "http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32345-0/fulltext">Landrigan et al. 2017</a>), half of which are in China and India. These particles are such a danger because of just how small they are. At less than 2.5 micrometers, the particles are able to penetrate deep into lungs and even your bloodstream. Extreme exposure to a large amount of PM2.5 can lead to nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, reduced lung function, aggravated asthma, and increased respiratory symptoms. In the most vulnerable—those with pre-existing heart or lung disease—exposure to PM2.5 can even lead to death.</p> <p>But there are some positives, Saharan dust, specifically those diatoms, helps to fertilize the Amazon rainforest with nutrients and helps build beaches across the Caribbean. This dust also lives in what is known as the Saharan Air Layer as it moves across the Atlantic, a layer of air that is hot and dry. This hot and dry air mass also helps to kill off any potential tropical cyclone from developing usually leading to a reduced number of storms. Which is good!. And It’s part of the natural climate ecosystem with dust storms happening at the bodele depression about 100 days a year. But it still can cause issues, especially when combined with those non-natural parts of the climate ecosystem.</p> <p>So the next time you watch a video that brings a tear to your eye and you want an excuse, don’t just say you have dust in your eyes, say you have diatoms from the bodele depression in your eyes. You’ll be super cool I promise.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.wunderground.com/news/2018-07-01-saharan-dust-texas-houston-saturday"> Wunderground</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Interview with Chris Ryu</strong></h2> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thank you Chris Ryu for sharing with our audience all the great things you’re doing at the Dorset Science and Technology Centre, and the Atom Club. This is true grassroots science outreach, and they deserve your support. So please check them out at Atom.club.</p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by Pro Podcast Solutions.</p> <p>Our hosts today were Sophie McManus, Tom Di Liberto, and JD Goodwin.  </p> <p>Thank you for joining us</p> <p>Follow the science!</p>
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074: The Life and Legacy of Koko the Gorilla
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>A**hole of the Month</li> <li>A Farewell to Koko</li> <li>Where’s all the Matter?</li> <li>Three places struggling to control HIV and AIDS</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</strong></h2> <h3><strong>A Farewell to Koko</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Koko, the famous ‘talking gorilla’, has died in California aged 46.</p> <p>Koko was born in 1971 in San Francisco zoo and when she became ill she needed hand-rearing. The student for the job was Penny Patterson, who also taught her some American sign language. In a couple of years Koko learned 80 signs, before she was moved to Stanford University.</p> <p>It is claimed she could understand 2000 English words and knew 1000 different signs. Apart from that, Penny Patterson described evidence for a sense of humour and a charming and creative sense of word play - she referred to a zebra as a ‘white tiger,’ a Pinocchio doll as an ‘elephant baby,’ and a mask as an ‘eye hat’. Koko famously loved cats - her favourite kitten was called All Ball, and the way she handled her kittens is obviously full of care. She tickled Robin Williams back in 2001 and it was claimed she ‘grieved’ when told of his death.</p> <p>Koko’s life and treatment attracted scepticism and criticism as well as plaudits. The former arose from overinterpretation of the results she gave scientists - after all, she was taught to sign, mainly to respond to humans, it was not a spontaneous desire to communicate or chit-chat as human infants have. There is also the danger of projecting human emotions onto animals. For example, my family has dogs, and although we think they show emotions like jealousy (like when one tries to steal the other’s food), this may partly be our projections. (Secretly still convinced the young one gets jealous). The fact Koko trembled her lip when told Robin Williams was dead may not be crystal clear signs of grief. An example of projection and over-inference in animal studies is that of the horse Clever Hans.</p> <p>The criticism was also born of her environment and diet - although she was given many toys (and pets), obviously her home was entirely unnatural for a gorilla, her diet was humanised, she was given many different supplements by a ‘naturopath’, and she didn’t have the chance to socialise with other gorillas. Slate published a fantastic article summarising the many criticisms of ape sign studies.</p> <p>Her species, the western lowland gorilla, is considered critically endangered today. Today, studies into ape communication such as the study of Koko’s life are less likely to receive ethical approval. Quote from Barbara King, an anthropologist - it's not very respectful of the world's biodiversity to insist upon making apes into furry versions of ourselves. Koko taught us so much about the great ape mind, even while she paid a cost, in her own daily life, for our scientific curiosity.</p> <p>So generally then, Koko was a star, but we shouldn’t be looking to replace her.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/remembering-koko-a-gorilla-we-loved"> The New Yorker</a>, <a href= "https://www.npr.org/2018/06/21/622160278/koko-the-gorilla-dies-redrew-the-lines-of-animal-human-communication"> NPR</a>, <a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44559261">BBC News</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/koko-gorilla-gone-she-left-legacy"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/gorillas-koko-sign-language-culture-animals/"> National Geographic</a></p> <p><a href= "http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/08/koko_kanzi_and_ape_language_research_criticism_of_working_conditions_and.html?via=gdpr-consent"> Great article in Slate</a></p> <h3><strong>Have scientists finally found the universe's missing matter?</strong></h3> <h4>JD Goodwin</h4> <p>Most of us have heard that everyday matter, the stuff that we can observe like atoms and molecules, make up only a small percentage of the universe. Dark energy comprises about 70%, and dark matter is about 25%. Although we don’t know exactly <em>what</em> they are we can calculate their mass by their effects on what we can <em>observe</em>. But there’s that roughly 5% of everything that is ordinary matter, more accurately known as baryons. We know this from observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. So we’re on pretty solid ground there.</p> <p>After years of observing galaxies, and using every tool in the cosmologists’ toolkit we’ve only been able to observe half of the predicted baryonic matter, the ordinary matter, that the universe <em>should</em> have.</p> <p>Last week a paper was published in Nature that just may very well account for the missing baryonic matter in our universe. The paper’s lead author, Fabrizio Nicastro said: “The missing baryons represent one of the biggest mysteries in modern astrophysics.”</p> <p>But progess has been made over the years. Astrophysicists have calculated the mass of all the stars in the universe. They then added in the interstellar gas inside of galaxies and this up to about 10%. I’m not talking 10% of the mass of the universe, just 10% of the expected mass of baryons, which as you now know, comprises only about 5% of the universe’s total mass.</p> <p>Still with me here?</p> <p>Okay, we’re up to 10% of baryonic matter. Now add in the gas that surrounds galaxies like gigantic haloes. Then toss in the <em>even hotter</em> gas that fills galaxy clusters. That now brings us up to almost 20%. Better, but not particularly satisfying.</p> <p>Through some different observational techniques astronomers then turned their attention to the super colossal gas filaments that run between galaxy clusters. And that brought up to 60% of the predicted baryonic matter.</p> <p>Now we’re getting somewhere.</p> <p>And here’s where the this new paper by Nicastro and his team comes into play. They didn’t just start looking last week, by the way. They’ve been at this for almost 20 years. The team used the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory to observe a quasar. A quasar is a galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its core that emits intense radiation in the form of x-rays all the way to visible light. According to Nicastro, “After combing through the data, we succeeded at finding the signature of oxygen in the hot intergalactic gas between us and the distant quasar, at two different locations along the line of sight. This is happening because there are huge reservoirs of material – including oxygen – lying there, and just in the amount we were expecting, so we finally can close the gap in the baryon budget of the Universe.”</p> <p>This was one paper, although it took them 20 years to get to this point. Still, they have plans to look at more quasars with the XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra space observatories.</p> <p>Also, better space observatories are scheduled to be launched in the late 2020’s that will provide even more data. But right now it seems we have found all the ordinary matter in the universe.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/XMM-Newton_finds_missing_intergalactic_material"> European Space Agency</a>, <a href= "https://www.scitecheuropa.eu/xmm-newton-space-observatory-material/87495/"> SciTech Europa</a>, <a href= "https://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/18634-found-universe-matter-baryon"> Outer Places</a>,</p> <hr /> <h3><strong>These three places show the AIDS epidemic is far from over</strong></h3> <h4>Sophie McManus</h4> <p>Florida, Russia and Nigeria. Different corners of the world, united by the fact they are all struggling to up the ante against HIV and AIDS infection.</p> <p>These are the metrics we can use to gauge progress made in the fight against HIV, as explained in an excellent article published in <em>Science. How many people are living with the virus? What is the rate of new infection? What percentage of infected people are receiving antiretroviral drugs, which both stave off disease and prevent transmission? How many infected people have progressed to AIDS and how many have died from it? And how many children are infected by their mothers?</em></p> <p>Nigeria, Russia and the American state of Florida stand out from their neighbours because they are ‘first’ for at least one of the metrics I just mentioned. They all face differing challenges. For example, Nigeria has a high rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission, Russia has a high death rate. Florida has a high new infection rate, partly because many people there with HIV are unaware of their status, as testing isn’t as widespread as it could be.</p> <p>If you are a data nerd, you should look up the article called ‘Ending AIDS? These three places show the epidemic is far from over’ published on the 14th June on the <em>Science</em> website. There are some great interactive charts and graphics that elegantly sum up the data.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/ending-aids-these-three-places-show-epidemic-far-over?rss=1"> Science</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>A**hole of the Month</strong></h2> <h3>Elliot Sudal, publicity seeker and shark abuser</h3> <p>Have you seen the headlines? "World's Sexiest Shark Wrangler? Jaws Are Dropping Over this Ab-Tastic Ocean Expert's Instagram". That was from People Magazine in May.</p> <p>From the Daily Mail also in May, "Picture of shark wrangler holding a 12-foot hammerhead goes viral – but it's not for the reason you're thinking". I’ll tell you the reason. Yes, it’s his rippling abs!</p> <p>I’m talking about Elliot Sudal, the latest internet sensation who hooks and captures these menacing monsters from the deep and wrestles them ashore, all the while looking ABSolutely fabulous doing it. But this is 2018, and the good guys don’t slaughter sharks any more.</p> <p>After wrestling the fearsome beasts on to the beach Mr. Sudal does what any modern day muscle-man would do. He poses alongside, and sometimes sits on these vanquished creatures. He even invites other people to do the same, especially if they look really awesome in a bikini. Being the good guy, Mr. Sudal applies a tag to the shark before dragging it back into the water, after the photo op of course, and lets it go back into the deep.</p> <p>What a great guy!</p> <p>According to the Daily Mail, “He works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” and that “Sudal's job takes him to exotic locations like the Bahamas and Nantucket catching anything from bull sharks to sting rays.”</p> <p>Let’s hear what his employer, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration has to say about their star employee and shark hunter Elliot Sudal:</p> <p> </p> <blockquote> <p>“Mr. Sudal is not and has never been an employee of NOAA Fisheries nor is he formally affiliated with any of the agency’s programs.</p> <p>The agency remains concerned with Mr. Sudal’s shark and sawfish handling practices. Physical handling should be minimized, all species should be kept in the water while tagging and then released quickly. During tagging, sharks should <em>not</em> be dragged onto dry sand...for <em>any reason</em>.</p> <p>Mr. Sudal’s tagging of an endangered smalltooth sawfish caught in Florida in April 2017 was investigated by NOAA and resulted in a compliance assistance letter from NOAA’s Office of General Counsel informing him of the Endangered Species Act issues and the safe handling protocol for sawfish.”</p> </blockquote> <p>This public notification by NOAA is highly unusual, and reflects the seriousness of the situation. Mr. Sudal has been presented in the media as an employee of NOAA. That is false. Mr. Sudal has been claiming to be a conservationist. Mr. Sudal has violated nearly every guideline of NOAA’s shark tagging guidelines. But hey, those pictures and the viral videos are awesome, huh?</p> <p>So awesome that they’ve landed Elliot Sudal on the beach as the Blue Streak Science A**hole of the Month.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/letting-sharks-off-the-hook/278117/"> The Atlantic</a>, <a href= "https://www.adventuresportsnetwork.com/sport/fishing/miss-maine-usa-contestant-a-prolific-shark-tagger-but-is-this-conservation/"> Adventure Sports Network</a>, <a href= "https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-photographed-wrestling-shark-ashore/story?id=19682461"> ABC News</a>, <a href= "http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5716467/Florida-shark-wrangler-brings-huge-hammer-head-goes-viral-muscles.html"> Daily Mail</a>, <a href= "https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/Narragansett/sharks/pdfs/cstpbooklet.pdf"> NOAA shark tagging guidelines</a>, <a href= "https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/noaa-fisheries-statement-recent-inaccurate-media-coverage-shark-tagging-elliot-sudal"> NOAA press release</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD: </strong>I visited Point Blue Conservation Science. Point Blue is a private conservation science organization that is, honestly, far bigger and more wide-ranging that I’d thought. They used to be known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, but they took on the moniker of Point Blue Conservation Science because their scope is much wider than just birds. They are certainly California-centric with research going on all over the Bay Area, offshore including the Farallone Islands, and as far away as Alaska all the way down to Antarctica!</p> <p>I met several of their key staff members who seemed quite keen to share their research, and hopefully we’ll be sharing that with you, our audience.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD:</strong> I have nothing planned, except to practice some video techniques with my new gimbals.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and any number of podcast directories, or you can listen to us directly on the Blue Streak Science website where you can check out the show notes for links and other good stuff for each episode.</p> <p>That website is at bluestreakscience.com</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by Pro Podcast Solutions.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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073: Antarctic Melt Rate Triples!
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The melt rate of the Antarctic...the news ain’t good, folks</li> <li>Mars Rover Opportunity Hunkers Down for the Big Dust Storm</li> <li>Animals Are Doing their best to avoid us, and staying up late</li> <li>Stephen Hawking’s ashes buried in Westminster Abbey</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> <li>There is no Climate Lounge today. Tom Di Liberto and his wonderful wife have just brought a new scientist into the world!</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Listener feedback</strong></h2> <p>Will Simmonds: "Just wanted to say I love the show, gives me great information and entertainment on my runs. I’m especially loving the pub quizzes, but maybe try expand on the answer with a fact, etc. The New Arsehole of the Month is a fantastic addition. However, I'm rather baffled at how some of these people acquire these high state positions."</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Dr. Amrita Sule and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled in the Last 25 Years</strong></h3> <p>Antarctica is a continent roughly the size of United States and Mexico combined. It is covered with ice sheets. If all of this ice were to melt it would increase the water levels by 60 meters. Although this is not going to happen overnight and these ice sheets have more or less remained in place for past 10,000 years.</p> <p><img class="size-medium wp-image-1025" src= "https://bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/73_800x500-300x188.png" alt="" width="300" height="188" /></p> <p>Antarctic Petrel</p> <p>But Antarctica is indeed melting!! Reports published recently revealed that Antarctica has lost <strong>around 3 trillion tons of ice in just the past 25 years</strong>, and this ice loss has accelerated rapidly over the last five years. This is pushing up the global sea levels by 0.6 mm annually – which might seem pretty small but it’s not if you look at cumulative increase.</p> <p>For this new study, satellite measurements have been used to track changes in ice sheets since the early 1990s. These satellites scanned Antarctic ice sheets with altimeters to gain information about its volume. Another type of satellite measurement tracked the speed at which it moves towards the ocean. Some satellites are equipped to weigh the ice sheet by sensing gravitational pull of earth. These measurements are helpful in telling you what is its sea level contribution.</p> <p>There has been some uncertainty associated with regional differences in Antarctica. This study helps clear that up.  For example, West Antarctica and Antarctic peninsula, have been known for some time to lose ice but not east Antarctica, which has been stable for most time. Therefore East Antarctic has always caught the attention of people who deny the science of Global Warming.<strong> </strong>But recent studies show higher melt rates in certain regions east Antarctica as well. So there you go!</p> <p>The majority of losses do come from melting of West Antarctic ice sheets due to warm ocean water melting some glaciers from the bottom up. In 25 years, this has caused about 8 millimeters of sea level rise and about 40% of this rise has happened in past five years. This definitely increases our concern about what the future may hold.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44470208">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62811-antarctica-3-trillion-tons-ice-lost.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/antarctic-melt-rate-has-tripled-in-the-last-25-years/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/climate/antarctica-ice-melting-faster.html"> New York Times</a>,</p> <h3><strong>Mars Rover Opportunity Hunkers Down for the Big Dust Storm</strong></h3> <p>Did you guys ever see the Martian, with Matt Damon? Despite the lead character being a botanist and the wealth of good science that is in the film; the main event that triggers the plot of the film, the big Martian storm is not so scientifically accurate. Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth so Martian storms don’t reach anything like the severity of our storms. That said, this story is about the Mars rover, Opportunity being put at risk by a Martian storm. And not just any Martian storm but the biggest one ever recorded!</p> <p>The threat to Opportunity isn’t from the physical impact of the storm itself, but from the Martian dust that is getting blow around in it. Opportunity is solar powered and a big storm like this will seriously reduce the amount of sunlight that makes it down to planet’s surface. Now, this storm was predicted so Opportunity has been put into maximum power saving mode and now all that the guys at NASA can do now is hope that the batteries can outlast the storm.</p> <p>This isn’t the first time the Opportunity has had to endure a storm like this but there are two crucial differences on this occasion. First, as I said earlier, this is the biggest storm seen to date on Mars, and second; Opportunity is no spring chicken anymore. It is staggering to think about what Opportunity has achieved in its time on Mars. The rover’s mission was initially given a duration of 90 days; this mission is now at well over 5000 days and counting! No other rover has ever covered more distance off world. Opportunity completed a Martian marathon 3 year ago and then kept going!</p> <p>Opportunity will remain in hibernation for a few weeks so we won’t know anything until the time comes to rouse it from its slumber. But even if this does spell the end for the opportunity mission, that little rover owes nothing to anyone. It has vastly outperformed anything that anyone ever expected of it and it will have deserved a very well earned rest.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62817-will-mars-rover-survive-dust-storm.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62810-mars-dust-storm-opportunity-falls-silent.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-opportunity-mars-dust-storm-20180613-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/40888-mars-dust-storm-2018-and-opportunity-rover-images.html"> Space.com</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/mars-rover-opportunity-dust-storm-nasa-space-science/"> National Geographic</a></p> <h3><strong>Humans Forcing Animals To Become Nocturnal</strong></h3> <p>Coming back to earth, let’s see what are WE up to and by WE... I mean human beings. Looks like we have now managed to annoy some animals to an extent that they rather sleep through the day and stay up at night just to avoid us.</p> <p>Count me in too. We “humans” have now  impacted about 75% of earth’s land surface and therefore animals have opted to adapt to a different lifestyle especially when they are in proximity of cities or areas buzzing with human activity. Many animals fear humans and we do come across as noisy and dangerous to them. So they often try to avoid us. But it is becoming more and more difficult for them to migrate to a human free space. Why? Because WE are everywhere.</p> <p>A study published in Science this week pointed out that mammals across the globe not just limited to coyotes, elephants and tigers have altered their sleep schedules and are becoming <strong>increasingly</strong> nocturnal to avoid increased human presence.</p> <p>This kind if behavioral activity has been tracked over last couple of decades by satellites, GPS telemetry or camera traps. This study is a result of meta-analysis of 76 papers about 62 different species spanning six continents.</p> <p>They looked at a share of nocturnal activity that was conducted by animals  living in regions with low and high levels of human impact or disturbance. Regions with higher human activity correlated with increased nocturnal activity. And theses observations or trends were <strong>consistent</strong> across continents, habitats, types of animals and even types of human activity.</p> <p>The author of this study makes a point that, this kind of behavioural shift could have large impacts on ecosystem thus reshaping species interaction. Competitions between predator species could threaten their survival. Also, the animals that are not opting for nocturnal lifestyle could be endangered due to human presence.  </p> <p>It's important to remember that we are not alone on earth, and more effort should be made to conserve human disturbance free zones especially for most vulnerable and sensitive mammal species.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mammals-active-at-night-20180614-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/science/animals-human-nocturnal-study.html"> New York Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05430-4">Nature</a>,</p> <h3><strong>Stephen Hawking buried in Westminster Abbey, between Darwin and Newton</strong></h3> <p>In the preparation for this show, JD shared his recollection of a biography on Charles Darwin. It contained a chapter about his burial in Westminster Abbey and was entitled “The Agnostic in the Abbey”; well, it would appear that Darwin has now been trumped as the atheist, Stephen Hawking was also interred there last week.</p> <p>The best way to explain what a privilege it is for Hawking to be buried here is to consider who else has also been bestowed the honour. He rests alongside 18 past monarchs, Geoffrey Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Laurence Olivier there are 5 other people from a scientific background; Margaret Cavendish, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, J. J. Thomson and now Stephen Hawking.</p> <p>Now there may be critics who say that Hawking doesn’t deserve to be laid to rest with the likes of Newton and Darwin. The established works of those two men still form significant pillars within our body of current scientific understanding whereas Hawking’s work is still to have its accuracy verified and he hasn’t even won a nobel prize. Well guess what, neither did Newton or Darwin! By the time that Darwin died, <em>On the Origin of Species</em> had only been published for 20 years; not nearly enough time to test the theories that he presented. This puts Hawking’s ideas very much at the same level.</p> <p>But we can’t just look at the science here. The true power of Stephen Hawking was as a communicator. It’s seems so poetic that a man who spent half of his life without a voice has been one of the greatest science communicators of all time. Regardless of his scientific credentials (which are pretty phenomenal) the people honoured in Westminster Abbey are people who have created a lasting legacy in the UK and I can’t think of anyone who I have met who has not been inspired by the life of Stephen Hawking.</p> <p>But I think that we can only end a piece like this by sharing a few pieces of classic Hawking dialogue, like: “I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road”, and “Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” And finally, “However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope”. And even though Stephen Hawking’s life may now be over, the hope that he has brought to so many people lives on.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62836-hawking-buried-between-newton-darwin.html"> Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/15/stephen-hawking-ashes-interred-westminster-abbey"> The Guardian</a>, <a href= "https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-news/ashes-of-stephen-hawking-buried-in-the-abbey/"> Westminster Abbey</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Patreon</strong></h2> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast is a listener-supported podcast.</p> <p>And we would like to thank those listeners who understand that science and science communication are more important today than they have ever been.</p> <p>Science denialism and scientific illiteracy are huge problems, and it’s because of the financial support of our listeners that we’re able to present the latest discoveries in science, and to illuminate those who stand against science.</p> <p>So, thank you.</p> <p>And if you’d like to support our podcast all you gotta do is head over to bluestreakscience.com and you’ll find several options there.</p> <p>Yes, we do have a lot of fun doing this, but it’s also important work. And we thank you for supporting us.</p> <p>Thank you!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Effin' Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Dropping the f-bombs today are the fittingly fashionable Amrita Sule, and the fabulously flamboyant Chris MacAlister!</p> <p>Here’s how it works. I ask a science question and our faction of fantastic friends furnish their flashy answers along with some fanciful feedback.</p> <ol> <li>This fine fellow was born in Danzig, Poland in 1686 and invented the alcohol thermometer in 1709, and the mercury thermometer in 1714? What was his name?</li> <li>While writing the above question I learned of a word that just may soon become my favorite word in the English language. And that brings me to question 2. I mentioned that Fahrenheit used a mixture of ice, water, and ammonium chloride to determine his first temperature reference point. What is that type of mixture called?</li> <li>What do we call the emission of light by a substance following the absorption of light or other energy by the substance?</li> <li>The preserved impression or remains of an animal or plant whose living tissue has been replaced by minerals is better known as a?</li> <li>Who is this person? An English biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer born in London in 1920 and discovered that DNA crystallizes into two forms.</li> <li>Where might I find the Tevatron?</li> <li>What is a facula?</li> <li>In the human body this is the longest bone. What is it?</li> <li>What do we call a nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier nucleus with the release of energy?</li> <li>Sleeps on one leg, filters its food, and is pink. What is it?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Last week I took a trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore again. I trundled over to the Fish Docks on the beautiful Drake’s Bay. Met up with some other birders and searched for the Lawrence’s Goldfinches. No dice. I did get great views of many other birds such a lesser goldfinches, a soaring peregrine falcon. The highlight was a large male California sea lion emerging at the surface with a fat chinook salmon in its mouth. It then shook the salmon, tearing it apart, with salmon roe flying everywhere. It was immediately joined by a host of western gulls to help clean up the mess.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Nothing on the agenda, but more birding. I may go back to Point Reyes on Wednesday to give the Lawrence’s Goldfinches another shot. I hope to be up to speed by then on the new gimbals I have for taking smooth video with my iPhone. I may even do some audio recording as well.</p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> Camping in the Lake District.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In the Blogosphere</strong></h2> <p><strong>Chris</strong>: I’ve been doing some homework following last week’s show. Sunlight takes 5.3 hours to reach Pluto. JD, you are correct; it takes 8 minutes for light to get to Earth and my figure of 8 minutes is actually the time that it takes light to reach Mercury.</p> <p>I’ve also been investigating Space Suit malfunctions. It appears that the worst spacesuit malfunction occurred in 2014 and it was not necessarily what you may have expected as the danger to astronaut Luca Parmitano was of drowning! Now the use of this word isn’t some technical definition of suffocation; it actually means drowning in water, in space!</p> <p>A blocked filter in the space suit caused a leak and his helmet started filling with water from the suit’s cooling system during a spacewalk. This eyes, ears, nose and parts of his mouth all filled up with water. He could barely see and had to feel his way back to the air lock.</p> <p>Why does the suit hold so much water and why a cooling system is needed when it is -270 Celsius outside, but this is because spacesuits need a lot of insulation to protect astronauts so it can get pretty toasty in there so they even have clothing that draws sweat away from the body and then cools it.</p> <p>Even though NASA have never seem to figure out what caused the failure, they have taken protective action by installing snorkels into helmets now!</p> <p>This week I am writing about a subject very close to me, sunburn. Not just why it happens but also why its red, when nothing else ever goes red when it gets burnt.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Thanks to our intrepid hosts, Amrita Sule and Chris MacAlister!</p> <p>But most of all, thank you, our wonder audience.</p> <p>That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>If you have any suggestions or comments email us at <a href= "mailto:podcast@bluestreakscience.com">podcast@bluestreakscience.com</a></p> <p>You can subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and any number of podcast directories, or you can listen to us directly on the Blue Streak Science website where you can check out the show notes for links and other good stuff for each episode.</p> <p>That website is at bluestreakscience.com.</p> <p>This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by Pro Podcast Solutions.</p> <p>Thank you for joining us</p> <p>And remember...follow the science!</p>
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072: Organic molecules on Mars, slowing hurricanes, dogs and influenza
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>New Horizons wakes up to explore the Kuiper Belt</li> <li>Hurricanes are slowing down</li> <li>Dogs and the flu virus</li> <li>The Climate Lounge</li> <li>The Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Organic molecules found on Mars</strong></h3> <p>Mars stinks. Or at least it ought to, based on the fact that in has methane in its atmosphere. Truth is though, that the concentration of methane in the martian air is almost 2000 times lower than the one on earth. But why methane is of interest to scientists is because, on earth at least, it’s existence is related to the activity of living forms. Now, methane comes again in the spotlight of researchers, because they’ve finally had a breakthrough - they’ve finally detected a pattern in the concentration variations of the gas in the martian atmosphere. Curiosity observed changes in the methane content when travelling cross the planet from north to south. The original hypothesis was that this change is due to chemical conversion of molecules with the help of the strong radiation of the Sun. The counter argument is that while this is possible, its not plausible, or at least not explaining the phenomenon in full. The models predict only about 20% increase in methane if the conversion is due to only sun-catalysed chemical conversions in the summer, while the practically observed increase is with up to 300%. Alternative hypothesis is that there might be methane deposits in the deep ice on Mars, which gets released once the ice and soil get warmed up by the summer sun. It is still very interesting to find out though where did this methane came from in the first place and future ESA missions will look exactly into that - they will be able to drill much deeper in the martian soil and analyze the carbon composition of the methane found there to establish if there’s a chance it was made/left behind by living forms.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44405658">BBC Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-methane-seasons-20180607-htmlstory.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/curiosity-finds-mars-methane-changes-seasons"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/mars-organic-compounds-methane-curiosity-space-science/"> National Geographic</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/science/mars-nasa-life.html">New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>New Horizons wakes up to explore the Kuiper Belt</strong></h3> <p>Last week I spoke about the discoveries coming from New Horizons’ 3 year old data and before we’ve even finished with all of that data; here comes some more!</p> <p>After the success of the Pluto flyby the mission was extended for further studies in the Kuiper belt, and why not; after the 9 years getting there?</p> <p>Pluto’s home, the Kuiper belt may be less famous than asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter but it is a damn sight bigger! Despite covering some 3.5 billion kms to get to Pluto, its taking New Horizons a further 3 years and 1.6 billion miles to complete this leg WITHIN the Kuiper belt!</p> <p>The new target is called Ultima Thule (much catchier than its official title 2014 MU69). The name, given in March of this year, means; beyond the borders of the known world.  Ultima Thule is exciting for a couple of reasons. It could be both the most distant oldest object ever studied, it is believed to have been orbiting since the very early days of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.</p> <p>A 20km wide rock may not seem too exciting. But if Pluto has taught us anything t is that surprises are waiting out there to be discovered. And who doesn’t get excited about exploring a new world?</p> <p>I’m ready to get excited again. As with your own tech, if you’re not going to use it for some time you may switch to standby mode and this is exactly what’s happened to New Horizons. Waking it up means that it’s time for the discovery to start again. I think the mission’s principal investigator Alan Stern summed it perfectly when he simply said “IT’S HAPPENING, IT’S HAPPENING!”]</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/new-horizons-wakes-begin-kuiper-belt-exploration"> Science News</a>, <a href= "http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/solar-system/new-horizons-exits-hibernation-to-prepare-for-kbo-flyby/"> Space Flight Insider</a>, <a href= "https://www.space.com/40832-new-horizons-wakes-up-for-historic-kbo-flyby.html"> Space.com</a>, <a href= "https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/06/new-horizons-leave-hibernation-january-mu69-flyby/"> NASA Space Flight</a></p> <h3><strong>Hurricanes are slowing down</strong></h3> <p>I’m getting into deep waters here - this is entirely Tom’s turf but my name’s not Nevena if I don’t do my best so here goes nothing!</p> <p>Yes - a paper published recently in the journal Nature shows that  hurricanes are moving slower and that seems to be a very very bad thing. Here’s why - having both typhoons and hurricanes move slower means that they drag along for longer in a specific area and respectively cause more damage. The warmer air and water also pump more water into the storm so they tend to be much more prominent and drop much more rain for prolonged periods one one place causing more frequently and worse floods. Another research paper published by the NSF analysed 22 storms and modeled how would they develop if they were to happen in the climate conditions of the late 21 century. And it was <em>not</em> pretty! The predictions showed that the rising global temperatures will only cause cyclones to slow down further, making them even more deadly and devastating for the areas affected by them, calculating as much as 25% more rainfall for all the biggest storms analysed in this study. Now you might think - ok rain would be worse but since it’s travelling slower at least the damage from the winds will be significantly smaller, but you’d be very wrong - the winds in the storms apparently remain with comparable speed to the ones today. And according to some estimations, this slowing down of storms transitions is very significant, some calculating as much as a third loss of speed for just over half a decade.</p> <p>These two publications both point to the same outcome using two very different methods - one is analysing historical data, and the other one is making predictions based on computer modeling. The fact that both have similar disturbing conclusions is a hint at the much more versatile unexpected negative effects of global warming we are yet to discover in full.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-slower-hurricanes-cyclones-20180606-story.html"> LA Times</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/hurricanes-cyclones-move-slower-drop-more-rain-climate-change-science/"> National Geographic</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05324-5">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/climate/slow-hurricanes.html">New York Times</a></p> <h3><strong>Dogs and the flu virus</strong></h3> <p>You’ve got your bird flu, your swine flu, now get ready for dog flu!</p> <p>Bird flu made the case that flu is not just what you called in sick with when you have a bad cold but could actually be a serious, life threatening disease. I could talk all day about the complexities and risks of the flu virus but I won’t. Instead we’ll focus on the headline points.</p> <p>Is your dog in danger? No. This story is about discovering that dogs already have many different types of flu virus in them, including some novel ones; not that dogs are dying. Are you in danger? No. So why are we even talking about this?</p> <p>The reason why people get a flu shot every year is because the flu virus is eternally changing. Antibiotic resistance is not a patch on the flu virus. Flu is a pandemic on a never-ending migration and as flu season sweep around the globe it keeps on changing. It mutates, swaps genes with its hosts and it swaps genes with other varieties of flu. All of this genetic bodging means that the flu that hits you one season can be significantly different from the one that hit you last season, dodging your immune system. So your flu vaccine is guesswork, predictions of what strains will be doing the rounds in the coming season.</p> <p>The reason this dog story is big news is that all these flu strains together makes for a breeding ground for new strains as they all go about swapping genetic material; increasing the chance of something dangerous like bird flu emerging. Bird flu never transferred directly between humans and was rare as you had to live closely alongside infected birds to get it. But dogs live very close with us, not only raising the potential for infection, but also giving the virus more chance of adapting to infect humans. This has led to claims that we should start vaccinating our dogs for flu, not to protect them but to reduce the number of strains that they are carrying and minimise all this mixing.</p> <p>JD: This winter we had our dog, Amy, vaccinated against canine flu. It seems there was some of it going around here on the west coast of North America, and it is quite serious if your dog is unlucky enough to contract it. Also, our veterinarian told us that the series of two injections should protect her for life.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dogs-carry-surprising-variety-flu-viruses"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62770-dog-flu-pandemic.html">Live Science</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/dog-flu-pandemic-explained-health-science/"> National Geographic</a></p> <p>Thanks to Nevena Hristozova, the mastermind behind the incubatorium blog. All things sciencey, at <a href= "http://www.incubatorium.eu">incubatorium.eu</a>.</p> <p>And Chris MacAlister who is the creator of <a href= "http://www.matildaslab.wordpress.com">Matildas Lab</a>, whose most recent post is about strapping fake tails to chickens.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></h2> <p>Did you know that according to a new paper in Nature, hurricanes are slowing down because of climate change? You do? Because Nevena already covered it really well? How about that science huh? Let me look at my watch...Ok that was only 20 seconds. Give me a word!</p> <p>Which connects me to... CARBON DIOXIDE. Let’s talk CO2! Because we did it guys! Woo! We are number 1! Humans Humans Humans!</p> <p>This April and May, the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere measured at Mauna Loa in Hawaii reached 410 parts per million. The highest monthly averages ever recorded. May’s average was 411.25 ppm, which is like super high.</p> <p>How high is that? Well it’s likely the highest since the Pliocene around 3 million years ago. What’s the Pliocene? It’s an era of time. What’s time?Dudeeee that’s deep. Anyway, the pliocene was known to have sea levels 16 to 131 feet higher (5 to 40m), the poles were 10 C or 18F higher with global temps more like 3-4C warmer (5-7F). And giant ground sloths and mastodons roamed the planet, not 7.6 billion humans.</p> <p>Suffice to say, yikes.</p> <p>Now this is where I usually get into some super sciency details but I’d like to end with a story instead, if you guys don’t mind. Around 3.5 years ago I was lucky enough to get invited to give a talk at a climate resilience conference in Hawaii focusing on the Pacific Islands. And like any normal person, I extended this trip to do some sightseeing with my then pregnant wife (we had just found out a month earlier that we were expecting our first child). Our travels took us the big island, the youngest of the islands and the one that’s currently erupting. Now when you are there, the suggestions on things to do usually boil down to 1) see the volcano and 2) Get to the top of Mauna Kea to see the stars and telescopes that peer out into space. We did #1 but thought, Psshhhht space. We instead did the much less traveled adventure and drove up Mauna Loa. Because we wanted to see where the famous Keeling Curve observations (the co2 measurements that i mentioned earlier) were taken. So beforehand, I emailed the NOAA scientists up there and said “Hey, can we come visit?” They said Sure! And gave us the code to the front gate. So on a sunny typically beautiful hawaiian day, my pregnant wife and I drove a rented 4wheel drive jeep up switchback roads to the Mauna Loa observatory. We walked around the machines by ourselves for a little bit before running into one of the scientists. He showed us around making sure to stop at the old famous machines,then pointing out where the steady stream of data was coming in and finally making us sign their guestbook (which contained all sorts of more famous names). But then he surprised us and took us out onto the roof, he grabbed an air sample bottle that they obviously kept for situations like this, when random visitors show up and he let us take air samples on Mauna Loa ourselves and seal the jars. We then went back down and wrote down the current CO2 levels in ppm. 401.23 ppm. A terrifying number back then. It was a time when breaking 400ppm seem unfathomable. And now 411.25ppm, rising and my son is now 2.5 years old</p> <p>I often get asked how I keep going in such a field like climate science. Communicating it can be so tough. Things can seem so polarized, hopeless. And nowadays, I don’t think we alone own that hopeless mantle. But I always say, you have to remind yourself why you keep doing what you are doing</p> <p>Yes it can be tough, and on some days it can seem impossible to keep going. But on those days, I look to the shelf right above my computer at work, to the photo of my wife and I on our wedding day, to the image of my son showing off the world’s largest grin. And smack dab in between them is that little glass tube, full of that brilliant hawaiian air with ugly amounts of CO2 in it.</p> <p>And as I say these words, at any minute I could get a call telling me my wife is in labor with boy #2. So even though things can seem depressing. Remember, there’s A LOT worth fighting for. Keep those things close and let’s get to damn work.</p> <p>Also, don’t be afraid of bringing tourist dollars to Puerto Rico and definitely don’t forget to keep talking about the island. It’s hurricane season and lots of places still don’t have roofs.</p> <p><a href= "https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2362/Another-climate-milestone-falls-at-NOAA%E2%80%99s-Mauna-Loa-observatory"> NOAA</a>, <a href= "https://e360.yale.edu/digest/co2-levels-break-another-record-exceeding-411-parts-per-million"> YaleE360</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <ol> <li>What is the study of biological processes that have or could have evolved outside or away from the planet Earth?</li> <li>What do we call a global event that arises from large-scale interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere between the southeastern tropical Pacific and the Austral-Indonesian regions?</li> <li>What is the branch of biology that deals with the interactions and relationships between organisms and their environment?</li> <li>What do we call a subatomic particle that carries a negative charge in atoms or molecules?</li> <li>Microorganisms belonging to the domains Bacteria and Archaea that can live and thrive in extreme environments are called what?</li> <li>In thermodynamics, a closed system evolves toward a state of maximum what?</li> <li>Published in 1859, Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species”, probably the greatest writing in the history of the biological sciences. What was the final word of the final chapter?</li> <li>What do we call organisms who have relatively large cells that have internal membrane-bound structures called organelles, including a cell nucleus?</li> <li>When a species that once existed no longer exists anywhere it is said to be?</li> <li>The study of the inheritance and regulation of gene expression that is independent of the DNA sequence of an organism is called?</li> </ol> <hr /> <h2><strong>Recommended by the Team</strong></h2> <p>We highly recommend a great podcast called “Death in Ice Valley”. It’s a co-production of BBC’s World Service and Norway’s public radio service, NRK.</p> <p>In 1970, in a remote valley in Norway two girls found the body of a woman, badly burnt and surrounded by some strange objects. Her identity has remained a mystery ever since.</p> <p>Investigative journalist, Marit Higraff, and British BBC radio documentary maker, Neil McCarthy, have spearheaded this most recent investigation, and their goal is to find answers that have evaded police, journalists and crime novelists for the past 47 years.</p> <p>This is a wonderful podcast and I urge you to have a listen.</p> <p><a href= "https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/death-in-ice-valley/id1357695290?mt=2"> Death In Ice Valley</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> Last week, here in Brussels, was held the yearly international forum on food and nutrition from the BCFN foundation. It is an event founded to provide an open space for interdisciplinary discussion on issues of nutrition and sustainability. Experts, international opinion-makers and young research fellows met to share evidence, scientific data and best practices, with the goal of creating a model of sustainable food to reach the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.</p> <p>The talks and keynotes tried to lay out effective solutions on urgent issues such as the relationship between hunger and obesity, the proper use of natural resources, the reduction of food waste, the promotion of sustainable diets, the environmental impact of agriculture and the effects of climate change.</p> <p>And the best part of this event was that it was free to register so anyone who wanted to attend and was fast enough could go (obv they had a somewhat limited number of seating). But talk about open science that was really it!</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Last week I spent a morning at Point Reyes National Seashore. This is truly a remarkable piece of land. It’s about 280 square kilometers and its peninsula juts about 15 kilometers out into the Pacific.</p> <p>From the Outer Point you can see the Farallones, an archipelago that’s about 50 km away. On a clear day you can also see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, also about 50 km distant.</p> <p>There are lots of black-tailed deer, huge tule elk, bobcat, coyotes and mountain lions. I was doing some birding there and saw several peregrine falcons soaring and then swooping around the lighthouse, driving the common murres crazy. I only learned afterward that a pair of Lawrence’s Goldfinches are nesting in the area...quite rare for this location.</p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> This week I have been building. I am building a LIMS (Laboratory Integrated Management System). Our lab records are on old Microsoft Access databases that are slowly grinding to a standstill. A colleague and I visited another lab to look at their off the shelf LIMS and we thought; there’s nothing going on here that we couldn’t build ourselves, in MS Access. So that is what we are doing; building an all-singing-all-dancing bespoke database system from scratch. Whilst this has been going on for more that the last week, last week we did build some parts of the system that we feared would be the most difficult so I’m feel remarkably chuffed with myself at the moment.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> Another interesting event which I hope to be able to attend is a meeting called Antitrust and competition issues in the life science sector on July 3rd here in the European Parliament, in Brussels. DG COMP organises a panel to provide an overview of recent developments by DG COMP and the National Competition Authorities in the life science industry, including excessive pricing, market definition, pay-for-delay, and mergers.</p> <p>This event follow the launch of DG COMP’s Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry in 2008, in which inquiry was the interplay between competition law and the life science sector. A broad range of investigations have taken place, and a number are on-going. DG SANTE will be reporting on biologicals and biosimilars from a regulatory perspective. The event is virtually free since it's 25 euros per person but it also includes a lunch served as it's a lunch meeting followed by the report presentation.</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Summer is a slow time of year for lectures and such, so I have nothing planned this week. However, there’s a lot of wildlife to be seen in the area and I’m certainly going back to Point Reyes to have a look at those goldfinches, and anything else that wanders in front of my binoculars.</p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> This week I am writing about spacesuits and the full range of jobs that they perform. Some functions of them are obvious but some are less so, which is something that is not helped by the less than rigorous application of scientific principles in the television and movie making industry.</p> <p>I will also start turning some attention to this medium myself. I’ve long planned on producing video content to go alongside my blog and as yet never quite got around to it. I plan to start trying to be more active in pushing this project forward which is leaving me both inspired and full of dread in equal measures.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Follow the science!</p>
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071: Pluto Has Dunes!
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Evidence for a new fundamental particle</li> <li>Pluto has dunes</li> <li>CRISPR Gene-Editing Pioneers Win Kavli Prize for Nanoscience</li> <li>Oldest Known Lizard Fossil Discovered</li> <li>This Week in Science History</li> <li>Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Listener feedback</strong></h2> <p>We heard from our good friend, Sam Danby, in Norway. Sam is a new father, a cancer researcher, and a footballer. Sam writes, "Once again, great to have you back with the podcast, and there’s something interesting every week. The new ‘where you been, what you doing’ feature is great!"</p> <p>Sam also asked about what to do all summer to entertain his 1 year old. Make it a science summer! Two of the best virtual and real places we know of for that are <a href= "http://www.matildaslab.wordpress.com">Matilda's Lab</a>, <a href= "http://www.atom.club">Atom Club</a>, and the <a href= "https://atom.club/dorset-science-technology-centre/">Dorset Science and Technology Centre</a>!</p> <p>Science on!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Amrita Sule and Chris MacAlister</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle</strong></h3> <p>Time for some news from the world of Particle physics. Since past couple of days news headlines have been flashing about – evidence of a new fundamental particle or how an experiment just detected a particle that shouldn't exist.</p> <p>What is all this fuss about and what particle is this? The MiniBooNE which is short for Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment carried out at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago have detected “sterile neutrinos”.</p> <p>Sterile neutrinos are particles that only interact via gravity and not via any other fundamental interactions of the standard model.</p> <p>Neutrinos in general are part of matter particles and are nearly massless. They interact through weak nuclear forces and barely interact with matter. They oscillate between three known types or flavors, electron, muon and tau.</p> <p>In the MiniBooNE experiment, a beam of muon neutrinos was shot towards a giant oil tank. On its way some of these muon neutrinos transform into electron neutrinos and are detected when they interact with oil molecules. These have different masses which allows their detection. In its 15-year run, MiniBooNE has registered a few hundred more electron neutrinos than expected.</p> <p>This could be because some of the muon neutrinos oscillate into the heavier 4 kind of neutrino – sterile nuetrino (which never interact with anything that isn’t a neutrino) and some of these got transformed into electron neutrinos which were detected by the MiniBooNE.  A neutrino excess like this was 1st recorded in the 1990s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico with a different apparatus however the count wasn’t as big as miniboone.</p> <p>This is very exciting as it has been long thought that sterile neutrinos make up the dark matter. Detection of sterile neutrinos could take us a step forward in the direction of understanding dark matter. However, several physicists remain apprehensive and are not fully convinced as sterile neutrinos have not been detected in many other experimental set ups and the evidence of their existence has been weak.</p> <p>I guess we should let the physics world mull over this.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mysterious-neutrino-surplus-hints-existence-new-particles"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.quantamagazine.org/evidence-found-for-a-new-fundamental-particle-20180601/"> Quanta</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62721-sterile-neutrino-detected-fermilab.html"> Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Pluto Has Dunes</strong></h3> <p>This story gets really interesting when you understand how dunes are made and that is that tiny, individual grains of sand get blown around in the wind until they run into something that stops them. Whatever stops them will likely stop many other grains of sand causing a mound. This mound then stops even more sand until you end up with full blown dune. So to distill this down to an equation that even can understand; sand + wind = dunes; and this is what has made it so surprising that dunes have now been discovered on the dwarf planet Pluto.</p> <p>Pictures from NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft taken 3 years ago have seen dunes on Pluto. This is confusing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, no one expected anything to be moving on Pluto due to the extreme cold there. Pluto is so cold that even the water there is frozen harder than rock; it’s certainly far too cold to have sand lying around. We also have a problem with the wind, or lack of. Wind is just our atmosphere moving around, but Pluto doesn’t really have an atmosphere. It has 0.0001% of the atmosphere that Earth has which means that winds on Pluto are weaker than the beer in a student bar!</p> <p>To put this into context, if you were to fart on Pluto this would create a hurricane the likes of which that dwarf planet has never seen; at least it would if the fart didn’t freeze the moment it left your arsehole. Pluto is so cold that it can freeze farts. And really, this is the solution the puzzle. As any school child will tell you, farts contain methane; and this is what Plutonian dunes are made of. Even if you freeze methane into individuals grains, they are still as light as air; so even Pluto’s meagre winds can shift them to create dunes.</p> <p>So there we have it: Pluto’s fart dune created by the lightest breezes known in the solar system.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44317367">BBC News Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/never-seen-dunes-pluto-spotted-new-horizons-images"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pluto-has-dunes-but-theyre-not-made-of-sand/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05320-9">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/pluto-dunes-methane-winds-new-horizons-space-science/"> National Geographic</a></p> <h3><strong>CRISPR Gene-Editing Pioneers Win Kavli Prize for Nanoscience</strong></h3> <p>Do you guys know about the World Science Festival (WSF)? Happens around end of May every year. I attended it 2 years ago and was a lot of fun. It’s an excellent opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from the scientists itself. The Kavli prize which recognizes scientists for their contributions in three research areas; astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience and is announced every year at the WSF.</p> <p>This year the nanoscience committee awarded the Kavli prize for. Any guesses?? It’s CRISPR-Cas9, a precise nanotool for editing DNA; to  Emmanuelle Charpentier at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley (UC-Berkeley), and Virginijus Siksnys at Vilnius University in Lithuania.</p> <p>CRISPR system, - is primarily used by microbes as a defense against invading viruses. The microbes record and target the DNA sequences of these invading viruses. Teams lead by duo Charpentier and Doudna and separately by Šikšnys first showed that this CRISPR system  from bacteria can be used with an enzyme Cas9 to alter free floating DNA in test tubes – thus making them molecule scissors for tailoring genes. This system, has now evolved into a modern day tool for gene editing.</p> <p>Charpentier and Doudna were first to publish in Science hence received more attention. Bad luck for Šikšnys, whose paper was rejected by Cell even though it was submitted before those two. Nevertheless, work from all three labs set a foreground that Cas9 can be used as nano-sized scissors to selectively cut pieces of DNA.</p> <p>The CRISPR/Cas9 system has since then been exploited by scientists around the world to explore its potential in avenues ranging from biomedical sciences to agriculture.</p> <p>I came across a comment from Cori Bargmann who is a scientist at Rockefeller and a Kavli prize winner herself.  She compares such prizes/awards to winning an Oscar which will push people to see that particular movie. Here a prize for CRISPR could tell the non-science community to be more informed about this as it could very well be a part of their life soon. I am sure I am not the only one rooting for a Nobel prize for CRISPR!!</p> <p><a href= "https://www.quantamagazine.org/crispr-gene-editing-pioneers-win-kavli-prize-for-nanoscience-20180531/"> Quanta</a>, <a href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/three-crispr-scientists-win-prestigious-award-fanning-controversy-over-credit/"> Scientific American</a>, <a href= "https://www.genomeweb.com/scan/kavli-prize-crispr-researchers#.WxIoElZKjUI"> Genome Web</a></p> <h3><strong>Oldest Known Lizard Fossil Discovered</strong></h3> <p>In creationist news this week; evolutionists have once again changed their mind about the theory of evolution. This time they’ve change the date that they think reptiles first appeared. By how much you may ask? 10, 15 years? No, by 75 million years! Can you believe it?</p> <p>Well, back in the world of rational and responsible science reporting  we can justify this change because we have a reptile fossil that is 75 million years older than anything previously discovered. To put this into context, it’s moved the date back from 168 million years ago to 240 million years ago.</p> <p>This is not a new discovery. This fossil of Megachirella wachtleri has been on the books for about 20 years already. What is new is the lizard classification. Small fossils can be trickier to work with than large ones. They are more fragile, harder to find and seem to occur less often. This fossil is half concealed in rock stopping full examination, CT scanning has finally allowed paleontologists to see the full creature.</p> <p>It’s not widely appreciated outside of taxonomic circles how precise the distinctions between some pretty major categories of animals is {Insert Chris’ Quiz here}. The divide between reptiles and amphibians is complicated due to the sparse fossil record at this time, that’s why the lizard classification is so important.</p> <p>It suggests that reptiles were around during the mass extinction that ended the Permian period. Forget dinosaurs, this was the big daddy extinction wiping out 96% of all life. There could be parallels with mammals. The dinosaur extinction paved the way for the mammals to diversify, maybe the Permian-Triassic extinction did the same for reptiles?</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/oldest-known-lizard-fossil-pushes-origins-back-75-million-years"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62693-mother-of-lizards-fossil.html">Live Science</a>,</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Patreon</strong></h2> <p>I have fantastic news. We have our very first Patrons!</p> <p>They are John and Louise Richardson, are hereby declared official Blue Streakers, with all honors and benefits accorded thereof.</p> <p>A national holiday will be declared in their honor, and I request that all governments of the world follow suit, and give everyone a day off.</p> <p>Thank you, John and Louise.</p> <p>If you also want to help support our podcast and keep this thing rolling you can do so.</p> <p>We need it. We owe people money! And the way we’re getting support is through <a href= "https://bluestreakscience.com/patreon">Patreon</a>.</p> <p>We’ve crafted the campaign to give you different levels at which you can give us some support. You can donate as little as a dollar per episode at the Patron Level, all the way up to the Associate Producer Level. Any amount of support that you can give us will help tremendously!</p> <p>I encourage you to check out our Patreon page at bluestreakscience.com/patreon</p> <p>On behalf of the Blue Streak Science Team</p> <p>Thank you!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>This Week In Science History</strong></h2> <p><strong>...in 1859,</strong> T.H. Huxley gave his first public defense of Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species” when he presented <em>his</em> paper to the Royal Institution titled 'On the Persistent Types of Animal Life'. Later when asked why he chose <em>this</em> scientific theory to defend, he replied, “It was the natural selection”.</p> <p><strong>...in 1965</strong>, In a classic case of Cold War one-upsmanship American astronaut Ed White spent 20 minutes on a spacewalk outside his Gemini 4 space capsule only 3 months after Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov took a <em>10 minute</em> stroll outside <em>his</em> space capsule.</p> <p>Six weeks after astronaut Ed White’s spacewalk cosmonaut Ivan Yurkenov took his Siberian husky Misha for a spacewalk and a frisbee toss. However, a malfunction in one of the Soviet’s poop bags cut short the otherwise pleasant outing.</p> <p><strong>...in 1942</strong>, Owing to the ongoing Second World War silk was in short supply, so the U.S. military needed a suitable alternative for the manufacture of parachutes. Fortunately, the newly invented material Nylon was available. And so was pilot and stunt parachutist Adeline Gray. Making her 33rd jump Miss Gray convinced the army and the navy that nylon parachutes were safe and durable.</p> <p><strong>...in 1975</strong>, the discovery of imprints of large, soft-bodied, toothless marine worms radiometrically dated to be 620 million years old, was reported in the <em>New York Times</em>, making them the oldest fossils in the United States. The fossils held their place until recently when <em>another</em> even <em>older</em>, toothless, soft-bodied fossil was discovered in the both the swamps of Washington, D.C., and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.</p> <p>And the rest is science history.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Today it’s the letter D.</p> <p>Joining us are the delightful Amrita Sule and debonaire Chris MacAlister.</p> <p>Here’s how it works. I ask a science question and our denizens of deduction deduce the answers.</p> <ol> <li>Name an English naturalist and geologist born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire in 1809.</li> <li>This molecule is a linear polymer of four building blocks called nucleotides arranged in a double helix.</li> <li>What is a substance or entity that is derived from the breakdown or division of another. For example, a product of the radioactive decay of an element; or cells that are derived from the division of a parent cell?</li> <li>What type of matter can only be inferred only by it gravitational interactions?</li> <li>What is another word for mass per unit of volume?</li> <li>What do we call a region where rivers reach lakes, seas, or the ocean, and deposit their sediment in a broad, flat plains?</li> <li>The change in observed frequency due to relative motion between the source and the observer is also known as?</li> <li>The bending or spreading of light waves when they meet a change in density. What’s that called?</li> <li>He was a mathematician and philosopher born in France in 1596, and invented analytical geometry and developed a system which describes geometry in term of algebra. Who is he?</li> <li>Another word for ancestry or heritage?</li> </ol> <p>How did YOU do?</p> <p>Answers available in the episode.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> The most interesting thing that happened to me in the las week is that the big ISO17025 assessment that I talk about last week didn’t happen, so I have another 2 months to wait for that to come around again.</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> On Monday I was supposed to attend an event at the California Academy of Science on exoplanets. A busy schedule and heavy traffic intervened, so I had to give that a miss.</p> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?</strong></h2> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> I’m going to start investigate the bizarre cases that we talk about off-air last week. Nevena has inspired me to follow up my leads so I will be writing about the people who strapped a fake tail onto a chicken, for science. I also need to build a new rain catch for my daughter’s rain station as I seriously underestimated the amount of rain that falls in the UK!]</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> I’m heading to the Bodega Marine Lab once again for a lecture titled “Primary drivers and consequences of ecological change in marine communities of today and tomorrow” by Tye Kindinger, Postdoctoral Scholar from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As usual it will be preceded by some birdwatching on the Sonoma Coast and a crab sandwich.</p> <hr /> <h2>In Closing</h2> <p>Until next time...follow the science!</p>
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070: The Nipah Virus, Scientific Reports Retracts HPV Paper, Stolen Asteroid, and Survivor Birds
<h2><strong>On This Week’s Show</strong></h2> <ul> <li>The Nipah virus</li> <li>The journal Scientific Reports retracts a paper...oops!</li> <li>The mysterious case of the stolen asteroid</li> <li>Speaking of asteroids, we learn how birds may have dodged the one that rubbed out the rest of the other dinosaurs</li> <li>The Blue Streak Science A**hole of the Month</li> <li>And the Pub Quiz</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2><strong>Listener feedback</strong></h2> <p>NeilNextGen from London: “nice to see you guys back and podcasting every week. This is my favorite science podcast all time. I gotta say my favorite part has been the pub quiz. Keep up the good work.”</p> <p>Neil, thank you so much for those words of encouragement.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Science News with Chris MacAlister and Nevena Hristozova</strong></h2> <h3><strong>Introducing the Nipah Virus</strong></h3> <p> </p> <p>Last time I covered an amphibian pandemic, this time we have a possible human one. There’s not much room for a jovial attitude for this story.</p> <p>In the wake of health scares such as HIV, bird flu, Ebola and Zika there is a reason why governments consider a pandemic as one of the top threats to their population.  The new virus on the block is Nipah. Discovered just before the turn of the century in Malaysia and Singapore, and is on the WHO priority list of emerging diseases.</p> <p>Recent case in Southern India: 11 fatalities & 25 hospitalisations.</p> <p>The symptoms: fever, vomiting, disorientation, mental confusion, encephalitis and fatal in up 70% of cases.</p> <p>How likely are you to catch it? Mercifully not very. The primary source of the virus is fruit bats. Other risks are from infected pigs and humans. Unlike Ebola, Nipah does not vertically transmit that easily.</p> <p>Why is the WHO so concerned? Due to the range of fruit bats and the potential for mutation. The risk is heightened by the lack of any cure or vaccine.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/here-is-what-we-know-about-deadly-nipah-virus"> Science News</a>, <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62664-nipah-virus-how-do-outbreaks-happen.html"> Live Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Scientific Reports</strong> <strong>retracts paper claiming neurological damage from HPV vaccine</strong></h3> <p>That’s the type of story I really like seeing - it’s about a retracted study allegedly showing that the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine causes neurological damage.</p> <p>The paper is question was submitted and published by a group led by Toshihiro Nakajima of Tokyo Medical University, and became available online in November 2016. It describes impaired mobility and brain damage in mice given an enormous dose of HPV vaccine along with a toxin that makes the blood-brain barrier leaky.</p> <p>After many complaints by peers that the experimental setup of the study is flawed and the conclusions are not of sound scientific integrity, the publisher decided to retract the paper despite the disapproval of the original authors.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the damage might already be done, since the generally low HPV vaccination rates in Japan, had further plummeted since the conclusions made the headlines in the country. Much like what happened with the MMR vaccination rates and the retracted many years ago paper by the practice-banned MD Andrew Wakefield, whose antivax movement is single handedly responsible for the death of many people, including many children from vaccination-preventable diseases.</p> <p>The main opponents of the Japanese paper are currently criticizing the publishers for taking so long to investigate the publication and retract it, since its publication it’s been unfortunately already cited over 20 times and has made the rounds in public madia scaring needlessly many away from a vaccine that is able to save numerous lives from cervical cancer - a very aggressive form of the disease which is reported to affect more than half a million new subjects every year.</p> <p>Proud to say that one of the leading experts trying to debunk the paper is a professor from the University of Antwerp here in Belgium. Prof. Vorsters also pointed out that since there doesn’t seem to be a working method yet to counteract the antivax scare tactics, may be researchers and health professionals should rather focus on pointing out the usefulness of vaccines, rather than wasting efforts to disprove antivax claims.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/journal-retracts-paper-claiming-neurological-damage-hpv-vaccine"> Science</a></p> <h3><strong>Asteroid: Stolen From Another Sun?</strong></h3> <p>Another month, another intergalactic visitor. But whereas Oumuamua was a tourist just passing through, asteroid 2015 BZ509 appears to be a bona fide immigrant to our solar system.</p> <p>I want to take you on journey with me, of skepticism. When faced with a headline like this, my first thought is “How can anyone possibly draw that conclusion about a piece of rock orbiting our Sun?” Oumauamua was fine; it came from outside the solar system a swiftly pissed off again, but a resident asteroid?</p> <p>My doubts were not helped when I found out that this conclusion is based on the asteroids retrograde (i.e backwards) orbit around the sun that seems to last the same time as Jupiter’s. That doesn’t seem like much to go off.</p> <p>Now comes the modern day black magic; computer modelling. These models attempted to recreate the conditions that would allow this kind of orbit to form. The most surprising result from this model is that it suggests that the orbit has most likely been established for about 4.5 billion years.</p> <p>4.5 billion years ago the planets themselves were only newly formed and as such it is not expected that there would be any resident retrograde orbits. Put all of this together and the most plausible explanation appear to be that a passing visitor has been caught in the gravity of our young solar system and has remained here ever since.</p> <p><a href= "https://academic.oup.com/mnrasl/article/477/1/L117/4996014">Royal Astronomical Society</a>, <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-solar-system-immigrant-20180521-story.html"> LA Times</a></p> <h3><strong>How birds may have escaped the dinosaur-killing asteroid impact</strong></h3> <p>This story is a tribute for ‘the ones who made it out’. Recent re-evaluation of plant residue and fossil data shows that the birds might have escaped a narrow mass-extinction when the asteroid which killed off most dinosaurs hit Earth. We know that the Cretaceous era asteroid wiped out most dinosaurs, but we don’t rly think that it actually killed off 3/4s of life in general - including plants.</p> <p>This new look into the data led Daniel Field at the University of Bath in the UK to hypothesise that the birds that made it out of the extinction were in fact the ground-dwelling ones - ancient ancestors of ducks, chickens, and ostriches for example, while the ones whose species perished were the ones relying entirely on vegetation for food, shelter, nesting… Two types of data hinted to the conclusion - one showed that the lineages of today's ground-dwelling birds are much more vast than the ones living in/on vegetation, but also the fact that in fossils layers laid immediately after the asteroid impact, almost entirely seeds of plants belongs to only a small number of species of ferns.</p> <p>Once the forests developed gradually again, they presented a massive free ecological niche, which was taken once more by birds choosing to make use of these new habitats.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44226534">BBC News Science and Environment</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05228-4">Nature</a>, <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/dinosaurs-asteroid-birds-forests-fires-paleontology-science/"> National Geographic</a>, <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-birds-may-have-escaped-dino-killing-asteroid-impact"> Science News</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>A**hole of the Month</strong></h2> <p>When I first got the idea for the A**hole of the Month for the month of May I initially had one person in mind, a member of the United States House of Representatives.</p> <p>Specifically, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.</p> <p>But the more I read about this, the more I realized that the entire Republican-side of this committee is one colossal, flatulent asshole.</p> <p>To be fair, there are Democrats on the committee, but they lack any real power since they’re the minority party, are probably as aghast and incredulous as I am.</p> <p>It’s the Republicans on this committee...let me repeat the name of that committee. It’s the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. These Republicans wouldn’t know science if it came up behind them and bit them on their collective ass.</p> <p>One thing I can guarantee, by the way, is that if we continue on the path recommended by this committee..science will indeed bite us all on the ass, for many generations.</p> <p>Last week this committee held a hearing on how technology could be used to help us adapt to climate change.</p> <p>One of the experts at the hearing was Philip Duffy, who is the president and executive director of the venerable Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. His is also a former senior adviser to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.</p> <p>Dr. Duffy served as a Senior Advisor in the White House National Science and Technology Council, and as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He’s held senior research positions with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. And he holds a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford.</p> <p>The guy has science chops, in a big way.</p> <p>So, a lot of the questions and comments at this hearing were directed toward Dr. Duffy.</p> <p>Representative Lamar Smith of Texas showed a chart which showed that rates of sea-level rise have only increased slightly compared with the rate of fossil fuel use.</p> <p>To which Dr. Duffy pointed out that the chart was from a single tide gauge station somewhere near San Francisco, and that sea levels worldwide rise at different rates.</p> <p>Strangely enough, Representative Smith somehow forgot to show any charts or graphs that reveal rising atmospheric CO2 levels or temperatures, both of which have climbed at a steady rate in recent decades, right in line as fossil fuel emissions have increased.</p> <p>So in response to the chart Dr. Duffy replied, "The rate of global sea-level rise has accelerated and is now four times faster than it was 100 years ago.”</p> <p>A smug Representative Smith asked."Is this chart inaccurate, then?"</p> <p>To which Duffy replied, "It's accurate, but it doesn't represent what's happening globally; it represents what's happening in San Francisco."</p> <p>Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California said <em>he</em> was concerned that established climate science (read that as actual science, and not made up bullshit)... he said he was concerned that science has not been questioned more by the committee.</p> <p>This is a committee, by the way, which has accused federal climate scientists of fraudulently manipulating climate data and has even subpoenaed their records.</p> <p>But the biggest blast of antiscience flatulence came when Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama questioned Dr. Duffy on the various factors that cause sea level rise, you know, peer-reviewed, testable, and repeatable science.</p> <p>Instead he offered his own ideas as the why sea levels are rising.</p> <p>Brooks actually put forth the proposition that erosion is a key factor in sea-level rise.</p> <p>He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world's major rivers contribute to sea-level rise.</p> <p>"Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up."</p> <p>Duffy responded: "I'm pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects."</p> <p>I might add that we <em>know</em> the seafloor spreads at the mid-ocean ridges, and that seafloor is dragged back into the mantle at subduction zones.</p> <p>Mountains rise, they get eroded, the earth’s crust spreads and it gets drawn back inside the mantle. Oh, and the earth is billions of years old...not 6,000 years.</p> <p>Brooks doubled-down on his ignorance. Remember, this guy is a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.</p> <p>He doubled-down by saying that Antarctic ice is growing.</p> <p>To which Dr. Duffy replied, "We have satellite records clearly documenting a shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and an acceleration of that shrinkage,"</p> <p>Brooks, arguing with the scientist countered, "I'm sorry, but I don't know where you're getting your information, but the data I have seen suggests…”</p> <p>Duffy interrupted, informing Brooks of his sources,  "The National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."</p> <p>As an aside, earlier this year, NASA researchers determined that Antarctica's ice loss has accelerated in the last decade. Sea ice extent at both poles were at record lows last year.</p> <p>There was another representative that brought up the notion that scientists in the 1970’s believed the earth was cooling.</p> <p>This is a widely believed meme by the antiscience fringe that’s based on a <em>fake</em> Time Magazine cover from the 1970’s. That’s right I said FAKE. It was fake. It didn’t happen. It was a fake cover that suggested scientists were really concerned about global COOLING back then.</p> <p>They weren’t.</p> <p>Other media outlets picked this up and and ran with it like it was real. It wasn’t. It never was.</p> <p>And there are even <em>more</em> morons today who cite that as evidence. The only thing it’s evidence of is science illiteracy, an abject failure of basic education.</p> <p>Actual science from the 1970’s — certainly not as comprehensive today’s science on the subject  — in reality was sounding the alarm about just the opposite idea, that global warming is what we need to be concerned about. Even in the 1970’s the idea of global warming was not new. It was already decades old.</p> <p>Yet in 2018 there are members of the, I still can’t get over it, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology that lack even the most basic understanding of science.</p> <p>In fact, they are unabashedly hostile to science.</p> <p>And for that, you, the Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology are the Blue Streak Science A**holes of the Month.</p> <p><a href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/05/republican-lawmaker-rocks-tumbling-ocean-causing-sea-level-rise"> Science</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></h2> <p>Today it’s a cacophonous celebration of the letter C</p> <p>Joining us in this cheerful ceremony are the chisel-chinned Chris MacAlister, and the captivating and convivial Nevena Hristozova.</p> <ol> <li>A group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body is also known as?</li> <li>We all know of the technology known as <strong>CRISPR</strong> or CRISPR/Cas9.  It’s a family of DNA sequences in bacteria and archaea, and this technology is used to edit the genomes of even more complex organisms. Question: What does the C in CRISPER stand for?</li> <li>Carcinology is the study of what?</li> <li>What is the largest living rodent in the world?</li> <li>What is the name of the very large flightless birds that live in tropical forests of northeast Australia and New Guinea?</li> <li>Who was the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences?</li> <li>What space mission ended on 15 September, 2017 with the so-called Grand Finale as it plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn?</li> <li>What island-filled ocean basin is bordered by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, the Greater Antilles to the north, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America?</li> <li>Diamond and graphite are different allotropes of what element?</li> <li>What is the geologic period that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 million years ago?</li> </ol> <hr /> <h2><strong>Where Are We Going?/Where Have We Been?</strong></h2> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Last week I attended a lecture at the University of California Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab. It was titled “Developing and evaluating solutions-based approaches for mitigating global change impacts in aquatic ecosystems”. The speaker was David Koweek, Postdoctoral Researcher, Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science. It presented some interesting strategies for dealing with issues such as apoxia, and lowered pH as a result of anthropogenic global warming.</p> <p>They have these lectures on Wednesday afternoons at the Marine Lab, which is located in a stunning setting on the Sonoma coast. I may attend these a lot more often. Go birding in the morning. Crab sandwiches at Spud Point Marina for lunch, a little more birding, attend a lecture. Sounds like retirement to me.</p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> Next week I’m attending a talk at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco titled  “Are We Alone in the Universe?” The speaker is Lisa Kaltenegger of Cornell University. She’s gonna discuss exoplanets and  how we can determine which ones might be suitable for life, as well as techniques and future missions that could detect life on these worlds.</p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> I visited a laboratory trade show for the first time last week which was a truly eye opening experience. I’ve been celebrating practical microbiology by running a charity beer festival and I’ve been exploring the rather trivial question of whether God exists on the blog.</p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> This week I have an ISO17025 assessment at my lab, this is the international standard for testing and calibration laboratories. I will also be getting ecological with Matilda. We joined the RSPB at the weekend and we shall be making the most of their support to explore the living world around us.</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Until next time...follow the science!</p>
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069: Talking LOUDLY About Sea Level Rise
<h2>On This Week’s Show</h2> <ul> <li>Megafauna</li> <li>Also, Mount Kilauea is still at it...<em>now</em> with a another thing to worry about</li> <li>Ebola is back in the news</li> <li>I gotta a gut feeling about one of these stories</li> </ul> <p>And let’s not forget the Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</p> <hr /> <h2>Science News</h2> <h3>Diverse and abundant megafauna documented at new Atlantic US Marine National Monument</h3> <p>Did you know today is the International Biodiversity day? And this story touches on the biodiversity of our vast oceans and deep seas.</p> <p>To my understanding, documenting deep-sea marine life can be extremely challenging. Often times, marine biologists have to go aboard an airplane to survey some of these regions.</p> <p>One such hotspot which was surveyed recently, lies on the edge of the continental shelf, where the shallow seas off New England drop sharply into the deep waters of the northwestern Atlantic.</p> <p>This region is called as Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and is the first American marine national monument in Atlantic waters. this status was designated by President Obama in 2016. I think of it as when a park or a forest area is given a national park status. So it’s seems pretty important to me.</p> <p>Scientists from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium have surveyed this region aerially three times, since the Summer of 2017. On their latest survey they observed hundreds of Bottlenose dolphins, dozens of whales including the rare Sowerby's beaked whales and dolphins of various species.</p> <p>These scientists find that such abundance of marine fauna is extraordinary for such a small area. These aerial sightings will help them to study how different species use this biodiverse habitat at different times of the year. These waters, which harbor wide diversity of corals, deep water fishes, and invertebrates FORM a FRAGILE ecosystem which needs to be well protected.     </p> <p>But you see, new policies recommend that such waters should be opened for offshore drilling which is NO GOOD for  the precious marine life in waters like Northeast canyons.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180516172249.htm">Science Daily</a></p> <h3>Hawaiian volcano spews ballistic blocks</h3> <p>I first read this story title as ‘Hawaiian volcano spews ballistic bollocks.’ I did. My first thought was, therefore, oh. Is that literal? What does that even mean? My second thought was ‘ah, I can’t read! Wonderful! Writing my thesis is going to be so much fun!’</p> <p>But what are ballistic blocks? (And ballistic bollocks). They are, terrifyingly, just massive chunks of rock the size of appliances. Not ideal. These are being chucked out by Kilauea, the volcano that has been in a state of continuous eruption on Hawaii since the 80s.</p> <p>The caldera (bowl where the lava pools) is deflating, increasing stress at the volcano base. There have been 4.4 magnitude earthquakes. The ash plume can be seen from the ISS. This ash can obviously cause health issues when it’s breathed in. The locals also have to contend with VOG. That’s some sort of horrible gas mix that has sulphur dioxide - highly toxic - mixed in.</p> <p>So we spoke about Kilauea recently but the Hawaiians’ problems are going nowhere for now!</p> <p><a href= "http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44152515">BBC</a>, <a href="https://www.popsci.com/kilauea-mount-st-helens">Popular Science</a></p> <h3>Congo confirms first urban Ebola case, raising possibility of ‘explosive increase in cases’</h3> <p>Ebola, a word that we wish to hear no more. But it has resurfaced again, this time in Congo in the city of Mbandaka, home for 1.2 million people. Congo health officials reported that so far there have been there have been 44 suspected cases of Ebola since April and 25 people have died.</p> <p>The disease causes internal bleeding and is transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat or close contact with an infected person.</p> <p>This makes it extremely difficult to contain Ebola in an Urban setting like Congo, as the number of contacts can amplify much quickly.</p> <p>Also, the city of Mbandaka lies on the bank of the Congo River which is frequently used by the local people for transportation, increasing the chances of the virus spreading down the river over long distances.</p> <p>Ebola epidemic which first started in 2014 in West Africa was worst ever recorded and resulted in infecting more than 28,000 and killing more than 11,000. The WHO was blamed then in part for not acting on time.</p> <p>However, this time WHO is doing everything to contain this outbreak before it gets out of proportion.  A vaccination drive has begun on Monday in the city of Mbandaka. More than four thousand doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Merck have been shipped to Congo. This is an experimental vaccine which proved quite effective in Guinea in 2015-2016.</p> <p>Their game plan is that, Whenever a new Ebola case is diagnosed, all the people who might have a made recent contact with the affected individual will be traced and vaccinated so the disease remains contained. We’ll just have to wait and watch how this plays out.</p> <p>But most importantly we should take a pause and appreciate the health workers and doctors without borders who are volunteering in this hard hit area for all their hard work.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/first-confirmed-urban-ebola-case-is-a-game-changer-in-congo/2018/05/17/430babce-5890-11e8-9889-07bcc1327f4b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5e7f2a1e2dd0"> Washington Post</a>, <a href= "https://www.npr.org/2018/05/18/612240853/who-and-congolese-officials-scramble-to-contain-ebola-outbreak"> NPR</a></p> <h3>How the gut influences neurologic disease</h3> <p>We don’t give our guts nearly enough thought. I am not talking about those awful yoghurt adverts. Your gut is a hugely complex organ system which also has effects on your brain - the crosstalk between the brain and the gut is still being unravelled.</p> <p>A new study in Nature regarding the link between neurological disease and the gut - using a combination of human cells and animal models. There is a growing body of work on how byproducts can influence the brain - the context for this group in particular is MS.</p> <p>The new research, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, focuses on the influence of gut microbes on two types of cells that play a major role in the central nervous system: microglia and astrocytes. Microglia are part of the body's immune system, responsible for scavenging the CNS - they are a sort of cleaner cell, hoovering up plaques, dead cells and other rubbish in the brain. But microglia can also secrete compounds that can damage the astrocytes - another type of brain cell, also key to maintenance and support in the brain, in different manners to the microglia. This damage to astrocytes from microglia is apparently thought to contribute to many neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis.</p> <p>However, in this paper, the team reports that byproducts that microbes produce when they break down dietary tryptophan -- an amino acid found in turkey and other foods -- may limit inflammation in the brain through their influence on microglia. So the gut *MAY* be helpful in mitigating inflammatory damage in the brain - at least in the mouse models they used, which had MS. They found evidence for the same sort of pathways in human brain samples.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180516131209.htm">Science Daily</a>, <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0119-x">Nature</a></p> <hr /> <h2>The Climate Lounge</h2> <h3>National Park service quietly releases Sea level Rise projections.</h3> <h3>Let’s talk LOUDLY about it!</h3> <p>Earlier this year, drafts of a report on sea level rises impact on national parks became public mainly for what had been taken out of them... The one thing just so happened to be the main thing that was causing sea level rise in the first place. Climate Change. Yup, every mention of human caused climate change was removed. It’s like taking a running leap into thorn bushes thinking that if I just close my eyes at the end, the thorns will disappear. The thorns won’t disappear. Because that’s a stupid way of thinking.</p> <p>Fast forward a month and a half and the report has finally been released… quietly with all of the mentions of climate change kept in it but without all of that silly little thing like publicity from outlets such as... the agency it came from…</p> <p>Ok, so what was this report about again that led to its “odd” treatment? It was a write up created to help 118 coastal parks across the United States prepare for the impacts a changing climate will have on the natural resources and history within those parks. How horrible right? UGH!</p> <p>Anywaysss, what did the report find? Not surprisingly, as global temperatures heat up, sea levels are expected to rise. And that means for many national parks located along coastlines, problems could quickly worsen over the next century.</p> <p>The worst hit parks are along North Carolina’s outer Banks. In particular, near the Wright Brothers National Memorial, if we continue to keep emitting greenhouse gases, sea levels could rise 2.7 feet by 2100. Nearby, large portions near the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout seashores would also be underwater. But that is just one park and one area. Many parks from Historic Jamestowne and Assateague Island, Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, the Florida Everglades and Jean Lafitte National Historic Park in New Orleans and even the national parks, right here where I live in Washington DC would be pretty vulnerable.</p> <p>The Parks service even included a graphic of what Roosevelt Island in the middle of the Potomac River in Washington DC would look like if a category 3 hurriane made landfall. Hint, the park looks blue… because it’s covered in water.</p> <p>This report is just another in a long list of studies that show just how vulnerable our coasts are to a rising sea because we continue to belch greenhouse gases in the air and do little to change our ways.</p> <p>For instance, NOAA (in full disclosure I work there but had no hand in this report) issued a report earlier this year that simply looked at how nuisance flooding, minor floods that do little damage but are annoying and occur simply during high tides, would change in various emissions scenarios. The results were pretty shocking. For many places including San Francisco, Boston, New York, Miami, nuisance flooding, that is flooding only due to the tides could happen EVERY DAY by the end of the century if we keep emitting greenhouse gases. And these numbers could increase to over 100 days by 2040-2050, a mere 20-30 years. That’s effectively NOW for planning purposes.</p> <p>We’ve already done enough damage to ourselves. Hows about we finally stop it, and start getting to work on the healing process.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.revealnews.org/blog/national-parks-report-finally-released-uncensored/"> Reveal News, </a><a href= "https://www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/sealevelchange.htm">National Park Service</a></p> <hr /> <h2>Pub Quiz</h2> <h3>Speaking words of wisdom, letter B</h3> <ol> <li>Africanized bees, also known as killer bees, first arrived in the Americas in what country?</li> <li>What is the class of subatomic particles in which <strong>protons</strong> and <strong>neutrons</strong> are included?</li> <li>Calculated in bits per second, this is the amount of data that can be sent through a connection. What is it more commonly known as?</li> <li>This principle in fluid dynamics states that an increase in the speed of a fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid's potential energy. What is the name of this principle?</li> <li>A solution consisting of a weak acid and its conjugate base, or vice versa, that is used to maintain the pH value constant in many chemical application is also known as a?</li> <li>A genus of gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria that is a member of the phylum Firmicutes is a?</li> <li>What Beatles album was released on the 8th of May in 1970?</li> <li>Insects of the Order Coleoptera are better known as?</li> <li>Where would you find the nearest corpus callosum?</li> <li>What word in the English language contains the greatest number of the letter “B”?</li> </ol> <p>Did you enjoy this bookish badinage?</p> <hr /> <h2>In Closing</h2> <p>Thank you, everyone.</p> <p>And remember, follow the science!</p>
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068: Amphibians, Solar Panels, Transitional Fossils, and Richard Feynman
<h2>On This Week's Show</h2> <h3><strong>Science News</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Origins of amphibian-killing fungus uncovered</li> <li>How California becomes the first US state to mandate solar on new homes</li> <li>New discoveries about some ancient reptiles</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Science News</h2> <h3>Origins of amphibian-killing fungus uncovered</h3> <p>This is a detective story. The chytrid fungus, also known as Bd (<em>Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)</em> has been decimating amphibian populations globally for a good 20 years now after it was first discovered in dying frogs in Queensland, Australia.</p> <p>The fungus causes excessive skin shedding which makes the animals die of ‘thick skin’. Skin is such an essential organ to amphibians with many processes such as absorbing additional oxygen and releasing toxins. It’s a bit like amphibian eczema.</p> <p>The impact of the disease has been so great due to the huge amount of global trade of amphibians. With animals moving before people realised that there was a problem, by the time people noticed the problem it was already everywhere. This has made tracking its origins hard. So far the origin has been narrowed down to Asia, Africa, North America or South America.</p> <p>This mystery is now getting solved thanks to the combined global efforts of 10 years of field and lab work by 35 institutions. The conclusion is that the disease originated between 50 to 120 years ago in East Asia.</p> <p>They figured this out by sequencing the fungal DNA from within amphibian genomes. Over 200 samples were used to draw this conclusion but sometimes less than 1% of sample material gave any usable results. Understanding the origin of this disease and how it links to other similar fungi could help plan for future risks.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/deadly-frog-killing-bd-fungus-probably-originated-east-asia"> Science News</a>, <a href= "http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44075687">BBC</a></p> <p> </p> <h3>California becomes first US state to mandate solar on homes</h3> <p>California first US state to mandate solar panels on new construction homes built after 1 January, 2020. That includes apartment buildings as well.</p> <p>Already state law that requires that 50% of electricity to come from non carbon-emitting sources by 2030. </p> <p>Critics point out that mandate to add between $8,000 and $12,000 to the cost of a home. Average cost of home in California is about $440,000, about 2 ½ times the national average. According to Energy Commission homeowners will only see an additional $40 to monthly mortgage payments.</p> <p>Californians pay some of the highest electric rates in the country already. However, residential customers’ monthly average bills are about $96, among the lowest in the country.</p> <p>How?</p> <p>Because California ranks 49th in the nation in per capita electricity consumption. Largely driven by the state’s strong commitment to energy efficiency, and the climate. Few people near coast have air conditioners. Cool summers.</p> <p>Nearly 16% of California’s electricity last year came from solar.</p> <p>Mandate still has to get through the Building Standards Commission. Decision later this year.</p> <p>Remember when I said that there already exists a state law that requires that a full 50% of all electricity to come from non carbon-emitting sources by 2030? According to the Public Utilities Commission the state will likely meet goal of 50% generation of non-carbon electricity about 10 years ahead of schedule.</p> <p>Currently rebuilding our home that was destroyed in the October 2017 wildfires.</p> <p>Are we putting solar on it? Hell yes.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44059865">BBC News</a></p> <p> </p> <h3>Jurassic fossil tail tells of missing link in crocodile family tree</h3> <p>The latest missing link that has been discovered links crocodiles with the pelagosaurus genera. Pelagosaurus were reptiles of the open seas that lived for about 8 million years before going extinct about 175 mya. Whilst they would have resembled crocodiles they were more like whales and dolphins in their overall body structure.   </p> <p>The new species is called <em>Magyarosuchus fitosi</em> after the amateur collector who discovered it, Attila Fitos. It is estimated to have been about 5m long. The first signs that a new species was on the cards were unusual vertebrae; these turned out to be a part of its tale fin, a feature previously only found on the Pelagosaurus. But unlike a Pelagosaurus, the creature also had heavy armour, more associated with land going crocodyliforms.</p> <p>Sometimes with fossils it can be challenging to work out when you genuinely have a new species on your hands, but when you have discoveries as apparent as this one there leaves very little room for debate.</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180511123231.htm">Science Daily</a>, <a href= "https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2018/jurassic-fossil-missing-link-crocodile-family-tree"> University of Edinburgh</a>, <a href= "https://peerj.com/articles/4668/">PeerJ</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>What The Hell Was That?</strong></h2> <p>This is where I’d normally put the conclusion and answer to last week’s WTHWT</p> <p>Since we don’t have a quorum we are going to delay the fun until next week!</p> <hr /> <h2><strong>This Week In Science History</strong></h2> <p>In a slight departure from our usual TWISH format I’m gonna to talk about one of the greatest scientists in history.</p> <p>100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Feynman</p> <p>Was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in quantum mechanics as well as in particle physics</p> <p>For his work quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, along with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichirō Tomonaga were award the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.</p> <p>He developed the Feynman diagrams which were used as a representation for the mathematical expressions describing the behavior of subatomic particles. Feynman was also one of the great popularizers and spokespersons for science.</p> <p>So today I’m gonna to rattle off four selected quotes from an article this week in Science News celebrating Richard Feynman</p> <h4><strong>1. “There is nothing that living things do that cannot be understood from the point of view that they are made of atoms acting according to the laws of physics.”</strong></h4> <p>An expression of the importance of atoms from the opening pages of Feynman’s lectures.</p> <h4><strong>2. “From my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.”</strong></h4> <p>That comes from a set of lectures compiled in book form as <a href= "https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/character-physical-law"><em>The Character of Physical Law</em></a>,</p> <h4><strong>3. “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”</strong></h4> <p>Perhaps Feynman’s sentiment might better be expressed by saying that anyone who claims to understand quantum mechanics, doesn’t.</p> <h4><strong>4. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”</strong></h4> <p>The best advice to scientists and anybody else who seeks the truth about the world. The truth may not be what you’d like it to be, or what would be best for you, or what your preconceived philosophy tells you that it is. Unless you recognize how easily you can be fooled, you will be.</p> <p><strong>Bonus quote:</strong></p> <p>“<em>Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.</em></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>Promotion</strong></h2> <p><a href="https://matildaslab.wordpress.com/">Matilda’s Lab</a></p> <hr /> <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2> <p>Until next time...follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>This episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco, California; and Chester, England.</p> <p> </p>
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067: Volcanos, Bird Beaks, Glass Houses, and the Multiverse
<h2><strong>Coming up on this week’s show</strong></h2> <p>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</p> <p>The return of the What the Hell Was That game!</p> <p>Science News:</p> <ul> <li>Kilauea Volcano Erupts</li> <li>How birds got their beaks</li> <li>Kew Gardens Glasshouse Reopens</li> <li>Stephen Hawking's Final Theory About The Multiverse</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2> </h2> <h2>Science News with Sophie McManus and Nevena Hristozova</h2> <h3><strong>Kilauea Volcano Erupts</strong></h3> <p>Can you imagine living on top of an active volcano?! I am sure you are aware, but Kilauea has been kicking off lately. Nearly 2000 people have been evacuated around the south side of the island. They will probably move back soon, depending on developments, obviously. Move back to live on top of their active volcano.</p> <p><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2891" src= "http://bluestreaksci.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/kilauea1-350x350.png" alt="" width="350" height="350" />So, what happened?</p> <p>A series of small earthquakes was recently followed by a quake with mag 6.9 last Friday. A new fissure then opened up and started letting out hot lava. Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been in a state of eruption for the past 35 years.</p> <p>Tropical Visions video (co. Paradise Helicopters) is amazing to watch. It is like the cartoons of volcanoes you see as a child. Spectacular bright red lava fizzing everywhere and engulfing cars. Less appealing, by the sounds of it, are the emissions of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. Kinda toxic. That’s why the people have been evacuated. Also the lava.</p> <p>A nice quote by the excellently-named Mika McKinnon, volcanologist and disaster researcher, “Hawaiian volcanoes can be extremely deadly, but it’s a hazard you can walk away from.” This explains the footage of people strolling away from the lava flows. I mean strolling as a relative term.</p> <p>In other Hawaiian news, Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to marine life. Let’s hope that Kilauea calms down a bit - and that other places follow the lead on the sunscreen front.</p> <h3><strong>How Birds Got Their Beaks</strong></h3> <p>This story comes from Yale University and it’s telling us how scientists were able to reconstruct a missing link. Not between apes and humans, but between dinosaurs and birds. This bird-like dinosaur had wings and a breastbone which look very much like the ones of modern birds and it had a beak too, but very much like reptilian dinosaurs. It’s mouth was apparently full of teeth.</p> <p>This species is not new. It’s been known to scientists for over 150 years, but due to the bad condition of the fossils it was hard to reconstruct its head to get more details. In 2014 though, a new fossil of the <em>Ichthyornis dispar</em> was found and this time it had a perfectly preserved skull. A 3D reconstruction showed that it could move its upper part of the beak independently, like birds today can and reptilian dinosaurs definitely can't. The fossils also showed these indentations on the surface of the skull, which are were a rather strong set of muscles were attaching, to allow the ancient dino-bird to grab, hold on to and chew its food with the help of its sharp teeth. Having such strong muscles operate a beak that is also capable of performing some of the tasks a hand sound have also probably played a role in freeing the front limbs to be used for flight.</p> <h3><strong>Kew Gardens Glasshouse Reopens</strong></h3> <p>This is great news! A few days ago, Kew gardens reopened its glasshouse (Temperate house). It houses 10,000 plants from the ‘Goldilocks’ zone - some of these are exceedingly rare and the glasshouse represents a final refuge. I remember going to Kew a long time ago to the glasshouses. Temperate house is the world’s LARGEST glasshouse, and it is beautiful.</p> <p>In an interview with the BBC, the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough said he had first visited Kew Gardens "back when it cost a penny...When I had an office job at the BBC, when I used to be stuck in the office and get really depressed, I would come here at the weekend and take a deep breath, because there was a smell of the tropics.” He reiterated the importance of such institutions in avoiding extinctions.</p> <h3><strong>Stephen Hawking's Final Theory About The Multiverse</strong></h3> <p>One of the last (so far) legacies of Prof Hawking is an article submitted just days before his passing. He has worked on this for almost 40 years and it’s a theory which tries to explain how is it possible for the Big Bang to have created an infinite number of Universes, more or less similar to ours.</p> <p>Originally, his work with James Hartle worked out how, based on principles of quantum mechanics the Big Bang could have potentially created an infinite number of universes; some very similar to our and others so different that even the laws of physics wouldn’t be the same.</p> <p>Later on, further developing the math to solve this problem, Hawking with the help of Professor Hertog from Belgium, used principles from String Theory to work out the math. By doing so, the two physicists came up to a solution according to which the Big Bang created a bunch of parallel universes, but they all have distinct similarities. Meaning that there might be a universe out there where I’m skinny and can sing, another one where dinosaurs still exist and yet another one where Professor Hawking never went to grad school but became a world famous tap-dancer!</p> <p>One of the implications of the theory that parallel universes emerging as a result of the Big Bang exist based on the String Theory principles rather than the quantum physics ones, is that we might be able to actually detect parallel universes, since their basic physical laws will be very similar. It’s still doubtful though that we’d be able to travel through them.</p> <hr /> <h2> </h2> <h2>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h2> <h3><strong>Thwaites Thwaites Don't Tell Me!</strong></h3> <p>Welcome to the Lounge! Of course, the first thing anyone gets to hear when they enter the lounge is an update on Puerto Rico. Less than 50,000 people are still without power a month before the hurricane season starts. And every week stories come out that are shocking but get completely overlooked due to the ongoing madness. For instance, did you know that the Puerto Rico Department of Public Health found that the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 29% in the first months after hurricane Maria? Or how about this quote about rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid from a former energy executive whose has dealt with natural disasters from hurricane Sandy, to severe storms in Jamaica to earthquakes in California, “I’ve never seen anything like that--not in a developed nation” said Ed Muller. So yeah, still a disgrace.</p> <p>Lately I’ve been talking about interesting research, new papers that have come out, and that has been fun. But I wanted to take you this week on a little journey to a story about getting the data needed to make cool new studies. On April 30, the largest American/British joint science expedition to Antarctica in 7 decades was launched to look at the Thwaites glacier, a terrifying “what if” glacier which if it completely melts would raise global sea levels by 10 feet. As David Holland, one of the principal researchers on this project said in an article in the Washington Post “For global sea-level change in the next century, this Thwaites glacier is almost the entire story,”. Right now, basically, scientists fear only a bump in the sea floor is helping to hold the glacier in place. But it’s hard to know how precariously things are because well...</p> <p>The one issue with the Thwaites glacier is that, like, Antarctica, is like, super hard to get to. This expedition will fix that. So who’s going? There will be 6, count’em 6 field expeditions going along with two computer modeling studies. And they are pulling out all the celebrity stops. One of the submersible research vessels will even be BOATY MCBOATFACE!</p> <p>They are going to study this glacier from all directions. Holland will be drilling holes near the grounding line (where the ocean, bedrock and ice meet), and put a remotely operated vehicle in see whats going on.</p> <p>Sridhar Anandakrishnan, a Penn State geoscientist will be doing seismic surveys detonating small explosive devices within the Thwaites glacier to measure the echoes of the sound waves. This will help determine what the glacier is flowing over and help figure out the glaciers rate of retreat.</p> <p>There will also be ships and planes with radars, and remote sensing, ocean gliders, subs and more drilling. This research expeditions will come back with an absolute treasure trove of data which can then be fed into computer models to determine better projections for what lies ahead.</p> <p>It’s a daunting task, in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. But over 100 scientists are heading out because they know just how dire things will be for humanity if the Thwaites glaciers retreats all the way back to the south pole. So you know, not a heavy research trip at all. Just another walk in the glacial park….  </p> <hr /> <h2> </h2> <h2>What The Hell Was That?</h2> <p>We rummaged through the hallway closet and found an old game. Listen next week to see who can guess what the hell that sound was.</p> <hr /> <h2> </h2> <h2>In Closing</h2> <p>In 2004 when asked about his IQ, Professor Stephen Hawking replied, “I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers”.</p> <hr /> <p>This episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco, California; Cambridge, England; Washington, D.C.; and Brussels, Belgium.</p>
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066: The Heart of Mars
<p><strong>Coming up on this week’s show</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mysterious ice holes, INSIGHT into the interior of Mars, Early Grants are the Ticket, The Climate Lounge, and This Week in Science History</span> </p> <p>  </p> <p><strong>Listener feedback</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Regarding our story last week on plastic-eating bacteria, SC on Twitter writes:</span></p> <p><strong>There was a scifi play on BBC tv in the 70’s which featured a bacteria that eats plastic.</strong> <strong>In the story it got loose from a lab and accelerated destroying all sorts of stuff including bringing down aircraft.</strong></p> <p><strong>Careful what you wish for..!</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thank you, SC</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He brings up a good point because when it comes to grand ideas of introducing species to counter a human-caused problems our history is not so good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Examples: kudzu, the vine that ate the American south, and cane toads in Australia</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m all for tackling this critical problem in our oceans, but let’s do be cautious when it comes to unleashing microorganisms into our oceans.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">you</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">have any questions or comments you can do like SC and hit us up on Twitter, or you can email us at <a href= "mailto:feedback@bluestreakscience.com">feedback@bluestreakscience.com</a></span></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Science News</strong></p> <p><strong>Scientists’ early grant success fuels further funding</strong> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We are back with some super cool science stories to share.  </span><strong>But wait</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">! Do you know who are some of the show-runners who make this science possible. Grad Students and post docs definitely make it to the top of the list. As a postdoc myself I can</span> <strong>strongly</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">attest that, to do amazing science you need funding. So today I am going to talk about a study, which compared the career trajectory of early career scientists or post docs who are funded early on in their career versus</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the ones who miss out on these initial grants</span> <strong>ONLY</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">by a small margin.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This study was led by a Dutch sociologist, Thijs Bol at the University of Amsterdam. They compiled a data set, which consisted information on funding scores as well as the grants funded from two organizations - The  European Research Council and Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research. Their analysis revealed that researchers who were funded, CONTINUED to gain more than TWICE as much research funding in the next 8 years relative to their peers who weren’t funded at an early stage. And let me repeat this, the scientists who failed to secure grants - just missed it by a small margin. Similar studies have been done in the past which also had similar conclusions, but Bol claims they were not as thorough as this one.</span> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The group reasoned that this drift in the funding acquisition could be</span> <strong>partly</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">because researchers who lost out on the initial grant were less likely to apply for future funding. I would like to say here that, many post doctoral positions are funded through their labs/mentors/institution - that is they are not always required to apply for funding. HOWEVER, they should very much be encouraged to do so. Having you independent funding, can definitely set you up for subsequent funding in future. Which has also been shown by the study under discussion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This study only looked at data from two funding agencies, more information from other funding agencies world wide is needed to see the whole picture. I believe that a much bigger problem</span> <strong>is,</strong> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">rejection of funding at an early career stage can dissuade one from pursuing science, which is a bad news for the WHOLE SCIENCE community. So what can be done? Funding agencies should be made aware of this. Also, more academic mentoring wrt to grant applications should be made available to postdocs and early career researchers. So yes -- KEEP APPLYING FOR GRANTS!</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-04958-9?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20180426&utm_source=nature_etoc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180426&spMailingID=56487811&spUserID=NzE3MDU3OTQ1MDYS1&spJobID=1383950517&spReportId=MTM4Mzk1MDUxNwS2"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Nature</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Mysterious Ice Holes in the Arctic</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Living here on the west coast of North America means that whenever I travel to Europe I get to fly over the Arctic.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The land and ice up there are incredibly beautiful even from 11 kilometers up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Glaciers on Greenland. Ice flows in Baffin Bay. Icebergs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I imagine all the wildlife down there...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">News story about some interesting phenomena up there in the ice. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">According to NASA, weird holes have begun to appear in the ice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They have no idea what’s causing them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">John Sonntag, a scientist with NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">took some photos and found these strange holes. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some researchers have suggested these holes were created by seals. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">That makes a lot of sense until we find out many of the holes are quite large.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Sonntag the holes are several meters, even tens of meters in size, making it unlikely that seals are the cause.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some have suggested that bowhead whales may be punching up through the thin ice to breathe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">NASA has a monthly contest on their site called Earth Observatory, and a picture of these holes appears in their April Puzzler.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Head over to the show notes for a link to this site, and perhaps you can help NASA figure out what the hell this is!</span></p> <p><a href= "https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2018/04/17/april-2018-puzzler/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">NASA April Puzzler</span></a></p> <p><a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/arctic-ice-hole-photos-science-spd/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">National Geographic</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/04/23/nasa-baffled-by-mysterious-ice-circles-in-the-arctic/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ecc8556c8d0d"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Washington Post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a20055205/icebridge-ice-holes-arctic/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Popular Mechanics</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>NASA InSight Lander To Get First Look At ‘Heart’ Of Mars</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All this news about planet EARTH, guess who is feeling left out? Yes! You guess it right it’s planet MARS. But not to worry Mars because you will be getting a new visitor in November. A spacecraft designed to study i</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">nterior structure, composition as well as Mar’s</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">seismic activity is scheduled to lift off on May 5</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">th</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">and land on the red planet, Mars in November. This spacecraft is called INSIGHT, which is short for</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img src= "https://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/50742/MarsINSIGHT.jpg" alt= "" width="400" height="225" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">INSIGHT will be the</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">first spacecraft to land on Mars since Curiosity in 2012. The lander, rovers and orbiters that have visited mars before investigated</span> <strong>MOSTLY</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">the surface history by studying features like</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil. INSIGHT will be digging in deeper to learn about the RED planet’s formation and give us more “</span><strong>Insight</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">” about what lies under it’s surface.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lets’ what what exactly will be the job of this spacecraft.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The INSIGHT mission will operate for approximately two earth years and during that time it will use primarily 3 instruments.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">A seismometer will pick up the vibrations from</span> <strong>marsquakes</strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which are Mars equivalent of earthquakes. Insight will also hammer a heat-flow probe upto</span> <strong>16 feet deep</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">into Martian surface, which is deeper than any of the probes used before. This will reveal how much</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">heat is flowing out of the deep interior of the planet. And the third instrument known as RISE will track the</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">location of the spacecraft and monitor minor variations in its position, to determine just how much Mars' North Pole wobbles as it orbits the sun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These experiments will tell us about</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">things like; if Mars formed from the same stuff as Earth and the Moon, what is it’s core made up of and also give a sneak peek into how the planet evolved. In the coming months we will hear more about this mission as the lift off takes place later this week from WEST coast of United States. Just a note – this is the 1</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">st</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">time an interplanetary mission is being launched from the WC.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Also, if you are in the area and would like to lean more about MARS INSIGHT mission, you should check out the MARS road show this week as well as next week in California where you chat with NASA scientists and engineers, and learn about INSIGHTS MARS mission in detail.</span></p> <p><a href= "https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/participate/roadshow/"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Mars Roadshow</span></a></p> <p><a href= "https://scienceblog.com/500527/nasa-insight-lander-to-get-first-look-at-heart-of-mars/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">ScienceBlog</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">NASA.gov</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-insight-20180330-story.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">LA Times</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Puerto Rico still suffers from occasional island wide black outs. The hurricane season officially begins in a month. Hurricane Maria hit the island on September 20… This continues to be awful.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sometimes we all just have one of those days, you know. Just BAD days. Where nothing seems to be going in your favor. Then you turn on the news and you realize that things are going in ALOT of people’s favor. Ugh, just bad days. Maybe you’re like me when those days happen, and you close your eyes tight and try of think of anything else.  Like what would time period would I go to if I could time travel. Or What would the world be like if we still were just one big super continent? Or better yet, what would life be like if I was 6 feet tall? THESE ARE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well, some scientists from the Max Planck Institute just lived my dreams. They presented their findings recently at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union on what earth would look like if it spun the other way. I sincerely hope my excitement is coming across to everyone listening right. THIS IS SUCH A COOL THING.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We often talk about our climate as latitudinally dependent because that’s sort of an easy way to look at things. It’s warmer near the equator and colder near the poles. Or we talk about it with regards to elevation The higher you are, the colder it is. But we don’t talk about just how important the earth’s rotation is in causing the regional climates all across the world. But these scientists did just that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Florian Ziemen of the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany was the lead scientist on the work and he and colleagues tweaked some parameters in a climate model that effectively turned the planet around. They then watched to see what climates developed as the model ran for 7,000 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This meant that they stopped the movement of air and water then reversed the direction of the Coriolis force which essentially reflects the impact a spinning earth would have one the movement of liquids and gases on our planet. They even reversed the direction of the sun so that, for instance, NY is 5 hours ahead of London in this bizarro world.  The result, things got crazy!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The world’s deserts completely shifted. The Sahara desert was gone. It was now much wetter along with the Middle East. Instead, deserts reigned over the southeast United States and Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. Australia also became much wetter as a reversal of the winds brought more moist air onshore. In total, a backwards earth had 11 million square km’s LESS desert than our current earth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For me on the Atlantic coast of the US, our climate became more mild and wet. While severe winters slammed western Europe. But it wasn’t all great. Huge blooms of cyanobacteria took over northern Indian ocean.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a whole new world. But this doesn’t explain why scientists do this. Well, looking at a retrograde planet earth allows scientists to see if our understanding of the earth is actually correct. For instance, scientists use these experiments to look at this like the huge ocean circulations on the planet. There is ongoing research looking into just how deep water forms that is waters that sinks to the bottom of the ocean which currently occurs in the north Atlantic. In prior backwards moving planet experiments, this formation of deep water either broke down or continued, leaving scientists perplexed. If this formation didn’t stop, then the shape of the ocean basin might be playing a role. If it did collapse so does that argument. This most recent research did in fact have deep water formation collapse, similar to work done in 2008.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So would the earth be better if things turned backwards? Well, it would be greener, less desert-y but it all sort of depends on where you live. And truth be told, it’d still be full of humans and for all of the amazing things humanity has accomplished, we still have a knack for screwing things up.</span></p> <p><a href= "https://eos.org/articles/reversing-earths-spin-moves-deserts-reshapes-ocean-currents"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">EOS</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>This Week In Science History</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This week in science history on 26 April in 1986</strong>, in</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">Pripyat, in the </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">northern Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, now thankfully called just Ukraine,</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">one of the four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded during a safety test, launching a cloud of radioactive dust over Europe. The Soviet Union, always concerned with public health and transparency, announced the explosion two days after it happened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Did you know I’ve been to Chernobyl? Yep, I can count on the fingers of my left hand how many times I've been there. Seven times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This week in science history on 26 April in 1884</strong>, the</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">New York Times</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">reported that “sending mails by electricity” was to be investigated by the Post Office Committee of the United State House of Representatives. The article suggested it could lead to ten cent telegrams, million dollar offers from Nigerian princes, and pills to enhance your manhood.</span></p> <p><strong>This week in science history on</strong> <span style= "font-weight: 400;"><strong>27 April In 1887</strong>, surgeon George Morton performed the first appendectomy in the United States, saving the life of a 26-year-old man suffering from a toothache.</span></p> <p><strong>This week in science history on</strong> <span style= "font-weight: 400;"><strong>30 April in 1878</strong>, Louis Pasteur lectured at the French Academy of Science to promote his germ theory of disease. Predictably, he still met with opposition from some scientists, and he replied that their skepticism was “fatal to medical progress”, thus proving that old microbiologists never die, they’re just put out to Pasteur.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Shout out!</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’d like to thank Thomas at SecondLine Themes for helping us with our website.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was having trouble centering the podcast player on our theme…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A theme is kind of like the structure, the bones, the template, of a website. And we purchased the Gumbo theme from SecondLine themes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More often than not I need assistance with the techy stuff, and Thomas came through and helped me straighten things out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, if you’re building a website, especially one for a podcast, I highly recommend SecondLine Themes.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.secondlinethemes.com">Secondline Themes</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Closing</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We leave you with these words from American anthropologist Margaret Mead who said, “</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Goodbye everyone, and until next time...follow the science!</span></p> <p> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

065: Plastic-eating Bacteria to the Rescue
<p><strong>Plastic-eating Bacteria to the Rescue?</strong></p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">[Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war! I’m not talking about a war on terror, a rogue state or even drugs, I’m talking about something much closer to home. I’m talking about plastic. Plasti-phobia is very popular at the moment; in the last week alone the UK government have announced a policy to ban the use of plastic straws in pubs, clubs and restaurants as the national still reels from the images shown in the stunning Blue Planet 2 series. And right here on Blue Streak Science we spoke a couple of weeks about a giant island of plastic adrift on the ocean, spreading micro-plastics far and wide and into the food chain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The reason that this war on plastic is so hard to win is that, despite these increasingly apparent environmental impacts, we just can’t quit it. It’s a bit like a guilty affair; we know that it’s reckless, irresponsible and hurts others but it’s just so convenient and easy. Especially for us in the world of science and laboratories; with our disposable pipettes tips, Petri dishes, deep well plates and culture loops. We’ve been as much a part of the problem as we have the solution.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Up until now that is. The biggest problem that plastic presents is also its greatest asset; its resistance to biodegradation. But this resistance is starting to be ground down. In 2011 a single-celled fungus called pest-alo-tiopsis microspora was discovered which can digest polyurethane and in 2016 a strain of Ideonella Sakaiensis bacteria was identified that eats PET.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This bacteria was found outside a plastic recycling plant in Japan. What amazes me about this is just how quickly these organisms have evolved to exploit this new food source. We talk about antibiotic resistance as being a fast process but antibiotics are, for the most part, still going strong 100 years after their discovery. Plastics have been with us for half of that time and we’re already seeing this shift in our microflora.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So how are scientists helping with this? Well, if you give scientists the novel enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of PET (rather imaginatively called. PETase, we don’t mess around with naming here. We call a spade a digging tool and a rose by any other name would be Rosa kordesii and it would not smell so sweet as the cross breed known as Louise Odier because science is complicated enough without adding a bunch of artsy-fartsy names to the mix that don’t mean anything).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But I digress; if you give scientists a novel enzyme (like PETase) then they will do what scientists do and dick around with it. Prof. John McGeeham and Dr. Gregg Beckham of the university of Portsmouth and NREL, respectively, have managed to not only make PETase more efficient but have also widened the range of plastics that it works on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They didn’t initially set out to tweak the enzyme in this way; they were merely attempting to look at its crystal structure. Knowing this would allow the enzyme to be synthesised in the same way as ones that are already being used in your laundry detergent. It was during this synthesis that the error was made, resulting in a more efficient enzyme that can now be produced to aid the plastic recycling process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Where will this take us in future years? With the microbial world churning on, who knows, maybe one day plastic will end up being no more durable than cardboard. We’ve certainly left enough of it around for the bugs to practice on!]</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Guardian</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/plastic-gobbling-enzyme-just-got-upgrade"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Science News</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/04/16/1718804115#ref-17"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> PNAS</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>“Warm Transplants” Save Livers and Lives</strong></p> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">[Few months ago we spoke of artificial womb and how the first lamb which was carried to term in one was the proof of concept that we might be well on the way to assisted pregnancies, when for health reasons the mother might not be able to carry the fetus to the end of the necessary period.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story, published in Nature, is about slightly different type of womb-like device. One that can help transplantation organs to reach the patient in better condition and increase the chance of the transplantation procedure being successful.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are many hurdles to a successful transplantation of organs - often times the storage of the organ between the donor and the recipient ends up damaging the organ to an extend which increases the risk of it failing and being rejected by the patient.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now a new device which has been tested in the randomized clinical trial described in the nature paper authored by Dr David Nasralla and his colleagues, was shown to increase the success rate of liver transplantations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the main differences with previous storage devices is that in keeps the organ at 37 degrees C (the body temperature of a healthy human). So far, transplant organs are always kept on ice (4 degrees C). While there are many rational reasons keeping on ice organs taken out of the body of donors makes sense, it might actually not be the most optimal way to do it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Putting tissues and organ on ice for example can reduce the development of bacterial contaminations, it also is thought to induce the cellular chaperones - types of proteins which have the sole purpose of protecting the cells against stress (and if removing organ from its place is not stress, I don’t know what is). But it might appear that at least in the case of liver, putting it on ice it might damage the organ more than protect it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The machine that was developed to try and remedy this actually supplies the liver with blood saturated with oxygen - lack of oxygen is one of the main reasons that tissues and cells fail. It also filters out immunogenic cells so as little as possible risk there is for immune response in the receiver of the organ and rejection. Additionally, the machine is equipped with a bunch of sensors which measure the performance of the organ and if by any chance, for whatever reason, it starts under performing before the procedure has taken place, the doctors can decide based on this information whether or not they should discard the liver or if it is safe to proceed with the transplantation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At this point the downside of the machine is its price - soaring to as much as 8000 euros, this is virtually unachievable tag for most patients and it can hardly be covered by national health insurance programs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But like all other tech, the hope is that the price tag will quickly start showing lower numbers as ways are established to use more sustainable and cheaper materials without sacrificing the performance of the machine. ]</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-04816-8?utm_source=briefing-dy&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180301"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Nature</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0047-9"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Nature (original abstract)</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) reduce dental pain more effectively than opioids</strong></p> <p><strong>Chris:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">[Elvis Presley, Prince, Hank Williams, Heath Ledger, Sigmund Freud; these are just a few examples of high profile people who we have lost as a result of opioid abuse. These tragedies occur because these highly addictive substances are available, legally, as they are such effective painkillers; but a new study has concluded that they are not as effective as their less dangerous alternatives, ibruprofen and paracetamol. Could it be that these celebrities’ lives could have been saved if we had known this earlier? Well, only if they had been suffering from toothache.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This unexpected discovery comes after a wide literature review. Anita Aminoshariae is one of the study’s authors and explained that the aim was to create a compendium detailing both the benefits and harms of these medications as a resource for dentists to use in their clinical decision-making, and this resources says, don’t get your patients high!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Considering the consequences that opioid use can have, it is somewhat less surprising to find that the use of ibruprofen (either with or without paracetamol to assist) produces less adverse side effects as well as being more effective at managing the pain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The reason why opioids are such a big problem is that they a part of the same family of chemicals as endorphins and dopamine that our bodies naturally create anyway. Medicinally, this is great because they can act on the brainstem and spinal cord like an endorphin (but much more powerfully) where they can suppress pain. The downside of this that it also affects the limbic system. If you have heard of endorphins or dopamine before then you’ve probably heard that they are the thing that makes us feel good; like chemical happiness. On the face of it, this may not seem like a bad side effect, to feel happy and relaxed about everything but the consequences are all too real.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It has been said that humanity only ever suffers from one addiction, opioids. Everything that we get addicted to, be it gambling, alcohol, sex, chocolate or building spreadsheets (maybe that’s just me) these things all prompt our body to make these chemicals. All these other addictions are just the lengths that we go to to feed our opioid habit. The problem with these medicinal opioids is that you cut out the middle man and just provide the brain with an artificial alternative much more potent than anything than your body can make. Just think about it; once you’ve got used to the experience of an opioid high, a genuine, natural feeling of euphoria would just feel lacklustre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ibruprofen, on the other hand, is an anti-inflammatory drug. Swelling is a normal response of the body to trauma but it can also be painful. Whilst the swelling is functional and can aid the healing process, it is possible to use these drugs to reduce the swelling and relieve the discomfort. Their effectiveness can be further improved by combining them with paracetamol. Also known as acetaminophen, it may come as a bit of a shock that no one actually knows exactly how it works. The leading theory is that it blocks the brain’s ability to detect prostaglandins which are a bit like anti-opioids; they make us feel pain rather than elation. This is the same chemical that causes swelling, so ibruprofen inhibits its production and then the paracetamol limits the brains ability to pick up on what’s left.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maybe this is why this result has been discovered. There are no nerves within teeth themselves, but they are attached to some. Dental pain is often associated with swelling and pressure on these nerves. Whilst opioids will dull this pain and make you feel a bit better about it, ibruprofen will actually do something to ease the source of the pain. But not the pain in your soul; for that that I’m afraid that you’ll just have to stick with opioids and all of the risks that they entail.]</span></p> <p><a href= "https://scienceblog.com/500389/ibuprofen-acetaminophen-more-effective-than-opioids-in-treating-dental-pain/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">ScienceBlog</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://thedaily.case.edu/study-ibuprofen-acetaminophen-effective-opioids-treating-dental-pain/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Case Western</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://www.sci-news.com/medicine/paracetamol-ibuprofen-opioids-acute-dental-pain-05931.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Sci-News</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>TESS in the search of exoplanets</strong></p> <p><strong>Nevena:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">[It seems like yesterday when the SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket blasted Elon’s red Tesla roadster into space, but in the meantime the Falcon 9 (it’s smaller buddy) is busy with to serious space business delivering payloads into Earth’s orbit and beyond for various private and public programs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It most recently brought to space a NASA probe which will search for exoplanets. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or for short TESS is expected to deploy its solar panels as we speak and to start performing a number of internal checks before it starts collecting data.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unlike other satellites before it, TESS will orbit Earth on a never used before orbit with a complex geometry, making two orbits around us for each orbit the Moon does. While this might seem a very random orbit to choose, surely you don’t think NASA didn’t choose it very carefully! The trick with this orbit is that it’s very stable - if for some reason the satellite goes slightly out of its way, the moon’s gravity will pull it back in place and allow it to keep doing it’s thing without having to do much maneuvering itself - talk about being sustainable in space. Also, in this orbit there’s much less space junk - something we unfortunately we have plenty of (and the cleaning of which Sophie talked about in our previous episode - go have a listen if you haven’t yet!).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once in its place, the expectation for TESS are soaring - its equipment is building up on the Kepler telescope’s sensors and the hope is that it will discover even more exoplanets than Kepler ever could. Whatever TESS discovers, it will feed into the science that the James Webb telescope is expected to perform once it’s launched in 2020 and it reaches its sweet spot in space - the Lagrange point where the gravity of Earth and the Sun balance out so it can stay there and observe the deep space with the most powerful sensors we have ever made for space exploration. ]</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.space.com/40346-nasa-tess-exoplanet-mission-whats-next.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Space.com</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-tess-launch-nasa-20180418-story.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">LA Times</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/launch-tess-nasa-boost-search-exoplanets"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Science News</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>A**hole of the Month</strong></p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Blue Streak Science A**hole of the Month is governor Rick Snyder of the state of Michigan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let’s go back a few years to 2014 to Flint, Michigan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That’s when officials, in order to save money, switched the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unfortunately, water from the river is 19 times more corrosive than that from the lake, according to researchers at Virginia Tech University.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That sounds bad, but in and of itself it really isn’t, unless you’re piping that water through antiquated pipes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And it didn’t take long for the water started to look, smell and taste bad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The more corrosive Flint River water caused lead to leach from pipes into the city's drinking water.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The immediate result was people getting rashes and hair loss from the lead in their water.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The long-term effects are well-known and far more dire, especially for children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, had to intervene.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Also, a class-action lawsuit followed against the state’s Department of Environmental Quality alleging that they failed to properly treat the water before it was pumped through the city’s old pipes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since that time it has been a mess in Flint.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Children with astronomically high levels of lead in their blood.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Residents forced to use bottled water for virtually everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stop for a moment, and imagine what it would be like for you to shut off your taps, all of them, and rely on water that you have to drive somewhere and physically pick up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your drinking, cooking, bathing and showering, brushing your teeth, and even watering your garden.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All of it. Water you had to schlep from a distribution center to your home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But thankfully that water was being paid for by the state of Michigan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Until now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last week the Michigan government announced it would no longer provide free bottled water to residents of Flint four years into this public health debacle.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The closure of the state-funded water distribution centers, or free PODs, happened abruptly and surprised Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At a press conference this week she recalled her conversation with the governor, “When we talked about the PODs, the governor said we need to get over it. He said the water is testing well and we need to move on,”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Incidentally, is it any surprise that Flint, Michigan is majority African American and has a median household income of about $28,000?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you think this would be allowed to happen in West Palm Beach or Aspen, Colorado?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flint still has about 12,000 homes with tainted lead service lines that need replacing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mayor Weaver stated, “They gave us their word that they would see us through this lead and galvanized service line replacement and that we would have PODs stay open until then, and they backed out on what they said,”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to ReWire News, locals are taking matters into their own hands as the Snyder administration once again turns its back to the plight of Flint.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Local celebrities and organizations like Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation are fighting for water rights and advocating change; a young activist called Mari Copeny, started an online campaign that has raised more than $22,500 in seven days.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flint officials are threatening to sue the state, and so are residents looking for continued bottled water distribution.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I don’t blame them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And for turning your back on the good citizens of Flint, Michigan...governor Rick Snyder, you are the Blue Streak Science A**shole of the Month!</span></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>JD:</strong> U<span style="font-weight: 400;">ntil next time...follow the science!</span></p> <p> </p>
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064: Astronomy Meets Biology, Harpoons and Nets
<p><strong>Science News</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Conservationists use astronomy software to save species</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An astrophysicist and a conservation biologist walk into a bar… No, this is not that kind of story, but a real one on how collaboration is the second name of Lady Science.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A work showing how space science can be used in conservation efforts for endangered species was presented at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in the UnKi last week.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In it, Dr Serge Wich of the Liverpool John Moores University, described how, through the power of words (!!!) he was able to land a collaboration which as a conservation biologist he never thought he would - with an astrophysicist, namely Dr Claire Burke.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What happened is that, the biologist was talking to his neighbour, explaining the troubles of this research - as you do. His main issue was that protecting animals who are active at night is even harder than the ones active when there’s light. They had to rely only on secondary clues - abandoned nests, feces, leftover food etc. But this is extremely inefficient and imprecise way to estimate the number of animals from a species for many reasons. Sometimes animals migrate to new habitats (may be due to climate change) and that’s why they leave behind nest, burrows and hideaways, meaning that they are simply not there, not necessarily that they are dead. Also, it’s not always super obvious which heap of smelly poop was left by which exactly species of giant mammal for example. And counting animals with infrared cameras is often hindered by the vegetation around, which - newsflash - also emits light in the spectrum, and you also have to be rather close to be able to detect them like that, which kind of defeats the purpose. And even if you did detect something, half of the time you can’t even tell if that warm blob you see with the infrared cam is a rhino or a hippo.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What happened next is called serendipity - the moment when scientists smell the word “Eureka” in the air, but know there’s a ton of work to be done before they get there! The neighbour, who unlike most neighbours in this case was actually</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">listening</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">to the story, had an idea. He knew that his colleagues use these types of softwares which actually could identify the size and age of far away stars from their heat signatures!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So they got to work, they mounted a special infrared cam on a drone and started flying it through zoos and nature reserves and teaching the software behind it to identify one animal from the other, injured animals from healthy and recently deceased from for example asleep ones. And it worked! And it can be now used for that purpose in the wild. And this is why science is awesome!</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">]</span></p> <p><a href= "http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43546429"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">BBC Science and Environment</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/thermal-infrared-cameras-drones-poaching-conservation-animals-spd/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">National Geographic</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Scientists find signs of new brain cells in older adults</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We spoke about neurogenesis a few episodes ago when we discussed a paper that suggested we lose the ability to make new brain cells as we age. Today, the tables have turned...a new paper is hot off the press that contradicts that March publication in</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Nature</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, saying that, indeed, we can make new neurons throughout the ageing process! The new paper is published in</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cell Stem Cell.</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style= "font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">SO what’s going on here? Research papers often contradict each other and our understanding of natural phenomena is a result of appraising all this different evidence. At the moment, the consensus seems to be that there is some capacity for the hippocampus to produce new neurons throughout life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Both papers involved use of post-mortem brain samples. Yet the results differ. Maura Boldrini, the lead author, suggested this may be due to different preservation techniques, as well as the fact the brains in the</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nature</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">study came from a wider variety of patients, some of whom had had conditions such as epilepsy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To look for signs of neurogenesis, the researchers hunted for specific proteins produced by neurons at particular stages of development. Proteins such as GFAP and SOX2, for example, are made in abundance by stem cells that eventually turn into neurons, while newborn neurons make more of proteins such as Ki-67. In all of the brains, the researchers found evidence of newborn neurons in the dentate gyrus, the part of the hippocampus where neurons are born.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There were some differences between young and old brains, notwithstanding the abundance of new neurons in each sample - old brains had fewer new blood vessels and apparently there was less evidence of new connections between neurons (synapses).</span></p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-new-brain-cells-20180405-story.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">LA Times</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/human-brains-make-new-nerve-cells-and-lots-them-well-old-age"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Science News</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.livescience.com/62227-aging-brain-new-cells.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Live Science</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Hybrid swarm in global mega-pest</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So this is a story from the journal PNAS (which for some reason Americans pronounce totally weird) and got covered in Science Daily. It’s about genetic mutants! OW YEAH! But not really… Well yeah, but not like the teenage ninja turtles, more like the hulk and not in a good way!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you know which is one of the main pests against which genetically engineered crops were created? It’s the cotton bollworm, which is a b*tch of pest because it feeds on more than 100 species of plants, many of which agriculturally important and is the sole reason why some years cotton farmers in India for example loose up to 80% of their harvest and in consequence - their income. It is resistant to</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">every pesticide</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">in the world which is why the darned GMOs are so needed in the developing world and why some denim companies (which I will not name) are total tools for refusing to buy from Indian farmers growing GMO cotton because their western clients don’t want GMO jeans on their sorry asses!</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">ANYHOW</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">, the damage control only for this pest costs billions of dollars every year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The other pest in this story is the corn earworm, which is not</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">as</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">bad, but is still a major agri-pest. The damage it does is estimated to be only about 100 mln dollars per year, which is peanuts to what the cotton bollworm does.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here’s the horror of this story though - recently, scientists from Australia had realised that the two species of pests had met, hybridised and gave birth (figuratively speaking) to a mega-pest, which unlike the two original species who have generally different areas of spread, is both super-mean to our crops</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">and</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">potentially able to live just about anywhere in the world where there’s arable land! They’ve found the mega-pest hybrid in Brazil (which by the way is one of the worst places for us for this to happen as Brazil is one of the world’s biggest producers and exporters of Coffee, Soybean, Soybean, Wheat, Rice, Corn, and Sugarcane).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And if this wasn’t horrible enough, it turned out that from the hybrids they studied, there were not just one new hybrid, but rather many many different hybrids between the two species. In some cases, the new hybrid had gotten almost entirely the pesticide resistant genes from the bollworm and other than that was genetically mostly earworm. Which, if we draw the short straw from this, might mean that on hybrid will be susceptible to our pesticides, but 2 will not be, and that math even I can do - it does not look good for our agricultural produce.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And if Brazil does not sound concerning enough, I’m just going to say that 65% of the major crops in the USA are potential dinner for the pests and having such plethora of super-pest hybrids coming your way can be really,</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">really</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">bad!</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">]</span></p> <p><a href= "http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/03/29/1718831115"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> PNAS</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-06/hybrid-mega-pest-risk-to-global-food-crops/9623306"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">ABC</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180406100544.htm"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Science Daily</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>This Space Junk Removal Experiment Will Harpoon & Net Debris in Orbit</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We have a rubbish problem in space. Literally - the atmosphere is full of space junk. Now there’s a new project to try and reduce this - time for a bit of spring cleaning of space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Japanese experiment in space trash removal, called KITE, had to be scrapped last year due to a technical failure. The new project, RemoveDEBRIS satellite was funded half by the European Commission, and half by a consortium of 10 companies. Lots of interest in clearing the junk! But how? Fishing, basically - the project will trial nets and harpoons.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The idea is that the net, as a way to capture debris, is a very flexible option because even if the debris is spinning, or has got an irregular shape, to capture it with a net is relatively low-risk compared to, for example, going with a robotic arm,” said Guglielmo Aglietti, RemoveDEBRIS principal investigator, and director of the Surrey Space Center. He adds “The harpoon is maybe simpler...but then one might think that maybe it’s a bit more risky because you have to hit your debris in a place that is suitable to be captured by the harpoon. Clearly, you have to avoid any fuel tanks.” Clearly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The trial involves cleaning up junk the team introduced to space themselves, rather than touching existing stuff up there, for legal reasons. Tests should be complete by the end of the year. If promising, RemoveDEBRIS will be incorporated into a big cleaning mission scheduled for 2024. We have 7500 tons of space junk (40,000 fragments, estimated) circling the Earth at the moment and this seems likely to increase without concerted clean-up efforts. There have been collisions in the past and these do pose major risk to spacecraft.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Funny, we humans really are messy - not just on our planet, but beyond. Not something you tend to think about.</span></p> <p><a href= "https://www.space.com/40221-space-junk-debris-sweeper-experiment.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Space.com</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/04/removedebris-satellite-will-test-space-junk-removal-methods.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Next Big Future</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span> <a href= "https://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/first-test-space-debris-cleanup-about-get-under-way-180968631/"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Air and Space</span></a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Climate Lounge</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Sahara is getting bigger… boo.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Welcome to the climate lounge, where, just like our planet, I’ve programmed the thermostat to get increasingly hotter and told the servers to randomly douse some people with a bucket of water, while removing all drinks from others. You thinking that doesn’t sound like a fun place to hang out…. That’s the point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But first, PUERTO RICO. Not much more to add besides what I’ve said in the past. It’s a travesty that some people in Puerto Rico are STILL without power. Making matters more infuriating recently, was an article in Politico which went through the double standards in relief efforts between those in Texas impacted by Hurricane Harvey and those in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria. I’m sure you can guess how. But here are some numbers from the article. Nine days after Harvey, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) approved almost 142 million in individual assistance to Harvey’s victims. That number was 6.2 million for Marias victims. It took 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas. It took 43 days for Puerto Rico. Grrrrrrrrrr. So don’t forget!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moving onto this episodes climate story, we are staying the tropics...somewhat and talking about that big giant desert in Africa called the Sahara.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a recent article in the Journal of Climate, scientist Natalie Thomas and Sumant Nigam looked at how climate changed over Africa during the 20th century with a focus on seasonal trends over Africa.  That’s the boring way of saying it. Said another way. They looked to see what’s the deal with the Sahara desert and how it’s changing. And they found some things *cue ominous music*</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They found that the Sahara has been getting bigger. Not only was it creeping farther NORTH but it has also been creeping southward! Even worse, the farthest creep south has been occuring during the summer season, when the bulk of the rains come to areas just south of the Sahara in a region known as the Sahel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why is this interesting? Time to talk how deserts form. First, an important and obvious fact. Different places get different amounts of the suns energy. The equator gets the most, the poles get the least. I’ve just described for you in the simplest way possible why air moves across the planet. The earth likes to keep things in balance so it is in a everlasting battle of moving warm air to the poles. But physics makes things a bit more complicated. And we get deserts as a result.</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In general, alot of the world’s deserts are located at the latitude of the downward branch of a huge atmospheric circulation known as the Hadley Cell. The Hadley cell as has a couple of components. The first is rising air in the tropics along the equator, think lots of rin. The second is sinking air farther north and south of the equator around 30 degrees in latitude. As the air rises in the tropics, it hits an atmospheric wall and spreads north and south where it eventually sinks by 30 degreeds latitude. As it sinks, it heats and drys. And thus you find alot of the worlds deserts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As we warm the planet, we are expanding the Hadley Cell, meaning that the downward branch of the Hadley cell is moving north. So the northward expansion of the Sahara makes perfect sense… but it doesn’t explain the southward creeping.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That goes into another oscillation known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation called Billy for short….Just kidding, making sure you are paying attention. It’s called the AMO and refers to ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. They can change from warm to cold in the north atlantic ocean during phases. The warm phase (one of which lasted from 30s to 60s) brings wet conditions to sub-Saharan Africa including the Sahel and West Africa. And the cold phase which means drier conditions (one of which last from the 70s through 2000s and included an horrible West African drought in the 1980s. This cold phase AND ties to increasing greenhouse gases likely both played a part in the drought. The signals are intertwined . If this is true, it would account for the southward creep of the Sahara into West Africa.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why is this bad? In a previous life, I used to provide weather and climate forecasts for the Famine Early Warning Network or FEWS-NET for Africa, so I am a bit familiar with this area of the world’s climate. In the summer months, West Africa sees its rainy season as the rains progress increasing northward through the summer until peaking in latitude at about 19 N in August. This peak position is located in the Sahel, an area that is “on the edge” when it comes to rainfall as it. Sometimes seasons are good, but if they are just a bit late or lower than normal, disaster can strike for farmers. It’s very very vulnerable. This research suggests that rains just aren’t making it as far north as normal during the summer, which if it continues could be devastating to those countries in the Sahel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now here is a BIG scientific caveat with this article. And serves as a useful example of how just because a paper passed peer review doesn’t mean it’s right. Other scientists have pushed back on these results, noting how sparse and inconsistent datasets are in Africa and critiquing just how the authors calculated the AMO.  This is how science works. Nothing is taken as gospel. And regardless of whether these results stand the test of time. Northern and subsaharan Africa remains incredibly vulnerable to changes in precipitation and climate change.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And Africa as a continent is the least responsible for all this climate change. It’s not fair. It never will be fair. And we should help out considerably. Any other choice would be a major dick move.</span></p> <p>Links:</p> <p><a href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/29/the-sahara-is-growing-thanks-in-part-to-climate-change/?utm_term=.3ea9bb3e57b4"> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/29/the-sahara-is-growing-thanks-in-part-to-climate-change/?utm_term=.3ea9bb3e57b4</span></a></p> <p><span style= "font-weight: 400;">https://earther.com/so-uh-whats-going-on-with-the-sahara-desert-1824220231</span></p> <p><span style= "font-weight: 400;">https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0187.1</span></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Pub Quiz</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Today's topic: antelopes</strong></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Thank you, and follow the science!</strong></p>
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063: Introducing Cheddar Man!
<p>[caption id="attachment_2519" align="alignright" width="350"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-2519" src= "http://bluestreaksci.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Cheddar-Man-350x350.png" alt= "Image courtesy of Paul Townsend https://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/" width="350" height="350" /> Cheddar Man<br /> Image courtesy of Paul Townsend[/caption] Seriously, Cheddar Man?  What's next, Homo hummus? How about Jazz Man? We had a lovely science session today and talked about the aforementioned Fromage Fellow as well as how tree rings can be studied to determine future wildfire risk. In the Climate Tom Di Liberto tells us about what may be lurking in the melting permafrost. You ain't gonna like it!</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News Roundup with Nevena Hristozova and JD Goodwin</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast <a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01686-y"><span style= "color: #ff0000;"><strong>Tree Rings Reveal Increased Wildfire Risk for Southwestern US</strong></span></a> <a href= "http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42939192"><span style= "color: #ff0000;"><strong><strong>Cheddar Man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin </strong></strong></span></a> <a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/scicurious/wikipedia-science-reference-citations"> <span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong>Wikipedia Has Become a Science Reference Source</strong></span></a></p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong>Wait, there is WHAT in permafrost?</strong></span></p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Washington; and Brussels.  </p>
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062: Wine and Woodpeckers
<p>Enjoy that glass or two of Cabernet. More evidence keeps coming in that wine, in moderation, is beneficial to human health. Besides, is there anything more sublime with that tarragon trout than a nice flinty Sancerre. No. The correct answer is no!</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News Roundup with Nevena Hristozova, Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast</p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/grapevines-are-more-drought-tolerant-thought?tgt=nr"> <strong>Grapevines Are More Drought-resistant Than We Thought</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2018/02/05/can_you_get_the_flu_twice_in_one_season.html"> <strong>Can You Get the Flu Twice In One Season?</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202140910.htm"><strong> Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Concussions?</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.sciencenews.org/article/blood-test-could-predict-risk-alzheimers"> <strong>A Blood Test Could Predict the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/5268/in-wine-theres-health-low-levels-of-alcohol-good-for-the-brain.aspx"> <strong>In Wine, There's Health</strong></a></p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Better to have a bottle in front o' me than a frontal lobotomy!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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061: New Blood Test for Cancer, and so much more!
<p>Slowly getting back in the podcasting groove. Sophie and JD rant and rave about the latest science news, as Tom is calm, cool, and collected while discussing the natural disasters of 2017. How does he do it?</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News Roundup with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast</p> <p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42736764"><strong>Cancer Blood Test "Enormously Exciting"</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00661-x?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20180118&spMailingID=55794956&spUserID=NzE3MDU3OTQ1MDYS1&spJobID=1322936986&spReportId=MTMyMjkzNjk4NgS2"> <strong>Maths Strikes a Blow for Democracy</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/animals-snakes-climate-change-oceans/"> <strong>Sea Snake Found Off California - How'd It Get There?</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01001-9"><strong>Science After a Year of President Trump</strong></a></p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><a href= "https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2017-us-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate-disasters-historic-year" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>2017 Was One Hell of an Expensive Year for Weather and Climate Disasters in the USA</strong></a></p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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060: From the Ashes We Rise
<p>In the very early hours of 9 October, 2017 the Tubbs Fire raced down from the Mayacamas Mountains and destroyed my neighborhood, including our home of 21 years in beautiful Santa Rosa, California. My wife and I escaped with our dog Amy, and not much more. When we were finally able to return a few weeks later there was nothing to salvage. Our home, and everything in it was incinerated.</p> <p>Our little podcast has been off the air since then. There was never a doubt in my mind that Blue Streak would return. Seriously, it'll take a lot more than a firestorm to keep us from bringing you the science!</p> <p>So here we are. Yes, it took some time and a lot of effort to get to this point, but this is only the beginning...a new beginning.</p> <p>Thank you for all your support and kind words during this ordeal.</p> <p>Now...let's science!</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News Roundup with Sophie McManus and Nevena Hristozova</h3> <p><a href= "https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/genetics-rewrites-history-early-america-and-maybe-field-archaeology-180967745/"> <strong>Ancient DNA Rewrites Settlement Story of the First Americans</strong></a></p> <p><a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-sugar-c-diff-20180103-story.html"> <strong>A popular sugar additive may have fueled the spread two superbugs</strong></a></p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><strong>It's Cold...Global Warming is Fake!</strong></p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>No time for messing about! There's work to be done.</p> <p>Oh, and remember...follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Santa Rosa; Cambridge; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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059: Interview with Dr. Milan Chheda - Targeting Brain Cancer with the Zika Virus
<p><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2495" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/braintumor-350x350.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="350" />Today we welcome Dr. Milan Chheda of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Chheda is a senior co-author of a paper published earlier this month in the Journal of Experimental Medicine titled "Zika virus has oncolytic activity against glioblastoma stem cells". </p> <p>Not only is the research truly exciting, but it also illustrates some of the greatest characteristics of science and scientists. For example, thinking differently and quite unconventionally; in this case to attack such a complex and deadly form of cancer with a dangerous virus.</p> <p>In the news this week we talk about an antibody that kills 99% of HIV strains, a new subspecies of sea snake that is like a venomous seafaring banana, and why owls don't wear hearing aids.</p> <p>In the Climate Lounge host Tom Di Liberto explains that we may be entering a new era of rapid hurricane intensification because of climate change.</p> <hr /> <h3>Mail Bag</h3> <p>We received an email from Chris Ryu of the Atom Club, part of the Dorset Science and Technology Centre. Chris wrote, “Well done on a great first episode back. Haven’t got a clue on pub names, but I guess:”</p> <ul> <li>Atomic 49 (as in Indium / In)</li> <li>The Particle and Wave</li> <li>Science on Tap</li> <li>CH3CH2OH</li> </ul> <p>A note about the Atom Club: When it comes to science their mission is critically important, and that’s to inspire the next generation of scientists and coders.</p> <p>Essentially, they aim to make both science and coding fun and enjoyable.</p> <p>We encourage you to visit the Atom Club website at <a href= "http://www.atom.club" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Atom Club</a>.</p> <p>MauiWowie2010, also know as Bob, writes"Episode 58 was great. Really liked the eulogy to Cassini. Keep on fighting for science guys". </p> <p>Got somethin' to say? Want us to share it on the podcast? Then please email us at podcast@bluestreakscience.com</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News</h3> <p>For more than just these little summaries go listen to the podcast!</p> <p><strong>Title New Antibody Attacks 99% of HIV strains</strong><br /> New research has developed an antibody that kills 99% of HIV strains. It is composed of a triplet of three antibodies and may be more effective at knocking off HIV than any naturally occurring antibody. </p> <p><strong>New Subspecies of Yellow-bellied Sea Snake is a Venomous Banana!</strong><br /> A new and very yellow subspecies of Hydrophis platura was described from the Golfo Dulce. This unique serpent also employs a hunting strategy very different from the nominate subspecies.</p> <p>[caption id="attachment_2498" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]<img class="size-full wp-image-2498" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/YellowSeaSnake1.jpg" alt="" width="1000" height="480" /> Credit: Brooke L. Bessesen; CC-BY 4.0[/caption]</p> <p><strong>The Ageless Ears of Barn Owls</strong><br /> One of the most predictable hallmarks of growing older is a gradual loss of hearing, especially at higher frequencies.  However, new research finds that barn owls have self-repairing ears, which retain their acute ability over time.</p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><strong>Global Warming and the Rapid Intensification of Hurricanes</strong></p> <p>Today we get into the nuts and bolts of how global warming can put the pedal to the metal when it comes to hurricanes. Recent hurricanes have intensified incredibly rapidly. Is this the new normal?</p> <hr /> <h3>Interview: Dr. Milan Chheda</h3> <p><strong>Zika Virus as a Treatment for Brain Cancer</strong></p> <p>We welcome Dr. Milan Chheda of Washington University. Dr. Chheda explains his exciting and fascinating work using the Zika virus to kill brain cancer cells.</p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Thanks to Dr. Milan Chheda for sharing his exciting research with our audience. Finding treatments and therapies for cancer is always a great thing, but to use such a novel weapon puts this in the category of "badass"!</p> <p>Thanks to the Blue Streak Science team of dangerous intellectuals without whom this would be dead air and quite pointless.</p> <p>Most of all, thank <em>you</em> for listening to our little ol' podcast! It's not that we couldn't do it without you. We could. But we <em>wouldn't</em> do it without you. You rock!</p> <hr /> <p>This episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Washington; and St. Louis.</p>
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058: Museum Wars, Snow Leopards, Ig Nobel Awards, and Environmental Justice
<p> </p> <h3>From the Mail Bag</h3> <p><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-2486" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/YeOlWateringMole.png" alt="" width="400" height="278" />Several listeners gave us props for our return and a great show last week. Many thanks to those listeners. You'll receive your bitcoin payments when Donald Trump releases his tax returns. You didn't read the fine print, did you?</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News with Nevena Hristozova and Sophie McManus</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast</p> <p><strong>Eulogy for Cassini</strong><br /> Nevena reflects on the great achievements by the teams who made the Cassini mission one of humankind's greatest leaps forward into the universe. <a href= "http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-cassini-oral-history-20170912-htmlstory.html"><strong>LA Times - "OK. Let's do it!"</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Museum Wars</strong><br /> Last week a Twitter user sparked a social media battle between two of London's greatest repositories of science, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Sophie and JD make a silly attempt to re-create the battle of the nerds.</p> <p><strong>Snow Leopards Taken Off Endangered Species List</strong><br /> Is this good news for this beautiful ghostly cat of the south Asian highlands? Or are we putting this imperiled species in even greater danger?</p> <p><strong>The 2017 Ig Nobel Awards</strong><br /> The Peace Prize as given to a Swiss team who discovered that taking up the didgeridoo reduces snoring (perhaps by reducing sleeping?). Another research team found that contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble. They were awarded the Economics Prize. Of course they were.</p> <p>Listen to the episode as Sophie gives you the full story of this most prestigious of science awards.</p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><strong><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-2487" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/episdoe58.png" alt="" width="450" height="450" />Hurricanes, Climate, and Environmental Justice</strong></p> <p>As the world watches aghast as yet more hurricanes ravage the Caribbean, Tom Di Liberto talks about an issue that has been neglected for far too long. </p> <p>Environmental inequality and environmental justice.</p> <p>From Houston to Barbuda low-income communities and communities of color have taken the brunt of these climate change fueled storms, and receive relatively little aid to put their lives back together.</p> <p>My favorite site for diving deep into climate science is the one operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.</p> <p>It’s called climate.gov.</p> <p>Our very own Tom Di Liberto writes on the blog there and you can find his posts at climate.gov/tom-di-liberto</p> <p>To make it easier just visit the Blue Streak Science website and we’ll put a link to it in the show notes for this episode</p> <p>That’s at bluestreakscience.com/58</p> <hr /> <h3>Pub Quiz</h3> <p>The score stands at Sophie and Nevena tied for the lead with 7, and Tom trailing with 4. Will our climatologist extraordinaire surge ahead like high tide in a hurricane?</p> <p>Join us and find out as we imbibe virtual pints of beer and actual bouts of fun!</p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Tell your friends about Blue Streak Science. Tell your enemies. Tell your frenemies! And whatever you do, follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Sydney; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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057: The Return of Blue Streak Science
<p>Long time, no see! After a long hiatus the Blue Streak Science Podcast has returned with the most dangerous team in podcasting; Sophie McManus, Tom Di Liberto, Nevena Hristozova, and JD Goodwin. We look forward to reconnecting with <em>you</em>, too.</p> <p>We are certainly a little rusty, but still this episode hits all the marks. Gene therapy for cancer, crashing space probes, body farms, and even a story about puppy dogs. And of course, Tom connects the dots between the past weeks' horrifically destructive weather and the reality of anthropogenic global warming.</p> <p>Oh, and Pub Quiz!</p> <p>It's good to be back, and even better to reconnect with our awesome audience.</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News with Sophie McManus and Nevena Hristozova</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast</p> <p><strong>U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approves First CAR-T Cancer Drug</strong><br /> The American FDA has approved a treatment for a type of leukaemia, or blood cancer, in young people. This is a treatment with a difference - it’s been termed a ‘living drug’.</p> <p>How exactly does a ‘living drug’ work?<br /> <br /> It isn’t the typical pill or injection route. It uses the patient’s OWN cells - in effect, taking T cells (highly specialised cells which are involved in the body’s immune response - warriors of the immune sys) and ‘supercharging’ them before injecting them to fight the patient’s cancer. The T cells are harvested from the sick person, they are then modified in the lab - they are programmed to recognise and kill cancer cells. They are grown up in the lab and subjected to rigorous QC testing before injection into the patient. The hope is then that the genetically modified T cells will kill the patient’s cancer.</p> <p>88 patients with relapsing, treatment resistant leukaemia (specifically, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia), were given this treatment, receiving injections of their own modified T cells. They were eligible for the trial because they really had no hope of a cure otherwise. Of course there has to be understanding in the patients that this therapy could cause severe side effects, basically from these modified T cells running riot in the body and doing things they shouldn’t. 88 patients were treated and 73 are in remission - their cancer has receded.</p> <p>This treatment, Kymriah, was developed by Novartis. They hope to have 32 treatment centres running by 2018’s end. “I think this is most exciting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Dr. Tim Cripe, an oncologist with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, at an FDA meeting on Kymriah in July.</p> <p><strong>Cassini's Last Moments</strong><br /> Today we seem to know a lot about the universe, at yet very little about our own solar system. In the case of Saturn, we don't even know much about its structure - is it really an entirely gassy giant or does it have a dense liquid core like the other giants we know? Or may be even a solid one? How long is a day on the planet? How old are the rings? What’s their origin?</p> <p>For the past 10 years the Cassini has been orbiting the gas giant and observing its moon to try and answer some of these questions.</p> <p>[caption id="attachment_2476" align="alignright" width="500"]<img class="wp-image-2476" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cassini.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="360" /> Cassini and Saturn[/caption]</p> <p>Today, Cassini is going strong on the path to its inevitable death - excitedly expected and at the same time heartbreaking.  The scientists from NASA's JPL made sure that the Grand Finale (as this final stage is now called) is as spectacular and as dramatic as it possibly could. The spacecraft will take photos for the last time of Titan - the biggest moon of Saturn, whose gravity will be instrumental for the final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere. And just a day before it touches the giant planet's atmosphere, Cassini will turn to Earth one last time in an emotional goodbye, taking one last photo with its camera of everything that has ever existed and still exists today on this Pale Blue Dot. The picture of Earth will be the last Cassini takes, so be sure to look up a wave goodbye!</p> <p>Once all cameras are off, other sensors and measuring devices will remain functional until the spacecraft inevitably burns into the planet's atmosphere. This was the planned ending of the mission. The reasons to crash it into the planet are mainly practical and of safety considerations. Cassini is running low on fuel and keeping it going for longer will pose a palpable risk of it going out of the control of JPL and possibly crashing into one of Saturn's moons. This would be the last thing any scientist would want to see.</p> <p>Cassini discovered the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan or the pristine ice of Enceladus. Since we cannot be 100% sure that this will not contaminate either one with Earthly chemicals, the engineers and scientists behind the mission decided it's safest to let it burn up in the atmosphere of its ultimate target - Saturn. Once it touches the top layers of Saturn, Cassini will turn its antennae to Earth to transmit as fast as possible for as long as possible the measurements its detectors are recording. Just over 60,000km above the planet's center, the atmospheric pressure will be higher than the one of Earth and the thrusters of the craft will probably not be able to compensate. Cassini will start to tumble and we will lose contact with it for good.</p> <p>Within 4 minutes of the point at which we have lost contact, Cassini will melt and disintegrate in a flash of hydrogen plasma (the term burn up is technically incorrect, since Saturn's atmosphere doesn't have oxygen). Since Saturn is so far from Earth, we should receive its final radio transmission only an hour and half after it had ceased to exist.</p> <p><strong>'Body Farm' In The U.K.?</strong><br /> So our next story is about a body farm. Yes. A dead body farm. In the UK. No, this isn’t Shaun of the Dead. Please stop eating.</p> <p>Side note, this BBC article starts with ‘you’re dead. Now what?’... Anyway, the question presented here is whether we need a human body farm to get up and running to help us learn more about decomposition, the processes that allow dead tissue to break down (taphonomy is the sciencey word).</p> <p>You may well wonder why we would really want to know about this. It isn’t just a gruesome curiosity, there are practical applications, e.g. in helping the police in solving murders. Yes, we know about processes like rigor mortis and forensic scientists can work a lot of info out from a corpse, but there are gaps in our knowledge and this of course can impact a murder investigation.</p> <p>BBC quote: "Exciting new data published last year in the journal PLOS One suggests that the succession of bacteria that come and go, feeding on the decaying body, may help scientists to more accurately pinpoint post-mortem interval. This discovery was made by analysing bacteria scraped from the nose and ear canals of decomposing cadavers at the world's first body farm in Tennessee."</p> <p>Scientists such as Dr Anna Williams of Huddersfield are pushing for a farm to help with this. She argues that forensic sciences are underfunded and says crowdfunding might be an option.</p> <p>Other countries, mainly the US and Australia have body farms. In the UK up until now the scientific study of taphonomy has mainly been conducted on pigs. There are obvious advantages to this, namely the fact we can get hold of more pigs to study, we can replicate conditions easily, and it’s no small matter asking a community to accept a human body farm.</p> <p><strong>Doggy Sniff Test</strong><br /> For years now, we know that the great apes do also know if they are looking at themselves in the mirror or at another ape (if they have seen themselves in a mirror before). At the same time, monkeys do fail the mirror test and so do other animals we've tested. Yet, some researchers were convinced that some animals must possess a sort of self-recognition as it was indirectly implied by some behavioral studies in the past - they just didn't know how to prove it.</p> <p>Now, a study was published from the Department of Psychology of the Barnard College which may have found the ultimate test for self-awareness of dogs. It does not rely on images, but on smell.</p> <p>While we have up to five million scent receptors, dogs can have as many as <strong>300 million</strong>, though this varies depending on the breed. So in other words, there are certain dog breeds that have a sense of smell that is ten million times stronger than that of humans! Thus, it's no surprise after all that they'd rather rely on their better senses.</p> <p>The new study showed that a dog would "investigate" for longer its own smell if a certain additional odour has been added to it. In other words, if a dog is presented with its own smell only, it did not feel the need to sniff extensively to figure out where or from whom this smell came from - it knew it as its own and didn't need to look into it any longer. But if the odour was modified even slightly, the dog would spent much longer "investigating" it, allowing the researchers to conclude that it grabbed its interest more than its own pure smell.</p> <p>These results come as confirmation that a paradigm shift is needed when scientists conduct studies regarding animals and especially their behavior - we can no longer afford to apply human-bound standards to animals who use very different sets of sensations to go about their day. Keeping this in mind for the development of future study protocols and for the reworking of some of the already established ones will certainly bring much more interesting and relevant data when we study animals from now on. It will allow us, after all, to truly understand them better.</p> <hr /> <h3>The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><strong><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-2475" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/HurricaneIrma.png" alt="" width="400" height="400" />Hurricanes, Climate Change, and The Week That Was</strong></p> <p>In the US alone, the western half of the country is shrouded in smoke from over 60 wildfires, while the eastern half is either dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose is just doing a loopy-loop out there in the Atlantic. “But Tom… that’s weather” you say. “This is the climate lounge not the weather vestibule", you murmur.  Ahh, but we live in a climate-changed world already. And its fingerprints are all over the place.</p> <p>Hurricanes by themselves don’t necessarily have anything to do with climate change. They are a natural by-product of our spinning planet and warm, moist tropics. Climate change did not CAUSE Harvey or Irma. But that is completely the wrong way to think about it. It’s like reading a book where all the characters are mentioned but at no point do you have any idea of where they are or why they are doing what they are doing. The world in which our natural climate works is one that has been changed by climate change. These storms weren’t caused by climate change, but they were made worse.</p> <p>Let’s start with Harvey. Harvey is one of the wettest storms to have ever impacted the US, if not the wettest. Over 48 inches (1220mm) of rain fell around Houston, Texas, flooding a third of the city. This is after Harvey caused catastrophic damage when it made landfall as a major Category 4 storm with 130mph winds, the first major hurricane to hit the US since 2005. It dropped so much rain because after landfall it stalled, barely moving for several days, opening a firehose of water onto coastal Texas. 3-day rainfall totals in Houston were larger than the previous 65-day wettest period in the city’s history!</p> <p>How did climate change play a part? For one, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, which means heavier rain. It’s a pretty basic equation to determine this. It’s called the Clausius Claperyon equation.  From it, we know that for every 1C of warming, the air can hold 7% more water vapor, which can be turned into rain. But it wasn’t just the air that was warm, but the oceans. The warmer than average oceans also provided a steady supply of water to be squeezed out onto the coast. The warm oceans also helped increase the strength of Harvey since warm water provides the fuel for these heat engines known as hurricanes.</p> <p>The same story goes for Irma. Irma was by some measures the strongest hurricane the Atlantic Ocean has ever seen. It was a category 5 storm with 185mph winds for over 30 hours straight, the longest ever...anywhere on the planet. It took advantage of warmer than average waters throughout the entire tropics, which exist in no small part to our climate-changed planet. One of the big stories with Irma will also be the storm surge. This is basically how much water is pushed by the wind and is calculated by taking the water levels at the shore and subtracting the tide. The storm surge itself may not be impacted by climate change but the sea levels surely are. Rising sea levels along the coast of Florida has already led to Miami flooding during high tide normally. Add a huge storm and you can see places flood that you just normally don’t see flood. And with huge amounts of coastal development… not good.</p> <p>So the next time you hear someone try to say these storms weren’t caused by climate change? Casually remind that is a horrible way of framing the question. Because these events already have happened in a climate-changed world, and climate change made things worse.</p> <hr /> <h3>Pub Quiz</h3> <p>Today's raucous installment of the Pub Quiz resulted in a tie between the two winners! Who were those winners? Who was the spoiler?</p> <p>Have a listen to this episode and find out!</p> <p>Since we have a Pub Quiz we think it's right to give a proper name to our virtual watering hole. Please send in your suggestions to name our pub to podcast@bluestreakscience.com.</p> <hr /> <h3>In Closing</h3> <p>Follow the science!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Brussels; Cambridge; Washington; and San Francisco.</p>
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056: Jumping genes, quantum microscopes, and another clueless Trump administrator
<p>We somehow survived the time change in North America. Seriously, why won't everybody just get on the same page and change time in every country at the same time. Or, perhaps everybody not change the time at all. Either way, in the spirit of international cooperation I propose that we all do it at the same time. Okay? Okay!</p> <hr /> <h3>Science News Roundup with Nevena Hristozova and Ivy Shih</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/du-gm030817.php" target="_blank">"Jumping genes" may set the stage for brain cell death in Alzheimer's, other diseases</a></strong></span><br /> Recent findings by scientists at Duke University have revealed that "jumping genes" may be responsible for the molecular mechanism that causes Alzheimer's Disease.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.nature.com/news/quantum-microscope-offers-mri-for-molecules-1.21573" target="_blank">Quantum microscope offers MRI for molecules</a></strong></span><br /> Diamond-based imaging system uses magnetic resonance of electrons to detect charged atoms and peer at chemical reactions in real time.</p> <hr /> <h3><img class="alignright wp-image-2458" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Scott-PruittAdministrator-of-the-U.S.-Environment-Protection-Agency-1.png" alt="" width="450" height="450" />The Climate Lounge with Tom Di Liberto</h3> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/09/on-climate-change-scott-pruitt-contradicts-the-epas-own-website/?utm_term=.2ecd2f3a3381" target="_blank"><strong>On climate change, Scott Pruitt causes an uproar — and contradicts the EPA’s own website.</strong></a></span></p> <p>Scott Pruitt, in his responses to questions in an interview with the CNBC television network, once again demonstrated that he is unqualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.</p> <hr /> <h3>University of Cambridge Science Festival</h3> <p>Next week JD will be recording the podcast from lovely Cambridge, England!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Sydney; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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055: News Roundup, Climate Lounge, Earliest Life, and Coral Bleaching
<p><img class="alignright wp-image-2439" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/newandimproved.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="453" /></p> <p>Today's episode marks the beginning of a new format.</p> <p>Sophie McManus, Ivy Shih, and Nevena Hristozova will bring us up to speed with the latest science news in our Science News Roundup segment.</p> <p>The single most important science issue of our time is climate change. In our Climate Lounge segment Tom Di Liberto of NOAA will alert us to the latest findings and predictions for this world-changing phenomenon.</p> <p>In future episodes we will be interviewing scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, from field herpetologists to infectious disease specialists. There is a world full of science stories out there and we will bring them directly to you from the scientists themselves.</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2122016-worst-ever-coral-bleaching-event-continues-into-fourth-year/" target="_blank">Worst ever coral bleaching event continues into fourth year</a></span></strong><br /> Will the Great Barrier Reef have enough time to recover? Or will climate change doom this World Heritage Site?</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/are-these-the-earth-s-earliest-lifeforms" target="_blank">Are these the Earth's earliest lifeforms?</a></span></strong><br /> Possible evidence that life began on Earth in a geologic instant after its formation. Really?</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2121979-exercise-reduces-death-from-breast-cancer-relapse-by-40-per-cent/" target="_blank">Exercise reduces death from breast cancer relapse by 40 per cent</a></span></strong><br /> This miracle drug is good for what ails ya. It's everywhere and it's free!</p> <hr /> <h3>Climate Lounge</h3> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://mashable.com/2017/02/23/february-heat-records/#VTuIHFfPY5q0" target="_blank">Why is it so fricking hot?</a></span></strong><br /> Hot enough for ya? What is really going on here?</p> <p>Tom Di Liberto of NOAA walks us through the data on the latest heat wave.</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from San Francisco; Cambridge; Sydney; Washington; and Brussels.</p>
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054: Alien Species! Huge Volcanic Eruptions! Trump's Travel Ban!
<h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <p>Loyal listener Sam Danby, an Englishman living in Norway, was the first listener to get the answer correct when he answered with: <strong>(insert answer here).</strong></p> <p>What? You thought we'd reveal the answer here in the show notes? As if!</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style= "color: #ff0000; text-decoration: underline;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23331110-600-how-new-zealand-hopes-to-get-rid-of-its-pests/" target="_blank">The great extermination: How New Zealand will end alien species</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The government of New Zealand is embarking on an ambitious project to rid the country of many alien invasive species, particular predators, by 2050.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Project is called Predator Free 2050 and if successful it would eradicate the introduced species of rats, stoats and possums nation-wide in just 33 years.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://phys.org/news/2017-01-fossilised-tree-ice-cores-date.html" target="_blank">Fossilised tree and ice cores help date huge volcanic eruption 1,000 years ago to within three months</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">From Phys.org on 24 January, a fascinating story of scientific detective work that utilizes clues from a variety of disciplines.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">An international team of researchers have determined, to within three months, a medieval volcanic eruption in east Asia. They have also shown that the so-called "Millennium eruption" of Changbaishan volcano, one of the largest in history, cannot have brought about the downfall of an important 10th century kingdom, as was previously thought.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/01/scientists-retrieve-80-million-year-old-dinosaur-protein-milestone-paper" target="_blank">Scientists retrieve 80-million-year-old dinosaur protein in ‘milestone’ paper</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Two new studies suggest that it is possible to isolate protein fragments from dino­saurs much further back in time than ever thought possible.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">One study, led by Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist from North Carolina State University in Raleigh who has chased dinosaur proteins for de­cades, confirms her highly controversial claim to have recovered 80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The other paper suggests that protein may even have sur­vived in a 195-million-year-old dino fossil.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2119910-trumps-travel-ban-is-already-stopping-scientific-collaboration/" target="_blank">Trump’s travel ban is already stopping scientific collaboration</a></strong></span><br /> L<span style="font-weight: 400;">ast week</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">President Donald Trump signed an executive order that denies Syrian refugees entry to the US, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocks citizens of seven countries from entering the US for at least 90 days.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Those affected by the travel ban include scientists, some of whom are speaking out about how the order will affect their work and the broader scientific community.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And I do have an update on this article. The ban has been temporarily stayed by a federal judge in the state of Washington and the decision is now being considered by the 9th Circuit Court.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wetlands-can-help-fight-climate-change/" target="_blank">Wetlands Can Help Fight Climate Change</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Coastal wetlands are among the best marine ecosystems to fight climate change, new research confirms. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">A study </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">published this week in the journal</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">compared the carbon sequestration potential of a handful of marine ecosystems and found that mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows have the greatest impact on climate change.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.nature.com/news/physicists-doubt-bold-report-of-metallic-hydrogen-1.21379" target="_blank">Physicists doubt bold report of metallic hydrogen</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Two physicists say that they have crushed hydrogen under such immense pressures that the gas became a shiny metal — a feat that physicists have been trying to accomplish for more than 80 years. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">But other researchers have serious doubts about the claim, the latest in a field with a long history of failed attempts.</span></p> <hr /> <h3>Pub Quiz!</h3> <p>Enjoy your favorite adult beverage while we test the brain trust of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p>Please, no wagering.</p> <hr /> <h3>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from North America, Great Britain, and Australia.</h3>
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053: March For Science
<p>As scientists and people who value science we are too often reluctant to brave the maelstrom of politics. It drains us of energy and time, resources that are in everlastingly short supply. We value our reputations as open-minded and neutral arbiters for evidence, so taking sides on political issues just doesn't feel right.</p> <p>But why does the current situation make us so angry and unnerved?</p> <p>It distresses us because we are passionate about science!</p> <p>As scientists and scientific thinkers we understand that we must be dispassionate about the data. However, that requisite detachment is limited only to the evidence. Science itself, the vocation, the way of thinking, the calling, permeates our lives and our existence. If there ever was anything worthy of fighting for it is science and reason.</p> <p>Here's our chance to get out of the lab and on to the streets.</p> <p>On Earth Day, 22 April will be the March For Science. Mark you calendars and make your reservations early.</p> <p>It's game on!</p> <div class="o-article_block pb-15 pb-5@m- o-subtle_divider"> <div class="grid@tl+"> <div class="grid@tl+__cell col-8-of-12@tl+"> <div class="article-text c-gray-1"> <p>The main march will be held in Washington, D.C., but satellite demonstrations will take place worldwide. These protests give us an opportunity to collectively voice our opposition to the silencing of scientists, funding freezes, and other White House attempts to censor climate science. The demonstrations also represent a broader call for politicians to make decisions based on evidence, rather than ideology or corporate agendas.</p> <p>From the March for Science website:</p> <div class="shadow-box-blue"> <blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 16px;">The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The politicization of science, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.</span></p> <p class="main--text__accent"><span style="font-size: 16px;">ON APRIL 22, 2017, WE WALK OUT OF THE LAB AND INTO THE STREETS.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 16px;">We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march. Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels - from local schools to federal agencies - throughout the world.</span></p> </blockquote> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="js-notMobileReferredByFbTw"> <div class= "o-article_block pb-15 pb-5@m- mt-n35 mt-n25@m mt-n15@s"> <div class="grid@tl+"> <div class="full-width@tp- grid@tl+__cell col-8-of-12@tl+"> <div class="article-text c-gray-1 no-review"> <p>ScienceDebate.org is the fiscal sponsor of The Science March. Science needs your support. Any donation would help.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <p>Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down, and play the What The Hell Was That Game!</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <div class="mceTemp"> <dl id="attachment_2379" class="wp-caption alignright" style= "width: 360px;"> <dt class="wp-caption-dt"><a href= "http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=137908&picture=folsom-lake-susza-84" target="_blank"><img class="wp-image-2379 size-medium" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/folsom-lake-drought-84-350x263.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="263" /></a></dt> <dd class="wp-caption-dd">Folsom Lake, 2015</dd> </dl> </div> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2017/01/25/before-and-after-the-rains-impact-on-three-california-reservoirs/"> Before and After: The Rain's Impact on Three California Reservoirs</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">On more than one occasion I’ve made reference to the severe drought we’ve been experiencing here in California.  </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">But we’ve had a little rain this winter, which is our normal rain and snow season.  </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">And by “a little rain” I mean a lot of rain, and crazy snowfall in the mountains.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Current statistical reports on rainfall and the water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack show that so far, we’re in the midst of one of the wettest California rainy seasons on record.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">All the precipitation has transformed a state that suffered through five years of severe drought.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most visible effects: high levels of the state’s major reservoirs. Ah, but the drought isn't quite over yet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Still, what a difference a few drops of rain make!</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/nmmf-iea011717.php"> International Effort Announced to Save the World's Most Endangered Marine Mammal</a></span></strong><br /> There’s species of porpoise in Mexico called the vaquita, but sadly there are less than 60 of them left.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">n emergency plan to help save this lovely little porpoise from extinction in the northern Gulf of California has been recommended by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita.</span></p> <div class="mceTemp"> <dl id="attachment_2370" class="wp-caption alignright" style= "width: 360px;"> <dt class="wp-caption-dt"><img class="size-medium wp-image-2370" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/vaquita-350x229.jpg" alt="https://www.flickr.com/photos/semarnat/5931901236" width="350" height="229" /></dt> <dd class="wp-caption-dd">Vaquita</dd> </dl> </div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The plan involves relocating some of the remaining vaquitas to a temporary sanctuary, while crucial efforts aimed at eliminating threats from their environment continue.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For more information about this plan to save this wonderful creature please go to:</span> <a href= "vaquitaCPR.org"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">VaquitaCPR.org</span></a><span style= "font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://phys.org/news/2017-01-mechanism-tsunamis-tracks.html">Researcher Proposes Novel Mechanism to Stop Tsunamis In Their Tracks</a></span></strong><br /> Devastating tsunamis could be halted before hitting coastlines by firing deep-ocean sound waves at the oncoming mass of water. That’s according to Dr Usama Kadri, from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He believes that lives could ultimately be saved by using acoustic-gravity waves (AGW) against tsunamis that are triggered by earthquakes, landslides and other violent geological events. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">AGWs are naturally occurring sounds waves that move through the</span> <a href= "https://phys.org/tags/deep+ocean/"><span style= "font-weight: 400;">deep ocean</span></a> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">at the speed of sound and can travel thousands of meters below the surface.</span></p> <p>Is this a plausible idea, or is it sharks with frickin' laser beams?</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/uob-rvr011917.php"> Rabies Viruses Reveal Wiring In Transparent Brains</a></span></strong><br /> <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1005" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/brain-350x292.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="292" /><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bonn have harnessed rabies viruses for assessing the connectivity of nerve cell transplants: coupled with a green fluorescent protein, the viruses show where replacement cells engrafted into mouse brains have connected to the host neural network.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A clearing procedure which turns the brain into a 'glass-like state' and light sheet fluorescence microscopy are used to visualize host-graft connections in a whole-brain preparation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The approach opens exciting prospects for predicting and optimizing the ability of neural transplants to functionally integrate into a host nervous system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The results have now been published in the journal</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Nature Communications</span></em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <hr /> <h3>Pub Quiz!</h3> <p>Stop! Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three (plus seventeen), ere the other side he see.</p> <p>How did Tom and Sophie do? Did they make it to the other side, or were they cast into the Gorge of Damnation?</p> <p>Uh, I don't know that!</p> <p>AHHHHHHhhhhhhh!!!!</p> <hr /> <h3>Shout-outs and Acknowledgments</h3> <p><strong>March for Science!</strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The science community in the United States, under threat from a new Presidential Administration whose prides itself on willful ignorance, is speaking out. The time for silence is ended. </span></p> <p>And now, the March for Science. Upon its inception on 23 January this idea grew quickly to over 800,000 members of their Facebook group, and 300,000 followers on Twitter.</p> <p>This movement emerged as a response to the Trump administration’s stifling of scientists and the outright hostility to open scientific inquiry.</p> <p>The March for Science website states that they are a “diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.”</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The date for the march is <del>not yet set, but are awaiting word.</del> 22 APRIL, 2017! We'll be sure to inform you on the next episode of this podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We encourage you to join us as we support the many Marches for Science that will be held around the world.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></p> <p><a href="http://www.twitter.com/sciencemarchdc">March for Science on Twitter</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.marchforscience.com">March For Science Website</a></p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, California; and Cambridge, England.</p>
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052: Earth Sets Another Temperature Record, Scientists Reprogram Embryonic Stem Cells, Women's March on Washington
<p>2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in so many ways. Basic research is suffering funding cuts, government agencies are being silenced, and changes in immigration laws threaten to drive away our best and brightest scientists.</p> <p>Yet suddenly there has emerged a glimmer of hope.</p> <p>The Women's March on Washington started on social media with those words so important in scientific inquiry, "What if?". What followed was a groundswell the likes of which have never been seen in the United States. In a few short weeks this idea morphed into the largest demonstration in the history of the nation, dwarfing the Presidential inauguration held one day prior.</p> <p>A few weeks ago some asked that question again on social media, this time about science. Once more the reaction was breathtaking in its speed and immensity. In just one day the March for Science Twitter account gained over 100,000 followers. Just a few days later it stands at nearly 300,000 followers.</p> <p>The science community, not known for its activism, is planning a march on Washington, D.C..  The date has yet to be set, but the interest is strong.</p> <p>Watch this space, and science on.</p> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <p>Seriously, what the hell was that? An ape, a reptile, or indigestion? Have a listen!</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/uoc--sre011317.php"> Scientists reprogram embryonic stem cells to expand their potential cell fate</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">UC Berkeley researchers found that by blocking a specific microRNA, pluripotent stem cells can regain the ability to become extra-embryonic tissue, providing a way to expand the developmental potential of iPC cells with implications for regenerative medicine and stem cell-based therapies.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/science/earth-highest-temperature-record.html?_r=0"> Earth sets a temperature record for the third straight year</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">For the third year in a row, the Earth has set a record for warmth, according to three analyses just released from three government agencies. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">The findings were released just two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back Barack Obama’s efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The planet's mean surface temperature in 2016 was 0.99 degrees Celsius above the late 20th-century average, topping the previous record set in 2015 of 0.87 degrees above average, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">Gadget boom sees e-waste in Asia spike 63 per cent in 5 years</span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">A United Nations University report found the amount of e-waste in Asia has risen by 63% in just five years.</span></p> <p>The report warns of the need to improve recycling and disposal methods across the region to prevent serious environmental and health consequences.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/16/british-antarctic-survey-abandons-polar-base-worrying-crack/"> British Antarctic Survey abandons polar base worrying crack grows in ice</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">S</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">cientists at the British Antarctic Survey are abandoning their research station for the first time ever this winter after a new worrying crack developed in the ice sheet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The renowned Halley VI ice base, from which the</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">hole in the ozone layer</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">was first detected, was already scheduled to be relocated</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">14 miles across the Brunt Ice Shelf</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">because of an encroaching fissure in the ice. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">But a new crack has been steadily growing to the north of the base, and computer modeling suggests that it could cause a large iceberg to calve away from the sheet, which could destabilize the area.</span></p> <hr /> <h3>Game Segment</h3> <p>Pub Quiz! Tom starts strong, but on the home stretch Sophie begins to close the gap. Who'll cross the finish line first?</p> <hr /> <h3>Shout-outs and Acknowledgments</h3> <p><strong>Women's March on Washington</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An historic event took place in Washington, D.C. last week.</span></p> <p>The Women’s March on Washington.</p> <p>Hundreds of other sister marches took place around the world.</p> <p>The goal of this march wass to "send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights."</p> <p>It was estimated that over 200,000 people could participate in this important statement of solidarity and democracy. As it turns out, estimates of attendance in Washington were about 500,000 people.</p> <p>According to an article in Fortune Magazine the nationwide total attendance of this march range from 3.3 million to 4.6 million. <span style="font-weight: 400;">No other single protest event comes even close to this number in the history of the republic.</span></p> <p>Are we witnessing the beginning of a new populist movement?</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from California, Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, England.</p>
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051: It's 2017!
<p>Tom Di Liberto and JD Goodwin attempt to steer the U.S.S. Blue Streak (DD-981) into the New Year while the rest of the crew is on shore leave. Set sea and anchor detail, we're on our way!</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/real-life-red-nosed-reindeer-faces-climate-change-threats/"> <img class="alignright size-full wp-image-2346" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/HappyNewYear2017.jpg" alt="happynewyear2017" width="450" height="450" />Run, run Rudolph!</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Way up in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, not too far from where Santa Claus is currently having a well-deserved rest, a thin layer of soil above the permafrost thaws for just three months each year.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">When it does, the tundra verily bursts into bloom.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The flowers are a favorite food of the Peary caribou,</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">Rangifer tarandus pearyi</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is a rather small, white-bearded subspecies of reindeer. With their noses stained red from the flowers of purple saxifrage, they are truly red-nosed reindeer, at least in the summer.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">But foraging for flowers under summer’s midnight sun is a short-lived luxury.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finding food in winter has always been harder, and climate change is only making the problem worse.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/us/california-climate-change-jerry-brown-donald-trump.html"> California, at Forefront of Climate Fight, Won’t Back Down to Trump</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Foreign governments concerned about climate change may soon be spending more time dealing with Sacramento than Washington. </span>Donald Trump has packed his cabinet with nominees who dispute the science of global warming. He has signaled he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. And he has belittled the notion of global warming and attacked policies intended to combat it.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But California — a state that has for 50 years been a leader in environmental advocacy — is about to step unto the breach.</span></p> <p>We discuss this article in the New York Times written by Adam Nagourney and Henry Fountain.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href="http://phys.org/news/2016-11-theory-gravity-dark.html">New theory of gravity might explain dark matter</a></strong></span></p> <p>Fighting above our weight class, Tom and JD do their best to knock out this interesting, but oh so-hard-to-wrap-one's-brain-around topic. We went the distance. Now it's up to the judges scores.</p> <hr /> <h3>Shout-outs and Acknowledgments</h3> <p><strong>Vera Rubin</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On December 25, Vera Rubin, o</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">ne of the world’s great astrophysicists died at the age of 88.</span> She discovered actual evidence of dark matter.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 60’s and 70’s she, along with astronomer Kent Ford, discovered that the stars on the outside of spiral galaxies were moving as fast as the inboard stars.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rubin, a strong advocate for women in science, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and awarded the National Medal of Science. </span></p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Washington, D.C., and Santa Rosa, California.</p>
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050: Happy Holidays!
<p>Chestnuts are roasting on a something-something, Jack Frost is nipping at whatever. Yes, it's that time of year!</p> <p>Keep your Xmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa because there's Festivus for the rest of us. Let us sit around the aluminium Festivus Pole and tells stories of Festivi past. Feats of Strength, Airing of the Grievances, and peculiar feasts.</p> <p>It's a Festivus Miracle, boys and girls!</p> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <p>Have a listen to this week's WTHWT!</p> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2F2bqPEqC_ofI" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/2bqPEqC_ofI?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/s-dhc121516.php">Dental hygiene, caveman style</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Unlike the fictional character Austin Powers, it seems that humans living more than a million years ago in northern Spain had some idea of dental hygiene.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The authors of this study, published in The Science of Nature, </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">made this discovery by examining some of the earliest ancient hominin fragments ever found in Europe. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">These fragments, discovered in Sima del Elefante, Spain, are about 1.2 million years old.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/07/thousands-of-snow-geese-die-in-montana-after-landing-on-contaminated-water"> Thousands of snow geese die in Montana after landing on contaminated water</a><a href= "https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/07/thousands-of-snow-geese-die-in-montana-after-landing-on-contaminated-water"><img class="alignright wp-image-2334 size-medium" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/snowgeese-350x263.jpg" alt="https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/25511417264" width="350" height="263" /></a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">On 28 November a huge flock of snow geese flying south encountered a body of water in Butte, Mont.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">However, this wasn’t an ordinary pond. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was the 280 hectare Berkeley Pit, a former mine now submerged in water as acidic as distilled vinegar.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2116364-woman-gives-birth-thanks-to-ovary-removed-when-she-was-8/"> Woman gives birth thanks to ovary removed when she was a child</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">A woman in the UK is thought to be the first person in the world to have given birth after having the ovary removed and cryopreserved before she entered puberty. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">She was eight years old when she had her ovary removed before having chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant for the inherited blood disorder Beta Thalassaemia.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://time.com/4592866/greenland-ice-sea-level-rise-climate-change/"> New studies suggest Greenland's ice sheet could melt far faster than currently thought</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">From Time.com, s</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">cientists find that rocks in Greenland now buried under 3,000 meters of ice were ice-free for long periods of time during the past 1.4 million years. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">This has led the scientists to predict that the Greenland Ice Sheet could melt much more rapidly than previously understood.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Current projections for sea level rise over the next few centuries would have to be revised upward, way upward, and that includes the recent predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a new study published last week in the journal Nature.</span></p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Pub Quiz</h3> <p>The Blue Streak team is on fire as they demolish this week's questions! Join in the fun, but you gotta be quick!</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from North America, Great Britain, and Australia.</p>
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049: Virtual liver model, extreme tornadoes, and melting permafrost!
<p><img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-2326" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/tweettrump-350x160.png" alt="tweettrump" width="350" height="160" /></p> <p>Holiday shopping? Get your priorities in order! You can put that off until the last minute because you must now listen to episode 49.  Join Sophie, Tom, and JD as we discuss the science stories of the week and play stupid games!</p> <p> </p> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <p>Have a listen to this week's WTHWT!</p> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FcFWA4lHQncs" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/cFWA4lHQncs?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/iu-vlm112916.php"><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2320" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/virtualliver-350x261.jpg" alt="virtualliver" width="350" height="261" />Virtual liver model could help reduce overdose risk from acetaminophen, other drugs</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Researchers at Indiana University's Biocomplexity Institute have developed a virtual model of the human liver to better understand how the organ metabolizes acetaminophen (paracetamol), a common non-prescription painkiller and fever-reducer used in over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-tornado-outbreaks-are-becoming-more-extreme/"> Extreme tornado outbreaks are becoming more extreme</a></strong></span><br /> Outbreaks of tornadoes—where multiple tornadoes form over an area in just a few hours or days—are responsible for most of the devastating destruction caused by severe weather, and a new analysis has reached a worrying conclusion about the worst of these outbreaks.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114761-worlds-first-city-to-power-its-water-needs-with-sewage-energy/"> World’s first city to power its water needs with sewage energy</a></strong></span><br /> A city in Denmark is about to become the first in the world to provide most of its citizens with fresh water using only the energy created from household wastewater and sewage.</p> <p class="article-header__title t_article-title"><span style= "color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/melting-permafrost-could-affect-weather-worldwide/"> Melting Permafrost Could Affect Weather Worldwide</a></strong></span><br /> Melting permafrost is causing significant changes to the freshwater chemistry and hydrology of Alaska’s Yukon River and could be triggering global climate impacts, according to a recently released U.S. Geological Survey report.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114775-uks-first-three-parent-babies-likely-to-be-conceived-in-2017/"> UK’s first three-parent babies likely to be conceived in 2017</a></strong></span><br /> Women whose children are doomed to develop fatal mitochondrial diseases should have a chance of having healthy babies come the new year. Methods for replacing the abnormal mitochondria in their eggs might not always work, but are safer than existing techniques for selecting embryos and so should be allowed, says a key scientific report.</p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Pub Quiz</h3> <p>Sophie and Tom were killin' it today!</p> <hr /> <h3><a href="http://www.bluestreakscience.com/cafe">Science Cafe'</a></h3> <p>Join Nevena and JD every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00AM Pacific for your daily dose of coffee and science.</p> <hr /> <p>The Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from North America, Great Britain, and Australia.</p>
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048: Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season
<p>It just keeps getting better! The process of sorting through the week's science, reading up on it and then talking about it is the best part of doing the Blue Streak Science Podcast. And it's such a privilege to bring this to you, our wonderful audience. We hope you enjoy the show.</p> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2F9EFeGv1eBJI" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/9EFeGv1eBJI?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This recording comes to us courtesy of the YouTube channel “The Voice of Nature”. Thank you! Please click the YouTube link to check out "The Voice of Nature" channel. </span></p> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6314/900">A Synthetic Metabolic Pathway That Fixes Carbon Dioxide</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Typically when we think about reducing atmospheric CO2 we look to reducing energy use or going toward non-polluting carbon neutral resources like solar, wind, or geothermal energy.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">What we don’t often consider is utilizing plants to do the job.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The problem is that plants are really slow and inefficient at doing this, and aren’t able to keep pace with humankind’s capacity to foul up the atmosphere.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What if we could make plants more efficient, artificially?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An article from Phys.org this week discusses the recently published  paper in the journal</span> <a href= "http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6314/900"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Science</span></em></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">by a German research team led by</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Tobias Erb at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This paper demonstrates</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">the feasibility of</span> fixing CO2 <span style="font-weight: 400;">using an</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">artificial</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">type of photosynthesis that the team developed.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/dna-collected-seawater-may-solve-mysteries-about-world-s-largest-fish"> <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2307" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/whalesharktinypng-350x233.jpg" alt="whalesharktinypng" width="350" height= "233" /></a></span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/dna-collected-seawater-may-solve-mysteries-about-world-s-largest-fish"> DNA collected from seawater may solve mysteries about whale shark</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Imagine a little kid at a beach somewhere.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">She takes her bucket and fills it with water and then pours it through a sieve, or perhaps she swishes a small net through the water, catching any number of small invertebrates, small fish, just about anything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides beginning a career as a marine biologist what she is doing is taken an inventory of the water that passed through her net.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">At this stage she has no way of knowing that her inventory is limited by the size of the holes in that net. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, when she grows up she’ll have a much more powerful tool to learn about what’s in our oceans.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">DNA, in this case environmental DNA or eDNA</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seawater contains molecular evidence of the plants and animals that inhabit our oceans—tiny pieces of skin and scales, body waste, or any other cellular debris they slough off. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just like a crime scene, organisms can’t but help leaving a trace of themselves behind.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When our future marine biologist sequences that eDNA she can figure out exactly what’s living in a given volume of water, without ever having to see or locate the creature which kindly donated it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In August 2007 an oil worker in the Persian Gulf saw something remarkable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And our discussion begins.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2016/11/25/alex-to-otto-2016-was-the-year-long-hurricane-season/#b374ca8677e7"> <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2312" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Hurricane_daniel_2006-1-350x350.jpg" alt="hurricane_daniel_2006-1" width="350" height= "350" /></a></strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2016/11/25/alex-to-otto-2016-was-the-year-long-hurricane-season/#b374ca8677e7"> Alex to Otto, 2016 was the year long hurricane season</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">What starts with an “A” and ends with an “O”, is from the tropics, made us nervous from June to December, and often left a big mess wherever he or she went?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Answer: The 2016 Hurricane Season</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://scienceblog.com/490043/mutant-protein-linked-spread-lung-cancer-within-body/"> A mutated protein is responsible for the migration of lung cancer cells and metastasis</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Lung cancer. That’s a truly scary thought.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">It should be. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Because more often than not, a diagnosis is made</span> <em><span style= "font-weight: 400;">after</span></em> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">it has metastasized to other parts of the body. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">This makes lung cancer very difficult to eradicate and is a big reason why it’s the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a new study led by University of California San Francisco scientists, lung cancer’s ability to spread is often because of the inactivation of a single protective protein within the tumor cells.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114056-brain-stimulation-guides-people-through-an-invisible-maze/"> Brain stimulation guides people through an invisible maze</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">You’re stuck in a maze.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">You can’t see the walls, or the floor.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">All you have to navigate is a device on your head stimulating your brain to tell you which way to go.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In an experiment at the University of Washington in Seattle, participants solved a maze puzzle guided only by</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">transcranial magnetic stimulation</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">(TMS).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The findings suggest that this type of brain prompt could be used to augment virtual reality experiences or help give people who are blind “visual” information about their surroundings.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/21/things-are-getting-weird-in-the-polar-regions/?utm_term=.474c2c1fa27e"> Things are getting weird in the polar regions</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Extraordinarily warm temperatures continue in the Arctic — we’re talking temperatures tens of degrees Fahrenheit above normal for this time of year in some locations. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Arctic sea ice is responding as one would expect in this strangely warm late autumn</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Antarctic sea ice on 19 November also represented a record low for this time of year, based on data from National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.</span></p> <hr /> <h3>Pub Quiz</h3> <p>Join us for twenty questions and a pint! Or is that twenty pints and a question? Who cares!</p> <hr /> <h3>Shout-outs and Acknowledgments</h3> <p><strong>Blue Streak Science Cafe'</strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Join Nevena and JD on the Blue Streak Science Cafe’.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you watch the cafe, you can try to guess how long JD has been awake before he turns on the camera. Make a game out of it. Fun for the entire family!</span></p> <p>Please, no wagering.</p> <hr /> <p>This Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Belgium, Australia, and the United States.</p>
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047: COP22, Dinosaur-killing asteroids, Pub Quiz and so much more!
<p>The atmosphere during COP22 was decidedly gloomy after the result of the US election. One would expect the mood to only get worse as the realization that the United States elected a President who considers climate change to be a worldwide conspiracy created by the Chinese, and promised to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. </p> <p>Our host Tom Di Liberto, who attended COP22 in Marrakech, informs us that there was a change of mood after the initial shock. Despair was soon replaced by an attitude of resistance and a resolve to fight this new threat to the world.</p> <p>Join us for this discussion, and the rest of episode 47 of the Blue Streak Science Podcast!</p> <hr /> <h3>What The Hell Was That?</h3> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FslE2i0O0pDY" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/slE2i0O0pDY?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <hr /> <h3>Blue Streak Science News Roundup</h3> <p>These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.</p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><img class= "alignright size-medium wp-image-2283" src= "http://www.bluestreakscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/dinosaurasteroid-350x350.jpg" alt="dinosaurasteroid" width="350" height="350" />Dinosaur-killing asteroid turned planet Earth inside-out</span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">From New Scientist on 17 November. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">An expedition to the Chicxulub Crater at the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has drawn a new timeline of how the cataclysmic impact that</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">probably killed the dinosaurs</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">happened.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The article also explains how this impact may have carved out new niches in which life could flourish, even in the face of utter destruction.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong>An Unreliable Sink: how much longer can the Southern Ocean delay global warming?</strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The waters of the world’s oceans have been absorbing the excesses of humankind for many decades; from billions of tons of plastic pollution, chemical pollution, all the way to the CO2 exhalations of our civilization.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Much of the heat generated by the burning of coal and other fossil fuels gets absorbed up by the oceans, too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 16 November issue of the journal Nature is an article titled “</span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">How much longer can Antarctica’s hostile ocean delay global warming?” </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">This article takes a deep look at past and present research of the Southern Ocean to see if its waters will continue doing us the favor of moderating global warming, and will it continue doing so in the future.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;"><a style="color: #ff0000;" href="http://phys.org/news/2016-11-fiji-ants-farm.html">Fiji Ants Are Plant Farmers</a></span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m sure some of you have heard of different species of ant and termites that farm fungi.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">But now, for the first time ever researchers have observed and documented ants farming plants in a mutually beneficial relationship.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">From Phys.org on 21November, t</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">he ant – known as</span> <em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Philidris nagasau</span></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">– grows and harvests fruit plants that grow on the branches of various trees.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">Geneticists hope to unlock secrets of bats’ complex song</span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">From Nature on 18 November. A project called Bat 1K was recently announced at the</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California.</span> <span style= "font-weight: 400;">Its organizers hope to learn how bats’ learn their songs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yes, they sing, but most of the time their melodies are out of human hearing range. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The researchers also want to learn about bats’ ability to navigate in the dark through echolocation, and how their strong immune systems that can tolerate Ebola so well</span></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #ff0000;">US launches GOES-R weather satellite</span></strong><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Again, from the journal Nature we have news of the launch of a satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The article was dated on 14 November and the launch was scheduled for Saturday 19 November, which was last Saturday.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m pleased to report that the launch was a resounding success.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What exactly did they put into orbit?</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Only</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">the most scientifically capable weather satellite the United States has ever launched, that’s what.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From 35,800 kilometres above the earth and nearly a tenth of the way to the moon — the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is going to take pictures of weather and atmospheric phenomena as they roll across North America.</span></p> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FFDhJYgcHDX8" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/FDhJYgcHDX8?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "http://thescienceexplorer.com/nature/worrying-traces-resistant-bacteria-detected-beijing-air"> Worrying Traces of Resistant Bacteria Detected in Beijing Air</a></strong></span><br /> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From The Science Explorer.com on 21 November. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Polluted air in Beijing has now been identified as a possible means of transmission for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Researchers have shown that air samples from the city contain DNA from genes that make bacteria resistant to the most powerful antibiotics we currently possess.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Air pollutions itself kills many ten of thousands of people without the help of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Now we have these superbugs in the air, too? </span></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><strong><a style="color: #ff0000;" href= "https://www.newscientist.com/article/2113145-watch-some-of-the-most-endangered-seals-caught-napping-underwater/"> Watch some of the most endangered seals caught napping underwater</a></strong></span><br /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">From New Scientist on 17 November.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Some of the most endangered seals in the world, Mediterranean Monk seals,</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">have been caught on video</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">snoozing underwater.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There were six separate observations of seals sleeping at sea from 2011 to 2016, across different Greek coastlines. </span><span style= "font-weight: 400;">In most cases, the seals were documented by speargun fishers who happened upon them at depths of approximately 7 meters or shallower.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here's a terrific video of a sleeping monk seal that New Scientist has put up on YouTube.</span></p> <div class="wpview wpview-wrap" contenteditable="false" data-wpview-text="https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2Futgt5zGMm8A" data-wpview-type="embedURL"><iframe src= "https://www.youtube.com/embed/utgt5zGMm8A?feature=oembed" width= "500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen= ""></iframe></div> <hr /> &l