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Ancient volcanic eruptions, and peer pressure—from robots

Several thousand years ago the volcano under Santorini in Greece—known as Thera—erupted in a tremendous explosion, dusting the nearby Mediterranean civilizations of Crete and Egypt in a layer of white ash. This geological marker could be used to tie together many ancient historical events, but the estimated date could be off by a century. Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a new study that used tree rings to calibrate radiocarbon readings—and get closer to pinning down a date. The findings also suggest that scientists may need to change their standard radiocarbon dating calibration curve. Sarah also talks to Tony Belpaeme of Ghent University in Belgium and Plymouth University in the United Kingdom about his Science Robotics paper that explored whether people are susceptible to peer pressure from robots. Using a classic psychological measure of peer influence, the team found that kids from ages 7 to 9 occasionally gave in to social pressure from robot peers, but adults did not. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy, with help from Meagan Cantwell. Listen to previous podcasts. About the Science Podcast [Image: Softbank Robotics; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

16 August 2018: Bumblebees, opioids, and ocean weather

This week, more worries for bees, modelling the opioid crisis, and rough weather for seas.

Doubts about the drought that kicked off our latest geological age, and a faceoff between stink bugs with samurai wasps

We now live in the Meghalayan age—the last age of the Holocene epoch. Did you get the memo? A July decision by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for naming geological time periods, divided the Holocene into three ages: the Greenlandian, the Northgrippian, and the Meghalayan. The one we live in—the Meghalayan age (pronounced “megalion”)—is pegged to a global drought thought to have happened some 4200 years ago. But many critics question the timing of this latest age and the global expanse of the drought. Staff writer Paul Voosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about the evidence for and against the global drought—and what it means if it’s wrong. Sarah also talks to staff writer Kelly Servick about her feature story on what happens when biocontrol goes out of control. Here’s the setup: U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers wanted to know whether brown marmorated stink bugs that have invaded the United States could be controlled—aka killed—by importing their natural predators, samurai wasps, from Asia. But before they could find out, the wasps showed up anyway. Kelly discusses how using one species to combat another can go wrong—or right—and what happens when the situation outruns regulators. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Melissa McMasters/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] 

8 August 2018: Fox aggression, microbiota and geoengineering

This week, shaping the gut microbiota, geoengineering’s effect on farming, and the genetics of fox aggression.

Cell Size and Scale

cool toy for getting a feeling for sizes in cellular biology, from a coffee bean down to a carbon atom.
Reposted bysofiascarpetcrawlerp-093-read

How our brains may have evolved for language, and clues to what makes us leaders—or followers

Yes, humans are the only species with language, but how did we acquire it? New research suggests our linguistic prowess might arise from the same process that brought domesticated dogs big eyes and bonobos the power to read others’ intent. Online News Editor Catherine Matacic joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about how humans might have self-domesticated themselves, leading to physical and behavioral changes that gave us a “language-ready” brain. Sarah also talks with Micah Edelson of the University of Zurich in Switzerland about his group’s research into the role that “responsibility aversion”—the reluctance to make decisions for a group—might play when people decide to lead or defer in a group setting. In their experiments, the team found that some people adjusted how much risk they would take on, depending on whether they were deciding for themselves alone or for the entire group. The ones who didn’t—those who stuck to the same plan whether others were involved or not—tended to score higher on standardized tests of leadership and have held higher military rank. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Scaly breasted munia/Ravi Vaidyanathan; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

02 August 2018: Zebra finch colour perception, terraforming Mars, and attributing extreme weather

This week, how a bird sees colour, potential problems with terraforming Mars, and linking extreme weather to our changing climate.

Liquid water on Mars, athletic performance in transgender women, and the lost colony of Roanoke

Billions of years ago, Mars probably hosted many water features: streams, rivers, gullies, etc. But until recently, water detected on the Red Planet was either locked up in ice or flitting about as a gas in the atmosphere. Now, researchers analyzing radar data from the Mars Express mission have found evidence for an enormous salty lake under the southern polar ice cap of Mars. Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss how the water was found and how it can still be liquid—despite temperatures and pressures typically inhospitable to water in its liquid form. Read the research. Sarah also talks with science journalist Katherine Kornei about her story on changing athletic performance after gender transition. The feature profiles researcher Joanna Harper on the work she has done to understand the impacts of hormone replacement therapy and testosterone levels in transgender women involved in running and other sports. It turns out within a year of beginning hormone replacement therapy, transgender women plateau at their new performance level and stay in a similar rank with respect to the top performers in the sport. Her work has influenced sports oversight bodies like the International Olympic Committee. In this month’s book segment, Jen Golbeck interviews Andrew Lawler about his book The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Next month’s book will be The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie. Write us at sciencepodcast@aaas.org or tweet to us @sciencemagazine with your questions for the authors. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Henry Howe; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

26 July 2018: Conservation, automata, and pet DNA tests

This week, automata through the ages, problems with pet DNA tests, and a conservation conundrum.

We Finally Know How Birds Can See Earth's Magnetic Field

nanonaturalist:

myfrogcroaked:

A special eye protein is helping birds to “see” Earth’s magnetic field! If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

The ability to see Earth’s magnetic field, known as magnetoreception, relies on the presence of specifically the blue wavelength of light. The complex process involves “radical” intermediate molecules which are sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field. The Earth’s magnetic field, as it relates to the direction the bird is facing, could alter the intermediate radical molecules differently, giving the bird a sense for where it is facing in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field.

While the exact way birds visualize Earth’s magnetic field is part of further investigation, scientists believe the Cry4 protein acts as sort of a filter over the bird’s vision. This filter would allow birds to see a sort of compass of the Earth and direct their migratory flights accordingly.

Source: Forbes

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Reposted fromplan9 plan9 viaLogHiMa LogHiMa

Why the platypus gave up suckling, and how gravity waves clear clouds

Suckling mothers milk is a pretty basic feature of being a mammal. Humans do it. Possums do it. But monotremes such as the platypus and echidna—although still mammals—gave up suckling long ago. Instead, they lap at milky patches on their mothers’ skin to get early sustenance. Science News Writer Gretchen Vogel talks with host Sarah Crespi about the newest suckling science—it turns out monotremes probably had suckling ancestors, but gave it up for the ability to grind up tasty, hard-shelled, river-dwelling creatures. Sarah also talks with Sandra Yuter of North Carolina State University in Raleigh about her work on fast-clearing clouds off the southwest coast of Africa. These immense marine layers appear to be exiting the coastal regions under the influence of gravity waves (not to be confused with gravitational waves). This finding can help scientists better model cloud behavior, particularly with respect to their influence on global temperatures. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: North Carolina State University]    
Reposted byxmascolara xmascolara

19 July 2018: DNA scaffolds, climate-altering microbes, and a robot chemist

This week, tougher DNA nanostructures, climate-altering permafrost microbes, and using a robot to discover chemical reactions.

Reposted byl4desu-mizu l4desu-mizu

The South Pole’s IceCube detector catches a ghostly particle from deep space, and how rice knows to grow when submerged

A detection of a single neutrino at the 1-square-kilometer IceCube detector in Antarctica may signal the beginning of “neutrino astronomy.” The neutral, almost massless particle left its trail of debris in the ice last September, and its source was picked out of the sky by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope soon thereafter. Science News Writer Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the blazar fingered as the source and how neutrinos from this gigantic matter-gobbling black hole could help astronomers learn more about mysterious high-energy cosmic rays that occasionally shriek toward Earth. Read the research. Sarah also talks with Cornell University’s Susan McCouch about her team’s work on deep-water rice. Rice can survive flooding by fast internodal growth—basically a quick growth spurt that raises its leaves above water. But this growth only occurs in prolonged, deep flooding. How do these plants know they are submerged and how much to grow? Sarah and Susan discuss the mechanisms involved and where they originated. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

12 July 2018: Rats, reefs, and career streaks

This week, rats and coral reefs, charting successful careers streaks, and Cape Town’s water crisis.

A polio outbreak threatens global eradication plans, and what happened to America’s first dogs

Wild polio has been hunted to near extinction in a decades-old global eradication program. Now, a vaccine-derived outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is threatening to seriously extend the polio eradication endgame. Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the tough choices experts face in the fight against this disease in the DRC. Sarah also talks with Online News Editor David Grimm about when dogs first came to the Americas. New DNA and archaeological evidence suggest these pups did not arise from North American wolves but came over thousands of years after the first people did. Now that we know where they came from, the question is: Where did they go? Read the research. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Polio virus/David Goodsell/RCSB PDB; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

A DNA computer, the koala genome, and the invisibility of LGBTQ+ researchers

This week, investigating the koala genome, the issues facing LGBTQ+ researchers, and a DNA-based neural network.

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