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Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of science... the thrill of discovery... and the agony of failed experiments... the human drama of scientific advancement... This is the Blue Streak Science Podcast!

Jul 4, 2015

From kindergarten through 12th grade every child in the United States has the right to attend school free of charge. But should we have a right to a college education?

I assert that every child and every person has the right to higher education.

This year President Obama proposed to make community college free for many students. But even this small, incremental step toward free education has virtually no chance in the harsh reality of a do-nothing Congress. Still, I do believe that opening the topic for discussion is beneficial. After all, we will one day return to having a Congress who puts the interests of the people first. It will happen.

Why would we even want to foot the bill for higher education? It’s expensive and what benefit would it confer on the betterment of American society?

Per capita income rises sharply in regions that have a higher rate of college graduates. This means better and higher paying jobs, higher property values, lower crime, lower rates of incarceration and the associated expenses of that, and more taxes paid to local government. In other words, greater wealth for both the individual and for the state in which they live.

Also, those with a college education often become lifetime learners, willing and eager to keep up with the latest training in their fields, and much more able to pivot to another career in a rapidly changing world economy.

It’s a highly competitive world out there, and the overall benefit of free college is a citizenry who are more competitive with other nations.

There are hundreds of thousands of American high school students with so much untapped potential, the potential to make their lives and our country a better place. They are unable to continue on to a college or university because they and their families cannot afford the prohibitive costs, or take on the crippling debt. These students will likely never reach their full potential.

But we can change all that.

Ah, but the cost.

Beyond the states and nation as a whole, and the individual student, who benefits the most from an educated citizenry? Who stands to profit the most?

Large Corporations.

Large corporations often gain a financial benefit off the backs of students and their families. It’s time they pay their fair share and they must play a substantial role in funding the higher education from which they gain so much profit.

The federal government, the states, and large corporations can make this a success

But until then, get out and vote! Because these progressive changes can only happen if we elect real leaders who are willing to make it happen.

Science News with Kellie Vinal and Sophie McManus

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  • Super Earths not a good place for plate tectonics
  • Chemists crowdsource new compounds to speed the fight against antibiotic resistance
  • Programmed bacteria can detect tumors
  • Do coral reefs have any fight left in them?
  • Dutch court rules inaction over climate change is illegal

A***ole of the Week

WHO IS BELLE GIBSON? Gibson is an Australian 'alternative health' 'wellness' advocate who reportedly squirreled away hundreds of thousands of dollars that she's earnt from her app and cookbook.

So far, so celebrity food culture?

Not quite. Belle Gibson has for years claimed to have brain cancer that she 'self-treated' with such gold as 'the power of fruits and vegetables', colonic irrigation etc, eschewing traditional cancer treatments.

She also claimed she had two heart operations, that her heart had stopped on the operating table, and she had had cancer of the blood, uterus and spleen.

Around March/April this year it became apparent that this was complete and utter bull*%#t only AFTER it was revealed she had failed to donate 25% of her profits to charity. She reportedly kept all of the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Speaking of cash, Gibson made a fortune - some estimates put the sum around about a cool million dollars - she has made her money by flogging her 'wellness' theories to people who actually have cancer, encouraging patients to adopt her recipes and shun radiotherapy

When her donation claims were investigated, so was her health - her publisher never fact-checked her story as they took her on good faith...

Last year she said she had been diagnosed with a third and fourth cancer: 'One is secondary and the other is primary. I have cancer in my blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver. I am hurting'

In a turnaround she now claims to have been 'misdiagnosed' and to have suffered trauma from this....(the heart bleeds). In April she said 'none of it's true' after first insisting that her brain cancer was genuine, but the other cancers were a figment.

Cancer sufferers are angry that she received money (disputed sum?) for an interview on Australian TV show 60 minutes aired this weekend, during which she refused to apologise - she appears to be a very confused individual, but that's no excuse as she is someone who may well have damaged patients' health through peddling her twisted agenda. It seems doubtful that she should have been on TV in the first place.

So Belle is awarded the glittering tiara of the A***ole of the Week. It seems worth noting that her publishers should surely have done some basic story checking before offering her a book deal. Shoddy work all round!

Where Have We Been?

Sophie: 'round the pub for a pint. Microbiology in a glass. Oh, and I have been busy editing our upcoming blog articles for BioDetectives.

Kellie: Working hard in the lab in the name of science and the advancement of humankind.

JD: California Academy of Sciences, one of the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 26 million specimens!

Shout Out!

Jill Pruetz and the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project

The following is from the Iowa State University Department of Anthropology's website:

Dr. Jill Pruetz, Walvoord Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, specializing in Biological Anthropology. As a primatologist, Dr. Pruetz has studied the behavior of non-human primates such as chimpanzees, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, tamarins, patas monkeys, and vervets in various locales. Countries in which she has conducted fieldwork include Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Senegal. She currently has a research project in southeastern Senegal which has been funded by National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation, the aforementioned Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project.

The goal of this ongoing project is study or conduct research on chimps in a habitat similar to that of early hominids.

Please visit the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project website and Dr. Jill Pruetz's YouTube channel.

In Closing

And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

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This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.

And our hosts today were Kellie Vinal, Sophie McManus, and JD Goodwin.  

This week's Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Sydney, Australia; Atlanta, Georgia, and Sonoma County, California!

Thank you for joining us.

And remember...follow the science!