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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!

Sep 2, 2015

Announcements

Absences

Our two esteemed hosts, Kellie Vinal and Sophie McManus are not with us for this week's podcast.

Kellie is currently in the beautiful Black Rock Desert of Nevada attending the annual Burning Man festival. We are looking forward to her return and a report of this year's happenings on the playa.

Sophie is pulling up roots and moving from sunny Sydney, Australia to the green lawns and hallowed halls of the University of Cambridge. We expect to hear back from Sophie in early October.

New Co-host!

Ivy Shih
Ivy Shih

We are proud to introduce our new co-host, Ivy Shih.

Ivy is an HIV researcher based in Sydney, Australia, studying early events of HIV infection in immune cells and capturing those events with high-resolution microscopy. After completing her Honours Thesis, she is now completing a PhD at The Kirby Institute about HIV infection in skin. Ivy loves writing about science with articles in Riaus and Biodetectives.

A self-confessed bibliophile and dinosaur enthusiast, in her spare time Ivy enjoys watching science fiction movies and drawing cartoons.

Read her Science Communication adventures at her blog Not Science Shy

Blue Streak Science News

  • Capturing cancer: 3-D model of solid tumors explains cancer evolution
  • Stephen Hawking Hasn't Solved the Black Hole Paradox Just Yet
  • These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim
  • Giant Sea Scorpion Fossil Discovered
  • Life after Pluto: New Horizons to head for Kuiper belt boulder
  • Oliver Sacks
  • Researchers use DNA 'clews' to shuttle CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool into cells

The Jackass of the Week

Our Jackass of the Week is Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. 

It has been ten years since the flooding of Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. The storm made landfall in southeast Louisiana as a category 3 hurricane. And although there have been many stronger storms to strike the Gulf Coast states Katrina exposed decades of neglect of the infrastructure. Levees failed and people died, over 1,200 people. Katrina also exposed the incompetence of a Presidential administration who was more interested in appointing unqualified cronies to emergency management jobs than serving the people of the United States when they most needed their help.

Ten years later and it’s been a week of cable news retrospectives and analysis. In the Big Easy it was a week of remembrances and mourning.

In a letter to President Obama on 26 August, Governor Bobby Jindal wrote, “This week is a time to mourn the loss of loved ones and the passing of a period in our history. It is also a time to celebrate those whose future has become brighter in the storm’s terrible wake.

There is a time and a place for politics, but this is not it.

It is therefore with disappointment that I read of the White House’s plans to make this visit part of a tour for your climate change agenda. Although I understand that your emphasis in New Orleans will – rightly – be on economic development, the temptation to stray into climate change politics should be resisted.

While you and others may be of the opinion that we can legislate away hurricanes with higher taxes, business regulations and EPA power grabs, that is not a view shared by many Louisianians.

I would ask you to respect this important time of remembrance by not inserting the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.”

Oh, where to start.

First, climate science is not politics.

It was politics that left Louisiana defenseless against a category 3 hurricane. If it wasn’t for the all-too-human failure to have basic preparation in place then the name Katrina would only be associated with walking on sunshine.

But that’s not climate science. That’s politics.

You know what else is political?

Doing nothing about climate change when the world’s climate scientists are doing everything in their power to warn us. We’ve been shown the evidence over and over again. Anthropogenic global warming is real. It is happening now, and our children are going to pay dearly for our inaction.

Climate science is not politics. It is science. What we do or don’t do about it is politics.

Telling the President to shut up about science?

Bobby Jindal, you aren’t fooling our listeners here at Blue Streak. You’re running for President in a crowded field for the GOP nomination. And as such you need to appeal to the Republican voters who have become fodder for your party’s elite. If you can get those mouth-breathers who listen to Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage on your side then perhaps those deep-pocketed GOP donors may take notice and begin writing checks. And what better way to do that than to take an anti-science stance and admonish the President. Red meat for the low-information voters you need for the GOP nomination.

So, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, for taking a cynical and anti-science position on climate change you are the Blue Streak Science Jackass of the Week.

Episode Title

The Completion Backward Principle is the sixth studio album from the rock group The Tubes.

This was The Tubes' first album for Capitol/EMI and paired the band with producer and songwriter, David Foster in search of a more commercial sound. Many of their A&M albums had been very strong but failed to ignite the charts or build much fan interest beyond their rabid cult. The Completion Backward Principle changed all that with "Talk To Ya Later" (an AOR radio smash) and the chart success of the single "Don't Want To Wait Anymore."

A favorite of many Tubes fans, this is a unique album in their catalog in that it married their quirky songwriting and stage persona with a commercial appeal that would be emphasized more heavily on their next project. The breakout that the band had been searching for with their backs to the wall had finally arrived.

Sources:
Iconoclassic Records
Wikipedia

Shout-outs and Acknowledgments

The hashtag #scienceamoviequote

The origin of the hashtag dates back to a November 2014 tweet by neuroscientist Ben Saunders.

It is the beautiful combination of hard truths of science delivered through famous movie lines (twitter really has become the perfect outlet for hilarious and wry commentary of science truths)

Tribute

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks, the renowned neurologist and author of over a dozen books including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died of metastatic uveal melanoma in New York on 30 August. He was 82.

His most famous book, Awakenings, published in 1973 was a memoir on his experiences using the new drug l-dopa on post-encephalitic patients who survived the encephalitis epidemic of 1917 to 1928, but remained in a persistent catatonic state .

The New York Times writes:

Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks

"As a medical doctor and a writer, Dr. Sacks achieved a level of popular renown rare among scientists. More than a million copies of his books are in print in the United States, his work was adapted for film and stage, and he received about 10,000 letters a year.

"Dr. Sacks variously described his books and essays as case histories, pathographies, clinical tales or 'neurological novels.' His subjects included Madeleine J., a blind woman who perceived her hands only as useless 'lumps of dough'; Jimmie G., a submarine radio operator whose amnesia stranded him for more than three decades in 1945; and Dr. P. — the man who mistook his wife for a hat — whose brain lost the ability to decipher what his eyes were seeing."

Dr. Sacks treated his patients with dignity. To him they weren’t merely just patients with neurological deficits. Each one was a human being with a life, rich in experience and memories, stories of love, of triumphs and tragedies.

In February Dr. Sacks announced in the New York Times that the melanoma in his eye had spread to his liver and that he only had months to live.

"It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can,"

And, in an opinion piece published in the Times earlier this month, Sacks wrote:

"[N]ow, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one's life as well, when one can feel that one's work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest."

This episode of Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Sydney, Australia; and Santa Rosa, California.