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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!

Oct 27, 2016

C'mon, give us a kiss.

In this installment of the Blue Streak Science Podcast we have expanded the Science Roundup from three to six topics. It's so much fun talking about the latest science that even the expanded version seems to end way too soon. How can one not like it? We talked about newly discovered antibiotic properties of Tasmanian Devil milk, and wondered aloud about who is the unfortunate person tasked with milking the little devils. A new technique has been developed in Japan to coax mouse stem cells, both embryonic and induced pluripotent, all the way through to oogenesis! More ominous news from Antarctica regarding the instability of unimaginably huge glaciers. And what podcast would be complete without a story about monkeys making knives, right? It's all here, and more!

What The Hell Was That?

Have a listen to this week's WTHWT! Walruses make some of the most varied sounds of any mammal. Some of the sounds are downright rude!

Blue Streak Science News Roundup

These are summaries of our discussions on the podcast. For the full conversation please listen to this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

Reconstitution in vitro of the entire cycle of the mouse female germ line
For the first time ever, scientists have reprogrammed mouse embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to become fully functional oocytes.

This paper was published in the 17 October issue of the journal Nature and describes this technique, the process of oogenesis, and may open an avenue for a similar technique using human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.

Tasmanian devil milk fights superbugs
From BBC Health. According to a Sydney University research team, Tasmanian devil milk apparently contains important peptides that appear to be able to kill hard-to-treat infections, including MRSA. It’s believed the devils evolved this cocktail to help their young grow stronger.

In this post-antibiotic era the scientists are looking to make new treatments that mimic the peptides.

They’ve scanned the devils' genetic code to find and recreate the infection-fighting compounds, called cathelicidins.

West Antarctica glacier unstable
From the Washington Post. There was an article that talks about a moment in history, 2014, when when two separate research papers said there was reason to think a frozen sector of West Antarctica, called the Amundsen Sea region, may have been destabilized.

Hurricane Matthew exposes civil war cannonballs
From A day after Hurricane Matthew lashed the South Carolina coast with tidal surge, torrential rain, and high winds a resident walking along the east end of Folly Island found a pile of 16 corroded cannonballs resting on the sand.

ExoMars Schiaparelli lander likely lost
Regarding the ExoMars mission landing vehicle, named Schiaparelli. Well, we have some good news and some bad news.

Creative Commons - Wikimedia
ExoMars Schiaparelli Lander

First the good news, it hit near the target zone!

The bad news, it hit the target zone like it was shot out of a cannon!

There is actually some good news for real.

From Scientific American, The ExoMars 2016 mission is in business despite the apparent failure of its lander to touch down softly on the Red Planet. The lander seems to have deployed its parachute too early and fired its thrusters for an insufficient amount of time as it streaked through the Martian atmosphere like a bat out of hell.

But in spite of the loss of the lander the the Trace Gas Orbiter is gearing up for spectacular science at Mars.

Monkeys making stone knives
Another one from Scientific American, monkeys with knives!

Picture this. A monkey picks up a potato-sized rock in his little hands, raises it above his head and smashes it down with all his might on another stone embedded in the ground. As the monkey bashes away flakes fly off the rock he is wielding. They’re sharp enough to cut meat or plant material.

The monkey does not pay much attention to the flakes, save to place one on the embedded rock and attempt to smash it, too. But he has unintentionally produced artifacts that look for all the world like stone tools found at some human archaeological sites.

Now a new study has examined the capuchin monkey-produced stone flakes and compared them to human-made artifacts, and it turns out that the chips meet criteria used to distinguish human tools from naturally broken rocks.

Name That Phobia!

Today we introduced another new game to the podcast. It's called "Name That Phobia". Don't be scared! Give it a try.

Shout-outs and Acknowledgments

Blue Streak Science Cafe'

On Monday morning of Halloween we are rolling out the Blue Streak Science Cafe’! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am Pacific time on the Smiletime live streaming platform as well as Facebook Live.

Hosting the show with me will be Nevena Hristozova broadcasting from Brussels. Belgium. 

We’re gonna talk about the latest science news that crosses our desks. We’ll talk about the Blue Streak Science Podcast, and play the "What The Hell Was That?" game

But here’s the best part. YOU can join us live! Talk in the chat or dust off your webcam and join in with us.

James Young

James Young is a 25 year old biological scientist who lost his left arm and left leg following a horrific train accident.

James Young
James Young

Next year the Ministry of Defence will be doing trials on a technique called direct skeletal fixation, or osseointegration (OI). This procedure is the best and latest technology, and so the military are trialling it first in order to do the best for their service men and women. However, it's not available on the NHS.

OI is a modern procedure that would implant James’ bones with titanium implants which would allow him to bolt on an artificial limb in seconds, with potentially zero discomfort once healed. This could provide him with the ability to bear weight directly through his skeleton and allow accurate control and placement of his foot by being linked firmly to his bones instead of clinging on his skin.

This is where you can help. James is not a member of the military, so he must raise the funds himself to get a shot at getting this surgery.

James has set of goal of £95,000 through a GoFundMe campaign. The Blue Streak Science online community has always been there for us, and we love you for it. We now ask that you share your generosity and contribute whatever you can to help James toward his goal of having near normal mobility and less pain.

YOU are the best!

Thank you!

This episode of Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Santa Rosa, California; Cambridge, England; and Washington, D.C.