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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!

Dec 2, 2016

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.

What The Hell Was That?

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. 

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.

A Synthetic Metabolic Pathway That Fixes Carbon Dioxide
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. What we don’t often consider is utilizing plants to do the job.

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.

What if we could make plants more efficient, artificially?

An article from this week discusses the recently published  paper in the journal Science by a German research team led by Tobias Erb at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology.

This paper demonstrates the feasibility of fixing CO2 using an artificial type of photosynthesis that the team developed.


DNA collected from seawater may solve mysteries about whale shark
Imagine a little kid at a beach somewhere. 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.

Besides beginning a career as a marine biologist what she is doing is taken an inventory of the water that passed through her net. At this stage she has no way of knowing that her inventory is limited by the size of the holes in that net. However, when she grows up she’ll have a much more powerful tool to learn about what’s in our oceans.

DNA, in this case environmental DNA or eDNA

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. Just like a crime scene, organisms can’t but help leaving a trace of themselves behind.

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.

In August 2007 an oil worker in the Persian Gulf saw something remarkable.

And our discussion begins.


Alex to Otto, 2016 was the year long hurricane season
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?

Answer: The 2016 Hurricane Season

A mutated protein is responsible for the migration of lung cancer cells and metastasis
Lung cancer. That’s a truly scary thought. It should be. Because more often than not, a diagnosis is made after it has metastasized to other parts of the body. 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.

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.

Brain stimulation guides people through an invisible maze
You’re stuck in a maze. You can’t see the walls, or the floor. All you have to navigate is a device on your head stimulating your brain to tell you which way to go.

In an experiment at the University of Washington in Seattle, participants solved a maze puzzle guided only by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

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.

Things are getting weird in the polar regions
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. Arctic sea ice is responding as one would expect in this strangely warm late autumn

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.

Pub Quiz

Join us for twenty questions and a pint! Or is that twenty pints and a question? Who cares!

Shout-outs and Acknowledgments

Blue Streak Science Cafe'
Join Nevena and JD on the Blue Streak Science Cafe’.

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!

Please, no wagering.

This Blue Streak Science Podcast comes to you from Belgium, Australia, and the United States.