Transcipt: Mar 11, 2008 Part 1

Justin: Hey! Great! We missed the disclaimer.
Kirsten: It’s all you. Go!
Justin: We missed the disclaimer! The following hour of programming does not necessary represent the views obtaining through the University of California Davis, KDVS or its sponsors.
Listeners are cautioned to listen with care as the contents of this show are under tremendous pressure. It is a compression of vast amounts of information that instantly expand upon contact with your brain.
Information of this nature is not intended to punish or pleasure. Yet listeners may experience slight discomfort including, but not limited to, headache, lightheadedness, unexpected burst of euphoria, regardless of what awaits you, prepared to get your 411 with This Week in Science – already underway. Hey I’m like running late here.

[musical interlude]
Kirsten: You are listening. What?
Justin: Good morning.
Kirsten: Good morning Justin. Justin is in the car on the way here. His alarm did not go off, so we are talking to Justin on his commute.
Justin: I can’t tell you how dangerous it is trying to read a disclaimer, and talking to a cell phone, and drive at the same time.
Kirsten: [laughs] Thank goodness you are in the country. [laughs]
Justin: Yes, yes, and not much to run into out here.
Kirsten: [laughs] Oh, my goodness. Yes, this is This Week in Science and we live life from the edge. We are going to be here for the next hour. Justin, at some point will get out of the car and come down to the studio.
Justin: I do not know. It’s kind of cold looking outside…
Kirsten: Yes. You’re going to stay outside all day? [laugh]
Justin: This is working. Yes.
Kirsten: [laughs]. Excellent. We have all sort of science for you today. This week normally we would have Dr. Michael Stebbins on the show but he has taken a vacation – a well deserved vacation at that so he will not be joining us today, unfortunately. We could all wish him happy beach time and hope he comes back to us in a week or two with a very nice tan.
Justin: Wow!
Kirsten: Yes. He is off scadadaland, doodaland, and galavanting.
Justin: That good. We will jam pack some very long winded important stories today anyhow. So, we don’t need him.
Kirsten: You do? You are all ready with these long stories? If anybody out there?..
Justin: Yes… I can’t seem to get down to the studio. Do you notice how people don’t use blinkers anymore?
Kirsten: [laughs]
Justin: What is up with that? That is like one of the most important signals on a vehicle that give people heads up to what you are doing and nobody even uses them.
Kirsten: Nobody does. It’s very odd. I do not know. What was I going to say? Yes, we have all sorts of science about space and biology, and physics, and brains and all sorts of stuff.
So, I guess we can talk about it. Oh, what did I want to say? Yes. I wanted to congratulate, let us see if I can find it here, I might have to come back to it in a little bit. I might have to come back to it after the break. I was sent a couple of entries for the cover art for the This Week in Science 2008 music compilation CD and I will be announcing the winner after the break at 9:00 o’clock
Justin: Once again, I have not seen these.
Kirsten: No, of course you have not.
Justin: I have no idea what they look like.
Kirsten: [laugh]
Justin: Yours if you did not win. Yours may well have been my favorite – had I seen it. We will never know.
Kirsten: We are going to have… basically, we are going to have a quick vote during the break when you get here Justin.
Justin: Oh, you are going to vote! What?
Kirsten: We were going to have a vote before you got here but since you are still in the car.
Justin: No.
Kirsten: No! The 2008 This Week in Science music compilation will be coming out in April, in just about a month actually. A little over a month and I am really looking forward to the album this year. I have got a whole bunch of entries and I can not wait to share them with everybody. I am so excited [singing].
Justin: I need some science.
Kirsten: You need some science? Do you want a science story?
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: Let us start it off with the crazy story that a couple of people, a couple of listeners sent me at Kenji Kato and Cali Daza both sent this story that there is a death star waiting to attack the earth.
Justin: [Shout]
Kirsten: Well, it is not waiting to attack the earth.
Pretty much it say, it’s a binary star system that is about 8,000 light years from Earth in the Sagittarius constellation and the binary star system means that there are two stars and they are orbiting around each other, and so, they go around, and around, and around.
And as they do, they are getting pulled into each other and they are expecting that at some point all the matter in this star system is going to just build up, and build up, and build up just to a point where it’s going to have to go supernova.
And when it does, the researchers have found that the angle, the incident angle puts earth right in the line of fire. So, we maybe, at any point between now and maybe 150 million years from now…?
Justin: That soon?
Kirsten: [laugh] Well, you know, maybe a 100,000 years, I do not know. We could be completely bawled over by a gamma ray burst.
Justin: Yes, I mean, by “bawled over”, it’s not going to be like a death star in the Star Wars movies and the real laser being come down in the planet blow up.
Kirsten: No!
Justin: It will take out something like 25% of our ozone layer.
Kirsten: Right, it will have a massive effect on our ozone layer. They think that one of the mass extinctions about 450 million years ago, might have been triggered by a gamma ray burst.
Justin: [shocked]
Kirsten: Yes. That theory came out from the University of Kansas and Lawrence Adrian Melott suggested that in 2003 and he says this new binary star system WR104 is big news because this is the first system that we have spotted that could have a very similar effect in the future…
Justin: One of the researchers actually described it as, after finding this, as looking down the barrel of a cosmic gun. [laugh]
Kirsten: Yes. great!
Justin: [laughs]
Kirsten: But, I mean, that is the kind of comment that, you know, Oh! Shiver me timbers, I am shaking in my boots. You know, we are supposed to be…
Justin: A pirate would have [giggles].
Kirsten: I know, I become a pirate. You know, it’s just supposed to make us fearful and very concerned…
Justin: Yes. I am scared. Aren’t you?
Kirsten: I do not know how scared I am. I mean, there is nothing we can do about it. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it. So if it happens, it happens and we just have to hope that we can weather the effects of the devastating effects that the loss of our ozone layer will have on plants, and animals, and the entire food chain on our planet.
Justin: I say we just all move underground. We are going to have to anyway.
Kirsten: Yes. [laughs]
Justin: I mean, between the ozone depleting and global warming and the…
Kirsten: And the robots.
Justin: Robots taking over the surface of the planet. I think it is just time we start investigating underground living.
Kirsten: [laugh] Yes.
Justin: Making a lot of recipes involving mushrooms.
Kirsten: Maybe the hobbits had it right.
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: Yes. They all lived in little houses under the ground. The hobbits and the Tolkien, land of Tolkien and also, the little hobbits who lived in the cave in Indonesia.
Justin: Yes. Sounds like they turned out to be, you know, another day or just being substantiated. They got that way over the years of lack of nutrition.
Kirsten: Right! That is a new one that has come out. But it’s really interesting the researchers who have spent time actually studying the fossils of these Indonesian hobbits. The floresiensis.
Justin: Homo floresiensis.
Kirsten: Homo floresiensis, right. They say that the researchers who have come out with this hypothesis haven’t actually looked at the floresiensis fossils.
Justin: Oh, but why bother.
Kirsten: [Laughs] I know. They are like, like “no, no!…” we have looked at nutritionally deprived fossils or skulls that we know are nutritionally deprived and so for pictures, you know, we pretty much think that this is what’s going on.
Justin: Mm hmm.
Kirsten: I mean, it… definitely…
Justin: Don’t fear the little people.
Kirsten: Yes… I don’t know. I mean it’s still… it’s so fascinating but they are still just this back-and-forth and back-and-forth between different people looking a these different fossils…You know, at the hobbit fossils.
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: Are they human? Are they not human? It just keep… you’d think that at this point in time, we might have it down to a point where we could figure it out easily, but we don’t.
Justin: Nope…not yet.
Kirsten: I mean it’s still just that… we look at the features and one of the problems with the fossils is that they were not… when they were collected they were… and also as they’ve been used and moved around, they haven’t been taking care of really…really carefully to prevent contamination with human DNA.
So all of the people who have touched them and moved them around maybe were not wearing gloves or maybe, you know, they breathed on them or whatever, they weren’t wearing a mask or the hair net and so it’s really interesting to think that the way that the process has gone through that we’ve kind of “shot ourselves in the foot.”
Justin: You know one of the skulls that they had specimen, like shattered while being shipped somewhere?
Kirsten: Oh, I don’t know. Did it? [laughs]
Justin: Yes, it’s like pretty awful.
Kirsten: Yes, this is just that the floresiensis saga just seems like a comedy of errors in terms of politics and the way that the fossils have been taken cared of and so many things that hopefully the paleontologists are taking note and taking a good lesson of maybe how to avoid the problems that they have encountered with this…
Justin: I’m trying to avoid the problem of crashing into student drivers. Oh my God![xx]
Kirsten: Aaagh [laughter] be careful all!
Justin: Just this time I guess he probably did just get his license.
Man: My goodness!
Justin: Who was that?
Kirsten: [Laughs] no. Yeah, they are probably… probably two years out of getting their license.
Justin: It’s a parking structure. It’s like five to 10 miles per hour tops, people.
Kirsten: [Laughs]
Justin: No, it’s pure rally racing. If you are scared being tailed at 50 feet through a parking space, how much quicker that I’m actually going to get to class on time? No. You’re obviously running late like me.
Kirsten: [Laughs]
Justin: Just be late at this point.
Kirsten: Oh… I love hearing your driving commentary.
Justin: Well…. once you’re in the parking zone, I mean, I understand out there in the highways, go ahead, rally away but once you’re inside of the parking zone, you’re not passing anybody, you know, you’re all going to go to the next available spot.
Look, I mean, I’m seeing like brake lights and screeching tires going around the turns in the parking structure. That’s just too insane you know.
Kirsten: [Laughs] maybe they have been drinking whiskey.
Justin: [Laughs] what?
Kirsten: Maybe, this is my segway.
Justin: Yes, whiskey before school?
Kirsten: Yes, whiskey in the morning. [Singing] whiskey in the morning, whiskey in the evening, whiskey at supper time…
Justin: It is so [xx]
Kirsten: …[Singing] I like drinking whiskey because it makes me feel fine. Ed Dire sends in a story about a whiskey by-product that’s being…huh?
Justin: Vitamin C?
Kirsten: No. What? [laughs]
Justin: I mean, what? [laughs]
Kirsten: A whiskey by-product that’s…
Justin: STD?
Kirsten: …no!…[laughs] no
Justin: Why?
Kirsten: [Laughs] you think you’re funny. Aargh. Anyway, Glenfiddich Distillery in Speyside in the UK has come up with a new technique that they are using to clean contaminated ground and waste water and they call it the “device for the remediation and attenuation of multiple pollutants” or known as DRAM which is kind of funny because when you’re drinking whiskey, you have dram of whiskey. It’s…
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: It’s kind of cute. However, this article that comes out of the BBC UK has… it doesn’t give much information. It’s basically the researchers from Glenfiddich are not letting their…what the technology or the compound is, this by-product, whiskey by-product…they’re not…they’re not letting it out. They’re not “letting the cat out of the bag” and letting anybody know what it is because-