Justin: Science? Nuclear…?
Justin: …. nuclear science. And let them figure out a way to you know, saying things, I mean scientists to find a way to do the clean-up properly.
You spend the next 10, 15 years pumping money into the nuclear program to figure out how to clean the mess with bacteria with other sort of processes. And then you turn around you to do the clean-up in five years.
Kirsten: And make it proper that…
Justin: You know what I mean?
Kirsten: Mm mmh, so it is an interesting idea.
Justin: I’m saying go out to the science and technology first.
Justin: That will make the technology using the clean-up so much better.
Kirsten: In the meantime just put a big fence around it.
Justin: Well, I mean if it’ going to take another 40 years…
Kirsten: I know…
Justin: Forty year, anyway…
Justin: …. You might as well put the big orange and yellow stripy fumigation tent around the whole thing…
Justin: … …and let science do its job.
Kirsten: Yes. And in other news NASA is going to be slowed down because the United States is experiencing a plutonium shortage.
Justin: Oh no.
Kirsten: Yes, we stopped producing our own plutonium a few years back and since have been just kind of using the plutonium that we have in the supply and NASA uses plutonium to power much of its space crafts, a lot of the long distance space crafts that’s sent out. You know, they look at Saturn, or to go out and look at Pluto, or other far planets and the far reaches of our solar system, or even in our universe.
They use plutonium for power and if without it we are not going to be seeing a lot of space missions. Space missions fail to go up.
Justin: So, in an effort to…
Kirsten: No single lanes [?].
Justin: … keep this space program alive…
Justin: …we are asking the general public.
Justin: To reach into your own private plutonium supply.
Kirsten: That’s right.
Justin: And send it. [laugher].
Justin: In a red sealed envelop [laugher].
Kirsten: Right. Yes, so they’re discussing starting-up a new plutonium production program, but they also might just go back to buying it from Russia which is what we have been doing.
Kirsten: We’ve been purchasing it from Russia, but Russia is starting to experience its own shortage as well. So, they might not be as willing to part with their plutonium or they might at a higher cost. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Justin: You know, actually if we can buy it from…
Kirsten: I never think of things like that, Oh I’m out of plutonium.
Justin: … if we buy it from China, the nice thing is, it is already covered in lead.
Kirsten: [laughs]. That’s right.
Kirsten: Thanks Kenjie for that story.
Justin: A study finds that bacteria may reduce your risk of kidney stones.
Kirsten: That is interesting.
Justin: Researchers in Boston University’s Slone epidemiologist have found that the bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes, O. formigenes for short, is a naturally occurring bacterium that has no known side effects, is associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of recurring kidney stones.
Kirsten: Wow! Do they have any idea why they just have associated this one bacteria?
Justin: They say it’s just one of those correlative things.
Justin: It looks like… kidney stones are an important health problem in many countries in the United States. Lifetime risks of developing the stone is 5-15%.
Kirsten: Yes. It’s like calcium carbonate build up in the kidney and so I wonder if the bacteria has some kind of calcium or carbonate metabolism or, I don’t know, it’s fascinating.
Man: Oh, actually maybe there is more than correlation in our hands. [laughter] According to researchers, up to 80% of the kidney stones are predominantly composed of calcium oxylate.
Kirsten: Oxylate, sorry oxylate yes, thank you.
Justin: …and urinary oxylate. Yes, they are the major factors for cal ox [sp] stone formation. O. formigenes metabolizes oxylate in the intestinal tract and is present in large proportion of the normal adult population. Interesting.
Justin: So, maybe next time, to prevent.., see this is where we going. We are going to take a pill full of bacteria to prevent having another round of kidney stones.
Justin: Because once you developed it once…
Kirsten: I love it. You’ll take a pill of pinworms to get rid of any of your intestinal problems. You take a pill of bacteria to get rid of your kidney stones, to get leeches to make sure that…
Justin: No leeches. [laughter] Get a bag, get them away from me. Get away from here with your leeches.
Justin: Because if you have gotten them once, there is only a 15% chance, 5-15% chance that you’ll get a kidney stone right? But if you got one, the risk of getting them in the next five years is up to 50% .You could be aiming as much as 30 or 50% chance you’re going to get it again. So if you got one time…
Kirsten: Yes. You’ll probably get them over again.
Justin: …you probably get them again.
Justin: Yes, awesome. So make sure you’ve got the right bacterium buzzing around in there.
Justin: De-calcifying your intestinal tractitude.
Kirsten: Tractitude. Researchers, tan tan tahhh, have discovered the structural alphabets of RNA. I think I may have reported on this story. Did I report on this story?
They implemented an algorithm MC-fold that systematically assigns different motifs to each segment of the sequence of RNA and selects the most probable pair based on its own frequency and known structures. They use a second algorithm MC-SYM that is used to assemble the motifs and takes into account various structural constraints that are actually known to occur.
They were able to represent nucleotide relationships and they reasoned that by using nucleotide cyclic motifs they can allow them to arrive at better models of the 3D structure of RNA molecules.
It’s really, really important to be able to understand how RNA fits together and creates its structure because as it opens up and unfolds, RNA is usually the template for proteins. It has very, very significant biological importance for transfer of information.
Justin: Yes. It sounds like, it sound like it is the sort of the skeleton/architect/blueprint all of sort wrapped into one.
Kirsten: Right. You know while we think of DNA as the main blueprint for everything living. It is also thought.. one very strong hypothesis is that RNA actually came before DNA…
Justin: Tells DNA, where to go.
Kirsten: …Yes! ‘Tell you where to go DNA.” Yes. [laughter] The RNA, it’s very important. It goes everywhere. Viruses….
Justin: DNA is the…
Kirsten: Viruses use RNA.
Justin: DNA is the house. RNA is the architect.
Kirsten: Interesting. I don’t know.
Justin: Or architectural blueprint [laughter] of the actual structure of living…
Justin: …of the library that then tells, that has the information for the… OK. Yes I have it.
Kirsten: Yes. Virus…One of the big things is viruses. Viruses are very influential in human health and if we can understand how viruses fold-up, how they integrate themselves into DNA retroviruses such as HIV, stick themselves into our DNA and get themselves copied over and over again. If we understand how that works and how they fit into the lock and key kind of organizational scheme, we can have a chance to maybe throw things stop them. Stop them in their tracks.
Justin: And if we can figure out how the infiltration and folding of cranky old men in our society….
Justin: … integrates, we may be able to stop them. What?
Justin: This is from Clara Moskowitz LiveScience.com. Stereotyped cranky old man, set it ways getting more conservative day by day is an enduring one. But new research is debunking the myth that people do become more conservative as they age.
Comparing surveys of over the 46,000 individuals of various age groups taken over a span of more than 30 years, sociologists found that in general, Americans’ opinion veered toward the liberal as they grow older.
So, all evidence we have found refutes the idea of people, whose attitudes becoming more conservative with age. It’s just not true. More people are changing in a liberal direction than a conservative direction.
So, what we believe to be happening at least for race relations is that the older groups starting out on the position of significantly more negative feelings had further to go says the Dangelis, there is the researcher Nicholas Dangelis, a sociologist at the University of Vermont.
People may find the average 60 year old to be more conservative than the average 30 year old. But beware of extrapolating the trend.
The older person, for example, may have started off EVEN more conservative than here she is now. So, the misconception is based on pervasive, perhaps, negative attitudes toward the elderly in our country. Do we have really have pervasive negative attitudes about the elderly? That’s terrible.
Kirsten: I didn’t realize that. [laughter]
Justin: But I do, I mean I have heard this but, you know, If you’re not liberal at 20, or have no heart, or if you are not conservative by 50, you have no something else, I don’t know. But apparently it isn’t how our society is actually developing.
Justin: So, they are also saying this can be an interesting election because age is going to be such an issue, running with McCain, but that may not, but the age…
Justin: …but the age may not be as appealing to the older voters as they become more liberal…
Kirsten: more liberal.
Justin: …and much conservative with age. So, its an interesting dynamical…
Kirsten: You still don’t know what is going to happen. [laughter] it’s just like aah! Ok. Maybe, maybe not. This week in World Robot Domination.
Justin: Tan tan taaan!
Kirsten: Justin Gills sent in a story from Bling bling that a guy in Atlanta, bar owner Rufus Terill built an armour-plated remote controlled robot to protect his bar from the unsavory drug dealers and criminals in his neighborhood who are causing problems.
Kirsten: Yes. So, homemade robot saves the day for a bar in Atlanta.
Justin: Wait! Did it do something? Is it just patrolling or did it actually like gets them?
Kirsten: It chases people away. Yes it is a remote control though, so he sees somebody, he could send his robot after them from a very safe distance. [laughs]
Justin: And for $2 advance you can dance with my robot.
Kirsten: Yes. Do you think you can dance with my robot? Huh? Do you? [laughter]. Also from St. Louis University, Ed Dyer [sp]sent us a story that a robot dog that researchers have created and put into three Nursing Homes might make very good companion for your grandparents.
Kirsten: Yes. Sparky a living medium size gentle mutt versus Aibo the doggie robot that was manufactured by Sony a while ago. They were put into different homes and they were tested as to which was the better dog for interaction with the residents.
One group saw Sparky once a week for 30 minutes, another group saw Aibo for 30 minutes and another group got nothing.
Justin: Oh well. [laughter]
Kirsten: Both pets interacted with the residents wagging their tails and responding in very doggie type ways. Then the residents were questioned about their loneliness and how attached their got to the different dogs.
The residents who received visits from either felt less lonely and more attached to their little doggies whether it was Sparky or Aibo, than the residents who got nothing. Which I mean, sure if you got nothing of course you are going to stay lonely [laughs] and you are going to be…
Justin: Aah, it’s so awful. You know it has been huge in that…
Kirsten: But the thing that is interesting, there is no statistical difference between how the residents felt about Sparky or Aibo.
Justin: Yes. You are going to have like robot grandchildren coming and visiting everybody.
Justin: There is apparently a big “Wii” movement and retirement homes on right now.
Kirsten: A WE movement that is Wii bowling lanes[sp].
Justin: because it’s just a little …
Kirsten: I want to see, I want to see, I want to see, Wii kickboxing [laughter].
Justin: Kickboxing. Yes Yaiks.
Kirsten: That’s right.
Kirsten: It’s the end of our show.
Justin: We hope you learned anything from today. Remember..
Kirsten: It is all in your head and stay tuned for next week.