Transcript: TWIS May 1, 2014

Justin: This is TWIS! This week in Science episode 462, recorded on the 1st of May 2014. Girls versus boys. Today, we will fill your head with much science. But first

Woman1: TWIS is supported by listeners like you. We thank you for your support. We really couldn’t do it without you.

Blair: Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer! Across much of the northern hemisphere, spring has sprung. A new year of Science is blossoming! The seeds of hypotheses previously planted in the minds of researchers are sprouting up everywhere. From garden variety cosmology, to farm town physics. From landscape laboratories, to greenhouse climatology. Knowledge is growing, greening and blooming like never before. A May Day basket of flowering findings for us all. Up ahead, on This Week in Science, coming up next!


Justin: Good Science to you, Blair!

Blair: Good Science to you, Justin! Welcome everyone, to this week’s episode of This Week in Science. Today we have a great show ahead. On this week’s show, we have so much. I have speedy mites. I have deep-diving sea lions and seals. I have migration, I have stress release. I have bees, I have cartwheeling spiders. I have so many things. I just don’t think we have enough time for all of it. What do you have Justin?

Justin: I have brain cancer.

Blair: Do you really? (laughs)

Justin: (chuckling – unable to make out) I have grades like a girl, Neanderthal (noggins), Mars Marshes and thinking with your teeth.

Blair: Ah hah. Well, let’s just jump right into this Justin. What have you got?

Justin: OK, so first thing I’m going to do here is Neanderthals. I’ve got to do this Neanderthal story first because it’s echoing something that we were talking about, a mere two weeks ago. There’s the widely held notion that Neanderthals were less cognitively able to function than us. They were our dimwitted, inferior intelligence cousins. Even though, even though, even though they had bigger brains. And even though they existed for three hundred plus thousand years before modern man is thought to have really existed.

So, yeah, they had a good run. They’ve had a better run than we’ve had so far. And, yeah, if mankind makes it another three hundred thousand years, we can pass them, but we will see. But this is part of a (choosy idea) that our interjection into their area, our coming to – upon the scene in Eurasia accelerated their demise somehow.

But this is not supported by scientific evidence. According to a study in the open-access journal Plos One by a Paolo Villa from University Colorado Museum and Wil Roebroeks from Leiden University Netherlands. For over 300,000 years, populations of Neanderthals lived across Eurasia then suddenly… about 40,000 years ago they were gone. Though not so suddenly, perhaps, and as we now know, not gone entirely.

There is Neanderthal DNA in the modern human genome. Popular assumption has been, new humans, us modern humans, with our cell phones and indoor plumbing, outperformed our Neanderthal cousins into extinction because of our vastly superior intelligence.
In the studies, scientists systematically tested the strengths that some of the archaeologically-derived explanations for Neanderthal extinction. Such as their supposed lack of a complex language, inferior capacity for innovation, inferior hunting abilities, they had smaller social networks, they were very isolated. So if a problem went wrong in a small community it was thought that would’ve possibly ended that entire – ended and collapse a population and tiny pockets are more susceptible to that than our larger populations.

As well as other potential environmental explanations including harsh climate, volcanic eruptions, all sorts of things that went on. Researchers have shown that Neanderthals likely though, herded hundreds of bison to their death by steering them into a sinkhole in Southwestern France.

Blair: Hmm.

Justin: Another site, this one in the Channel Islands, fossilized remains of 18 mammoths, five woolly rhinoceroses were discovered at the base of a steep ravine. These findings together implied that Neanderthals could plan ahead, they could work as a group, communicate with one another, in order to drive these animals off cliffs to their deaths. They would be much easier to eat.

Other archaeological evidence unearthed at Neanderthal sites provides reasonably that Neanderthals did in fact have a diverse diet. This is one of the things that has been sort of assumed, they lived on this all-meat diet.

They hunted, they ate what they hunted and that was it. Microfossils found that Neanderthal teeth and food remains left behind in cooking sites, because they did cook, they had fire, they cooked, indicate that they may have eaten wild peas, acorns, pistachios, grass seeds, wild olives, pine nuts, date palms — basically whatever was food available locally was on the plate. Additionally, researchers found ochre, a earth pigment at sites inhabited by Neanderthals which may have been used for body painting.

Blair: Hmm.

Justin: Ornaments have been collected at Neanderthal sites. We know that they took special care now in burying their young. Much more so, more offerings, sort of more things in the grave site than (on older). They did have strong emotional connections to the young and ritual that went along with it.

So, you take all of these things together, indicates perhaps there was ability to communicate, symbolic communication, symbolism. We – you know, won’t go as far here to say a written language, anything of that nature, but able to communicate pretty well.

Researchers say that the past misrepresentation of Neanderthals’ cognitive ability may be linked to the tendency of researchers to compare Neanderthals who lived in the Middle Paleolithic to more modern humans living during the Upper Paleolithic period in which leaps of technology were being made.

If the Neanderthal record is compared only to that of African Middle Stone Age human contemporaries, instead of the more modern humans that succeeded them, the differences begin to evaporate. In fact they are too small to explain demise in terms of cognitive or behavioral inferiority. Instead, the authors argue genetic data recently obtained from Neanderthal skeletal remains suggest that complex and drawn out process of inter-breeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of this specific Neanderthal morphology in the fossil record.

Blair: Uh huh.

Justin: So it is more likely, according to this research, an act of assimilation…

Blair: Mm hmm.

Justin: That did away with the distinction of Neanderthals. Also there is potential that cross-breeding between the then modern human and Neanderthal may have left males — but may have created fertility issues.

So a lot of the early hybrids may not have been as well represented going forward. They are used to having smaller social groups, so maybe they had less children. There’s a lot of questions as to why it’s not more represented in the population from the genetic code.

But on the other hand, because this is a long time ago, there have been plenty of generations and there were less of them to begin with. So, it may not require all of those things to take place. But, yeah. We, we also have learned, you know, that they have lesser proclivity or have genes turned off that when turned on in modern humans leads to things like autism, schizophrenia…

Blair: Mmm.

Justin: They may have had less of those difficulties in their society and they had bigger brains, right? So which is the correlative from the study we did last week of having, at least as it was defined in that study, more self-control.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: They may, they may have just been wise, sagely.

Blair: (Sighs) Huh and that killed them, being too smart.

Justin: Exactly.

Blair: That’s what killed them.

Justin: And that’s right, because the impulsive, neurotic, schizophrenic modern human came along and ruined everything.

Blair: Mmm hmm. Yup. They absorbed them and killed them. That’s a big (hit).

Justin: We mated them off the planet.

Blair: Yep. Uh huh.

Justin: Ah and then this is second story I’m starting to delve right into here. Quick question, quick question, pop quiz, do not over-think what I am about to ask, there is no right answer to this. Simply answer the question the moment I ask it. Answer it to yourself while you are listening in the chat room. Everybody get ready. Here is the question. Ready? Who is better at math, boys or girls? Go.

Blair: Uh.

Justin: Now, now, now, just answer right away. Don’t over-think, what was the first answer that came to your mind, first answer that came to your mind?

Blair: Neither.

Justin: Oh, Blair. You (covered) but you didn’t answer right away.
So chances are even if you refused to answer this question.

Blair: Ha, ha, ha, ha! I know the answer so I couldn’t respond.

Justin: That most of you thought of the stereotypical answer first.

Blair: Boys.

Justin: Boys have traditionally speaking, traditionally speaking, done much better at math than girls have. At least, traditionally speaking. But if you look at traditional actuality, a different reality than the traditional speaker’s version will be revealed. This is from the American Psychological Association comes this story. Despite the stereotype, girls get higher grades than boys throughout their education. This recent development in female educational superiority has been going on for nearly a century.

Blair: So the reason that people think that boys are better at science and math is that they doing better in the standardized testing, right?

Justin: They do. They do a little better in the standardized testing.

Blair: But who wrote the tests?

Justin: Yeah.

Blair: Men.

Justin: It was done from a male perspective of the math and therefore- no! There may be other reasons.
Blair: There have been a lot of studies done on gender bias and standardized testings.

Justin: OK.

Blair: Lots.

Justin: OK.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: I wouldn’t know. But yeah. For just about as long as we’ve had decent recorded data to look at – girls have gotten better grades than boys. Now, you might be thinking, that you know, that the development of United States, women’s rights, this (stuff, yup).

So, this is based on research from 1914 through 2011 and it spanned more than 30 different countries. The bulk of it did come from the United States. 70% of the data was from the United States, 30% though, 30 percent was everywhere. From Norway to New Zealand, Mexico, Iran, India… it was all over. Right?

Places all in between there. The complete study reflected the grades of over 438,000 boys and over 495,000 girls. We’ve got about a million individuals sampled throughout this near century of time.

All studies included an evaluation of gender differences and teachers assigned grades with official grade point averages in elementary, junior or high schools, undergraduate and graduate university. Studies reveal that boys lagging behind girls in school achievement is not only normal, it’s consistent across time, around the globe. It’s been that way for a very long time.
Let’s see. “The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” says co-author Susan Voyer who happens to be female.

So, isn’t that interesting? So yeah, there’s points in which by the time you get to junior high school it’s pretty much across the board, all subjects, math science, literature – the gaps are bigger in language-oriented, literature, history that sort of thing. They’re narrower – girls have a narrower lead on boys in math and science, right?

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: But it’s still a lead. And it is interesting because when it gets to the point of leaving high school, everything narrows out, it gets very close, on the math, it’s almost like saying and boys do perform better statistically on standardized testing…

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: …which is interesting.

Blair: So, I definitely think that testing has to do with test engineering gender bias. I think, I strongly believe that. But when it comes to school, I think it’s pretty interesting that I know that there have been a lot of studies on the brain development in males and females.

Justin: Mmm hmm.
Blair: And the fact that things like attention-span and self-awareness and those kinds of things, develop much later in males than in females. And in fact the male brain develops for many years after than female brains do. I think that female brains stop developing in their early twenties I want to say and the males go to middle or late twenties in their brain development.

Justin: Hmm.

Blair: So if that all has been substantiated and is definitely true. Which I think – I’ve read studies about it but I also saw it on Nova maybe ten years ago so I am going to need to fact-check myself on that one. But if that’s true, that definitely makes a lot of sense in relation to how they are performing in school and their ability to stay to the constraints that the classroom has.

Justin: Hmm.

Blair: I think that has a lot to do with it. But I think, I don’t know, I wonder – there’s a lot of different things at play here. But especially when you are looking at high school, I think it’s very interesting that they narrow towards the end there. And I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that at least for the first three quarters of the study because it was done starting in 1914, right you said?

Justin: Correct.

Blair: That for the first many decades of this study, most women were told they shouldn’t go to college, or they have some other sort of thing to do in college other than science or math or something more heady. So is that why it tapers off? Or does it taper off because male and female brains kind of even out in their functionality as they reach 18?

Justin: Right, it could be developmental stages are different between the sexes and that could explain some of it. You know, one of the things that I thought about in the narrowing though was something we’ve covered here in the past which is there’s stigmas attached to girls doing math, or being good at math, that probably don’t really start becoming stigmas until somewhere around high school. So it may not be that the boys are catching up so much as the girls are taking focus away from math.

Blair: Mmm. Hmm.

Justin: Not considered as they are sort of becoming more gender role-defined, I guess. I don’t know. That’s probably not what it is exactly. But there could be a sort of walking back what the normal interest was and doing that was.

Blair: Yeah. And somebody in the chat room had asked, wouldn’t non-test grades be biased by the teachers who I think that especially with science and math, if you are looking at a class grade based on exams, I think that is what is not so biased, and when we say non-test grades, you’re talking about grades they still are derived from tests in the classroom, but they are not the standardized testings that are statewide or countrywide, right?

Justin: Mmm.

Blair: So it still has a rubric, it’s still very systematic, it’s still as non-biased as you can get with this kind of stuff. But it’s not the standardized test that everybody has to take with the Scantron and all that stuff. But I think that a lot of people in the chat room also are bringing up a really good point which is: if this is true, why are there so few women in math and science?
Justin: So here is the other thing. So I was thinking about that and I just kind of was looking around trying to get some statistics and I happened upon Wikipedia’s. And it may be, you know, they didn’t break it down to the discipline. But the number of masters degrees, number of doctorates, that’s right, this is as of 2005, 2006, is dead even, 50-50, men and women, alright. The number of masters and associate degrees though is like 60-40, women. So, women are getting more, a higher percentage, of the advanced degrees than the men.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: So it may not be… you know. We say that there’s not women in this (that or the other). I’m not actually convinced that’s true anymore. I’m not really sure, you know. And part of it could be again, there may be, there may be a social stigma in high school about the “math girl” or that being something that you know, that may not be the teacher’s fault, maybe, maybe it’s something rooted in the students, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a developmental thing, I have no idea why. But maybe there is something that does turn girls off of pursing math and science as a career. But again, I don’t know that that’s true. I don’t have anything statistically to back that up or (take it away).

Blair: Well anecdotally, I do know that when I was in high school, there was lots of pressure coming at me and I don’t want to say where it came from or how I got this impression because I can’t remember, it was a long time ago now. But I do remember thinking that boys don’t like smart girls. But I eventually decided: who cares?

Justin: Right, right. Yeah.

Blair: But ultimately, I do remember having that thought and having conversations about that, that boys are turned off by a girl that is too smart. Not a woman’s place.

Justin: Right, right, well there are guys who are turned off by smart girls. Those are the ones you want to avoid anyway. So, it was Nature’s warning sign.

Blair: I think all of this is in the last hundred years and now we are moving forward. Hopefully we are seeing a tip of the scales and we are seeing it change in the trends that we saw before.

Hopefully there will be less social pressure to not be smart if you are a woman. There will be more support of women in math and science. This is what we are hoping for. I do think we are starting to see it more. So hopefully that’s just going to continue and it will reflect these things that you are talking about much more.

Justin: Yeah and especially because if you look at the statistics, girls have been outperforming boys in school for as long as they have been recording this. So I don’t know like that would have kind of limited your options, I think if you were looking for a girl that wasn’t that smart, right?

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: That would make it harder to find a date to the school prom.

Blair: (laughing)

Justin: Now I am kind of curious, now I want to see if there are really more men in science than women. Because I thought that, you know, for sure boys were just better at math. Just generally speaking, you know, at least, not that they were better, but that they over, like if I was to say over a hundred years who is to traditionally have gotten the best grades in math, I would have assumed boys. Not because I really thought that one would be better than the other, actually I didn’t expect there to be any difference.

But, I would have assumed that boys would have been perhaps more expected to do well, more encouraged to do well, over, you know, going back a hundred years. And that there would be more focus on teaching boys math and science from the prejudice of the teaching system but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at all.

Blair: Yeah, I don’t know. Hopefully we will see whether that’s true or not. We’ll see even, and even keel in these subjects in the future.

Justin: Why don’t we switch gears and let’s go, let’s go to that place. That we place that we go to each show? Ladies and gentlemen, Blair’s Animal Corner, with Blair!

Blair: So, speaking of males and females in science, this is the perfect segue to one of my favorite stories this week. Which is that, whether it’s a male or a female researcher – that could confound your data!

Justin: Wha..?

Blair: Yeah! So, in a recent study, where they were injecting an irritant into mice to test pain response, which is a whole other questionable thing going on… they found some weird responses.

It didn’t make a whole lot of sense and they were wondering if there was something weird going on with the study. And what they found was, first of all, this was the first step they thought, OK, the animals appear to respond differently when researchers are present. So this was way back in 2007. They observed that mice spent less time licking a painful injection when a person is nearby. And so they started putting different people out there, reading books next to the mice. At one point, they even put a cardboard cutout of Paris Hilton there. That helps you to date the study way back to 2007.

And so then, they started to wonder if it was really due to, perhaps to something else. So they took a closer look. The researchers, again, injected an inflammatory agent into the foot of a rat or a mouse and then took a seat nearby to read a book. A video camera trained on the rodent’s face — looked at the animal’s face to assess the pain level based on a zero to two grimace scale – which is pretty standard. You can look at a lot of animals, specifically mammals, and you can gauge pain based on the expression on their face.

And the results were fairly mixed. Sometimes the animals showed pain to what they expected it to be and sometimes they didn’t show pain at all. So then they decided: let’s control whether it’s a male or a female researcher that was present. Well, the rodent showed significantly fewer signs of pain, on average about 36% lower score on the grimace scale, when it was a male researcher in the room.

Justin: Oh.

Blair: When there was a female researcher in the room, or no researcher at all, it was, they got the results they expected. So then they wondered if they were responding to the sight or something else more subtle. So then they had these researchers place a worn t-shirt near the injected animal and leave the room. Even when the humans weren’t present, rats and mice showed about a 36%, again lower score, on the grimace scale, when there was a male t-shirt, rather than a female t-shirt.
Justin: Oh.
Blair: And when they put both a male and a female t-shirt next to each other, there was no impact. So this means that…

Justin: Now I am confused.

Blair: An odor of a male makes the rat or mouse grimace less, show less pain.

Justin: So, but wait, the last one got me. If they put the male and the female shirt there – it cancels out?

Blair: Yeah. So this makes sense because if you are thinking about being an animal in the wild, if there is a male, a solitary male, he is either hunting, defending his territory or looking for a mate. If you are in pain and you show weakness, you are dinner.

Justin: Hmm.

Blair: You are in trouble. So if there’s a female there, the male is not solitary, the male is probably occupied with the female, not a concern to you. But if the male is hunting or looking for territory, then you don’t want to look like you are in pain because you are showing weakness and putting a target on your back from this male.

So the question is: what now? After all of the research that has been done, forever, with mice and rats. When is this confounding? When is this a problem for the research and when is it not? Because it looks like having male laboratory assistants and male researchers, could be problematic around these mammals. And do they affect other mammals? Do they affect monkeys? Do they affect rabbits? We don’t know.
Justin: Hmm… So, so, yeah, with the assumption then, is that they are faking it, they are faking, they are trying to hide their pain.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: Not that they find a strong male role model comforting.

Blair: Correct, which they were able to figure out by testing their urine. They saw stress hormones.

Justin: Stress hormones were still there. Wow. That’s fascinating.

Blair: So this does not mean if you are in pain and you are female you should have a male near you to kill the pain. That’s not what this means.

Justin: Were these male mice?

Blair: They were across the board – males and females.

Justin: Oh.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: Coz I could see a male mouse being like, you know: “I can handle it bro, yeaht that’s nothing.”

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: That’s all you’ve got?
Blair: Mmm.

Justin: Now, but…

Blair: Yeah, so.

Justin: Wait, so now males are a threat to nature? Nature is afraid of us?

Blair: Yeah. Yup. Mammals know male mammals are trouble.

Justin: Hmm.

Blair: Specifically male predator males that could be trouble. But so now of course the question is: do we fire all male scientists?

Justin: Wait… what?

Blair: I’m kidding! It’s fine. We’ll just have to figure out a way. Maybe scientists working on anything related to stress or pain with lab animals have to wear some sort of suit, or spray themselves down with some sort of scent. I don’t know.

Justin: They’ve got to spray themselves with a lady smell.

Blair: Mmm hmm. Yup. Put on a t-shirt an old lady was wearing. I don’t know. We will have to see. This is something that I don’t know if it’s enough to cause problems across the board or if there’s just certain studies that we have to be really careful. I don’t know. But, I mean…

Justin: But Blair, I am about to run an experiment. Take off your shirt, it’s for science.
Blair: Right.

Justin: It’s OK, it’s for science. I need your shirt.

Blair: Right.

Justin: Would you take it off for me, please?

Blair: Nope. No, thanks though. Thanks. Uh… mites! Mites are the fastest animal on land. So, a species of mite… yeah, a species of mite…

Justin: What? What? No, I’m sure that I’m faster than a mite.

Blair: Paratarsotomus macropalpis is the size of a sesame seed and it is – it goes 322 body lengths per second. So this is relative speed. So you probably are faster than this mite if you both started at the same starting line.

Justin: Probably win the one yard dash as well.

Blair: Right. The previous record holder was the Australian Tiger Beetle which went at 171 body lengths per second. By comparison, a cheetah going 60 miles per hour only goes 16 body lengths a second. And this guy shattered the previous record by almost twice as fast, 322 body lengths per second. If you look at the size of a human and you extrapolate that – that would be as though you were running 1300 miles per hour.

Justin: Woo.

Blair: 1300 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of how fast these guys go. And they are found in Southern California, these mites. And it’s interesting not only because this is a new world record, but it also reveals a whole new glimpse into the physiology of movement and physical limitations of living structures because again, this guy has shattered the record of how fast a land animal could be.

Justin: Do we, do we have any indication of why he requires this sort of speed? Or is it just, or is it just, episodic of the size and physics of the universe of that scale being (such that you can move or propel yourself greatly). (intelligible)

Blair: So, part of it is that, relative speed and stride frequency increases as animals get smaller.

Justin: Uh.

Blair: Muscle physiology should eventually limit how fast the leg can move but apparently this mite has figured out a way around that and so they are trying to find if there is an upper limit.

So these things run over rocks and sand and stuff in Southern California. And part of the reason, potentially, that they would have to go so fast is that the concrete where they run on can get up to a 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

And they can run on it and it doesn’t hurt their feet. So then there is also a much higher upper lethal temperature than most animals. So not only are they the faster things we have ever seen, but they can withstand some of the hottest temperatures we have ever seen.

The question is why exactly that’s what they are still trying to figure that out. So they can also stop and change directions really fast. And so now they want to
a) figure out bioengineering applications from this mite but
b) they want to study it more in its own habitat to figure out, yes, if there is a reason that it has to go exactly that fast.

Justin: Alright, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to, I’m going to to take down the big top on my flea circus. I’m going to, I’m going to, I think we are going to have to go with the mite circus from now on.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: Mitey Olympics.

Blair: I don’t know if you can hold them in though.

Justin: I don’t even know, I don’t know how big a mite is. I’d just assume that I can’t see it with eyes.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: Yeah.

Blair: Yeah. OK, and one more really quick one before the break. And then I have more animal stories for after the break too, don’t worry. But stress! Therapy dogs. Well, they relieve stress in humans. There’s been lots of studies about that.

Justin: But they create stress in cats.
Blair: I’m sure it could. What this study looked at for the first time, was if it creates stress for the dogs.

Justin: Oh.

Blair: Good question, right? If these dogs are going to see addicts and people with deficiencies and mental acuity problems and all these kinds of things is that stressing these dogs out, going into these new environments, meeting all these new people, being pat by all these different people all the time – is it stressing out the therapy dogs?

Justin: I’m picturing the dog…

Blair: No one thought to ask.

Justin: I’m picturing the dog, like, on the couch, you know: “My human is just so needy, he is just constantly and I’m afraid, I’m afraid he is becoming absolutely dependent on me for, as his emotional touchstone for everything. I mean you don’t understand. I like a good, I like a good “Attaboy!”, I like a good pat. I like a good scratch behind the ears once in a while. But this is constant!”

Blair: So this, they weren’t specifically looking at people who have their own therapy dog that they are with all the time, which I am sure the dog would be super happy about being with that person all the time, ‘cause that’s their owner, that’s their life partner, that’s their world.

They were looking at these dogs that go into group therapy sessions and help shy people to open out about their problems and all those kind of stuff. And, so these people are, these dogs are meeting strangers almost every day and going into situations where those strangers have some sort of problem.

And it turns out, for the most part, it does not bother the dogs at all. Another reason dogs are amazing. As long as they’re getting positive attention, it sounds like they are good to go. The one caveat to that is that if they were stuck on a leash, sometimes stress hormones did go up.

So if they didn’t have the freedom to move around as they wanted, to or away from these people, go get water, go pee, whatever. If they didn’t have the freedom to do that, that would stress them out. But if they were off-leash, they were totally fine. No stress, whatsoever. Dogs are awesome. They are just so perfectly evolved to be with us, do what we need so that they can get what they need from us. It’s astounding to me, I love it. Yup. Yup, that’s all I have. Are you ready to go to the break?

Justin: Awesome stuff, is it that, I think it is that time.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: Do we have to? What do we normally say when we go into the break? Oh, I remember! Stay tuned for more of This Week in Science!

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Justin: And we’re back with more This Week in Science!

Blair: Hooray, Justin, what else do you have?

Justin: That was it, that’s that I’ve got. That’s all I’ve…

Blair: That’s not true.
Justin: Oh wait! I’ve got another one. This is out of the University of Adelaide. Researchers have discovered that stem cells taken from teeth, TEETH, can grow to resemble brain cells.

Blair: Teeth in my brain?!

Justin: That’s right. So actually they could one day be used, in the brain, as a therapy, perhaps to generate brain cells lost from a stroke. The University’s Centre for Stem Cell Research, laboratory studies have shown that stem cells from teeth can develop and form complex networks of brain-like cells.

Although these cells haven’t been fully developed into fully-fledged neurons, researchers believe it’s just a matter of time, and the right conditions, to get it to happen.

A quote here from Dr. Kylie Ellis, she is the Commercial Development Manager of the University’s commercial arm: “Stem cells from teeth have great potential to grow into new brain or nerve cells and this could potentially assist with treatments of brain disorders, such as stroke.” “In reality, the reality is treatment options available for thousands of these stroke patients every year are limited.” she says. “The primary drug treatment available must be administered within hours of the stroke and many people don’t have access within that timeframe because they often can’t seek help from someone at the time, for some time after the attack.

Ultimately, we would want to be able to use the patient’s own stem cells for tailor-made brain therapy that doesn’t have the whole host rejection issue commonly associated with cell-based therapies. Another advantage is that the dental pulp stem cell therapy may provide a treatment option available months or potentially years after a stroke has occurred.” Wow. So far, this is of course, being done in mice.

Blair: Right.

Justin: With mice teeth.

Blair: That’s still pretty freaky, some teeth in your brain.

Justin: Right. Well, that you know…

Blair: I know they are not actually teeth.

Justin: That’s not actually putting teeth in…

Blair: But it’s still in my mind, the idea of putting teeth in there.

Justin: Yeah.

Blair: Which is kind of true.

Justin: Well, regardless of where it comes from, I think, I think, the, the other, the other aspect of this, I mean a lot of this is developed for therapies.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: But then like who couldn’t use a few more neural connections?

Blair: Mmm hmm. So that means…
Justin: (muttering… a few more brain cells…)

Blair: I could, if I wanted stem cells, an easy way to do that is to have one of my teeth pulled.

Justin: Yeah.

Blair: That’s pretty sweet.

Justin: Just save it.

Blair: Save my wisdom teeth, right?

Justin: Yeah. Before, before you lose all your teeth, I guess, right. Before all your teeth are gone, you may want to find a way to preserve them.

Blair: Because you use the baby teeth, that would be great. Use your baby teeth.

Justin: I don’t know how long, I don’t know how long you, I don’t know how long…

Blair: How long they’re good?

Justin: Yeah, I don’t know how long they’re good for.

Blair: So maybe we should just be taking our wisdom teeth when they get taken out, having them cultured into stem cells and then keep those in some sort of safe deposit box for later.

Justin: I didn’t lose mine, mine came in because I have a big enough mouth. That, they fit just fine.

Blair: Well. I have a pretty big mouth, but apparently not big enough.

Justin: What else, what else is going on out there? Oh, there’s more traces of water on Mars? This is…

Blair: More?!

Justin: More, right? So this is the southern hemisphere of Mars that’s home to a crater that has a very well preserved gullies and debris and it’s showing debris that’s in the form of flow deposits. The geomorphological attributes of these landforms provide evidence that they were formed by the action of liquid water in somewhat geologically recent time. The geologically recent timeframe, somewhere between, somewhere, okay so they figured the edge of the crater itself, it’s helping to date this. The edge of the crater itself is approximately 200,000 years.

Blair: Oh, that’s it?

Justin: Well, means that, OK, it was, it was formed after what they think may have been an Ice Age on Mars, which ended around 400,000 years ago.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: Now, they seem like really long timeframes, but as we were talking about in our last story, this all occurred in the, pretty much in the days of the Neanderthal.

Blair: Mmm hmm.
Justin: Right? So Neanderthal is running around Eurasia, looking up at Mars, maybe Mars was a little shinier, I don’t know. What would Mars look like if it had an Ice Age? Maybe it looked a little different. Right, but and so there would have been water flowing in this crater, well into the, the, the, the run of Neanderthal.

So, somewhere, somewhere between 200,000 years ago and now, since gullies are common on Mars, the ones which have been studied previously are older, the sediments where they have formed are associated with the most recent Ice Age. Our study crater on Mars is far too young to have been influenced by the conditions that were prevalent then. So this suggests that the meltwater-related processes that formed these deposits have been exceptionally effective also in recent times.

Blair: Hmm. What’s recent times?

Justin: Well, that’s within the last 200,000 years. So the, because the Ice Age would have ended 400,000 years ago. You could have had evidence of thaw out stuff going on
then, (but this thing) it stuck around, there was still flowing, going on. Wow. That’s much more recently then I, I thought, that we, that there would have been flowing water. If you are telling me this took place sixty million years ago, it’s like, yeah, yeah long, long time ago.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: But 200,000 years or sooner, that seems awfully recent.

Blair: Mmm hmm. Very recent.

Justin: Mmm hmm.
Blair: Yeah, awesome. What else you’ve got?

Justin: I’ve got the, there was one other thing. You go ahead. I’ll go track down my missing story. Sorry.)

Blair: I mainly picked this story for the name of the article that was published about it. There’s safe-bee in, num, in numbers! There’s safe-bee in numbers. I couldn’t even say it. Bummer.

Take two! There’s safe-bee in numbers! Bees, bumble bees, can distinguish between safe and dangerous environments. And on top of that, are attracted to land on flowers popular with other bees when in a dangerous environment.

So first of all, the scientists trained bees to differentiate between safe and dangerous environments. By doing, how they, how they did that was, when a bee landed on a flower associated with danger, foam pincers would trap the bee and prevent it from foraging – which simulates an attack by crab spiders, which is very common and I apologize for all of the crab spiders that will be in all of your dreams tonight. Crab spiders lurk on flowers to catch pollinators and they can camouflage like a chameleon, they can change color to blend in with wherever they are sitting.

Justin: Mmm hmm.

Blair: Sorry, everyone. It’s not bad enough that spiders are creepy, they also can, some of them change colors to blend in with their environment.

Justin: That’s really cool.
Blair: Yowza! But so the crab spider hides on the tips of these flowers, blends in with the pollen and then when a bumble bee flies in… whoosh! They grab it! So they used these foam pincers that didn’t actually hurt the bees to train them – what is a dangerous environment and what is not a dangerous environment.

In the safe environments, the bumble bees chose to feed from flowers at random, but in dangerous environments, the bees always specifically flew to flowers that were occupied by other bees. And the scientists related this to if you are walking through a bad neighborhood you are more likely to choose a busy street where there are lots of other people around than a deserted street to get to your destination, since the chances of being attacked are lower.

I don’t know if that’s why you pick a busy street in your head. But this is I guess what’s happening underneath: there’s more people to a) witness what’s happening but b) more people to potentially to get the attack than you.

Justin: Right, and so there’s safety in numbers, I get that. But it also could be more like the area may appear to have been vetted. Right? Like…

Blair: Yup, there’s that too.

Justin: Ok, if there’s other bees there and they are not getting attacked, then chances are this is safe. There’s other bees that have, you know, buzzed ahead and not gotten taken down. So it’s probably safe.

Blair: Right, there’s all of that for sure. And, they avoid being eaten in many ways. But mostly, yeah, they are getting the information from the bees, because if the bees are there it’s probably safe, but also, yes, there’s strength in numbers. They want there to be more opportunities for them not to be the one getting grabbed. Normally, they would spread themselves thin, minimize competition, but when it’s dangerous, self-preservation wins out over getting more pollen. Pretty cool.

Justin: And… Blair there has frozen.

Blair: To see how long distance migration works, with disease transmission. So would you expect if there were animals that were infected… Oh no.

Justin: You’re back, you’re back.

Blair: Hello?

Justin: We have a time delay now though. We have a lag.

Blair: OK. Oh no.

Justin: You’re there. Everything is cool. Everything is under control.

Blair: Well, anyway, so scientists used a model, they designed a model to look at how long distance migration affects disease transmission. Now, if you were going to guess, if I was a monarch butterfly and if there were some sick ones, would migration make disease spread farther? Or would it reduce disease transmission? What do you think?

Justin: I think it would reduce disease transmission.

Blair: Why?

Justin: Because in migration, there’s more distance between the butterflies and therefore they are less likely to pass it on to each other.

Blair: So you are exactly right. Most scientists have thought… you outsmarted the scientists, Justin.

Justin: Of course.

Blair: Most scientists would have thought that that’s actually going to spread it farther. Because in the process of migration, they’ll run into other communities converging at the new point at the end of the migration and they’ll spread the disease to other animals.

But in fact, what’s happening is, not only does it reduce the proximity in between animals so there’s less likelihood to spread it amongst themselves within a community, but additionally, additionally, it weeds out the weak ones. So, all of those butterflies like Justin is showing you on his pillows, if some of those were sick, they might not make the difficult migration and in fact that would stop the disease from spreading.

Justin: Huh.

Blair: Which is pretty wild and it’s important to know because especially with monarch butterflies their migration rates are being disturbed.

Justin: Devastated.

Blair: Devastated, disturbed. Change from climate change, they’re getting hit from all different angles and their migration is thrown all out of whack. And so, and some people are planting milk weed close to them so that don’t have to migrate so there’s still food during the winter. And so they’re trying to figure out if that’s going to affect them adversely, which it looks like it might, because when you take migration out of the picture, it’s going to change disease transmission and in fact it’s looking like it’s going to move diseases around the individuals a lot more.

So that’s something to keep in mind looking forward, migration is a good thing, it weeds out the weak ones. It also creates distance in between all of the individuals so actually it’s a plus for halting disease transmission. Pretty interesting.

Justin: Human version of this is the Oregon trail.

Blair: Right.

Justin: If you hit the Oregon trail and you are ill, you didn’t make it to California.

Blair: That’s right.

Justin: Yeah. Or, or, again or maybe.

Blair: Danielle died of the Red Fever!

Justin: Mmm hmm. On the way.

Blair: (You lose a turn.)

Justin: People, people out in California didn’t get sick from you, because you never there!

Blair: Exactly. Exactly. You were too weak to ford the river. You died.

Justin: Mmm hmm.

Blair: Yup.

Justin: So I found my (answer). This is, this is more, more science being done with the help of mice. These mice researchers, (I am surprised is that, I am surprised is that there are more mice in science).

Blair: Hmm.

Justin: Working together, John Hopkins biomedical engineers and neurosurgeons reported they have created tiny biodegradable nanoparticles able to carry DNA to brain cancer cells in mice. The teams says the result of their proof of principle experiments suggest that such particles loaded with death genes might one day be given to brain cancer patients during neurosurgery to selectively kill off any remaining tumor cells without damaging normal brain tissue.

“In our experiments, our nanoparticles successfully delivered a test gene to brain cancer cells in mice, where it was then turned on.” says Jordan Green, PHD, assistant professor, Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“We now have evidence that these tiny Trojan horses will also be able to carry genes that selectively include death in cancer cells, excuse me, selectively induce death in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells healthy.” This would be an amazing, amazing development. One of the problems, one of the, when cancer metastasizes, when it gets into the brain, one of the big obstacles for traditional treatments is getting past the blood-brain barrier for one, and targeting directly anything the brain uses is exceedingly difficult. This, if this proof of, principle proof of concept (flushes) out can be a huge weapon in the war on cancer.

Blair: Wow, that is awesome.

Justin: Right?

Blair: I love it! Little Trojan horses.

Justin: Right?

Blair: Someone in the chat room wants to know what the nanoparticles are made of.

Justin: Now, let’s see. It does not give me a descriptor. Or does it? Let me see here.

Blair: And Kevin (unique) in the chat room says: “Really, really small things.”

Justin: Well, that is correct. That is a 100 percent correct. They are really, really, really, small things.

Blair: A plus.

Justin: Now let’s see. OK, they used dozens of different types of particles and tested for their ability to carry and deliver a test sequence of DNA but it, (intelligible) but it does not give me here what was the successful one.

Blair: Hmm. Interesting. Well, that would be a fantastic way to get this kind of stuff done.

Justin: Actually, it does look like… the lab itself, the lab where this work is being done, specializes in producing tiny round particles made up of biodegradable plastics.

Blair: Mmm.

Justin: So maybe, it maybe that…

Blair: It dissolves when it’s done?

Justin: Right. So maybe that, they’re experimenting with different, different formulas of the plastics, biodegradable plastics, to see which one of those works better.

Blair: Mmm hmm. Interesting. OK, do you wanna hear? I have a couple more headlines before we finish up.

Justin: Yeah.

Blair: So they found a cartwheeling spider. Morocco, in Morocco. Cebrennus rechenbergi which lives in the sand desert of Erg Chebbi.

Justin: Wait, say that again.

Blair: Cebrennus rechenbergi.

Justin: I, I just wanted to hear you say that.
Blair: Cebrennus rechenbergi. It’s the first species of spider documented to project itself across the sand through cartwheel-like motions and I would love for you guys to all check this out on the Youtubes.

I am going to try and screen-share it right now. See if you guys can see it this way. But it’s, here there’s a, they have a robot that they are trying to train to do it as well using the same mechanics but this spider is really wild.

It’s really just doing cartwheels across the sand. So they just found it, they are trying to figure out all sorts of stuff about it. Why it does it that way? How it does it that way? But it really just looks like it’s falling downhill, but it’s projecting itself. It’s pretty wild.

Justin: Yeah, it looks like it’s getting blown by the wind. I wonder if that’s how it figured it out.

Blair: Like a tumbleweed.

Justin: Right, like if there was like a good wind along and it was just like: “Whoa, oh, oh, geez, oh gosh, oh, oh, hey look, check me out. This is kind of… Hey yeah, I got it now. I’m feeling it. I’m doing this. Yeah I’m going… I’m travelling everywhere like this from now on.”

Blair: Yup, it does kind of look like it’s jumping for joy, right? It’s pretty funny. So they’re really cool, check that out, hopefully we will have some studies of them coming out soon about why they do that. Then also, the secret, the secret of deep-diving seals has been discovered. They use carbon monoxide for good.

Justin: Hmm.
Blair: Mmm. Carbon monoxide is a poison in our bodies. Something that we get from smoking cigarettes that can mess up our bodies pretty bad. Well, it turns out that it restricts blood flow and reduces cell damage when elephant seals deep-dive.
Justin: Hmm.

Blair: So. Apparently when an elephant seal dives, they are basically holding their breaths for a long time, sometimes over an hour. When they come back up, when they breathe air again, the rush of oxygen could cause tissue damage, it could cause cell bloating, it could cause all sorts of problems with blood flow and the carbon monoxide has a protective effect, so that it keeps inflammatory problems from happening after breathing oxygen again.

And so recently there’s also been laboratory research on rats and mice where they found that carbon monoxide has anti-inflammatory properties after organ transplant as well. So it looks like we are starting to figure out exactly how these animals can hold their breaths for so long and carbon monoxide is a part of it.

It’s pretty cool. So, it gets pretty technical, I’m not going to get too much into it. But essentially, the levels of carbon monoxide in the seals’ blood were comparable to that of someone who is smoking more than forty cigarettes a day.

But it has therapeutic benefits in the elephant seals. So, pretty interesting. That does not mean that cigarettes are good for you. That does not mean we need carbon monoxide. What it means is that these seals use it to help them when holding their breaths for a really long time. It could be figured out how to use it for humans, like I was saying before for the rats and the mice, after organ transplant in some sort of anti-inflammatory property. But, that’s still very much to be determined.

Justin: I’m just trying to protect myself from oxygen.
Blair: Right, right, yup. Mmm hmm. Yup. So there’s that one and the very last one, not related to animals, only slightly related to science, but Leonardo da Vinci, may have created the first-ever 3D image and that image was the Mona Lisa.

Justin: Now, now, forgive me, Blair. For my art history may not be as extensive as that of others, but it seems to me that a 3D image could have been created by perhaps a statue maker.

Blair: That’s not an image, Justin!

Justin: Oh, you mean like… a 3D…

Blair: A flat thing that looks to be 3D.

Justin: So if you put 3D glasses on and you look at the Mona Lisa…

Blair: No.

Justin: No? (you better explain it)

Blair: There is a copy, or what they thought was a copy of the Mona Lisa in Prado, in Madrid.

Justin: Which actually, I have seen before.

Blair: Yeah.

Justin: And it’s, it’s actually nicer than the original. It’s actually like…

Blair: Yeah, it’s less battered, fresher.

Justin: Yeah, it’s a little crisper. It’s a little nicer.

Blair: So new research indicates it was probably made at the same time, but it’s from a slightly different position and the distance between these two perspectives is very, very, close to the distance between a person’s two eyes, which you could use to create a stereoscopic, 3D effect when you combine the two.

So if any of you have seen stereoscopic pictures, some of the very first 3D pictures, you kind of put on these funny glasses that are basically blinders and at the end you have two pictures suspended on the ends of those blinders and it creates something like a 3D image.

So the background of this Mona Lisa copy was black, but if you scraped it away it’s the exact same background that was in the original Mona Lisa, but it’s from a slightly different angle as well. Everything in the picture is from a slightly different angle, but it looks, the angle makes it the exact right angle to make it a stereoscopic image. So it’s possible that da Vinci invented the stereoscopic image a.k.a. the beginnings of the 3D image.

Justin: OK, you know what I think? You know what I think this is? I don’t think this is… I’ve already got a theory of what, what happened here. I don’t think it was an attempt to make a stereoscopic image. I think it was, I’ll bet you anything it was, it was Leonardo going: “OK, I want to do this right.” It’s like you take your kids in, you are going for a photo, anywhere, you are going to get your picture taken, anywhere but the DMV and they will take more than one picture.

Blair: Right.
Justin: So they can, you know, get one that’s the good one. So I can picture, Leonardo having two canvasses… I’m going to do these eyes over here… I’m going to try it again over here… I’m going to do this over here… I’m going to move over here now… I’m going to do that same segment over here.

And his paintings may have come out almost identical, except, they would have been as he shifted back and forth between the two canvasses taking the two shots, the two portrait sittings would have shown up from a slightly different perspective.

Blair: Well, these scientists believe that this one was done by a student in his studio – like an apprentice. Which makes a lot of sense also, if you are going to do it that way, and so it could have been totally an accident. However, da Vinci did write about monocular and binocular vision before…

Justin: He was brilliant.

Blair: Studied aspects of optics and experimented with colored light sources. But what we are not clear about is if he’d ever put all those things together and did this intentionally.

Justin: You know what would be interesting? You know what would be interesting? Is to go back through the…

Blair: I thought you were going to say to go back in time.

Justin: That would be next, that’s my next thought. That’s actually, you’re ahead of me. You’re, wait, did we already go back in time? Are you from the future? (I… Sometimes it can be… so…)
Blair: Yeah, I’m from right now and now.

Justin: What I’m…

Blair: And now, and now…

Justin: What I’m wondering is, if we could, if we go through the archives of Leonardo da Vinci’s creations and experiments or (apparati), if we will find some kooky viewer that seemed like oh and you are trying to build a binocular but it was slightly askew and it didn’t work. I wonder if, I wonder if somewhere in there, is an invention of a viewer where you can put the two paintings some distance away and watch them and see that stereoscopic vision.

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: Ah… that would be clever.

Blair: Yeah, I don’t know. Apparently it doesn’t make an absolutely perfect stereoscopic image, but it would make sense as a first or second try. Not everyone accepts that both images were made by Leonardo. It’s possible that that one is just a copy and not a great copy and that’s why it looks that way.

Justin: Uh…

Blair: But all of those things being coincidental…

Justin: It really does look better.
Blair: Seems unlikely. So for that reason, I’d like to think, I think that it’s pretty cool, out of all the things that Leonardo da Vinci figured out, it makes sense to me that he might have figured out stereoscopic images.

Justin: Well, is it, is it that the whole image isn’t, it’s just not lined up? Or is it just uneven in the copy. I mean if it’s all from a different perspective slightly in the copy…

Blair: Uh huh.

Justin: That’s a weird copy.

Blair: Yup. Exactly.

Justin: Because at some point, you’re like: “Oh”.

Blair: Yup.

Justin: Well, now you can see this in the background of the original.

Blair: Yup.

Justin: So you got to be able to see that in the background of the original. If you’re covering everything ever so slightly in one direction and revealing everything ever so slightly in some other perspective or direction…

Blair: Yup.

Justin: That’s kind of hard to be a copy then at that point you’re kind of take it… I think he just did two versions.

Blair: Exactly.

Justin: I think, I think it’s all Leonardo, there was no student.

Blair: Well, if you look and now I’ve closed it so now I have to open it back up again.

Justin: Oh my goodness.

Blair: But if you look at, they did a rendering of what the setup looked like and they used Playmobil figures which I love, I think it’s hilarious.

Justin: Playmobil… OK.

Blair: I’m going to screen-share this too. If you look at how they had to be standing, it doesn’t look accidental because if you just had your students standing next to you, then he’d be next to you. But he’s not exactly next to him, he’s actually in front of him and slightly overlapping.

Justin: Interesting.

Blair: And a comfortable position for a student to copy you, would be next to you and far enough apart from each other that hands could be moved without bumping into one another.

Justin: Oh…

Blair: But if you look at how they are standing, this looks pretty intentional.

Justin: Unless, unless you’re Leonardo da Vinci and you have a brush in your left hand and a brush in your right hand and are going back and forth and doing both paintings – one a left-handed painting, one a right-handed version, which he was capable of doing. He could do this! And he could write backwards with one hand.

Blair: He was ambidextrous.

Justin: He was ambidextrous but he could also like write different things at the same time with each hand. He could do all kinds, he could write backwards if he wanted to and it would complete the, it would be right. I mean, he was that insanely more intelligent and functional of a human than has walked the earth since. I think he did both paintings at the same time now. I don’t even think they were, yeah, I think he did, I mean, I think he did one left-handed and one right-handed.

Blair: You think he did it intentionally too, to be a stereoscopic image? I kind of do.

Justin: I still don’t. I still don’t know if I would go that far. But I do think he was like: “The last one I did, I wasn’t happy with. I’m going to do two versions this time. I’m going to see”, maybe it was an experiment, “I want to see if it comes out better left-handed or right-handed.” And I think the one that they think is the copy is because it was the better painting. And he was like: “You know what? I’m keeping that one. ”

Blair: Mmm hmm.

Justin: I’m going to give the other one to the client. But I’m keeping that one because I (intelligible).
Blair: Well, apparently he did have students paint alongside him pretty often.

Justin: Mmm hmm.

Blair: It’s pretty well-documented. And the differences between the two also make experts in this sort of thing think that it was painted by two different people because of certain things with brush strokes and…

Justin: Right. Left-handed and right-handed.

Blair: Stylistics. Yeah, sure, why not?

Justin: (Stylistics are slightly different.)

Blair: That could be it, sure.

Justin: And the experts also thought it was a copy for the longest time. Right, what? What art experts? Let’s get the scientists involved. That’s a brilliant story though.

Blair: Mmm hmm. It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of sciencey.

Justin: Alright.

Blair: So, thought I’d throw that out there. What else do you have, Justin, anything else?
Justin: That’s it and I think we have used up our allotted timeframe and then some for the regular broadcast. Join us later for the after-show broadcast.

Blair: Yes, first – shoutouts. Shouty Blair is going to do some shoutouts.

Justin: Uh oh. This is going to get loud people.

Blair: There’s lots of Patreons and supporters and I’m going to say all of their names. Are you ready?

Justin: I’m ready.

Blair: (Rudy Garcia, Ryan Yuen, Colby King, Savannah Cummings, Salison dot ten, Alex Smith, Richard Van Der Hack, Alec Doherty, Joe Wheeler, Eric Cook, David Margaret, Simon Legauss, Matthew Litwin, Ethan Nosia, Gillian, Ackland, Nick Bradwell, William Lesono, Loom Zapini, Bruce Cordel, Anthony Leonard Perez, Michael Walden, James J Roscoe, Philip Aferton and Thomas Maquinen.) Thank you everybody.

Justin: Some of them are the most awesome names I’ve ever heard too.

Blair: I know. There’s so many…

Justin: None of our Patreon donators have boring names.

Blair: It’s true.

Justin: They’re all awesome.

Blair: So cool. So, those are my shoutouts.

Justin: Does that mean, hang on I’ve got to bring up the thing right there (intelligible).

Blair: On next week’s show, once again we will be broadcasting live online at 8pm, Pacific Time, on TWIS dot org slash live, where you can watch and join our chat our past episodes at Week in Science or TWIS dot org. Don’t forget to tell a friend about TWIS and to check out our Patreon page – Patreon dot com slash This Week in Science. Also, I want to shoutout that the short about plants has dropped!

Justin: Woo!

Blair: It is on our Youtube page. It is also all over our various Twitters, which we are going to tell you all about in a second. So go to TWIS dot org and check that out, go to Week in Science and check it out. I did it at the Exploratorium with Kiki, it was super fun.

Justin: Thank you everybody for listening, we hope you enjoyed the show. TWIS is also available as a podcast. Just Google “This Week in Science” in your iTunes directory or if you have a mobile device you can look for TWIS for Droid in the app in the Android marketplace or TWIS – simply T-W-I-S in the Apple marketplace. For more information, oh wait that’s…

Blair: Go ahead.

Justin: For more information on anything you’ve heard on today’s show, show notes will be available on our website, where you can also make comments and start conversations with the hosts and other listeners as well.

Blair: I’m going to steal this one now. Or you can contact us directly. E-mail Kirsten at Justin at or me, Blair, at Just put TWIS, T-W-I-S in the subject line so your e-mail doesn’t get spam-filtered into oblivion! You can also ping us on Twitter, where we are @TWISScience, @drkiki, @Jacksonfly and @blairsmenagerie. We love your feedback. If there’s a topic that you would like us to cover or address or a suggestion for an interview – anything at all, please let us know.

Justin: We will be back here next week and we hope you will join us again for more great science news.

Blair: And if you learned anything at all from the show today, remember…

Justin: It’s all in your head!