Featured image: Directed fluid flow, caused by waving cilia around proto-organs, acts as a signal that tells the cells what proteins to produce. Voilà: a heart is born! (Courtesy Biologists.org)
This time on These Vibes, we welcome Dr. Jason McSheene, PhD from Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology and professional medical writer. Jason walks us through the insanity that is embryonic development: how does a growing bundle of cells know to grow organs? How does it turn various proto-organs into a spleen, kidneys, a heart? It all has to do with fluid flow and protein growth, a subject Jason mastered during his PhD work at Princeton. After this, we talk about Jason’s communicative side, and how he has transitioned into the medical industry as a disseminator of diabetes information. How do you keep physicians, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies on the same page? It’s all in the episode!
In this episode of These Vibes, Brian subbed in for Stevie (sick and sounded like a screecher monkey) spoke with our resident science historian Ingrid Ockert on her recent article, “Science Television in the Sputnik Age.” Additionally, we welcomed Dr. Julio Herrera-Estrada back on the show to discuss his in-depth research on droughts in North America. All that, and lots of music.
Featured image: A photo of an ice chunk dug up from a glacier in Alaska; this chunk came from 682 feet below the surface. (courtesy Climate.gov and Mike Waszkiewicz).
In this show, we zoom in on the science of ice core drilling. Scientists have long examined the layers of ice sheets, which are about two miles thick over Greenland; different summer ices and winter snows make yearly trends visible to researchers, so that we can track the climate over the last 100,000 years. How do researchers manage to camp out in the harsh Greenland tundra for months at a time to dig up miles of ice core? What do we learn about the tumultuous climate from this venture? Much of the discussion is based on an excellent book, The Two-Mile Time Machine by Richard B. Alley.
In other news:
Fingertips sweat a tiny amount when you touch a hard surface, ultimately softening your skin and improving your grip.
Biodiversity is enormous in the rainforest compared to the polar climes, and scientists are just starting to understand why. It may have to do with seasonality and competition within a species.
In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie spoke with Dave Seal, a mission planner on the Cassini space probe which spent many years orbiting Saturn. Cassini operated its final maneuver, called the “Grand Finale,” and ended its observing by plunging in to Saturn just last Friday morning at 8am EST. It took a final image and took it’s last bits of data on Saturn’s atmosphere before being destroyed. Listen in to learn about the mission, its development, goals, and discoveries, and learn more about what it’s like to be a mission planner on a NASA space probe.
All that plus great music, and science news from microplastics in our seasalt to the new research on cancer cells.
Featured image: The Luzon Strait serving as a breeding ground for internal waves. Alternating streaks of rough and smooth water are visible traversing the sea floor. (courtesy MIT)
This week, we host Robert Nazarian, graduate student in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, to talk through his research on ocean dynamics and internal waves. How complicated is the motion of the sea, and how can this massive system be modeled? Rob’s research focuses on energy flows through the sea, where waves carry heat from one place to another. How do ocean flows, large-scale motion and small-scale turbulence alike, affect the environment in and out of the water? Further, Rob will talk about his outreach, and how he has used innovative teaching techniques to engage students in learning about oceanography.
In this edition of These Vibes, Professor Edward Felten joined us back in the studio to discuss electronic voting — what that means, what are the alternatives, the pros and cons, and the current state of voting technology in the US. Edward Felten is professor of computer science and public affairs here at Princeton University, and founding director of the Princeton Center for Information Policy. Additionally, he was Chief Technologist for the Federal Trade Commission from 2011-2015 and joined the Obama administration as Deputy US Chief Technology Officer in 2015.
Our discussion gives particular attention to usability issues with the current voting computers used in US elections and their vulnerability to attacks. Professor Felten discusses the role of hacking in the 2016 election, and, to wrap-up, what the ideal voting system would be, using our current technology.
In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie speaks with neuroscientist Christa Baker about fruit fly mating songs and electric fish — and for each, how she is tracking their neural pathways to learn how their brains undergo the complicated process communication.
Additionally, animal behaviorist Matt Grobis comes on the air to talk about the nitty gritty “devil’s chess match” of doing research — the good and the bad.
In a new medical development, we may be able to replicate human cancers in zebrafish and use these “avatars” to test our cancer drugs. Each fish would have a specific person’s cancer—radical, sadistic, but probably helpful for cancer patients.
A team at Purdue University has invented a medical exam that fits on a piece of cardstock, including microfluid channels, a power supply (activated by the pressure of your fingers), and tests for anemia and liver function.=
The full playlist can be found at WPRB.com or below.
In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie discusses measuring neutrino that were produced just one second after the Big Bang singularity in our early universe with Princeton University professor and high energy physicist, Chris Tully. In the interview, Professor Tully explains what a neutrino is, why they’re so difficult to measure, and why we should have a bath of neutrinos sitting at just a couple of degrees above absolute zero all around us today. Then, he tells us about the early universe when that bath of neutrinos, called the Cosmic Neutrino Background, were produced, and how he plans to measure them with his instrument PTOLEMY (Princeton Tritium Observatory for Light, Early-universe, Massive-neutrino Yield – currently in the prototype stage).
“First Human Embryos Edited in the US.” A piece in MIT Technology Review describes the first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States. It has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University. The procedure involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR.