Mystery of the Floating Plastic

Episode 66 by Cris Felipe-Alves (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Plastic floating in the oceanPlastic is a one of the most revolutionary inventions of all times. They are cheap and easy to produce, can be shaped to many functions and last for a long time. But what happens after you discard them for good? Listen to this podcast to find out about the mystery of the floating plastic.

Reference

Plastic debris in the open ocean - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Chris Felipe-Alves

Cris Felipe-Alves has worked as a researcher in both academic and private environments. He’s currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Otago (UoO) in New Zealand before moving permanently to the West Coast of Canada. He’s also an alumni of the UoO’s Centre for Science Communication with specialization in Natural History Filmmaking and Communications. Watch some of his YouTube movies. Learn more about Cris from his LinkedIn resume


Rubber Made From DANDELIONS!

Episode 65 by Meredith Hanel (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Rubber boots and dandelionIn suburban North America, dandelions are nothing but an annoying weed to be extracted from lawns. The dandelion may soon rise from its lowly status, because of something valuable in its roots – rubber. We use natural rubber from the rubber tree for many things from tires to birthday balloons. Dandelion rubber car tires and dandelion latex products may be in the near future, but scientists need to find a way to extract it more efficiently and coax the dandelions to produce as much rubber as possible. Find out why rubber tree plantations may not keep up with world rubber demands and why the Russian dandelion could be an environmentally friendly addition to the rubber industry.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

For More Information:

On the Rebound: Scientists revive search for new rubber sources. Science News, August 2013. 

Fraunhofer and Continental come together when the dandelion rubber meets the road. Fraunhofer Press Release, October 2013. 

Dutch Biotech Firm to Make Car Tires From Hybrid Dandelions. Inhabitat weblog, February 2013. 

Abbotsford company’s Russian dandelion could provide eco-friendly rubber. The Vancouver Sun, May 2014.

Continental Wins GreenTec Award 2014 for Dandelion rubber. Continental Press Release, May 2014.

Meredith HanelMeredith Hanel earned her Ph.D. in Medical Genetics at University of Alberta and spent many years doing research in molecular and developmental biology related to medicine. Meredith presents hands-on biology workshops in elementary schools, and writes teacher resource materials, with the science outreach charity Scientists in School. She enjoys writing about science and loves to dig into the biology behind anything in nature. You can read her blog at http://biologybizarre.blogspot.ca


Pandas: How Carnivorous Bears Became Vegetarians

Episode 64 by Mary Bates (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Giant Panda eating bamboo - from Wikipedia CCLAt first glance, the giant panda seems ill-suited to survive almost exclusively on bamboo. But new research reveals the latest in a suite of physical and behavioral adaptations that help it make the most of its vegetarian diet.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

For More Information:

Nie, Y., Zhang, Z., Raubenheimer, D., Elser, J. J., Wei, W., Wei, F. (2014), Obligate herbivory in an ancestrally carnivorous lineage: the giant panda and bamboo from the perspective of nutritional geometry. Functional Ecology. 

Ruiqiang Li et al. (2010). The sequence and de novo assembly of the giant panda genome. Nature 463 (21): 311–317.

Zhu, L., Wu, Q., Dai, J., Zhang, S., and Wei, F. (2011). Evidence of cellulose metabolism by the giant panda gut microbiome. PNAS 108(43): 17714-17719. 

Mary Bates is a freelance science writer living in Boston. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from Brown University where she studied bat echolocation. You can visit her website at www.marybateswriter.com and follow her on Twitter at @mebwriter.


The Meaning of Life

Episode 63 by Cris Felipe-Alves (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Bacteriophages attacking a bacterial cell - From Wikipedia, public domainWhat’s alive? What does it take to be alive? It’s easy to point at a big thing like a giraffe or a human and say “That’s definitely alive.” But what about cells? Bacteria? And Viruses? The question of what is “alive” has been debated and explored by scientists for generations - Listen to our podcast to learn more!

For more information, check out the scientific discussion in “Nature Reviews: Microbiology

Ten reasons to exclude viruses from the tree of life

Reasons to include viruses in the tree of life

Six comments on the ten reasons for the demotion of viruses

Ten good reasons not to exclude giruses from the evolutionary picture

There is no such thing as a tree of life (and of course viruses are out!)

Viral genomes are part of the phylogenetic tree of life

Compelling reasons why viruses are relevant for the origin of cells

Chris Felipe-AlvesCris Felipe-Alves has worked as a researcher in both academic and private environments. He’s currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Otago (UoO) in New Zealand before moving permanently to the West Coast of Canada. He’s also an alumni of the UoO’s Centre for Science Communication with specialization in Natural History Filmmaking and Communications. Watch some of his YouTube movies. Learn more about Cris from his LinkedIn resume


EINSTEIN! Still the Champion… Of Physics!

Episode 62 by Scott Unger (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Gravitational Lensing - Wikipedia
Gravitational Lensing - the Gravity of the galaxy in the middle is bending the light from farther away around it - allowing observers from Earth to focus on the far-away celestial bodies.

Einstein. One of the biggest minds science has ever known and arguably the most important scientist to the advancement of our understanding of the universe the world has ever known. And much like a prize fighter – some would seek to prove Einstein wrong. Defeat the Champ and you win the belt.

Enter the ring, Dr. Edward Dowdye, former NASA scientist, arguing that Einstein got it wrong with the Theory of Relativity… But hold up! You have to check the facts before you accept that the Champ has been defeated… And listen to this podcast to learn more!

For more information:

Epoch Times - Former NASA Physicist Disputes Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (But … if you look into it more, you’ll see, he’s wrong.)

Gravity Lens - Dr. Karl S. Kruszelnicki, ABC Science

Extinction Shift Principle (Written & Published by Dr. Edward Dowdye)

Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity - Space.com

Team of scientists use gravitational lensing to examine unseen galaxies

Scott UngerScott Unger is the producer / director of Experimental.  He’s also a career science communicator with a background in Microbiology, and spent seven years working in a series of laboratories before moving into science writing.  He is an alumni of the Banff Science Communications Program. Learn more about Scott from his LinkedIn résumé. You can also follow Scott on Twitter @scottu487.


Cancer: Taking Over the World One Mutation at a Time

Episode 61 by Cris Felipe-Alves (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Enhanced electron microscope image of lung cancer cells during divisionCancer affects millions of people worldwide each year. By undergoing mutations, cancer cells start dividing uncontrollably until they form tumors and metastasize. But how does that occur? Find out how cancer develops by listening to the podcast.

For more information:

Hanahan, D. and Weinberg, R. 2000. The hallmarks of cancer. Cell; 100 (1): 57-70.

Hanahan, D. and Weinberg, R. 2011. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell; 144 (5): 646-74.

Chris Felipe-AlvesCris Felipe-Alves has worked as a researcher in both academic and private environments. He’s currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Otago (UoO) in New Zealand before moving permanently to the West Coast of Canada. He’s also an alumni of the UoO’s Centre for Science Communication with specialization in Natural History Filmmaking and Communications. Watch some of his YouTube movies. Learn more about Cris from his LinkedIn resume


Shark Skin from a 3D Printer!

Episode 60 by Mary Bates (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Carribean reef sharkScientists and engineers have long been intrigued by how the shark’s rough skin helps it glide effortlessly through the water. Now, a team of scientists have used 3D printing to create an artificial shark skin. Tests with their synthetic skin show just how shark skin saves energy and boosts swimming speed.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

For more information:

Wen, L., Weaver, J. C. and Lauder, G. V. (2014). Biomimetic shark skin: design, fabrication and hydrodynamic function. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 1656-1666.

Mary Bates is a freelance science writer living in Boston. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from Brown University where she studied bat echolocation. You can visit her website at www.marybateswriter.com and follow her on Twitter at @mebwriter.


The World’s Greatest Pandemic (You’ve Never Heard Of)

Episode 59 by Stefanie Vogt (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Mosquito biting a humanA pandemic is raging worldwide, with millions already infected. But instead of being humanity’s downfall, this pandemic could actually save us from diseases like dengue fever and malaria.

Listen to the podcast to learn more…

Sources:

LePage and Bordenstein. (2013) Wolbachia: Can we save lives with a great pandemic? Trends in Parasitology29:385-393.

 Eliminate Dengue Program

Werren et al. (2008) Wolbachia: Master manipulators of invertebrate biology. Nature Reviews Microbiology 6:741-751.

Stefanie VogtStefanie Vogt is a postdoctoral fellow studying microbiology at the University of British Columbia and an alumna of the 2012 Banff Science Communications Program.  She has shared her love of science with thousands of kids by organizing science competitions, science activities in rural Alberta, and a science-themed Harry Potter Day.  Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieVogt.


Deadly Ninja Shrimp Kick Ass!

Episode 58 by Scott Unger (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Mantis Shrimp - WikipediaThe true badasses of the sea, Ninja Shrimp, also known as Mantis Shrimp, can lash out with their claws with such force that they momentarily generate temperatures similar to the surface of the sun due to friction! And that’s not all - listen to the podcast to find out more about these ferocious and beautiful beasts!

For More on Ninja Shrimp:

Vicious Sea Creature Sees in Dazzling Color

The Strange and Fearless Mantis Shrimp

The Amazing Mantis Shrimp

Scott UngerScott Unger is the producer / director of Experimental.  He’s also a career science communicator with a background in Microbiology, and spent seven years working in a series of laboratories before moving into science writing.  He is an alumni of the Banff Science Communications Program. Learn more about Scott from his LinkedIn résumé. You can also follow Scott on Twitter @scottu487.


Flirty Female Monkeys Throw Stones at Males To Get Their Attention

Episode 57 - by Mary Bates (Access the MP3)Capuchin Monkey (Access the full text transcript)

Female capuchin monkeys don’t look any different when they’re at their most fertile. So to let the males know when they’re ready to mate, they change their behavior - making faces and following the males around. But in one group of monkeys, the females have figured out another way to get attention: throwing stones at the object of their affections. It’s a brand new behavior never before reported in monkeys.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

Mary Bates is a freelance science writer living in Boston. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from Brown University where she studied bat echolocation. You can visit her website at www.marybateswriter.com and follow her on Twitter at @mebwriter.