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.

Scrambling Bacterial Social Networks to Cure Infections

Episode 56 - by Stefanie Vogt (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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E. coli under electron microscopeHumans are newcomers to the world of social networking – bacteria have been using social networks for millions of years! Bacteria communicate with each other to monitor their own numbers, and this census-taking is critical during the infection process. New research indicates that blocking bacterial social networks could help to overcome antibiotic resistance and prevent infections.

Listen to the podcast to learn more!

Sources:

O’Loughlin et al. (2013) A quorum sensing inhibitor blocks Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence and biofilm formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110: 17981-17986.

TED talk by Bonnie Bassler: How bacteria “talk”

Astrosquid! Post on Sciblogs by Siouxsie Wiles

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.

The Chemistry Behind Evolution - Molecules that ORGANIZE THEMSELVES!

Episode 55 by Scott Unger (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Scheme of a liposome formed by phospholipids in an aqueous solution

The slow and steady process of evolution takes billions of years for genetic changes across generations for single celled organisms to evolve into the complex life that’s all around us today.

But what came before that first single celled microbe came into existence? What was it about the chemicals in the primordial soup that brought them together into the first cell?

This question is one that scientists have been looking to answer for a long time, and researcher Dr. Pasquale Stano has made an important discovery - biological molecules can SELF ORGANIZE! Using a chemical called POPC to form cell-wall like liposomes (like the one in the picture above) Stano’s team observed that 83 biological molecules responsible for creating a fluorescent protein were able to draw themselves together non-randomly into the same liposome!

Listen to the Podcast to learn more…

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.

Battle of the Sticky Frogs: Who Has the Better Grip? 

Episode 54 - by Mary Bates (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Tree Frog versus Torrent FrogWhen tree frogs and torrent frogs faced off on a test of sticking ability, torrent frogs came out on top. These little amphibians maintained their grip on steep surfaces and in running water. What’s the secret to their sticky success? 

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

Youtube video - Torrent frog defies gravity:

Further Reading:

Endlein T., Barnes, W. J. P., Samuel, D. S., Crawford, N. A., Biaw, A. B., and Grafe, U. (2013) Sticking under Wet Conditions: The Remarkable Attachment Abilities of the Torrent Frog, Staurois guttatus. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73810. 

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.

Bat-Eared Foxes Share Parental Duties - TEAMWORK!

Episode 53 - by Mary Bates (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Bat-Eared FoxesIt’s not often that you find a mammal in which the father takes equal part in raising the kids, let alone a case where he performs most of the parental care. But bat-eared foxes are unique.

Researchers have discovered that bat-eared foxes are dedicated dads that demonstrate several unusual parental care behaviors — including teaching cubs about their prey and providing them with dung.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!


For more information:

Bat-Eared Fox (Otocyon Megalotis)

le Roux, A., Beishuizen, R., Brekelmans, W., Ganswindt, A., Paris, M., and Dalerum, F. (2013). Innovative parental care in a myrmecophagous mammal. Acta Ethologica July 2013. doi: 10.1007/s10211-013-0157-1

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.

Terrifying Dolphin SEX!

Episode 52 by Scott Unger (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Bottle Nose DolphinDolphins are cute, docile, graceful creatures and we love to watch them gliding through the water… But they’ve got a darker side that most don’t know about - their sexual habits would be enough to make your grandmother faint!

Listen to the podcast to learn more about the horn-dogs of the sea!

Find out more information:

Morisaka et al. “Spontaneous Ejaculation in a Wild Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus)” PLoS ONE, 2013.

A Dolphin Gets ‘Spontaneous’

Dolphin Sexuality - Why shrink from sharks: Is it love, infatuation, or cheating?

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.

Human Yawning Makes Dogs Yawn Too!

Episode 51 - by Mary Bates (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Our dogs happily catch whatever toy we throw for them — but did you know they can also catch our yawns? Dogs are just as susceptible as people to the mysterious phenomenon of contagious yawning. New research suggests the reason could be related to the special relationship dogs have with their owners. Empathy, not sleepiness, could explain contagious yawning by dogs in response to humans.

Yawning, it seems, truly is gone to the dogs.

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!


Further Reading:

Goldman, J. (2012). Contagious Yawning: Evidence of Empathy? The Thoughtful Animal.

Joly-Mascheroni, R. M., Senju, A., and Shepherd, A. J. (2008). Dogs catch human yawns. Biology Letters 4(5): 446-448.

Madsen, E. A. and Persson, T. (2013). Contagious yawning in domestic dog puppies (Canis familiaris): the effect of ontogeny and emotional closeness on low-level imitation in dogs. Animal Cognition 16(2): 233-240.

Romero T., Konno A., and Hasegawa T. (2013). Familiarity bias and physiological responses in contagious yawning by dogs support link to empathy. PLOS ONE 8(8): e71365.

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.

RePOOPulate: Fecal Transplants without the GROSS POO!

Episode 50 by Scott Unger (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, the microbiologist who invented the Robogut to mimic the human gut for the production of gut microbial ecosystems.Fecal transplants - literally taking poo from one person and putting it into another person. It may sound incredibly gross (and it is) but it’s a valid and tested treatment for a number of diseases where the gut microbes become compromised, like in Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections where use of a broad spectrum antibiotic has wiped out your natural microbes and allows C. diff to thrive.

Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, a researcher in the University of Guelph’s Molecular and Cell Biology department, has been working to take the Poo out of fecal transplants using a robotic gut in the lab to produce a cleaned up microbial ecosystem called RePOOPulate that can be used in place of a fecal transplant.

Listen to the podcast to learn more…

Also - check out some of these references:

Elaine O Petrof1, Gregory B Gloor, Stephen J Vanner, Scott J Weese, David Carter, Michelle C Daigneault, Eric M Brown, Kathleen Schroeter and Emma Allen-Vercoe. 2013. Stool substitute transplant therapy for the eradication of Clostridium difficile infection: ‘RePOOPulating’ the gut. Microbiome. 1(3).

RePOOPulate: How Fake Poop Can Cure Patients’ Stomach Ailments (Fast Co.)

Fake Fecal Transplants for Gut RePOOPulation (Scientific American 60s science podcast)

Artificial Poop, RePOOPulate, May Lead To Synthetic Fecal Transplants (Huffington Post)

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.

Clothing with Technology - Fashion that’s Too Smart for the Runway

Episode 49 - by Lisa Willemse (Click here to directly access the MP3)

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Jeans hanging out absorbing solar energy credit byronv2 flickrThe clothing of the future is more likely to be loved for its function than its fashion. We’re already seeing accessories such as Google-Glass, the wearable computer glasses, but researchers are also busy weaving technology into the very fabric of the clothes we wear. Take, for example, underwear that monitors your health, or a shirt that can charge your smart phone. How about jeans that clean air pollution? These, and many other smart textiles may soon be coming to a department store near you. 

Listen to the Podcast to learn more!

Further reading:

He, R., Day, T. D., Krishnamurthi, M., Sparks, J. R., Sazio, P. J. A., Gopalan, V. and Badding, J. V. (2013), Silicon p-i-n Junction Fibers. Adv. Mater., 25: 1461–1467.

David Szondy. (2012) “New type of optical fiber could be used in photovoltaic fabrics” in Gizmag

Jacob Bush. (2010) “Biosensors in Briefs” in Highlights in Chemical Technology

Catalytic Clothing

Lisa Willemse

Lisa Willemse is a science communicator with an interest in the science found in our everyday lives. She has worked as a journalist, photographer and was once encouraged to take a job in sales (she lasted one day). She is an alumni of the Banff Science Communications Program and currently works for the Stem Cell Network in Ottawa.