Science Affliction #17

Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 | Comments Off on Science Affliction #17

Science Affliction #17

Welcome back to Science Affliction! Why? Mostly because I realized I’d collected enough interesting science stuff and nonsense to fill a post. And I haven’t posted in a while on science topics so it felt like it was time.

Un) More than you ever thought there was to know about Pluto. Ice volcanoes! Fast spinning moons! Pluto is even weirder than we thought. It’s going to take about a year for us to get all the data from the Pluto fly-by, and I’m looking forward to what else we can learn from our favorite not-planet-planet. Related, we found a new dwarf planet last week that’s even farther away! Just when we think we know so much about the solar system, it throws something new at us.

Deux) Can we cure cancer with algae? Maybe. The story is a little more sensational than the study probably warrants, and there are lots of reasons we don’t want to just start pumping ourselves full of genetically engineered diatoms, but the idea of using them to deliver drugs is really interesting. The link to the Nature article has more of the nitty-gritty in the abstract.

Trois) This is why we need more studies analyzing chimerism in humans. A paternity test shows a man isn’t the father of his child because the genetic father is actually his (the father’s) unborn and absorbed twin. Really fascinating and lots of story potential! Although Stephen King tread some of this ground already in The Dead Zone.

Quatre) Slightly related and equally weird: A woman can have twins by two different fathers! It sounds like the fodder of daytime talk shows (hell, so does number three) but it turns out a woman can have one set of twins with different fathers. And it’s way more common than I would have thought!

Cinq) We found a new whale. Seriously. Only discovered a decade ago. Never seen in the wild until this year. Tell me again how there’s nothing new to discover on this planet.

This has been your quicky science round-up of the weird and interesting. I hope you found something interesting to get the mental gears turning.

-C

Bonus) TedTalk by Hans and Ola Rosling about how to be less ignorant about the world. Especially relevant this week is how fear twists our perception of the world. Hat-tip to Daniel Bensen for bringing Rosling to my attention!

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