Sciencism 2013/03/10

This week in Sciencism we talk about; Latest Climate Change Analysis, Greening the desert / reverse climate change, Fauna news, wolf and rhino, camel, Milky Way Bubbles to solve Dark Matter? Russians find new bacteria, and then don’t, Scientists uncover invisible motion in video, Fly Wings of Death. Science Feature – Women in Science. Science Issue – Cancer research, money well spent? Science or Fiction – Arthropod Edition; Dustmites demonstrate reversible evolution, Honey bees able to produce caffeine to provide erformance boost, Female butterflies can smell an inbred male Q: Which historic event happened aboard a Soviet space craft in June 1963? Last week in the past.

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Sciencism Agenda 10/03/2013

  • Intro and social media spiel
  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Feedback – iTunes review
  • Science news
  1. Latest Climate Change Analysis

Shaun Marcott and team at the Oregon State University have pooled the DATA from 73 proxy measurement of temperature, indirect mesearuements that survive through time such as growth rings of trees which increase in size in warmer climates when the trees grow more quickly to estimate the temperature over the past 11,300 years. Most current measurements only go for arround 2000 years. The results show that after the last ice age the global average temperature increased slowly until arround 9500 years ago by 0.6oC where the temperature peaked and remained fairly constant until about 5500 years ago, temperatures then began to slowly fall until arround 1850 , the dawning of the industrial ageby arround 0.6oC, in the late 1800s temperatures began to increase sharply in line with green house emissions from humans.

According to Micheal Mann who was not involved in the study the rate of warming over the past 150 years is faster than any other time over the past 11,000 years.

The Earth’s temperature naturally fluctuates due to the wobble of the earth’s tilt, as the tilt increases more sunlight falls on the poles in the summer period keaping the earth warmer and the inverse happens as the earth fluctuates back to a smaller tilt, the earth is currently reducing in tilt which means the global average temperature should be decreasing however the planet is now nearly as warm as it was 11,000 years ago and by 2100 may be even warmer.

  1. Greening the desert / reverse climate change
  2. Fauna news, wolf and rhino
  3. Milky Way Bubbles to solve Dark Matter?
  4. Russians find new bacteria, and then don’t

Earlier this week Russian scientist Sergey Bulat who was part of the team that had breached Lake Vostok which lies 3.5 kilometers below ice in february of last year reported that after comparing the DNA of 20 bacterial species found in the lake water that plugged the hole made by the drill one was less that an 86 percent match to known groups of bacteria.

Lake Vostok has been isolated from the rest of the world, both sea and air for over 14 million years, meaning any life that may have evolved there has evolved independantly in that time and is likely to be quite to different to life that has evolved with the interaction of the rest of the worlds biosphere.

If the lake does harbour lifeforms it was expected they would be found on the lake bed where most of the nutrient content would be, the lifeform would have had to have been sucked up through 700 meters of lake water to reach the drill head where the bacteria was found.

Saturday however the head of the genetics laboratory, Ladimir Korolyov made a statement saying that “We found certain specimens, although not many. All of them were contaminents, that is why we cannot say that previously unknown life was found”.

  1. Scientists uncover invisible motion in video
  • Science Feature – Women in Science
  • Science Issue – Cancer research, money well spent?
  • Worldwide Deaths
  • Science or Fiction – Arthropod Edition
  1. Dustmites demonstrate reversible evolution
  2. Honey bees able to produce caffeine to provide erformance boost
  3. Female butterflies can smell an inbred male
  • Science Quiz
  1. Q: Which historic event happened aboard a Soviet space craft in june 1963?



Dollo’s states that evolution is uniderctional and irreversible, however this is still a contreversial idea and is a matter of debate amongst evolutionary biologists. A new genetic analysis of common household dust mites shows that in the past the dust mite evolved from a free living species to an obligate parasite and then once again became a free living organism.

“Parasites can quickly evolve highly sophisticated mechanisms for host exploitation and can lose their ability to function away from the host body,”  Author Pavel Klimov  said. “They often experience degradation or loss of many genes because their functions are no longer required in a rich environment where hosts provide both living space and nutrients. Many researchers in the field perceive such specialization as evolutionarily irreversible.”

Honey Bees

Many plant species secrete chemical such as caffein and nicotine in their pollen. New research by Geraldine Wright indicates that the amount of caffein which is normally bitter and deters many insects is low enough in concentration that the bees cannot detect it but high enough in concentration that it provides a mental boost to the bee helping it remember the characteristic of the plant making it more likely to pollenate a plant of the same type as well as potentially having an addictive effect, making the bee more likely to go back to that species of plant.


Inbreeding often leads to genetic weaknesses within a species and is typically reduced by evolutionary methods. Inbred male butterflies are less capable of foraging and protecting the nest.

New research by Erik can Bergen indicates that inbred males produce significantly less sex pheremone that their outbred counterparts and that the females use the lack of scent to discern her sex partner. In tests where the mating of butterflies was tracked the females breeded less often with the inbred males, but when their ability to smell was interupted there was no difference.


Read more at:


World Mortality Stats

DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026



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