Dr. Kiki started the show with a story about stem cells. European scientists published work showing that they are now able to reprogram adult pluripotent stem cells so that they return to an embryonic-like state. What does that mean? The cells have no memory of their former lives, and have the potential to truly become any cell-type found in the body.
Then it was all about artificial sweeteners: a recent study looked at the effects of various sweeteners on glucose sensitivity. The take-home finding is that artificial sweeteners alter gut bacteria, leading to glucose intolerance in mice, and a poorer glycemic response in a few individuals. It warrants more study, but demonstrates that what we eat can dramatically affect the bacteria within us.
Justin reported on a human origins story that has taken the anthropological world by storm. DNA reveals that Europeans descended from three groups of ancient humans rather than the two that have been accepted for years. Turns out Eurasians are in the mix!
Blair's Animal Corner was full of birds and bugs! Peacocks, the stars of sexual selection, are under scrutiny, and it seems the fabulous tail feathers of the male aren't all that big a drag. Male ash borers, a glittering green insect that is causing trouble in trees across the continental US, are the target of pest management efforts, which now include decoy females that electrocute their male suitors. Oh, and watch out for eggs from backyard chickens: you never know what is in them.
The show's second half began with a discussion of the re-evolution of sweet sensing by hummingbirds - Did you know carnivorous theropod dinosaurs lost the ability to taste sweet things, and to this day, the bird species descended from them can't either?
We talked about apes and man, and proclivities to violence. We didn't make chimps aggressive or murderous. They're just that way naturally. Thank goodness we are more closely related to the Bonobo.
Dr. Kiki always loves to bring up World Robot Domination. Need an indestructible soft robot? Check out Harvard's new bot: it can walk thru fire or snow, and survive being run over.
Other big stories included nanobots tasting wine, and smoking cessation therapy that includes psilocibin.