Science Friday

Science, technology, environment and health news and discussion with host Ira Flatow.

Schedule

Friday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m and 9 p.m. – 11 p.m
on News Station

 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 
 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 

Friday, May 16, 2014 Permalink

Science Friday: Arctic Ice, Smallpox, Invisible Ink

Seb / flickr
 

Seb / flickr

Two studies out this week confirm that the glaciers of West Antarctica have begun to slip into the Amundsen Sea. Scientists estimate it could take 200 years for the ice sheet to completely melt. Glaciologist Ian Joughin tells us what this could mean for rising sea levels.
The last known case of smallpox was diagnosed in 1977. In 1979, the World Health Organization declared the virulent disease, which caused millions of deaths over the course of history and prompted a global vaccination effort, to be eradicated. However, live samples of the virus live on, stored in carefully guarded freezers in Russia and the U.S. Now, world health experts are set to discuss whether or not it’s time to destroy those samples. Inger Damon, head of the Poxvirus and Rabies Branch at the CDC, argues that the time is not yet right.
The last known case of smallpox was diagnosed in 1977. In 1979, the World Health Organization declared the virulent disease, which caused millions of deaths over the course of history and prompted a global vaccination effort, to be eradicated. However, live samples of the virus live on, stored in carefully guarded freezers in Russia and the U.S. Now, world health experts are set to discuss whether or not it’s time to destroy those samples. Inger Damon, head of the Poxvirus and Rabies Branch at the CDC, argues that the time is not yet right.
Seizures that leave patients convulsing are easy to diagnose, but subtler seizures can be much harder to recognize. Enter the “brain stethoscope.” Designed by an epilepsy specialist and music researcher, the stethoscope aims to help caregivers recognize seizures by turning patients’ brainwaves into music.
 
Graphene is an one-atom thick layer of graphite, the same material in pencil lead. This thin layer of the material is stronger than steel and flexible like plastic. Our panel of experts take us through a tour of what gives graphene its unique properties and how it might be used in computers, biomedical devices, and other future applications.
The robotic deep-sea submersible Nereus was destroyed while diving over six miles beneath the surface in the Kermadec Trench off the New Zealand coast, researchers reported this week. Parts of the unmanned vehicle are thought to have imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch during the dive, which was planned to help study deep-sea ecosystems. The submersible was one of only four vehicles to have explored the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the oceans. Timothy Shank, a marine biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and chief scientist on the HADES mission, describes Nereus and what its loss might mean for deep-sea research.