Science Friday

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

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Friday, June 27, 2014 Permalink

Science Friday: Sunscreen, BBQ Pitfalls, And Clever Cephalopod

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011/flickr/CC BY 2.0
 

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011/flickr/CC BY 2.0

Before you lather up the sunscreen this summer, do you know how SPFs and UVs work? Skincare scientist James SaNogueira breaks down sunscreen science, from how creams and sprays block out harmful radiation, to deciphering SPFs.

Food Failures: Avoiding Grilling and Barbecue Pitfalls
Are marinades a myth? How does the elusive “smoke ring” form? And can the debate over gas versus charcoal be settled at last? In this episode of our “Food Failures” series, barbecue and grilling expert Meathead Goldwyn looks at the science behind the grill and offers tips for controlling smoke, temperature, and moisture.
Cephalopods—which include octopus, squid, and cuttlefish—are quick, clever, and masters of disguise. Video producer Luke Groskin chats about vampire squid and cuttlefish while biologist Jennifer Basil homes in on one cephalopod that seems to swim below the public’s radar: the nautilus. With its heavy outer shell, weak vision, and primitive brain, it’s a “living fossil”—and Basil’s studying it to better understand the origins of the complex brain of the modern cephalopods. (To see various cephalopods in action, check out the links below.)
 
Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers write that 3-D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, detects more cancers than traditional digital mammography and reduces the number of women called back for additional testing and biopsies. But the technology is expensive, exposes women to extra radiation, and there's no indication yet that it catches more dangerous cancers, or is saving more lives. Physicians Sarah Friedewald, an author of the study, and Laura Esserman discuss 3-D mammography and what women should know for their next visit to the doctor.

Making Art From the DNA You Leave Behind
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s “Stranger Visions” project started with a question: What could she learn about a person by collecting one of their stray hairs? In an age of ever-cheaper DNA sequencing, the answer turned out to be “a lot.” Dewey-Hagborg’s portraits of strangers, made with DNA samples found in public places, called attention to the feasibility of DNA snooping. Now with her latest project, “Invisible,” she wants to put the tools to protect genetic privacy in consumers’ hands. But is total genetic privacy really possible?
Arnold Relman, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine and a professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, passed away last week at the age of 91. Relman was a longtime critic of the American health care system, calling it a "new medical-industrial complex" in a 1980 paper in The New England Journal of Medicine. In a 2009 interview with Science Friday, he said the system had "become a business, and as a business, it wants to constantly increase its sales, and until we change that, we're not going to have real health care reform." We remember him here with two archival clips.