Episode 12: This Might Sound Kind of Evil

This week, Graycen and Alison talk about cannibalism, bones, mosquitos, and more bones. Then they experiment a little with the Buffs Talk Science format and play a game with Max Levy and Michael Pilosov. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes!

Story notes:

Alison read about how mosquitos are being infected with a special bacteria so that they stop spreading dengue virus. It’s fascinating. Mosquitos are so cool.

Graycen read about some bone bacteria, and why it’s messing with our ability to replicate Jurassic Park.

Alison also read extensively about the Ig Nobel prizes, but she focused on this cannibalism story for the podcast. Here’s the actual paper—you’ll learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about which body parts have how many calories.

Finally, Graycen read about spooky skeletons—it’s not our usual straight science fare but BOY is it an interesting story.


Game Show notes:

Notes provided by the showrunner, Max Levy. For each question, the “fact” that is italicized is false.

Round: The human condition

  1. Death

    1. Of the 20 longest lived people on record, 19 are women
    2. Human murders are the deadliest threat (to humans) in the animal kingdom
    3. In 2017, more than 100 people (on average) died in vehicle accidents per day

  2. Brain stuff

    1. Alex Honnold, of free solo climbing fame, has an amydala similar to those of addicts
    2. Memories are stored inside neurons
    3. There are millions of neurons in the gut

  3. Mortal coil

    1. Once we reach adulthood, we stop generating new neurons
      • Sapolsky book 
    2. Skin cells live for 2 to 3 weeks
    3. Brain cells can last a lifetime

  4. 20

    1. If you stare at your phone for 20 hours straight, you can get a blood clot in your brain
    2. The brain uses 20% of the body’s energy
    3. Humans use less than 20% of their brains

  5. Brain-behavior correlations

    1. Brave hero-like action increases with increasing emotional capacity for empathy
      • Sapolsky book
      • Too much empathy, and you’ll be too overwhelmed to act 
    2. Increased oxytocin is attributed to heightened xenophobia
      • Sapolsky book
      • Oxytocin (the love hormone) makes us warm and cuddly to “Us” and skeptical of “Them” 
    3. Higher testosterone is linked to smaller vocabulary
      • Sapolsky book
      • Testosterone amplifies instincts that a person/animal associates with social dominance

Round: General science and health

  1. Doctors (this has no false answer. whoops)

    1. Dr. Phil is a doctor
      • Actually he does have a PhD 
    2. Dr. Ben Carson is a doctor
      • very accomplished neurosurgeon… they made a movie about him
      • The gifted hands, cuba gooding jr 
    3. Dr. Seuss is a doctor
      • Honorary doctorate from Dartmouth 

  2. Burning stuff

    1. When we “burn fat”, it is mostly broken down and released in urine or feces
    2. Consumer products like shampoo contribute approximately as much to urban air pollution as cars burning fuel
    3. Of wildfires burning in California, Trump said that strict environmental laws are to blame
      • Twitter. Obviously. 

  3. The alphabet

    1. You can get vitamin B injected into your butt on Pearl Street
      • B12 injections for energy 
    2. Vitamin C was named for its presence in citrus fruits
    3. Vitamin A deficiencies can be treated with rice

  4. This is an element

    1. Darmstadtium
      • Discovered by Jorge Rigol 
    2. Neptunium
      • used to detect high energy neutrons 
    3. Imodium
      • Stops diarrhea 

  5. Progeny

    1. Pregnancy can cause diabetes      
    2. Einstein’s last living grandchild died 10 years ago
      • Bernhard Caesar Einstein. He lived from July 10, 1930 – September 30, 2008
      • Also a physicist 
    3. The world’s first computer programmer fathered 3 children, one of whom is known for raising horses
      • Nope, Ada Lovelace. Take that. 

  6. Cancer

    1. Cancer affects twice as many people in world as kidney disease
    2. Breast cancer is  the most common cancer, and approximately 100 times more common in women than men
    3. The word cancer comes from greek for crab
      • Yep, also known as “creeping ulcer”… hence “canker” sore

Round: Friends

  1. Family friends

    1. Chicken is the closest living relative to T-rex
      • Yep 
    2. Hippo is closest living relative of elephant
    3. Horses are rhinos closest living relative
      • Yep 

  2. Hairy friends

    1. Controlled for body size, chimps have 2 times smaller testes than humans
    2. All land mammals (besides humans and apes) can instinctively swim
    3. Bonobo society is “governed” by matriarchy

  3. Feathered friends

    1. The world’s oldest parrot was born in 1933
    2. Owls are considered to be the most intelligent birds
    3. Ravens can talk

  4. Ungulate friends

    1. Millions of buffalo used to live East of the Mississippi
    2. The bison is state animal of Colorado
      • Big horn sheep
      • Kansas and Wyoming 
    3. Bison is North America’s largest land mammal

  5. Friends in numbers

    1. The darwin bark spider can shoot a silk web up to 25 meters
      • Spiders were the best part of The Hunt 
    2. Female grizzly bears need more than 50 square miles of habitat 
    3. ~1000 times smaller than the mother, newborn giant pandas have the biggest size difference between mother and newborn

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