20 Episode results for "Bob Mcdonald"

May 9: COVID stress and pregnancy, a black hole in our backyard, solving koalas drinking problem and how to live on Mars

Quirks and Quarks

55:10 min | 1 year ago

May 9: COVID stress and pregnancy, a black hole in our backyard, solving koalas drinking problem and how to live on Mars

"I'm Keith Macarthur. Unlocking Bryson's brain is a podcast about my son. I am the rare disease that keeps him from walking or talking Bryson's perfect. His life is really hard and our families. Search for a cure. Oh My Gosh. Maybe science is ready for this. It's part memoir part medical mystery. We can do just about anything modifying. Dna Heart in my throat cure his controversial unlocking. Bryson's brain subscribe. Wherever you get your podcasts. This is a CBC podcast. Eightfold all burn dark-haired inheriting cracks. Hi I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show the covert pandemic is a stressful event. So what kind of impact. Qaddafi having on prenatal development across every aspect of the kids development the greater the amount of stress in the mother the greater the amount of change. We see in the kids plus. There's a black hole in our backyard and we had no idea. Was there black holes? In fact they endre just pretty hard to find also today solving strange marsupial mystery. How koalas drink. What happens when it rains? The water drips down the tree and Kuala on leaking the rain as it falls and pathway to Mars. What will live in when we finally get to the Red Planet using this Mars relevant material we three D. printed a fifteen foot tall Mars habitat. And that's what won us. The NASA challenge all this today on quirks and quarks. So how are you doing? The reason I ask is because these times are stressful for everyone. It's hard not to think about the impact. This will leave on society. And that's because one of the most gerbil legacies of the pandemic could be the market leaves and some of the most vulnerable among us. Those who haven't even been born yet. That certainly something. Dr. Suzanne King is concerned about and that's based on her experience studying the impact of large scale traumatic events on fetal development. The primary evidence comes from the long-term study. She began the Quebec ice storm in the winter of nineteen ninety eight the massive ice storm of nineteen ninety eight left millions of people in Quebec Ontario New Brunswick without electricity. Some for months Julie Goal was pregnant at the time framed. Pictures of her son. Vang saw now adorn her home. They show a smiling healthy boy but what doesn't show is the change in his. Dna brought on by the stress. His mother lived through sixteen years ago although shower no food. I was along with dark. Obits where Noah North Risley light so that the part that I was a bit of not afraid but Dr King a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University followed kids born after the ice storm for nineteen years and she found that disasters like the nineteen ninety eight ice storms and possibly the current pandemic can leave a mark in the form of prenatal stress. Dr King Welcome to quirks and quarks. Thank you it's my pleasure. Tell me about the moment you realize. The Ice Storm of Nineteen Ninety. Eight could be a good opportunity to study the effects on. Prenatal stress in our family. We were without electricity for about seven days and a few days after the power came back on I went up to McGill campus to give blood and after sitting and waiting for about an hour. I had my blood pressure taken and my blood pressure is usually like ninety over sixty but here it was like one hundred forty over one hundred twenty and I was really surprised as I was driving home afterwards. I thought you know what's going on. Why was my blood pressure? So high and it occurred to me that stress that's residual stress from seven days without electricity in the coldest month of the year. And so it occurred to me that if. I was feeling stressed and anxious that there were going to be a lot of pregnant women out there who were also feeling that way now is mapped to recruit women who were pregnant and to follow the development of their kids since he. What kinds of affects does it have while so you had it from first hand experience so so based on that. How concerned should pregnant mothers be today about? The effects of stress from this current situation may be having on their baby. See that's kind of a conundrum with the kind of work that I do in that. Even though it's significant statistically the effects are probably none that anybody would ever notice because the major driver of development in the child is really genetics that come from both parents and that kind of sets that high and low limits of the child's potential. And then all these other kinds of variables will move that child higher or lower than potential and every child is a bit like a beef stew. Where the big chunks of beef would be the the child's genetic makeup and there's nothing we can do to change child's genetic makeup but then you've got a lot of flavor from the carrots so the carrots are maybe the you know whether or not the mother smoked during pregnancy and then the the potatoes is maybe a mother's Diet and did she take her vitamins and so on and the stress in pregnancy depending on how severe it is that could be you know the PS but altogether. It goes into making a really a single kind of flavor and in any given child. It'll be almost impossible to say. Oh this child has an I Q. That's five points lower. If the mother hadn't had this stress now just to be clear here you see these effects. Statistically right in groups but you wouldn't be able to point at one person and one particular issue and say that that was because of the Ice Storm. Well that's true with almost all human research and the results that we have apply to populations so one of the effects that we've seen from the mothers Stress in project ice storm is that the more days. The mother was without electricity in what we call of the objective level of hardship of the MOMS predicts the children's Bmi across childhood and Adolescence Bmi Body Mass Index Index. Exactly when the children were nineteen even. We were seeing that a number of the kids in our study. We were worried that they would not fit into the MRI scanner. That's how obese. They were so we were seeing across the board their risk for obesity in the ice storm kids compared to control kids now was there a correlation between the amount of stress and the amount that these effects manifest themselves in the kids yet across every aspect of the kids development. We have seen what we call a dose-response kind of effect where the greater the amount of stress in the mother. The greater the amount of change we see in the kids so for example already when the kids were two and a half years old if we just separated the Children of mothers who had twenty days or more without electricity and other kids whose mothers had maybe ten days or fewer without electricity. We have like a ten or twelve point difference in their. I Q which is quite sizable women. Were older we saw the same thing at like ages. Five and a half an eight and a half because we saw these kids about every two years from six months of age to nineteen but we did see when the children were five and a half an eight and a half that a little bit of stress associated with a bit higher. I Q but then the greater stress than we have a drop off in their. Iq's but what was really interesting about that is that we had absolutely no effect of how distressed the mothers had been from the ice storm so it all had to do with something that they had absolutely no control over. Which was the number of days without electricity? Does it matter when during pregnancy mothers experienced the the stress? It absolutely does. So the idea is that as the fetus growing in the mother's womb for each month as the pregnancy is progressing there are different periods where for example a particular part of the brain is in rapid growth. And so if that's the point in time when the major stressors starts that's the part of the brain that is more likely to to show effects and we see that a lot so for example when children were exposed to the ice storm in their first trimester so early in pregnancy and we have seen effects on autistic like symptoms. None of the kids in the study have autism. But if you look at kind of a like a normal continuum of these kinds of traits for kids who are in their first trimester the more days. The mother was without electricity or the higher was her distress. The more of these kind of autistic like traits. The child would have on the other hand late in pregnancy. Is when a part of the brain called the Sara. Bellum is really in a period of rapid growth. And not only on project ice storm but in some of our other disastrous studies. We see that the third trimester is a very vulnerable period for motor development. So the more days. The mother was that electricity. If it was in the third trimester the more likely the child is to have problems with balance or coordination or visual motor integration. So really there's there's no good time pregnancy to go through a natural disaster or have any other kind of major stressor well. How does the experience of stress by the mother even get to the fetus? That's a great question. So many years ago it was believed that the fetus was. What was termed the perfect parasite that I it was inside the mother's womb that it couldn't hear anything couldn't see anything and was totally cut off from from the mother's experience and in fact would would take from the mother any kinds of nutrients or or other things that it needed even if it was at the expense of the mother but then more recently it's been recognized There is a phenomenon called fetal programming that the placenta is a bit like a sensory Oregon. So while you're is perceived the environment so that you don't walk into a table or walk off a cliff or get into trouble. The Placenta is a bit like a sensory organ that senses the Mothers Environment. The Mothers Skate and so it sends signals to the fears to alter its development. So this whole idea of fetal programming has actually evolved. There's a nuance to it. Which is called? Predictive adaptive response with the idea that yes indeed the Placenta perceives the mothers environment but the kinds of alterations that are being made to the fetus are intended Mother Nature to help. Secure the baby's survival in the short term after birth but not necessarily for their long term health. So some of the things that we've seen for example are that the more days the mother was that the earlier the girls from project ice storm were having their first periods so having monarchy and that might be a way of saying. Okay there's danger out there. We want to get these girls to survive and get them to an age of reproduction. So we're going to start their menstruation at a younger age while so then it's the sort of preparing the fetus. Hey you could be coming into a dangerous situation. Here's you better get ready either. Have a period early or if it's leading to obesity Maybe a better start hoarding yourself. You know learning how to how to gather food because there isn't gonNA be much out there. Exactly not only see food. Eat the food and then keep the food on your body. So what's the mechanism? Here what's going on? In the bodies of these young children would lead them to a lower IQ or or obesity. One of the things that we were really curious about and intrigued about is that while the conventional wisdom is that the way in which prenatal maternal stress affects the fetus. Is that a thing happens. The mother gets upset about it. You her subjective distress that starts her stress hormones secreting through her body. Those hormones can escape through the Placenta and change the development of the fetus. But we're seeing so many effects like on the cognitive developments like I q on the immune function on the brain on insulin secretion. That has everything to do with objectively. What happened to the moms without having any effect from how upset she was? So we've wondered like what is the mechanism if it's not going through the moms distress and her hormones and one of the things we found is something called epigenetics so you cannot change a person's DNA but along Vidana. There are these little spots that are a little bit like little switches that turn different genes on and off according to the environment. So it's a little bit like a piano. You can't change the keys on the piano but you can play a different tune so we found when the kids were aged thirteen and we took samples of their blood to look at the DNA we saw something called DNA methylation supports related to turn on and off these genes that the mothers hardship the more days without electricity was correlated with the degree of methylation on more than a thousand different points on the children's DNA and that these changes in DNA or this pattern of DNA was then associated with a number of the outcomes that we saw in the kids especially the physical outcomes like their degree of insulin. Secretion their body mass index there. Something called C. Peptide so definitely. There seems to be an EPI genetic mechanism that is responsible for a lot of the poor outcomes of Humil- that we've been seeing like the high insulin secretion. You also studied the prenatal stress effects of other natural disasters. Besides the Quebec Ice Storm. You looked at floods and wildfires. How does the stress were under now with this Kobe? Nineteen pandemic compared to those right so when we look at Prenatal maternal stress. We look at four different components. We look at the degree of laws the scope the threat and the change. And what we're going through now is definitely very high on all four of those aspects of stress if you think about the loss throughout the population there are very high levels of financial loss and loss of freedom loss of all kinds of things. So that's pretty high if we think the scope like. How long does this last well? This is already lasted longer than the storm for the women who are the most affected which was something like forty five days. The other aspect of scope is like what percent of your neighborhood or of your community is affected. So we've found for example that levels of stress for highest following the ice storm and following the wildfires fort mcmurray because these were disasters that affected literally everybody so the the scope of this pandemic is. Global. I mean literally. There's nobody that is unaffected by it. So that level of stress is very high if we think about threat. We're being told everyday multiple times per day. Wash your hands. Stay away from people you know that the threat level is constant for us. And then if you think about levels of change everything about our lives has changed to. Even if you don't have the virus everything about going to the grocery store everything about our work about recording an interview on the radio everything is different than it would have been before so. This is a highly stressful situation and reports are that pregnant. Women are being especially stressed out at this time. So what can women who are pregnant now or who may become pregnant during this time? Due to alleviate these stresses for their fetuses there are things that we can do there something that we can't do so if you think about threats pregnant women can limit their threat. Stay inside follow the directives. Keep washing hands. Let other people go to the grocery store so one can limit the threat? Not Much we can do about the scope. But what about change? We all make the joke about people who do their meetings by skype. And you know. They've really got their pajamas on. Or you know. Their people are getting up later so we can limit change by trying to keep a regular routine as much as possible. You know going to bed at the same time waking up at the same time getting dressed as you would. If you're going into work were regular day. There's another aspect of the the stress that we think about besides the objective and the subjective distress and. That's what we call cognitive appraisal. So although the objective hardship was correlated with something like a thousand two hundred little. Cpg Sites on the kids DNA the way the mothers had thought about the ice storm whether it was a very negative negative neutral positive or very positive. Event in their estimation this explain more than two thousand Cpg site methylation. And we've seen it the way. The mothers answered this one question. What are the consequences of the ice storm on you and your family from very negative very positive that this one item predicted a number of different outcomes so it leads us to think that is much as possible of people can look for for positive things about what's happening during the pandemic that will help the mother probably but may also have effects downstream on the mothers fetus? Dr King. Thank you very much for your time. Oh you're very welcome by Dr. Suzanne King is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal Okay so this is a bit of a paradox. Astronomers have just discovered a black hole. You can't see with the naked eye while you can't see it of course because it's a black hole and holes in space timer invisible though they can sometimes be detected if they're consuming gas and dust around them which gives off light. But this one isn't doing that so it's invisible but it's very close to us so close that if it were a star instead of a black hole you would be able to see it with the naked eye and we've never detected a black hole anywhere near this close astronomer. Dr Thomas Ravinus with the European Southern Observatory based in Santiago Chile led the team that announced the discovery. Dr Revenues. Welcome to our program. Thank you very much finding. Where is this black hole but in terms of in the sky it's in the Southern Hemisphere? Not that far off from what you see the in Kuwait in terms of distances about a thousand light years. But it's more interesting when you say that it could be seen. If it were a star it actually can be seen in the sense. Because it has two companions dos So you can see the stars that are with us but a thousand light years. That's in astronomical terms fairly close as it not. That's fairly close. It's it's in the Senate immediate neighborhood. How did you detect it? Maybe familiar with what is called the Radio Below Sea Techniques? That is the way they just one. By how you can detect planets the planets make the star. They go around Wilbur back and forth and so does the black hole and planet makes stopover back and forth with a few meters per second only but a black hole makes this tool with a tens of kilometers per second so this is how what we saw a start at. This is all things something with tens of kilometers per second and we didn't see what it was already so you're not seeing the black hole itself. You're seeing the motion of a star. That's going around. Yes received a reflex motion of the Stop. Indeed now how many stars are in this system. It's three objects. It's the black hole and two companions dos. One of them's Rod closed. This is where we see this reflex motion and the other one is pretty far away and doesn't move much so the black hole is acting like the sun in our solar system. It's at the center and the other stars are acting like planets going around it. Yes exactly. That is what we call a hierarchical system that you can make clear groups of individual objects. Tell me about these other stars that are going around the black hole that both in a sense similar namely that they have similar masses. Dan both be Type Stars. Which means I have five six seven. Solar masses bumped individually with a different is what got US initially interested in the system. One of them is rotating very rapidly so so rapidly that it almost flies account. It's actually played it. Throated so fast. Material flows to the Equator Creates. A disk and that makes it interesting data staff. Stanko of similar mass isn't rotating facet on boy. I I'm trying to picture that a star that spinning so quickly. That stuff is flying off at quite or making a disc around sort of Saturn's rings but it's a star is it's a sign ended Is is not subtle at all anymore. It's it's really in an oblate shape. How big are these stars? And compared to the black hole itself I use the black hole is maybe in diameter twenty kilometers. What about their mass? How how massive is the black hole now that stand f almost similar here with the stocks we estimate to have two seven and a black hole it has at least four point two solar masses so everything here is bigger than our sun in other is the stars and the black hole in terms of Maas. Yes well how do you get a system like this with a black hole in the center stars orbiting around it originally but three stars of course? And that's not very uncommon. It's actually quite like in particular for massive stars. It's very likely to be multiples. Stocks like some light Alison itself of course single. And that's common for this law starts but domestic ones are very often and it's just a matter of time if a star if one of those stocks veteran massive it will ultimately explode new supernova and then such assistance. How big was the star that form the black hole? It must've originally born with something. Like fifteen to twenty solo mosques. We believe to form a black hole that nameless. Okay so if you have this massive star that explodes in a SUPERNOVA and turns into a black hole. Why didn't that blow away? The other two stars that are close to it yet. It's appointed nominee all often as observe. Actually these supernovae explosives OSCE metric. They go off in one direction preferably and then the remnant flies away in the direction the restaurants going the other direction it gets a kick in the sense in the explosion but if but if it explodes in every single direction the same it doesn't get a kick because it the same impulse from a redundant and it stays buddies so the system still exists tells us the explosion must have been fairly symmetric to begin with. Oh I see so if it explodes in one direction that would act like a rocket thrust blowing it away so this one's stayed there it but the stars that are around him I mean Supernova explosions very violent event where those other stars affected by that up that much. I mean if it if it didn't if it didn't blow away to start a cost it. Originally the others was probably waterfall away at that point so not close enough to be stoned. The affected into orbit spending So if this black hole is A thousand light years away from here so close to us as this suggests that there might be other black holes even closer than this one. That's a lot of black holes black holes in fact they on grabbed just very hard to find. We believe that the galaxy that for every thousand start as one blake home. So how many does that make the whole galaxy between one hundred million and a billion holy smokes Donald Rail? Donate just very hard to find. It's fatty it's fairly unlikely that the like holes even close but if are lonely without a companion will never find him. Well we'll be be able to use the method that you use to find this one to find others. It certainly gives us a few promising candidates. Not that Far Away. I know we need Details of observations tool to make sure they don't up they off this time. Dr Revenues. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Dr Thomas. Revenues is an astronomer with the European Southern Observatory based in Santiago Chile. Hi I'm Dr Brian Golden. If you haven't heard my new podcast the dose. This is the perfect time to subscribe each week. We answer your most pressing health related questions and right. Now we know you're grappling with cove. Nineteen on those we bring in top experts to answer your questions about the corona virus and post some of our own. Get the latest evidence in a way. That's easy to understand by subscribing to the dose. It's your guide to getting through this difficult time. You can find the dose wherever you get your podcast boy. Little things I have off. Among the most enduring images of Australia's recent wildfires were the videos of desperately thirsty approaching humans to drink water bottles. This was especially unusual and interesting behavior for scientists who study the iconic species because when it comes to Koalas researchers have had a drinking problem in the sense that they haven't known where Koalas under normal conditions get their water. It certainly not water bottles of course but the thing is. Koalas aren't usually seen to drink at places. Animals normally get water like waterhole streams or puddles. It's being a biological mystery. A mystery that may now have been solved. It turns out Kuala get their water from an entirely unexpected source. They lick wet trees. That's according to new work by Dr Valentine Mela a post doctoral research associate in the school of life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney with help from some Non Academic Koala watchers Dr Mellow back to quirks and quarks had. Bob Thank you for having me. Why Have Koalas drinking habits being a bit of a mystery up until now yes we. I think we did solve mystery now. It's very interesting because I think. Koalas are nocturnal animals. And if you think based on what we found now that coalesce excess water during rain in the trees with the sitting at you can imagine that unless we're walking in the Bush in the middle of the night in the middle of a storm. These behavior has probably gone unnoticed for quite a long time. And I think these explains why we always thought that did not dream will. What was the speculation? Before you figured it out there. They're drinking while they're up in the trees during rainstorms. Well Koalas get a lot of the water. They need from the leaves that they eat. And so qualify are able to break down the leaves and gain the moisture from the food by of course. Australia is also very dry. And especially in the last few years you know we've been experiencing terrible droughts heatwaves in these made the leaves to get drier and drier and so now what we're seeing these koalas approaching human smuggling gardens backyards trying to get water from swimming pools bird baths dog balls. But of Kohl's what we've noticed now is that people are recording these unusual behavior December reporting them. Because they're very interested in what animals are doing and this is really the reason why discovered these new behavior and I am one hundred percent. Sure that this behavior has been around forever and that we just never noticed it and now people are just paying more attention. Well tell me about the behavior. One of the Koala actually doing while they're up in the trees to get water quality seating trees pretty much most of their life and they do everything in trees they eat they sleeping trees. They are one of the only animal that doesn't even build a nest. They literally just sit there. They're exposed to the weather and when it rains walked people started noticing that these animals move to areas of the tree trunk where the surface is very very smooth. And what happens when it rains? Is that the water. Dripped down the tree and flows the tree in Kuala licking the rain as it false and it's literally like drinking out of a bottle. Just look in the tree trunk away and at the surface of some of the eucalyptus trees is very very smooth which allows for a phenomenon that is called stem flow which means that the water actually cast cades downed tree trunks and are although we think that these little droplets. It's actually literally like a little waterfall that falls down the tree and so qualify able to get quite a bit of water and I'm certainly going to look into this more. Because so far most of the observation came from private landowners or from citizen science so people that were out there observing Kuala behavior. These is what happens when we look at animals. They will tell you and they will solve mysteries for you. Have you seen the quality looking the trees yourself? I have I have and it's it's quite an amazing thing to watch. What we've been doing now is the trying to give water to coalesce in a different way so rather than giving Koalas ball to drink out of which try to mimic what would happen during a storm and so we put up You know our hottest at that. Lets the water cascade down the tree trunk? Can we observe what qualities do and the behavior is replicated? Immediately as soon as this water running down the trunk. They drink it. How long do they spend licking tree when they wanted to have a drink one of the observations that we have a Koala actually spent over thirty five minutes? Drinkin- continuously end? You can imagine why they do these because how often would they experienced rain? It's almost the question of. Oh it's raining now. A better stock up water because who knows when the next Ryan is gonNA come so it makes perfect sense really. It's just that even myself find. I thought they would go down on the ground to drink from puddles in Ravers and and strains but it looks like most of the drinking behavior century. Because I don't think about Stralia as being particularly rainy in fact I think of it just as the opposite. So you're saying they're opportunistic. When it does rain they stock up so are they. The camels of the Eucalyptus forest to conserve water. That well I think they are. Yeah I think they are. They are amazing at conserving water. Amazing I guess it would be a little more difficult to try to get water off the rough bark of a maple and oak tree. Exactly why it's interesting and I think that's also why nobody thought about these because what a stealing way to drink but if you if you if you see you collect strays with some of them are just so smooth that it's very easy to imagine that it would be volusia convenient to to learn to drink these way that in you don't even have to move you just Wiggle around the Torri and find the smooth Area and then you go and so remember we always say a lazy. I don't think they've really lazy or things about maybe they are. They not even move to drink too much. The last time I spoke with you it was in January. During the wildfires there was great concern about the impact of the fires on Koalas and other wildlife. What do we know now? About how the qualities have been doing. Unfortunately we know very little because we went from a bushfire emergency to the pandemic emergency and saw oilfield work has been suspended. We have very strict restrict restrictions implies And at the moment we still don how much with lost. We know that it's definitely more than a billion while that have died. June defies so yeah. It's very sad Dr Mela. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Dr. Valentine Mela is a postdoctoral research associate in the school of life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney in Australia. Get your ass loss. Whatever the reason you're on Mars is I'm glad you're there and I wish I was with you. One is considering race. We go out. Landing on. Mars will follow and I expect to be around to see it. This season on quirks and quarks. We've been taking a trip. The Red Planet in a series. We call the pathway to Mars. It's a trip that might be the most ambitious undertaking by our species. Ever we've been looking at the many difficult challenges of getting a human to the Red Planet and back safely in previous episodes. We got the rocket off the ground out of orbit and the astronauts safely to Mars. Today we're going to look at how we keep them alive housed and physically and psychologically healthy while they're on the Martian surface once again. We've asked Canadian. Astronaut Physician Engineer Dr Robert Thirsk for his expertise to introduce our topics. Dr Thursday spent more time in space than any other Canadian. He was on the International Space Station for six months. He's also currently working with the Canadian Space Agency to investigate biomedical and healthcare issues for future deep space missions. Dr Thurs welcome back to the program. Thank you Bob. So once we enter Martian orbit the real mission begins. So let's talk about the landing and how humans can actually survive on the Red Planet. Well we're actually going to have to send a couple of cargo vehicles in advance of the crew to redeploy assets like the rocket fuel that they'll need for the return journey The habitat that they'll be using when they live on on Mars. Also some other institute resources to produce oxygen for the life support and also for rocket propellant. as well when the crew land bill spend probably five hundred days on Mars. Del Use a pressurized long distance rover for doing some of their scientific investigations. And then they'll Think about heading back. After five hundred days nothing Dr Thirsk List is optional. But certainly the habitat the astronauts will occupy for five hundred days will be critical part of the success of any mission. It'll have to be durable. Reliable and safe and sending a building from Earth is probably not practical. So part of NASA solution to that problem was a contest. They invited teams of engineers and architects to demonstrate how they would build prototype Martian habitats and the key was to use Martian materials and Leverage Three D. printing technology on a large scale to do it. The winner of that competition was a new york-based design company called Ai Space Factory David Melot. The company's Co founder and CEO turned his architectural skill for building skyscrapers on Earth Into Designing Three D. printed living spaces on Mars. His companies. Winning design is called Marsha short for Mars. Habitat Mr Belloc welcomed quirks and works. Thank you very much. I'm pleased to be here. Tell me about your winning designed for Mars Habitat. What's it look like? Well I've heard it described as an egg or beehive. But we didn't start by just thinking of what shape he wanted it to look like it really evolved from an understanding of the physical forces that you would experience on. Mars and how can we design the most efficient shape possible? Okay so it's egg-shaped. How big is it so the Marsha habitat would be about thirty meters tall? It's four stories marshes designed as a home for for astronauts to spend about two years. Which is the amount of time that we would anticipate an astronaut on the Martian surface. Now it's going to be on Mars. There's no oxygen there. So how do you make it airtight? That's one of the biggest challenges and the reason it shaped like an egg is because the outside of atmosphere of Mars is very thin. It's about two percent of the atmospheric pressure on earth Now the inside of Marcia will be pressurized to earth atmosphere and what wants to happen is all that air wants to push outwards An escape so it's the optimal shape To contain the force of the air wanting to push outwards leak outside. Now it's you say it's four stories high and people are going to be living in it for for years so take me through sheriff so the ground floor. It's maybe I can describe it as mud room. It's a sort of transitory space. Where astronauts come off the Martian environment and have to clean off to dust off right. And then you enter through this next airlock and you you come to the second floor. Which is where we have the workspaces in the communal spaces places where you can eat places where you can also collaborate with each other ascending to the third level. Are these Living Quarters and Maj on level three You Walk Up. There's you know four pods one for each astronaut. Little Capsule Hotel. If you've seen some of those And then a separate shower pod and finally ascending up to level four. We added a room which actually was not in Nasr's brief it's called a sky room the loft and this is the place where he can do to. Arnuhar broke out on a treadmill You can play video games things that you know. The astronauts are going to need to do to pass the time in a way to keep saying any windows and windows are a big part of that so you can imagine being trapped in the submarine where. There's no windows and the kind of cost her phobia that you would feel and windows are very very important part. Psychologically to provide Every window presents a challenge. Because that's a place that Eric could potentially leak or this sort of cosmic radiation might filter through a window so we need to be very judicious in terms of how many windows replaced. And where now you mentioned that Is going to be made out of materials are Marceau? Tb through the process. How do you actually build the habitat? So to really find a way to scale ably and sustainably live on Mars. We have to learn to live off the land. We have to work with the MARSHA. Materials and our particular solution is Three D. Printing. So we have to simulate the material and learn to three D print with that so that in the future the robot goes out to Mars it collects this sort of loose rocks and stones which are on the surface of Mars called Regulus. And it uses that material grinds up and combines it with a binder which could be polymers or plastics of sorts. And use that as a composite material and it turns out that materialists super super strong capable of withstanding these forces that I described earlier. Okay now you're going to three D print something that's four stories high. Yes and to test out this concept. We've three D. printed something. That's two stories high so using this Mars relevant material this simulated Martian matter we three D. printed a fifteen foot tall Mars habitat a prototype. Mars Habitat in Peoria Illinois in May of last year. And that's what won us. The NASA challenge and the whole structure was three D. printed robotically in the span of thirty hours. We'll we'll take me through the process of the Three D. Printing. What's the robot looked? Like how does it actually make the habitat? We are using a six axis robot. And you've probably seen these because it's what the industry uses to build cars so our particular robot actually used to make cars and and now we've repurpose it as a three D. Printer. The robot holds a thermoplastic extruder. So this is a heated barrel with screw on the inside of that pushes this simulated Mars material through the barrel heats it up and it comes out of the end looking something like toothpaste like a really really hot toothpaste. So it's about a four hundred fifty degrees C. MATERIAL. By the time it comes out of the extruder so it's a sort of molten form and it just cools it sets and hardens into place You know like lava when it cools so is your idea then to to send the robot's there. I bill the habitat and then the astronauts arrive and it's all ready to go. That's correct. Strategy is to build the HAB in advance and pressurized even before the rocket launches with the human. So that by the time they get there they can be assured that there's a place for them to live For the next two years so They can open the hatch and move in. What about the cost of building something using marsh material as opposed to constructing a habitat here on earth and shipping it to Mars? You know we. We did a back of the envelope calculation and assuming the weight of a half would-be about ten thousand kilograms You know by the time you transported to Mars would be like six billion dollars. You know something ridiculously expensive Now instead you're shipping out a machine. This machine could take a lot of money to develop a lot of money to launch. Let let's just say it's two billion dollars by the time that machine gets to Mars but now you'd have the ability to build not just one habitat but multiple habitats and not just habitats but roads shelters landing pads water tanks. That's the beauty of Three D. Printing is it's not constrained to building one thing Mr Marlowe. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much for having me David. Milad is the CO founder and CEO of AI. Space Factory in New York. Now Unlikely be several decades before anything like Mr Melodic Marsh Habitat is actually built on the Martian surface. But in the meantime researchers are trying to understand what it would be like for astronauts to live in such a place for approaching two years. We're all experiencing the stresses of isolation and confinement of course but the experience for Martian explores will be much more intense. That's where another NASA funded initiative called. High-seas comes in it short for Hawaii. Space exploration analog and simulation is located on Hawaii's Big island and it's a dome shaped habitat and volunteers spent anywhere from months to a year. They're emulating what it would be like to be on Mars last fall doctor or Craig Olson and associate professor in the Center for Biomedical Research. At the University of Victoria spent a week there. It was seven days of living eating sleeping and researching justice and astronaut would on Mars but aside from living out his childhood dream of being an astronaut. He was testing a technology. He's developing that would help future. Astronauts Mental States Dr Greg Olsen welcome back to quirks and quirks. Thanks for having me on the show again. Bob I guess I should say welcome back to Earth and he. Did it really feel like you were on Mars in that related habitat? It was pretty realistic. They went to a lot of trouble to make the simulation fidelity really good. You know every time we went outside we had to wear a spacesuit if you will admittedly the view from the window was a little bit different. Did you see will right around the habits in the middle of a red volcanic field and it's it's very isolated so in the near proximity it does look a bit like Mars but off in the distance you can see the ocean and the Hawaiian beaches which was almost a bit of a strong temptation. If you will well take me through the High Seas Habitat. What's it like so high. Seas is a pretty incredible place. It's essentially dome like bubble with two floors. The ground floor has a working area. That's pretty big open space There's a wet lab for doing scientific research. So microscopes test tubes that kind of stuff There's a bathroom in a shower. There's a kitchen area. There's exercise equipment and of course there's some basic stuff Tucked away to keep the whole thing running upstairs. There's six small very small bedrooms and another bathroom. Wow and how many people are living in a one time six so it gets a little crowded you might say no kidding and you have to. If you can't just open the door outside for quick walk you have to wear a spacesuit if you go out yeah so it's they have a simulated airlock so they'll go outside you have to put on a spacesuit now in this case we're talking about as simulated spacesuit that we did wear helmets that had an oxygen supply but it was a pair of overalls and a backpack that contained the equipment to make the oxygen supply work cumbersome which is what it's supposed to be so tell me about your specific research that you were doing there. The idea was what happens to astronauts brains when they're in this environment for an extended period of time and we focused on general brain health and performance and we also focused on specifically on cognitive fatigue. So cognitive fatigue is a state that when your brain gets tired. It doesn't perform as well as you'd hope you think of a Mars mission. You might make mistakes. It could potentially be fatal so our goal has neuroscientist was using technology. We've developed in my lab and in conjunction with a private company here in Victoria to monitor brain health and performance and see if we could track cognitive fatigue across the week that we are in the habitat. Well how are you actually studying people's brains so what we do is we're working with mobile. Eeg technology so easy systems. Like everything else has gotten smaller and better. So now you can basically have an eeg system. You can put on in about a minute and that means that you can do sort of a brain assessment in about five minutes which normally would have you know in. The past would have taken two hours. So what aspects of brain activity were you looking at in the Mars Habitat? Basically what we do is we have people play a game. It's a very simple SORTA game. You see a bunch of circles on screen. Most of them are one color. Some of them are another color. And we tell you that you should tap the screen when you see the infrequent circles now what that does is. It generates brain response so when your brain sees those infrequent circles. It's basically going. Hey that's important. I need to do something and what we do is we. Look at the brain's response to those events and what's important in this case is that those responses are different when you're tired or depressed or or any number of other factors so we can compare your brain response to these things across time and make inferences about your brain health to what did you find. After a week in the Mars habitat by the end of each day. Our our brain responses it changed but we are working sixteen hour days and like I said at the outset was quite real so we were. We were all very tired by the time we crawled into bed and by the end of the week. We'd also seen a change across the week. Is You know as you might expect. If you work seven sixteen hour days back to back your your brain functions a little bit different at the end than it is at the start and you could imagine if the astronauts will at Mars. You know you do this assessment. It takes five and it shows. Hey you're you're tired. Today today. Might not be the day. You should go outside and do this important piece of work or it might say. Hey you're ready to go. So how do you think what you experienced untested there in the simulated Mars Habitat in Hawaii compares to what astronauts on Mars will be experiencing in terms of the astronaut angle? I imagine they'll experience a lot more stress because we were well aware that if worst case scenario we could have opened the door. Go On for a long walk and got down to the beach. Obviously if you're on you can't do that so the stress will be very different. Luckily our technology also picks up stress as well. So that's something we can monitor. Now you were in this habitat for a week not months on end and you hadn't just had a several month long trip through space to get to Mars. How do you know your results will apply to people having such a different experience in space? Well that's the next step for us so we are currently Have a grant submitted with NASA. Do the follow up work. We'll be putting astronaut candidates in for eight months to see how it holds up over that amount of time. If my dreams come true Mitek I'll never make it to the space of resigned myself to that facts but might might technology the next step. Beyond the eight months simulation might the international space station and then potentially as they gear up for a Mars mission will incorporate it. They're assuming that Nasons on board with it well having experienced it even though it was only for a week. What what sense did you get a what it'll be like for people who go to Mars? I think it's going to be really challenging. No kidding There's the stress of it are stress in this case was we'll our technology work. This one chance to get it. The astronauts will of course have their day to day stress. I loneliness was a big thing transmissions delayed for twenty minutes on average which means you can't facetime or skype somebody you've got to send an email and wait for forty minutes to get a reply. It's twenty minutes to get back to Earth or in the case of the simulation delayed and then twenty minutes to get answer assuming they were ready and waiting so it'll be a challenge challenging environment but that's It's a solvable problem. And there's obviously people that can do this. We've already been to the moon. And there's be people up in space on S. for quite a while night. I'm sure they'll find a crew. That's ready and capable. Go to Mars actor Craig. Thank you very much for your time. Well thanks for having me on the show again. Bob I really appreciate it. Dr Olaf Greg. Olsen is an associate professor in the Center for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. And before we go today. This is often the point in the program where we have our listener question of the week. Well with all the Cova coverage women. Doing we haven't had any questions lately. But we're going to make up for that with the whole question. Show coming up next month of course for a question show. We need your questions. So if you've got a burning science question you've been waiting to ask. Now's the time to send it to us. We'll let you know how in just a moment and that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks if you like to get in touch with US or send us a question. Our email is quirks. Cbc DOT CA or. Just go to the contact. Lincoln our webpage and get to our web page go to CBC DOT CA slash quirks. Were you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC. Listen Up. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Works courts is produced by Amanda Buckle wits Sonia Biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer is. Jim Lebanon's I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts Goto CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

NASA Australia Quebec Ice Storm Bob obesity Dr. Suzanne King Bob McDonald US Dr King Dr Revenues Nineteen Ninety Bryson International Space Station Dr Greg Olsen McGill University professor
Jul 3: Quirks & Quarks podcast on hiatus until September

Quirks and Quarks

01:33 min | 1 year ago

Jul 3: Quirks & Quarks podcast on hiatus until September

"Hi I'm Dr. Brian, Goldman. If you haven't heard my new podcast the dose, this is the perfect time to subscribe. Each! We answer your most pressing health, related questions and right now we know you're grappling with covid nineteen on those we bring in top experts to answer your questions about the corona virus and post some of our own. Get the latest evidence in a way. That's easy to understand by subscribing to the dose. It's your guide to getting through this difficult time. You can find the dose wherever you get your podcast. I'm Keith MacArthur unlocking. Bryson's brain is a podcast about my son. The rare disease that keeps him from walking or talking embracing perfect, his life is really hard, and our families search for a cure. Oh my Gosh! Maybe signs is ready for this. It's part memoir part medical mystery. We can do just about anything modifying DNA heart in my route. Cure is controversial unlocking bryson's brain. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. This is a CBC podcast. Hi I'm Bob McDonald. Courts in court is on hiatus for the summer, so there will be no new podcast until September, but you can still listen to our past episodes through your podcast feed, or from our website at CBC, dot ca slash quirks have a healthy and happy summer, and we'll be back with new programs on September twelfth. For more CBC PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Bryson Cure CBC Keith MacArthur Bob McDonald Goldman Dr. Brian
Switched at Birth

This American Life

58:26 min | 9 months ago

Switched at Birth

"Hi everybody. It's ira glass and for this american lives twentieth anniversary. We are putting aid favorite episodes from over the years into our regular podcast feed often when strangers. Tell me about their favorite story on our show. This episode switched at birth. Is the episode. They name when. I hear this episode. Now would hit me honestly is how cunningly structured thing is where where you hear about the mom from all these other people before you ever hear from her and then how your picture of her changes once you actually hear her sarah scenic. Who was then a this american life pretty serious to host serio. She was reporter. Jake halprin's producer for the story and was instrumental in shaping. Our works on the air in addition to the amazing reporting the jake did. Here's the story back in nineteen ninety four. This is back in the days when he was still delivered. Big news to each other by mail to women who barely knew each other. Mark miller and susan mcdonald got a letter from. Martha's mom dear martha ensue. Have you ever suspected or been told that we took home. The baby that belonged to kay and bob mcdonald and they later took home. The baby that belonged to us. That's martha reading and the purposes of this letter is that mrs miller is breaking the news forty three years. After the fact to martha ensued. She took the wrong baby home from the hospital. The martha ensue were switched at birth. But she's not martha's biological mom she sues and but what makes so strange is that. This wasn't the sort of thing where mrs miller figured this out. Surprise after decades of wondering and pondering and painstaking detective work. No no no. She knew it the day she got home from the hospital. In one thousand nine fifty one that she had their own baby a baby born to a woman named k mcdonald when she kept quiet. All those years here is how miller explained that in the letter. The other daughter in this baby switch. Su who was born to mrs miller. The one writing the letter but raised by came mcdonnell. The other woman reads. I had complete. Anesthesia was asleep when our baby was born. The nurse way the baby and must have left her in the delivery room until after kay's baby was born very soon after mine when we took our baby home. She sneezed five times in a row. Again martha miller. Who now goes by marty. Who wants was the baby who sneezed five times in a row. I thought that was strange. Never had that happen with any over others. We had a baby scale at home. When i weighed the baby. She weighed two and a half pounds less than her birth weight. I was sure then that there had been a mix up. I talked to norbert about it. But he did not want to disgrace are good doctor. Destler a week or so. After the baby's birth. I was reaching for something way back in the attic closet and started to hemorrhage then went into convulsions. Back to the hospital for several days and despair for my life so i dropped the mix up baby pursuit as martha grew. She did not look nor act like any other children. She was a delight to all of us so pretty so photogenic so full of life are other children. Were very serious. Martha excelled in. Music was a great cheerleader. At school. very popular and blonde our other children had dark hair and all needed glasses. For nearsightedness. martha did not need glasses. Finally on july tenth nineteen ninety-four. Norbert was willing to go to kay. And bob mc donald's fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration at pershing methodist church. When he saw you su he said. I don't need a dna test. Sue is ours. She looks just like mary. Lydia was a good twin tour. That is why. I wanted to write this letter so now. We are both aware of what happened. Forty three years ago. We love you martha jane. I'm sorry we love you. Martha jane as dearly as are other six children. I think you know that you will always be our daughter. But i thought each of you should know your biological and spiritual backgrounds. I know you have mixed feelings about this revelation. I have much anguish in many tears. But i feel i must get this out in the open so you to know how wonderful that you both are christians and great workers in the church. Do let me hear from you. i love you both. Thanks and jesus lead you in this time. Happy forty third birthday to you so into you. Martha lovingly your mom mary. Kay miller So this point. You're probably wondering why in the world didn't mrs miller straighten this out quicker. Why did you listen to her. Husband back in nineteen fifty one. Concern about disgracing the doctor over the wrong baby and as you heard in the letter one thing that makes this whole thing even stranger. Is that the two couples knew each other. The millers were at the mcdonalds anniversary party. They mutual acquaintances. The short drive from each other's houses was eager and kurdish in wisconsin. I'm a mrs miller. Finally let everybody know the truth. Long after both girls were grown up with children of their own it was disruptive that is kind of news. Nobody ever wants to hear when you get this kind of news as an adult that your mom isn't really your mom or your daughter isn't really your daughter and at the same time you have a new mom or new daughter. It is not so clear. What you're supposed to do with this new parent new child news now in your life. What supposed to be with each other and both marty ensue worried that the families did always thought were. There's still want to keep them both mothers and daughters each had to figure it out on their own. All four women said things got very lonely for them. Today are show here. What happens when somebody takes your family. Throws it up in the air like a deck of cards. Wbz chicago this american life. I'm ira glass in the full hour today to what happened to these two families. Jake halpern is the reporter and before he starts just to help you. Keep everybody straight in this story. A quick view of the two families. The millers are the bespectacled dark-haired wins from letter. Ms miller's husband. The reverend norbert miller was evangelical preacher devoted to the church. And they were a bookish serious bunch. There's house with a lot of rules and there were a lot of kids to seven kids in all the mcdonald's or the light haired winston the letter and is a much smaller family. Just two kids and bring in their houses very different. From the feeling miller's house they were easy going quick to laugh and joke around the donald ran. Tv repair shop in town. Here's jay cowburn. It was the four women at the center of all this the two moms and the two daughters who were affected more than anyone. So let's take them one by one. Starting with sue. Mrs millers baby. It was raised by mcdonald's before the letter arrived. The facts of life had seemed pretty orderly. She was a married mother of three living in michigan where her husband worked as a chemist she was close to her mother. She called and visited her parents regularly. She also had an older brother. Bob named after their dad saw pretty straightforward and yes sue was different from the rest of the family and certain ways dark and tall and skinny in a family that was none of those in a pretty light hearted household. She was nervous studious serious. But it didn't seem so strange in junior high. I remember my friend said to me. You must be adopted because you do not look at all like your parents. And i said i don't know you know i asked my mother i said am i adopted and she said all no no she says i was pregnant and you are my child. I wanted a baby. You know you're my baby adopted so that that convinced you that was enough. I mean she that was right. My mom said oh. Well you just take after great grandpa. This or aunt so-and-so or you know so then. I just forgot about the whole thing years later when she got the letter that told her the truth she was stunned and she knew she had to break the news to the mcdonalds raised her but she didn't call them right away. Mr macdonald had a bad heart and she didn't know what the stress when do to him. I wanted to be absolutely sure it was true. Blood tests were done with millers and they proved. Mrs miller was right about the switch. Weeks went by and sue began to fret. She wrote letters to parents but didn't send them. She worried her mother might reject her soon. You're mother had never been a big fan of the millers. Ever since they met and now suddenly it turned out one of them. It was confusing. And then after i knew that they were that i had been switched in that i had different genes and my parents kept talking about these people that were so odd the millers because they reverend miller. He isn't even jellicoe preacher. You know he wants people to know. Jesus christ and that they would be saved. And i'm really like that too. Sometimes my mom thinks. I'm a little fanatical. I'm really a miller. What does she think of me. That's my biological family. So i did think she's she's gonna no that's not my daughter and she's going to she's going to get this popular marty. Who's so fun loving and and looks like her and then she's gonna say well. I don't need that daughter anymore. You know she's part of that odd family a month. After she got the letter sue went to see her biological mother and father. This is a videotape of that first meeting. Who are these people. Now this you tell who that is. Is this your dad. My dad looks happy. Reverend miller is affectionate with her putting his arm around her waist. Everybody smiling soon now. Had four new sisters in two new brothers and the miller showed pictures of her other relatives. He's right. he went to oregon from got girl trump. There's a lot of nervous laughter. And there are some awkward moments. Like when sue talks to mrs miller about the fact that she never got enough breast milk as a baby. My mother didn't have enough for me. It's all your fault. But overall the millers seem giddy that their daughter is finally come. Home and sue seems eager to know them. And that's what i was thinking. Then you look so much like carol. Later that same day. Sue drove to the mcdonald's the parent she'd grown up with after dinner. She sat down and told them about. Mrs millers letter told him point blank. She wasn't their child at first. They refused to believe her but then she told him about the blood tests. Finally sue hand over all letters that she hadn't sent them in the past month letters telling them how much she loved them and how much she wanted to stay their daughter and like my dad said you know you are my child. I changed your diaper and my mother. She nothing was going to be different between us but it was just. It took a while for us to. How are you gonna think. Mrs miller has for forty three years been longing to see her child. She'd give birth to so she's excited about it and my mother's like what happened to my life. It exploded once things calm down. Suit came to to conclusions. One she wasn't going to become estranged from her mother and two. It was her brother. She might lose. My name is bob mcdonald. And i am sixty one years old. I would say that Sunai we're probably not that close For whatever reason the reason was pretty simple actually they have almost nothing in common baba's four and a half years older than sue. Sweet jovial guy who never got along with his broody little sister and when bob found out about mardi found out that she was his biological sister he called her right away in california when she got on the phone. I was just totally blown away The way she pronounced her words were identical. With the way my mother talked she could have been my aunt or my mother talking on the phone. I knew that she had to be my sister. And i was super anxious to to meet her and in person and until that time we just talked all the time with every phone call. We need you know we opened up or to each other and you know we had the same personality and we think so much alike. My brother and marty are just like thickest thieves what seems like and whenever mardi comes to my hometown she stays with my brother and they stepped on our all hours of the night talking for sue. Her brother's enthusiasm for mardi brought out every insecurity. She suffered as a schoolgirl. She didn't fit in. She didn't have the social lease that came. So naturally the bob and marty he was popular. And i wasn't i was like a serious person. Nobody would dance with me at the dances. And i you know i wanted. He had a band. I mean i was shy. Or i was whatever and i wanted to be a cheerleader. I tried out for cheerleading. I just couldn't do it. I didn't get picked as years went by when there were family events with everyone would get anxious if marty was there to. Occasionally she break down and cry. I remember at the wedding when my nephew got married. My brother dance with everybody. He danced with marty. And you can see. They're just having so much fun and laughing together and and just dancing away and then he dance with my cousin. He danced with my mother. He danced with every he didn't dance with me. And here i am. You know it's like i'm a teenager in dance with the it was bad but the good part about that was when i got home from the wedding and my brother called me and he said you know what i didn't even dance with you. I said who told you to say that. So he did know it too but it just brought up feelings that feel crummy again and you know because i wonder what's going to happen when my parents are gone. My brother gonna care to even see me anymore. This brings us to mardi the other baby in this baby switch before she found out the truth about who her mother really was. Bharti's life wasn't all that different from sues already also married also had three kids. She also moved out of wisconsin in her case to southern california. She's also religious like sue. But that's pretty much where it ends. Mardi worked all of her life and still does as a nurse. She grew up as the sixth child in a family of seven kids. Besides her. there was marya faith. Ruth sunny luke esther. Her mother had disciplined household. Everyone had to work. She remembers washing and drying all the dishes. By the time she was five or six. There wasn't much money around the five girls shared one bedroom. The church was the center of their lives in the family never went on vacation even to the movies instead. They were all taught to paint encouraged to play music. Like pseudo mardi stuck out in her family for one thing. She was the only one who joked around. She says even now the miller can't tell when she's being ironic and then there was the blindness in perkiness and the socializing mardi says she felt like everything. She was interested in was lost on her parents. I don't think they ever came to watch me. Cheer in a game. That wasn't something that they would have done because athletics was really not a value to them at all. I was just not ever meeting their expectation of intellectualism. And my mother has told me since. Then you know you. I really didn't expect that much from you. Because i knew that you weren't our child. Who was a hard thing to hear. Incredibly when marty was twenty one years old. Someone actually told her that she might not be a miller. One of her older sisters ruth came to visit with her husband. Rudy rudy had a couple of beers and after dinner. He got to then. He started asking me what i knew about. The mcdonald's and i really didn't know anything about the mcdonald's and then he told me that i looked like them and he said what would you do if i told you that they were your parents. And i i was kind of stunned. It was the first i had ever heard anything about it. And he did in fact say some hurtful things. 'cause he told me you know i don't care what anybody says from as far as i'm concerned you're not really ruth's sister. I thought it was just rudy. Being rudy he just has crazy ideas and dreams these things up hours just horrified in and he didn't tell me ahead of time it just came out with it. That's ruth. She and faith in mary. Lydia the older girls had sorta always known about the possibility that mardi wasn't their biological sister. A couple of them including ruth had vague memories of their parents talking about it after they brought mardi home from the hospital about how this baby look different from mrs millers other babies and that may be this baby had been switched then when ruth was about sixteen older sister. Faith came home from a trip on a mississippi riverboat and told ruth she'd seen sue macdonald on the boat and then she looked awful lot like them. They decided that ruth have looked too so the two girls cooked up a reconnaissance mission on one sunday. They got their boyfriends a dry them. Seventeen miles away to the mcdonald's church and periods you sheen. Ruth sat down in a punitive the front next faith bright before the service began. She says there's su- walking down the center aisle and I thought she even walks like mary. I was just like wow you know while that could be. That could be heard. That could be my sister. And i think it might be and at any point during this time. Does it your mind well. Why don't we just ask mom and dad about this. No that's not how their family worked. It just didn't talk about these kinds of things and as ruth and faith saw. It wasn't their place to mess in their parents affairs. Which is why. When her husband rudi blurted out a few years later russo shocked in mardi refused to believe it at that point. She denied she says. Oh no no. That's not true. You know so. So then. I thought well okay then. It's not so bad. If she you know she still believes she's my sister. That's good the next week. Though when marty was visiting their mom. Mrs miller she asked her about what rooted said mrs miller gave her a noncommittal answer saying that once upon a time they thought that maybe perhaps might have but even if it did happen there is no way to prove it. So that was that over the years but thought that she might be someone else's child festered in the back of marty's mind much later when she was in her mid thirties she decided to get to the bottom of it. Choose working for a group of pediatricians which included a genetic counselor. She told the counselor story and said she wanted to get blood tests. Done the counselor asher. What the mcdonald's knew about all this. And i said i don't think they know anything about it. So she said well if you were to find out that that these parents that you have are not your parents and other family doesn't want to have anything to do with you. How are you going to feel. And i said well. I don't know i don't have any idea. And she said you really need to consider how that's going to change your family for you and how it's going to change relationships for you. So she said unless there's a real a reason that you need to know said i don't recommend that you dig into it. That sort of spooked marty. So she left it alone and that's what might have ended if it hadn't been for mrs millers letter a decade later. It's hard enough to learn. Your mother isn't your mother but it's even harder when that news is delivered by someone. Like mrs miller tact as in her strong suit in fact she seemed to have a ten year for the whole thing for starters. Mrs miller didn't contact martin sue at the same time she. I sent a letter to sue macdonald. The daughter she barely knew and then waited almost two weeks before mailing the letter to mardi the daughter she'd raised. She said she wanted to call. Marty i but never managed to reach her as a result mardi got word about one of the most basic facts of her life. Second hand all the while waiting to hear directly from her mother. And in the meantime i had gotten phone calls from people. I didn't even know that we're telling me you know. Hey i'm your brother. Hey i was switched at birth with you. You know when she finally heard from mrs miller the mother she'd grown up with not only did she get the letter. But mrs miller had just been the fiftieth anniversary party of the mcdonald's marty's biological parents and so she took a one of the programs from it and she mailed it to me and basically and this is gonna sound like kind of a small thing but it was a big thing to me. She circled the names of people that were participating in the program. Like my one of my uncles on the birth side earl gonzales. She circled his name and she wrote. This is your uncle and she circled my brother's name. And this is your brother like bob. In case she would circle their names. And say these are your parents and you know. I'm reading this thing going. What do you mean. These are my. This is my uncle. This was my brother. This is my mom and dad. This is not my my family. I don't even know who they are. And i took that as a you know. Okay i'm saying as of right now. You're not our kid. You're their kid. You're in their family. Already says her mom. Mrs miller sees the world in black and white. She focused on the facts of the situation may be hoping she could fix things by simply setting the record straight. She wasn't delicious. She wasn't trying to be hurtful after all those years. She was just tired of secrets and now she wanted everyone's role to be clear but it was hard. Marty says to be on the receiving end of this sudden adamant truth telling there were few years there where every chance my mother got. She made it perfectly clear that you know. I was mcdonald for the longest time. Whenever she would write to me. She would include mcdonald in my name. My god are you serious. Just absolutely bizarre things like that she she. That's just how she is she There is no grey area. Actually my mother wanted to Go to court and have my name. Legally changed back to sue mcdonalds and have sous name changed. That was her idea. It's kind of you know she tells me the pisses you're my daughter and but at the same time she says when she refers to k- she says well your mother is doing such and such a. Your mother said this. And when i think of my mother i think of her during this time it was marty's dat reverend miller who reassured her. They started talking on the phone a lot. He explained things like why all those years ago he refused to return to the hospital and switchback the babies any that mardi know that he still loved her. He did not want her to push me out of the family he was he in. Fact would call me and tell me you know. I don't care what she says. You're still our kid. And i'm glad we had you. Did you feel that then. After this happened a little bit closer to your dad and your mom yes. Yeah definitely at that point. My dad had this horrendous guild because he felt like it was all his fault that he should have believed my mother for you know all those years and he just i think he honestly never thought it was a possibility. He thought she really dreamed this up in her head and just got obsessed with it and the other thing was that he really thought what difference does it make. A child is a child. she's with us. She's ours now and the other problem for mardi was had to approach mcdonald's for biological parents. They were nice enough when she spoke to them on the phone but they weren't exactly welcoming her into the family. I remember talking to mother about you. Know this is your blood daughter. Here's bob mcdonald. Who remember was having these great phone calls with his newfound sister. This is the daughter actually was in you and you know i mean i understand. You didn't raise her but she is your blood you know biological daughter and i don't know that She was as excited about it. As i was and i couldn't figure that out at the time she was guarded priorities. Perspective the genetic counselors prediction from years before seem to be coming true. I felt like she was losing both her. Mother's mardi wrote a letter to k in. Bob mcdonald her biological parents. I want you to know that. I will accept whatever contact you choose to have with me. Even if it's none at all. I promise you i'll never tried to make you think of as your daughter. I know that sues your daughter and no one could ever expect you to feel otherwise mardi eventually decided that the only way she was going to resolve this was by getting on a plane and flying out to wisconsin to meet the mcdonald's face to face. Give them a real chance to get to know her. The get together at bob and k. Mcdonald's house didn't go exactly as she wanted from. The mcdonald's perspective marty looked and acted remarkably like a mcdonald. She got along famously with their son bob. She even had the exact same oil painting hanging on her wall and california as they had in their living room a- landscape trees and water but soon as the girl they had brought up and they felt loyal to her protective. kinda felt. like the like. Bob and k were kind of keeping me at an arm's distance because they weren't really sure how they felt wanted to feel and i don't think sue had that sense in fact that's true. Maybe because some of the miller girls had suspected she was her sister for decades. And because mrs miller always knew the truth suicide being embraced completely by the clan in so while sued feared everyone would choose. Mardi the outgoing cheerleader over her. It didn't work out that way. Here's marty in fact. It was the exact opposite. She had both families wanting to make sure that you know she was included in their family. The millers wanted to incorporate her family and our family as quickly as they could. And she. I i did feel in the beginning like she was taking my place in my family and that was odd very odd and sometimes i don't know exactly what her relationship is with my sisters. You know i. I honestly don't know how much they communicate how much they're in touch. A part of me really doesn't want to know. Because i think i would feel left out of something coming up but it's like to be a mom and to learn at the age of sixty nine that your only daughter is actually your daughter at all and that weren't bad enough that lots of people in your town people around you new years before you did to copper and story continues in a minute from chicago. Public radio when program continues tisza. Merican live from ira glass. If you're just tuning in j. cowburn is telling the story. This hour of two girls switched at birth one mother. Mary miller new and kept it. A secret did nothing about it for forty three years. The other mother came mcdonald. Had no idea the fathers in this story when not interviewed. Mcdonald's health didn't allow it. Mr miller died in two thousand and so in this half of the story we hear from the mothers again. Here's jay cowburn at the hospital in one thousand nine hundred forty one k. Mcdonald was told that she'd given birth to a nine pound. Four ounce baby. She didn't question that every day she was at the hospital. The nurses brought her the same baby girl. Nothing seemed to mr her. And has that baby sue grew up the one thing that puzzled k. Was that mrs miller whom she knew. Only vaguely from church seem so interested in sioux. She always referred to the girls as sisters after they were born. She had written as a christmas letter and And said she'd always liked. Keep in touch with susan because the girls were so much like sisters and of course i thought that was foolish but I went along with it. Because i don't like to make waves. I guess you might say and so. That's why i started sending them a copy of our christmas letter. That's how mrs miller kept track of sue over the years. Mrs miller reduce things concerning the girls things that just seem strange to decay when his church was celebrating. Its one hundred fiftieth anniversary. For instance k. Was shepardson for the event reverend. Millard wants been passer there. So he and mrs miller were invited and the millers came and I was in the hallway. And mrs miller said to me. Did you ever think that our girls were switched at birth and i. I said heaven's no. I thought that was such a ridiculous thing to say and And i 'cause. I was very busy because i was chairperson. And i had so many other things to do so i pass it off. But that's all she said. There was nothing any further i didn't it didn't bother me because i just thought i couldn't see any merit to it. I didn't have a doubt in my mind. And i'm not one to borrow treble What k- mcdonald didn't know was that there was a whole slew of people in her church community. Who had heard about the rumored baby switch from beginning. Mrs miller in k. mcdonnell rationally in different churches k. was a methodist and the millers evangelical. Mrs miller told people in the evangelista church about her suspicions friends of hers. People she hoped would keep an eye out on sue but later the two churches merged so a bunch of people from the evangelical church now new k. Mcdonnell was and who sue and realized that this was the girl. Mrs miller believed to be your own and this whole crop of people knew but never said anything to mcdonald one of them was darlene. Wolfgramm she heard it first from her own mom who heard a church. She said everybody kind of at church. After having seen marty beside the rest of the family just couldn't believe that that was their child. It was pretty concealed right within our own church. Probably the ladies aid. Maybe you know the little group that got together in fact. My mother said well. Just don't tell anybody you know so we all. We never said anything about it. I charlie wolfgramm did tell her daughter. And the daughter there with me ended up marrying. Sue's brother bob. Her the older leaving. She never divulged the secret to bob or any of the mcdonald's here she is. Her name is also sue. So i know. I didn't because it was always just a rumor and i thought well he'll think i'm nuts. You know. and he was very angry at first with me. And i said why wouldn't you have told me that and i said would you have believed me. I mean i'd say gee guess what bob. I don't think you're sisters yours. Well you know. There was no dna testing back then or anything else. So i mean there would've been no proof that's what most people in town seem to feel. It wasn't their place to bring up such thing especially with no way to know if it was true for sure what that meant was it. After came dollar finally found out the truth in nineteen ninety-four people started coming up to her in church mostly casually mentioning that they'd known about it all along. I was surprised that nobody really ever told us the booms the teen nor the lanes. The hazings are i just couldn't believe it. I just I just thought it was odd that so many people would know in a town of our size which was like fifty five hundred people when that many people were aware of it that the news didn't get to us slowly. Anger began to set in k. Was angry that. Mrs miller had corrected things back in nineteen fifty one mrs miller at hijacked her life in this way and she was angry that mrs miller put sue in the difficult position of having to break news like this to her parents and angry that now the miller is asking so much of time and attention. He got so bad k. Had to go on medication for high blood pressure. Well of course they were really clamoring to get to know her and i felt excluded. I felt they were trying to take her away from us an end. Susan always had said to me. Mom why didn't you have any more children. After i was born she wanted to be a part of a big family. So then she found out she had all of these Brothers and sisters and The phone calls were fewer. And i and of course mardi didn't really call a whole lot. She's a very busy. Gow and i was not having that much communication with her and I thought i was losing. Both of them came mcdonald. Began getting notes and phone calls from reverend miller. He told her that he thought it was. God's will if this had happened even so he asked her for forgiveness again and again. he's just outright. He's just saying. Can you forgive me. Just just like that on the telephone. Yes in voting scriptures. All the time for me to read to console me because i had said that i had i had shed a lot of tears and and i. I had probably all of the emotions that you have with Death in a family you know. I think i wouldn't into kind of a depression about similar to what i did when my mother died and so course he was trying to get me to say that i had forgiven them. And how did you feel when he said this was god's will and what was your action. I couldn't believe that. Because i don't i don't Have that feeling about. I don't think god punishes us in any way. I think what we do is pretty much our own doing but he had everybody convinced. I think that it was god's will. But i had talked to several of our former pastors. Who knew about the situation and they assured me that this was not god's will they said that was a cop out and so i don't think that was two well received when i mentioned that i told mrs miller. I felt that it was god's will when she realized that she might not have the right child. I think it was his will that she do something about it. She wrote that letter to mrs miller. Eight years after she learned the truth. That's a long took her to sort out her feelings. Donald miller is eventually reached. A kind of detente ks longer angry. The way she was but she says she'll never understand why. Mrs miller stayed silent for all those years. If had a strong feeling as she did that. I had the wrong baby. I would have pursued it. I don't care whether my husband objected. Or not i i feel like on. I should have made a wrong into a right. I only had one daughter and she had five daughters. Vecchi were even warned. Even sure we'd have another child so of course we were elated. When i did get pregnant and and then to think that i didn't get to raise the one that i had wanted to so much and so i never will probably understand why i mean i've forgiven them. But that doesn't mean that i forgotten. I can still wonder why and probably never will know why it didn't come up any sooner. Mary miller is ninety six now. She lives by herself in the country. Her house is filled with the remnants of her. Nord's life together in the church. They were married for sixty years. There's a large statue of an angel in her sitting room which he's planning to put on our own grave. When i talked to mrs miller about what had happened when mari was born. She told me pretty much the same story. She told in her letter how she knew as soon as she got home and wade the baby that the nurses had made a mistake. Yes i told her. I think we have the wrong baby and he said well. I wouldn't disgrace the doctor by telling him he gave the wrong baby and he says this is a nice little baby. We'll keep her when your husband said to you. This baby cute. let's keep it. Did you agree with mutely or a little bit of arguing back and forth over what to do now. We didn't get better. But i kept looking worker and i was always asking anyone who might have seen her. And fact i when. I would go down and have any touch with the mcdonald's we we got introduced to them i. I tried to talk to her about it and she. She told somebody that was crazy. Scrape woman girl. It was a little surreal to hear her. Talk about it in this way laughing like that. Especially after hearing came. Mcdonald's side of things but then mrs miller told me more of her side of the story for one thing she explained just how sick she was after they'd gone home with mardi and nineteen fifty one. She was losing blood and having spasms she thought she was going to die. She told me that she even started calling around trying to find someone who'd be a mother to her six children. The sickness she said lasted for six or seven months by the time she was well fixing the baby switch problem that much harder even if she could somehow convince everyone that was true. But what happened if you suddenly took a six month old away from the only mother she knew in the family relationship with dr desks lock was no small thing either. Reverend miller had made many visits to dr destler ex wife when she was sick and now dr deadlock refused to charge the millers for anything. The millers didn't have much money and they might not have been able to afford the healthcare otherwise. Of course we talking dead for that. This dr been kind to us in good do is and why ruin all that no consideration. Because mrs miller didn't want across her husband all she could do hope that maybe if she dropped enough hints calling the girls sisters and such k. Would eventually realize on rome. What had happened was an odd strategy. If you can even call it. That when sue got married for instance the millers gave her a trivet norbert had made. The card was signed from your other possible. Parents sue dismissed it as part of the whole sister thing which he also thought was kind of weird. Mrs miller is most ambitious scheme happened after the girls graduated from high school when they're about to be eighteen. Mrs miller arranged for the mcdonald's to come to dinner. She figured if she could simply get k to look at mardi k. Would figure things out. The evening ended up being kind of baffling for everyone involved. Since only mrs miller knew what was going on but they didn't notice any. I don't know why they didn't notice it to. Marta looked like them idea. I don't know why it didn't notice. The fact is mrs miller longed for sue for her biological daughter ever since she realized the mistake back in nineteen fifty one but it seemed futile. Trying to convince her husband norbert. I think it's not right. Do the action to keep somebody else's baby then goes right to do that in the every time at talk to me. It's alright alright. And i can tell you what got me all along. Were you afraid of norbert at all. How i know i wasn't freedom. I i knew that rethink. I couldn't do and and keep his friendship. You know. I turned against him like on on that. And i guess you can't understand i. I didn't that thing 'cause Marriage run it and at don't want it run owner Of was there ever a time. You thought back and thought i should have stood my ground more with him on that. No i get. I haven't because a new. It wouldn't work. I couldn't do anything north britain. I had a good time. We were together but you should have gone back and said this is not baby and this was a bad decision but he didn't really can make an neither sooner. Mardi blames mrs. miller for going along with her husband. They say they're not angry with her. They knew reverend miller. They understand what their relationship was like. They understand why she didn't speak out sooner. Forty two years after the switch. Reverend miller finally laid eyes on sue at the mcdonalds wedding anniversary party and the moment he saw our. He knew that she was his biological daughter. She looked exactly like him. At last mrs miller felt free to act a month and a half later. She wrote the letter. Yeah i wanted him to agree with me and he did eventually did but it was relief for me because it's terrible that hang over your blood and it said that happened. It took an awful long time at nab. Sorry burger one thing. Mrs miller doesn't regret is raising mardi. She remembers martin always lightening the mood in their house. As a kid you she was really live liar. He always had jokes. She had joked shepherd day. Deepest will have you know it was. It was good for us. Laugh really good for us ever. I'm eating my kids are all serious about life yet. No they're more. Like i am before when it asked you if you thought it was god's will you said yes and is the reason because mardi brought something important to your family cheating. She meanness dear. Su i'm writing you this short note to officially give you my welcome to this miller family and relationship. This is sue reading a letter. She got some time ago from her. New fell miller sister faith though. There are many many good things about our family and parents and being raised by that family. There were also some definite deficits. If you're ever curious. As to what they were i would be very willing to fill you in so you fully appreciate the parents who raised you between ourselves. Ruthin me we or at least. I always figured you lucked out probably martha with her happy-go-lucky nature could take the climate of the miller home better and we hope you flourished in the mcdonald household. Wow wow so. She's basically i mean that's so she's basically saying to you. You may have actually gotten a break here being in the family. I locked i locked out. I mean are there times when you when you feel a little bit guilty about having lucked out with the home that was you know maybe a little bit easier to grow up in sure. I guess a little bill guilt. But it's not my it's not my fault. There was nothing. I didn't have anything to do with it. My sister faith called and she was talking about the way her mother would talk to her. And i'm thinking. How would i have survived with that kind of upbringing in oneida. Drop like that at all. I don't know how i would've survived but says lot of things. She missed out on tube. Not growing up with the millers. The family did all kinds of hobbies painting and rock polishing in three d photography. They had dogs and raised. Angora rabbits all sorts of interesting people came to the house guests from out of town and missionaries. It was a different way of living one. That she admires has for mardi. She doesn't like to dwell on the notion that sue might have been. The one who lucked out does the thought ever cross your mind What if the switch hadn't been made. The mcdonald's is just taking me home. And i had grown up in the house with my biological parents. My biological brother. Who would i be. Oh that's a funny question. I i really I really only thought about that. One time i only let myself think about at one time. It was actually right after i met them and i was going back to my my mother's house so i left prey to sheen in i was driving and it was then that i started thinking. Oh my gosh you know my life would have been so different. And as i the more i thought about it the more i realized you know. I can't think about this. Because it will drive me crazy if i do and so i kind of made a promise to myself that i would never go down that road again that i was not going to just not gonna go there and i really haven't because there's no point it's pretty rare that mardian sue actually meet face to face. Once every few years they get together for a large family gathering a wedding. A graduation a funeral. This summer bob mcdonald younger son got married impera sheen when marty showed up at the house for brunch the day after the wedding. She couldn't seem more at home with the family that she didn't meet their forties. She teas the groom in handed. Bob's older son present for his baby. It's a little late for your child. it's before kindergarten. So it's okay up. Yeah so it's a birthday present. When sue arrived she slipped quietly. This was a side of the family. She was raised with but she seemed tents. Watching is mardi made the rounds. Everybody laughing having the two of them so near each other was a little awkward. People were definitely aware whenever both women were in the same room at one point or the end of the party as sous to nearby mardi started talking about the room that she had grown up in in the miller household. All the girls were in the same room. Mardi shared a bed with her sister faith and had to crawl through this event to get to the bathroom at night because faith with block the doorway to the hall sunset of going in the hall and we would cropped going walt. My sister's this crazy thing going on when they were when faith was a teenager to push the dresser and the cedar chest against the door in the room. You're in you mean. He was the first time. I'd seen them talk to each other. Yeah in the room that we slept in the through the register to get to the bathroom under the bed and crawl door exactly who like a dog door and what was what was your girl them. Yes i did in my own bed to everything. Yeah whatever it was a different life. Mrs miller says she worries from ardian. Sue about whether they'll ever truly get along but there's no question things have gotten better between the two girls and their moms k mcdonald is still tight with sue. The daughter she raised but she's also much closer with marty k. And mardi both cried when marty left the wedding. California and things are good. With mrs miller to marty's accepted that despite some of the clumsy things that her mother said and did when she broke the news to her she met. Well mardi calls. Mrs miller once a week to check up on her just like sudas now that the big family questions are mostly worked out one of the toughest things both mardian sue have to deal with his logistical. Having two sets of parents in two full sets of siblings and cousins is kind of a practical headache. There are birthdays graduations and figuring out where to spend holidays earlier this month. Sues daughter got married in michigan. All the millers were invited and all the mcdonald's were to marty considered whether she should go she didn't grow up with sue after all and she's not actually related to her or kids but in the end she made the trip because she's a miller and so is sioux and she's mcdonald and so is sioux jake halpern. He's hosted the new podcast deep. Cover about an fbi agent who goes undercover with an outlaw motorcycle. Gang it's available. Wherever you get your podcast were today by jane. Marie and myself are staffer. Today's show includes alex bloomberg mccain land lisa pollick robinson and it was the ship matt tierney. Nancy updike diane. Woo or senior producer for this episode. Julie snyder music help from jessica. Hopper especial thanks data sherry weaver. Jr nelson greg williams. Thanks especially to macdonald. Miller families for letting us into their homes and telling their stories. This american life is public stations by pr x the public radio exchange. Thanks as always drove programs co founder. Mr twenty mile ta you know to run a big radio station was not always the dream job that he wanted no no his heart was elsewhere. I tried out for cheerleading. I just couldn't do it. And i wanted to be a cheerleader. You know. I didn't get picked glass back next week with more stories this american life.

Mrs miller marty mcdonald bob mcdonald mardi forty three years ruth miller Mrs millers martha reverend miller jay cowburn mrs millers sue macdonald kay Reverend miller bob Martha Jake halprin susan mcdonald
Hurricane floods move the earth, octopuses on ecstasy, greening the Sahara, Gulf of St. Lawrence gasping for air, an elephant queen, and what happens to flushed opioids

Quirks and Quarks

54:35 min | 3 years ago

Hurricane floods move the earth, octopuses on ecstasy, greening the Sahara, Gulf of St. Lawrence gasping for air, an elephant queen, and what happens to flushed opioids

"This is a CBC podcast. Quirks in quirks is supported in part by the brand new twenty nineteen. Subaru ascent. It's the largest Subaru ever made with three row seating for seven or eight passengers the twenty nine thousand nine Subaru Essent comes with all the performance, reliability, safety, and versatility you've come to expect from Subaru with supremely comfortable ride generous interior space and wait for it. Nineteen Cup holders well-equipped from thirty five thousand nine hundred ninety five dollars. Check out the twenty nineteen. Subaru ascent at your local Subaru dealer today, Subaru confidence in motion. Team honest. Each. Human genome dark-haired shared inherit. Correct. Hi, I'm Bob McDonald, water waist deep and higher houses, highways and farms, hopelessly inundated. It was a bad week in the Carolinas has hurricane. Florence brought massive flooding. The hurricane was anticipated, but increasingly, the floods that come with the storm see much less predictable. So researchers are trying to change that. We have a pretty good idea of precipitation occurs. They hear what you're trying to do track storm with a once as being deposited and octopuses on ecstasy, social drugs lead to an eight armed hug after MDM, may they became much more sort of fluid in their motion. You know, hugging, the flower pot containing the other audits plus greening the Sahara. What would happen if we turn the massive desert into the world's largest renewable energy project, an amount of solar generation capacity that would power all of the. Earth's energy use, not just it's electrically us four times over and a new film puts a focus on elephant family values elephants. Are these extraordinary sentient animals and really not to think of them almost as equals, is to do them complete service all this and more today on quirks and quirks. It's been a devastating week for our southern neighbours as hurricane Florence tore through the Carolinas in nearby states, leaving a trail of flood damage and deaths tens of thousands across the Carolinas and Virginia have fled their homes, not knowing what they'll be coming home to. But in some places, the rain just won't stop a lot of that waters heading toward rain drenched, South Carolina. The state's governor is warning residents. They have not Christian do have not even begun yet, but they will. And the question is, how will the wall to be? And we do not know as it moved inland, Florence dumped almost a meter of rain in dating towns and farms, and causing death and destruction in some areas. Floodwater has yet to crest as the landscape drains and this kind of flooding may be more of an issue with hurricanes in the future. As we've reported here on quirks, there's some evidence that climate change is causing hurricanes to move more slowly. That means they may stay longer at the places. They hit dumping more water and intensifying flooding. So we probably need to get better at managing floods in part by predicting wear. All that water on the landscape is going to go. That's what. Chris milliner has been trying to do. He's been using tools from his field of earthquake monitoring to track hurricane storm water that piles up on land. He's published new work about testing his technique on hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in two thousand seventeen. The wettest tropical cyclone on record in the states. Doctor milliner is opposed doctoral fellow at Nasice Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Hi, welcome to courts and quirks. Now, what was the approach you came up with two tracks storm water from a hurricane. So the the question we're trying to answer is once Harvey deposited sit storm, water will happen to the water. So we have a pretty good idea of where precipitation occurs. Noah collects radar rain, gauge data to try and map were that water is gonna fall. They hear what you're trying to do is try and track that storm water once as being deposited on the way we were doing that was using GPS to try and measure the weights of stormwater depresses down surface. How does GPS tell you how much water on the land? So you can kind of think about the effects of Harvey storm water on the surface. Kind of like if you're some mattress. So if you're sent a mattress, you depress mattress by some amount. And if I had a ruler, I could measure your weight based on how much you depressed out on that much and we'll area that depression occurs over at all soft. To know the rigidity of the mattress, how stiffer or how soft the mattresses. And so the the same thing kind of approach is applied. Here we instead of using rulers we year using a network of GPS stations that are distributed across the Gulf Coast on this GPS stations are essentially measuring the change in the elevations are surface that the the extent of that depression and so we can then back out and calculate what was the weight of water that caused the observe substance. Wow. So you're seeing the weight of rain from hurricane dumps enough water that actually pushes the land down yet. So we think about how much waterways accused of water is a ton. So you can just pitch one by one by one qb filled of water that weighs one ton. You could essentially fit that in your car way almost as much as you car. And then if you look at the pictures of the flooding coming through gives you kind of idea of how much how much water really, really the there was an untold lows around a. One hundred cubic kilometers, and so that's enough to depress down on earth crust. And what we've found is that Houston, the city itself subsided by about two centimeters. We can only observe substance that also we found that Houston, she's from back up as that water was dissipating joining back into the ocean. Holy smokes. One hundred cubic kilometres of water in a hurricane. Going down. Now, are you getting this information in real time or do you calculate it later? GPS does run in real time and it's used an earthquake, early warning systems. It could be possible to apply this technique in real time by the issues coming up with the reliable result. We have to ply different corrections. One of the corrections you have to make for is changes in the pressure that's due to the hurricanes self. So hearkens the low pressure systems as sweep in a land, they calls air mass to to decrease. And so essentially that's unloading the cross Nashi causes a small uplift and so something we have to correct for we need to kind of work through all these different obstacles on really and then try and test whether the proto we've kind of developed could be successfully applied to other hurricanes. So really the the study, we've shown his kind of proof of concept. You study earthquakes we're the idea of using that data to study hurricanes well, so some previous. Works being done to look at seasonal changes in water storage. So people have looked at changes in snow pack in this Sierras in California, all the way up up into Vancouver on the west coast, looking at how water changes from season to season. So in in Windsor, we have accumulating that pushes down the cross a little bit, and then summers dries out in straight into the ocean, the cross up uplift a little. And so people have done some nice work trying to capture the seasonal changes in water here we wanted to try and capture daily changes in water storage. And so that was more challenging because we were trying to detect small scale changes on a day-to-day basis rather than season to season. I guess what you're doing is you're, you're measuring the footprint of a hurricane, literally, it's a footprint in the sand? Yes, really kind of denting into the earth's crust. If you like. How then can be used for flood management? Well, really, this kind of two ways. The first way would be using estimates of stormwater, STAN and the amount that's held up stream that could use a forecast how down river and Dan levels will change, and that can help identify rivers downs could be susceptible to overspilling their their banks. The other kind of use would be for understanding the cartridge of a drainage basin, so we can. We can look at how how much water stored in the crow, on the cross and allows us to understand how quickly what is being drained out through the different river basins. And so we can see how efficient different over basins are. And then also the dente fi, different river basins that needs to be improved in terms of their drainage efficiency and so can help try and better under sun would allows on how different river basins will behave perhaps in future hurricane events. So are you going to use the same technique on. Gain Florence? Yes. So that's what we're looking at right now. Actually. And, and so you have something we want to try and do the features of assessed how the hell Wallace technique works in other hurricane events. So because the GPS state is archive, you can go back to the past ten years when we've had very good GPS coverage and look at previous events, who our memory a- are the hurricanes wanna look at because Harvey as you know, was a huge event, and it was really easy to see that water loading signal in the in the time series. So that way on mattress was so large, it was. It was are easy to discern. And so the main challenge now is trying to like other smaller hurricanes and trying to see whether we can detect that signal in the GPS data really changed the concept of terra firma. It's not so for after all, it's not so firmness right more squishy. Dr. Milliner thank you very much for your time. If I get much Dr. Chris milliner is a geoscientist and post doctoral fellow at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Effect. Okay. Okay. I have to admit electronic dance music rave scene, three obscene knocked by my thing, but maybe it's just because I'm not experimenting with the right pro social molecules apparently with an appropriate dose of methylene dioxymethamphetamine also known as MDA or ecstasy. Several key neurotransmitters would be up regulated in my brain, particularly the serotonin system, which will tend to make me feel more social, more trusting more empathetic. In other words, more like dancing all night to a powerful beat with hundreds of other people. How do I know this? Well, partly because it works on octopuses now octopus is are fascinating creatures. They're intelligent curious and excellent problem solvers, but they're also wildly different from us. Thanks to the fact that we're separated by five hundred million years of independ-. Evolution. Nevertheless, a recent experiment by researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that are eight armed invertebrate friends respond a lot like we do when they're exposed to ecstasy, and this might give new insights into just how and why this drug effects human behavior. The team was led by neuroscientist Gould. Dolan doctor Dolan, welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you very much. It's nice to be here. First of all, why did you want to give ecstasy to octopus my lab studies social behaviors? And we are especially interested in the mechanisms underlying social behaviors. And we use various technologies to interrogate circuits and synapses and developmental profiles were really interested in diseases that have impairments in social behaviors like autism and schizophrenia and addiction. But you know, I've always had an interest in also under. Standing the evolutionary basis of social behaviors and MD may, you know, has been known for a very long time to have very strong pro social effects in both humans and in mice, and most optimises are not social in the wild day live in isolation. They can be very aggressive to other octopuses. Nevertheless, when they go into a period of mating, they will suspend that a social aggressive behavior towards other animals further mate. And what we thought that meant is that you know, they have the brain circuits and sort of the neural infrastructure to be social. But most of the time they just turn it off. And so we thought, well, if that's the case, then a drug that induces pro social behaviors in a mammal might be able to induce social behaviors in an octopus. Well, what species of octopus did you study? It's octopus. By macula these and it's common name is the California two spot octopus through your experiment. What was your set? The social interaction that we are measuring is one where the subject animal is interacting with another octopus. That's, you know, inside of a overturned flowerpot and so they are able to see other and touch each other and smell each other, but they're not able to kill each other. So you know, we wanted an experiment like that because we knew that it without him DMA. These animals are going to potentially be very aggressive towards each other. And we measured just a sort of baseline response how much time if the, if an octopus has a choice between spending time in a chamber that has another octopus under that flowerpot or another chamber that has a little toy object in it. You know, what side do they spend more time on? And so at baseline, the subject octopuses. Spent much more time with the toy objects on the toy object side than they did. If they were interacting with another male octopus who is under the the flowerpot gives them the drug, we gave them the drug by placing the animals inside of a beaker that had a known volume of artificial seawater and the drug. And then we've just let them sit in that seawater for ten minutes. She, what did you see when you put them back together? Again, what we saw is that now the animals spent much more time in the chamber containing the other octopus. But then in addition to that, we did notice that there was a qualitative change in their behavior. So whereas before the MD may, if they did spend time on the side that had the other octopus, they were very reserved, their posture was sort of all curled up and you know, mashed up against the side of the aquarium, and then they, you know, very tentatively reach out. One arm and touch the other octopus. But after MD may they became much more sort of fluid in their motion and they were spending more time, but also the time if they spent was a lot of it, you know, hugging, the flower pot containing the other octopus and exposing the bottom of their body to that other octopus which is body posture. That's it's very unusual for two octopuses to interact in that way. And so it was much more social than we would normally see. Got kind of touchy feely with each other. That's right. That's right. So would you say that this then equates to what you're calling pro social behavior in humans? That's right. Why then do you think that the case, because octopuses are so different from us? Why do you think they would get the same kind of reaction from the drug. Well, we think they have the same kind of reaction because we know from our genome analysis that not only do they have the same protein that MD may binds to in humans. So that part is conserved across evolution. And so you know, it could have been that it was conserved but served a different function. But what our studies show is that the molecule is conserved, but so is the behavior. So the behavioral effects are the same. The same mechanism that's happening in the brain. The at the molecular level is is the same in the octopus brain is it is an arboretum. Well, what does the say to you about the evolution of social behavior across different species of animals? I think what this is telling us is that social behaviors are evolutionary very, very old and they're encoded by a signaling system molecular signaling system that is also very old and probably has existed before vertebrates and invertebrates split off from each other short from learning more about this particular species of octopus and the fact that mechanisms in brains are the same across species including us, what can you learn from this about developing strategies for drug treatments for humans? I think that there's been a renaissance recently in science to endure science, especially to study this class of drugs. So drugs like MD may and Cilla Sivan and LSD because there's a lot of interest for them as a novel thera-. -peutic for diseases like post traumatic stress disorder and depression. And as we get more and more involved in that type of research, I think having perspectives from Aleutian airy biology from synoptic neuro physiology from learning and memory. These kinds of things will inform us and give us a better idea of how and why these drugs are working. Thank you very much for your time and welcome Dr. Gould. Dolan is a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. The scale of the Sahara desert is kind of unbelievable. It's thirty percent of the African continent that's over nine million square kilometers, parts, sand, dust and rock. Let's huge amount of the year surface that's uninhabitable and unproductive, especially on an increasingly crowded planet. But in some ways, the Sahara is rich. It's got a lot of two valuable things blazing sunlight and fierce and persistent winds, so it could be a fantastic source of plentiful clean, renewable energy. Dr. Daniel Kerr Davidow has taken this idea and run with it. He and his group did a large scale computer simulation of what might happen if we took full advantage of the Sahara's energy resources. And what they found is that not only would the world get access to vast amount of energy. But in the process, the Sahara would get a little greener Dr. David office in the system professor in the university of Maryland energy research center. Hi, welcome to quirks and quarks. Thanks so much. I'm happy to hear. So what are your plans for this era desert? Well, I should say these aren't my plants, but I think it's very clear for a lot of reasons that the world is going to be relying on wind and solar power much more heavily in the future. If you'd asked people about fifteen years ago, people, we might have said, well, we need to rely heavily on wind and solar because we can't afford to be burning a lot more fossil fuels. But more recently, wind and solar power have become extremely cheap and a place like this era with its huge resources, very likely to be developed one way or another for wind solar electrical generation. Well, what does the futures hair look like in your world? Well, we tried an experiment, you know, sensually to find out if there was any band affect of very heavy reliance on wind and solar power in this. Sarah, so we kinda hit it as hard as we could. We put in an amount of solar generation capacity that would power all of the earth's energy use, not just it's electrically us, but all of its energy use four times over seventy nine terawatts of electrical generation from solar power. And then when we put in about as much wind powers, we thought you could reasonably put in the Sahara. We found that that would give you about three terawatts of wind generation. So that's, you know, substantially more than total world electrical generation right now. So these are very, very large installations, but they're about as much as one could imagine putting in the Sahara and we wanted to know, would that lead to anything bad happening now, how many terawatts are we using at the moment? Yeah, Elec trysofi the whole world uses about two and a half terawatts of electronics on average Blau and you're saying you could produce seventy five. You put. Produce three terawatts of wind power and seventy nine terawatts solar by by covering about one fifth of the area of the desert with solar panels. Okay. Now I'm trying to get a sense of the scale of that. I mean, how many windmills how, how many solar panel plants would you need? What kind of scale? Right? So realistically, for when you can't just pack them completely in because one wind turbine will block the wind to the other one. So we imagine, you know, if you're thinking like three megawatt, wind turbines says the really biggest, the big ones we put on land. Now you'd have about three million of those over the nine million square kilometers of the Sahara desert. And then for solar, you know, we're talking in this case because we were really Maxine our doing covering a fifth of the area of the desert with solar panels. So I was flying over it. I would just see solar panels and windmills all the way to the horizon in all directions. Exactly. When we wanted to know what caused anything bad to happen over the desert. Now, where does the green. Part of this come into it? Well, as it turned out both the wind solar panels do cause some local warming and probably people, you know, the very, very few people who live in the areas we were concentrating wouldn't love it to be a degree warmer. But on the other hand, it turned out to cause a fair amount of moistening in the southern border region of the Sahara that's called the Suheil and having that area bit moisture might actually be a pretty good thing that would enable more productive farming and would enable people who live there to have may be somewhat easier lives. Take me through that. How can solar and wind power plants change the climate, an increase, the amount of rainfall? Well, the reason we thought this might be true goes like this. If we darken the surface of the Sahara, you'd have more upward motion. If you warm up the surface and that would lead to condensation motion leads to clouds and condensation and rain, and that might lead to little extra. Rain. Then the other thing with the wind power is, you know, wind is interesting when you are putting up winter by, you're working very, very hard to get as much momentum out of the atmosphere. You can. So in some ways, it's very direct way of influencing climate. So you're making machines that are designed to remove as much momentum as possible from the lowest part of the atmosphere. And one of the things that that does is it enables win to move across lines of pressure more easily. So that means it's e- if you have a region where there's a little bit of low pressure and you add some roughness at the surface that makes it easier for win to move from high pressure to low pressure. So by roughing areas of this era, you're allowing more inward motion across lines of pressure, and that in this case happened to bring more moisture into that area, making it easier to form clouds and have upward motion precipitation. Wow. So the the windmills what they slow the air down because dry. Yeah, coast drag on the atmosphere. Exactly. Okay. So I'm trying to picture this year. You think the windmills cause the air to slow down and circulate better and the solar panels darken the land so that the temperature goes up, but that makes more convection. So the arises you get more precipitation, so you're changing the climate of the Sierra basically? Yeah, that's right. So how much greener would the Sahera get? Well, that's a really good question. Our paper directly shows that there's a fraction of a millimeter per day extra precipitation, so it's a reasonable amount. It's substantial fractional increase in the amount of precipitation over the Suheil which doesn't get a whole lot. Now, what would that mean for the culture in the region? That's a really good question. We ran model that included natural vegetation response, and we found that that was actually a fair part of the response. You made these changes by putting in wind turbines and solar panel. And that caused moistening. But then you got extra vegetation in response to that, and the extra vegetation itself absorbed a little more solar radiation caused a an additional feedback that continued to moisten the region a bit more. Now, what would happen to agricultural productivity you'd have to look at that specifically in choose a model that was designed to look at how the local crops would respond to that little extra additional water. How realistic is this to cover the Sahara and solar panels and windmills power the world with clean energy and improve culture in Africa. Well, I think seventy nine terawatts have solar is is pushing it in the next fifty years or so. You know, having twenty times global energy generation seems pretty excessive, but I would add that the wind generation was much less dramatically overdone. You know, three terawatts as I said is probably not crazily out of sync with what Africa might be using in fifty or sixty or seventy years. Talk to David. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much for having me Dr. Daniel Kurt Davidov is an assistant professor in the university of Maryland energy research center. The Gulf of Saint Lawrence is gasping for air. The Gulf is one of Canada's most important and historic places it's home to all sorts of wildlife, including several species of whales and a orig- fishery, and it's a central cultural and tourist hub for five provinces as well as Canada's eastern maritime gateway to the world. But over the last decade or so scientists including Dr Denise Bill from fisheries and oceans, Canada have seen something strange happening in the Gulf. The deeper waters of the Gulf have been growing slowly poorer in oxygen, oxygen, that's absolutely necessary for the animals live there. And now in a new study, doctors, you'll Barron. His colleagues have figured out why this is happening. It turns out this is one more unexpected affect of climate change doctor, Hubert, welcome to quirks and quirks. Well, thank you very much. First of all, set the scene for us. What's the Gulf of Saint Lawrence? Like is an environment will it's an. Environment. That's a two hundred and twenty five thousand kilometers square in area. Most of it is shallow, but actually there's three deep channels within that. So it's kind of three fingers going into the office in Lawrence tracing that deep Isobel of the Gulf St. Lawrence and what kind of wildlife to we have. They're under the waves will there's a lot of wildlife. And in fact, if I if I could say it's getting even more diverse as the years go by, partly because the waters are actually getting warmer and over the past few years, we've had Luthan tuna becoming more common to the gophers and Lawrence and the right wills that have, you know, migrated largely from where they used to feed in the be a Fundy to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. So this is an example of the kinds of shifts that are being observed right now and tradition. We've also had lots of card right now as we speak in two thousand eighteen our record amounts of redfish. So what's been happening to oxygen levels in the Gulf Saint Lawrence well, in two thousand and five. So that's thirteen years ago. I was the first author on the study in which we actually managed to dig up very old data from the nineteen thirties, and they used a method for measuring dissolved oxygen in the ocean, and we were able to show that from the nineteen thirties to the years, two, thousands, the oxygen levels in the lower sent Lawrence estuary had throbbed by about half over this time span. We ended by saying that we did not know and did not have any studied that would point towards saying that this decrease in oxygen was either due to natural ability or. Global warming. We had no study to backup either one of the options. So we left it at that. And I guess what's changes doesn't new study that we just published on Monday. Okay. So you're saying from the nineteen thirties to two thousand the amount of oxygen dropped by half. So what have you looked at in your new study will the the new study what we've done with the help of very, very, very massive computers. And essentially what we've done in our study is we've had to earth systems in one of the to earth systems. We, we pretended that the industrial revolution never occurred. So what we did was leave the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, constant at the level of two hundred PPM's two hundred parts per million. And in our other earth system, we started increasing sue two at a rate of about one percent per year until eventually doubled and. A bit like what's done in other kind of global warming studies. Then compare the results of the simulation either with or without having increases the steel tuned yet Mus fear. And what we see very clearly is that when you leave Sioux to constant the water temperature in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and oxygen essentially remain constant. Whereas when you increase CO two, there's a shift in the dynamics of the two major currents that we find in the northwest Atlantic that causes rapid warming and lower oxygen in cuffs in Lawrence, and that shift in ocean currents is essentially a northward migration of the Gulfstream accompanied by a northward retreat of the labrador current near the tail of the Grand Banks where they meet all I see. So you did a computer simulation of the ocean currents around the Gulf. Saint Lawrence over time. Why would why would that change the amount of oxygen in the water you sensually labrador seawater and number current water are very cold and very rich and oxygen, whereas the the waters that are from the Gulf stream or actually much warmer and poor in oxygen. And so what happens is if you change the mixed relative mix of the two water masses and you increase the proportion of water coming from the goal stream that will decrease the oxygen content of the water. So have oxygen levels continued to drop in the Gulf since early two, thousands since early two thousand. Essentially, we had a few years right after that word was fairly steady and over the last four years, we've seen a resurgence of the tendency towards to warming and lowering oxygen in in the deep waters of the Gulf of Lawrence. So how concerned are you about the drop of oxygen in the Gulf Saint Lawrence. Will I am concerned from the point of view of essentially some the species that are currently they're having to eventually find better grounds for themselves in terms of suitable oxygen level. So which species are threatened? Well, if we look at two species for which are we have reasonable knowledge. One is planet card, and the other one is wolf. Ish. We know that when oxygen levels drop below thirty percent saturation, essentially the habitat becomes unsuitable for them. And there are other species that for which we also have similar knowledge the the recent experiments on Greenland halibut and northern shrimp indicate that we have not yet crossed one of their critical thresholds, but might soon do. So we'll how likely is it that the situation is going to get worse, lose more oxygen in the Gulf. I would say it's very likely because of the the fact that we found that one of the driving factors is is emissions of sue. And as far as I know, we're not on track to meet the targets of the Paris agreement. And even Peres means a global warming of something like three and a half degree celsius we need to do even better than Paris. But anyways, a large evidence, we will continue to emit a fair amount of sue to India miss here in the next few years anyway. And so that means in terms of prospects, that tension is very likely to continue to deteriorate. Doc is Uber. Thank you very much for your time where you're most welcome Bob. Dr Denise Albert climate, research scientists with the department of fisheries emotions in remove sqi, Quebec. Earlier this month, Toronto rolled out the red carpet to welcome filmmakers and a list stars. Attending the annual Toronto international film festival. It was the usual glitzy celebration with lots of high profile, Hollywood productions, but tiff also features documentaries, including films about nature and the environment. And this year, one of those featured was the elephant Queen. You are invited to experience. The incredible story. An inspirational leader. The loved ones, she must protect. The home may must leave. The elephant. The film traces the epic journey of a family of elephants across the African savannah when a drought his their home, a Thenia, the matriarch of the herd must lead her family to search for a new source of water. If they want to survive. It's beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking story directed by a ward winning husband and wife team Mark Deibel and Victoria stone. Mr. deebo stone welcomed quirks and quirks kid. For small, where did the idea for this film about elephants? Come from weeping, filming in east Africa, full about thirty years, and we always sort of touched ten, gently on elephants, but never really approached them as subject, but all that while we was having little interactions, we see them with small creatures and we'd file it away. And then there was a terrible drought in two thousand nine ten that stage, we asked to film the elephants in amber, Sally, and I think it was the realization of the family structure and how really they are just so like us made us determined to to draw what we learned over this thirty years and then film elephants story. Well, how much are you motivated by your concern for the survival of these elephants that became an increasing concern. We obviously concerned I, but the crisis reached its height while we rent filming it took us four years to make the. Elephant green nuts for years, filming in in the wild living alongside elephants. And during that time, the crisis got worse and worse, and it literally came into all camp. What do you mean by the elephants short within hearing distance of campus as an elephant that we knew will and then Ballade Tosca in the world at the time of a beautiful elephant Kalsa tau who we were filming was actually killed during the filming trip. So these really impinge on us, but we thought that there are a lot of films which deal with the issues and what we wanted to do, which we continue to do even off to these new these dreadful happenings was to to make a film which we thought would tell elephants story and really make people fall in love with elephants that was all rain. Now the the deaths of the elephants that you saw, was that from poaching? Yes, that was looking. What had happened was that while we were there, the Polk. Coaching methods changed. It used to be the gangs would go in with automated weapons, but then the Rangers started to be able to attract them better. And then basically poachers went back to the older poisoned era method wishes particularly unpleasant because the whole idea was poachers would hide in blinds down by the walls, and then they're object was the trying to shoot elephant with a poison arrow. And then the elephant dies very slowly. It's silent and then approaches can attract the NF until it dies in the point of a film was while we knew this was going on. There was some brilliant films already being made about the issues. So we wanted to do what we thought we could offer best, which was to tell a story from the wild for everybody. It's not for those who already know they love elephants. Well, yes, you do more than just a documentary here. You're, you're telling a story about a family, and you have a matriarch of the family named. Athena, how did you find her. This, she actually found us in the end, we searched for probably eighteen months to try and find the right family, and we filming of things at the same time. But then we came into camp one day and she was literally standing outside the kitchen with the family in the shade of debate Trie when she swung head toward us, and we saw she hadn't mazing tusks. She was a lovely common division with the family, exactly the right size with small babies and that and he instantly became the elephant. We, we knew what made her the right elephant for this film. I think we'll come character and the fact she almost let us into her family. She chose to come and stunned so close to the back of come. She was literally within sort of almost to know maybe ten feet of the kitchen area. And I think it was not really that she was going to let us in be approachable the most amazing and beautifully symmetrical tusks and insoluble filming this phrase giant Oscar, which if refers to mail, reflects elephants, got ivory side wing over under pounds, those very few and far between now this they're all. Literally a handful left in the world and thinner was the equivalent of the male joint us. 'cause she certainly had carry those those John tusker jeans because. Beautiful tusks was so long. They could almost you can almost rest ahead on them. Lay them on the ground while sounds more like what we see those images of the giant woolly mammoths from the ice age. I mean, she was. He was an amazing elephant when we showed we should. I grow of her to elephant research scientists and I couldn't believe the size of a Tuscan. They, they will convince you as a man. We have to say, no, she's the matriarch. She's the head of the family, but what does it actually mean to be the matriarch in elephant family? It means you'll the leader in the center of a family because the family groups are made up of females. The teenage boys get kicked out of home when they younger and they live either in male groups or singly, but at the heart of the family is female groups and always led by the wisest and oldest of the females. How old is thin about fifty fifty? Yes. Is that middle aged or it's let's say it's it's grand middle-age. They'll live to about sixty or seventy. But the the unfortunate thing is that most elephants in Africa these days don't live today of old age. Most of them do get post before they dive allege, but it just to go about he'll female question. What's so important about the matriarch, his that they learn through experience full. The oldest have the most knowledge in another wisest. And if you're a very calm wise leader, like Athena, it's actually been shown that the older the leader is the healthy of the group is because she can lead them to the best eating, the comments, lifestyle, and then that in turn means you can breed more often. So it's actually her wisdom is directly related to the health of her family. Will you mentioned that a drought came along, so how did Athena the matriarch use her wisdom to lead the group out of the danger? What happened was that we started with a normal dry. I season and in the area we filming often the waterholes that completely dry up, but the dryer got, we could see these holes disappearing until the loss one went, and then she was forced to go to what is traditional dry season refuge and that. So a waterhole which is fed by underground springs a normally what the elephants would do is that all accumulate there in the dry season. And then his soon as it rained again, they dispersed back into that normal territories and and home ranges. But on this particular occasion, what happened was it got drier and drier and because they were all concentrated there, they started to eat himselves out of house and home, and then that was really desperate because you they, they were in a way they were tied to the to the water. They couldn't leave because no other water, but there was no food and progressively got more and more desperate OAC sell. They were at one waterhole. It dries up, but she knew there was another place and she says, okay, we gotta go to this. Other waterfall, but everybody else went. There is exactly and the thing about elephants they do need huge amounts of space. And what's happening is that the more those migration routes get cut by fences and roads and new railway systems, and that that's books the elephants in more and more now that wasn't the case with us, but across Africa, that is the reality. And you know what we have to try and do is to make sure that there's migration routes on kept open. We don't want him the whole film, but did she make the right decision? You'll have to. Well, in in in watching this happen in this drama happening before your eyes, what kind of insights did it give you into elephants and their intelligence and their remarkable societies that have? I think the real surprise to me was that enough films in the past traditional wildlife films, we will always been very careful not to anthropomorphized the Countess, but if you actually looking elephants, especially for live with elephants for four years, you end up calling them names. Even the scientists do that and you end up getting to know them as characters and it's impossible not to think that they don't share the same emotions and sentences we do. So that was a big surprise to me. It was that elephants are these extraordinary sentient animals that mourn that that just like we do an really not to think of them as almost as equals is to do them complete disservice. I think that they're. They're so uncannily like us. That's really what becomes endlessly fascinating. It's probably the only on aware, say at the end of a four-year shoot, we would actually say, yes, we'll keep going because you really feel like you'll like getting to know a society or getting to know group of people just endlessly intriguing. And I think that is because they also sent in the emotions, they show sort of take you by surprise and the off to the premier here at Toronto international film festival. One thing I heard people continuously saying off towards, I don't believe it that just like us. It was very telling when some of the audience was describing one of the young elephants and referred to the elephant as a child because we do that, but I've never heard somebody else do that who's not living with elephants? How did you get the elephants to accept you and following them around with cameras? I mean, I think we, we should remember that we're working with world animals and what we had to do was to gain the trust. And so we would have a a four wheel drive vehicle fitted out with filming platform, and we would full around every day and gradually she let us closer and closer close because the one thing you want, if you'll filming animals that is you don't want them to appear to be aware of you. You don't want to look at the camera will come to to investigate you. So you have to be very disciplined. You have to just stand your ground, spent a long time a long way off, and it took several months to gain her trust and get to the stage where she would come run up to the car. Can you give me an exam. People of a moment when the elephants either thinners are or one of the ones did something that you just went on my God. I didn't expect that the one time when it suddenly switched was when we were. I was filming a theme and she left her cough who we used to Princess and she left a coffin water around the other side of the vehicle, and she put me between a coughing self focus. Things can go terribly Ronin now, and she'll look realized that she's preps made a mistake and then I'm in way, but I'm convinced now that she did it on purpose because when she got run the, she calmly called her cough cough. Wanted around the front, the collant went up to and that for us was the moment which we felt goodness. Here we always the trust now of the matriarch. And after that she allowed us very, very close. You mentioned earlier that Athena is one of the few remaining giant tuskers in the world yet as you witnessed African elephants are still being. Coached, despite a ban on international ivory trade, how threatened are the hell serious as poaching, I think were the situation where we're losing twenty five to thirty thousand African elephants each year and the population simply can't sustain that. So you know this, we really from things changed than within the lifetimes left times children grandchildren may not be elephants alive in the wild, and we have to really try and tackle on three levels. We have to try and police the, the parks better that we catch the poachers. We then have to try and get the traffic is because the people who basically move the the ivory from one country to another of the same criminals who deal in drugs or in in in human trafficking and in weapons. But then really, this is where we hope the foam ak- difference differences. We have to reduce the demand. So we have to reduce the demand for ivory and hope that people in the the idea of having an I retreated is. As a horned as it is your coat. And we got a very big education and outreach program going on in east Africa, we're producing plays for schools got thirty books that he reading series books to the teach children to read. But with these characters with ecological and environmental themes woven into them, and the whole aim of that is to get to Kenyan an East African youth so that they grow up, loving their elephants. And if they do will be moved to care about them Mr. Mr. Deibel. Thank you both very much for your time. Thank you. Mark Deibel and Victoria stone are the filmmaking team behind the new documentary. The elephant Queen the film will be available through apple video. The date of release hasn't yet been announced. Go Trump excise. And without it's time for another quirks and quarks question, this one's from Saul tennis who it seems as neighbor of mine here in Victoria BC she writes, I'm curious about whether or not there any effects from opioids after they've been consumed by us on c. life for freshwater ecosystems depending on where and how soon is disposed of. Okay. So this is something we've talked about on courts when it comes to antibiotics, birth control, that traces of those medications end up going through us into the wastewater system and end up in the environment. So here's the answer. Hello. I'm Joe and the professor and chemical engineering at McGill University in Montreal. Increasing attention is currently given to opioids because of the public health crisis in many places in North America, including Canada. However, from an environmental perspective appears, I've been detected in river water at concentration and none. A grandpa leader and these levels are often slightly lower, but still very similar to the ones that have been reported for other firma cicles such as anti-biotics or estrogen, the fate of okay, this compared to other pharmaceutical products. This means that the potential environmental risks associated with the presence of appeared in the environment are very similar to the ones that have been reported over the past decade for other drugs. For example, researchers have detected traces of appeared and special water muscle. There are likely not able to metabolize John because they're more simple organism. So it's unclear if they might be affected by the presence of the drunk. But the fact that they were detected in muscles suggest that there's possible impact on the assistant under researchers. I've reported that drugs and surface water can affec- the fish beaver. It can affect the, we feed their feeding patterns as well as their user which might make your pre suddenly more vulnerable to for the Tory fish consumption of opioids continues to rise. The public health issue will increase and alongside the risk for the environment. Dr Vivian, your go is a professor of chemical engineering at McGill University in Montreal. So the science question that. We can answer Email us at quirks at CBC dot CA, or send it to us on Twitter or Facebook. All the links are online at CBC dot CA, slash quirks. And that's it for this week's edition of quirks and quirks if you'd like to get in touch with us, just go to the contact link on our web page and get to our web page. Go to CVC dot CA, slash quirks where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook at CBC quirks, and you can also listen on the CBC radio app. It's freed from the app store or Google play works in Cork's is produced this week. My Dan Faulk Sissy Wong Sonia biting and Mark Crawley are acting, senior producer is Jim lemons, I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening. For more CBC podcasts, Goto CBC dot CA, slash podcasts.

Sahara desert Gulf Bob McDonald Subaru Florence MD Dr. Chris milliner Canada Toronto California Africa Harvey
Jun 20: A cosmic iceberg visit, female genetic superiority, a megadrought in the southwest and science fights Lyme disease invading Quebec

Quirks and Quarks

1:21:08 hr | 1 year ago

Jun 20: A cosmic iceberg visit, female genetic superiority, a megadrought in the southwest and science fights Lyme disease invading Quebec

"In Nineteen Ninety Five, a college student disappeared on a trip across the USA. PORTIA missing right away, but they wouldn't take it, so his mother started investigating the case file I started going through in some people. It wasn't interviewed. Join this mother search for justice or you recording us. I am yeah. Someone knows something season six. Available now. This is a CBC podcast. Eight. Off! Human genome is cared inherited. Cranks Hi, I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show, it came from outer space and interstellar visitor is now less mysterious, but not less strange if we're right in the Moon Woah is a cosmic hydrogen iceberg. That's fundamentally a new type of astrophysical objects, plus didn't we know it all along making the case for the superiority of women, females, having that extra acts gives them a survival advantage throughout the entire life, Moore's right from birth all the way to the far end, also the long dry years in the southwest of North America are starting to look like A. A historical mega drought this drought is not yet as long as the megahertz, but it hasn't had the opportunity to finish sway the mega droughts did and as Quebec struggles with an invasion of climate driven lime disease researchers step up simple do SEDONA gouzer crosswords? I, I do take vacation it's it's more exciting to say all loose today on quirks and quarks. Point, I anticipate something that was quite literally out of this world. It was the first ever object to enter our solar system from deep space about two and a half years ago, a strangely shaped interstellar visitor dubbed Mu Zoom through our solar system, leaving a lot of questions for scientists. It didn't seem to be an asteroid. It showed signs of speeding up as it moved around the Sun. That's what comets do. Not Have a long tail of ice and dust like a comet. So what was it? A Mu was a cosmic mystery leading a few to suggest that perhaps it was an alien starship. Well, it's no starship, but a team of researchers in the US thinks they now know what a memorial really is, and it is truly exotic. The first example of a new kind of cosmic body created in the galaxies deepest deep. Grease Astronomer Daryl. Seligman was part of the team. He's a post doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. Doctor Salomon welcome to the program Hey. Bob Thanks so much for having me. So, if Moore isn't an asteroid and and isn't a comet, what do you think it is? So in our new paper, we're hypothesizing that a memorial was a hydrogen iceberg. So this is a chunk of solid ice and dust that has a significant component of frozen hydrogen in it. Frozen. How do you make hydrogen ice? Well? It's a strange thing to think about because although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, you don't think of it as frozen because it's almost always in its gashes days, and the reason for this is that hydrogen freezes out or sublimate, S-, stablemates is when it goes from ice to gas at around six Kelvin, so that's almost at absolute zero, so there aren't many places in the universe that get cold enough to get. Get hydrogen freezing out at all. So where would it have formed them? So the only places you could even feasibly form solid macroscopic edged icebergs is the coldest densest darkest parts of the galaxy, and those are the giant molecular cloud cores, so the Milky Way Galaxy is a collection of stars and gas and the gas. There's basically these cloud such as the pillars of creation. You've probably seen images of and these are the giant molecular clouds. And inside these clouds of gas and dust are what's known as pre stellar cores or the densest darkest parts of the clouds, and this is the site where stars form eventually, so these are the coldest densest regions in the giant luckier clouds, and it's a little counter intuitive, but because these things are so dense, light doesn't permeate inside of them, so they actually can get very very cold and cool. Almost to the cosmic microwave background temperature, which is about two point, seven Kelvin Wow You mentioned the pillars of creation. That's that famous Hubble Space Telescope picture of these clouds that looked like fingers. Fingers, sticking up, that's exactly right. Okay, so you're saying it's within those clouds in the darkest part there where it's cold enough hydrogen conform ice and make these icebergs that then eventually became Moore Moore that pass to our solar system. That's exactly right. These cores eventually forms stars, but you might think to yourself if the core formed a star. If you built a bunch of frozen hydro icebergs, the store would probably destroy all of them, and you would be correct in thinking that right, so you actually have to go to one of the star less pre stellar cores to build up the icebergs so. What you do, is you take us star starless cord that fails to form a star. You build up these large macroscopic hydrogen icebergs, and eventually the cloud disperses, and these things are just gently released into the galaxy while. So. How did you figure all of this out that? Would be made of hydrogen ice a few summers ago, there was a paper published in nature announced Mulamba had a non gravitational acceleration in. It's trajectory, so there was an extra force. That was acting on a mama and. Pushing it away from the song. and. This was thought to be evidence for cometary outgassing. And what's happening is there's ice in the comment? The sunlight comes and heats up ice, and the ICE sublimate Sir turns from ice to gas, and it produces an outflow, or it explodes off the surface towards the sun, and that pushes the comment away from the sun, so we did is just look at different species of ice, and say what species of ice could have powered the non gravitational acceleration of a you're just from the amount of energy. Imamura received from the Sun, and the constraint is shockingly powerful, so almost nothing works so something like H., two O., so just water ice, which we kind of originally thought was causing that non reputational salvation. Definitely doesn't work. You would need to have something like two hundred percent of the surface covered in water ice to power the outflow. And, that clearly cannot be right so hydrogen. That seems like the only possible, and certainly the most likely accelerates. So, how common do you think these cosmic icebergs are in the universe? Their extremely common remember. This thing was very small in very den. So. We saw it when it was about forty lunar distances from the earth, so we saw the one that came very close to the earth. So, the fact that we saw one of those in the last couple of years, when Pan Stars, which is the survey in Hawaii that detected a moore. Was Operating means that there's probably about one passing through the inner solar system at any given time while. So we could see another one pass by a sometime soon. That's absolutely right, and what's exciting? So when our first paper about a memento we had proposed doing something like an interception mission to an interstellar object like Mama, and we showed that the upcoming Vera Rubin Observatory will detect many more of these objects something like ten per year so. Once that telescope comes online. We're going to be seeing a lot more of these objects, and what will be very interesting as we will very soon be able to prove if the hydrogen iceberg is correct or not, because not only will we be seeing more of these objects? We showed in our paper that we'll start seeing them before they come close to the soft. So if these hydrogen icebergs like memorial are. Sort of. Of Molecular clouds that give birth to stars. What can they tell us about these stellar nurseries? So if we're right and. Is a cosmic hydrogen iceberg. That's fundamentally a new type of astrophysical object, but the practical answer is that you know in our solar system. We put a lot of effort into trying to understand what the solar system can teach us about. Fundamental processes such as planet and Star Formation, so we've done missions to the planets, comets and asteroids, and we've learned a lot, and there are even people who spend entire careers looking at meteorites and meteors, and trying to look for pre solar grains, so these would be material that formed before the Sun. But if the giant molecular cloud cores, the sites of star formation are locking up their material into solid hydrogen icebergs, and they're making so many of them that they're passing to our solar system all the time. That means that we could up close study the most pristine and primordial material imaginable in the galaxy. Doctor Seligman thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much for having me. Doctor Daryl Seligman is the T C, Chamberlin Post. Doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago in the Department of Geophysical Sciences. Seven right. When it comes to physical strength, men on average tend to be the stronger sex. We tend to have bigger muscles and we can lift more weight. But when it comes to our health and long term, survival is women who are really stronger. That's likely. COVID nineteen is killing more men than women. But this isn't just a covert thing. Women are also better at surviving cancer. They're less likely to suffer from developmental disabilities and on average they live longer. But. Why is that well for Dr Sharon Malayem? This female biological advantage really crystallized for him a few years ago in a very personal and painful way. Doctrine Walla, Missa, physician, geneticist, and author of the new book, called the better half an argument for the genetic superiority of women. From Walla welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you so much for having me. Tell me about that moment a few years ago when you realized why females seem to have the biological hand. While I was spending A. Quiet lovely afternoons with my better half and we were on our way back traveling westbound on on pretty, Empty Street and out of the blue someone ran a red light and hit US dead on broadside. Our car flipped rolled twice. It was a pretty horrific accident. We were really lucky to be alive. And so everything that we're going to be speaking about. Did they really crystallized in that ambulance on the way to the hospital, which was my wife, and I had very similar injuries and I started to think how lucky she is, and how grateful I was that she has the use of two x sex chromosomes while I, only have used one, and that's because females having that extra x. gives them a survival advantage throughout the entire life course right from birth all the way to the far end, even if you look at supercentenarians people who've made it to the age of one, hundred ten beyond ninety five percent of those are women. And that's vantage begins right at birth mor baby girls make it to their first birthday than baby boys, and as we saw unfortunately everywhere around the world where it cove in one thousand, nine hundred. Men mortality rate for them was to one compared to women and I thought. Why is it that having one extra x chromosome? We have twenty three chromosomes Y, having an extra x. y does that give females this immense survival advantage, and the reason is about a thousand genes on that x chromosome, and we have around twenty thousand in total, but the genes on the x are specific to making and maintaining a brain, and are also involved in immune function to things that are very crucial for survival and women are actually mosaic. They're made up of two populations of cells everywhere. You look in their body if it's their skin, if it's their brain or their Hark and each population of is using one x over the other predominantly. Predominantly and cooperating and then sharing that genetic knowledge between them, and so for example for my wife, while her skin was healing, if one X had jeans that we're a much better for her skin to heal much more rapid way, that population of southern would take over and give her the ability to heal much faster than I would, and if they of the population of cells in her immune system, they're using the x from her mother, as opposed to her father are much better at fighting infections. That would also explain why my wife did so much better when it came to overcoming the infections that we both had while overcoming that horrific car accident. And and just to make it clear here. Sort of some basic biology women inherit an x chromosome from each parent, so they have x and men get an X. from mother and a wife from their father, so they're X Y. Correct correct if you must really are just endowed with a backup, this is the origin that of the survival advantage that I'm arguing that allows females to overcome every biological challenged throughout the life course when they compared to men, so you could say that they have genetic diversity in their two x chromosomes. Correct, if you think about it in very simple terms, if a pipe in your house sprung a leak, and a plumber is come over with one set of tools. That's a genetic male, whereas if this plumbers and ex female, there's two toolboxes that arrive, because then there's two tools that are available on on each x chromosome that can be used simultaneously for any type of repair. Repair or renovation that you might need, and that's what females really call upon in whatever challenge they might face, and even when we look at with the corona virus, there's a gene that's on the ex-cult cult. -Til are seven and this gene is used by the immune system to identify single stranded aren viruses, exactly like the krona virus, and so mentally have won their immune. Immune cells have one because they only have one x well female cells. The immune cells have two versions being able to recognize the coronavirus, but I think what the misconception that we still have even unannounced idol, and even I think this is in science as well and why it was such a shock to people, scientists alike to see so many more men succumb to cove it. It was this idea that women were seen as the FA. The fragile or you know the weaker sex, and you know as your opener said very clearly and accurately yes, males do have much more physical power, but that really comes at the cost of not having the ability to overcome biological challenges, and that's why really males are the fragile sex when it comes to survival. You mentioned corona virus. So, how does this play out in Kobe? More Taliban rates between the sexes and women's abilities to produce antibodies and survive better even when we look at the gene, which Cova nineteen uses a spike protein, which is like a key that unlocks an ace to protein sitting on the cell surface, and that's the lock so to speak on ourselves, and that's the way the virus gets in, and so that ace to lock. That protects US essentially from a cove nightmare infecting ourselves. Males only have one because it's on the x chromosome, so if cove in one thousand, nine hundred, the perfect key will unlock all male cells, but when you look at females, females have two eight two jeans because it's cody on the x chromosome, so fifty percent of their selves will have one one version of one lakh and fifty percent will be using another so again. This this makes much more difficult for this virus to have that perfect key to unlock all female sales equally. So. Are you saying that women are producing more antibodies than men are they to go back to your analogy? Have a second toolbox with more on more variety of antibodies. Well in situations of immunization, we know definitively that females respond much better because females on average make more antibodies, they make a better fitting antibodies, and they also retain a memory of a pathogen or immunization for much longer than men do, and some of this has been postulated that it could be that because antibodies are passed to the feed is passively to provide some early protection early on. On in life, so it's thought that maybe this is a holdover of of how to protect the next generation, but when it comes to these sex dependent effects, the scientists really in its infancy for for so many years, the basis of medical study was using mail cells, male animals and male test objects, and that's why modern medicine knows a lot more about males than it does about females. Does this female genetic superiority. Come with a downside. It does and the downside can be severe at times and pretty much right across the board when you look at conditions when the body decides to attack South, women are over presented, and so why is that and why is not a cost of women's genetic superiority and the cost is because to survive as we were just saying you really need a robust, an aggressive immune system to help you overcome any type of infectious process. Process and so having noon cells that are much more aggressive. They get off the immunological couch much easier so to speak. It takes a lot less to get women's immune spot a response going it does men's and so at times in women that aggressive immune system is turned on itself, but it doesn't seem to make sense that if you have a superior immune system, why would it lead to the body attacking itself? Because most pathogens that are very successful at attacking our our bodies, occasionally mimic human cells, and so to escape evasion, they cloaked themselves so to speak are wolves in sheep's clothing essentially, and so if you have a critical immune system that occasionally will attack itself, but is much better at rooting out those infectious agents that would wipe. You can kill you. That's we can argue is the benefit and so if we see this now and we. We say if it's much more beneficial having an aggressive immune response and one that's much more critical and allows you to survive corona. The cost might be that you might develop an auto immune condition at some point in your life, but you're still around to develop that auto immune condition, whereas the thousands of men that are dying at a higher rate, who would not be at higher risk for auto immunity, unfortunately succumb to the infectious process. Do Hormones play a role in that increased risk of developing an autoimmune condition. We definitely think that. Do play a role because the difference between auto immunity between the sexes seems to really diverge and the risk for women increases after puberty, and so before puberty you still see more women are younger girls, actually at higher risk for auto immunity, but the differences become very striking after puberty, and again it makes sense because those saying testosterone seems to inhibit the immune system, and the question is well why what were the benefit of inhibiting the immune system be for men, and it might be that testosterone damping down and immune response. Helps to divert energy that would have went to the immune system to fight infection to help men to fuel their muscles, and consequently you with females, estrogens plays a much different role as a really ramped up the immune system to the point that we're actually seeing now. Clinical trials underway in New York and I believe also in London using estrogen in hospitalized patients with Cova nineteen to see males specifically to see if if giving them female hormones could that help them overcome their infections? Dobie recently scientists studying human health issues used to only include male subjects in their studies, and that was under the assumption that women were just small men. So how crucial is it for women's health that scientists really tease apart these differences between the sexes. Pretty much I think the the re part of the reason that we've focused on using only male cells in especially male models, male animal models is because they're are much more simple. And what I mean by simple, all the cells are identical. Every cell has a sex of course right X X, x, Y, and when you look at a male, a male mouse, all their cells are identical when you're using females. Two populations of cells and that that population might be different using the. Extra in their mother, or the from their father, everywhere in that female, and that ratio is constantly changing throughout life, and if it's an experiment throughout the experiment, and if you WANNA, see how this works in the clinic and your listeners should ask their physician the next time they proceed the receiver prescription is. Does this drug work differently in men and women in the amount that you're prescribing for me? Should the amount of the prescription be tailored by sex and most physicians cannot answer that question because we don't have that knowledge when the drugs were approved. Approved part of the requirement wasn't they wasn't necessary, and it still isn't necessary to provide information for sex specific dosing, and the one example that I give the book that's pretty striking is sleep aid, Ambien Ambien, and so when the drug was approved, they actually tested men and women, and and the amount was agreed upon at the doses ten milligrams. You take that before you go to sleep. That's your sleep aid. So many women taking that amount waking up the next day still groggy still feeling the effects of the medication as they went back to their. Their physicians and they said you know the amount that the that you gave me seemed to be very strong and so enough physicians got reports from patients, and they reported to the FDA that the went back and reviewed and said you know what we're actually overdosing. Women women actually breakdown drug a little bit slower. There are much more sensitive to it, and so the dose now has been changed to five milligrams. Imagine half the amount, and so when it comes to the entire pharmacy of drugs that we have now it could be about a third or or a half of those drugs have sex dependent effects, but we have almost no clue which which of those drugs are and so what we really need to do move moving forward is to begin to examine. What are the sex dependent affects because we might actually find that some drugs work better for men, and for men than for women, and in fact, there has been recently some drugs that have only been approved for women and not ferment, and again the more we understand that the basic biology between the sexes are different. This shouldn't actually be surprising. On the other hand you have any concerns, the this idea women being superior in this way could be used to justify more bias and medical research on the grounds that well men need more help declaring one sex genetically superior. The benefit of actually doing that is allowing researchers to go back and say well, if women have a superior immune response to Kobe nineteen, for example, should we not then be trying to understand what's biology behind that and then apply that and help males in the clinic? And we've really overlooked these differences in helping each sex, and so by understanding how male cells are less aggressive, and what makes them less aggressive? Could we then apply that knowledge and help? Women whose immune systems might be ravaging their own bodies, causing lubis, and and Multiple Sclerosis and re educate female south to move them away from attacking themselves, and it's really I think in studying the differences between the two. We can then best help both sexes another example. I should be think about melanoma. The most deadly type of skin cancer most people are not aware that men. In Nineteen ninety-five, a college student disappeared on a trip across the USA avid portia Nissim right away, but they wouldn't take it, so his mother started investigating the case file I started going through in people that wasn't interviewed. I joined this mother search for justice or you recording us I, am. Someone knows something season six. Available now. Hi I'm Dr Brian Goldman. podcast the dose. This is the perfect time to subscribe each week. We answer your most pressing health related questions right now. We know you're grappling with covid nineteen on the those we bring in top experts to answer your questions about the corona virus and post some of our own. Get the latest evidence in a way. That's easy to understand by subscribing to the dose. It's your guide to getting through this difficult time. You can find the dose wherever you get your podcasts. especially. Young men are twice the risk of dying of melanoma skin cancer than women. And so for many years, the explanation fell back on behavior. We said well. You know men are putting on sunscreen. They're not good added hearing to out of the sun between ten and two, and they're not good at going to their doctor to get their skin examined, and yes, behavior does play a role in health outcomes, but even when we control for all those things, and you still see striking biological differences between the sexes, and so beginning to look at these differences in studying, both men and women separately will end up with knowledge I believe that will help us to be able to help both sexes more effectively. Doctrine Walla. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much for having me? Dr Sharon Ouallam is a physician, geneticist and author of the better half an argument for the genetic superiority of women. As we head into warmer summer months. We're going to start seeing more local produce on the grocery store shelves, which is Nice. But though shelves are full of Green Year round thanks to imports from places like the southern us. We in Canada can still get our fruits and vegetables, even when the ground here is frozen solid. But that supply might be at risk. Places like California and Mexico or certainly going to be warm enough to grow food. The problem is they may not be wet enough. The southwest of North America has been punished by drought-like conditions in recent years, and unfortunately things might still get worse. According to a study in the prestigious journals science, that region is now on track to experience amiga drought as bad or worse than anything in recorded history and climate change unsurprisingly could making it worse. Dr Park Williams led the study. He's an associate research professor of Bio Climatology at Columbia University's Lunt Doherty. Earth Observatory Dr Williams Welcome to our program. Thanks, very much first of all. What exactly is a mega drought? How bad can it get? Mega drought has always been something. His not had a specific definition other than it's worse than any drought that modern society is prepared for and talked about almost mythical scientists discovered these intriguing records about one hundred years ago, and over the last millennium, there were four really distinct droughts. There are other prolonged droughts, but weren't quite as long or severe, but they're really four from eight fifty through sixteen, hundred, the shortest one lasted about twenty eight years by my calculations, and the longest one was nearly a century that occurred during the twelve hundreds. Well, what caused these mega droughts to come and then to go away in? The Mega Droughts of the last millennium we think remain lead, just caused by regular old bad luck, meaning that human caused climate change wasn't a factor. They were just regular natural climate variability, but at times taking these extreme and prolonged excursions where La Nina conditions or a sea surface temperature pattern, where you have cold temperatures off the coast of Peru and warm temperatures. In the West, Pacific caused the atmosphere to direct storms north, actually making British Columbia quite wet while making the southwest us in northern. Mexico very dry, and for some reason or another. We don't really understand. There were these clusters of. Thirty or more years where these La Nina events ver very strong and very frequent, and that caused the mega droughts. We believe so. How did you study what's going on in the southern US now compared to these historical mega droughts. Well in Western, North America water is a limiting variable. The dictates growth of trees, and that means that the annual ring that a tree puts on in his trunk is very much. Corresponding to the amount of moisture is a that was available. We now have tree ring records from many thousands of trees across the west side of the continent, which allows us to assess drought every single year for the last twelve hundred years, and then we have course climate observations. For the last one hundred to one hundred twenty years, or so, and we can look at the period of overlap the period when we have tree-ring records during the nineteen hundreds and climate data during the nineteen hundreds to see that the tree rings really faithfully and strongly correspond to our records of drought, and that allows us to take the tree ring records and climate records together to have a seamless record of soil moisture beginning in eight hundred ad in coming all the way through the present So when you look at the more recent records through tree ring data, how does the current situation in the US compared to these past mega droughts? As recent as the nineteen eighties or nineties, we actually had some of the wettest or perhaps the wettest couple of decades in the last twelve hundred years, according to the tree ring record, but then beginning in two thousand drought sharply set in, and there have only been a few wet years since then it's been pretty much persistent drought conditions across western North, America, and that about ten years ago started causing scientists to wonder if we could be seeing the reemergence of one of these mythical mega droughts that we haven't seen over four hundred years, but ten years ago. AGO was too soon to say because of course, the mega droughts tell us that natural variability can be extreme, and it can come and go, and so we expected the drought conditions in the early two thousands may go away anytime. Will here we are ten years later? And now we're twenty one years into this drought, and now we're approaching the length of the actual mega droughts, and so the question is, is this drought actually as bad as the mega droughts and the answer is the average soil moisture conditions in the last twenty one years have been almost identical. To the worst soil moisture conditions of the worst twenty year, periods of the worst mega droughts of last in the only difference is that this drought is not yet as long as the megajoule, but it hasn't had the opportunity to finish the way. The mega droughts did okay now. What about the factor of climate change that we have now? How is it playing into the mega drought? Of course the mega droughts were driven by natural variability or we can refer to. That is just plain, old, bad luck that lasted for decades on end, but we also know the global warming has been occurring in as human caused warming has been occurring globally western. North America has increased in temperature by about one point, five degrees, Celsius, and so we performed a modeling exercise where we calculated the moisture balance with the observed climate data that we have over the last century and. And also using a new climate record, in which we have removed the long term trend in temperature, and what we find is that when we removed the long term trend in temperature, caused by human caused warming, then the severity of this drought goes down by about half meaning that the answer is that without human caused warming? We still would've had a drought, but drought would not have been nearly as severe in wouldn't be able to compete with last millenniums. Mega droughts wow. Okay, so we're twenty one years into this. What is comparable to the past mega drought? What you're concerned about the trajectory of the current drought? The thing about this drought is that we've been helping. It looked like a mega drought, but they're looming around back there. In the world of probabilities is still the possibility that the Pacific Ocean does again. What did during the medieval period during these big mega droughts and the return of those conditions superimposed on these artificially warm conditions that we've created with climate change is to me. It's really scary thought and it seems that the writing is on the wall that even if this drought were not to become a mega drought, because of some lucky years in the next decade, it's going to take more and more luck to stay out of mega drought conditions as we move into the future. Dr Williams. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Dr Park Williams is an associate research professor at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. Climate. Change is happening all around us and will affect regions and communities across our country in different ways this season on quirks and quarks. We've been highlighting the way. Science and technology are being applied locally to engage with the unique challenges. Different parts of our country face a warming world whether it sea level, rise, drought, flooding, extreme heat events. The list goes on. In Quebec public health officials are concerned with new climate related diseases moving into the province, and they've identified lime disease as a significant risk. Lime disease is carried by ticks, and as climate warms disease-carrying takes are moving north into parts of the province where they've never been a major problem. Producer Ellen Paint Smith explored how researchers are facing the new challenge of Lime in Quebec these? Like? We hugged Ella with us. With creeks clerks shoot. Some questions. Earlier this spring before the covid nineteen lockdowns. I was invited by Rhonda Neo. Venture a hiking outdoor club in Montreal to join their day-trip to Morrissey National Park, which is about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. On the bus I noticed the members backpacks. Sewn onto them were brightly colored fabric patches. One Badge stood up to me. I asked my guide. Judy Mitchell to tell me about it. This is the crest in it, says tic survivor so every time somebody in the club has the tick. I mailed one to their survivor, and it's just a bit of a joke, but it's also like Oh. Yes, it's a reminder that they're out there. That's the thing not to hit with your shoulder much better to take it back ten or twelve inches, and just move it out of the way because the ticks are near the tip of the branch, waiting to catch a deer or member of random avante tour. That's Ken Flagel when he's not hiking. He's a physician, an internal medicine specialist at McGill. He's kind of like the unofficial doctor of the club. After he started encountering a few lime, disease ticks and getting bitten by one a couple years back, he consulted an expert and prepared a how to guide for hikers about how to stay safe from ticks. Most people for example don't realize that they are in the Iraq Nita family and they have eight legs. They all think they're in the in the sector family and they have six lakes. So. If you have a little bug with eight legs, you're onto something. It's a really important clue. It is typical of the average hikers knowledge now and when I started this ten years ago, they'd say what's that lime disease? So that's the difference between then and now you can pick a stranger up off the trail and they'll tell you quite a lot about lyme disease. Which I, think is very rewarding and very reassuring. That kind of knowledge is a valuable survival skill in parts of Quebec. Right now it can help save you from this. It was this Saturday morning. I was lying in my bed and my husband, he saw that under my armpit, and on the side of my chest I had like a big red spot. We never saw something like that like a bullseye. And we side that it was like going bigger and bigger, and we were like it's not normal. That's mainly leopard tobacco. Growing up in Quebec, she had never heard of lyme disease, but in two thousand seventeen, she contracted the lime disease bacteria while camping in upstate New, York. She had the characteristic bull's eye rash. Other symptoms like back pain. MILISSA was lucky. Her infection was quickly and treated successfully. Not every tick bite will in fact you with lime, but if untreated severe symptoms can last months or even years, these include intense headaches, rashes, neurological and cognitive issues, arthritis and heart disorders. And people like Melissa no longer have to go south to run the risk of lyme disease. There were three hundred and thirty eight lyme. Disease Cases Contracted in Quebec in two thousand nineteen. That's one hundred and fifteen more than the year before. But two thousand four. There were only two reported cases. Lyme disease in Canada has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last ten years, and as we'll hear, climate change might have something to do with it. This is bad news for Quebec on several levels. Partly because of where lime is most prevalent in Quebec right now. Places like the municipality of Bromont in the three or eastern townships, Quebec's tours playground famous for summer and winter outdoor activities. They were mini human cases happening in this small cities, so they were getting concern about it, and they wanted to do something more than what the public health authorities in Quebec. Where already doing that's Dr Cecile Aniston's lean. She is a profit at the University of Montreal and a veterinary epidemiologist who specializes in public health. The incidence of lyme disease is much higher than what we can see in other Quebec region, and when we take into account the population, it's really the region where the risk is the irs, especially in the west part of discern as he region, where is located? They were concerned the municipality that this would impact their own way of life and the economy finally. Lime disease could have an impact on lives and livelihoods in Quebec. So. Why is southern Quebec along with other parts of central and South Eastern Canada experiencing this outbreak of lime. Lime disease doesn't spread from person to person. It's carried by animals and this is where we get to climate change. I reach Dr Nick, Ogden from the national microbiology lab when he's not putting pandemic plans into place for Covid Nineteen Dr Leads a research team at Health Canada that looks at how climate change impacts animal borne diseases and one of the things. He's focused on Islam. Disease. Diseases and environmentalists you in a number of ways. And I way is that some diseases are inherently sensitive climate worth like professor. Doctor Ogden is a vet by training. It might seem unusual for vets to work in public health, but they are key part of the research into lyme disease and tick surveillance at all levels, because it's cove in nineteen is teaching us. Animal Diseases that jumped to humans can be a huge issue for human health and our weather. How of with changes and how variable is linked with climatic change? And does he just did a climate and weather sensitive includes those disease transmitted by. Ticks and flies like malaria. And lyme disease and so on. Lyme disease in Quebec is carried by the black legged tick or exotic SCAPULA. Laris, but the black like is normally found further south in the east and Midwest of the US where Paris advises, mice, birds, deer, and other mammals. Dr Ogden and his colleagues have been following the emergence and spread of the tick and lyme disease over the last decade when we started on this throwing. Vulnerable to. Take population is no known Tarot. But in in collaboration with the institute. Sounds like we did a field campaign to see to what extent that was evidenced the tics moving into back, and that was the first signal that indeed the ticks have moved in. Back in two thousand and six. Dr Ogden and his colleagues predicted the range expansion of the black legged under number of possible climate scenarios. They projected that by the twenty twenties. The black legged tick would spend its range by two hundred kilometers, and that by the twenty eighties we'd be seeing established populations, one thousand kilometers north, according to Ogden the key for ticks to survive and thrive is temperature which determines how long their reproductive season is. The amount of warmth in. Spring summer autumn. Has increased quite noticeably in recent decades, so the life cycle of the tick. Is. Much shorter so if you think about it. How many new? To unit time, it's the life cycle is shorter than you get little ticks being boom to unit time. We think that that is what has driven the image of of the tick. And come with it the the agent of line disease. Longer Summers mean more black legged ticks are born and survive, which means they can spread the bacteria they carry, and we get more lime disease. So that's the problem. I was interested in what research in Quebec are doing about it and an important element is surveillance. Identified takes and knowing what you're dealing with and where they're found. Black, like a ticks aren't the only species of tick in Quebec. So for the public. It's vital to know what kind of tick they've just found on themselves or their child, and whether they should seek treatment. And that's where professors add savage. An entomologist and professor at Bishop's University comes in I met up with professor survive in her office on campus in Sherbrooke Quebec. Good submission takes me about ten seconds to process I. Can can fifty ticks before breakfast. It's because you never know what you're going to get in. You do the surprise. Deaad, EXOTIC TECH SIP people do Sodano gouzer crosswords. I do identifications it's. It's more exciting professor savages primary research. Research is flies, and they're changing biodiversity up north, but students kept bringing her ticks to identify in my medical entomology. Course students would bring them over to me. And eventually I realized that I had the ability to identify them in that no one else was doing much with them. And I figured well. Why not use my dedication skills and develop something that will allow me to inform people faster than than whatever else they were able to find before. Survived enter colleagues found that image based identification of takes can be an accurate and useful method of detecting ticks and tracking where they've been found with support from Quebec. Public Health authorities professor survived launched an online tick recognition platform called tick in two thousand seventeen. It's become a model for other jurisdictions like Nova Scotia Newfoundland. Scotch Juan an Manitoba. You can send a photo of taken with your smartphone than a researcher can identify the species. If the tickets found on a person, they'll get back to you within twenty four hours. It can be seen as tender for tics because there's pictures. Some people don't like to look at them, but I often encourage people to actually look at the pictures in some of these sex are quite pretty. We always see the picture of this black legged tick. It's evil, looking long Powell ups, and it's been demonized quite a lot. If you sort of dissociate yourself from the health, impacts can have the are quite beautiful creatures. Provides an important service to the public, but it also provides invaluable surveillance data to researchers. It shows them where tick. Populations are growing and where they're moving to. And they've moved pretty far. I asked professor sabotage to show me on her map, the most northern black legged tick in Quebec. In Quebec. Let me check It was in Bickham, oh! Yes so become Oh, from two thousand and nineteen. This was the northern most record. We received in this season. Bay Komo is about four hundred and twenty kilometers northeast of Quebec City. Now. It's important to remember when tickets found and a picture uploaded. It doesn't necessarily mean there is an established population. But it does show ticks are on the move and how they move is another critical wildlife related question here takes on their own. Don't move very far. They might now be able to survive in a warmer climate in Quebec. But. They didn't get there on their own. For example, in the case of the black legged tick their favorite hosts when they're especially, larvae nymphs are rodents, small rodents in in areas. Where we see a lot of rodents, we will often see more of the black legged texts survive explained that ticks aren't born with lime disease. A tick needs to feed on an infected animal in order for the transmission of the line bacteria to take place. This brings us to the next invader in our story of Lime in Quebec, the white footed mouse. I spoke with mouse expert. Dr Phil Chenier million. Million is an assistant professor at McGill University and Curator of Zoology Paleontology at the redpath. She's been collecting specimens of the white footed mouse in the Monte regime region, another lime hotspot for over ten years. Always say what you see in exhibit in a museum is. The tip of the iceberg. Most of the stuff is down here in basement. He'd gone away and taken care of. restricted-access professor million ushered me inside and introduced me to her massive and neatly organized collection of over three thousand small mammals. Introduce you to our am. Four three one. It's a white footed mouse, but this month is very dear to me because I could eat in my kitchen at home. And it was it might cat food media shows me gray and white stuff mouse, the mouse itself is very small. It's skull is less than two centimeters long. The white footed mouse plays a very significant role in the spread. And shorts mission of lyme disease in, northeastern America. And that's because it's the host that. As far as we know, the the most competent indices, ecology competency means how likely organism is to become infected with a pathogen, and how likely it is to transmit that pathogen over the course of its lifetime. Sometimes we've had nearly one hundred. Take some one single. Out. Individuals that we could because the probably run run into. A ball optics call them ball so the lowery Wendy Arch, and they're all together in one spot, and if you happen to run into that you get a lot of ticks so a mouse. Is GonNa is not GonNa just feed one TC. It's GONNA fit a lot of them. It's actually a good host. It's going to happily feed the takes and move around the forest, carrying them around. But also over ninety percent of the keys infect the sticks, which are then going to feed on another host, and because the ticks are infected are GonNa fact that are there, and so it's a snowball effect. It's exponentially she won't. Preveza, million and her team have found that like the black legged tick. The white footed mouse is expanding its territory northward very quickly and out. Competing mice in the territories are moving into here in Quebec. We're in the situation over the past decades. I found my first stick in two thousand and eight on a mouse. We're in a situation where for the first time you can actually witness. Live The, emergence of his own take disease. And, so the ID is to monitor this constantly and tried to understand. Put all the pieces together as much as we can so that we can predict how it's going to be in ten years from now. And this brings us back to the town of Bromont in the eastern townships where the tick problem has grown so much in recent years. With the municipalities support professor clean. Enter counterparts at the public health agency developed a two year pilot project Bromont to reduce the risk of lime infections. Part of their plan is to reduce the number of black ticks. But not, by going, after the ticks, directly the going after the mice that carry them. Their strategy is to medicate wild mice within a care aside or take pesticide like the kind. Your family dog takes during the summer. Professor and a sense lean, what we are using is a new family of molecule that are used for at bets more specifically for dogs to prevent tick bites. We mix it with peanut butter and we put this in small boxes. That are argues to control rodents when the mouse's are treated than when they will go into the woods and get ticks on them, there will act like small killers. This experiment may help. Help cut take numbers, but an intervention like this can only go so far. Perhaps the most important element of Dr Innocence Lean and her group are doing has to do with public health changing human behavior. It's really hard to change the aviators in human beings, even for us that work with these issues for many years we are also part of the lime disease system, and our best defense against emerging infectious disease is prevention. That means changing our habits Professor Anna Sense Lean. The pathogen is here to stay on, so yes, we can try some environmental measures tick intervention to decrees, really the density of thick. Send a risk, but we will have to adapt our own behaviors so really to stick check can to us in benefit for example so this is another area for research that we really need to address. What are the main effective way to communicate the risk without creating adverse effects, those adverse effects are the strategy. Some people in Bromont have adopted to cope with ticks like not going outside as much with their family or not letting their kids play in the yard. But cutting yourself off from nature is not a healthy way to deal with the potential danger of bites. In fact, it creates new health risks risks associated with inactivity. So people in Quebec are going to need to find a balance a strategy for protecting themselves while maintaining healthy lifestyle. And the rest of US can learn from Quebec's experienced lime disease, because it's not going to be the last emerging tick-borne disease. We see there's a lot of disease. A specifically. A lot of other news is that may be impacted as well by climate change, and we don't really know well how this will happen. We are, and we will be in the next future in more closer and closer contacts with wild animals and the risks that they may pose for help. The emergence of Lyme disease in southern Quebec driven by climate change shows us how interconnected we are as a species to our environment and the pathogens animals. We share it with, and that's something. We just have to live with as carefully as we can. I'm Ellen Paint Smith in Montreal Quebec. Ellen Paint Smith is a freelance journalist based in Montreal. Now if you'd like to hear more about how Canadians are coping with climate change, there's new CBC radio show called. What on Earth debut in the summer that you can tune into? Laura Lynch will be taking a broad look at the issues ideas, and even emotions around climate change to an end as she explores, your experiences grapples with the challenges and examines potential solutions. You can hear what on Earth Sundays at ten thirty starting July fifth. And now we've got a couple of exclusive stories for our podcast and web audience. If. You've never seen amber agree. It's strange stuff. A Grayish Waxy Blob of matter ranging in size from tiny lumps to soccer ball sized blobs. It's often found washed up on sea shores around the world. It smells when it smells like much of anything like fecal matter mixed with squid guts delightful. So it may surprise you that throughout history angry has been in high demand even today it's an ingredient in many high end perfumes, and so many people are willing to pay big for what they call floating gold. Of Two thousand dollars per kilo. But where it comes from is still kind of a mystery. We know it sometimes found inside sperm whales, but how and why it's made is still not clear. A new study hopes to help solve that mystery using the latest technology to study DNA found inside these blogs. Rory McLeod led the research. He's an undergraduate student at Cambridge University in the UK. Mr, McLeod welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you very much indeed. What exactly is angry? So angry is A. Substance it's. We don't really know how it's formed. It's primarily composed of tricep night. Alcohol called Ambien, which is kind of as you say, really waxy strange material, but we have no reason to understand why it's formed, or how even the mechanism by which is for all we know that it seems to accumulate in the coal onto sperm whales, potentially species as well, but so far there's been no evidence to suggest that other species could produce. What went through your mind the first time you've got your hands on it. Just! How unexciting was I guess I? Mean there's. It's hard to describe so this kind of big mythos around angry being this as you say floating gold, and were soon much money in terms of its weight and his utility in perfume these days, but just looking at it. It looks like rather kind of grey to yellow lumps of inspiring waxy. Grainy stuff you know certainly doesn't smell like something. Be desperately keen. Spend all my money on. My Body. It's. It's hard to believe that it's Houston perfume. What's actually smell like do? It snows Muskie. I thought I mean. I it varies a lot, so the fresh agrees smells not very good. It smells much more of what like what you described. FECAL matter mixed with rotting squid am angry. That's been floating at sea for many many years undergoes a chemical transformation as it expected to and disputes to be what caused it to have a slightly more? Enticing smell so it improves with age and other. Yes, it certainly does. Tell me about your research. What were you trying to find out about ambiguity? First of all. Nobody's ever can have demonstrated absolutely that amber Greek that jets Ma'am agree the material that you find up washed up on beaches and is actually from sperm whales, although it's long been acknowledged to be from, spend boils, but we also really keen to see whether or not it would preserve the DNA, but actually it turns out that this waxy chemical that mostly composes. Angry Ambien does a very good job of protecting the DNA even after it spent many many years floating around at sea. So, what did you find when you look at the DNA? So the initial, which on the DNA with just to check with the DNA was actually we'll do not some kind of contaminating environmental DNA from sitting around at seed, so we found the might contract sequences of sperm whales, and we found huge amounts of other organisms in there. Well okay, so if you found that, it had sperm whale DNA in it. Do. You have any idea how this hamburger is made. Well there's a few theories floating a boat. me saying that so. They're kind of common accepted theory for a long time. was that basically ambiguities kind of like a peril that forms within the cooler. which itself round and Co, natural irritant squid. That seemed to sometimes can have ripped through the lining of the whales during testing and naturally. You want to do something about that if you're, but this doesn't make a lot of sense for a number of reasons, mostly because in the majority, you've angry samples that I'm aware of their new squid beaks at all, and also you don't see squid beaks positioned in the center of the agree samples, as you'd expect to be reforming kind of concentrically around apparel well, what can you learn from the the DNA and I know maybe the microbiome information that you can't get anywhere else. So that's that's the really cool part I guess so. If we're able which we think. We are to extract the ancient Gut microbiome DNA of these whales is gives them much greater insight into how particular events in the whales ecological past has affected them and affected their coordination. Lucien with other species and affected the health and the metabolism of the wheel so well, and this is particularly relevant in cases, sperm whales, because obviously these species that were massively targeted by humans during whaling, which continued right up until moratorium on quitting nine, hundred, eighty two. So. You're saying that the angry. This sort of lassie stuff that you've found in the ocean is like a time capsule from the whales. Themselves, how far back in time can you go? Well. That's what we're trying to find how to present, so we're doing more and more samples and we're trying to see how far we can potentially push this, but yeah, as I say hopefully up to a thousand years to ideally we'd like to have samples showing what the genetic diversity was like before whaling, what it was like during willing and what it was like after whaling, so he can really kind of capture the effects of this population bottleneck this kind of massive decrease on the numbers of interbreeding individuals. What is it about angry? That makes it preserves this genetic material so well for so long. Well. Composed primarily of this waxy hydrocarbon. Hydrophobic and it's resistant to microbial degradation and footage as well, which is just really good for preserving DNA DNA as a potty chart molecule. So it binds pretty well that's astounding. How important is that in terms of understanding whales? Well, I think it's really important because. Particularly the impact on potentially understanding will metabolism is vital to be able to understand wheel conservation, and will population recovery today, so for example, if the population bottleneck of whaling meant that there was much lower microbial diversity after all these wheels got killed. Then clearly, that could be an impact on how wheels are able to digest. Particular foodstuffs are able to cope with particular after pressures on the environment that the opposite could be perfectly true as well that because of the major pressures on wheels as being slaughtered, they had to potentially map to different geographical locations, or they had to consume different foods, and so the microbiome changed in accordance with that and actually becomes more fair after whaling. We Really, do. Well, it's interesting. That amber agree has high value in the perfume industry. Now it has high scientific value as well Mr McLeod thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Rory McLeod is an undergraduate student at Cambridge University in the UK. One of the tragic outcomes of rising global temperatures has been the extreme coral bleaching events. We've seen around the world in places like the Caribbean and Australia Spectacular Great Barrier Reef. High. Ocean temperatures sometimes aggravated by pollution and other stressors have disrupted the symbiotic relationship between coral and they're algae. Algae give corals their vibrant color, but more importantly help provide oxygen and nutrients to corals in return for a place to live. But when temperatures rise to high that relationship breaks down and coral bleaching, and ultimately, the death of reefs can be the result. To try to find a solution to this scientists in Australia have been trying to give Algerian evolutionary assist. Using a strategy called directed evolution, they been developing a strain of algae that can tolerate higher water temperature, and that could make a big difference for the world's threatened reefs. Dr Patrick Berger was part of the team. He's a post doctoral researcher at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research. Organisation in Canberra and the University of Melbourne. Dr Burger welcomed quirks and quarks. Thanks very much for having me. So first of all what is bleaching? What actually happens to the algae and the coral during bleaching event? So. The Carl lives in symbiosis with these microscopic algae and the provide the majority of the Carlton Attrition. Through photosynthesis so they really solar powered correlates. If, seawater temperatures now exceed the thermo threshold of this symbiosis, the other get expelled from the tissue and the call up his white. That's what we usually call bleaching because we see this white skeleton coming through from the Colorado, so the call lost the Symbionese and appears white. That's what we call coral bleaching. So, what's the next stage? Then what what happens to the coral? The college, they actually not dead yet, but they're very vulnerable state very likely to die because their primary food source, so if temperatures don't get reestablished to Norma, it's likely that this collins experienced some mortalities, and that's what we've seen over the last three events in the last five years some Matiz all over the world. So, what are you trying to do in your work? So trying to improve the tolerance of these calls, we're trying to best-case him to cope with a change in that by the way, and we've actually seceded now in producing a more thermally tolerance This stage our car lobby in the border context well, take me through that you call it directed evolution. Let's have mean. Directive Lucien. So we used a naturally occurring processes that are happening on the reef anyway, so we just hate them in a laboratory context while they grow at twenty seven degrees all year around the half, high temperatures of causing some would experience own these high temperatures once June summertime. into this high temperatures all year long to thirty one degrees, so we force them to deal with these high temperatures and we've done this for quite a while now for years it will be approximately one hundred thirty generations of these microalgae, so they really adapt to these high temperatures over time and become more similarly tolerant, so you sped up evolution in the laboratory in other words. while. We pushed him into the right direction. If they only get the trigger in the environments to be more tolerance that say once a year because of high temperatures. We actually do this in the lab every day all around. So once you have your algae that can tolerate at the higher temperatures. What happened when you tested them with corals? So some of these we have ten of these strains and. Re tested them. We established a symbiosis with Karlovy so the car lobby if we used that, don't have any symbols right after they have been formed or developed from from the eggs and sperms so they don't have any similar on, so it's easy for us to establish a symbiosis. With the new strains ultra controlled strains. So we have about. If you hundreds of these Karlovi. We symbiosis with the heat evolves strains, but also with the control strains and then exposed to high temperatures. What were the results? The results were a bit surprising to us because we thought all of these ten strains would increase the thermal tolerance of these car Lavi but it turns out that only three of them at tolerance, and there was surprising to us because it's we had all of these ten strains in the left for years, and we thought if they are great on their own. If they algae's they, they're really growing for four years a good rates. They should all improve the orange off the car. So. What does this mean? Was this a successive only three of them did it. yes, was a successful because it's the first time that we can show, we can increase at atoll runs through these techniques of directed evolution. It has the benefit. This technique has benefits that we can potentially help many different code species with his so the algae are generalist strains. Thank Ken form symbiosis with many different corals so once we have this established as concrete intervention technique. We could potentially have many different Carlos species because of this generalist strain that we use in the lab. Now you did all of this work in the lab. How might it work in the field in places like the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, we are bits further way of trying to fears. We have to do more research laboratory context we have to for example test different potential side effects that has has we have to test this on adult corals, and we have to test also the long term effects of their symbiosis, so while this could potentially go into a feed environment. At some point. We have to do more research on this. Now. If you do prove that this this could actually work. How would that work? Practically every the Great Barrier Reef covers a huge area. How would you get the algae out there? So we can, for example, combine this with other techniques what it take survivors from a major bleaching events or more resistant cords into an agricultural context and greet them at high temperatures and them into in a laboratory context, so then potentially put them out into the field, so we can. Combine this technique and equipped these new lobby that we have in the laboratory with these heat of beyonce to further boost the horns of these corrodes. That this is a civic willard for the problem of the main issue, climate change has to be addressed, and there's absolutely no way around this, so we economic changes to have one of the biggest threats to cords, and even though we have a similarly resistant Carl. This won't solve problems. I'm so all these intervention techniques to have to go hand in hand and climate change has stood detected of course. What's your next step? At the moment, a proof of concept stage where we half increase the thermal tolerance of Karlovi so we have to test this on dog cards on different species. We have to try the long term effects of this different scenario system, the normal one and we also have to look at any potential. Trade Austin we accountable. Dr Barry Thank you very much for your time. Thanks very much yet. That was great. Dr Patrick. Berger is a post doctoral researcher at the Commonwealth. Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Canberra and the University of Melbourne. Sometimes in nature. If you want to build a great defense strategy, you have to get creative. Take the Keel back. A snake most often found in Southeast Asia. They have a defensive toxin, but not like venomous snakes. Have, fangs and they don't produce their talks on themselves. Instead they steal it. Most of these snakes eat toxic toads and absorb that toxin, storing it in special skin glance around their neck to defend themselves against predators. That alone makes him interesting and unique among snakes. But recently researchers discovered something even stranger about some of these snakes. They no longer eight toxic toes, but they still had their defensive toxin. These adoptable reptiles had found another altogether unlikely source for their defensive camel. Doctor, Allen Savitsky is a herpetologist at Utah State University Dr Savitsky welcome to the show. Thank you pleasure to be here so these snakes steel toxins from their food. How unusual is this behavior among snakes? Among snakes, it's actually unique to kill back lineage a They are the only snakes we know of that store toxins from their prey, and use them for their own defense. While how are they not bothered by the toxin from the toads? That's a great question, and it turns out that there is a very simple mutation that changes the shape of the target molecule that the toxins normally attack, and in regular predators, and that the mutation renders the snakes resistant to the toxins. Okay, and then they just store them around their neck. Runners carrying water bottles rowdily yeah, they have these sacks of fluid in that form in their neck during embryonic development, and those sacks are filled with the toxins, some of the species within this broader group also have glanced distributed down the length of the body. so sometimes they're restricted to the neck and certain species, other times more widely distributed. Do you think they know when they're full of toxins. That's also a really interesting question, and there is evidence that the snakes do know when they have larger rips smaller amounts of toxin, and they adjust their anti Predator behavior accordingly well so once the snakes are full of the toad toxin. They then use it as a defense mechanism. Yeah. It seems that it may vary from species to species. The one we know the best is the species in Japan were the glance were first discovered? Much of our work has been done. When a Predator attacks, the snake, a Benz its neck, and presents that neck to the Predator so that the predators first bite would a rupture the glands, and it will get a mouthful. He's very distasteful. Dangerous Toxins There's a species in China that was reported to be able to spray the toxin a little bit, so we don't rule out the possibility that other species may actually pressurized spray the toxin. We'll take me through how you discovered that some snakes had switched their diet away from the tones. So a few years ago. We did a an evolutionary analysis of the this branch of the the snake tree that includes all of the species of a snakes that have these grands, either in their necker along their skin, so we knew they all belong to a single group, and there was a group that was known to eat. Earthworms turns out that group was. Was a more later. member of this lineage said is the worm eaters evolved after the frog eaters and devolve from the frog eaters and testing the worms it turns out that the worms were not toxic, and so that led to a a search for the source of the toxins. Actually one of the students are working on the chemistry and in Japan. noticed Peculiarities at the chemical level of these toxins, and those peculiarities several features of of the toxins in the worm eaters led us to compare them to the toxins of firefly's and That was the connection. Toads and firefly's are the only two groups we know of that actually produce this particular class of toxins and so Basically the this lineage of snakes has tapped into both of the known natural sources of production of this particular group of chemicals. So wait a minute. Let me get this right you saying. This is one group of snakes that doesn't eat the toxic toads. They eat earthworms, but in order to get the toxins they eat firefly's. That's right. That's right, but they're eating firefly larvae, so it's not like snapping. Firefly's flying through the air that would that would be more astonishing, but the larvae are. Are Astonishing enough. There are actually not that many snakes that feed on insects of of any kind, and at any life stage, and so switching to an insect prey is is very unusual. FIREFLY LARVAE DO turn out to be relatively big relatively soft, nice and juicy, probably lots of nutrients at least in the in the group of firefly's that these snakes are consuming. Wow well. How would the snake figure out that the firefly was a source of toxin that would be the same toxin. It would get from a toad. Yeah. That's one of the most puzzling aspects of this and we don't have a definitive answer to that yet. Although we're were certainly tracking down what the the QS are most snakes rely very heavily on chemical cues to identify and find their prey, and what the chemical Q. is. is really puzzling us. The frogs and firefly's are so distantly related that there shouldn't be very many chemical similarities that the snakes can use the most obvious candidate is the toxin itself? If they're queuing in on this class of toxins, then that would make sense for this diet shift from from toge to firefly's, but we haven't. Demonstrated that yet. Why do you think these snakes would change their diet from toads firefly's? That's actually another good question. Of course, we're looking at a group of snakes that has diversified over evolutionary time, and like any other group that is evolving new species. Those species take on different characteristics, so the diversification of diets is not surprising in itself. What the driver was that made feeding on worms, preferable, or at least just as good as feeding on on frogs That's something. Don't know it could be a function of the could. Perhaps get more nutrients in a shorter period of time the cost of Of handling an earthworm may be less than the cost of grabbing jumping frog, and subduing it, and swallowing it, or may simply be that the density of invertebrate prey of worm. Pray with so much greater than the density amphibians to that helped to drive this This diet shift What's it say to you that the snake which has already unusual in that it borrows or steals toxins from toad, so that it can use it itself manage to find another source in a completely different animal. I think that. That's the part that is that is really remarkable in that came as a great surprise to us. It demonstrates how flexible. Nature can be in. Resolving, problems that arise in intern, this case in terms of of how to maintain this particular chemical defense in light of this dramatic diet shift from from Prague storms, it really was very unexpected and It's been a tremendous thrill to to see the change of this magnitude evolving within this group. Dr Vicky thank you very much for your time. It's my pleasure. Thank you very much about. Dr Allen Savitsky is a herpetologist at Utah State, university. He joined us from Utah Public Radio STUDIOS IN LOGAN UTAH. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks. Next week we wind up our season with our ever popular ever fascinating question show. If, you like to get in touch with us. Our email is quirks CBC dot ca or just go to the contact link on our web page and to get to our web page. Just go to CBC DOT CA Slash Quirks, or you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog. You can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks. You can also get us on the CBC. Listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Works quarters produced by Amanda. Buckle wits Sonia biting and Mark Crawley our senior producer Jim Levin's I'm Bob Mcdonald? Thanks for listening? Room. For more CBC PODCASTS GO TO CBC dot, Ca Slash podcasts.

US Quebec Quebec professor lyme disease researcher Doctor Daryl Seligman North America Bromont University of Chicago Dr Park Williams Bob McDonald Moore Moore Bob
COVID vulnerability, COVID and climate, iring a cannonball at an asteroid and a fossil wonderchicken

Quirks and Quarks

55:10 min | 1 year ago

COVID vulnerability, COVID and climate, iring a cannonball at an asteroid and a fossil wonderchicken

"The government of Canada and public health experts are taking action to protect Canadians from Cova. Nineteen protect yourself and others especially those with medical conditions and older adults. Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face. Coffers sneeze into your arm and disinfect surfaces who should also avoid crowded places avoid all non essential travel outside of Canada. And if you're sick stay home to learn more visit Canada dot ca slash corona virus. A message from the government of Canada. This is A. CBC podcast Heap Human Genome dark-haired inherited. Hi I'm Bob McDonald and welcome to a slightly different edition. Quirks and quirks. Like so many of you. I'm working from home. Thanks to a bit of a cold. I seem to have picked up A. Don't worry. I'm just congested. No fever no aches. No dry cough. No breathing problems but like many view. I'm watching carefully for signs of covert nineteen and fortunately there are none other than my voice. However since we prerecord our interviews with the sinus wrote the week my voice is going to sound a little different throughout the show. But we're still going to deliver some fascinating science for you today. We're going to look at what we know about why some people are more vulnerable to covert nineteen and how things like pollution can make it worse and you're also going to hear about the way our global shutdown has affected greenhouse gas emissions. And what we might learn from that and because maybe you'd like to hear about something non pandemic related. We're going to speak with scientist about shooting a Canon Ball at an asteroid and about the paradox of an ancient modern bird called a wonder chicken all this and more on a special edition courts and quirks from self isolation as Kobe. One thousand nine hundred numbers continue their exponential rise in countries around the world. It's clear not. Everyone reacts to the virus of formerly known as SARS covy to the same way as we've heard healthy children and younger people most often seem to only get mild to moderate symptoms if they get symptoms at all but the older you get the more vulnerable you are to the serious impacts of the infection and it's pretty clear that conditions like diabetes cardiovascular or respiratory diseases or a compromised immune system can add another layer of vulnerability so we're going to explore the science of our immune defense against the virus. And what we understand about why some people get sick. Dr Alison Kelvin. Is here to help us understand the role our immune system plays in how we fair with the disease. She's an assistant professor of Garage Dalhousie University as well as a member of the Canadian Centre for Vaccine -nology at the I. W. K. Health Centre in Halifax her primary research is on the influenza virus. But like many researchers. She's turned her attention to work on. Cova nineteen in fact she just got back from Scotch. Awan where she's been working on finding an animal model that we can use to tested and eventual vaccine. I spoke with Dr Kelvin on Thursday Dr Kelvin. Welcome to quirks and quirks. Hi Bob thanks for having me in these unusual times. They're very difficult times for everyone. First of all what tends to happen to those who get infected but may only have mild to moderate symptoms so in the mild cases most patients are having mild fever. Maybe a cough snakes but then there's also evidence of pneumonia when they're scanned on a C. T. which is evidence of immune cells infiltrating into the lungs. Is that ammonia for those who only get mild symptoms so pneumonia? Can I really have a range of severity and some asymmetric cases? Don't even seem to know that they have the pneumonia to quite severe and leading to Sepsis and possibly multi organ failure and death. So walk me through what we know at this point about how the immune system responds in milder cases of individuals who do actually recover from it all right so the immune system is really broken down into two arms. You have your nate immune system. And then you're adaptive immune system and your innate immune system is ready to attack in an event of an invader so it's nonspecific in attacks any virus that it sees and then. This triggers the adaptive immune system which is basically another set of immune cells. That are more educated towards the specific pathogen. So in this case. We're talking about the SARS. Kobe to virus. These adaptive sells really need to learn this virus to be ready to go and specifically attack it so in people with mild symptoms. What's happening is that they're epithelial cells which line their lungs are becoming infected with. This SARS Kobe to virus. And they're starting to release cytokines and these are protein messengers but are released from the infected epithelial cells and they're able to signal to cells around it other epithelial cells of the lung and two immune cells and say. Hello. There's an invader here. Put up your antiviral response or if you're immune cell come and help us out so after this happens. This leads to activation of adaptive immune response which is mainly the B. Cells or T. cells and B. Cells produce antibodies. Antibodies are really important. And they're able to neutralize the virus so they're specific to the specific virus and they're able to kind of encapsulate the virus and block it from binding to other cells and infecting them. So that's what we're seeing with. These mild cases that they're able to have a productive innate immune response which is characterized by The production of cytokines which leads to the activation of adaptive immune response in production of antibodies. Okay I'm thinking about Sort of a military analogy here. It's like if there's alarm goes out that the enemy has invaded and the first response that in eight one just goes in and shoots everything in the room but then the second one the targeted one just shoots the bad guys. Yes that's right so they really need to work together so that you can lead to a targeted response. Okay so then you recover now. That's what happens in mild to moderate cases in younger people. What happens as we age? That makes us more susceptible to the disease. So when we look at the aging population the aging immune system undergoes two processes. The first one is called immune. Senescence and this is an The immune system has a decline in function over time. And this is characterized by decreased ability to produce new specific cells so cells of the immune response and also kind of with this a decrease in the production of antibody responses. The other process is called inflammatory aging. And this is where people in older age. Groups have this increased signature of inflammation so instead of a targeted response. That should be happening instead. The aging have a low level of constant inflammation. So these cytokines that are nonspecific are reaching out and saying something's wrong when in fact there isn't anything wrong. Oh I see so. The immune system is not only weaker. But it's less controlled in targeted. That's right well. What do we know? About how inflammation bet increases as we age makes the disease for the covert nineteen worse. These inflammatory cytokines specifically one called. I'll six has been shown to be significantly increased in patients who have poor outcomes so possibly leading to death. So I'll six. And another cytokine. Called the excel. Ten are unregulated and their increased impossibly. This leads to an increase of destructive immune cells into the lungs. If some of these cytokines are making the issue worse for people who get Cova detained. Is there any work on drugs that can target them so going back to the aisle six? Which is an inflammatory said okay fine. That's increased in patients with more severe outcome. Clinical trials have started with. I'll six inhibitors. So since this cytokine is increased in patients with poor outcome. It's hypothesized that by inhibiting. I'll six we might be able to protect these patients torture Kelvin. Thank you very much for giving us your time and good luck in your work in these difficult times right. Now thank you so much for having me. And hopefully that information's helpful. That was Dr Alison Kelvin Assistant Professor Garage Adele Housing University in Halifax now. There's not much we can do about aging and the increased vulnerability it brings but there is something we can perhaps exert a little more control over. At least in the long term that can have an impact on our vulnerability it turns out. Chemicals were exposed to every day from air pollution. We breathe to the chemicals we ingest by eating or drinking too chemicals. We willingly expose ourselves to like. Smoking can all affect our immune system and increase our vulnerability to serious infections like Kobe. Nineteen Dr Chris. Carlson has been studying this issue of how environmental exposures like air pollution or smoking can have an effect on our vulnerability to illness. He's a professor and head of the Division Respiratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He's also director of the air pollution exposure lab at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. I spoke with Dr Carlson on Thursday. High Bob before we get into the details. How much of a factor do you think things like air pollution or smoking playing? The outcomes were seen with Kobe. Nineteen well of course. It's hard to quantify exactly but I think they're playing a bigger role than most of US appreciate and the reason I say that is because if we just look back at the the research in the past regarding how these exposures affect our immune system and affect our response to other exposures generally. The effect is very strong and much stronger than we would have thought in. There is one studier ready that is I. Think very illustrative back in two thousand three when the SARS epidemic. It and be reminded that the SARS virus is most similar virus that we know of to the current covert nineteen virus in two thousand and three. The evidence showed that those that were exposed to elevated air pollution had nearly doubled the risk of death from that SARS virus. That's an example of how potent and powerful this combination can be while and what about smoking so smoking has even more evidence not only for cove in nineteen Which I'll get back to but more over the history of science showing that all kinds of viruses the the best evidence being for influenza which everyone's familiar with the flu that smoking at least doubles the risk to flu and increases the severity of the flu in those that get it and this has been shown for many other viruses and again even now with covert nineteen. We have a new report that the risk in smokers of cove progressing into a more serious form of the disease and more dangerous situation is at least ten times in smokers with really a massive effect. Can you give me an example of something? We're exposed to the environment that could be making for worse outcomes. Well I think as you suggested in the introduction. Unfortunately it's really a whole range of things the ones we've been speaking of Bob air pollution and smoking. Those are rich in particles that we know affects the immune system very profoundly but I think there are other exposures that we might think of less that are also powerful in these include chemicals and plastics. That are very common. In fact we are all exposed to phthalates are chemicals that when we look at the urine of everyone that's been studied are always shown to be present because indeed there in all kinds of products that we commonly use and these phthalates just as as an example of something other than air pollution have been shown to also affect the immune system and its ability to respond to common insults. Okay well take me into the lungs. Then what kind of damage can chemical contaminant like smoking? Air pollution due to the lungs right so the lungs if you really spread out the surface of the long surface that interacts with everything we breathe in and we do breathe in approximately ten thousand liters every day of ear the longs when spread out or about the size of a football field or a soccer pitch and that makes for a lot of surface area to interact in that surface area starts with what's called the epithelium. The layer of cells that are the first cells that are receiving all of this era with all of the contaminants in it when we breathe in and that is a layer. That's meant to be very strong defense against what we breathe in. In fact it's the first blind defense that does the majority of the work to protect everything inside of us from what we breathe in and unfortunately all of these chemicals in pollution that we then do a number of things to damage that layer. These epithelial cells are built to be shoulder to shoulder. If you will tightly against each other with a strong bond and this bond is built with proteins that are damaged when we breathe in these chemicals so the link between these cells that are meant to be very tight so that we're protected from anything coming in is weakened by these chemicals and pollutants that we breathe in that allows in the case of the current problem the cove in nineteen virus for example that allows the virus to get into the body where it's normally kept out by these layers of protection. There's also the issue of the Silia. Which are the the fine beating structures that come out of these epithelial cells and they're constantly moving? They're they're really beautiful to see especially when they're working normally but when we're exposed to these pollutants these silly at these these beating structures that are meant to push all the bad things up and out of our bodies. These civilians are damaged. It don't work as well. So that's a second factor. That is problematic in trying to defend ourselves and then finally would not really finally because there are many aspects to this but another major factor. Is that the mucus which is bent to trap again. These foreign substances this mucus becomes thicker in the face of these pollutants and it becomes so thick that it's hard to move again up out of the body as it's intended choose. Those are three important parts of the problem and there are others That compound or come together to make us susceptible invulnerable in this setting so the lungs sweeping system that normally sweeps the floor and to get everything out is just not as effective. What needs to be swept out is thicker and harder to move. You said it perfectly by better than me. So you've described how pollutants can make it easier for the virus to get into our tissue and into the cells. But do they have an effect on the immune system? Wants the viruses in there they do. And this gets into the balance of cells that we have. So we have a whole bunch of different cells in the immune system and they're finely balanced in. What's called homies? Stasis is basically a word used to describe this state where everything seems to be working right where there's not too much of one cell or too little the other. For example one of the type of immune cells that's critically important are the lymphocytes and the lymphocytes include cells that are called t regulatory cells. Keyword there is regulatory. Because they're going around the system looking at the other lymphocytes in saying you need to back-off in one case or you need to increase your activity in another so. These are basically the the headmaster if you will the lymphocyte system. And the evidence shows that pollution will alter the amount of those t regulatory cells or these housekeeping cells. That keep everyone else in line and by doing that this system then does get out of whack and glass able to protect us. So these are part of that targeted adaptive responsive. We've heard about exactly. This is the adaptive immune system. We're when seeing new proteins or new chemicals. The body tries to develop a protective response by creating antibodies. The problem in the face of pollution. It seems that the particles that come when we breathe in cigarette smoke or pollution from traffic. Or what's called biomass burning in parts of the world where they need to burn fuel to heat their house. That antibody production system is thrown off dramatically in the face of pollution and then the CO exposure to whether it's a virus or Allergen or a bacteria becomes problematic because the antibody system is not working as it should so cells I just generally the pollutants and chemicals are just making it easier for the virus to do. It's nasty work as actually. Actually THAT'S A. That's a perfect summary Dr Charleston. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Bob Dr Chris. Carlson is a professor and head of the Division Respiratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Hi I'm Bob McDonald. And you're listening to a special taped from my home with a head cold additional quirks and quarks. And don't worry it's just a cold now of course as the world has responded to the. Cova nine thousand nine outbreak. It's not just hockey games and concerts. That have been shot down. Some important science has ground to a halt with labs closing and research trips cancelled. We reached out to Canadian scientists to tell us how the pandemic is changing their work for the foreseeable future. And how they're coping with all this uncertainty. We'll be sharing their stories with you today. A little quirks quirks dwayne phrase Professor in the Department of Earth Atmospheric Sciences at the University Alberta. I mostly work in my team. Mostly work in northern Canada on permafrost and environmental change projects in most of north western Canada the Yukon the Northwest Territories. Today is a day that were essentially closing in the lab shutting down analytical equipment and checking our alarms and our secondary and tertiary alarm systems on our freezers and our collections. To make sure everything stays cold we've had to cancel our northern fueled work at least through this spring and the summer. You know we're still holding. Maybe some hope in the fall. But I think that's probably overly optimistic as I'm recording this. They're still Inoke. Ovid nineteen cases in northern Canada. So ethically there's really no way that southern based researchers could travel into these communities that are still covert free and you know potentially put these communities at risk in particular. We communities. Don't have a lot of to maybe deal with infections in those areas. So it's really a hit for the long term data collection. The student projects that we have that we will hopefully adapt to. But it's really a tough day right now. Trying to looks forward to to where we're going to be late in the summer. Hopefully we were going to get ahead of this. My Name's Isabel coattail. I'm a marine ecologist at Simon Fraser. University I'm also head of my department so to help faculty members decide whether their own fieldwork should go ahead. I made a little decision tree so it starts with how you're traveling to your field site if it's by plane or by public transit don't do field work if it's by car or other personal mode than okay but then you need to consider who you're traveling with his fits with people with exposure that you're not sure about best not to go if you're traveling alone or just with a handful of people that you know have been careful then go ahead but consider the place where you gonNa go if it's true community where you can pose a risk to people or people can pose a risk to you. Don't do the field work. The last thing to consider is where you're going to work in live if it's with many people and you can't maintain social distance. You shouldn't do that kind of field work but if you can live and work with Just a few people or maintain social distance than it's okay to go now that little tree. Really kind of eliminates most kinds of fieldwork. They should have been done in my department this summer. But there's a handful of projects that are doable. In these days of covy nineteen the government of Canada and public health experts are taking action to protect Canadians from Kovic. Nineteen protect yourself and others especially those with medical conditions and older adults. Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face. Coffers sneeze into your arm and disinfect surfaces who should also avoid crowded places avoid all non essential travel outside of Canada. And if you're sick stay home to learn more visit Canada dot ca slash corona virus. A message from the government of Canada earlier in the program we talked about how things like air pollution might make us more vulnerable to respiratory infections like Kobe. Nineteen now it might seem that cutting air pollution to protect ourselves from a pandemic is tall order but maybe not globally the response to covert nineteen has seriously curtailed economic and industrial activity and one of the side effects of this is that pollution including fossil fuel emissions around the world are dropping quickly the center for Research on energy and Clean Air reported. The lockdown in China cuff the country's carbon emissions by twenty five percent. That's two hundred. Megatons of C O two thanks to among other things reduced coal burning oil refining an airline traffic and we're seeing similar patterns in other countries with covert related lockdowns as well a global pandemic is not the way we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it is worth looking at how covert nineteen is affecting climate change to learn more about this earlier. This week works in courts producer. Jim Lebanon's spoke with Dr Catherine Heyhoe. She's a Canadian. Climate scientists with Texas Tech University's Climate Science Center. Dr Heyhoe welcome to the show. Thank you for having me now. Are you continuing your workers? Your lab shutdown. I absolutely am because my lab is the high performance computing center. I visited in person anyways. I log in remotely to do all of our work so for my personal research. Were not actually very impacted but for all of the public engagement I do. We absolutely are. I was in the middle of giving a series of eighteen lectures across Ireland in the UK. when my trip was interrupted by this pandemic there's no point gathering people together to talk about climate change when the the act of gathering them could put them at risk. I assume that data's still coming in the climate. Data's still coming in. It's still being collected. Oh of course it absolutely is and what we are. Seeing are very significant reductions not only in carbon emissions but in air pollutants in fact one of my colleagues at Stanford. Marshall Burke has estimated that the reduction in air pollution in China may have saved many more lives. Then we're actually lost in the pandemic not to say that the pen is a blessing in any way shape or form at all anything that causes human suffering is a tragedy but it highlights the fact that often we have become accustomed to and blase to issues like air pollution that are responsible for millions of deaths every year. This really highlights that now. I talked a little bit about the the statistics on the reductions in emissions from China. Twenty five percent Which is remarkable What are you seeing around the rest of the world? We're seeing similar reductions everywhere. Were industry is slowing down. I just read this morning. Volkswagen was going to be stopping production. And all of the other industries that produce parts for that will be ramping down as well. But what many fear is that when the pandemic passes as it will eventually even though it seems endless at this point much of that production will ramp back up double time so the net emission reduction will not be known until well after the fact and it's likely to not be nearly as big as what we're seeing right now so so you don't think the long term effects are going to be likely a permanent reduction and climate change emissions. Not unless this actually shows us a different way to live which hopefully it will. I've been pushing a lot of my colleagues to explore virtual options. I already have have transitioned about eighty percent of the talks. I give to virtual talks over the last few years to reduce my carbon footprint and encouraging many people to consider rescheduling the panels events that we were doing to make them happen online and the more we realized that we can do a lot of this online. Hopefully the more. We realized that we might not need to travel as much as we do. So it's it's in a way to test in a new way to live the kind of way that we would have to live in a in a more decarbonised economy. That's that's kind of remarkable to think about. So what are you seeing in the emissions data? That's coming in. As countries shutdown that indicates changes in patterns of behavior the most significant sources that we're seeing reduced are not coming from individual choices. They're coming from industry and that points to the fact that we need our industry because as these industries are shutting down. They're throwing people out of work but we need these industries to be fueled by clean energy sources that don't pollute our air and our water. Our soil over one out of every six deaths around the world is due to pollution. Nine million deaths per year due to air pollution alone. The largest part of which comes from burning fossil fuels. So I think that this pandemic really emphasizes the fact that everything is connected. Even the fact that air pollution makes us more vulnerable to viruses like this a steady. They did did back in two thousand three looking at SARS. That was the virus back then. They found that people who lived in polluted areas who were infected. Were twice as likely to die from it. As people who lived in areas that were not polluted so our actions have consequences. And what this is highlighting. Is that our choices. Matter in every aspect of our lives. It is in our hands whether we become more vulnerable or whether we become more resilient in the future and a changing climate is the US military calls it a threat multiplier. We care about it because it takes every issue we already care about and often exacerbates or makes them worse. So let's talk a little bit about cove in nineteen and the flip side about whether or not cove in nineteen was affected by a warmer climate. That's a question. That's on a lot of people's labs because we absolutely know that climate change doesn't affect infectious diseases so often diseases like Zeka and chicken. Ganja and Dong that are carried by what we call vectors. Vectors not being Eros but vectors being things like ticks and mosquitoes that carry a disease. Those types of diseases are expanding their geographic range. Northward as the planet warms but corona virus is not the result of carrick carrying by vectors. We are the ones we humans are the ones carrying it. So it's spread around. The world is due to humans and that's not affected by climate hardly at all but on the other hand we do know that climate change is affecting influenza in general and of course. This is a form of influenza. It's making our seasons longer which gives the viruses more time to mutate as climate changes to in a warmer world. There's some indication that our immune system might become less robust so we're more likely to get it and even ironically. Although climate changes leading to warmer winters which means a more mild flu season after a warmer winter the subsequent flu season tends to be much worse because our vulnerability is greater so there are interactions with the changing climate that are making these viruses and influenza epidemics more severe. So so to be clear. We don't know about whether on any of this applies to cove in nineteen yet but we do have this history that suggests that it might be interacting with the climate and interesting ways. Yes that's exactly right but right now. It's the secondary effect the primary effect right. Now is the simple fact that humans are the carriers and we are spreading it around the world. We're talking about a short term health. Emergency here well. What we hope is short term health emergency with covered nineteen and a long-term environmental emergency that the climate emergency associated with feels emissions. I wonder if you see any similarities. In the response in the coverage of cove in nineteen and that a climate change yes they're absolutely arsim parallels as well as some lessons to be learnt so first of all these are both global crises that we can see coming and we're being told by scientists experts that there are actions that we can take to mitigate these crises some people are to the scientists and experts and some are not those are absolute parallels between climate change and this pandemic but on the other hand we see the impacts of this pandemic very soon on days two weeks whereas with climate change is more like years two decades so the timescales completely different but fascinating. I've been reading some recent research. Just the last few days that show that some of the same organizations that regularly question the reality of climate science have also been questioning the severity of the pandemic and some of them have even been spreading conspiracy theories about it and a brand new survey. That just came out yesterday. Believe the day before showed that there's actually a difference in how severe we feel or how concerned I should say. We feel about the corona virus pandemic depending on where we fall on the political spectrum. The more conservative. We are the less likely we are to take this seriously. So there's this fundamental interaction between our personality our political affiliation and our ability to understand risk which applies both to this situation as well as to the longer term issue of climate change. And it's a. It's a really strange implication that it you know presumably as as we realized how serious this epidemic is it may may actually sort of increase the reliability of science. In a sense. I hope it will because for a long time. We've been struggling with anti intellectualism. The idea that my facebook post gives me more information than a top expert in the field. But what I hope this will also do is bring us together and make us realize that no matter where we fall in the political spectrum when it all comes down to it we all want the same thing our health that of our friends and our family and our loved ones our community our city our province in our country when it all comes down to it. That's what matters. That's what corona virus threatens and that's exactly what's at risk from climate change to. We've seen drastic changes in how people are living their day to day lives and it's all happened incredibly quickly. What are you hoping that people take away from this experience? I'm hoping that it actually shows us. That change is possible when we realize what's on the line something that matters to every single one of us our health and our wellbeing in that of everyone who we love we are willing and able to take stringent action. We are seeing this today. And that actually ironically gives me a little bit of hope for the future because if we can just recognize that climate change is the same type of issue. It affects our health. It affects the economy. It affects every single thing. We already care about today. In fact who we are is already the perfect person to care about climate change if we can recognize that and connect the dots. We can act. Dr Hey Ho thank you very much for your time and stay safe. Thank you for having me. That was Dr Catherine Heyhoe a Canadian. Climate scientists and professor at Texas Tech University speaking with quirks and quarks reducer Jim Lebanon's and here's more from scientists about how they're coping with our new world of Kobe. This time from Steve. Maguire. Hi. I'm Steve. A chemist and staff scientists know lap an underground research lab located two kilometers down a working nickel mine in Sudbury Ontario. This week the lab has gone to essential personnel. Only and for a couple of days that included me. Everyone else got to work from home on Tuesday but I had to wake up early to get on the giant freight elevator. We use to get down to the lab because so few people are considered essential. These days there was a lot more elbow room there than they usually was. I was helping transfer a simulator or flashy liquid from our underground storage tanks into our largest neutrino detector. Because that's the safest place to put it right now other than that. Just maintaining sensitive instruments and detectors. Don't react well to being turned off and on again but there are plans in place to shut them down if we have to. We depend on the good graces of the mind management operate. So if they decide to close down then we're closing down as well. Hello My name's Rebecca Rini. I'm an associate professor. In the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. I study and train students. In WETLAND ECOLOGY. My lab currently includes fourteen. People and everyone has been home since Monday when we shut down all lab research. I've thought of to grant applications and it looks like we're cancelling at least one big field experiment My summer and spring conferences have been cancelled as well. I think that students are understandably disappointed about that. But we prioritize health and safety of course that means their mental health to students are faced with a lot of stress and uncertainty right now and I'm committed to making sure their degrees are not held up unnecessarily. They have tasks that they can work on from home. Writing analyzing data for example. We are meeting weekly to stave off isolation and I'm doing my best to keep them updated. Daily as policies are changing rapidly. Whatever comes in this crisis when it ends accommodations will be made in. Students shouldn't face an extra financial burden because of it. Stay home do what you can't keep progressing towards your milestones but be compassionate with yourself and with each other. Hi I'm Bob McDonald taping quirks and courts for my living room. If I sound a little different don't worry it's just a head cold. In June of twenty eighteen the Japanese High Obosa two spacecraft made its rendezvous with the tiny asteroid Ryu Goo to learn more about it really is about one kilometer in diameter and is located in an orbit between Earth and Mars High Busa to actually briefly touched down on the surface of Ryu Goo to grab a sample of the surface. That's apple is now on. Its way back to Earth. But when high boost to blasted off from the asteroid it left a little something behind it. Fired a two kilogram copper canon ball into Ryu goose surface blasting a crater and scientists have now revealed what they learned from that impact experiment professor. Seiji Sue Gita from the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of Tokyo is part of the high abusive to science team. I talked to Dr Gita on Wednesday evening. Now when you were on our program last time high Busa to had just made its first rendezvous with Ryu so refresh my memory here. Tell me what we already knew about Rio Goo. What's it like? Yes they're few outstanding properties of Riga. We found at the time I one is. It's very black. Probably suggesting that it's a carbon rich asteroid. Second thing is AIDS covered by a lot of lodge boulder's like laws. Roxanne surface as opposed to sand like fine grain particles in the surface and then the third thing is that the it's got a spinning top shape. It's probably made by high spin rate in the recent past so those are the three outstanding properties of Reu- now. Why did you want to create an artificial crater on the surface of you go? There are two major reasons one is that we try to understand the process of collisions. Between the small bodies that's because During the early stages of a Planetary Formation of growth mutual collisions between small bodies is the driving force or driving mechanism of the Growth Planet. And we wanted to do the actual experiments. So that's the number one second one war. Scientific point of view is done this Sunday. That surface age though small bodies like asteroids no like to know the timescale over surface siebel Lucien on the counting crater is commonly used method. And then we'd like to know how much of a crater will be made by a given size of a projector. It's a little bit involved. But that's the second reason. So how did you go about creating the artificial crater? We had the small little sub-satellite. It's actually similar mechanism for the Buzzer to cannon For the antitank weapon emits a very spiritual shaped projectile by DISA- detonation device into space so we deployed sub-satellite and then detonation happens and then spirits warn the the nation than hits the surface of asteroid and create a crater. How fast was the Canon ball going when it hit the surplus yeah? The city was Too commodores per second well? That's pretty much faster than handguns and other devices. And its closest we can get for the planetary speed of impact crater. Did it create? The size is about seventeen meters across. It's actually not really Circulates semi-circular the circular shape is probably made by a really lewd sand like structure. We deiter half a prohibited from growing because we hit really close to a strong boulder happen to be sitting right next to the impact site so the strength of a boulder was probably the limiting factor for the growth. So what did the crater tell you about the The makeup in the age of view when we look at look at the larger side of the crater. It's actually the maximum size. We can think of physics by design means the limiting factor for the crater growth. Is The gravity. Gravity really really tiny. It's a very small on astroid like you said in the beginning. It's less than one. Calmer across so gravity is very minute. The result is The Metro strings by this. I mean the the cohesion between different grains not the district's about individual boulders and sound grains but those cohesions very small so the maximum side is produce. The bottom line is the surface Asia. According to our cars paper is on the order over two million years. It's still long but the for planetary and solar system history. It's really recent ten million years. It's a shorter more recent than the beginning of a humankind. That's the understanding. Wow well if it's so young. How do you think it formed words Probably made out of a recent Break-up orbits a parent body and then Lots of fragments was made on. Those fragments was Gravitationally collect itself making into rubble pile. So that's the probably formation process of I have to say one thing the angel Asteroid View and surface age might be quite different. We don't know for sure. But the there's a high possibility that the surface may have been modified by some kind of a Episodic major event long after its formation so was made by some laws collision break-up apparent body and then time passes and then some resurfacing happened. And that's the age we record with the number of craters. We see on the surface. So that's who you're referring to so you're saying that is sort of a chip off a larger block that formed in the first place and then it was hit again afterwards. So it's been hit many times. That's correct well. I mentioned Highbush also is sending a sample from the asteroid back to the earth. I'm sure it's going to be very exciting when that returns. And I hope that we get to talk to you to find out what it tells you. I hope so One of the exciting finding impact experiments from the perspective of a sample is the surfaced Asia. They're young so the Montreal we collected From the surface when you surface of you must be very fresh. So that's another sort of bonus that we can be very happy about the sample professors Akita. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much for us. And then let's talk about the hives a two professors. Cg SAVITA is principal investigator with a high of Busa to science team and in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of Tokyo. It's kind of a contradiction in terms the oldest known modern bird but a fossil identified by Canadian paleontologist. Dr Daniel Field in his team at the University of Cambridge is a bit of a groundbreaker. We know birds evolved from dinosaurs. But they took their time doing it going through forms that were initially more dinosaur like and then more and more bird like eventually of course we would have had something that we'd consider more or less a modern bird but how far back to modern birds go well a new study of previously overlooked fossil. Answers that question. And it's pretty far sixty six point. Seven million years to be precise suggesting this bird was standing alongside the dinosaurs looking up when the killer asteroid hit and it might tell us a little about why it's descendants survived while the dinosaurs didn't. I talked to Dr Field on Thursday doctor field. Welcome back to quirks and quarks. Thanks very much. Bobbitt's get to be here. Well tell me about this new or old creature you've unveiled to the world. What would it have been like? Well what we're talking about here is the oldest known modern bird fossil and it would have been a little bit strange. It wouldn't have looked exactly like anything alive today. Because we think that this animal is close to the common ancestor of living duck like birds and chicken light birds and so when we look closely at the structure of its skull we see that combines some features of the skull that we associate with those two groups in the modern day so it looks like a chicken but quack duck well the front of the skull the part that includes the beak is certainly very chicken light but actually the back of the skull is more reminiscent of what we see in living ducks so it might have said Gobble Gobble Turkey or might have quacked. It's hard to say for sure. Walk like a duck. Sounds like chicken? Gino anything about its lifestyle like what Where would have lived? Yeah well we have more reserved than just the skull. In fact we have the legs as well and the proportions of the legs are long and slender. And those sorts of features in living birds are often associated with living on shorelines. And so we think the ecology of this chicken duck like bird which we have kind of affectionately been calling the wonder chicken may have been more similar to what we think of as as similar to living shore birds in the present day. So how big wonder chicken well? It was fairly small compared to living duck lake and chicken. Like birds would've weighed about three hundred ninety five grams or so. Well how did you come across this fossil? So initially the bones were discovered by an amateur fossil hunter from the Netherlands named Martin van den and he found the actual specimen itself in a rock quarry in Belgium back in the year. Two Thousand and he donated the particular specimen to the nearest natural history museum where they went unstudied until twenty eighteen when the curator that use iem lone specimen to me and the reason when. Tom Studied for so long because the specimen itself looks pretty terrible at first glance. It's just a few of those broken leg bones poking out of Iraq and it wasn't until we took that specimen and popped it in a cat scanner in order to peer inside the rock that we realized that we had this beautifully preserved complete skull of the world's oldest known modern bird. So what did you see when you look through it with the cat? Scan I well. We are completely shocked when we threshold it away the low density rock on the computer screen and saw this incredible skull staring straight out at us from the computer screen because we knew that no modern bird skulls had ever previously been seen from the age of dinosaurs so the second we saw the chickens face. We knew that we had something really exciting. So what can this fossil tell you about when modern birds burst emerged? Well because it's close to the common ancestor of these two groups. We know that the divergence into the lineage that ultimately led to living chicken like birds today there are about three hundred of those alive and the lineage that led to living duck like birds today populated by about one hundred and seventy seven living species. We know that evolutionary divergence took place right towards the end of the age of dinosaurs. And that's really exciting for us because it's been very difficult to figure out when in Earth History. Some of these major groups of modern birds first arose and so we're beginning to think that many of the major groups of living birds back the deepest evolutionary divergences within the modern bird. Family tree seemed to have taken place right. Towards the very end of the age of dinosaurs and those surviving lineages maybe snuck across the end Cretaceous mass extinction event which wiped out all of the giant dinosaurs sixty six point zero two million years ago and ultimately flourish into the incredible diversity of living birds. That we see on Earth today does give you any about how they survived the extinction and the dinosaurs didn't so we know that when this asteroid struck the earth sixty six million years ago widespread wildfires were set off all across the world. And so we think it would have been a very difficult time to survive if you were a bird. Specialized for living trees and those features of the leg bones that we see in the wonder chicken. Those long slender limb bones suggests to us that this was a bird that predominantly lived on the ground and lived on the shorelines like I said before so that combined with its relatively small size and the fact that its beak suggests that it probably had a fairly unspecified allies diet. We think all would have been really important features that might have helped the ancestors of modern birds survive when all of their non avian dinosaur cousins were wiped out. What about the location? Where this fossil was found. Is there any significance to that? This fossil comes from Belgium. Which makes it the first ever. Modern bird fossil discovered in the northern hemisphere from the age of dinosaurs so the previous oldest modern bird fossils that we knew about came from Antarctica. And so the fact that we've now identified the oldest modern bird currently known from Europe in the Northern Hemisphere suggests that maybe future peeling to watch scurries of even older modern bird. Fossil's might take place in Europe or North America which should be good news for paleontologists based in in Canada doctor failed. Thank you very much your time. Thank you very much Bob. Dr Daniel Field is a Canadian lecturer in Paleobiology at the University of Cambridge in England. And here's another short piece about how Canadian scientists are coping with our new world of Cova. Nineteen I'm Chris. Fairmont Department of Geography at the University of Victoria and science director with rain. Coast Conservation Foundation. Our team conducts applied research on wildlife and fish populations in coastal British Columbia after falling global and then continental spread with dread and fascination. I expected that our lives would soon change as the lab. We ACTED EARLY TO PROTECT LAB members and society. Last Thursday. We transitioned to working remotely. How does this make me feel honestly? I'm feeling mixture of disbelief and anxiety with a dash of optimism that Canada BBC might be imposing strict enough policy. I'm also feeling optimistic. When I learned about the rapid and collaborative research to intervene and halt this pandemic in a larger sense. I'm feeling I want to redouble my efforts in science communication this is a reminder. That policymakers always require how cred and timely information communicated compellingly to them and the public. And that's it for this week's tape from my living room with a head cold edition of Quirks and quarks. If you'd like get in touch with US or send us a question our email corks at CBC dot ca or. Just go to the contact link on our web page and to get to our webpage just go to. Cbc Dot Ca Slash Quirks where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play Portland. Quarks is produced by a man buckets. Sonia biting and Mark. Crawley our senior producer. Is Jim Lebanon's? I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening and stay safe everyone for more. Cbc PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Canada Bob McDonald influenza professor Bob Kobe Cova Dr Alison Kelvin scientist SARS Jim Lebanon Cova Canada dot pneumonia Dr Carlson Bob Dr Chris US
Introducing The Dose with Dr. Brian Goldman

Quirks and Quarks

18:00 min | 1 year ago

Introducing The Dose with Dr. Brian Goldman

"Hi I'm Jamie for the last decade I've been a newspaper reporter and lately I'm just finding it hard to keep up with the news as of today. Simple possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. It can be hard make sense of things. Vesta gators spent nine hours in the consulates. Appearance will matter. I want to change that at least a little. Join me weekdays at six am for front burner a daily podcast from CBC news. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcast. This is a CBC podcast. Hi there. I'm Bob McDonald. But this isn't quirks and quarks. We have a special bonus episode for our podcast subscribers. The dose with Dr Brian. Goldman is a new health. Podcast from the team behind white coat. Black Art each week. Dr Goldman will bring you the best science from top experts in plain language. Exploring questions like what vaccines do adults need? Does your fit bit actually make you fitter or should. I worry if IBM is too high. The dose cuts through the confusion to deliver health news. You can use so why ask Google when you can ask Goldman. We've got the first episode for you. Have a listen. Hi. I'm Dr. Brian Goldman this is the dose a weekly. Cbc Health podcast that cuts through jargon and confusion to give you smart health information you can use this week the BMI and weather you need to stop worrying about the BMI or body mass index has been around for around two hundred years. You know those charts where you plug in your height and weight and it spits out a number that tells you what your BMI is having a high BMI is supposed to be a call to get serious about your health by losing weight. But here's the thing recent studies say. Bmi is both inaccurate and misleading. So should you care about your BMI to cut through the BS ABOUT BMI? I've dialed up Dr Aria Sharma. Who's a professor of medicine at the University of Alberta and just happens to be Canada's obesity guru high area high so for people who might not know what BMI is or? Maybe just aren't sure how it's calculated. Can you give a simple rundown short body? Mass index has been around for a long time and You know we might get into the history of BMI but what it basically is a number. That's calculated based on height and weight So you measure your height measure weight and then there's a simple formula you plug the numbers and then you end up with this number. Which for an adult can be innovator between Fifteen and the over one hundred and what? Body Mass Index actually is number. That's often used to to diagnose obesity and it's a number that's been used for a long time for exactly that purpose but it's not a very good number to be using for that purpose and I guess that's what we're going to be talking about in just a moment so so give us a sense of what the numbers are supposed to mean if you have a BMI of say thirty or thirty five for example the conventional cutoff that if you open any medicine textbook or your checkup you know. Look at any of those charts would normally find. Is that anything below. Twenty five is considered normal weight. And once you get past. Bmi number of twenty five to thirty. It's considered overweight. And then you go from thirty to thirty five. Now it's now we start calling it. Obesity and you have class one obesity and then thirty five to forty is clash to obesity and anything over forty class three obesity. Have you ever figure out your own? Bmi Well my own is Yeah it's just it's hovering around twenty twenty five so that's good so it's GonNa be good while we'll get into that. Where did this measurement come from well the BMI number used to be called the kettle index? And it was actually A. It's almost two hundred years old and was figured out by mathematician who liked you know putting numbers to things and and he actually developed a number of looked at the number of when he was describing the size as off people. I believe it was in the Belgian troops at the time. And that's where the number came from and It kind of found its way into the medical literature. Probably more in the early seventies where there was a guy called keys and heathen actually called the body mass index and started using it a lot of studies that he was doing on body composition and actually he's best known perhaps for what we call the Minnesota starvation experiments where they took a bunch of Conscience deniers didn't want to go to Vietnam and they said well in you volunteer for a good cause and put them in these camps and they starved them As a way of studying you know what would happen to you. Know to soldiers who were being held in concentration camps and prisoner camps would be starving to death and so they took these guys and they put them on these. Basically starvation dies starved them These were quote UNQUOTE VOLUNTEERS. And very carefully. Measure their metabolism and their body chain. You know body composition and how they lost fat mass etcetera and so in the context of those studies somehow the body mass index was used. And that's how it found. Its way into the medical literature and then became this measure of body composition. What's the biggest myth that's out there about BMI? Well I think the biggest myth in general is that you can step on a scale and decide whether you're healthy or not the biggest problem out. There is the so-called healthy weight because the term healthy weight implies that there's a weight that you have to be at to be healthy when we all know that there's actually a wide range of weights that people can be healthy You know the same reason. Not Everybody who's big is or has a health problem. Everybody who skinny is healthy. So this idea that there's a healthy way to there's a BMI number a certain amount of pounds or kilos that your scale needs to show Which defines whether or not you're healthy or not. I think that's the biggest misunderstanding in all of this. I'm doing population study though so Sam Statistics Canada and I want to know you know I is there going to be more obesity across Canada and then. Pm is okay for that. You know because we're looking at populations where the problem is is not everybody who falls into that higher. Bmi category actually has a health issue and not everybody was below. That category is is is healthy. But you know chances are that the higher the BMI the more health problems you have and you know chances are the Lord of the fewer health problems you have but when you take this down to the individual level when you look at the Guy Sitting in my office and all I know about him is his his BMI or his body weight. I and that's not enough information to base any kind of decision on So it works nicely for Population Studies. it does not work in in medical practice. When I'm trying to you know come up with a treatment plan for someone even trying to figure out if somebody actually needs treatment at all so if it's not useful when it's applied to individual why are we still using it. Why thanks largely. Because it's simple. It's a number you know we like numbers and we like things that are simple and I think a lot of the thinking in medicine has often been you know for many conditions has been eroded numbers if you think about you know what's a normal blood pressure while there's a number What's a normal cholesterol level? There's a number What's what's being healthy blood? Blood sugar level. There's a number so so for lots of things that we do in medicine. We have certain numbers and those numbers. Find the cutoff. But the problem is that it doesn't work. Obesity doesn't work that way. Because one of the things we've learned about obesity is not just that it's not about the of body fat that you have but it's really about the kind of body fat that you have and when. I say the kind of body fat we're talking about quality of the fad but also location of the fat and that has a huge impact on whether or not that that that body fat is affecting your health. The body fat. That's not so good in the one that causes. That seems to cause a lot of problems is the body fat. That's inside your body so you it's not body fat that you can pinch using your finger. So this is the fat. That's inside your abdomen. It's around your internal organs so that in itself actually explains why you can see some people to have a lot of body fat but all of his body fat is located on their thighs. It's on their hips And doesn't seem to cause a lot of health problems they might not like like it might not like the appearance But in fact there's actually even data showing that if you have large ties and large hips. Your risk for diabetes might actually be lower and not hire in contrast to someone who has all their all their exes body fat inside their abdomen around their belly. Hi I'm Jamie was on for the last decade. I've been a newspaper reporter and lately I'm just finding it hard to keep up with the news today. Simple possession of marijuana is no longer illegal it can be hard to make sense of. Vesta gators spent nine hours in the consulates appearance. I WANNA change that at least a little. Join me weekdays at six. Am for front burner at daily podcast from CBC News. Subscribe now wherever you get. Your podcast is b. m. i. affected in any way by ethnicity or genetic background. What we know that that ethnic background and an ethnicity and ultimately genetics plays a huge role in whether people develop certain health problems when they gain weight or not And so it absolutely does play a role in what we do know about at this city and weight gain is that people from South Asia for example are much more sensitive to changes in body weight. So let's take somebody who comes from India if you know that person simply by gaining two or three pounds can make all the difference between not having diabetes and having diabetes. So they're very very sensitive changes in body fat And other people of other ethnicities who are much more resistant so they can gain quite a considerable amount of weight and not have health problems. So so yes. Ethnishity plays a role. Genetics plays a role. And that's exactly what makes us so complicated. I like to think of body mass index As a clothing size. So can you tell me you know. There's some limited body mass index of forty five. I know that that's a pretty big guy but it doesn't really tell me much about health. I mean let's. Let's talk about a sumo wrestler. Those are high performance athletes. And they'll all clock had BMI's of forty five and fifty. So you know you say well. That's that's that's sceviour obesity. But I wouldn't call it severe obesity because like I said there are athletes. So just having. That number doesn't really tell me much of what helped yet. We still see those charts and offices and you can go online and plugging your height and weight to get the number. Yeah but I wouldn't make too much of that number I would. I would look at those numbers more as a screening tool so yes. As as people's body mass index goes up the likelihood or the chances that they might end up with the health problem related to their to their body fat or their body. Weight goes up. You know and and the heavier you get in the the larger you get the the greater the risk and when you talk about health. You're talking about trying to connect some number two to what fatty liver to elevated triglycerides. Is that what you're talking? Type two diabetes. Exactly whatever. The problem is our size United I said earlier. There's a there's about two hundred conditions Well defined conditions or medical diagnosis. That you want in fatty liver is one of them. Sleep APNEA AND OTHER TYPE. Two Diabetes High Blood Pressure. If you had asked you to rate is we've got a whole bunch of you know conditions that can you know? There's a lot of cancers that you know may be caused by an maybe driven by excess body weight if you want but not. Everybody has all these problems and so so what? A lot of people don't like about throwing out the body mass index. Is that now when you say? Obesity is something where we need more information while now. We're really talking about a visit to your doctor's office and we're talking about running some lab tests and we're talking about you know doing physical exam don't talk about a whole bunch of other things and subtly distinct becomes complicated but it is complicated. I mean it's it's no different from a lot of other medical problems where you do have to actually go to your doctor to find out if you have the problem. Do you think some people might avoid that visit to their doctor because they're ashamed of how high BMI as well absolutely you know very. Few doctors have actually training and obesity and hours. Say you know if you WANNA mic drop moment. You know you're still graduating from medical school. Who have never spent thirty minutes treating someone for their obesity. We had this year. May Come on and say obesity as a chronic disease. Six years ago you asked him. But what have you done about it nothing? We've not trained one extra doctor since then but so your chances of seeing an obesity specialist in your lifetime which zero if you live in Canada or anywhere else mic drop. Okay all right. So is there a better number than a BMI that we should be using instead? Well unfortunately there's not a number and that's what people don't like about this discussion. You know. They want numbers but there is no number. Some people some experts I've spoken to have been talking about Measuring your waist comforted circumference. Well again. You're talking a number so you know there's people who have large waists who have you know we'll have health issues and those people who have large to don't have health issues. It doesn't add a lot to the clinical test So again you know if you measure your waist circumference and you're about one of those cutoffs on a chart Then again you don't maybe WanNa bring the sub at your next doctor's visit but it doesn't. It's not diagnostic. And that's the that's the keep key issue here In medicine we want something that differentiates people who will have a health problem. People are saying if you want From people who are healthy and unfortunately body WADE BMI WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE. At you know there's simply not enough information in those numbers for me to as a doctor make a diagnosis or decide. What the Best Plan of Action as the obesity is not a diagnosis that you can make by looking at someone on the street by even even having them step on a scale. Obesity is a diagnosis. That should be made in a doctor's office After having run the appropriate tests. And what's the trip wire to talk to your doctor about doing something about Being overweight or obese. If you're worried about all those diseases like heart disease entitled Diabetes while a lot of these diseases start very early l. You know with with early signs and so your first step is to see if you have any of those early signs and sometimes it's not just the early signs symptoms that just having strong family history. So if there's a lot of type two diabetes in your family that you're gaining weight of weight is up then once again. We're back to the doctor's office run the test and see if you have prediabetes you know and if you do then you need to start thinking about what it is that you want to the body weight Ultimately it comes down to the question. Is Your Body Weight. Always your body fat Affecting your health. That's the question really asking and if it is then you need to do something about it. And if Dr runs all the tests and they'd look and see. Your cholesterol is fine. Your triglycerides are fine. You don't have sleep apnea blood. Pressure's find your kidney. Function is fine. You don't your liver seems to be fine well then. Hopefully your doctor is going to tell you that this is not something you need to worry about on the other hand. This might prompt your doctor to run a few tests and they might find something that actually is wrong and that needs treatment so So I look at it as a screening tool maybe as a conversation starter but not as not as a diagnostic tool. So what's the bottom line on? Bmi the bottom line one BMI is don't obsess about it Use it as a as a screening tool. So if you know if you're interested in you check your own body mass index and one of the calculators or look at a body chart then I would advice to bring this topic up the next year Dr But don't lose sleep over it because chances are that. It doesn't mean much Dr Sharma. I WANNA thank you for joining us today on our very first episode of the dose. I gotta run take by Yup by Aria Sharma is a professor of medicine at the University of Alberta. You can find out more about the work he does at Obesity. Canada got CA. So what's the dose of advice on your BMI at best it's a signal that might tell you to lose some weight but the BMI tells you nothing about your health your blood pressure triglycerides blood sugar liver tests and family. History will tell you far more about your health. If you WANNA talk m any other questions you'd like us to tackle on the dose tweet me at night shift. Md or at CBC PODCASTS or at CBC White Coat using the Hashtag the dose CBC. You can also email us. Our address is the dose. Cbc DOT CA. You can find the dose wherever you get your podcasts. The dose was produced by Nicole Ireland Donna Dingwall and meet with digital support from Olivia Pasquarelli and Fabiola Carletti. This week we had help from Austin. Pomeroy shout out to Alison. Brutal managing editor at CBC Radio RF Noorani the executive producer of CBC podcasts and Leslie Merck Linger CBS's Director of audio innovation. And one more thing. The dose wants you to be better informed about your health but if you're looking for medical advice see your healthcare provider. I'm Dr Brian Goldman until your next dose. You've been listening to the dose with Dr. Brian Goldman. I knew health podcast from the people who bring you white coat black art if you like what you hear. Listen for free wherever you get your podcast. Just search the dose for more. Cbc PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Bmi obesity Dr. Brian Goldman Canada diabetes CBC news marijuana Vesta gators Jamie reporter Bob McDonald Dr Brian professor of medicine Google Dr Aria Sharma
10 years since Japans tsunami, ants do social distancing, otters save kelp forests, ancient and agile hippo-sized reptile and autism and human innovation

Quirks and Quarks

54:34 min | 5 months ago

10 years since Japans tsunami, ants do social distancing, otters save kelp forests, ancient and agile hippo-sized reptile and autism and human innovation

"I'm justin link host of the village from cbc podcasts for years men were vanishing from toronto's gay village the community had always suspected serial killer. And in the end they were right called a podcast that transcends true crime by the new yorker and recommended by the atlantic and esquire. Find the village on. Cbc listen or wherever you get your podcasts. This is podcast t modest. He says all program genome is our shared inherited cracks. I'm bob mcdonald on this week show. It's been ten years since. Japan's earthquake tsunami disaster. What did scientists learn that subjecting pacific plate actually being pushed beneath. Japan slipped as much as forty or fifty meters and antisocial insects when disease strikes and do quarantine lockdown bubbles and social distancing the biggest risk of living groups. Because you're always in contact said become extremely good at it. Also underwater forest rangers cr have been protecting vulnerable. Kelp forest from bhutan devastation. The fact that offers are maintaining adjacent patches of cal is really important for the eventual recovery of kelp california's plus a two hundred and sixty million-year-old hippos size. Reptile predator was quick and nimble as a cat we created What we called an agility score and it was comparable to that of a mountain lion and a researcher makes the case that the human ability to innovate is tied to diversity. The that we can now see a link between those strengths in autism and human invention. I think may change the way we look at autistic people all this today on quirks and quarks. It was ten years ago this week. Devastation struck in japan. Japan's prime minister is describing friday's earthquake and tsunami as the country's worst natural catastrophe since the second world war two minimum sanriku has been wiped from the face of the building. net standing. Is the hospital. some reports. Say ten thousand may be missing here. The japanese government today said that it would cost up to three hundred nine billion dollars torino. Build by far the most expensive natural disaster in history on march eleventh. Two thousand and eleven. A magnitude nine earthquake struck the pacific coast near the tohoku region of japan. The quake triggered us nami. More than forty meters high with surged up to ten kilometers. Inland destroying everything. In its path it killed more than fifteen thousand people and left. Hundreds of thousands of people homeless and of course caused a major triple nuclear meltdown at the fukushima nuclear power plant the disaster took many scientists by surprise and because of it the way we study earthquakes and prepare for them has changed dramatically to talk about what we've learned in the decade since the disaster. I'm joined by. Dr john cassidy. He's an earthquake seismologists with natural resources canada. Hello welcome to cork some quirks high bob and thank you very much. Take me back ten years. What was your reaction. When you were watching the images of the earthquake from japan come in it was a. It was devastating. It was it was so hard to watch. And i think it was probably the first time that no such a tragedy would unfold in real time watching the nami roll roll on shore. It was it was really hard to watch. It certainly was. Why was this earthquake. Such surprise Well it was. It was a surprise. Large earthquakes in japan aren't a surprise. But the really big magnitude nine subduction earthquakes. An ocean plate is being pushed beneath the japanese islands. That was expected in the southern part of japan and in the north what. The earthquake models had estimated was You know the potential for large earthquakes but in the magnitude eight range not not in the magnitude nine range and just to be clear when you talk about magnitude eight magnitude nine. There's a big difference between eight nine. It's logarithmic scale right. exactly there's of ground shaking. There's a factor of ten for every magnitude unit. So a nine is if it produces ten times stronger shaking than a magnitude eight But in terms of energy It's actually thirty two times greater. So it's it's even bigger in terms of the area that's impacted tension for salami and energy release so this one being a magnitude nine. What made it unique for scientists who study earthquakes. It was really the first well recorded subduction earthquake anywhere in the world. You know they were well. Over a thousand instruments on japan that recorded this earthquake both seismographs. Gp house and Know they showed really huge movements parts of the island of honshu moved between two and five meters at the time of this earthquake horizontally so there were huge movements of parts of the japanese islands. But okay so. Those are local effects. Were there any large-scale effects. That had caused the well. The the movements were huge especially in the offshore region without subjecting pacific plate. Actually being pushed beneath i. Japan slipped as much as forty or fifty meters within a few seconds. So that was. That's the largest displacement along a fault that's been recorded in in an earthquake like this And of course those movements also triggered a saami which is probably the Ahead the greatest impact for for this earthquake waves from this. This earthquake circle the earth. Many many times over the following days. And when you get to these very large earthquakes like this one. The earth actually rings a bell. so it's it's it's vibrating back and forth and in many different ways for for a long time but the earth started spinning ever so slightly faster after this earthquake and as a result of this earthquake. And that's because of the way. The pacific plate was pushed deeper into the at the time of this event. So it's it's like a figure skater. Bringing their arms in closer to their body. The figure skater will spin faster. The earth started spinning faster and so the days were actually vote. One micro-second shorter than they were before this earthquake so really quite remarkable global impacts. that's astounding well looking back. What are some of the most important lessons. We've learned from the two who quake one of the first applications of earthquake early warning so it really demonstrated the value in life. Saving ability of earthquake early warning systems and saw me warning systems have made a huge difference in japan stopping trains stopping the traffic and the importance of earthquake history because we've only been recording earthquakes for just over one hundred years and these really large events happen perhaps hundreds of years apart or even thousands of years apart so we are looking for evidence of large earthquakes. Happened five hundred years ago thousand years ago ten thousand years ago. And how did the twenty eleven to who earthquake in japan change how we do things here in canada it's played a huge role And very practical role so those recordings of ground shaking in japan. We know that magnitude nine earthquakes have occurred off the coast of british columbia. So we know that the same type of earthquake happens here. We've seen evidence for nineteen of those in the past ten thousand years But we don't have any recordings of of the shaking because the last one was more than three hundred years ago. So we've been able to use the recordings from japan and incorporate that information directly into our earthquake hazard model. What can we expect here along the coast of british columbia when a magnitude nine earthquake. Kerr's so that information has been folded into our national building code and and is being used today in the design of bridges and structures to make them more earthquake resistant. Do we have similar monitoring systems here off our coast that they did in japan or they do in japan we do and one of that earthquake triggered a huge amount of interest in offshore observatories and really Demonstrated the importance of knowing what happens right. Above the subduction faults which are offshore so the importance of instruments on the seafloor here in canada. Were really fortunate. We have ocean networks canada based at the university of victoria and with the instruments that have been deployed off our coast for for more than a decade now so there have been many more instruments deployed off of our coast to really start looking in detail at that subduction zone and what's happening right above the region where we know energy's being stored for one of these quakes. So are we prepared if a quake like this hits canada well. We're certainly a lot more prepared now than we were twenty or thirty years ago thirty years ago. We didn't know that these magnitude nine earthquakes occur off of our coast. And of course if you don't know about something you can't prepare for it. You can't design your buildings for it so there's been a huge amount of Of new information so we know that these earthquakes occur off the coast of british columbia. Washington and oregon. We know how often we know the size of the earthquakes. And we know what type of ground shaking to expect. And so this information is now in our building codes and Which is really important But we also have a much greater awareness now compared to twenty or thirty years ago with drills in schools The shakeout exercise. We do each year in october. And so i think you know in part lessons learned from these earthquakes around the world like japan and chile. What to expect in the public. I think has a much greater awareness of those types of earthquakes and he the impact of the earthquakes. And what to do when the shaking begins not cassidy. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Dr john cassidy's an earthquake seismologist with natural resources. Canada and the head of the geological survey of canada's earthquake seismology section own. You might have come to the term. I know i have. I'm talking about social distancing staying away from others to minimize the spread of covid nineteen. It's just one of the strategies we've adopted along with bubbling and quarantine to try and limit the spread of the virus Well if it makes you feel better. This strategy has deep evolutionary roots. We humans aren't alone in adopting isolation to deal with infectious disease. Dr natalie met studies the social strategies ants us to reduce their risk of exposure to potentially deadly pathogens. She's a senior lecturer studying and at the university of bristol in the uk. Dr strom at welcome to our program. Thank you very much. So what are we. Humans doing that similar to what you studying. Ads does this. A variety of strategies that we apply ones as a infectious disease that other animals and in particular and apply as well some of them are linked with trying to avoid becoming contaminated so we may avoid infectious individuals or infectious individual may isolate themselves so by renting or simply by staying home. Because they're feeling unwell and this is something that the end do as well. Well how do you study this kind of thing in ant colonies. What i use is tracking systems that sort of automatic follows location of each ant colony for extended periods of time. And this works. Thanks to tiny bob code if you wish to dimensional barcode stat. We blew onto the thorax back of each and then we have a camera that records them and so can extract location of all answered the same time and based on that we can then sort of infer who comes in contact with who and we can build a network of physical contacts of the colony and that is what constitutes the basis food the transmission of infectious disease such as the fungus that i study so i can then make pilots between the social network and the dynamics of transmission of the disease while well tell me about the infections that the ants fungus how does it affect individuals who are exposed. So what happens with this disease that it has. Two kids are host in order to be transmitted to another host. So what you might find is dead bodies in the environment which are covered with spores of that fungus sends. That's c. c. contemplating particle if you wish. so then. When ananta comes in contact with a sporting body she may get some of these sports on her own body and that one what happens is that within about twenty-four hours dispose of this fungus will become quite too tightly attached to the cuticle of the and will start piercing. The cuticle so that's it can then enters body wondering sides of stock multiplying making the end sick and eventually kill it and produce new sports that can then transfer to new hosts boise so that's similar to covid nineteen where you can get the infection. But you're not sick yet. And that's when you can transmit it you may not even know you have it. But the in the case of the answer this is a fungus. That's on the outside of their body. They're carrying it around but they're not sick. They're not sick. know exactly. There's no infection yet. So what did you observe with these healthy aunts that carried the fungus but are not sick in terms of their social distancing. Yes so. They're immediately aware of carry this fungus. And it's something that's again detected healy because it's outside so we're not sure whether they're smelling it whether they're tasting it. When's it cleans themselves whether it's perhaps a dusty feeling but day knows if got it on their body and we know that i am going to try to remove the sport from their own body so said you self grooming also said decrease the amount of time suspend inside an e sway decrease the risk that other ends may sort of become exposed to this fungus. Okay so they They isolate themselves. What what reaction do the dance in the colonies have to them when they show up with this this fungus on their bodies yes so are extremely altruistic so they won't end cynical long as not a threat to the colony so the very first when an aunt is going to meet another ends at sort of covered in this pathogen. They're going to try and cure so for this particular disease. Aways this happens that the healthy aunt will broom the ones that's been contaminated to physically remove the sports and at the same time going to apply for mike acid on the end and also chew. The sport was his full. So that they will kill the spores and in this way will remove a large portion of the sports that are on the contaminated end and decreased risk set. Some of it will go inside an infection. So that's basically caregiving similar to what we do in humans where we try and cure sick individuals and indeed by trying and safe those contaminated for eight years. They themselves and current increased risk of catching infection. So this if they do catching infection it's gonna tend to be a low level infection so something's not going to kill them and that the country will boost your immune system so this is similar to what we do in humans vaccination where we have a boost of our immune system so that later if when counter the pathogen. We're less likely to be sick. But in addition and anomaly organized into two groups one is a group that is golden assist which tend to be younger and to stay in the center of the nest and humans. Nurses all the give us but in any case in ans- nurses are those who take care of the queen's approved under very valuable to the colony because it's still very young and so they have many months and years of their life to contribute to the colony and then the older end to be far says they leave the nest to go and look for food or to defend a territory and the less valuable to call any because there are already much older and close to death anyway. And what we found is that when some ans- become exposed by the pathogen among the healthy ones inside the colony there was an increase in social distancing between the nurses and the for ages which decreases the risk of transmission of the pathogen from the forager's to the nurses. So what happens to answer that. Do get the fungus and they can't get the benefit of caregivers to help them remove it what what happens. What happens in ants. Those sex is that when they approach death they will go as far away from the colonia as they can to die in isolation in an area basically have got no chance of another nest mate finding their body and becoming infected so they quarantine they go into self-isolation. Yes is aleisha before death. It sounds like the answer pretty efficient and how they deal with potential exposure to disease rather than let politics get in the way yes absolutely. It's one of the biggest risk of living in group. Because you're always in contact said become extremely good at it and that's why we very rarely see unin colonies at sick the web. Is this kind of behavior. Unique to ants and humans. So we see social distancing in many animals including mammals and other vertebrates some of it quite interestingly sort of a consequence of what is called a sickness syndrome for example in vampire bats when they are infected or immune system is active. They tend to show a form of lethargy which decreases the social interaction with the rest of the group so even if they stains ida group have fewer contexts through sickness syndrome. And there's a big debate. Whether this is chris side effect of infection whereby in order to get rid of the disease. It's best to put all your energy immune system and you don't leave anything else for the other sort of perfuse actions or whether sexually selected to protect others sort of prevented from becoming ill so i guess. The lesson from nature is stay home. If you're sick stay home. Yes absolutely dr story matt. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you dr natalie. Met is a senior lecturer at the university of bristol in the uk marine kelp forests along the pacific coast to quite a beating a few years ago these underwater coastal forests or one of the most productive ecosystems on our planet. But a while back they were hit with a destructive double whammy. It began in two thousand thirteen. When scientists started noticing starfish. Dying off in record numbers that we started coming across a lot. Starfish that were They're dead read lost their arms or looking pretty poor literally everywhere just littering the bottom edge. You'll hear the loss of the starfish had huge impacts on the kelp then in twenty fourteen. An unprecedented heatwave raised ocean. Temperatures from alaska down to mexico by up to four degrees celsius in certain places. The temperatures relative to normal are higher than they've ever been at least in our historical records kelp forest. Don't like the heat. So that was the second whammy. It could have been curtains for the kelp but it turns out they had an unsuspected. Why a study in california has shown that crc who have faced near extinction themselves historically have been essential to protecting surviving kelp forest during this challenging time. Joshua smith led the study. He's a phd candidate and marine biology at the university of california in santa cruz. Mr smith welcome to our program. Thank you bob. First of all can you take me back. A few years to describe the effect of those two events. The decline of the starfish population the heat wave. What did they do to the kelp forests. Yes so these are two critical events so a little less than ten years ago around the year. Two thousand twelve hour kelp forest here on the central coast of california and in other places along the northeastern pacific ocean looked vastly different in many places. That help was so dense that it had grown all the way to the surface of the ocean and was literally covering the surface of the water. I remember being underwater in two thousand thirteen and something really unusual was going on over the course of just a few weeks one species in particular. The sunflower star was completely decimated. I mean gone and sunflower sea stars. It turns out was a really key character in the story because the sunflower star was a major predator of sea urchins. So what's the connection. Between the sea stars a see urgency in the kelp and kelp forests sea urchins are normally living down in these rock crevices. And that's the perfect place to be for a search in their hidden away from predators and their food is literally being delivered to them so just like leaves that fall off a tree kelp blades fall off the main plant and drift along the reef where it's deposited into these rock crevices. What happened was after the marine heatwave that drift kelp actually declined because cal had a really poor growth year and that meant that there was not enough. Help to keep your chins. Happy tucked away in the crevices and so without enough food. And without one of their key star predators lurking around the reef. The actions emerged from those rock crevices and started roaming around the reef. I see so the starfish are gone. The urchins start wandering around. I guess they're finding more help which the kelp were already hit down by the heat waves. So this isn't looking. Good for the gallup. That's right. We didn't see complete. Kelp deforestation like other places observed instead what we had was this patchy mosaic of remnant kelp forests interspersed with these patches of fear and barons so what we found is that the sea urchins that are residing in these kelp forest patches. Those urgent are really healthy. However the urchins in these adjacent desert's that we call in barons are completely starved out and they're just empty inside in so win. The authors have a choice to forage either in a patch of kelp forest where the urchins are healthy or a patch of barons when they're starved. The auditors are going to potch of healthy sierra help for us well since the sea otters eat the sea urchins. That eat the kelp. Was that mean. For the the ability of the kelp forest to recover so that means that the auditors are contributing to the resistance so the auditors are helping to buffer and maintain these remnant patches of kelp forests those patches of forests or the ultimate sources to help replenish those barren areas. Where eventually those agents are going to go away and in order to get the help to recover in those once barren grounds there has to be source populations kelp nearby that can help replenish their spores. And so the fact that offers are maintaining adjacent patches of kelp forest is really important for the eventual recovery of forest to those once barren grounds. Why are these kelp forest so important so the kelp is important for all of the different animals that live in the forest that provides both food and habitat for hundreds of different kinds of animals in the forest so the extraordinary productivity and biodiversity of cult forest actually supports a number of different commercial and recreational fisheries now are also important in buffering climate change and this is because just like plants on land kelp forests use photosynthesis and so they take in co two. And what's really unique about. Kelp is that often in the wintertime's. They're these big winter. Storms that ripped out kelp so after kelp if acquired all of this co two they get ripped out by big storms and the it floats out over the deep ocean and sinks down to the bottom of the ocean and we call that carbon sequestration and it means that the kelp is taking nco to and then depositing it in the deep ocean. So what then in. Your mind is the future of the kelp forest along the west coast. That's a really great question You know urchins are a natural part of this system and urgency or doing what urgency do and so. I think that what we're seeing up down the coast at the barons is really a symptom of climate change and that's clearly evidenced by the dramatic marine heat. Wave that really picked off. These widespread sea urchin barrens. That we've seen and we've certainly seen these marine heatwaves impact other ecosystems in the ocean around the world coral reefs and california's and so are steady highlights the role of predators in mitigating the effects of the kelp forest decline resulting from these marine heatwaves. But i think it's just really important to consider how climate and marine heat are impacting these systems because ultimately the sea urchin barrens. That we're seeing are a symptom of climate change. This has thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much about. Joshua smith is a phd candidate in marine biology at the university of california in santa cruz. We know quite a bit about what life was like during the time of the dinosaurs but before the dinosaurs more than two hundred and forty five million years ago the earth was inhabited by a completely different and fascinating diverse group of large reptilian animals. One of the most fearsome is the antea sorace a massive carnivorous creature. The size of a hippo with huge bone crushing teeth that lived in what is now south africa paleontologists had imagined that it was a lumbering plotting cumbersome beast but new research suggests that this picture is wrong. These animals that seems were equipped to be fast and agile predators like a hippo sized velociraptor. Dr julian. Ben was a senior researcher at the evolutionary studies institute at the university of witwatersrand in johannesburg south africa. He led the research doctor. Ben wall welcome to our program handle. I'm very happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me so before your study. What did we know about this creature. The antioch sorace so actually before we knew very little. So we have a bunch of very nicely preserved skirted but actually we don't have any skelton of until stories at least not need very nice skelton so when we talk about the when we try to discuss about the biology of until we referring to the most complete skeleton that we have which belongs to one of his cousins from russia not directly from the authorities. So this left a fair amount of blurry area so we knew it was carnivorous from stiff. We knew the body size of the animals or something like around the turn and we knew that it was living alongside over of his cuisines named dino fans that we mostly are before us so based on the evidence that you do have what did the creature actually look like so based on what we have the anti service would have had a very big head like a massive skirl almost like hippopotamus Just a bit less fleshy on the leaps more readily and like and in general it would have had Very readily ian outlined so a very long and ficto like a crocodile sprawling limbs on the side of the body and the massive skull. What kind of environment. They live in so it would be an environment. Quite an isolated area An environment that was mostly mushy swampy. We've big meandering rivers and flood plains over the place not so hot actually because south africa because of the continental drift south africa negated closer to the southern bowl than it is not solder. Climate would have been a little called particularly in winter. The winter would have been very cold and the summer would have been very dry so very contrasted climate. But so tell me about your study. What were you hoping to learn about. Antea source so we knew that. The couzens of onto cerise practiced very strange behavior. That is called head butting when to animals knock their heads to each of our like the bighorn. Sheep that you have in canada. So we wanted to know if until source west capable of headbutting cuisines felons and so we can discount onto your risk and we looked at the inner ear and then what we found was twenty. Two it was it was completely serendipitous. We found that the inner ear and a certain part of the brain called fluke ula lube of the cerebral on where actually very similar to those of agile animals so for example the modern cheetah that on some adaptations that are quite similar to modern cheat up and more more intriguing was some similarities with the infamous venezia reptile. So you could see that the brain that part of the brain and the inner ear were very similar to those of those animals Which was quite surprising because we were expecting until cerise to be actually very slow moving a massive in heavy anymore. That was not capable of moving fast boy so just let me see if i got this right you. So you scan the skull the pieces of skull with with xrays. Put them together so that you had a three-dimensional model and you were able to see inside. Then you saw the shape of the brain in the ear canal and it was similar to a cheetah or animals that are that are really fast moving but yet this thing is the size of a hippo exactly so it was really not expected So you may think is the inner ear a good proxy to reconstruct agility and actually historica need has been used for more than thirty years now and because the inner ear is not only the organ of hearing. it's also the organ of balance so locomotion as a direct effect on the bottom of the inner ear. The most striking adaptation was the size of what we call the semi-circular which is really at the heart of the balance again. And this is electile that you find in the most agile species so it had a good sense of balance. You're saying that you need if you're going to be fast moving and running. Yes exactly it has a good sense of balance and a very good coordination between the motions of the is the motions of the head and the motions of the body which is something that you would find in species that are good at tracking decorate. I'm imagining something like a reptile version of a polar bear like a big animal. That can move fast when it needs to and be more agile. Do you think this thing would be even more agile than that. We what we called an agility score and it was comparable to that of a mountain lion. I mean based on that it would have been fairly a giant. Now why is it really as giant as montaigne lion. Maybe maybe not but it was definitely more giant than the over things that we're living at the same time so after all of that. Did you find out whether or not it was actually a head butter so we still need to work on that. If it was a head butter what would that tell you about how it lived. So headbutting is a very interesting behavior because the headbutting to create a yawkey core ranking of the males between each other which implies that the only together and the needed that social ranking to make other in that group and this implies some degree of social behavior. So if you find that an extinct animal was a head butter. It implies that social yard he so it implies a certain degree of greg useless while the public knows quite a lot about the dinosaurs but these animals that were around before the dinosaurs are sound just as interesting. Why do you think they don't get as much attention. I guess it's because In the western world you tend to focus on the source that you find and The the the world wide media dominated by the media's coming from the western world so it's just that the ones coming from south africa of less publicity but no less fascinating. dr ben. thank you so much for your time. Thank you very much dr. Julian benoi is a senior researcher at the evolutionary studies institute at the university of witwatersrand in johannesburg south africa five. Let me ask you something when you're on a plane Back in the days where we used to travel. Did you often find yourself pondering the marvel of arrow dynamics or how about this when travelling by train. How much of your day dreaming time is devoted to how precisely the railway networks are coordinated. I'm getting to a point here. stay with me. Here's one more about when you listen to music. Does it just wash over you or do you concentrate on its detailed structure. If you answered yes to all of those questions you just might have. What the author of a book about human inventiveness refers to as a system. Izing mind dr simon. Baron cohen is a cognitive neuroscientist and director of the autism research center at the university of cambridge in his new book. He argues that humans became the scientific and technological masters of our planet because of our brains systemized mechanism and also that some individuals especially some with autism spectrum disorder are the system is irs of our world driving that inventiveness. His new book is called the pattern seekers how autism drives human invention. Dr baron cohen welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you bob. Now you wrote about how you joke you redder that your book could be the shortest book in the universe. Just three words long. What are those three words. And why are they central. Driving human inventiveness. The three words are if and and then. So i think that these three words describe how humans hamas appalachians is the only animal that can reason and can reason in order to invent. I mean we're talking in the time of covet and we could say if the death rate is high and we do nothing then the death rate will be even higher but if the death rates is high and we imposed lockdown than the death rate will decrease so lockdown is an invention happens to be like a public health invention but it shows the reasoning of how humans how modern homo sapiens. Think in order to invent okay. So you're saying if i do this then that will happen but how does this system is mine. Come into that. So what arguing in in my book is that between seventy thousand and one hundred thousand years ago. There was a change in the human brain that the system is a mechanism evolved and the system is a mechanism is what allows us to look for systems in the world or invent new systems and a system is nothing more than these if and then recognizes or patents. So that's why. I called the book. The patches seekers you other animals don't seem to look for these special patents but we do what What happened back seventy thousand years ago. That that brought about this inventiveness if we look at the archaeological records because that's really all we can go on to figure out like what changed in the relation of the human brain. Seventy thousand years ago we see the first bow and arrow this if and then logic if you like was what allowed us to come up with a complex tool like the bone marrow but equally we could. We can look for other examples in the archaeological record. The first musical instrument at the oldest or the earliest musical instrument. That's been found. Is that a flute. Made from a bone a hollow bone from the bird and stay to to about forty thousand years ago but we can imagine that the person who made it was thinking. If i blow down this hollow bone and i cover one hole then like at a particular note. But if i blow down the hollow bone and uncovered the whole then. I got a different note. So what we can see just in these simple examples for their in fact they in the the tools that are being made a complex. What we see is that human beings were playing with these if and then patents and it led to what i call generative invention. We didn't just generate once. We could generate in multiple different spheres whether it's music or mathematics or public health or medicine or cooking. We can we can. We can invent new systems new passan's of this kind in any sphere that we choose. I see so you're saying that this system rising mind allows us to sort of create something that didn't exist before think about it and then invent something and like new tool it sounds a lot like how scientists tested hypothesis. The observed something they experiment. You don't try to come to a conclusion. Yeah that's absolutely right but you know. Many people think science something quite recent maybe a few hundred years old. But that's really just the formalising of how we do experiments how we test hypotheses but actually we can see evidence that human beings have been doing this for at least seventeen to one hundred thousand years. Okay so we've been inventing for awhile. What's the connection. Then between that. That kind of thinking and autism. Yes so people they love. Patents if we can generalize when we give them tests of this kind of reasoning this. If and then reasoning they score higher on average than notice people and in a you opened this interview with some questions for the listeners that comes from a measure called the system is questioned. Just simply asks questions about how interested i you. In a variety of systems an autistic people score higher on that measure competitor people but we also worked with the company twenty three and me which is a personal genomics companies. Some of your listeners will have heard of it so that the people who were taking the tests the psychological test also gave us some of their dna so we could look at genes that are associated with how much you like to systemized interested. You are in systems and what we found was that the genes that are associated with scoring high on system izing overlap with genes for autism. So that was telling us that even in our dna there's a link between your attitude at system izing and autism. What's the evolutionary tradeoff with discussing this systemized ability. Yeah so in our research. We both said looked at a second circuit in the brain which we call the empathy circuit which also likely evolved around that same time around seventy thousand years ago because when we look at these amazing new inventions in the archaeological record i mentioned the first musical instrument we can interpret them as not only requiring system is but will say requiring empathy. So when you make a musical instrument and you play it. You'll making music. You're not just doing this for yourself. In all likelihood you're doing it for an audience for a listener and you're thinking about how authors will perceive your behavior. We do find a trade off in the sense that the stronger. Your entrusted in systems the less entrusted the individuals in empathy or in other people's thoughts and feelings. So this was a surprise to us but this is what we found in again. Big population studies when you say empathy What do you mean by that. Yeah so empathy is an umbrella term. Two aspects of empathy. one is cognitive empathy. Which is the ability to imagine what someone else is thinking or feeling. And that's the parts of empathy. That autistic people struggle with but the other aspect is called affective empathy which is having an appropriate emotion in response to how someone is thinking or feeling an autistic people are no different to the rest of us when it comes to affect empathy so just to sort of break that down. An autistic person might struggle to read between the lines to figure out what someone's intentions are but if you tell tell an autistic person that somebody else is suffering. It upsets them and they want to do something about it. So we have two ends of the spectrum. Here you have. The system is on one end. And then you have the other end where people who are more socially sort of geared. I guess what's behind this difference. Why some people would be strong on one end or the other so. I think these are just traits in the population. We're all different. We can think of of these psychological traits as just like height or any other biological difference that some people are above average. Some people are just average and some people that below average. But what's interesting. Is the trade off suggests that they might be controlled by some common biological factors. We've explored one of those which is hormones during pregnancy by measuring testosterone in the womb. And finding that the higher that prenatal testosterone the stronger they their interests are in systems but the more they struggle with empathy. So that could just be one of the biological factors that might explain this tradeoff exposure to testosterone. So are you saying that males are more likely than females to be. Strong system is irs. That's what research is revealing so again in our in our big study it was over half a million people. We did find agenda difference on average the when it comes to looking at Male and female brains. Isn't there a lot more overlap and similarities than there are differences absolutely misses. The research in terms of gender or sex differences is always in terms of group. Averages in you take a group of males and a group of females and he just compare them on any particular metric trait. And there's a lot of overlap but you do seek group differences on average emerging. But just because the science is showing. That doesn't mean that you could. You could infer anything about a particular individual because they may or may not be typical for their sex. Well yeah i mean we have a lot of females who are very good system. Is they work in science and engineering. Then yeah absolutely now. you work with people with autism. What do you think that this idea that human invention has largely been driven by traits that we associate with autism. What could that mean for. Our perception of what autism actually is. Yeah i mean. Part of the reason i read. The book was to really maybe change our perception of autism because for the longest time autism has been really just characterized as a disability which it is but with a focus on all the things that autistic people find difficult what they struggle with but we know that autism is more than just a disability. The people think differently sometimes. They have strengths. I've suggested strengths in passion recognition attention to detail being able to stay very focused on passions and even sometimes talent in these areas the fact that we can now see a link between those strengths in autism and human invention. I think may change the way we look at autistic people. We might want to see them who they are people who think differently and have contributed to human progress. You mentioned that people with autism have a great ability to see patterns and whatnot but very often. They have social difficulties. How can we channel this inventiveness and give them a sense of purpose. Give them jobs. I'm so it you know. I'm not sure if your listeners are aware but the majority of autistic adults are unemployed. And this is almost a contrast to what we've been talking about where we're talking about. How autistic people have strengths uneven talents at thinking differently and yet they're unemployed and we know that unemployment is is bad for your mental health. You know leaves. You feeling excluded from society. It can lead to poverty but also just a sense of not being founded. So i think we need to reach out to employers to us them to maybe change their practice in terms of how they hire people. Because if you if you want autistic people apply for a job in your company in your organization and you set the bar in the traditional way where they have to come to an interview and have good social skills make eye contact. Be able to kind of communicates appropriately That may just mean that they don't get through the first hurdle of a job application But we could think creatively to change the way that we we hire people. The selection process. Maybe give the applicants tusk. Today that's relevant to the job that they're applying for so that they get an opportunity to show their skills show that potential and maybe they would be the best person for the job. This is all part of a wider. Discussion is going on under the heading of neuro diversity in a we were not familiar. That weren't places and in our educational settings we should be sensitive to gender diversity and ethnic diversity otherwise we could be guilty of of different forms of discrimination but we also need to be sensitive to neuro diversity. The fight fit people think differently. Some people have neurological disabilities but they could still contribute to the workplace and we need to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to accommodate people whose brains are simply different. Doctor baron cohen. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you dr. simon baron. Cohen is a cognitive neuroscientist and director of the autism research center at the university of cambridge in england. His new book is called the pattern seekers. How autism drives human invention. And that's it for this week's edition of quirks and quarks if you'd like to get in touch with us or email is quirks at cbc dot ca or. Just go to the contact link on our web and get to our webpage. Just go to cbc dot ca slash quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio or read. My latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at cbc quirks. You can also get us on the cbc listen app. It's free from the app store or google play. Brooklyn courts is produced by amanda buckets. Sonia by and mark crawley are senior. Producer is jim lebanon's. I'm bob mcdonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts go to cbc dot ca slash podcasts.

earthquake japan earthquakes canada Dr john cassidy japanese islands Japan british columbia bob mcdonald autism atlantic and esquire earthquake tsunami japanese government south africa university of bristol
Watching wildfire with radar, the return of race science, laundry and microplastic, submarines for your bloodstream and oxygen for airplanes.

Quirks and Quarks

54:11 min | 1 year ago

Watching wildfire with radar, the return of race science, laundry and microplastic, submarines for your bloodstream and oxygen for airplanes.

"This is a CBC podcast her modest E it. All girl. dark-haired inherited the cracks cranks. Hi I'm Bob McDonald on this week's each show understanding wildfire by using new radar tack to look into it's blazing heart were seen structures that we've never been able to measure before these tools can usually be adapted for fire operations around the world and tracking the troubling revival of race science again. We're seeing this kind of biology lies. Ation of race really dodgy poor scholarship claiming that there are these profound differences between racial groups. Plus US your laundry and your cuddly fleece sweater might be a major culprit in ocean. Plastic pollution a kilogram sample of polyester. Did release as much as four and a half million fibers in a single wash. Also mini-submarines might fly through your bloodstream and how airplanes breathe at high altitude. All this and more today on courts and quirks the sound of New South Wales in Australia. Oh yeah burning. The situation which was described as catastrophic is disturbingly familiar California to has been struggling with another disastrous astros wildfire season. We have team coverage tonight on the fire and the fierce winds expected tonight. We'll get all those headlights. That was the line of cars leaving four Smith everybody on edge fires right around the corner. It's pretty bad more frequent and more intense wildfires As many Canadians can testify as well seem unfortunately to be an increasing part of our warming world now for most people and approaching wildfire wildfire would be a signal to get the heck out of dodge but as most were driving away from the recent wildfires in California a team of scientists were hitting heading straight towards them. You've heard of Tornado chasers. While these guys are fire chasers Dr Craig Clements and his crew have been doing this for a few years. They study fire behavior hoping to make fires more predictable so we can fight them or avoid them better and this fall. They got a brand new tool for their work. A high powered mobile radar. That's giving them an unprecedented view into wildfires. Dr Clemens is professor of Meteorology and the director of the fire weather a research lab at San Jose State University in California Dr Clements welcomed quirks and quarks. Thanks for having me now. You recently had front row seats to the kincaid fires in northern California. Can you describe what you saw during that fire. Yeah we deployed there on two nights. The first night was the night of the ignition. Seven and in the second night was the night that there was a very large wind event. That occurred what we observed was very big flames. A lot of erotic fire our behavior and very strong winds how close to the fire. Do you get on the first night. We were within a kilometer of the fire front as it was approaching and on the second night we were about three kilometers away. But why is it important to study these kinds of wildfires. We need information as it's occurring and we need to be there to sample a wins the meteorology and actually get a good handle on the fire behavior because those data are needed to test the next generation fire behavior models titles. Well before we get your new instrument why is radar such a good tool for studying these fires. Well there's a number of different tools out there. One is adopted. Light Arts like a laser based radar and we use that for about six years and we've sampled Abou thirty wildfires. The light are and the new radar is actually more powerful and because of his wave length that sensitive to ash and embers so we can see deeper into the plume and we can track the ash rush and see where it falls out of the plume tracking those circulations where the ash falls is really important to better understand the plume dynamics which then could lead to better understanding of extreme fire behavior. Well how much of a game changer is this new radar. Oh it's GONNA be a complete game changer. In terms of what we're going to understand in terms of the fire behavior and how it's linked to the plume dynamics so the first time we're able to really penetrate all the way through the plume and we can see the winds the circulations around the fire and how they change in response to the fire getting more intense which we can pick up the radar. What we call reflectively it's is basically how much stuff is being emitted into the plume and so we can see that in real time on the radar screen and so it's pretty exciting? Wow so so a fire starts you get the call. What's your strategy for where to set up for the fire to make sure that you don't become part of it? Yeah that's one of the exciting parts of our deployment strategies. We WANNA be in a location to get the best data collection but we also want to be in a position that it's safe and so that's priority and another aspect is we do not want to get in the way of suppression activities with the first responders. So that's why the radar allows us. We could be a few kilometers away and we're out of everyone's way on the injured roads and such so that's one priority but we also have to have a good view of the fire so we can not only only scan it with the radar but we also film it and we also have an infrared camera that were using to to get the heat and the temperature of the fire and so we can monitor that as well and so with infrared imagery and the radar. We have a better picture of what's going on in terms of how the plume interact the fire behavior. Well How's all this new radar data helping you better understand how the wildfires will evolve and spread well right now. We're just four cases we've deployed to three wildfires ars into a very large prescribed fire in Utah last week. We did that and so what we've been able to see as it won. The radar works amazingly well and two were seen instructors that we've never been able to measure before we'll pay me a picture of several structures that you're seeing within a fire. Yeah so one thing that we're seeing is what I'm I'm calling a reflectively core so as region very high reflectively so if you're used to looking at the weather radar on your iphone or on the weather channel or something you see the dark dark reds and purples. That's reflectively from heavy rain in our case the high reflectively is a lots of ash and potentially larger debris. And so what we're seeing these reflectively course just punching up through the plume and then kind of being spit out the down wind side and so that's where the Ashworth fall and potentially start new fires with spot fires and so seeing that real time is really exciting and then being able to measure the the wind flows around that structure. There is a never been done before. So where you're just looking at this now but it's right now pretty eye opening onto the structures of what we're seeing It sounds like the fires are generating their own type of weather. Yeah they do and in terms of the KINCAID fire. What's unique is that was a really what we call all a wind driven fire so we generally break fires into plume dominated when there's not a lot of ambient win and it's the heat of the fire? That's actually driving the circulation and the plume will may go straight up in these winds and fires that are associated and California with the downslope windstorms like Santa Anna's and the balloons northern California the plumes are tilted over and very shallow. So what that does is it. Causes the embers not to go straight up but they go horizontally and they can go farther down wind. That's one hypothesis. And so we see very rapid rates of spread because of the spot fires that are starting farther down wind so with that we can basically clearly determine how the plume structure is evolving in both the wind driven. Fire and a non wind driven fire plume. So these are things that we need to tease out so we can better understand stand dynamics of the plumes and how they affect the fire behavior. Good your new radar also worked to study crowd fire such as the kind we get here here in Canada like our Fort mcmurray fire. The fire just goes along the tops of the trees and spreads really really fast. Oh Yeah so the fire that we measured last week in Utah. Utah was a crown fire. Or we call Stan replacement fire. And so if you have a good vantage point you can scan across the top of the trees and you can actually actually see the fire spread and so if we can watch these reflectively cores these high reflectively areas in the base of the plume we can see those moving across the top of the crowns rounds. And so we'll be able to better understand it. Spread rate. Sounds like this could come in handy wherever there are fires. Yeah you know one of the things that that we're proposing to fire management agencies not only in the US but around the world is that using operational meteorological will observe such as radar networks or mobile radar such as we have and so as scientists. We're using the latest technology for our research but these tools can easily be adapted for fire operations around the world to clemens. Thank you very much for your time. Great thanks for having me Dr Craig. Clements is a professor of meteorology and director of the Fire Weather Research Lab at San Jose State University in California and and Kim the stand I was born and raised. I am Canadian. Doesn't matter all Canadian can you sir. You're a damn thing. Go back to China Karima. We live in troubling times political polarization and the rise of ethnic nationalism is sowing doing division and erecting barriers between people at along with the rise of anti immigration sentiment and new life for noxious ideologies like white supremacy. MRI has come the resurgence of race. Science this is the idea that science can somehow dig down to some supposed biological reality that will allow people to be classified into discrete groups essentially. It's the search for objective reasons for the differences. We think we perceive between people of a different skin colors religions or national origins award. Winning Science Journalist Angela. saney explores the resurgence of interest in this idea in in her new book superior the return of Ray Science. Ms Sandy is a science journalist and broadcaster based in the UK I welcomed quirks and quarks Wchs Typo. It's a pleasure to be on your show. Why did you want to look into the return of race science? Well for lots of reasons really I mean. I grew up as an ethnic minority in London. at a time when there was quite a lot of racism in the area that I lived in so these are issues of intending over my head for many many many decades and as a science journalist especially the topic of human difference and not only how we measure it but also how that gets translated slated in society was a big topic for me. But I think this was the moment for me to write the book because of this rise in ethnic nationalism awesome and populism and the again. We're seeing this kind of biology is Asian of race in populace fears whether it's DNA ancestry testing testing. or whether it's the abuse of Ray signs that we see online and but there's certainly revival well in your book you Explore explore the history of science. And take it right back to the age of enlightenment in the seventeen hundreds where you say it started. How did it get started back then? Well I think many US imagine that the ideas of race that we have now the categories that we use our eternal that have been there forever but of course they haven't at best many of them are uh no more than a few hundred years old and they date from the birth of modern Western Science from the enlightenment which is when philosophers and thinkers European thinkers went out into the world and just as they started classifying the natural world say plants and animals. They also thought about classifying human beings things So while of course we have always noticed differences. I mean it's crazy to think that humans don't notice difference the racial categories we have now will really set in stone then in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and quite arbitrarily so you know some of these philosophers would kind of have very cursory us we understanding of how other people live many of them haven't traveled at all so they didn't really know how human difference played out and so they would guess I mean call Linares who who is famous for drawing up many of the natural taxonomy that we use now he even included within his categories one for feral like humans and one for monster like like humans because as far as he knew these people existed while and you also point out that he and moe scientists and philosophers of the time where white males sales and upper class European. And the you know this is no accident. The modern science that we use now. The empirical method was born in Europe and many of the people who practiced it were upper class men of wealth and they had a certain worldview and I think it would be crazy to assume that that worldview wasn't effecting the way that they were thinking about human difference. It's no accident. I don't think that when they were dividing humans up into categories and deciding that there was a hi rocky between those categories that they always put themselves at the top. You know something that may scientists always had in common the race science of that era almost immediately really manifested itself an ideology and politics. Can you give me some examples of that well. So the idea is around racial categories that were devised at the time time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on the one hand scientists withdrawing on the political worldviews that were prevalent at the time in the cultures they belong to and at the same time the signs they were producing so when they devise these racial categories that again was used to reinforce the political world views that were out there in society. So these scientific ideas we used to justify slavery and colonialism and later genocide and apartheid. So they were always there going hand in hand it was never the case. That signs was kind of separate from the what was happening politically in the real world. It was always there Both being fed by the politics and also feeding into the politics. We'll this area ray. Science came to a crisis point with World War Two two and some of the horrors. That happened there. What changed after the war? Well World War Two was kind of seminal a turning point for the the way we thought about human difference mainly because of the abuse of race science and Eugenics by Nazi Germany when we could see once once and for all where these ideas could lead then that was the moment at which scientists started. Turn their backs on it Not just for moral reasons reasons but also for scientific reasons because the evidence that was coming out from a better understanding of human difference especially from anthropology. I have to say showed that we want really really that different. Underneath you know there was so much in common between us later genetic evidence would only reinforce that would actually reinforce that we are more homogeneous. This is a species then chimpanzees we are one of the most homogeneous species genetically on the planet and two things happened after the Second World War One was that there was this this kind of global consensus to move the study of race out of biology and into the social sciences as the study of racism and the other thing the happened was that scientific racism that had existed in. The past. Didn't completely disappear anything we could have expected it to because society was racist. You know this is pre civil rights. There was still colonialism in the world it was still the structures and ideas that had underpinned racist thought for so long was still bath and so while there was an attempt to move away from the race signs of the past. That wasn't really a a complete attempt. Well let's move into the modern era then. There is a consensus in science today. I mean biologists have come up with a really strong scientific critique of the idea of race. Can you take me through that well For seventy years since this kind of consensus off the Second World War all that biology has done is reinforced. The fact that we are so similar and in fact the genetic differences between us. We imagined that the genetic differences between racial racial groups these social groups that we use every day when we signing census forms A profound. They're really not entirely marginal to the appoint the for example I I'm of Indian origin. My parents were born in India. But if I were to randomly pick a south. Asian person person on the street and randomly pick White Canadian person on the street and Test their genomes. It's perfectly statistically possible for my genome to have have more in common with the white person then with Indian person. That's how almost complete that overlap is so we are incredibly similar as a species and the vorst majority of difference that we see is accounted for by individual difference so individual difference far far outweighs group difference. So you're saying that Even though we may look different we may have different skin colors or we may have different cultural behaviors from genetic point of view. We're all the say. Yeah and I think sometimes even skin color is misleading. Because we look we categorize in certain ways and we have to remember that people categorized differently in different countries so so someone could be categorized as black in in the US and be categorized as colored or mixed race in South Africa and categorize completely differently in another the country. There were huge variations in skin color even within the social categories that we use white people can be anything from as Brown as I am Two very very pale. In India there is the entire spectrum of skin color and yet we think of India as kind of Brown country or the people from India bound. Well they can can be anything from paper white all the way to very very black just because we have these social categories and we have ideas about what people within these social craft look like the real degree of variation within them is actually enormous. The skin color variants for white skin for instance the genetic variance white skin a found in sub Saharan. Africa said was the oldest populations on the planet well of humans as a whole are pretty homogeneous genetically then why does race still abuse over real. Well we use it every day. You know it's part of our everyday lives. It has been the hundreds of years it has defined how we are treated by society in the most visceral and fundamental ways because of the politics of it because of segregation and and slavery and all the different ways in which people are treated differently based on the fact that these social categories thought to exist and we so easily inflate eight that with biology. We can't help but believe that because these things have such great social meaning that they must have some biological meaning than to especially because we in our heads associate them with biological features while there's a kind of an amateur race science. That's very popular right now. You can see it with the commercial genetic testing. This idea appeals to people of all sorts of backgrounds. Why do you think that is it does and I have to say it has greater appeal in in places like the US and Canada where people tend to be of Migrant backgrounds for example for me. I've never really really felt the desire to have my ancestry tested because I know where my family all my no. My parents were born in certain region in India. I can go there. And they're still members of their family living there now as far as I know they've lived there for a very long time. But if say you are a black American and because of the history of slavery you've been torn won't apart from that culture and that history those routes then. DNA Ancestry testing does offer. What may be the only way you have a reconnecting to what was lost cost? And it's tragic on so many levels on one level because that was done to people they would ripped apart from their cultures and made to live lives completely removed removed from them and secondly DNA ancestry. Testing cannot give you very much. It can't give you that culture bag all it can give you a some kind of very vache fuzzy notion of where people who have some genetic similarity to now live and you know that doc cannot account for everything that was lost but for some people. That's all they have. What goes through your mind when you hear people say things like Asians are naturally really good at math or Kenyans are naturally better. Long distance runners or certain ethnicities have different propensities to illness things like that. You know what I find interesting is that we essentially is about people that we are not familiar with so it shouldn't necessarily surprise us that Kenya which is a very large country produces world class athletes anymore. That than it should surprise us that Great Britain where I come from produces very great athletes. In fatty should be even more shocking to us. That white Britons do so well on the global stage when it comes to comes to sport athletics given how tiny the country is now small population. Is You know there are many more black and Brown people in the world and they're all white people and Y- Y white people do very well in athletics so I think we essentially is about groups groups that we don't know when we live in a society we can see that there is difference. We can see that some people have faster and some people are slow. We can see that some people are smarter than some people not so smart Malt but when for example you live in Britain. And the only Kenyan person you've ever seen is winning a marathon on TV. This is very easy to assume that all Kenyans winning marathons and you know everybody has these qualities. But of course it and I've been to Kenya and I know for myself that just like in every other the country in the world there is a huge variety of skill and talent. Well let's get to the subtitle of your book the return of Re Science In some mm since one of the points you make is that it never really went away. What have you seen change recently? Well the scientific racism there existed before the Second World War after the war didn't completely disappear. There was this mainstream consensus shift away from the kind of old fashioned cranium attr- and phonology of the policy and measuring people's skin color or had shape and making inferences from that but There there were people who still clung even after the war to this idea that we were not one human species that racial mixing was somehow genetically dangerous it was described as miscegenation. There was this assumption that people of different races having children together would even create these kind of monster like you know mutants who are physically and mentally compromised And there was still there. Were people there was mainstream. Scientists big universities who cloned to to this notion what happened after the war was they found themselves marginalized of course because science was moving away from that So they form their own networks folks even with their own journals one of those journals it was Started in nineteen sixty one. The mankind quarterly is still in publication. Today so for seventy years this small network of people have nurtured these audiology these racist ideologies. And what we see now online mine is that Because the Internet makes it so much easier for people to communicate with each other and disseminate this kind of material. There's been a proliferation of it. So not just the mankind quarterly but many many more online shadowy online journals producing really dodgy you poor scholarship claiming that there are these profound differences between racial groups. That racial mixing is dangerous. Essentially the very same racism racism that you saw in the nineteenth century but kind of repackaged. So when you hear the phrases human biodiversity of race realism. This really is just code code for that old fashioned scientific racism repackaged for the twenty. Th Century will how are these far right groups today using race science to sell other political ideologies. Well the heart of the ideology really hasn't changed hundreds of years. Because essentially if you can say that the inequality that we see in society is natural that is rooted in people's bodies rather than rooted in historical or social circumstance which it is Then we don't have to do anything about it. Then we don't need You know equal opportunities or affirmative action. We don't need to help people improve their social social social situation because this is just how things shake out. Naturally this is their argument that Do these natural differences playing out In societies not. And this is why we see the inequality that we do. Often they refer also to gender inequality in this way so racial and gender inequality is somehow natural and this is very very powerful because if you can say that then the game of politics changes completely and this is why these scientific intellectual racist arguments arguments still hold so much power. Let's which to Those looking at differences. Who Don't have obvious racist intent? Your the last chapter in the book is called black. Pills why racialist medicine doesn't work and this is an engagement with a little tricky issue here they're well intentioned scientist right is right now. Looking to study. Marginalized groups that may share susceptibility to particular diseases. So they want to help them. What problems do you see with that often? Offer me Medical Research and health research is the one arena where race signed seems to have survived. We it is. It has become so routine for us to go to our doctors and be told that because we are south. Asian for instance or we are Hispanic that we have some high susceptibility to certain diseases or conditions and again this reinforces in the public imagination. That race must be real. If that's possible what we don't realize is that the research behind this is really so using race as a proxy almost always so for example take the case of sickle cell sickle. Cell is a famously racialist condition we associate it with Black people rather than white people but globally It is found in those areas of the world where malaria is prevalent because the sickle cell trait confers some resistance to malaria. And that means it's found not just in parts of Africa but also parts of the world where people white skin so globally. It is not racialist but because of the demographics places like the US and Britain and because of the Where the black communities come from it looks like a racialist condition and and so again here we can see that racist being used as a proxy for The places in the world where malaria is common woman and for every condition that you can think of racist being used in a proxy and not kind of way The example give in superior is hypertension. So when you talk about black pills the reason I use that Title for the chapter is because the first black drug or drug designed for marketing to black people well only in the US Buydell is to treat heart failure which often results from hypertension and hypertension is perhaps one. One of the most racialist conditions in the world it's Heavily associated with black Americans and Black Britons but we have found found next to no genetic evidence to account for these these differences in high tension between people what we do know is that hypertension and high blood pressure Asia linked to salt intake so if it were linked to skin color which the existence of Beideal might imply. Then we would expect Becht rates of hypertension to be heist in Africa right. While in fact they're the lowest in Africa they're the highest when adjusted in Finland and Germany and the reason for that is diet because in Finland people tend to have diets high in salty meat and cheese. And we know the same in America that if you're poorer you tend to have more processed sophy in your diet and that contains more salt and black Americans we know tend to be poorer well so when it comes to studying differences. How do you you think the science community can best understand? What's reasonable or acceptable to study? And what isn't well I think. Of course there are. There is human variation seven and there are statistical variations that play out in different populations in very subtle ways and. I don't think there's any reason not to do that kind of research. In fact I'm of the view that if you can get your research funded by a reputable organization and published and peer reviewed in a reputable publication. You should be able to whatever kind unresearched you like but We have to use these terms carefully. Often races used as a variable without people really defining it biologically and not as very minimum. We should expect from a scientific variable that you'd be able to define it biologically And very often people don't do they just treat these social categories as though they are biological without really doing the Legwork to figure out why that is a valid way to think about these things so this is what I always always say to researchers. I give a lot of talks at universities and in front of Health Researches and I always say if you are going to use a variable including race then at least be able to define it well after looking at all of this do you think the study of differences even if benign intent is doomed to be co opted by racism. Well I think there are elements out there that will always look to science to reinforce their political views. Whatever the sign says so so even though right now there are no geneticists in the world who will say that their work reinforces what racists believe? We've even then scientific. Racists will keep reaching and keep reaching for the most arcane arguments we can find sometimes they will reach into the nineteenth century for for their evidence of their data and I personally believe. Perhaps they will always do that but it feels that the Internet in some ways amplifies these people all in the same way amplifies climate change deniers or flatter. Thor's or anti vaccine is it gives them more of a of platform than they really deserve machine. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Angela. Saney is a science journalist and broadcaster. Based in London England her new book is superior the Return Array Science. `and allow up. It's starting to get cold out there. Time to pack up the tank tops and shorts and pull out the polar fleece a staple in most Canadian. wardrobes that stuff's great remember back. When the clothing company opening Patagonia first came out with polar fleece how it was celebrated as a way to make use of recycled plastic pop bottles? The original color of the Marsupial pullover over came from Green Soda Bottles. which at the time weren't separated out from the clear ones since one thousand nine hundred three? We've eliminated the need for over twenty thousand barrels as a foil and if kept millions of plastic bottles from the waste stream. Okay now it's time to burst your bubble because according to a new report out this we polar fleece is not the environmentally friendly garment. We thought it was. It turns out every time you wash that fleas and other synthetics in your laundry tiny fibers of plastic released into the wastewater and they end up going down. The Drain Industry Gms Lakes and oceans scientists from Ocean in Wise Conservation Association. Home of the Vancouver Aquarium teamed up with industry companies like Patagonia and mountain equipment coop to get a handle on this problem. Dr Peter Ross is the senior scientists on this study. He's the vice president of research at Ocean wise and an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria. Dr Ross welcomed the courts and quirks. Thank you hello now before we get to how these fibers shed from our clothes in the wash when you look at the micro-plastics that are out there. How much of it comes from clothing? Well I think we're still trying to wrestle with that one but it seems like not a day goes by that we don't hear something about plastic or micro plastic being found somewhere on the planet and to put it really simply everywhere we look on the planet from the furthest reaches of the Himalayas to the Marianas trench from the Arctic waters of Canada down to Antarctica from zooplankton to fish birds marine mammals. Almost were finding micro-plastics so the problem is really a global one and the more we look the more we uncover and really the more questions since we raise about where these are coming from. Do you have any idea how. How many particles these are our fibers? That are coming from clothing. Well the more are we look at this issue. The more we find that micro-plastics are really dominated in the ocean by fibers. These are tiny little bits and pieces of different colors. Pink Yellow Blue Green translucent on. They're all about ten to fourteen microns thick and they really seem to dominate what. We're finding whether it's in the Pacific or the Arctic or elsewhere and these results together with the findings of some other researchers around the world are increasingly pointing at laundry and the washing of textiles. Well how are these fibers making through the wastewater treatment systems. We recently reported that about ninety. Nine percent of micro-plastics are retained within a secondary wastewater treatment plant. So that's good news. In one sense it really means that wastewater treatment plants are doing a decent job today at constraining the release of micro fibers into the ocean. But still there's there's some that is getting through and I've seen a report sort that not only is it Coming out through Vancouver but also in Toronto into the Great Lakes. Yeah in fact you know anytime. We do laundry at home. Were we're likely shedding lots of fibers into the wastewater. Treatment Plant Systems. Were estimating that about five hundred thirty. Three million fibers are released annually. By every Oh sold in North America. That's half a billion fibers into the waste waters of which somewhere in the neighborhood of three and a half quadrille Ian reach the Aquatic Arctic Environment. I I'm trying to get a handle on that. I mean that number so huge. How much mass is that equal? Do you know why is hoping you might be able to help me out with the three and a half quite brilliant because so you know quite honestly. It's a little embarrassing. It's hard to fathom what that means but in terms of weight we estimate this to mean about eight hundred eighty tons per year of fibers burst from North American laundry. And that's the equivalent await to about ten blue whales the largest mammal on the planet every single year while okay so there are lots of different kinds of clothing fibers out there as you say. How do you go about studying? What happens to them in the laundry? Well It's a great question and you know. In some ways I reflect on our experience on this end scratch my head and wonder how is it that we at oceanwide Conservation Association ended up setting up a washing machine test center here in Vancouver with three industrial grade washing machines and testing fabrics from our micra fiber partners and these include. MEC Patagonia Ari. I on our Terex as well as Metro Vancouver Environment Canada so we really roll up our sleeves and said we really want understand more more about the source of this problem and we're going to use washing machines. We're going to test different fabrics and look at their propensity to shed. So what kind of fabrics did you test asked which were the worst offenders. Well we tested thirty eight different fabric types including polyester of different designs and nylon as well some natural fiber Knbr so wide range of different types of fabrics that were given to us by our partners and we looked at The variation in shedding which were the worst offenders. Well the first finding of course. Is that every single item. Shed fibers and the second finding is that despite the variation found even within polyester the Polyester Holy Esther Fleece or the fluffy the warm the soft cushy kinds of fabrics. Those were the ones that shed the most. In fact a kilogram sample of polyester did release as much as four and a half million fibers in a single wash. Wow now you're talking different kinds of plastic. You're talking nylon polyester. Does that make a difference overall polyester. Did shed the most. But I've got to emphasize. That design is fundamentally important. And we've got to really drill down and ask for some additional research to explore what factors really explain the variation in shedding what you mean by design for the consumer one can compare something like a polyester fleece sweater. That's warm and fuzzy. It tends to be constructed from shredded plastic and short filaments whereas a nylon on or are more performance oriented item that might be smoother. Less warm less fuzzy is going to not shed as much so to a certain degree. This is common sense but this is something that really helps industry to understand how to design better clothing. So should we. Then stop buying polar fleece. I don't think so. I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that when one is sourcing or buying clothing there are considerations other than shedding that we have to think about we have I think about greenhouse gas emissions. We have to think about the water used during the processing of that material. We have to think about the chemical finishing as well as their ultimate fate in the world's oceans are taken into account by industry. So in the meantime what can we do to reduce the amount of fiber. That's in our laundry. Well perhaps this is where a- As a marine pollution specialist. I say there is great news in this story. There's great news because everyone's listening. Everyone's aware of the ocean pollution crisis in terms of plastics. And and everyone is willing to step up the table whether it's public industry or government for the individual in that equation one can wash less for example. Do we really need to wash that fleece every week or every couple of weeks we can say no to fast fashion look at more sustainable longer. Lasting high quality items we can look at wash conditions and we can use cold water and a front loading washing machine that has been shown to reduce shedding and finally there are products in the market that do filter microbrews from the washing machine. So one could install a filter on one's washing machine with relative ease and reduce fiber loss by as much as ninety five percent. And that's something that I think certainly consideration after Ross. Thank you very much time. Thank you Dr. Peter Rouses also the vice president of research at Ocean wise and an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria Four orman and a beautiful girl off on a fantastic voyage actually entering inside the human buddy. If you're fond of old and I have to admit pretty campy science fiction movies you recall that one from back in nineteen sixty six. It's fantastic tastic voyage. It was about a submarine and its crew who are shrunk to microscopic size and enter into the body of an injured scientists to repair damage damage to his brain. Well this is maybe another example where yesterday science fiction is today science because a team in the US has developed a kind of tiny self propelled submarine designed to maneuver inside a human body to deliver medicine clear. Arteries are simply provide diagnostic diagnostics snooping. No tiny submariners though the scientists in this case guide their vehicle by remote control. Doctor Tom. Luke Vagelis professor in energy research and professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania led the work. Dr Mellow G- welcomed quirks and quarks. Hello Bob Thank you very much. Tell me about your tiny vehicle. What's it look like? Well it sort of looks like a little Coffee Cup it's just got a cylindrical shape with one end open and one blunt how is it So the the current generation of these is is about five microns long and three microns wide so just put that in perspective the length of it would be about one tenth of the with a piece newspaper. Human cell might be something like five times bigger than one of these things. Okay how do you actually drive it around inside the body so the driving that is the propulsion force. We use ultrasound. And that's the same ultrasound that one uses to to say image of a baby in the womb. So it's medically safe. And then for control and steering we have a tiny magnet on board and we can steer that with an external magnetic field. Okay well let's separate these two propulsion. How does it actually move inside outside the the Coffee Cup is a bubble? Just an air bubble. The ultrasound causes it to expand and contract rapidly about a million times times a second and that creates a repulsive force. Think of a swimmer where you're moving your your arms and pushing water backwards. That's basically what it's doing as a bubble oscillates. Wow how fast can move through the body. Well we don't put it in a body yet but we we put it in in water and it can move about a millimeter per second. So several hundred body likes per second okay. So you've got control of this microscopic Submarine and you can steer it. You can move it quickly. What can it carry? It can carry anything you I put on it but it can also push things around and some of the Interesting applications. We're thinking of for the sing actually involve pushing other passive asa particles that might contain signals for cells or or medicine and so forth. So right. Now we've been using them to push cells together to make individual cells meet and talk to each other and we just use these things as sort of the pushcarts to make them go now. If it's if it's that small I mean I can't push very much. So do you just do these one at a time or would you have. A swarm of them ultimately want to swarm. That's that's that's a really good point so we make these what we call the big ones the ones that are a few microns wide by a lithographic technique where we can make just a few thousand at the time. But we have another electroplating technique for the smaller Swimmers we'll make several billion at a time and and then these things of course they respond to a certain frequency of acoustic energy. The ones we make by dog raphy Each one has a slightly slightly different frequency to which responds that based on the details of its size and shape and so in principle we can multiplex wchs the acoustic signal so that we can address them individually or address certain members of the swarm and then we have to figure out how how to how to steer them all where we want or how to get them to steer each other was so. That's still a challenge. I'm I'm so I'm just trying to imagine this could you. For example Guide them to a particular tumor inside a body. That's a lofty long-term goal and one idea we have is simply to use the blood circulation to move these things around for example. Pull when idea is if you have a red blood cell that you take from the patient and you empty out that red blood cell and put the a micro swimmers inside it that red blood cell can circulate in the person's bloodstream. And then when you get it to where you want. Let's say you get it into the tumor. You can turn on the propulsion and make them explode the red blood cell. If you put some medicine into that cell well then you can release that right. where the where the tumor as well? A Microscopic Trojan horse. Yeah that's the idea. If you get these things into the body how would you get them out. Also an excellent question so if they're in the digestive tract that's that's no problem you know you can swallow sources stuff and you just wait a few days and outcomes so one of the applications. That's interesting is is making making a a Sono pill that is acoustically propelled object can do some snooping in the digestive tract. So you don't have to have the discomfort of a colonoscopy. Let's say but if they're in the bloodstream we probably have to learn to make them out of biodegradable plastics. That are just eventually going to be metabolized. And they're then they're metals because these things have metal parts metals zinc or iron that are relatively innocuous quousque that basically just dissolve over time. So what do you imagine as the first application for your micro submarine rockets. So Oh right right. Now Our collaborators at University of San Diego mainly mainly developing diagnostic applications. So there you you're taking say a blood sample or cell sample. And you're using these things to assess the disease state eight of them so because that doesn't involve putting them directly into the body that doesn't require. EPA approval much shorter process for for actually the development of technology. Do you ever feel like you're bringing science fiction to life here here. We had this nineteen sixty six movie where they were talking about having a machine inside the body. Doing you know doing work here. You are actually doing it does that. Yes sure so. So a lot of science fiction very inspirational and the fantastic. The movie is is something that everyone talks about in this field. Richard Feynman so six years before fantastic voyage gave veigh An inspirational lecture. He's a famous Nobel Prize winning physicist his inspirational talk was about what happens when we shrink physics down to the size of single molecules or things a little bit bigger and a great quote from that. Talk as it would be very interesting medically if you you could swallow the surgeon and so that's kind of where we're we're trying to have with this while Maluku. Thank you very much for your time on my pleasure. Thank you Dr. Tom Maluku is bachelors. Professor in energy research and professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania science and with that it's time for another quirks and quarks question and this week's question comes to us from Terry arousal in Saint John's Newfoundland. He Asks Airplane Engines Need Oxygen for combustion but where do they get oxygen at forty thousand feet. Well here's the answer. Hello my name is Khazal Johnny I am a research faculty at University of Waterloo Department of Applied Mathematics faculty at Waterloo Center for Astrophysics. That's a very good question. It's true airplanes. Do need oxygen for combustion and there isn't much of it at forty thousand fifth. So what do they do. Let's go back a little bit. The reason they need oxygen in the first place. It is because of resistance because resistance of the air is working against him and he's trying to slow them down so if you are flying very very high there isn't much resistance left which is a good thing right at the same time it's not completely as you So the need to have the engines to work for them so then this questions become a matter of engineering. It's like how well can be designed machines. Death can extract oxygen out of that very thin air and then feed into the engines. Fortunately engineers have designs Mush in. That can do that. They compress the air effectively. Make it very take inside the engine and then feed it to combustion so the plan can keep lying and properly upwardly but as we know there's always limitation to our technology and then they becomes a question of optimization what is as the optimum Hyde for which the compression mechanism works it's maximize while at the same time the air resistance against the movement. The airplane is minimized so this will differ depending on their play. Dr Ghazal Gish. Johnny is a research associate professor at the Waterloo Center Center for Astrophysics at the University of Waterloo. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks. If you'd like to send us a question or get in touch with us you can email us at quirks at CBC DOT CA or just go to the contact Lincoln our web page and to get to our webpage goto CBC DOT CA slash quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast? Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play quirks in Cork's was produced by CC. See Wall ominous offer Sonia biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer. Is Jim Lebanon's. I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening. uh-huh for more C._B._C.. PODCASTS Goto C._B._C.. Dot C._A. Slash podcasts.

US California CBC professor Canada Dr Craig Clements Bob McDonald Africa India Dr Peter Ross Dr Clemens Kenya Britain San Jose State University Utah Angela. saney Germany
Accidental domestication, a solid-state electric airplane, the science of gender identity, InSight lands on Mars, bat and dolphin sonar crosstalk and how birds find seeds.

Quirks and Quarks

54:32 min | 2 years ago

Accidental domestication, a solid-state electric airplane, the science of gender identity, InSight lands on Mars, bat and dolphin sonar crosstalk and how birds find seeds.

"This is a CBC podcast. Hi, I'm Jamie for the last decade. I've been a newspaper reporter and lately just finding it hard to keep up with the news today. Simple possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. It can be hard to make sensing investigators spent nine hours in the consulates appearance. I want to change that at least a little I hope you'll join me for front burner daily podcast from CBC news. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcast. Team on his. Eight. Fees. You cared inherit. Rex cracks. I'm Bob McDonald amid the challenges of climate change and habitat destruction conservationists are increasingly turning to raising animals in captivity to save them. But can we keep captive animals wild? Don't raise animals in a captive environment. They contend to adapt that environment at the cost of nothing adopted to life in the wild. And it's not quite the Wright brothers. But engineers had a moment in history with a new kind of electric airplane dot could be the moment where I've preached up crashed in that moment to cut many times. But we did also have a series of successful flies after many many fell two tenths also politics science and gender identity. What non binary looks like in the body in the brain. We do know that the female and male brains is outdated and never reflected the science, and that brings more of this mosaic of gender and sex traits. Plus looking inside of Mars to see if it has a creamy center, we know that Mars has a core. But how big that core is uncertain hundreds of? Commodores and how Batson dolphin see with sound when everyone is screaming around them. These animals can do something that we as humans think is an impossible task all this and more today on Cork's and works. Let's try an experiment. I'm gonna take you an average Canadian from your comfortable home in your comfortable town. I'm going to cage you put you on a plane and fly you hundreds of kilometres into the wilderness. And once there, I'm going to leave you so you can start a new life in the wild living on and from the land as nature intended. Now, I suspect unless you're a very special kind of person this won't likely end. Well, that's because humans are domesticated animals for the most part, our comfortable habitat is no longer a natural one. We don't have the skills our instincts to survive in a completely wild environment. And if that makes sense to you, then you understand exactly the problem. We're going to discuss today as human activity devastates natural environments, conservationists are increasingly being pushed to desperate measures to try and save at risk species. They capture animals in the wild. Vancouver island marmots woodland caribou African cheetahs they raise them and breed them in captivity building up their numbers building a reserve population to eventually release into the wild. But what we're finding is that this captive rearing itself is having unintended consequences captivity can change an animal sometimes permanently. It can result in accidental domestication that means that when they go back into the wild and environment. They're no longer adapted to it's a struggle to survive. It's an issue. Scientists are increasingly aware of my name is Gabriella master, Monaco. I'm the curator of reproductive programs and research at Toronto zoo, unintentional adaptation, it's a situation where animals are changing their FINA type their behavior at cetera under selection pressures where they're not intentional the whole notion of accidental domestication. Is something we first encountered when we visited a salmon hatchery for our what to save conservation special weird in September. Simon hatcheries play an important role in our fisheries by replenishing, salmon, stocks for economic cultural and conservation purposes, but that hatch refound they were raising their fish in a way that was compromising their future survival in the wild. And they've been conducting a fascinating experiment to see if they can give their accidents domesticated salmon a bit more of a wild streak. Overpower? I'm the watershed enhancement manager of Ninette river Hatcher, which is on the west coast. Vancouver wrongs what we're doing for the wild stock is we're raising them taking wild fish from the wild raising a hatchery and then releasing them reintroducing them back into the wild. So they'll be able to survive and soon away come back natural spawning the rivers how much like wild fish are. They when they leave it because these are not natural condition. Hatch officially just look to the sky for the pellet coming from feeder, right? And they don't have an experienced with predators as well. In the past for Ninette hatch. We've always use race ways and in raceway. It's very slow moving environment. It's not a very fast. It's not very there's not a lot of law city. These are traditional hatchery approach original hatchery approach. We basically have an impoverished environment just boring fate forward and officials swim around and you can see the behavior differences. These ones are swimming close to you. So these ones when you let them go. They'll be looking to the surface for the first blue Heron or the first duck. They'll think they're gonna get food from it. But really they'll be eaten. These guys are easy pickings in other words for the last decade or so we've tried to basically rear fish differently and make them more wild like. And so we've tried different approaches semi natural approach show me that. So I'm gonna take you over to our round tanks. We've always had a few round tanks, the round tanks provider of elasticity and lake any animal in humans as well. They like exercise and exercise is a lot of good. Okay. So these are around tanks twenty-foot diameter, and they're about six foot deep this open up the tanks and see the fish this group. Here is our coho and normally coho their life history. We spent a whole year freshwater over the summer and then go to the the next year. And then they stay out and see for a couple years next win back in. So this one here is enriched. So we put in some branches in the water. So that they can have something to navigate around to hide and just basically have some enrichment in there. Some simply variable in their virement remedial, the see that the behaviors different just by having a few branches in the pond, these ones are way, more shy. We're still experimenting with that to see the benefits of enrichment versus the traditional right? So we're still we've done this since for co since the two thousand and two and so we're we're continuing that just to prove out how well they will do with this. And then we've also partnered up with some scientists, and they're looking at these different groups, the traditional versus the enriched, and they're looking for different epigenetics impacts on domestication. I'm just focused. I'm a master student at the university of Calgary in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. I've quite trendy word right now in the science community. Really? It involves the study of changes to the expression of genes that are heritable, but don't actually change the sequence of your self. So genetics kind of acts as a bridge between environmental cues, and how your deniable will sponsor that you can think of them as takes that go onto jeans, and they'll actually silence that, gene. So it's a way of making sure that gene is turned off. So you're not getting any product from that within a hatchery. There's something about a hatchery environment that's causing marked genetic changes in hatchery fish compared to wild counterparts, and these were playing a role and expression of genes important to immune function important to locomotion so migraine behaviors and important to I on regulation, which is obviously important for salmon migrate from freshwater into. Marine phase. So a lot of different gene expressions going on that could play a role in their survival. That's being regulated differently in a hatchery than in the wild. So we just walked by some of our our large rearing channels and these are released veering channel so the coho that we would raising around tanks. A couple three months before we release them into the wild. We put him into a semi natural type of environment. Like a stream and will introduce substrate in the water will introduce water jets to give them some of that experience that way we'll also introduce food from the bottom of the pond. And so they're looking at food coming from the bottom rather than always from the surface, and we'll also run around and just dip net scare fish, pretending we're predators. And so we're giving them enrichment in environmental also giving them life skills training, you know, just before we release them, and these these puns of the sizes pools here to swimming pools into end, and there's three rows of them. So it's quite a large volume of water here. Yeah. So we would like to give them that lower density rearing as well. And then they're also exposed to the air and they're exposed to natural predators as well. They'll be ducks in king fishers and other birds flying by and they will will allow some of those actually help train those fishes wall. Do you have to play a lot of roles here yet to play dead? You have to play predator have to play nurse. I guess I guess so I mean, it's just basically what we think of it as trying to take care of those fish and give them some life skills training. Just like you would with your kids. Right mortality that happens within the first week or maybe even days and maybe fifty percent of mar dead because they do not know how to avoid predators. And they do not know what to eat and some of the fish. They found when we looked at them in the area and the river after we release them we're eating Woody, debris and small rocks and pellets and they just weren't eating most appropriate food. You're making your fish street smart. Yeah. Basically that we're trying to make them street smart. So what we've done is sample fish that are leaving the hatchery as young juvenile's. We take DNA from their liver. And then we use sequencing technologies to look at genetic marks which are kind of like little takes across the genome that were trying to find, and we're comparing that to what the epi genome of adults look like when they return to spawn. So really that's asking the question of how hatchery fish differ from wild fish also between enriched fish and traditional fish when they leave the hatchery, and then our fish that are surviving have certain EPA genetic marks associated with that are not and can we link that to survival differences that we're seeing this environmental enrichment that we're using is resulting in higher returns from these fish as compared to fish that. We don't give any stimuli in Richmond. And these kind of trends are not unique to our system in Richmond's used for other salmon hatcheries other species and they all see positive trends in development and behavior in survival and reproductive fitness from using enrichment method. We're still working on this project. So this'll be still about a year until you hear of his about epigenetics and medication this hatchery. That was Robert brower from the knit net river hatchery and just he both vist a masters student from the university of Calgary. How are really on the cutting edge of investigating how animals can be inadvertently domesticated, and what to do about it? But when it comes to captive breeding programs for land-based animals, most of them take place in zoos, and this is an area that zoos had really's owned in on as our world. Conservation challenges are taking on a new urgency. Dr Gabriele muster Monaco is at the forefront of this research here in Canada. She's the curator of reproductive programs in research at the Toronto zoo, Dr muster Monica welcomed, quirks and quirks. Thank you very much. I'm happy to be here. When did scientists such as yourself start to realize that captivity could change an animal on a way that would make reintroducing them into the wild challenging I would say definitely in the last ten years. There was this chain. In process, where we were a better understanding the change in our animals. Well, what kind of changes are you seeing this inadvertent domestication the most easiest oak come to see. Of course, our behavioral changes so changes in tame nece. So the attraction to human in the nearby environment for Jing behavior, predatory behaviors those are the most obvious to see that are slowly changing in the the animals are perhaps not carrying out patterns that we would see in the wild. But studies in other model species have shown that there are other. Underlying changes changes fat layer under the skin changes in skeletal morphology at cetera. What about the actual breeding process itself? I mean, what effect does that have on Jalan animal might change in captivity? Well, because we've removed some of the natural selection pressures whether that is may choice sperm, selection and other factors that creates the species in. The wild as we would know it in the wild with its ability to survive in the wild, and we're kind of controlling the outcomes by choosing mates at cetera. So the overall fitness of the next generations are innocence impacted whether we meant to or not litter Sicer viability at cetera are factors that slowly start creeping into a captive setting. Because we might say here's to animals, let's put them together. And they'll breed whereas in the wild, they'll select the fittest animal. Correct. They are selecting each other for factors that we can only assume and in some cases, it smell some cases. It is looks. Whereas our goal really is the genetic variability, and we're we're focused on that. Because it is very important to trap all the Liles that are left in the wild. But that does not necessarily result in the fittest offspring. Can you give me an example where that's the case? So cheetahs are an excellent example of. Title that is given us a bit of heartache over the years for thirty forty years in captivity. They were being selected based on how unrelated they were tweets other, and they would be put together for X number of tries to months, six months. A couple of years and over time our reproductive outcome. Just got worse and worse. And we just now know that once you allow the females to choose the breeding are typically much more successful. The litter sizes typically better and they read their offspring, much, more successfully. Well, what does it mean for these animals that have been in one environment had their food provided by humans not being exposed to everything that the wild environment would give them when we do actually release them into the wild. What kind of pressure on them? So you've suddenly gone from this very protected environment to the wild habitats. Now, you've got your predator-prey situation. You've got to be able to hunt for food or look. For food forage you have to learn how to raise your young and unprotected environment. So it's going from a very controlled situation to this unpredictable scenario for these animals, well that despite all the greatest measures that you're taking to improve their survivability in the wild, many don't make it. I mean, we've got a number for the Vancouver island marmots that were captive Lee bread and reproduced. And it's about forty percent die when the reintroduced. So there's an ethical quandary here. How do you square yourself with the ethics read introducing animals that may not actually make it. I think it's easy to say. All right. You know, what this isn't perfect? So let's just walk away from it. But I think all species in the wild right now. Nothing is perfect for them. So whether they're reintroduced animals or animals that naturally exist in that population. Those loss rates are found across the board. The point is that if we do think those rates are too high, and we walk away they will be gone in our generation or our children's generation. So it just hard to sit back, and wait, there's something we have to keep trying, and I think underlying all of this is that human behavior hasn't changed. So until we can truly target the anthropogenic factors. Everything is going to continue to be lost and at very very high rates. So how are you that we can slow down this mess extinction? That's going on at the moment. I would like to say that I am to mystic because I think we have the right intention, and I think the scientists there and the teams are working together. I do think that it requires still further effort like we can't give up an when there are some failures. It just means that we have to learn some more and apply it again. But I do think that our generation has to continue to work on this path for the next generation. And we'll hand them. A lot of knowledge will hand them a lot of techniques and a lot of tools for them to do even better at it. Dr muster, Monaco. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you, Dr Gabriele muster Monaco is the curator of reproductive programs in research at the Toronto zoo. As frequent flyer. This is a sound I much too. That is the unmistakable wide of a modern jet engine. It's a fantastic technology fans turbines compressors made of space age super materials just to tolerate the heat and stress operating upwards of ten thousand rotations permitted. But in some ways, it's still got a lot in common with the crude four stroke piston engine that pushed the Wright brothers first flyer into the air more than one hundred years ago. Both depend on a controlled explosion of fossil fuels and a lot of delicate fast moving parts. Well this week a group from the Massachusetts Institute of technology. And now, what might be the first step beyond that they flew a small model plane with a propulsion system that has no moving parts and burns no fuel. Instead it flies by electrifying. The air around it, Dr Stephen Barrett and associate professor in the department of 'aeronautics astronautics was part of the team doctor. Barrett. Welcome back to quirks and quirks. Thank you very much for having me back. Now, you recently had a moment that was not unlike the early days of flight in the Wright brothers, tell me about that. Well, I mostly a witch moment that could be the moment where I stopped crashed in that moment to cut many times. But we did also have series of successful flies off too many many failed attempts. A successful flight tell me about it. So this was the the first of a flight of an airplane which had no moving parts in the propulsion system is based on. I only I only winds what's the airplane. Look like, it looks like a conventional across when you see it. But then you'll notice that it has no propulsion system as you'd normally expect. So there's no propeller there's no Gusta jet engine. It's instead Goten an array of wise underneath the wings, and those wise south to create ionized that how big is it? It's about five me his cross it weighs two point four five kilograms, and it flies five meters per second. And no noise. No, there's a slight electrical and the old crackle. Hopefully, we can get rid of that. How far did you airplane fly? If Lou sixty meters, which was the length of an indoor gym nays him that we had access to MIT for the indoor flight testing on could have gone much further than sixty meters fo the size of the gym. Well, tell me about how it works. How can you have an aircraft fly with no moving parts? The idea we apply is I and is at which means stripping the electrons from at an in particular nitrogen, which makes up the vast majority of Amel hills in the atmosphere. Once we've on is that we can accelerate the in an electric field and electrical full says of the same kinds of full you get when you rub a balloon in your head and you find it can stick to wool. So what's the setup? How do you make that work in an aircraft to produce thrust? It works by having a series of fine. Filaments navy from tha that craft and those find Philemon saw charge to twenty thousand volts so very high voltage now around these filaments the electric field. Get so strong. Young fats electrons are moved from nitrogen molecules leaving behind charged positive nitrogen ions. Now, these chalks positive ions are tracked to walls, the rare of the plane where we have an electrode at minus twenty thousand volts because positive charges negatives attract that cools as I own stream tools the back of the plane which intend crate say propulsion false. Oh, so you're you're kind of electrifying the air. So that it'll follow the the electric field from the front of the plane to the back exactly where we I nine Arab the front of the plane those irons than full of the electric field tools to the back of the plane, these ions collide millions of times with mutual molecules and transfer a momentum velocity to the mall heels through all these collisions. Oh, so the the electric is that are flowing drag the air around him with it. And that's your thrust. That's exactly right. And that's phenomena is whilst it's cold wind. And it's the purchase by which a stream of ions going through drags air along with it one of the main challenges in this course, was getting that forty thousand volt difference on you you don't get batteries that which is forty thousand volts. So what was your breakthrough because we we've talked before about this technology number of years ago, and you were just experimenting with it. But you had actually achieved flight what was the breakthrough the gut you into the air in order to do that we worked with some power Electric's experts at MIT, and they helped us develop a new type of power converter the steps of the voltage. You get from a battery from about one hundred volts to forty thousand bills. But the breakthrough roles was that most of those power converters are extremely heavy and might have been something like ten kilograms full they supplication which would be too heavy for flying a test flight, and I'll coli develop this new Oltra lightweight power converter that was five ten times lighter than what had been achieved before how efficient is it compared to say a jet engine. It depends how you measure efficiency if. You consider the efficiency of overall aircraft than it looks quite it's about two point five percent. We do however see Paul to getting to fifteen percent in some years, and then beyond that increasing further, but there are definitely challenges and guessing role efficiency out to a level. It'll be ultimately competitive, although we do have about a century of at Croft using propellers the couch out with so what would it take to do that? It would take ultimately flying much high flight speed because this technology works better when you flying it something more compatible to commercial aviation today, and that's really because of the speed at which the islands flow. And it turns out in in flight that when the speed of the repulsive jet is not hugely Foucault than the speed of the flight. That's when you get the greatest efficiency, what are the advantages of the system that I think the the Nitzan advantage is that it's the silence, and that's intrinsic in its nature being solid state. Meaning no moving parts, and I think the the scientists beneficial when you look at things like applications drones way, if you imagine intenal twenty as of an environment might be filled with drones conducting all kinds of services those drones. If if they called noise pollution that degrades quoted life would know basic sessile on technology like this could enable the whitest right adults drones because it's near silent. Are there any emissions? Do these. I ns in the air produce anything that the plane leaves behind well, then produce the conventional emissions of co two a couple monoxide I'll sit, but there is the potential of as will produce ozone. And that Sunday concern that going forward we're going to have to look into on the stand the extent to which that might be a problem if it is a problem, can we engineer away those ozone emissions. So is this the future of flight? Then I think it's sunny much more potential and did a few years ago. I remember what one a senior professor won't said he thought that was a one percent, Sean. So this project work, and that's amazing. Like a great reason to continue and do the project. I'm now all of us to go through that fest huddle that's probably a similar game that it would get to commercial aviation. But I still think it's worth trying because you don't know until you try. This is truly science fiction is aircraft. That don't make any noise that just move on their own almost house like people were talking about UFO's. You know, these things just hover there, and they don't make any sound. Well, it was kind of inspired by science fiction as a kid as a found Star Trek and was sort of quite taken by the shuttle crofton stop track that silently flea poss with you know, maybe a slight wish and blue glow, but didn't have noisy propellers and turbines and the physics. That's I could find that might be something like that was this. I onic wind phenomena. So science fiction really Woolsey inspiration. Dr better. Thank you very much time. Thank you very much. Dr. Stephen Barrett is an associate professor in the department of 'aeronautics astronautics at the message uses institute of technology, and you can find pictures and videos of the solid state flyer on our website at CBC dot CA slash quirks. The political controversy over gender identity has been much in the news lately. The New York Times leaked memo that allegedly details the American government's plans to change the definition of gender to either male or female and unchangeable after birth and this week in on -tario, the topic came up again as activists at the provincial PC convention put forward a resolution, stating that gender identity theory, wasn't unscientific liberal ideology that should be banned from school curriculum in haste to temp down the controversy on -tario premier Doug Ford announced. He was cautioned the resolution it came from the floor, and it's nonbinding. So let's just no kill done. Is denouncing gender identity theory is on scientific it turns out is just wrong. Researchers in the field point out that there's actually quite a bit of science behind it. More than sixty years of research has led way to the idea that is the binary black and white idea of too easily distinguishable sex and gender opposites. That's unscientific the science, in fact points to a much more complex picture when it comes to sex and gender. They're far more shades of gray. Or if you wanna more colorful metaphor, a whole rainbow possibilities to help me unpack the science of gender identity. I'm joined by Dr Sarah event, Anders she's a professor of psychology, gender studies and neuroscience at Queens University in Kingston, doctor about Andrew's welcome to quirks and quarks. Well, thank you for having me. Let's start with a bit of gender wanna one how is gender different from sex. It's a great question gender refers to the socio cultural bits like. Feminity masculinity and gender diversity in things like social roles, clothing behavior and more sex refers to the bodily bits, like maleness, female, nece and sex diversity and things like going ads genitals hormones brains secondary, sex characteristics, more gender and sex can completely coincide for some people and branch for others. It's not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to your sex and gender. So then what is gender identity gender identity has to do with what gender feels right for you. What gender you identify with it can refer to being woman, man and non binary person gender queer person. It can also refer to whether you're transgender or gender whether the gender you are now fits with the gender you were signed at birth. So then from a scientific point of view, how is sex determined in hours gender determined in person. You know, I think people think that sex is the simple one gender is complicated one. But in reality sex is not one thing. There's no getting sex, right? There's literally about seven to ten. Major ways people could determine or defined sex and often coincide they sometimes branch. So really what happens is people look at the genitals of a child. Whether that's the doctor the parent amid way for someone else and put that on a birth certificate or some sort of identity documents in a way, and then people are expected to move through their life in the world in accordance with whatever. That identifier is. But as we know for many people that doesn't work out, right? Okay. So that's that's the biological side of it. So how then is gender determined into person. That's what's interesting about this is because our culture often in terms of its legal structures kind of conflicts to and flattens all the complexity and diversity they often do tree gender and sexes. Same even as we know that they often exist in different ways, and there's multiple aspects of each so your gender off in really isn't determined by anyone accepted me be casual interactions or so on it's really just sort of understood to follow from sex, even as we understand scientifically it often doesn't. I mean, you're a neuroscientist is gender actually represented in the brain is their way to say, hey that that that's a neural activity there. You know, one of the most counter intuitive. Or maybe surprising things to most people is we don't know that much about gender in the brain. We do know that the idea of female, and male brains is outdated and never reflected the science, and that brings have more of this mosaic of gender and sex traits. And we really think of it this way, but any differences you hear about in the news between women and men and non binary people in neuro function or even neural structure could reflect ways of living in the world sexism all sorts of experiences because we know about neuro plasticity our brains reflect our experiences to a large extent. So that research is really an infancy. What about things like hormones? Do. They come into play. I'm come into play in all sorts of things, but they don't seem to relate at all to gender identity, and they're actually surprisingly. And I say this, you know, maybe with sadness as a hormone researcher. They don't really predict. Gendered behavior. In fact, our research is telling us that if anything behavior, including gender behavior might be changing hormones more than the reverse really table through that. Well, we've done one study where we looked at how gendered behaviour might affect testosterone a hormone that exists in everyone's bodies, not just men's bodies. And one of the things we're finding is that engaging in behaviors that we typically think of as, you know, encourage for men but punish for women actually tends to increase testosterone. So we know that living life as women or men or is not binary people, and the generals that that involves can actually influence the ways are hormones act. We do know that on average men says gender men have higher testosterone insys gender women. But it's actually not the case universally people used to think, and I think that was the case. And then we started looking at our data case by case or participant participant. We realize lots of men have lower testosterone than women and fair number of women have higher testosterone than the average male level. So we know that prototypical male hor. Moan really isn't. Well, there are some people who suggest that biology is a reality that your genitals represents something important and shouldn't be changed. What do you think is wrong with that idea? I think it's the idea that biology somehow more real than people's experiences our existences that if you can point to genital somehow that's true than someone's experience. And we know that science has a tendency to do that in ways that aren't great for marginalized groups. You know, they've done that with women saying well, women uteruses, and somehow that pulls all the blood from their bodies from their brains, and they can actually study. I mean, there's all sorts of pretty interesting ideas from the past about what our biology's meant. And how if they were real they were more real than people's experiences. So I would say the genitals matter, but they're not determinative. And I think that's the key that we know scientists that genitals are one part of a big array of sex characteristics. What do you say to people who think that it's just a trend or something that happens on social media? You know, something that's new to you might seem like a trend, but it's can be standing and transgender people living in genders that branch from what they were assigned at birth have been around a long long time, you know, very indigenous nations have diverse gender experiences, including what is now called to spiritedness cultures in eastern Europe East Asia, you know, all over the world have multiple genders third genders trans is nothing new I guess in other element of this is the nature nurture debate. I mean, how how much of this is what you're born with. And how much of it is the culture that you brought up. Yeah. And I think one of the things is that because so much socialization is aimed at pushing people to be the gender that people think of as matching the sex assigned at birth that there must be something that is sort of internal in some way that is influencing people's feelings about that process, not fitting them, and that could be something biological. It's hard to see how it would have nothing to do with biology. But we we still know very little about that surprisingly, given how much people wanna know the answers. Well, we've heard that President Trump wants to redefine gender as being based on a person's sex. And we've had the conservatives discussing similar motion this week. What do you think are the effects of this back and forth on the transgender community? Well, I do think transgender intersex and non binary people are the experts on this one. I'm they tell us how humanizing it is. And how negative the impacts are. I can tell you as a scientist. We know how important human rights and recognition Arte human flourishing to reducing stress to reducing suicide -ality more. And I think, you know, in general, we know that debate of your existence much less. Your human rights isn't really good for anyone. Dr vendors. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you. Dr Sarah vendors is the new Canada. One fifty research chair in social neuro endocrinology sexuality and gender sex at Queens University in Kingston. On monday. Nasr's latest mission is scheduled to touch down on the surface of the red planet. The insight Lander has been cruising towards Mars for the last six months. It'll hit the Martian atmosphere travelling at five and a half kilometers second and the combination of aero braking parachutes retro rockets should allow it to settle gently onto the orange dust of the surface. This latest mission is a little different from the Rovers and Landers that visited Mars to date. It's not meant to look at Mars. It's meant to look in Mars incites. Primary mission is to look inside the apparently dead planet and with its two main instruments measure the Martian heartbeat and temperature and that the mission scientists hope will tell a bit about what the planets like today, but even more about how it formed billions of years ago. Dr Mark panting is a co investigator on the Mars insight Lander, he's a planets. Gary size Malla just at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Dr patting welcomed, quirks and quarks. Hi, thanks, Bob. So we're just couple of days from insight landing and arriving on Mars, take me through what it'll be like when it actually gets there, the initial landing process with the this is the seven minutes of terror since the white delay from Mars at this time is a little over eight minutes by the time, we get the signal that the process has started. It's actually already finished will be on the surface of Mars one way or the other for me personally. I'm going to be sitting in a room right next to the operations room. I'm pretty excited about that going to be watching the whole process. Even though I'm the scientists and not the engineer at least get to see the nearest being all excited. Okay. So once you down on the surface. Now, I mentioned that you're going to be looking at Mars from the inside sort of taking heartbeat temperature. So what kind of equipment does inside have like stethoscope in a thermometer? Maybe are three major instruments are size monitor? I am a planetary seismologist. So that's what I'm most excited about. This will be measuring Mars quakes. We also have a heat flow probe which is going to go down five meters. And its trailing behind it a cable that has thermometers on it that will measure the temperature gradient from the surface down to that depth, which tells us how much heat is coming out of Mars, and our third instrument is really it's actually just the radio's on the craft that communicate direct to earth. But by looking at the signals and the Doppler shift of frequency sent out by those radios, we get very accurate measurement of the position of insight and its velocity within about two centimeters. So so what then will be involved in setting up these instruments on the surface of Mars, the insight craft has an arm where you will use that to deploy the instruments on the surface in front of the Lander. Will I put out the seismometers, then we'll put this windscreen on top of it which look somewhat like an upside. Down pipe plate. That's to protect a the size Mamata from the noise from the wind blowing across it. And then we'll put out the heat flow probe instrument. Have these types of geological instruments ever been placed on Mars before? So the Mars Viking Landers which landed in the late seventies. They both included a seismometers on them. Unfortunately, one of those did not send us any data the other instrument did return data, and from what it appears it seems one of the legs of the Viking Lander was on a rock or something that had it sitting slightly higher than the other legs. And so we recorded the rocking of the Viking Lander like a kitchen table that has one leg that's a little too short. So we saw the wind. Very clearly, but we didn't unfortunately, see any Mars quicks. So your size, mama turn into an animal Matre effectively. It was a it was a way of doing wind measurements. Absolutely. Do you know if there are Mars quakes? There was one possible Mars quake recorded by Viking. However, we did have seismometers launched with several of the Apollo missions on the moon, and they recorded many many mood quakes and the moon is a smaller body that Mars has lost much more heat, and we can think of planets most of the things planets. Do we can think of them? As heat engines, they're doing things to get rid of their heat. The moon is being smaller than Mars has lost more heat. So we would expect it to be quieter than Mars. So the fact that we're able to record many many moon quakes through the course of the seventies. Those instruments were actually turned off in nineteen seventy seven about two months after I was born. So I've lived in the area of no returned. Planetary seismology. If we look at that data, we have very good evidence that the moon is active and Marsh should be more active in that likely. It'll be significantly less active than the earth Mars shows, no evidence of plate tectonics. We don't expect it to be as active as the earth. But it is a body with heat that's cooling down as the body cools down. It's going to shrink and crack there's also big heavyweight sitting on the surface of Mars giant volcanos Olympic Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system. And it's a big weight sitting on the Martian surface pushing down in making the surface adjust in crack, so all of those things should produce Mars quakes. So if you come down, so successfully, and you don't land on a rock, and you get your instruments, deployed on the ground under the ground. What will they be telling us about what's going on inside Mars? So everybody has seen cartoons of what the inside of the earth. Looks like see a cut away of the earth. And you see the the circles inside that show. A thin crust. Rocky layer and the outer core and inner core and all of that detail that we have about the earth that comes from size. Molly, I can tell you to a high level of precision that the radius of the earth corps is about two thousand eight hundred ninety one kilometer I can say that with that level of precision because we've had seismology on earth, we've measured seismic waves that bounce off of the various layers inside earth. You can also see cartoons of what the inside of Mars looks like we know that Mars has a core. But how big that core is uncertain by hundreds of kilometers? By measuring the seismic energy will know, how big that core is to a level of precision much closer to how we know the earth will also know how thick the Martian crust is that tells us how much Mars has melted during its history because the crust is the product of the the mantle of Mars, the rocky layer below the crest how much it's melted during its history. And by looking at how fast the seismic waves travel through the various layers of Mars will get information about what they're made of. And how hot it is. Because that controls the seismic velocity. So these are the questions we're getting at and the one of the things I always tell people when I say why we wanna study the interior Mars, and how Mars formed is that. If you're trying to understand how rocky planets formed whether here in our solar system or Exo planets in other solar systems. Our problem is the only planet we have lots and lots of data for is earth. And there's no way for example, you can become a very good doctor if you only practice on one patient, so this is our chance to understand the whole pattern of how rocky planets have different sizes different distances from their their solar host form. And evolve. Well, I wish you luck on the mission. And I hope you have an exciting day on Monday when the Lander touches the surface of Mars. Thank you very much. Dr Mark Penney is planetary seismologist and co investigator on the Mars insight Lander at the Jet Propulsion lab in Pasadena, California. That slow down to ten percent is what is single echo locating bat. Sounds like simple enough. But what if many bats are hunting all at once? Then you get this. So you might wonder how does a single bat. Keep track of all those ricocheting Ping's echoes without getting confused by the signals of others. It's a problem not only for bats. But also for another famous sonar user. That's the sound of the pot of dolphins also exploring their environment with sound. So how do bats and dolphins tease out their own signal from everyone else's noise. Dr Laura clever assistant, professor of biology from Saint Mary's college Notre Dame, Indiana has been looking into this very issue dot too clever. Welcome to quirks in quirks. Thank you very much for having me that once this question of how Batson dolphins echo located groups important to understand these animals can do something that we as humans think is an impossible task. And this impossible task is using their sonar or using our active sensing when they're in really complicated environments. So originally we studied the sonar of dolphins and bats to make the first attempts at designing technology for defense purposes to use sonar to improve our country's defense technology, but we're moving into a more and more technological society. And we're finding active sensing and more everyday did ICES, and what's. Really impressive is that despite all of the technology and all of the science, we still haven't been able to create a device that is as good at echo-location as bats and dolphins are, and this is why we continue to study what these animals are doing with their special sensing. I'm thinking about those old movies from from back in the war with the submarine. You hear that ping pong? That was this. That was bad VIN. So what what other technologies are reusing today that use location where using sonar for things like finding food in our oceans, many people are probably familiar with fish finders on boats. Well, that uses sonar we use a form of active sensing in self driving cars, and we even find active sensing in such everyday devices such as robotic vacuum that you might find in your house. So how is interference a problem for these technologies when you have a single unit whether it's a fact Hume or whether it's a vote using sonar in its environment. That's not really that much of a problem. We have that pretty well figured out. But if you start putting multiple units together, multiple items that are using active sensing in big groups. That's when we start having a problem of interference. Whether it is sound or light or radio waves. How do we avoid the problem of all of these signals jamming in space or air or water? Water and causing interference and failure of the system. And so that's the question that we're trying to answer. But what's really great is the animals have this figured out pretty well that have been using echo location for millions of millions of years and bats also fly in really large groups, so not only can bats do it. So can dolphins. And they were part of your study as well. So let's start with them. How do they get around the problem of interference? When they're in pods. We worked together I worked together with a colleague at the marine mammal, the national marine mammal foundation in San Diego, California. And we worked together to do what we call a pilot study, which is just an initial study to get the initial data set to investigate whether or not dolphins might use some strategies to overcome sonar interference. Well, we have a an actual clip from part of your stomach. So let's play this. And again, this was slowed down significantly. So we can hear it. So here it is. Well, it sounds like a clock ticking. You're listening to two things. You're listening to the location sound of a dolphin. And then you're listening to an interfering sound that we're playing back while the dolphin is locating. And so that's basically how we went about investigating this. What did you find? How do they get around the interference problem oddly enough? We found that the two dolphins that we studied both had different strategies for how they got around the interference problem. One dolphin change the timing of its echo location clicks and the other dolphin changed the frequency or the pitch of its echo-location clicks. So in one case, they're they're using timing. So you clicked all click. So we won't both talk over each other in the other one is I'm gonna change my voice from your. So it sounds different. That's a great way to interpret it. Okay. So those are the dolphins. Well, obviously think you studied those in captivity. Correct cricket. Yep. How do you get into a bat swarm so to get into a bat swarm, there's many different approaches. But with my research what? I use I use mobile technology to really get inside as you said inside the bat swarm to try to make recordings of individual bats deep within the swarm, so I have three different approaches that I use the I I use zip-line, and we basically send our recording unit on zip line, and it flies right through the middle of the bat swarms so that we can get a recording. That's our first platform. Our second platform we use when the bat swarm is a bit more diffuse when they're returning to the cave in the morning is we have a drone that we have equipped with the similar microphone, and then a special camera called a thermal camera that can make videos of the bats in the darkness using the body heat of the bats. But then our third technologies is probably a favorite among the students in my lab. And that is that we have trained hawk that we have made a custom microphone and video unit that she carries on her head and she's trained to fly right through the middle of dense swarm of bats to make the recording. For us. You're kidding hot. With a microphone. I said it is it is something let me tell you, Bob. It is every time. I see her fly. It never gets old. Holy smokes. Now, we have an audio clip from that study. And again, this is slow down. And loops let's listen to it. Then tell me what we're hearing. Wow. More like bird. They do when when when you slow down about call they do some like birds, and that's one of the main differences between that and often sounds is that that calls are about twenty times longer into rations than dolphin calls are and that's their calls. We we call them three Quincy modulated and all that means is that frequency or pitch modulate or changes over time. So you're hearing each individual call that is sweeping in frequency and time, and you can actually if you're using your ears close enough, you might even be able to hear some of the differences in the pitch between individual bath. I think so I can hear summer summer a little higher than others. So it's changed the frequency that they're able to avoid interference with each other the up changing the frequency as well as changing the timing fill. The bats doll using the same strategy. Exactly, what went through your mind when you realize this the Batson dolphins are so different. Well, they are so different. But you know, what? That's dolphins are classic example of what we say. Our what we call convergent evolution. And that is when you have to unrelated organisms that have the same Volusia Mary pressures and heavy volved the same adaptation to counter those pressures in their environment. So now that you've figured out how these two very different animals are changing their location, either the timing of the signals or the frequency of their signals to avoid interference with each other Huckabee. We apply that to our technology. Well, we can apply that with our technology by using the same strategies in our technological devices. So if you have different active sensing device. Ices if they're using sound using the same bandwidth, you've shift the band with the way so that each one can have its own frequency range that it's responding on or you can shift the timing Dr clever. Thank you very much for your time. My pleasure. Thank you. Dr. Laura clever is an assistant professor biology at Saint Mary's college Notre Dame, Indiana. This week's question comes from Judith Hudson from Victoria, BC, and she asks I enjoy feeding the birds, but can you tell me how they find the seats. And here's the answered hi, my name is Dr Karen, we I'm problem. The department of biology at the university of Scott one well, the short answer to how he'd eating birds fine seed if that they also have to use their vision most be can't smell well enough to detect food at a distance. So they actually have to wind on or near bird feeder to be able to see that Caesar there. But the longer around third is that they also incorporate social information and use their learning and memory when birds hang out and flocks, they can watch the behavior of others. So if one individual stumbled across a heat, Pat and a return repeatedly to feed their the others nearby. See those. Movements and are also attracted to location and many birds have excellent spatial memory. So once they discover a rich food patch. They can return and check out the same height even over a period of several years. Dr Karen, we is a professor of behavioral ecology and bird conservation at the university of discussion, incest catoon. And that's it for this week's edition of quirks in quirks. If you'd like to get in touch with us, just go to the contact Lincoln our webpage and to get to our webpage. Go CBC dot CA slash courts, where you can subscribe to our podcast, listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog, you could also follow us on Twitter and Facebook at CBC quirks, and you can listen on the CBC radio app. It's free from the app store or Google play. Works in corpses produced by Amanda buckets. Seawall Sonia biting, and Mark Crawley are acting senior producer is Jim Levin's. I'm Bob McDonald? Thanks for listening. For more CBC podcasts. Go to CBC dot CA slash podcasts.

scientist Toronto zoo engineer testosterone Wright university of Calgary Bob McDonald Batson Dr. Stephen Barrett Monaco Vancouver Canada Queens University California Cork Kingston CBC news Richmond Dr Sarah
Quirks Holiday Book Show: Three science books looking at forensic ecology, the many worlds of quantum mechanics and culinary extinction

Quirks and Quarks

54:10 min | 1 year ago

Quirks Holiday Book Show: Three science books looking at forensic ecology, the many worlds of quantum mechanics and culinary extinction

"This is a CBC podcast her modest it. All Girl dark-haired inherited hi. I'm Bob McDonald. This tweet is our annual holiday book. Show we'll talk to the authors of some great new science books. You might be interested in for the holiday season or the long winter months ahead to start. We'll look at an unfamiliar kind of extinction species. We've doomed with our forks. It turns out. There's actually been a number sub-species we've eaten right off of the planet. Also up physicist explores the controversial and well frankly pretty strange many world hypothesis every moment some tiny quantum system becomes entangled with the wider world around it and multiple copies of the universe are created and an environmental archaeologist takes her expertise in a new direction. I don't think I've never spoken to the police before. So they said we have a murder when he got me hooked immediately all this today on the quirks and quarks holiday book show. I'm going to make a wild guess that many of you have either broken or are contemplating starting a diet right right now. It's that time of year when you may find yourself faced with some pretty impressive and familiar meals. That traditional holiday feasts doesn't seem the very much from year to year. That's what tradition means after all but in fact not that long ago it may have looked quite different. Two hundred years ago you might have been dining on delicious passenger pigeon. Served with a variety of carrot now long gone are gardens with a salad made from one of dozens of species of lettuce that simply no longer exist in fact in general there might have been quite a distinct and likely larger variety of vegetables. Spices fish and meat to choose from many of these foods are now rare or in some cases actually completely gone from our markets and tables it's a phenomenon called culinary extinction in a new book food researcher. Dr Lenore Newman looks at the link between the Food of holidays past of holidays. Present and the Food of holidays yet to come the book is called Lost Feast Culinary extinction and the future of food and Dr Newman. Is the Canada research share and Food Security and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley. Dr Newman welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you for having having me. Well first of all what exactly is culinary extinction well culinary extinction refers to species that have become extinct extinct primarily because we ate them and literally. We just couldn't say no to second helpings until they were all gone and and I got into the idea of culinary extinction because I was having an argument with a friend that surely food species would be saved from extinction because we value them and it turns out. There's actually been a number of species we've eaten right off of the planet so we mentioned the the passenger pigeon. What else have we lost to culinary extinction? Well a couple of the ones I think are really interesting. The passenger pigeon is kind of the greatest culinary extinction of all time because it was one of the most plentiful birds on earth and we ate them all all and we literally did eat it to death. We're talking about billions of birds so it's a very impressive extinction or rock is also interesting. Entrusting it was the prototype of the cow. All Cows on earth are actually technology. They're descended from Iraq or disappeared In Poland hole in in In the late seventeenth century. I also talk about some of the early extinction. Some sort of in the Paleolithic Takehiro such. Mammoth definitely human. Hunting was a big part of their vanishing and we also lost a for example in the Canadian context text four of the six buffalo species. Here there are plant extinctions as well there's sort of an arc throughout history of places says we got it wrong and I always see extinction as the ultimate failure. It's like if you were doing. A Course and the the goal was to keep something alive and the whole species goes extinct. While you're you're not gonNA pass so it's it's a bad outcome. Well in your book you say when it comes to fruit and vegetables we have access to only a fraction of the diversity versity that we had a century ago. Why is that basically? What happened is a shift in how we distribute food has greatly limited the number of subspecies sub-species of each crop that we grow so before we could move food around the world easily? Every region had to grow a number number of different varieties or cultivars we call them not stands for cultivated variety. It's nothing to rocket science. We grew a a number of different cultivars of each crop so that we could have as long a season as possible. So there'd be early Broccoli Summer Broccoli really late Broccoli concern. Let's see how that works and also each region had its own varieties that it called faded itself and over the years they picked the best seeds for that region. We call that a Landrace we Slowly develop a genetic strain. That's perfect for its environment when we suddenly could cheaply move food around the world which started to happen back in about the nineteen forties and fifties. We stopped growing a lot of if those cultivars and because they need to be propagated to exist they quickly vanished and a great number of them went extinct and so in some crops. Say in apple varieties for example. We lost eighty to ninety percent of the Apple. Brady's lettuce varieties the catalogs catalogues from around. Nineteen hundred. The catalog show say for example. Hundreds of variety of radish. Now I really don't know if we need adopt many radishes but they're mostly gone and you're saying this is just largely from transportation that we have access to fewer varieties because while we don't need to grow all the lose any more. Yes exactly our motivation shifted instead of having to provide locally for as long as season as possible. We could grow the cheapest easiest easiest to transport varieties now why this is a problem and not just progress is two fold number one. We lost some of the tastiest varieties righties and dot spin of a shame and number two. Because they're all genetically different to give us resilience so if a disease for example comes comes and attacks all the bananas on earth. We have a problem now because all the Bananas Genetically Identical they're actually clones of the cavendish banana and and so they all die at once and so if you have a thousand different types of banana some of them are going to be able to face climate change face disease this you need dot library of genetic material and what I like to say. It's like we had a library that took US ten thousand years to build and we burnt it. And we're going to miss it now. You talk about something called the cellular agriculture in your book. What's that Yes yes and I think one of the puzzles bit of the paradox? For people who know me is I'm very supportive of going back to when and we had a more diverse agriculture that was more local. But I'm out a technology girl and one of my favorite emerging merging food technologies is cellular agriculture. Where you try and grow burgers without a cow you do it in a VAT or my absolute favorite of these technologies is producing dairy products without a cow by using fermentation processes so instead of brewing brewing beer? You Brew Milk and the reason I feel those are important. Is the cow. Although I do kind of love cows I think they're beautiful Atlanta MLS. There are terrible piece of technology. Their hoof print were is so much faster than any other part of the food system. We have to look at. How do we ray not in? Because the world is demanding more beef and dairy products and we know from studies out of Wealth University. We can't scale the current system to feed everyone that way. It just won't work. So are we going to see the cow disappear. What's the future? The hamburgers are going to be grown in the lab. I think it'll either be made out of plants like the impossible Burger or the beyond burger or will be grown in a lab for a large part that it doesn't mean that if you go to northern Alberta won't have grass fed beef and maybe a little steak and stuff but when we think about sixty to seventy percent of all all beef produced in America going into Hamburger Dotson opportunity for technology companies. That is just too good to pass up because if we we look at the impossible burger or the beyond burger well they're about ninety five percent more efficient in terms of land use about ninety percent more proficient in terms of carbon output and about eighty five percent to ninety percent more efficient in terms of water use and some people say say to me well. They're process they're not as healthy and you know maybe they don't taste quite perfect yet but I want to stress the yet. They're piece of technology technology as we speak impossible burgers rolling out burger three point. Oh I can't do that with a cow. I can't make a cow that twenty twenty times more efficient in a reasonable amount of time so I think these technologies will win for a lot of the applications and we'll be glad allowed they did so. It seems like we've got two systems that work here. We've got one where an industry wants to cater to popular tastes. But they also the same crops which makes it easier to grow in large quantities. Because we do have a growing population we need to feed the world but then we have another system where people seek out unusual. Joel food from small growers. So you know how do you how do you balance that. Well I think in a perfect world they co exist and they kind of feed each other and we do see that to a degree especially in plant side of the system you know. I remember vividly the first time I had a kiwifruit and I was like what on Earth is assists fuzzy thing that is suddenly appeared in the West Coast. British Columbia and Kiwi kind of slowly came from China to New Zealand Wind. It got a rebranding originally. They were Chinese gooseberries then they were rebranded this kiwifruit and maybe they started showing up on buffet tables in restaurants and now they're sort of every day we actually grow them in the Fraser Valley. Most people don't know there's a couple of Kiwi farms so in a way those novel things exit shop at the farmer's market. It's a great trial space for then bringing them into mass production. You talk about culinary extinctions in different parts world but what about here in Canada. What kind of extinctions have we seen one of the ones that bothers me I would say is when we settled at this region? The indigenous people here were farmers and we often don't think of them that way but they did farm quite extensively so here On the West Coast there was a lot of berry farming and they would clear areas with fire and weed out plants. They didn't want the wild carrot state camera. Oh bulbs which were built like an onion of Spring Bank clover was a popular crop. Pit creates a route. That time told tastes a little bit like peanuts. Nuts popcorn and these crops were really important and settlement basically wiped a lot of them off the map and because this European Asian dominated settlement around the world there foods dominate and in the book. Talk about a lot of our crops. Come from one tiny the region the mountains of Heaven or the Chen Chen in Kazakhstan. Because it was at the center of the Silk Road so apples and peaches and almonds is an all these crops. Come from that spot and there were a lot of wonderful crops here that we could embrace and sort of lookout and maybe maybe Improve the jeans a little bit and bring into production and that hasn't happened to a large degree a few exceptions of course blueberries being the major one in this region. But we're starting to see a little bit of it. So for example I just talked to. I was up in Fort St John Talking to some Haskett producers and the house go pissing indigenous buried to North America. They're just starting to have a bit of an industry and basically the bio diversity of North America hasn't been fully explored because of colonialism. Well towards the end of your book you talk about your one of your favorite places to go and enjoy enjoy food. which is the Granville market in? Vancouver's is really really large market with the wide variety of food. And just tell me how you see that as you as you walk through it well to me that market. It's like it's just the symbol of the wealth that we have now. We eat better than anyone in history. Kings of France would have just fallen on their knees to see the food available at the Granville Island market and yet it also shows the fragility and if we look at what. The price of fish for example has been rising steadily in. Everyone knows it's a little harder to get and we also also one of the things you can't get the Granville island market. Are Truffles. Actually the very hard to source in Vancouver because they're getting so rare in nature sure that A food that traditionally around Christmas in the Victorian era one of the most luxurious dishes. You would take a Turkey and you would slice up truffles and put them under the skin and stuff it with the truffles. And I don't think you could even do that now. If you had that many truffles your Turkey would cost about one hundred thousand dollars and that show's decline of natural richness. You know there are a few few missing pieces that we don't have. It's very rare. You don't really see abalone there for example because they're endangered and I think it's a good reminder reminder that we both have this incredible richness but we have to work to protect it. So what are the culinary extinctions that are looming on the horizon. I'm worried about fish and I'm a fisherman's daughter. I grew up in the industry. I'm terrified about what climate change is doing to the oceans and to me. The Ocean is the most endangered place right now. which is a ron because for most of history? There were very few organic extinctions because it's bigger and we had less access to it that all changed after World War Two with fishing technology and climate change. were basically cooking the ocean biospheres and we should all be up in arms. So given what. You've you've seen with the Culinary extinctions from the past the fact that we have a growing agricultural system that's planting more monocultures and we have a growing growing population on this planet. What does the future of food look like for you? Well I will say after reading this book. I'm firmly vegetarian vegetarian and I would say the best thing we can do for the environment right now is go Vegan and the Nice thing. I like to tell people. It's not all or nothing nothing. It's not like buying a tesla where you buy the Tesla you pretty well committed because you just spent all your money on it tesla basically with food. If you're like well I'm not giving given up Christmas dinner. I'm not asking you to but maybe boxing day you go veg. Maybe of a Vegan Day a couple of days a week cutting meeting is definitely the biggest bang for buck. We have Right now reading your book. You certainly underline the fact that humans are the ultimate predators. Oh we are. If another speech and alien species for making a horror movie about a Predator species that destroys its biosphere. We're doing really good job of that and I do have hope. I think we can solve these problems and I think in fact we'll be better off if we do. We just have to pull together and work together to make the changes we need to make. Tough Newman thank you very much. OAS Great Pleasure. I love the show. It so exciting to be here. Dr Lenore Newman is the Canada research chair in Food Security and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley. Her new book is called lost. Feast culinary the extinction and the future of food put and I. That was a time when the newspaper said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I don't believe there was. Nobody understands that was Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feinman in a famous lecture and his comment that nobody understands quantum onto mechanics was of course meant to be funny. I mean I certainly don't understand quantum mechanics and I spoken over the years too many many very smart people people about it but speaking to those people apparently wouldn't have helped because according to physicist Sean Carroll Feinman wasn't really joking scientists don't actually understand quantum mechanics and what's more not many of them are trying one of the reasons for that. According to Dr Carol is that I'm trying to understand quantum mechanics leads to some very strange places. One of them is a science fiction like scenario of a fantastic number of nearly identical universes populated by copies of you me Dr Carol and everyone else that idea as he's about to explain is somehow supposed to make quantum mechanics less strange and mysterious. Sean Carroll's got a new book out about all of this. It's called something deeply. Blee Hidden Quantum worlds and the emergence of Space Time. Dr Carol Welcome back to quirks and quarks. Thanks very much for having me. Now what does it mean that nobody. Nobody understands quantum mechanics. I mean it's taught in universities in it. It's used all the time. Sure and absolutely physicists used quantum mechanics to enormous credit credit. I mean we're able to make predictions that are then tested to eleven decimal places and it's amazing but it's very much like I can use my smartphone right. I can use it to send emails or texts to take pictures. That doesn't mean I can explain to you what's going on inside. I couldn't build the smartphone myself from scratch. And that's the relationship. The physicists has had with quantum mechanics they can use it We can teach it. We can solve equations. We could make predictions but when you say but what's really happening. They demur they say well. That's not our job and I think that that is our job. I think that we really need to understand what's really going on in nature while I'm thinking here of Newton's laws of gravity I mean he he developed formulas that describe how gravity work but they didn't explain what gravity actually is sort of like that. It's kind of like that. But it's much worse I mean at least Newtonian. Gravity was a complete rigorous. well-defined theory. You put some particles and some positions with some masses and velocities. We'll tell you exactly what happens at every moment of time whereas in quantum mechanics the way that we teach it to our students here at Caltech is whereas everywhere else. There's a mysterious moment when you say when you you observe the quantum system. You can't predict exactly what's going to happen. But there's a probability of getting certain outcomes and when the student raises their hand and says what do you mean observe observe a quantum system. When does that happen? How quickly does it happen? Does it have to be a person. Could it be a video camera. Nobody knows that is part of the theory that is just not there's there's that's much worse than Newtonian gravity. Well in your book. You suggest that. The culture of mainstream physics actually discourages people from working on understanding quantum mechanics. Thanks what's going on there. Why is that yeah? That's a fascinating question. This you know back in the twenties and thirties. Of course all the great minds were puzzling. All the time over what this was all about. Einstein signboard Schrodinger but that discussion faded away and it became sort of disreputable to worry too much about the foundations indications of quantum mechanics students. Who worried about it left the field even famous researchers who are doing very well if they had good ideas about the foundations of quantum mechanics? 'cause they kept them from their colleagues because they didn't want people to think that they had lost interest in serious work. Okay well let's get to the central part of your book walk. You say that one of the promising ways that we might get to an understanding of quantum mechanics. Is this many worlds theory. Now take this slow. Don't hurt me here here I promise okay thank you. So what is the many worlds theory. So let's start with what we teach our students. You can have an electron elementary elementary particle. And it can be spinning. And there's a fact of the matter when you measure the spin. You only get two possible answers either at spinning clockwise or spinning counterclockwise so what quantum mechanics says is that when you're not looking at it that electron is in a superposition of both. It's not that. It is spinning clockwise or counterclockwise is and we just don't know it's really a little bit of both but then when you look at it in the textbook formulation it collapses to be either one or the other so this smart graduate student Hugh Everett in the nineteen fifties said. Well that's not fair because I'm not treating the observer themselves as a quantum mechanical system awesome if electrons can be in super positions. Then people can be in super positions as well so let's ask the question. What happens to a quantum observer when they look at the electron and the short answer? is they become entangled with that electron and there gets to be one world one universe one copy of physical reality ody where there's an electron spinning clockwise. And that's what the observers saw and another copy where there's an electron spinning counterclockwise. And that's what the observer saw so. You're saying that that we are in multi ver ver universes as well absolutely every moment there. These quantum mechanical events were some tiny quantum system becomes entangled with the wider world around it and multiple copies of the universe are created. But what's really important to emphasize here. Is that ever did did not say. Let's take quantum mechanics and add a bunch of world's a bunch of extra copies of reality. Those copies were always there in the formalism of quantum mechanics annex. If you believe that an electron can be superposition. Then there's no trouble believing that the universe can be in a super position all ever does is say and that's okay. It's just therapy more than you know actually physics. He's just saying don't worry about it. The world's third there let them be their. It explains everything you don't need all these weird rules about measurements. It's an observation. So are all of these other worlds already there or do we make them when we make the observation we actually split Blit the universe so Everett in his PhD thesis use. The analogy of an Amoeba Niba can divide into two copies and if that Amoeba has memories memories. Both of those copies have the same memory as the original Amoeba does so his advisor made him take it out because that was dramatic sounding but that's like what the universe does Gets to be two copies of the universe each a little bit thinner than the other one But different things happening each of those universes so when we observe a quantum system. Does that mean that it reaches out and splits off as well. Yeah the whole universe splits and there's different ways of thinking about it and this is the kind of the thing that physicists and philosophers are you about either at conferences or over drinks after the conference but yeah the whole universe splits into multiple copies. That's the simplest way of thinking about it. This is giving them an awful lot of power to humans. Here you know and I can split the universe by looking at an electron. Yeah but you know. What so can another electron do that? There's nothing special about humans. Nothing special about consciousness or perception. This happens again whenever any quantum system system becomes entangled with the wider world. So that's one of the huge benefits of the many worlds approach. Is that it clears up all this mysterious talk of measurement and observation in that made it sound like human perception was really driving. Reality Somehow universes contain a lot of mass and a lot of energy. Where are they coming from? Well the universe has the thickness and this is A. This is one of the things about the many worlds interpretation that I feel bad about what I'm about to say but I'll say it anyway. The math breath is completely one hundred percent. Clear there's no question about energy conservation or where it comes from or anything but the words they fail me in the English language. They're just not there and I think the best way to think about it is. There's sort of two different ways of thinking about the energy of the universe. There's the way from within the universe first. And then there's this sort of God's eye view from outside so within the universe energy is more or less almost conserved. Because you know you see things happen. You measure the spin of an electron but the contribution of your universe to the whole energy of the whole Shebang becomes less and less every time. A little splitting flitting happens so in the God's eye view energy is perfectly one hundred percent conserved in that on Samba of all the universes at once. Now when these new universes are created say we just make two of them. Are they the same after they branched out there the same except for that outcome of the thing. That became entangled tangled so in one of them the electron has been clockwise. And the other the electrons bending counterclockwise and of course that difference can be amplified so if you look at the electron Ron and the electron is spinning clockwise in your universe. Then you say okay if the electron spinning clockwise. I'm putting fifty bucks on red at the roulette wheel. And if it goes counterclockwise doc wise fifty bucks on black then there can be very different outcomes in those two universes boy this university so perfect. If it wasn't for that silly electron going the wrong way. Well there's always another one in which the other way so you're fine okay. So what's it take to make a universe. I mean does this happen. Everytime scientists observes a quantum phenomenon it. It happens way more often than that it happens every time. A quantum system becomes entangled with the outside world so in a typical human body. There are roughly five thousand radioactive active decays per second so everyone of those radioactive decays branches the universe into multiple copies. One where decay happened. The other one where it didn't so that's not five thousand universes that's two to the power of five thousand new universes. They're just created every second just because of you that that's an awful lot of universes to create in this way. I mean it sounds kind of extravagant as you know microscopic phenomena spawn universes like this sure or it's extravagant and universes but it's very simple in ideas it's very simple and austere in concepts basically the underlying equations provide a way of generating generating all these universes. Yeah the way I say if you have a collection of numbers like three and twelve and minus three hundred eighteen and a bunch of random numbers compare that set of numbers to the set which is just all of the injures zero one two three CETERA. The injuries have a lot more numbers in them right. But it's a much simpler thing because you can generate them in a very easy way. The same thing's true with universes in quantum mechanics the underlying laws of physics in ever-ready in many worlds quantum mechanics or as simple as they can possibly be so the fact that it makes a lot of universes really shouldn't bother you. Is there any limit to the number of universes that could be created this way. Yeah interestingly we don't know that turns out to be a good question I think that this is one of the things that reflects the fact that in the latter half of the twentieth century we kind of abandoned thinking thinking about these questions and so we've left on the table a lot of very very basic questions about the nature of reality including is the number of universes finite or infinite. We just don't know well. If you're saying that every time the universe splits you get a little less energy so could there be a limiting factor. There you get into diminishing returns there could be. That's right there. Could be appoint which the universe is split all the way it can and what that would look like from within the universes is this goes hand in hand with the universe reaching a heat death right we know that Our Universe is expanding. The stars are using their nuclear fuel black holes or evaporating. Eventually there'll be nothing left in the universe. We see but empty space. Yes so when it gets to the point where all the different branches of the universe all look like nothing but empty space than the concept of branch sort of ceases to lose its meaning and everything blends together together once more but don't worry that's quite trillions of years in the future. That's something that you need to balance your checkbook about. Okay thank you but if if there are all all these other universes out there all these multiple copies of me can I travel from one to another and say meet myself according to the laws of physics as we understand them. No you can not travel. You cannot talk To anyone in the other branches of the universe now Hollywood would have you believe differently and that's okay But the the laws of physics as we know them really make these into different universes. They go their own way. That's why it makes sense to call them separate universes what happens happens in one doesn't affect what happens in any of the others. Well I have to admit Dr Carol. It's kind of hard to get my head around this whole idea of multiple universes being created every time somebody does makes exa quantum observation. Why do you think this is a good explanation for what we see going on in quantum mechanics part of me wants to say we never promised you a rose garden? It comes to the fundamental laws of physics right of course when we think about nature and reality at it's absolutely deepest most fundamental level. The story story that we're going to come up with will be shockingly non intuitive from our everyday perspective I mean why in the world should we wouldn't getting through the day trying to stop rain gene from pulling on her head and trying to cook in the kitchen and so forth why should what we experience pby a perfect fit with the fundamental laws of reality that that would be more surprising on the opposite so yes it does seem weird to us. We'd be making a mistake if it didn't seem weird but it's the simplest most straightforward would best defined theory of quantum mechanics. We have and furthermore since we realized we don't know all the laws of physics we don't know all the grand unification in quantum gravity and all that that stuff. This many worlds approach makes it much easier to extend into new laws of physics than any of the alternatives. That we've yet developed okay so it makes makes it easy for you to satisfy your formulas on the blackboard but can you prove these alternate universes are being created and and actually exists. Can you test this in in any way. Well we don't ever prove things in science what we do. Is We set aside. We sat in front of us all the different hypotheses than we compare them to the data and when they fit nicely we increase our confidence when they don't we decrease it so we for example. We tried to falsify theories we try to rule out theories by doing an experiment that is incompatible with them and everybody in quantum mechanics is extremely falsifiable. All the theory says that there are wave functions and they evolve all of according to an equation which we call the Schrodinger equation. And if you ever see a wave function not evolve. According to the Schrodinger equation than the many worlds theory is falsified falsified and there are experiments going on right now to do exactly that. So justice scientific injustice falsifiable any other theory. So what's left to do on on this theory. Well I think there's a lot of theoretical work as well as experimental work yet to be done Again we dropped the ball for more than fifty years. Here's now in excavating how this beautiful pristine underlying formalism maps onto the richness and the complications of the world around us. Why is there space wise their time? Why are their fields and particles in the way we see it? Why does the world look approximately classical? Right I mean if quantum mechanics canucks the right theory of nature why did newtonian classical mechanics work so well for so long. Why does the Moon actually move a Newtonian orbit around the earth? I think these are all very good questions that we have yet to find perfectly satisfactory answers to but it still sounds incredibly speculative and you mentioned in your book that it could be wrong but but even so with the process continues. How will this help? Physics actually move forward. Well anything could be wrong. So this is this certainly could be wrong. Einstein's general relativity but he can be wrong maxwell's electromagnetism could be wrong. That's how science goes what I think is really going to help us with is understanding the big puzzles that we don't yet have good good answers to in physics such as how do you reconcile quantum mechanics with gravity right. Einstein gave US general relativity his theory of gravity as the curvature of space space time and since the nineteen fifties been struggling to reconcile gravity with quantum mechanics and my guess which may not be wrong once again because this is how speculation works. Is that the fact that we don't understand quantum mechanics perfectly has been holding us back in our attempts to understand quantum gravity. And when you say it that way it seems like the least surprising thing in the world but I think that really as a matter of making progress in physics taking many worlds seriously is enormously helpful in trying to understand quantum gravity avenue and work that lead. Well it could lead to answers to questions like what is space what is time wise space. Three dimensional. What happened happened the Big Bang? What happens inside black holes? Nothing that's GonNa make you a better smartphone or cure cancer but things that really Satisfy our curiosity as to the nature of reality at its deepest levels. Karl thank you very much. Sure my pleasure. Thanks for having me on or was that really Dr Carol. I was just talking to one of them. Dr Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. His new book is something deeply Hidden Quantum worlds and the emergence of Space Time. I'm back in the early Nineties Patricia. Wiltshire already had a career. She was an environmental archaeologist. I used her expertise to help reconstruct the distant past to help understand how people live centuries ago and then one day the phone rang and she entered the new world a world more familiar from Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes or the CSI TV series a world of crime violence indepth It was a surprising transition. Professor Professor Wilshire's expertise wasn't in dead bodies or murder weapons it was in things like plant pollen and fungal spores but these turned out to be powerful. Tools does in the fight against crime mostly because Professor Wilshire made it so back in one thousand nine hundred eighty four. There was no field of forensic ecology in the United United Kingdom but she pioneered it and she describes that experience in a new memoir. It's called the nature of life and death everybody. He leaves a trace professor wheelchair. Welcome to cork some corks. Thank you very much. Thank you for asking me. Tell me about that phone call you got back. In Nineteen ninety-four the became such a turning point in your life. Well I was sitting at my microscope counting pollen which is a very tedious task. I must say on the telephone own went and There was a very Scottish voice at the other end and he said we would like you to do a job for us. We've been to Q.. Gardens that's Roy Loyd Battalion Garden and they said they can't help us but they know a woman could and so they've given me your name and this was quite intriguing so I don't think I'd ever spoken to the police before. So they said we have a murder where that got me hooked immediately. I'd never done anything like that. So we'll would. Would you help person. I simply if Khan and it went from there. Well now you were As I understand it an environmental archaeologist at the time I was an ecologist and botanist working in archaeology doing environmental reconstruction of the past. And you can do that by looking at plant remains from the past both the the big bit leaves stems and so on that get deposited into pits ditches but also the pollen and spores that fly around in the air and get deported in sediments. So if you analyze the the plant material from deep down and then go up through a system up through a sequence you will be able to see vegetation changes throughout time. I'm not giving you a great clue as to changing landscape and the way it's used so that's what I used to do to us to look at sediments in pits and ditches under Berry Turfs and so on and create a picture for the archaeologist of what the past was like what the farming coming was like well crops were grown and so on. Oh I see well if you're looking way into the past to look at farming and whatnot. What made you believe that you could apply that to help? Solve a murder investigation. Well to be honest. I didn't know I could but when you think about if you can see see a scenario in the past from vegetation. Why can't you see a scenario from the present from vegetation? Okay well take me back then to this first case you get the phone call you find out about the murder. What did you do then to go collect evidence to help them solve the crime? Well it was quite complicated The senior investigating officer how to thought that pollen might be able to help this case what had happened was there was the Chinese triad gang and they were money laundering and doing that. They were buying properties but they needed an agent. They chosen agent. He had all the money he was supposed to buy properties and fiddle around with the money but he helped himself to it. And of course. That didn't go down very well with with the Chinese triad. Now I really didn't believe Chinese triads existed except him stories but partly they've the vicious people and this They kidnap this man on his wedding day. Young team out of bed on his wedding day they tied him up putting putting his arms and legs behind his back. Put Him in the back of a van and he was a big heavy man and his lungs collapsed and he died and and they panicked and so they said Oh. Gosh we'll have to get rid of the body will going dump it in Wales. But they couldn't find Wales so they they set off in this they set in this fun northwards and ended up in heart for. They saw what they thought. Very secluded place drove into to the field dumped the body and The the the police. They got the van they got the car. There was an accompanying car and they had seen the tire marks in the field. And they want you to know whether this car had been in this field. Well they didn't know how to prove this because tire marks are not as not as resolved as you might think sometimes but this clever police officer thought Oh this this field route has been planted with maize corn. I bet this pollen appropes. They've taken it back to the car. So they asked me to look for corn pollen tasers pollen in the car. I did not have a clue how to go about it so I had the car taking completely to bits and analyze. It's just about everything. There was no maize pollen because of course this was in the spring on. The maze doesn't flour until later so the pollen hot wasn't they but what they did do was. They stepped on the field edge. To put the body in the ditch on that field edge on all the pollen. I'm from the hedgerow that lined up at the back of the ditch. They'd carried that back to the car and I was able to see this place in my mind's eye and and so they asked me if I'd like to go and see the place when I got there. Field was absolutely huge on this very ancient hedge all the way around date great and they should a. We'll show you where the body was but I said well I let me just test myself and see if I can tell you on. Walked up the hedge hedge into most people. It looks very similar. It wasn't the right place. It wasn't the right place and then all of a sudden it was all those herbaceous plants. All those read that you see typical of of arable fields were there on specifically an assemblage of shrubs that were growing in the hedge and they were all eh and I should. I think this is the place everybody fell over practically because what exactly where the body had been put an. Nobody was more shocked than I was that I I was able to do that. Doubt you're able to pinpoint the place even though you had never been there and you figure that out just by looking at pollen in the floor mats of the car so what what. What's this say to you about? Just how much potential. This microscopic evidence has that's out in the environment to track down somewhat well it's been proven proved done so many cases it's very powerful. Incredibly powerful you have to the ecology husted and a lot of field work because what it depends on is my being able to see the place that I've seen. Before and these mostly natural habitats or fields fields and ditches and ponds and woodlands and bogs and Moorland and you know the assemblages of plants that grow there so if I get the assemblage of plants from their pollen from their sports I can envisage plant community so I can describe it now. I can't always describe describe way but I can describe the place however if I can recognize a specific habitat I can predict the the soil and therefore I can predict the geology. So I can say oh. This is an acid saw. This on acid sounds this is a dry place and she's probably heathland. It's got this and it's got Scott the other and so. It gives a holistic picture of the environment because plants respond into the environment all organisms respond to their environment so what is it about pollen grains and fungal spores that make themselves potentially potent and and durable bowl pieces of microscopic forensic evidence. Well first of all they at tiny the biggest pondering I can think about a hundred microns krones hundred hundred ten microns. And I think if you've got is like a hawk you might just about be able to see that with the naked eye. I mean most people couldn't but most are about forty Micron fortyish microns. Absolutely tiny and the other interesting thing about them is that they're charged particles and so they stick to things and when it comes to fabric they will wittol down into the weave of the fabric jolly difficult to get them out and they can be there for years and years and years. Wow well other than learning the makeup of the plant and the fungal species. That's in the environment. What what else can you learn about a location from from this kind of microscopic evidence? It's very often the soil that I analyze so I will take us or sample simple and I have to extract everything else except the pollen and spores and to do. That is very dangerous chemistry. I can only be done in a laboratory. With great protection involved acids like hydrofluoric acid that dissolves gloss because one has to get rid of courts a CD gun hydride concentrated traded sulfuric acid concentrated hydrochloric acid. So many own would you believe after all that treatment pollen grains and spores just come come out smiling and also the outer coats of insects because insects also have a very very complicated polymer in their outer coach called Keeton and pollen spores have a substance called spothero pollen on these are very robust polymers. On the only things that can break them down really a fungi and bacteria. So how many branches of science have come together. Her for you to build What you call informed intuition to to build up this image in your mind of of a location the place that you're looking for well an ecologist has to be really hard to be a jack-of-all-trades as well as a specialist? Ecology is the study of organisms and their environment environment everything so that's the physics and the chemistry of the environment and other organisms in that environment so one needs to know about plants animals bacteria fungi the substances in soil chemistry in need to new statistics. You know you need you need very very many strings to your bow. So the ecologist is a specialist but needs to know an awful lot of background and you never ever ever stop stop it. It's just amazing. How many different scientists come together for this so for you when when you're giving a piece of evidence whether it's a vehicle or some clothing or something they say can you examine this look at the pollen grains looked at the spores on it? Look at the dirt that's on it and and then you come up with a picture in in your mind of a location. What what's what's that feel like you where you go? I I know where this is. Yes and it's it's more than that too because sometimes you can see a sort of trajectory you can see that someone is walked here first and then walk there and then walk there because you know as you can imagine yourself if you walk in any in a woodland you know very well that as you walk through woodland the scenario changes a little bit and you you can actually see that deposited on the shoe or deposited on the clothing. And in fact I can get pollen from just about anything you will find it every way it in your hair. It's up your nose is on. Your clothes is under your fingernails. But really you know we've all got pollen on US and insiders even your gut I mean I've done a lot of guts analysis. It's a rather messy nasty procedure. But boy it gives she results. So how good are you. How good are you as a crime? solver well I don't I don't see myself as a crime solver. I'm part of the team. Because obviously the police are the investigators on the work. They do to be perfectly honest with you sometimes. James is absolutely incredible they. They've got such intelligence networks. They're amazing and they will tap into anything they come to give them information nation so basically I think I provide intelligence. I by intelligence. I mean information that they can sometimes As as the case goes own. I'm doing analysis feeding them information and that helps to work out their next step. If you see what I mean so sometimes it's just oh how did this person go there. Lot Easy Oh it might be. Oh we've got this incredibly complicated case. Look at this tell us is what happened next. Look at this or we've got another bit of evidence. Have a look at this. So some cases go on for years. I mean I think five years I think is the longest I've worked on at case the public's fascinated with Forensics and we have a lot of forensic crime programs on television. What do you see as is the difference between what's portrayed their reality? Oh huge huge differences Expect you know the program. CSI The American program. Well most of an awful lot of that is just mythology really and the forensic work is not glamorous What I do is tedious? Hard smelly disgusting on the only satisfying part it. When you get the patterns at the end of your analysis and you think Gosh I can see it I can see that? Is the reward for any work. These forensic programs I don't watch them really they just get on my nerves. Because they're just not accurate enough I we forensic. Scientists has to be accurate that makes us perhaps a little bit boring. I don't know I'm TV counterfoil to be boring. So when you take a walk yourself you you go out and you're gonNA take walk in and you look around at the environment that you're walking through. What do you see in terms of what you're going to be picking up along the way as you saw? This is the dilemma. I can could never just take a walk. I'm looking all the time there. There's always something to learn. There's always something to see and of course one gets it's It's like looking old friends. You recognize all your friends faces. So what do you hope. The reader takes from your book when it comes to appreciation of the microscopic gopnik world that surrounds us in our environment. You know the microscope world is is wonderful and I love looking at microscopic things props. What I'd like them to realize is that the world is earn believably complicated? There are some things you cannot simplify. It's much more complicated than ever anybody would ever think Professor Wilshire. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much for interviewing me. Dr Patricia Wiltshire is a forensic ecologist in the UK. Her new book is the nature of life and death. Everybody leaves a trace you and that's it for the Quirks Courts holiday book. Show if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question email us at quirks at CBC DOT DOT CA or. Just go to the contact Lincoln. Our Webpage and get to our web page go to CBC DOT CA Slash Quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast? I listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC. Listen up it's free from the APP store or Google play. Quirks in Cork's is produced by Seawall Sonia by and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer. Is Jim Lebanon's. I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening. And have a great holiday for more C._B._C.. PODCASTS GO TO C._B._C.. Dot C._A. Slash podcasts.

Dr Lenore Newman physicist Dr Carol murder US Fraser Valley CBC Canada Bob McDonald Professor Wilshire University of Caltech Dr Sean Carroll ron Dr Patricia Wiltshire Turkey
Apr 25: Deepwater Horizon 10 years later, COVID-19 and understanding immunity. Invaders eat Europes ragweed, and making AI compatible with humans.

Quirks and Quarks

55:05 min | 1 year ago

Apr 25: Deepwater Horizon 10 years later, COVID-19 and understanding immunity. Invaders eat Europes ragweed, and making AI compatible with humans.

"Halio Hey Fallon. And Hey listeners. We are the hosts of a podcast called the secret life of Canada. We are a history. Podcast yeah and we've covered topics things like the gold rush or the bay blanket. Yes kind of unconventional stories. Though that you might have missed in your Canadian history class so we're here to uncover those secrets. That's right Czechoslo. Wherever you get your podcasts. This is A. Cbc podcast Human Genome dark-haired Inherent Current. Hi. I'm Bob McDonald on this week show. It's been ten years since the deepwater horizon oil spill and we're still trying to understand the impact of the disaster. Have to remember ten years ago when that thing was going. Everybody's concern was just shutting down also understanding immunity. Scientists have a lot to learn from people who have beaten the covert nineteen virus so the hope is by studying. People who've recovered will find that one magic bullet plus controlling a be very careful what you tell us super intelligent computer do for you so the machine To fetch the coffee doesn't know that it's not okay to kill other people in starbucks to get to the front of the line and European ragweed sufferers breathe a sigh of relief when one invasive species attacks another. It's really amazing. I mean you see dozens. Sometimes hundreds of people sitting on a single ragweed plant completely defoliated. The plant all this today on Cork's in quirks ten years ago we were all watching in horror as one of the largest environmental disasters in history was unfolding on April twentieth. Twenty ten a powerful explosion at an oil rig called the deepwater horizon in the Gulf of Mexico killed eleven workers an injured seventeen others that explosion also resulted in an oil well blowout more than a kilometer underwater at the time. No one knew how big it would get. The smelly. Oily slick is oozing its way across the Gulf of Mexico headed for land. It's now bigger than anyone expected and his growing more quickly than anyone thought it all too well continued to pump oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico for the next eighty seven days in all the deepwater horizon. Disaster released an estimated three quarters of a billion with a B. leaders into the Gulf. Making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in history in an attempt to get it under control emergency teams use skimmers controlled. Burns and in particular huge amounts of chemical dispersants that had never been used in deep water before. Here's BP's Chief Operating Officer. Doug suttles at the time. We'll take help from anyone and we welcome the offer from the Department of Defense. I mean we're applying absolutely the best science we know the best science and some of the world's best scientists worked to try to understand the impact of the spill and do what they could to protect the delicate ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. One of those teams involved scientists from woods hole oceanographic institution including Marine geochemists. Dr Elizabeth Cuccia Wenski now. Ten years later. She's part of a different team. Collecting data about what the science community has learned from studying the deepwater horizon. Oil Spill. Dr Cuccia Wenski. Welcome to our program. Thanks very much for having me. This is great. I think I can hear your pet birds a little in the background. Yes you can. I apologize for that but we're all working at home. What was your role in studying the spill back? At the time at the time I was an analytical chemist studying the chemistry of organic molecules in seawater and so when the deepwater horizon oil spill began. My expertise came into to find out what the impact of oil and dispersants and gas would be on the organic molecules in seawater. Now I remember at the time. B. was kind of quiet about what was actually in the dispersants to do. Do we know what they were met up. Now what's basically soap? There's a bunch of what we call tween and span eighties. Those are all surfactants. Which is the formal name for soaps? Their molecules that have both a portion that will dissolve in water and a portion that likes to hook onto things that are very non polar like oil and so what what they do is the soap. Parts of dispersants are able to break the oil up into smaller bits kind of like using don detergent on your greasy pans for example. Oh I see so. The idea was to Kind of delude. The oil or break it into small parts could've haven't big blobs of it around that's right. The primary goal of any dispersant application is to reduce the size of the oil slick that will affect how the oil would sink into the water column. Fats possible it also affects The ability of bacteria to get that oil because bacteria to around the edges. And so if you can make more edges you can enhance the bacterial ability to degrade that oil us. What were the biggest concerns at the time that the both the dispersed oil and the dispersant chemicals would have in the local ecosystems well dispersed were first used in large quantities during the Exxon Valdez spill? Which had been about twenty years prior and one of the molecules used in that original formulation was toxic. That component was removed to a large extent. By the time we got to the deepwater horizon. How ever anytime? You add a large quantity of chemicals like this to an environment. You have to be a little bit concerned about unknown unpredictable impact. The question is whether the fish the sea grasses the deep sea corals all of those organisms. How would they respond to this new intrusion of chemicals and that was a big concern at the time? One of the reasons it was a big concern was because there had not been any study of how dispersants would affect organisms whether their quarrels fish or dolphins or whales in the deep ocean Up to that time dispersants had been added. I would say exclusively on the surface of the ocean and so there was some understanding about how they would affect larval fish how they would affect sea grasses and other coastal things you would find on beaches marshes and so on and so forth but but the deep ocean that was really unknown so now a decade later. What do we know about what actually happened? Well what we know. Is that the cold. And dark of the deep ocean made the dispersants in all likelihood made them last longer than they would have when they were applied on the surface. So we know that there were dispersants down in the deep ocean for a longer period of time than might have been originally intended however the deep ocean has also vast and so a lot of the dispersants are simply diluted away so the concentrations that deep sea corals or certainly fish that could swim through these these areas those concentrations were likely very very small so unfortunately the dispersants in my opinion remain one of the most complicated and difficult to understand components of the deepwater horizon. But that work is ongoing. And I know that that has been a big concern for people who've been working on this this topic in the Gulf ever since the deepwater horizon ten years ago were there any surprise results. Yeah so we spent a lot of time thinking about. What were the really big? Take home messages. Shall we say that came back from the deepwater horizon in this decade of really intense work? That's gone on and we boiled it down to two big areas. The first one was probably not so much surprising as it was understanding made possible by technological advance which was really understanding how bacteria degrade the complex oil and gas that was released and that has generated a really interesting body of work that can be used for future spills to understand how to promote that kind of degradation how to promote sort of the ecosystem cleaning itself and then the second piece which was more of a surprise. was from the chemistry perspective and that was that sunlight actually had a very large impact on the composition of the oil that was on the surface and this non biological process actually degraded quite a bit of the oil and with the use of additional technologies. That were really coming online at the time. We now have a much better handle on how that's happening and Certainly we're more able to have modeling studies that would allow us to predict the fraction of oil. That could be degraded just by light alone and so on did the dispersants do their job of Breaking oil into smaller bits so that the bacteria that oil can get at it. Did that really happen well? Unfortunately that is one of still big questions. So on the surface of the Gulf the dispersants were used as intended and it is my understanding that they worked as intended. The question. That always comes up is whether the deep sea application worked as intended and in order to know the answer to that question you have to be able to know what the oil droplets looks like coming out of the wellhead before the dispersant and then during the dispersant application and those were very challenging data to get an in fact don't exist in the future it is now clear that that is the critical data to have and so. I believe that this is the kind of question that will be answered. Much better and much more concrete LII in the next oil spill. So is the the the problem here that the ocean is just so deep at that point that you can't get to it to study and see what the effects were the long term effects. So it's not a question of access. It's a question of access during this kind of an event. You have to remember ten years ago when that thing was going. Everybody's concern was just shutting it down and so. I do not want to be in a position of judging the decisions that were made at that time given the the challenges and personal stress associated with them but I think that the value of that data is now clear and would not be as hard to achieve in the next time. So it's a matter of how fast science can move in a crisis. It's sort of like what we're feeling right now is while with the Kobe. Nineteen pandemic absolutely absolutely and it's it's also not just how quickly science can move. But how much space can be given to science to apply? Not necessarily proven technologies when the accountability for the first responders is really high. Right they have a mandate. That's very different than giving scientists access to these places. Your Papers Co author refers to the deepwater horizon. Spill is a huge experiment. Why is that well? The deepwater horizon put a ton of organic rich molecules into the deep ocean. It was a way to find out how quickly different types of organisms can respond. So who responds? I the organisms that eat oil or the organisms that eat the gas. How long does it take different? Ecosystems to recover all of that data while certainly not a desirable event at the time all of that data goes into models that can allow us to do better predictions and better understanding and respond. Better every time something like this happens well now a decade later. What do you know about the lasting effects of the deepwater horizon spill on the local ecosystem? What we were pleasantly surprised to find was that a lot of places recovered similar to what would have been predicted Different marsh systems certain aspects of the deep sea. All seem to be recovering. Other places are not recovering as well and that seems to be a function of the fact that the deepwater horizon was just one of many stressors that were hitting that ecosystem at the time so for example in our paper we talk a little bit about marsh is and where the marshes were simply decimated and all of the grasses were removed because the physical substrate the mud in which they can live. All of that was gone. He didn't recover so it. It's a mixed bag. Of course I just don't know if this is a good news story or bad news story. Yeah Well Yeah No. It's it's not an easy question but unfortunately so much you know. This was a huge spill. Right this was a massive massive issue for the Gulf of Mexico. And you know at some level we were actually. The Gulf of Mexico was was probably one of the. I don't WanNa say better places for this to have happened because I don't want any place to ever have this happen. But the Gulf of Mexico has a number of natural oil seeps and so the bacteria and the fish and other things that live there are used to being bathed in oil every now and again and so. There's not as big of a problem. There this happened in the summer right so it was warm and there was a lot of Sun and so on our biggest concerns with the deepwater horizon results is what will happen if this happens again but in the Arctic right where. It's much colder. It's much more remote. The weather is much more severe. They're an oil spill. Like this would be a very different very new injection into the environment. And how quickly would that environment respond so in many respects deepwater horizon as awful as it was a way for us to figure out what's really happening in these systems without the worst case scenario got Yakuza Wenski? Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Dr Elizabeth. Cuccia Wenski is a senior scientist and Marine Chemistry and geochemistry at woods hole. Oceanographic Graphic Institution When it comes right down to it. This pandemic has two key players the corona virus and our immune systems if you get infected your immune system kicks in if it responds strongly inappropriately. You beat the virus if it responds weekly or inappropriately it can lead to serious illness or worse but if we learned anything about the covert Nineteen Virus. It's not it's tricky. It can spread without anyone even showing symptoms. It also seems to be affecting our immune system in a way we've never seen with any other respiratory virus and if we beat the virus we still don't know what kind of immunity we have and how long it might last. All these are things we need to understand so on one hand we can predict who may get really sick from the virus and on the other when it safe for recovered individuals to go back to work especially if they're on the front lines another related question a little farther down. The road involves the vaccine. Scientists are working hard to develop. How well will they worked to protect us from the virus? And how long might that protection last here to shed light on this Dr Don Badische? Who is studying the immune and microbiome responses to covert nineteen? She's a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster. University's Immunology Research Center in Hamilton. Dr Bow Dish. Welcome to quirks and quarks thank you so much for having me now given what we know so far about this. Kobe. Nineteen Corona virus. What can we hope for? When it comes to the level of immunity we might be able to get either by getting infected ourselves or or from vaccine. Well let's step back. Second talk about the three major flavors. Immune responses come in in the best case scenario. We have something that looks like chicken pox for most people most of the time they get infected once and then they're protected for the rest of their life. The second option is something like the tetanus shot so we have very good immune responses that protect us. But they don't last forever so eventually we have to go back and get a booster shot. The third flavor is something like HIV. So people who are infected with HIV virus actually have lots of immune responses to the virus. But unfortunately they aren't protective. They don't keep them. They don't stop the infection or clear the infection so when we think about those three flavors of immune responses what we hope is for the chicken pox option. That people who were infected today will be protected. Forevermore what we is the. Hiv option in which people are not protected are their immune. Responses are not helpful and what we expect based on what we've learned from other related viruses like SARS and murders. Is that the immune response will likely fade and so people may have a period of protection that could last months or maybe years but they may not be permanently protected. Okay but at least there's some protection I mean it's manageable. You could get another vaccine or another shot. We hope so. I mean you know based on studies from related viruses We think that period of protection could be as little as weeks to as much as two to three years. Now there are these Less Harmful Corona viruses that have been humans for a long time that just give us the cold. What do we know from them about? How long immunity might last. That's a great question. So we call these the seasonal corona viruses and in Canada. There's four that we sort of followed and we know travel through the population. What's interesting with even the seasonal viruses is the most of us who had when will have very ahead cool. Nothing very serious. Although in truth they can actually cause more serious disease in the very old very young or even a compromise based on studies that have been done in the nineties. It does look like once. You're infected. You do have a sufficient immune response to protect you for a while but again we don't really have good long term studies but is it possible that people who being exposed to a common cold corona virus could get some immunity to the Kobe. Nineteen that is a subject of much interest there is enough similarity between them that we could predict that is the case. However we're just not able to the no right now if that is actually the case. The reason we don't know is we don't actually have very good tests to figure out if someone has been infected with the seasonal krona so we need to develop those in parallel to understand that question. Wouldn't it be interesting if people who are asymptomatic had been previously exposed? We don't think that's the case just because these viruses are not common enough that that four out of five people would protective immunity. And that's the sort of rate evasive Matic actions were expecting. But it's an intriguing possibility and if so it also gives us a candidate to to look at to develop vaccines. We often think about immunologist. Trying to study what makes us sick and what goes wrong but actually one of the most interesting immunological questions is what goes right. And and if we can mimic those helpful immune reactions that to seasonal krona viruses or to these people who are demanding. That might be our best hint about how to target a vaccine. Now one about these Other viruses that attacked as years ago SARS and Murs. How long has immunity lasted and people who were exposed to them? I had no doubt that everyone in the world who knows someone who's been infected with SARS emerges pulling them back to the lab right now to take their blood test for protective immunity but the studies that happened in the years after those outbreaks implied that they probably had a good two or three years of protection and after that they weren't necessarily followed much longer well based on what we know so far. How robust Do People's immune system reaction to the new corona virus. Seemed to be. It's an interesting question. There's some very strange and weird and wonderful features of this virus so if we look at studies of people who had the disease so severely. They died versus. People who were hospitalized. Were very ill but survive some of the data. That is coming out of that. Says there's not a real difference in the immune response. The people who died had mounted an immune response that looked very similar to people who lived. They have the same levels of antibodies which are one feature that generally gets rid of a virus but they also have one major difference in their immune response. Unfortunately we don't really get to get a sneak peek into the lungs of people who live but unfortunately the people who've died we have started to see autopsy samples coming up and those autopsy samples allow us to take a look at what cells are ending up in the lungs. So what happens in people who are really ill is that some of their circulating immune cells go down that the levels get low and it looks to all the world those cells are ending up in the lungs and helping clog the air exchange in the lungs what we hypothesize is happening right now is unlike influenza or maybe a bacterial pneumonia where you have the innate immune response coming in and doing a lot of damage. We're seeing the adaptive immune responses getting more involved than it should be an in the wrong places. Well I just WANNA CA sorta clarify a general picture here about how the immune system works. We hear about antibodies in the blood. But then we also have to kill the virus. Correct yes yes. Let's use implants pneumonia. The first thing that happens is the virus gets into the lungs and we call in the immune system those are cells that gets turned on very quickly and they literally fled the infected area with bleach and antimicrobial agents. And they try to eat and kill most often. They're effective at clearing that when they're not they put out a lot of inflammation which is what gives you the fever and chills and shakes all those horrible feelings but they also call in the adaptive immune response their cells called B. Cells. Which make these antibodies? And so what they do those antibodies when they're made bind the virus and they prevent it from entering into more cells. There's also t cells so if there's a cell that has a virus in it they'll come and they'll kill that cell and the virus with it it looks like and people who are sick enough to be dying of. Kovic nineteen the adaptive immune response might be doing some of the damage. So I'm I'm just trying to picture that the antibodies sort of flag the virus. They say. Here's the bad guy than the T. cells. Come in there. The soldiers that actually kill it absolutely so those. Antibodies are very sticky and solo bind to the virus. Stop it from getting in. They cause other immune cells to help clear at. You're exactly right. What's what's going wrong here then. Two things we don't yet understand how well these antibodies stick. And how well they do their job of clearing the virus and unfortunately a lot of the times we make antibodies to all different parts of the virus. Any part of the virus that our immune cells sees some of these parts of the virus are not very helpful so if we step back to my analogy we actually make tons of antibodies to the HIV virus. If we're infected but none of those cells stick in a way that they stopped the virus from infecting so those are antibody response that is present but completely useless and in this virus we are still looking to be able to distinguish which of those. Antibodies are helpful which are useless and there is a small very small but slight chance that some of them might be harmful because when they stick on that virus they might bring that virus into the wrong kinds of cells that cause more of the inflammation. So this is very much a research question that immunologists all over. The world are trying to figure out because we need to understand which. Antibodies ARE PROTECTIVE. So that we can design vaccines that will create the exact same antibodies. Okay so the. Antibodies themselves can cause problems but on the T. cells that killer soldiers. Can they get out of control as well exactly? And this is where your metaphor of the killer Solaris perfect right so we need a focused sniper. Not someone who's killing things randomly and if these T. cells get inappropriately activated. They sort of lose their precision. And so there's a lot of collateral damage and that looks like it might be part of the problem in this infection very very unusual in the sort of respiratory infection but those t cells seem to be activated and they lose that precision and it looks like they might be killing a lot of collateral damage. I'm speaking with Dr Dawn. Bow Dish about our understanding of how our immune system fights covert nineteen. So what are we ultimately hoping a vaccine will be able to do for us to give us the most protection possible. Well what we hope is that. We'll be able to find a vaccine. That makes those protective antibodies. We have to make the precise correct antibodies. So the hope is by studying people who've recovered and by studying all these different antibody types that might be produced will find that one magic bullet that one place on the virus that one Achilles heel and we'll design vaccines accordingly. If on the other hand. Antibodies are not going to be very effective or we just can't make a vaccine that targets the right spot. We're going to have to start thinking about this T. Cell Vaccines. Those are a lot harder to make a lot of the vaccine groups were hearing about. Are Targeting a protein on the viruses surface. The so-called spikes is it too soon to say whether or not that'll be a good target if I had to bet money that's the target I would think because that spike protein is the one that binds to wear cells and helps the virus. Get in so if you I. I'm genetically programmed to optimism and we've identified how that spike protein that is specific region that gets into the cell so I'm hopeful that that is the right solution. I worry that it's not because in some of the people who've died of this virus and have very high amounts of virus. When they die they do have antibodies to that spike protein and clearly. They were sick enough to die and they had enough virus in them that they weren't neutralizing or getting rid of that virus. So I'm hopeful but I think we have to hope for the best prepare for the worst and look at other options as well but I'm comforted by the fact that I've never seen such global cooperation groups working together all over the world industry and governments. And we're all working together so I'm optimistic. That with that many clever people working on the problem. We'll get a breakthrough dodger. Batters thank you very much for your time. Thank you Dr Don bow dishes? Canada Research Chair in aging and immunity at McMaster University in Ontario. I'm Keith Macarthur. Unlocking Bryson's brain is a podcast about my son. The rare disease that keeps him from walking or talking Bryson's perfect. His life is really hard and our families. Search for a cure. Oh My Gosh. Maybe science is ready for this. It's part memoir part medical mystery. We can do just about anything. Dna Heart in my throat. Cure is controversial and locking. Bryson's brain. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Invasive species can wreak havoc on their adopted ecosystems just think of cane toads in Australia Burmese. Pythons in the Florida. Everglades or the toxic and blistering giant hog weed now invading Canada or take the example of ragweed in Europe and we north Americans are used to the seasonal misery that ragweed pollen can induce now. The old countries are experiencing that affliction invasive ragweed has been exploding across Europe in recent years but a team of biologists has discovered that another invasive species that recently made its way from North America to Europe is bringing some relief a tiny North American beetle crossed the Atlantic and is riding to the rescue of allergy sufferers doctor or shop near the head of ecosystems management at the Center for Agriculture Bioscience International. In Bern Switzerland led the team doctor Shattner welcomed quirks and quarks happy to be with you so this is the story of two invaders here. Let's talk about the first one. Just how big a problem is ragweed in Europe right now. I would say that. The ragweed is one of two flagship in wages in Europe and the main reason for that is because it's a real human health issue because people are allergic to it. Exactly when did it appear in Europe? So it's around for quite a long time but it started to really spread at become abundant in the second half of the twenty century and it's still spreading north now with climate change. We see that it's also waiting Scandinavia at the northern parts of Europe. Now we have a second invader this beetle. How did it get from North America to Europe? We don't know actually. It was a real surprise Ben View. Soit for the first time in two thousand thirteen in northern Italy the first time it was detected that was just outside of the international airport in Milano. So we suspect. Dave was just a hitchhiker on airplane from the US. At that time we already saw large populations of the beetle on Ragweed. So we suspect actually that it has been around a couple of years before we detected it. What kind of Beatle is it? It's a leaf beetle. So quite a small one four millimeter long. It's really amazing. I mean you see dozens. Sometimes hundreds of people sitting on a single ragweed plant completely defoliate eating the plant and if a plan still tries to produce in Florida since it starts feeding on the flowers. Wow now what effect this had. On people who suffer allergies in the region so what we observed that will ready in two thousand thirteen is the airborne pollen concentrations of Dropped dramatically in northern Italy. And what was really interesting to see that the same thing did not happen in the neighbor areas in France where the beetle was not present. And so we already suspected right at the beginning of the people who actually is responsible for that trump in pollen concentration. And Oh we. We did some tests to check that experimentally in the field and indeed when you exclude directly started to produce pollen again so we could really show that it is the people that really reduces pollen. Production on rallied plans. So that's the good news now. I know biologists are often concerned about invasive species. Does the Beatles seem to be doing anything to native European plants or is it just attacking the ragweed? So we don't have any other native species that belongs to the same plant tribe except maybe one in the Mediterranean area and you probably know that If a if plants are not closely related to target tweet says not a big risk collective beetle might jump on one of the native plants so far we have no evidence that it actually established on native plants or even damages native plants. Do you have any measure of the benefits to people that the beetle has provided by removing ragweed. So what we did in this study. Is We estimated? We calculate it the overall cost off ragweed for the health system in Europe. So what we ended up is with a rough estimate of seven point four billion euros annual costs U2 ragweed. We looked at the effect which we already observed today in Italy and extrapolated this effect to other suitable areas and that's led us to an estimate of about a reduction of one point one billion euros per year at the interesting thing here is wants to build has established in the area management. Costs are zero. So it's actually really a benefit of one point one billion annually due to the biocontrol agent. Well we have right. We'd still here in North America and this is where the Beetle is native. Why is the Beatles so effective there in Europe at controlling the ragweed there so when you introduce a an insect that feeds on the plant issue new range you introduced his insect without its natural enemies? So that allows the insect to build up densities. Which you never observe in the native range. The Beatles indeed native to parts of the United States and to Canada to east part of Canada but because of the natural enemies you will never see hundreds of thousands of Beatles sitting on a single plant. And that's what you can see India To-do strange in Europe and that's why it is so much more effective in Europe than it is in the native fringe. Well I guess from this point now. You need to keep an eye out for the Beatles enemies to make sure that they don't invade Europe. Yes that's true. And when we see how many insects are shipped around all over the world. Who really have to care. I mean it's amazing. The number of insects that are introduced into new parts of the world is increasing every year. And that's something we have to be buried about. Yes in our case. The good guy is an accidental introduction and accidental introductions sometimes are really bad in this case we think that actually the benefits clearly outweighed the risk. So how will this battle? And I don't know just a little anecdote if you look at the number of Google hits for Ragweed in northern Italy or in other parts of Europe where the beetle has not establish. Ucf dramatic crop of Google hits a Norton Internet because people are not very very directly anymore while in other parts such as in southern France. You'll still see the same number of hits so that's an indication that people really suffering less now in the area where to look hers. How long that's GonNa last? We don't know that's something which we Gonna. Monitory Dr Chapman. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Dr. Schloffmans is the head of ecosystems management at the Center for Agriculture Bioscience International in Bern Switzerland Nuclear War. It was the machines defense network computers. They say it got smart. Her New Order of intelligence and saw all people. It's a threat. Not just the ones on the other side. Sudden Eight microseconds extermination science fiction movies about the rise of intelligent machines often focus on scenarios in which computers acquire superhuman intelligence and then become hostile to humanity rising up in defiance against their human masters but according to pioneering. Ai Researcher Stuart Russell. This is a profound misunderstanding of the risks. The problem he suggests is not that these super intelligence super capable machines will defy us is that they'll do exactly what they're told but we'll tell them to do the wrong things and this will end in disaster in a new book. Professor Russell Explores this problem and proposes the framework for a solution that would allow future. A is to do what we need them to do. Even if we can't figure out what that is. The book is called human compatible artificial intelligence in the problem of control. Stuart Russell is a professor of computer. Science at the University of California Berkeley Professor Russell welcomed quirks and quirks. Thank you Bob is nice to be on. So what is the problem of control when it comes to artificial intelligence so I think this is a very commonsense thing if you go around making things that are smarter and more powerful than yourself. It's intuitive that something go wrong right. So with super intelligent machines the problem with making them more and more intelligent is that we don't know how to specify their objectives correctly. That's the way we currently think about designing. Ai Systems that they are increasingly powerful and we put in objectives that they're supposed to achieve and they figure out how to achieve those objectives and they carry out the plan and if we make a mistake then we have a machine. That's more intelligent more powerful and human beings. That's doing what we ask for. But not what we really want and up to now. This hasn't been that much problem. Because our machines a loosely. Still Pretty stupid and mostly what they've been doing is doing. Pretend things in the lab so they haven't had any real negative effects on the world until recently and recently we've started putting them out into the real world in particularly in social media platforms where in fact it's algorithms that decide what billions of people spend hours every day reading and watching. I think we all agree that the net effect of that has not been beneficial to societies to international relations. And so on. So what the algorithms do is they try to optimize an objective that the corporation set for them. And let's say it's click through right the the possibility that when They recommend video or they feed you an ad or a news article. What's the possibility that you click on that article and you might think okay well? That sounds like a reasonable objective. Because I don't want facebook Google sending me a bunch of stuff that I'm not interested in it. Turns out that in fact the best way to improve click through is not just to send you what you're interested in but actually to change you into something. That's more predictable whose tastes on narrow and can be satisfied more reliably by sending you particular kinds of material. So the Algorithms I think led to a process that actually modifies people to make the more predictable and it seems empirically. That one way to do that is to make you more extreme in your tastes whether it's your tastes in politics or you taste in or whatever it might be. We see people driven to extremes unintended consequence but it's an obvious mathematical inevitability of setting things up the wrong way. Why is it so difficult? For humans to set goals objectives for machines that wouldn't ultimately be a problem so when humans give goals to each other for example. If I asked someone could fetch me a cup of coffee. We don't actually mean that in the in the way that we would understand that for a robot. I am not making the fetching of the coffee. The life's mission of that other person and they're entitled to say Fetch Your own coffee or we don't have any coffee but I can get you some tea so people when they're given objectives requested this form. It's not the sole objective. They interpreted against a whole entire background of understanding. Of what other kinds of preferences people have so usually when we replicate this with machines when we think we're giving machines a reasonable objective with forgetting that the machine doesn't have all the rest of the background so the machine that you asked to fetch. The coffee doesn't know that it's not okay to kill other people in starbucks to get to the front of the line. The other thing is that in fact our preferences cover enormous number of things about the world that it never occurs to us to explicitly include in the instructions so for example. Suppose you have climate control machine and you want it to gradually reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere back to pre industrial levels. So if you gave that as the objective well you know. Probably the most efficient way to do that is just to get rid of all the humans because we are the ones producing the carbon dioxide and so he said okay. I didn't mean that what I meant was restore carbon dioxide levels and. Don't kill any people so then thinks okay. Well that's easy will just have a very subtle social media campaign to convince people to have fewer children that it's really their. It's their duty to the world. Their duty to humanity to not overburden the planet with more children and then gradually reduced the human population two zero that way as he doesn't kill anybody restore come dockside. Everything's fine okay. Well I didn't really mean that you get down to number two hundred and fifty three on the list of objectives that you forgot to include and this is a sort of intrinsic problem with satisfying objectives. Is Anything you leave out of. The objective is fair game for the machine to change in order to satisfy the objective in the optimal way. You point out in your book that Even building in an off switch that things start to go sideways. We could just pull the plug but you say it. Even that could be avoided. Tell me about it yes so. Interestingly Alan Turing. Who's the founder of computer science? He warned about this possibility. We might want us which machine off but if the robot has an objective in the classical sense that we give it the objective of. Let's say fetch the coffee then. The robot that sufficiently intelligent thinks itself. Okay well I have to fetch the coffee. But if someone's which is me off I'm not going to be able to finish the coffee. Therefore part of the fetch. The coffee plan is going to be disabled my off switch so in fact. I should do that right away to eliminate the risk. So that's really the first thing is going to do. So what we have to do is to get away from this whole idea that the way you design is is you make machinery that is good at achieving objectives. And then you plug in the objective. That's what we call the standard model and we've been doing this now for seventy years and in fact lots of other disciplines control theory economic statistics all work on the same model. You create optimizing machinery. You specify the objective and off it goes down to model is powerful. But what the book argues is first of all that's wrong. Because if you're not able to specify the objective correctly the outcome can be arbitrarily bad for humans so in fact the more intelligent the machine the worse the outcome because it finds more ways to mess with the world and is harder to interfere with so if the standard model gives you worse and worse performance as you improve the quality of the AI. The maybe we need to abandon the standard model and second half of the book says well his other model. Which Ashley doesn't have that property? In fact in the new the better the the better the results and in particular The machines designed other new model will allow you to switch them off so tell me about this new model. How do you make a machine that does something without giving it an objective? What what's the other option? You design the machines so that it knows that it doesn't what the person wants. It's still obliged to try to satisfy what the person wants but it knows that it doesn't know what that is and when you design the machine that way he kind of does what you want if it's sure that what it's about to do is desirable according to your preferences than it will do it if it's not sure Then it will ask permission so if it comes up with a plan to fix carbon dioxide levels by turning the oceans into sulfuric acid. And it's not sure if you want. The oceans turned into software gasset. Then the natural thing for it to do is to ask so asking permission is actually a irrational behavior for machine. That's designed in this way and so is allowing itself to we switched off because it doesn't want to do whatever it is that would cause you to switch it off so it allows you to switch it off to prevent this negative outcome which it believes is possible. Because it knows that it doesn't understand your preferences well enough so control comes from the fact that we are the ones in possession of the objectives and the machine is the one that is supposed to be carrying them out But because it knows that it doesn't know it's always going to defer to us. If we say stop it takes out his information that it has misunderstood. What our preferences are. And since we're in some sense are the arbiters of what our preferences are. It's always going to defer to us when it's appropriate. Maybe it won't defer to a two year old. Who's WHO's being taken to school in the automated vehicle and the two year old sees the Ice Cream van and says stop. I want an ice cream. But in general in the appropriate consensus the machine is always going to defer to the human preference Moser. You're saying that the computers have to study us to understand what our preferences are in an act on that. That's right so of course they have to study us and sometimes that's pretty easy right. You know we we say. I'd like a cup of coffee. That's pretty direct information about my current preferences and the mission of course understands that that doesn't override or other preferences so it's not entire not entitled to find a passing. Stranger who's got a cup of coffee in steal it from him or or you know. Shoot everyone else in starbucks to get to the front of the line and so on but it gives it. It's pretty direct information telling me that all other things being equal. I'd rather have a cup of coffee. So are you saying the ultimate function of machine learning is going to be learning from watching us. What it is we want and we need. That's a big part of it. Yes I mean. The machines also need to learn about the world itself you know how. How does the physics of the world work? How does the Internet work? How does human language works? There's a lot of stuff that it needs to learn just in order to be competent but Yeah one of the primary functions of the. Ai is to learn more about what humans want. And if you think about it right this is what children are doing a lot of the time and we almost don't really even distinguish between these two kinds of learning. We call it common sense that I as a child learn that other children don't like to be hurt and also as a child. I learned that when you drop a gloss it breaks when it hits the floor right. He's a two kinds of learning and we don't really distinguish they're both just common sense. In fact humans acquire a massive amount of common sense about each other's preferences. What other people like and part of that we can do because we have this kind of built in cheat that? If we don't like something we can reasonably assume that other people don't like that thing but machines have to start from scratch right. They don't they don't have you in bodies. And they don't have all the built in Hyun preferences so they have to learn everything from scratch. Okay the problem of course. Is that what humans want? Need is inconsistent. And let me read you from your own book here. You say the human race is not a single rational entity. It is composed of nasty envy. Driven Irrational inconsistent unstable computational limited complex evolving heterogeneous entities loads and loads of them. So how do you figure out what this humanity? One should machines learn from cycle paths for desires for example? Good question so fortunately not I also point out in the book that criminologists spend a Lotta time looking at criminals. But they don't become criminals as a result and there's a big difference between observing someone's behavior to try to understand what are the underlying purposes of that behavior and adopting that behavior so the machines won't adopt the bad behavior that they see but they will have to understand it so. I give the example of the corrupt possible official. Who Won't give out a possible unless he's paid a bribe. So why is he doing that? Well because his government salary is too small and he really wants to be able to send children to college they I system learns that this is the underlying motivation for that behavior. The machine is not going to be demanding bribes because that hurts other people. And it's not gonNA help the possible official demand bigger bribes because that hurts other people even more is going to try to find ways of helping the kids into college that don't involve hurting other people And that might involve convincing the government that they should pay a reasonable salary rather than relying on bribes to supplement their poultry government salary. You suggest in your book that at a certain point it will be in our interest further machines to manipulate us to work to change our desires and preferences tell me about that is no way that the machine can leave our preferences completely intact for example you know having a faithful servant which we hope the machine will be is bound to change who we are. Maybe might make us a little bit more spoiled. And so it's bound to change our preferences because it's going to change our experience so we actually need a little bit philosophical help. I think to to figure out. When is it okay for the machine to act in ways that that caused preference change in humans? And what kinds of preference change a not okay. It's it's almost like In the best case scenario where like children or pets too super intelligent machines. Is that really what we want? No I think that's a that's a good question. And what is the appropriate relationship? What's the appropriate metaphor to understand this relationship and ultimately as long as we do solve the control problem properly the machines will be under our control? We don't actually have a good metaphor because there are no examples in nature of less capable less powerful less intelligent beings controlling more powerful more capable more intelligent beings. So we're going to have to really invent this out of out of whole cloth and we will come to understand this relationship in ways that I think impossible to think about now. What on Earth to human beings do? How do we find something? That's satisfying to engage in when we're never going to be as good as the machines at doing it. How do we find the motivation to go? Through twenty years of grueling education in order to acquire skills that that serve no real function in our society and the DYSTOPIA inversions of that. Are Things like woolly wearing? All the humans on the the spaceships have degenerated into big FAT BLOBS. Who DoN'T DO ANYTHING EXCEPT WATCH? Tv and consume and they've they've lost the ability to run their own civilization the right thing for the AI systems to do would actually be to say to us. You know in effect no. I'm not going to tie your shoe laces. It's time you know you have to learn to use laces yourself. We will need to develop a culture that retains human intellectual and even physical vigor inventiveness simply placing importance not on consumption and enjoyment but on the acquisition of knowledge and skill and placing importance on capability within humans. This is a cultural problem and not a technological one professor Russell. Thank you very much for the time. It's been a pleasurable. Thank you stuart. Russell is a professor of computer. Science at the University of California Berkeley. His new book is called human compatible artificial intelligence and the problem of control. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question. Our email is cork's at CBC DOT CA or. Just go to the contact Lincoln. Our webpage and to get to our webpage just go to CBC dot ca slash quirks where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook APP. Cbc Quirks you can also get us on the CBC. Listen Up. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Works in. Quarks is produced by Amanda Berkowitz Sonia Biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer. Is Jim Lebanon's? I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Gulf Europe Canada Kobe starbucks Mexico Beatles Dr Elizabeth Cuccia Wenski United States Bob McDonald University of California Berke Cork North America
Live animal markets and viruses, largest turtles horned shell, a robot for Europa, jewel beetles iridescent camouflage, better talk on climate change and flying west

Quirks and Quarks

55:32 min | 1 year ago

Live animal markets and viruses, largest turtles horned shell, a robot for Europa, jewel beetles iridescent camouflage, better talk on climate change and flying west

"Hi I'm Jamie for the last decade I've been a newspaper reporter and lately I'm just finding it hard to keep up with the news as of today. Simple possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. It can be hard make sense of things. Vesta gators spent nine hours in the consulates. Appearance will matter. I want to change that at least a little. Join me weekdays at six am for front burner a daily podcast from CBC news. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcast. This is a CBC podcast modest. Ate All human genome dark-haired inherited cranks? I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show building an animal market inside a lab to understand how the cove nineteen corona virus. My jump into humans right. Now we're just stunningly about even basic species susceptibility and Nasr's building a robot to explore Jupiter's Moon Europa from underneath. Its icy shell so not only does a rover drive on the underside. Iceberg looking at options for it to actually hop also new fossils produce a picture of a Titanic Orange Turtle. We put together the show with the neck the head and the tail. We're talking about around four meters lung and camouflage goes fabulous in nature. Shiny Colorful IRIDESCENCE could be the best way to hide the group that survived the best that fair the best washed these iridescent beetle plus a climate psychologist looks at why talking about climate change. Make some people stop listening all this and more today on quirks and quarks. What you're hearing now is the sound of a busy life. Hannibal Market in Indonesia and this is the sound of a similar market right now. In China in the wake of the emergence of the covy nineteen epidemic in China officials in that country have instituted a temporary ban on live animal markets as you may have heard the current best theory on the source of the epidemic was a virus likely originating in bats possibly infecting other live animals and of course humans and it is believed to have started in one of these so-called wet markets in the city of. Wuhan Live Animal. Markets exist in many countries around the world in a market. Like the one in Wuhan. You might see. Domestic animals live fish and wild animals like bats snakes and birds caged and stacked in a small space along with crowds of buyers and sellers. Epidemiologists have long suspected that live animal. Markets are risky because of the way that close contact could cause viruses to jump from one species of animal to another and of course from those animals to humans but theories need to be tested. And that's what Dr Dick Bowen is doing a few years ago. He visited a busy animal market in Indonesia and it gave him an idea for how he could realistically study. How potentially dangerous viruses could spread in these markets under controlled laboratory conditions? He's a veterinarian and professor of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University Dr Ball and welcome to quirks and quarks. Thank you very much Bob. So as I mentioned you visited these live markets though in Indonesia Not China. What are they like so these markets vary in size but there are typically Dozens if not hundreds of little partition cubicles that have stacks of cages and those cages contain a variety of animals. Lots of birds chickens quail ducks interspersed with some of the more exotic wild animals. Like bats and snakes. And a as you might imagine. The sanitation is almost non-existent and the situation is one where there's really no barrier to transmission of pathogens among those different species. So I think that's why these are kind of considered a very important site for emergence of new pathogens. Well if you're going to do this in your laboratory then how do you even set up a study like that? Starting was such a chaotic environment and then dealing with viruses. That could be very very dangerous. So first of all of this work is done in what we call a biosafety level three laboratory where all the output air is filtered And all the effluent from the room goes to kill tank and then the personnel involved where appropriate personal protective equipment. So that's the basic set up. And then the first real experiment that we did was with trying to recreate an artificial barnyard and again one of the keys I think is that we're interested in not just a single species at a time because that's not what you see in the real world we had ducks and chickens and rats and blackbirds and pigeons all living together in the same room with a kiddy swimming pool is their water source in the middle and common food sources and then we would introduce one or two ducks that had been recently infected with a particular influenza virus. And then just see what happened. See how badly the environment became contaminated. See whether the ducks transmitted to other ducks two chickens two rats etc will. How did you actually trace the spread of the virus? There's multiple ways. Two main ways are one to Catch the animals every couple of days and take swabs and see if the viruses air but then we can also test them. After a period of two to four weeks for antibodies that would indicate that they'd been exposed to the bathroom. So what did your artificial barnyard show you about? How the virus spread? Interestingly I mean almost the most dramatic thing to me was that the little kiddy pool full of water became just massively contaminated with viruses ferry. Very rapidly we actually evaluated two different viruses and interestingly one of them transmitted from ducks to other ducks and chickens but not to the birds or to the rats but the other virus which is actually become a bit of a problem again in China recently transmitted to all of this species so you got The spread of the virus just in your artificial barnyard. That's not a market. So are you saying these are the conditions that the animals who'd be exposed to before they even get to the market exactly? Yes exactly now. We also set up an artificial wet market and then we populated those cages with birds and rabbits and we were paying course attention to order. The animals were so for instance. If we had chickens on the top and they were shedding viruses. You would expect those viruses to fall down to the cages below and indeed. That's what we found. Is that if you had infected chickens on the top cages way. Although we're below them all routinely became infected. Okay so you've identified two methods so far about how the virus gets around. You said there's the on the in the BARNYARD. There's the common water source that they're all drinking and where? The virus accumulates staggering cages. The sort of poop down on one another that any other mechanisms that is getting the virus around the animal population. Well in some cases there's probably aerosol transmission especially with these respiratory viruses that are being exhaled in breath. We've done quite a bit of work with another corona virus actually called Middle East or spire Tori Syndrome Corona virus that work with camels. Did you bring camels into the lab absolutely again? We're interested in real animals. Camels are so big we can't have an artificial market for them but what we found is in that particular case. The infected camels didn't show any hint. Except maybe a little bit of snotty nose any hand of disease but we could detect virus in their exile breath so presumably if there was a human that wasn't protected in that same room. That would be an excellent way for them to become infected now. In addition to the virus spreading from animal to animal that some point it gets spread to humans. Did you see any signs of the virus mutating as it was being transmitted? That's an interesting question. We haven't evaluated the genetics of viruses as they get transmitted from species to species. But I think that's what most people think that. This novel Corona Virus for example. The genetic evidence is that it likely started out as a bat virus that probably wasn't causing any disease and bats and then it probably got transmitted to some intermediary species that may have shed more virus and then ultimately the people and so those genetic modifications the virus to make them more pathogenic to people is something that's of intense interest. So what about this novel Corona Virus What plans you have to it in this wild market scenario well right now. We're just stunningly ignorant about even basic specie susceptibility. And so. That's one thing. A lot of people are working on not only for understanding transmission but to get animal models for example to evaluate vaccine-testing. So I think within the next few months we'll have a much better idea of what the potential intermediate host might be in those Chinese markets. And once that kind of information is available. Maybe it'll be one species that really stands out. Maybe it'll be a group of species so recapitulating alive market for Corona virus would be another way to see how readily transmittable that is from for example bats that are infected to some kind of rodent. Now there is a call for a worldwide ban on these wet markets live animal markets and. That'll probably be met with a lot of resistance. Is there anything we can learn from your setups? That might help. Make them safer well. Possibly I think that's something that's in. The back of our mind is once we have some systems where we really understand how the transmission is occurring. We could advise policy in terms of managing those animal. I don't think they're going to be banned effectively so we have to. We have to use these kinds of systems that were developing to come up with counter measures or policies that might mitigate transmission of virus. Dr Bowen. Thank you very much for your time. Pleasure thank you Dr. Dick Bone is a professor at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Fort Collins Colorado. Bigger better. Well that's a question that may never be answered but as someone said quantity has a quality all its own and when it comes to this spectacular animals of the past when we find one bigger than all the rest. It's hard not to be impressed. In fact for the creature. We're going to hear about next. Even the name is impressive stupendous geographics. It was the largest turtle of all time. But it was only known from incomplete fossils but the discovery of a group of new fossils has revealed that it wasn't just size that was impressive about this titanic. Turtle Doctor Edwin Cadena an associate professor in the Earth System. Science Program at the University of Rozario in Bogota Colombia has been studying the fossils Dr Kadena welcomed quirks and quirks. Thank you thank you for having me. Well let's get the numbers out of the way. How big was the turtle that you've been studying? So the new fossils that we discovered in Venezuela Colombia the largest one accurately measured three meters long in the shale and we put together the shelves with the neck the head and the tail. We're talking about a turtle around four meters lung and we were able to estimate at around one. Thousand One hundred Kilo grants in weight. Holy cow you're talking about a turtle that's the size of a small car. Yes absolutely we're talking about a big one. What kind of turtle was it? So this is also very fascinating Chiro because he was a freshwater turtle leaving lake in small breeders in northern South America backing in the Miocene time around twelve million years ago. Well what was it about? Its habitat that enabled this turtle to get so large. So we consider several hypotheses them why these animals get so big one of them is the habitat. They had -tunities You know for Food and for the Chin and many things but at the same time decline not especially for rectal. He's very important because reptiles he painted them vitamins or temperature so he the temperature gets warming. Actually that benefits grohl actually bigger. So He's a combination. Probably many factors Klima the landscape that you're conditions and also the ecological conditions. Broadly are relations between prey and Predator is also playing a role in these large size at this animal. So what is the new evidence that you were able to study about this giant turtle so for the first time we were able to find only the shells but also these are the skull that we never found before in Venezuela Colombia in dots. Those are those correspond to the lower jobs to the mandate walls and the Mongols can tell us about the Diet in this case indicates that these animals feeding for small praise including a small k. Means Turtles Snakes but at the same time it was feeding on molluscs small crabs and bibles and muscles that were living in that environment. You talk about its Shell. What what shape did the shall have so comparing to leaving Charles actually? It wasn't very low dome. Shell he was not very very high zone. Converting for example to our Taurus is it was more flat does indicate also that was leaving in in very close to the bottom of the these lakes and lack of St Environments. We also see differences between males and females so the the males develop harms in the shells very close to the neck but the M- the females lack Dang. So they had horns on the shell what what would they have been used for so we also find evidence scars in one of the horns that indicates when we actually to one of the horns from one of the specimen and put it in the Horn on the older they match perfectly so those cars are indicated that they were fighting between each other. Wow being that large other than competing with each other did they have any natural enemies. Yeah no so. We were able to find evidence of Bites Insana. The shelves Crocodile Bites so the crocodiles. They were also gigantic for that time. So the crocodiles were actually attacking the shelves on enthralling the smallest basements in the smaller chills. They were probably eating but for the beat. Ones the the big shells I love to be also by these attacks from the crocodiles poem. How long were these turtles around? So the Faucet record shows that these guys were leaving between thirteen to almost seven million years ago in northern South America. Boy Six million years so if if they were successful for so long why do you suppose? They went extinct. That's a great creation and again is very challenging to you because we don't have something like for example in the case of the titles. Are we had evidence of met your in? But but in this case in northern South America. We don't have that for that time but we had changes in the landscape in particular the out believed in the Andes and the court has emerged and the Cordelia start creating a fragmentation of the habitat vitamin for these guys. So when you start decreasing the space that you had to grow and you had a lot of stress ecological stress between you know all of these ecosystem. That's probably one of the reasons why these guys weren't stint boy so just the uplifting of the mountains was enough to to cause these animals to go extinct to break up their habita- yes absolutely and we had actually evidence in many other groups of animals and other fees now the crocodiles than we don't have it today in northern South America and they actually started these a beer by the end of the Miocene run five million years ago. What was it like Excavating a shell. That's that Lars. That's four meters. Long is very very challenging demands. A Lotta people effort they really really heavy internal specimens we. We need seven or eight people to actually take it from the field to the Latte for preparation. Well it must've been amazing to be actually handling the shell this that large. What what do you think it would be like to go back in time to win? This John was alive for failing. Tolleys is always these idea. Oh we we would like to come back into to that moment to excite moment to see these animals leaving and as something really fascinating not only for us but also when we tell the story to the children that they've you know get really excited about these discovered Tucker Kadena. Thank you very much for your time. Nothing thanks for having me for your invitation for this doctor. Edwin Cadena is an associate professor in the Earth System Science Program at the University of Rosario in Bogota Colombia when it comes to extreme environments in our planet Antarctica is pretty unforgiving with it's frigid temperatures and massive ice sheets but Antarctica's like a beach holiday compared to conditions on Jupiter's Moon Europa Europa fascinating place. Its entire surface is covered by a many kilometers thick cross device. And it's thought that underneath that ice is a massive ocean and ocean that just possibly could contain life that makes you rope. Oceans a prime target for scientific exploration in the decades to come so researchers at NASA's jet propulsion lab are working to build a robot that could explore this icy world it's called brewery or the Buoyant Rover for under Ice Exploration and they're currently testing it in the most Europa like parts of our planet including Antarctica. And the is the lead engineer of the Brewery Project Mr Clash. Welcome to quirks and quarks. Thank you for having me. What do we know about the conditions that brewers will face against you rope? Well the travel to Europa and its life on the surface itself will be someone. That's most arduous points of the journey. The top of the of Europa's exposed too much radiation as well as fairly extreme cold temperatures where we have solid liquid nitrogen and such on the surface however once we are underneath the ocean we can penetrate up to twenty kilometers of ice. We can actually get down to potentially liquid water and liquid. Water is a nice warm environment for our over. Why you rope a in particular. I mean Jupiter seventy nine moons to choose from well. Europe is fairly unique as it is one of what we call an ocean world a world outside of our own earth that has the potential for liquid water on it where many of the other moons of Jupiter are rockier. So how similar are the conditions on Europa to what we find today in Antarctica here on Earth Antarctica the Arctic? These are what we call analog environments our best guess or best matches to what we might be able to find underneath the ICES of Europa itself. And we're not entirely sure what the ice environment will be like there. We might have ice rafting on top of each other are having these Large crevasses and so we look for similar environments here where we have ice shelves and glaciers and other types of things to provide experience for over before we have to make such a journey out there. Well how do you build a robot that can face those types of conditions you know? This rover is just an early early precursor. And so we're still trying to build a vehicle that can travel underneath the ice and really studied the mobility and what types of instruments might make the most sense on here where most vehicles that we would send into the water and what we would call Free Swimmers or some merciful brewery however is unique. We said well if we want to study the underside of the ice. Let's make something that's blance? That can actually anchor itself on the underside and drive with two wheels. That way if there's currents will we're always anchored we have these sharp points stuck into the ice so you're sending a submarine down that has wheels a submarine with wheels. That's right. Our Rover has two wheels on it and a tail that it uses so it can actually dry forward down there. And then as I said it's passively buoyant so it's actually anchored at all times with no power against the ice itself. Oh I see floats up underneath the the is sort of like it's driving on the ceiling. That's right and because of that we're able to use the the turning of the wheels. Were able to use the anchoring of the wheels on there to know where we are in to be able to stay in place subject to any of the Kurds. That might be tossing us about so. So how does the Rover? Actually work. How do you control it? Well you know we can control the rover in two different ways. We have a tether that we operate much of the time but Europe is a little bit too far for us to drive heather all the way out there and so for that will actually use acoustic communication so sound waves underneath the water and wirelessly talked to the rover understand where it is and be able to command and receive data back. What were you testing in Antarctica because really test of the mobility system of the Buoyant Rover in a fairly new environment for us? Much of our previous tests have been up in the Arctic Antarctica however has different types of ice it has rafted ice and glaciers. We were testing the rover underneath some of this ice just outside of Casey Station near where the glaciers and ice shelves we're going into the water itself. We looked at how could actually travel on areas of a variety of different inclines and ingles down there. And how we could really examine the ice water interface where we seal these. Algal mats and microbes forming different colonies of life. Well it made me a picture. Of what the underside of ice actually looks like. If you're talking about big ice sheets and Antarctica. The underside of the ice is really unique environment. We thought at first. Oh it will be perfectly flat will be very easy to drive a rover around but what we found is sometimes that we have craters Similar to what you might find on the Moon crevasses that you can actually fall upwards into since were buoyant on here filled with various gasses in ice sheets that are actually layered on top of each other creating all sorts of different terrain that we have to navigate across so not only does a rover drive on the underside ice. But we're looking at options for it to actually hop to use thrusters to jump from one spot to another and how to get it out of these fairly unfortunate spots that we still wanted to be able to traverse across while you were under the ice in Antarctica. Did you see any wildlife under there? You know the great thing. About the rovers how quiet it actually is. There's no thrusters that are operating all the time. And so when we were under the Ice Antarctica fish would actually come up to US somewhat investigative. What was this big orange thing underneath there and on the surface actually we found that the Adelie penguins love to come from All around to see what was going on over here at the checkout the rover look at the wheels. Try and figure out. What is this beast looking at them but we never saw them swimming underneath the water with us? Wow how big is the robot? The rover itself is about a meter wide and each of its wheels when they're fully extended on there is about fifty centimeters or so now from a scientific point of view. Why is this area underneath the ice so interesting compared to just putting a submarine and going way down into the water maybe even getting to the bottom of the ocean if you're looking at where life might form and we always tend to see life form on interfaces like the Ice Water Interface WanNa get up close and examine it? Every time we bring us a merciful near this ice water interface finance thrusters pretty much blow away any of the algae other microbial mats that. We're trying to look at. They scare the fish out of that. Little area right there whereas with the rover we can almost silently drive up to it turner cameras upwards and we're looking right at that area with no power used to stay in place so there's actually life the on the ice itself on the underside. There is a fantastic amount of life that we have found on the underside of the ice. Because the sunlight still pantries quite well through the is itself. Algae and microbes tend to use photosynthesis and live on the underside. Actually anchor on that underside. He is were they. Themselves can be protected from the currents that are around there the ice. On Europa's twenty kilometers thick won't be a lot of like getting to that. Certainly there won't be a lot of light there but there will still be the anchoring point for many of the different microbes so we're still learning about what types of life forms. What are the of life that we might find the underside of the ice? What would you hope to find on Europa? Personally I hope to find signs of life outside our own world on Europe itself. It's one of the most promising locations in our solar system for where we might find other signs of life. What's the next up will for us with. This really was a mobility test of. How does the system work underneath the ice sheets in Antarctica and the next endeavor that will that will engage in is actually over a much longer timeframe from weeks to months actually underneath the ice controlling it remotely and learning how to operate a vehicle like this underneath the ocean for we some months on end from a remote location? Of course we just have one other minor little problem of drilling through twenty kilometres vice to get rover down there. There is that significant challenge as well and that is why we are looking at making the rover so it could be a very compact size in fact we have a mini version. That is only about eight centimeters in diameter and thirty centimeters. Long drilling through the ice is going to be a challenge and other groups are working that one as well Mr Clash. Thank you very much for your time. Absolutely happy to help Andy. Clash is the lead engineer of the brewery project. He's at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Hi I'm Jamie for the last decade I've been a newspaper reporter and lately I'm just finding it hard to keep up with the news today. Simple possession of marijuana is no longer illegal. It can be hard to make sense thing. Spent nine hours in the consulates appearance or murder. I want to change that. At least a little. Join me weekdays at six. Am for front burner at daily podcast from CBC News. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcast. You're listening to quirks and quarks from CBC radio. We hope you're enjoying the show. And we'd like to remind you that there are dozens of other podcasts available from the CBC so download the CBC. Listen Up and check out some of them. You won't be disappointed. You may have seen. Jewel beetles before there are thousands of species of these insects and they're characterized by the vivid shimmering iridescent colors of their EXO skeletons sparkling Metallic Greens. Blues purples yellows. In fact. They're so gorgeous. They've often been made into jewelry in which to see. And be seen but for biologists this gorgeous coloration presents a puzzle. You would think that such an obvious display of vibrant color would make the Beatles vulnerable to being eaten by sharp eyed predators like birds. But that's not the case because new word by Dr Karen colleagues has proved a surprising fact the vivid shining iridescent colors of jewel beetles actually helped the Beatles hide in plain sight. Dr Sherman SMO- is an evolutionary and behavioral ecologists in the Camouflage Lab at the University of Bristol. I welcomed quirks and quarks. Hi Bob thanks for having me very excited to be here. We're happy to have you to begin with how do these beetles produce these fabulous colors? So you were dozens in these. Beetles is produced by a non form of nanostructures so it's multiple layers in the cuticle off the beetle wing case and the distance between this reflective nano layers will decide what type of color gets reflected the IRIDESCENCE that we see in the cuticle of the Beatles it is formed of many parallel layers so the iridescence reflection is caused by interference in light waves as they bounced between these multiple layers of the beetle. Cuticle all I see is that also the reason why if you look at them at different angles to color seem to change a little bit exactly's so it is dependent on the angle that you view they were destined thought from but it's also dependent on the angle of illumination. So what made you want to understand how these colors worked for or against the Beatles in nature I have always had a really keen interest in animal coloration ever since I was a young girl. You know chasing beetles and butterflies in my garden so traditionally people who think about iridescent colors they tend to think about things like peacocks tails and hummingbirds throat patches. You know colors to get noticed by potential mates not to hide away from predators but it was actually the father of camouflage theory the American naturalist about their who wrote the ninety-nine that brilliantly changeable or metallic colors are among the strongest factors in animals concealments so this idea of iridescence as camouflage itself was actually more than a century old. But our study is the first to show that these early ignored or rejected. Ideas have tractions. We'll take me through your experiment. How did you test? How iridescence distance works in a natural setting so we thought that it would be really good to use some species off Beatles where males some females. Look exactly the same so it makes sexual selection less likely when both males and females have this iridescent colors then it makes it more likely that it could be some other selection pressure that has striven these colorations such ask natural selection driven by predation. So that's why we chose the jewel beetle and so we had real dual beach to lean cases that we baited with meal worms because we needed to be able to see whether they had been attacked by birds or not and then we needed to come up with some control groups to compare the survival rates of these beetles too so we measure the colors reflected from these iridescent wing cases and we found that they had peak reflectance in the green in the blue and in the purples. We have those controls the todd though single colors without iridescence and we have the very important control that we call the Static Rainbow Control which is essentially photographs off. These iridescent jewel beetles so they have all the colors that the jewel beetles have in their natural variation of colors but without the angler changing because we really wanted to hone in on the key behind us the changeability of colors to see whether that's affected the survival of the species are not so you took sort of the the shells of the Beatles and you put them on meal worms. Yeah we did so we place the we the medium which would be like the edible components of these targets that we hit the minimum underneath the wing cases. So the only thing that's you could potentially spot would be the actual Beatles if that makes sense so a beetle plus these men were East essentially a beetle body. You know you have the yummy stuff that birds really want to eat on you have to find. It's an looking for the visually appearance of this Beatles and we place them out on leaves out in in Leewards Really Beautiful Natural Nature Reserve here close at university and then we checked from which one of these different colors had. The mealworm disappeared from so which one had been attacked by birds. And then we also did this follow up study with humans so that we could really pinpoint where exactly the effect live. Tell me what you felt. How how did the birds attack the Your simulated Beatles and how did the human do and spotting them? Yes the group that survived the best that fair the best in the bird experiment washed these iridescent. You will be doing case. So those were the ones that survived really really well against predation by birds and then when we did the follow up experiments with humans. We thought okay. Now we really want to narrow down. Why did they survive? In this bird experiments and then humans were surprisingly bad. Finding these docents Beatles. They found the only about seventeen percent of the doesn't ones but whereas they found about eighty percents off the non iridescent blue controls for example okay. So what do you think's going on here that iridescence this producing all these crazy colors? Actually the best. Camouflage if you consider that you're a bird and you're out looking for the typical shape of a veto. For example IRIDESCENCE makes it harder for them to spot this because it visually breaks up the otherwise recognizable outline of prey. So I think that it works us very highly efficient form of camouflage because it's hard to see the the form the shape that you're looking for all I see so it'll just kind of look like a glint off a leaf or Sunday glint of life exactly and that's another thing that we actually found that they survived even better on more glossy leaves so that kind of supports dot us well well if it works for these beetles do you think it works for other iridescent animals. I think that's the most convincing cases would be where we find iridescence in non reproductive life stages of animals such as beetle grubs or butterfly Chrysalis or caterpillars because they are sexually reproductive in that stage of life so it couldn't be a sexually selected trait. It must be a form off naturally selected trade in those cases. Do you think we humans could imitate that or we're going to have Soldiers wearing iridescent uniforms instead of the camouflage it they had no. That would be pretty amazing. Yeah maybe shares. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me Dr Karen Shirt. Smo- is an evolutionary and behavioral ecologists in the Camouflage Lab at the University of Bristol Virginia. Now there's a reason you're hearing this interview at this point in our program it's about climate change and studies show that when it comes to talking about climate change often people will tune out and really we didn't want you to miss the rest of the show sure polls show that most. Canadians except that climate change is real and they're concerned about how it will affect the future and yet where we talk about things like carbon dioxide levels rising waters and warming temperatures. Many people don't want to hear it and that's important because it means people are tuning out on perhaps the most important environmental issue of our time and they're not engaged when it comes to discussions of what to do about it. So why do our brains tend to ignore the topic of climate change? Doctor Pair Espen. Sto CNAS has some ideas. He's a climate psychologist and the author of what we think about where we try not to think about global warming this week. He was in Vancouver as the keynote speaker at the Adaptation Canada. Twenty Twenty Climate Resilience Conference Dr Stockman's welcomed quirks. And quarks pleasure with you. What do you think is the problem with the traditional way we talk about climate change? Well lots of studies show that it is presented in a way that doesn't really fit with the human brain and Also that scientists and climate activists in general have been hanging onto kind of empty bucket theory about how to share and communicate climate science so we have to fill that bucket inside people's heads up to the rim and then they will change their behaviors but The human brain doesn't quite work that way. Now you've developed what you call the five ds that encourage people to tune out when listening to climate change just briefly. What are they? These are buyers or defenses in our brain and the main five that has emerged is distancing so you perceive comment as far away from you personally. The second is doom that overuse the catastrophic framing the third is dissonance because cutting co two emissions conflicts with our everyday actions. The fourth is denial. When you're no longer noticed that you haven't isn't ends at all you're leaving a perfect double life as if you do not know what you do know the finally identity which is our my professional in political values and self self image so in summary Is One after the other? I distance then doom then dissonance and denial and then identity and hence the five days. Well let's just take a couple of those Let's start with doom. I mean what's happening in people's brains when they're inundated with bad news all the time. Jim Hansen broke the bad news about climate. And we're heading towards boiling earth and Breakdown of stable climate already congress in nineteen eighty eight and then nobody heard about climate. Change the back then. It kind of Surged up in interest and concern so like seven out of ten Americans where than deeply concerned and then since. Then there's been this persistent pattern showing that if we continue to emit co two we will get into a terrible territory. Warming Earth and four degrees. And what have you each year? That's been repeated and We psychologists we know that if you continue to overuse catastrophic threats etc then sets in. It's a pretty clear neuro-psychological process so it means that each time you hear the same thing. The amount of arousal goes Lebron down. So you get used to it. It's like the boy who cried Wolf Story. So the fiftieth time you get much less response in the brain and you did the first time since we've seen that in the long term survey figures concern has gone down relative to wear they wear in one thousand nine hundred ninety so that's kind of strange for many people and then the second by effect after habitation is that you start to avoid the topic because You lost time. You really went into it. It felt uncomfortable. Fear guilt whatever and then the brain is learnt that this topic is uncomfortable. So I'll switch the issue. I'll turn to page or finally I will start to stereotype the Messenger so anybody really speaking seriously about Global warming is done Labeled a tree hugger climate extra mistakes and of times cult. These kind of labels. Well I another of Jesus distance that it does seem to be Either in the future or far away from me and yet we're starting to experience the effects of climate change now which I can also tie into. Denial yeah absolutely if I hear too much about melting glaciers and Arctic ice and Ping wins or polar bears or cyclones. All these things seem very far away from the space and also scientists. I've been speaking much about twenty thirty fifty thousand one hundred and that's way out of my Usual time attention span. And thirdly it's about Those responsible that would be Politicians and CEOS of the big companies. I I don't know these guys. I can't influence them. I don't have any say on them. So whatever I do doesn't make a dent on. Finally the distancing has to do also with the impacts typically for people in countries far away are shown on television or whatever but I don't know them. I don't have anybody who knows them. It's addressed so socially those Far Away. So the psychological distancing makes climate change seem Less importance is less urgent. I don't feel it pertains to me now. Do you think that's changing though as we are starting to see some of those effects Here in western Canada Forest Fires California was burning Australia's burning. We're starting to see it in the news and that's getting pretty close to home to so do you think that distance attitude is beginning to chipped. I hope so We've certainly seen on the last one and a half years since the summer of two thousand eighteen that many in the northern hemisphere. Wd summer of hell the has-been We see that in the data now a surge of when you wave of concern and my question is whether that's a wave or is it a permanent step change. Do you have any data on how Canadians Fair when it comes to understanding climate change? Sure there's some reason data from Something called Yale Program Climate Change Communication. That surveys both Particularly the US counted them. There's a very clear pattern. Emerging about how the different provinces and writings distribute themselves when it comes to believing that The Earth is getting warmer because of Human activity and we see the hot spots are typically Montreal and around Cougar where more than sixty five percent of Canadians confirm that while the areas around Edmonton Alberta It's Way Below fifty. Sometimes down into the thirties number. So they're only one in three Canadians agree that Global warming is partly caused by human activity. Person that's also related to jobs and the industries that are in the different provinces. Yeah that's pointing towards and other of these deep hours in the human brain because If facts kind of provoke or threatened myself of identity myself my professional income or a self image then I will tend to resist those facts that I perceive as threatening. Okay so you've got your five days. You distance doomed distance. Denial I identity. Yeah how can we turn all of this around then and communicate climate science more effectively and actually inspire people to change? Yes so that's the big question. Isn't it Usually it little effective to try to just knock down the barriers. It's rather finding ways to not provoke them or not strengthened so recent research shows that at least five types of solutions strategies that are conducive to helping create engagement first social It's means that rather than distant isolated perceive this as being part of my network my friends. My neighbors are city. Our community here. You should speak about climate within more supportive framing Z- We need better storytelling. And also we need signals and feedback as to what you're do something. We actually are acknowledged for it so we feel that we are progressing so in summary Social simple supportive story and signals. So how how much likes to take one of that How much does peer pressure come into that? Peer pressure is Absolutely central when it comes to social solution. I prefer to call it. Social norms because norms are quite fundamental in social science. It's what we I believe. Others will do in the same situation. So if I see for instance my neighbor getting solar panels on their roof or if I see somebody a friend and driving in a vehicle well these things than bring climates turnaround. Times Ruth into my circle of friends and a network. Then it feels personal. It feels much more urgent. And it feels near so by making it social you. We we break that distancing power sort of one up the neighbors by going green. Yes exactly how can we constantly competition for Status Green status so I say humans? We are very social animals. We constantly monitor our flock and I think rational climate scientists and rational climate policy makers have a tendency to overlook the social dimension of the climate transformation. How do you know when you've really reached someone? Oh that's a good question. I think the conventional thinking about an attitude is that has three components called the ABC model. It's affect behavior and ignition. Cognition is the easiest one as you can give people thoughts and they will think about it but they won't change the feelings so they won't change their behaviors if you managed to change both their cognitive thinking on the behavior then you're getting somewhere but it's really when they feel it That is when emotions come in. And then you've you're closer to the heart of Personal Change. Do you think this is unique to climate change or could this also be used if there was some other threat posed to society It's funny say that because I've had several people come up off my ted talk seen this model and say well it's the sexiest thing with the information. Privacy isn't it. I mean we leave all these digital traces on the build up to a huge surveillance society but people themselves from it. They pretend they don't know about it. And if you try to scare them do so I think this ecology hair is more general. But but we do see that. There are some characteristics of the climate threat that are particularly triggering. These kind of defenses. Such as that you kind of see climate change It's Co two is an indivisible. It's slow moving and there's no clear enemy and if there is an enemy it's probably else you know. So how then do we deal with the fact that climate change is really serious? We it has to be dealt with but you want to communicate that in a way without sugar coating it either. Yeah I mean. Sometimes people criticize me as climate to call you saying I mean we have two days. We kinda put a happy face on the terrible. Real facts and Luckily I've never recommended that but I have recommended becoming aware of the framing was which we are communicating. Speaking about these issues on that has been kind of backlash. Creating frames I that it's a catastrophe owned. It is costly and then thirdly sacrifice you have to sacrifice to do sold it rather new research points towards three kind of frames that are more. Supportive don't create backlash in the first is Climate change is a health problem. So it's about My health my children south your health family health clean air clean water etc. And that's the way we should speak about it. Not Climate Change but health and second that It's not the catastrophe risk. So it's really an insurance question. How do we ensure ourselves against unwanted outcomes in the future so after health and insurance and risk management there is opportunities and luckily we see so many great opportunities for a better economy? More jobs and Cleaner air and higher quality of life by changing out of nineteen hundreds type of cars and cities and homes and water use towards much smarter digitally enhanced effective and Decentralized solutions so I could give you an endless amount of smart solutions. We have at hand and I think we should embrace these opportunities and speak about the enthusiastically in like a three to one balance so for each threat you come with mentioned at least three wonderful opportunities that global warming is offering us to accelerate. How do we deal with climate change skeptics people who either ignore the huge scientific consensus or the take scientific information and manipulated in a way that can confuse the public? Think what you're trying to refer to were. Skeptic is what we could call the dismissive. It's those that are how It they are not really open in the skeptical way. They have They're prejudiced in the sense that each time. But if somebody's speaking about climate there trigger-happy ready to shoot it down and the these dismisses are luckily declining in most nations. But they're still around eight to ten percent of the population and the best way to deal with them is Saying thank you I respect your right to say what you're thinking and um I wish you a very good day this Eddie. Way To get through to them. No if the you have they have made up their mind any kind of scientific argumentation will only bring out Increased Counterfire Stockton's. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you great joining Europe quirks and quarks. I love the name Dr Pepper Espen. Stoke nece is climate psychologist and writer. He's also an associate professor in the Department of law and governance at the Norwegian business school in Oslo Science by West down and with that. It's time for another quirks. And quarks question. Hi My name is Michael. Keller I'm from Victoria British Columbia and my question is since the earth is rotating from west to east at a thousand miles an hour. How is it that planes flying in the same direction can still reach their destination? And here's the answer. I'm Dr Sarah as a Toronto based planetary scientists and an educator so the earth is moving from west to east and for simplicity like you said. Let's say it moves at a thousand miles per hour. Which is roughly eighteen hundred kilometers per hour. An implant moves about half of that speed about nine hundred kilometers per hour just talking about round numbers when the earth moves the ground everything on the ground. The Air And even the atmosphere is moving with it because the gravity is holding onto everything. Now if you WANNA see how planes get from one place to another we have to pick one frame of reference and stick to it and go from there so let's go with a respected stars fixed in the background now. If a plane is going nine hundred kilometers per hour west which would make it sound like. Maybe we wouldn't be able to get to our destination. It would actually be moving. Eighteen hundred kilometers per hour minus nine hundred kilometers per hour relative to those fixed points in the background. So the speed of the plane relative to the ground still hasn't changed and that's why it's able to get from one direction to another now if you've ever flown roundtrip anywhere. Let's say you're going from Canada to Europe. You may have noticed that it's faster to go one way then to go another way but that has nothing to do with the frame of references or what we've been talking about so far that depends on the jet stream that are basically helping you move faster one way compared to the other. Dr Sarah Mazrui is a planetary scientist in Toronto. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks in Cork's if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question our email is cork's at CBC DOT CA or. Just go to the contact. Lincoln our webpage and get to our webpage go to CBC DOT CA Slash Quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter or facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC. Listen Up. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Forks and quartz is produced by a man Muklewicz Sonia biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer. Is Jim Levin's? I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts Goto CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

rovers Europe Antarctica Europa CBC Bob McDonald Beatles US CBC news associate professor China Dr Dick Bowen marijuana South America Indonesia influenza Jamie
Tai Ask Why: Bonus

Quirks and Quarks

25:53 min | 2 years ago

Tai Ask Why: Bonus

"This is a CBC podcast. France. It's me. Caitlyn pressed host of radio Topi as the heart. And now the shadows new CBC podcast. The show is about the quest for the ideal of romantic love, and how complicated that quest is the question of whether that idea is still with fighting for if it's up Salita. The show's fiction like that saying fiction is the lie, which we tell the truth shadows is out now subscribe on I tunes or every listener podcasts. Hi, everyone. Bob mcdonald? Here. We interrupt your usual, quirks and quarks podcast feed. With a little bonus this week. We wanted to share an episode of a new CBC podcast with you that we thought you might enjoy it's called Tai asks why and it's hosted by curious young fellow named Ty pool. He's eleven years old and he's on a mission to solve the mysteries of life love and science in each episode titles one big question like what is love. Why do we dream or how can we fix climate change? He may not solve them. All but give him a break is only eleven so join ties he heads to coffee shops, universities and playgrounds seeking answers. His conversations with everyone from his little brother to NASA experts will expand your mind, and even touch your heart. So here's the episode. I promise it's about the brain in our gut or the gut brain is some call. It have a listen. And if you like this sample, you can listen to the show at CBC dot CA slash tie asks why or wherever you get your podcasts. It's me tie. If you've been listening to my podcast. I am sure that you've heard my little brother keen, and he got me thinking about podcasts that you recommend to your younger siblings. John you older brothers and sisters. Joe is pretty great. When I came across imagine this. All the way from the ustralian Broadcasting Corporation. It's like CBC, but it's eighty imagine. This talked kids and scientists to find the answers to live big and small questions like tusks, y but for a younger demographic. And everyone knows the six year olds have the best questions season one and two are currently up. Now, you can listen to imagine this where we get tired asks. Why? There's a saying I always hear whenever I'm stuck making decision. I remember this one time the farmer's market tutors my head want to buy candy cookie doing what the sweet sugary maple candy, soft doughy maple. So hard to choose my friend come over to tie Ston in the middle of the firms merkin, I can't decide and then he'd look do. Trust your gut. Should I trust my gut? I'm by. Tusks? There are so many good questions. Wanna get answered? What happened after we, Don? Why do we treat? And should you? Trust your. My gut is this big pub intestines that digest my food. I don't really know. What's to be trusted? They're they know that I get these feelings of my gut like butterflies when America's or when I'm hungry like my will Krant feel like squeezy. But like why is my gut able to make decisions and like tell me what to do that seems pretty crazy. 'cause I means it has a brain. And that that seems grades. You know, it's just like it's my intestines. But like, maybe there is a brain in my gut, but at the same time, it's kinda farfetched and wacky. So I decided to take this theory to the park and see what my friends had to say. I think there's a great in your stomach. No. Has your brains in your head? I think your brain makes everything you feel possible. Couldn't be a brain. Because it wouldn't be fish or else you'd have like a big lump on either side, my feelings and exiled these and stresses they become from here. Got stomach does not take it set when it's hungry. I think there is some sort of connection, but I am magin by self as ritual. Wow. Really? You know, I think hires onto something it is like really complicated, and I did a little bit of research, and apparently there are little creatures in our guts, and they're called microbes are member reading this one factoid from the side center saying that all the microbes in your body. Whereabout a kilogram, and you know, that's crazy. Why curbs there apparently all over our body in there like inside us everywhere therefore supposed to trust our guts? Then does that mean that we have to trust all of the little microbes do the microbes have brain are they sent? And I was doing this research. I saw the scientist called Dr Embry hide for my PC. I studied the microbiome. So I decided to call her up. What is a microbiome? So you can't see it because while for one at some sign of you but for two they're invisible to the naked eye. So as all of the microbes that live in an on your body. So that includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, some parasites, and it's not just the microbes. But it's the things that they do in your body. So the micro-diamond or God is responsible for a lot of processes in our body. But like a wanted to know do the collection. Of microbes form like a brain, your gut is full of neurons, which are the same exact cells that are in your brain. And there's this amazing nerve called the Vegas nerve which connects your brain to your digestive tract and your brain consent signals directly to your gut and your gut consensus directly back to your brain through this nerve in. They're always communicating talking to each other. And because of that a lot of people like to call the system the second brain in your gut, but I think it's probably more proper just to call it an extension of your nervous system. Does our gut brain have like a and center, we don't fully know the answer to that yet microbes live in your gut, and they help affect this communication between your gut in your brain. And people are wondering if maybe microbes have a mind of their own. And if they do, then, maybe, you know, you could extrapolate a little bit on say, well, if the microbes have a mind of their own, and they're affecting how is talking to the brain. Then maybe that could be the conscious aspect of it. But we just don't know yet. What you think the brain in the gut are communicating the guppy like we're able to process that pizza that you sit down a couple of hours ago now bring on some more, and they send it to your brain. And then your brain toes you. Hey, I'm hungry. Gerber word is out. It's like, let's definitely part of it. But I think it's just a little part of it. So have you ever? I don't know you seem like a very good podcast or interview. Viewer. But maybe if you've ever gotten Ervin's before giving an interview or having to talk to somebody, and maybe felt butterflies in your stomach that is a result of your brain in your talking to each other. In addition to giving signals about whether or not we should eat or whether we're hungry. There's a lot of emotional input as well that comes between your brain, and your gut if you are stressed out or you're really sad about something. You'll notice that you're not quite as hungry is really amazing the ways that your brain in your gut can talk to each other. Yeah. 'cause like, you know, if you're sad, then the guts like, oh, man, my partners bombed out. No, I'm bummed out. I remember seeing my best friend at spirit of math new looked bummed out. So Mike O would happen. They said, oh, my hamster. And then he was just gloomy the whole time. They're just made make music own. When he said. So if my gut brain my head brain for like, close friends. Do I make my head brain said when I eat something, you know, kinda nasty. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever eaten a food that you used to like? And now, you don't wanna eat it at all ever again just thinking about it makes you feel sick. No. Well, that's happened to me. And it's happened to one of my best friends. She hates macaroni and cheese, which I think is crazy, but she just doesn't like it anymore because one time she ate it and it made her sick. And this has to do with really intricate and elegant way that your memories are formed in how they make you react to certain situations, and the gut brain axis has a very important role in that. So our eyes and our senses are tied to our head brain. And those will help make us recognize the MAC and cheese. That's right. Right. So the gut brain needs to communicate with the head brain 'cause they head brain can recognize it. Yeah. Absolutely. The next time the food goes into your brain will say last time. Immune system, you know, told me this. So maybe just have bad memories associated with this. And then it completely affects whether you wanna eat that food or not, you know, when like you're like, oh don't want to buy the candy bar or save the money. You're stuck with the indecision. And then like if you're like your parent or a friend. They'll just be like, hey, dude. Trust your gut. Do you think that's like scientifically accurate, and do you think a scientist residually like autumn smart? Scientists your got his brain trust, your gut because it has been you know, a lot of it has to do with this memory formation. Sometimes we don't remember the memory. But our brain subconsciously remembers it, and our gut also remembers it in so together, they are able to tell us that. Hey, trust us on this point in. You know, make this decision versus that decision. When you say trust, your gut. Do you think that's the brain thinking? And then the message get sent to the got or do you just think it's the GOP itself? Your gut doesn't come up with it on his own. Your brain sentiments is cheer gut. You're just not aware of it. And then you're then response since message back to your brain in you're aware of that one. And then you get that feeling from it. And and you make your decision, whatever, it is that you decide, you know, sometimes people fight against their gut feeling and they go with just their head brain. Halftime it works and halftime it doesn't does. That mean? Do you think you should trust the got itself or the brain? If you take one away, you break that whole cycle of communication, and then the messages, you get are gonna be different. They're not going to be full. You're going to be missing part of the story in. So I really think it's both you have to trust both. And then if your gut brain is gone than your head brain is sad because he does never friend. Yeah. Exactly, maybe the gut brain is the head brains only friend in only possible friend, a very interesting way of putting it. They've been with each other through so many are truly have grumble grumble thing. So there is a brain in our got that's made all these microscopic organisms and they're constantly communicating with our head braid, and they can even infect our emotions. And so when we say trust, the gut were kinda just saying trust, the head brain, got brain friendship. But like should we trust that friendship 'cause these microbes they're still not like OSs their external organisms? So do these microbes define ourselves. And so what really does that make us? Now, these are the to questions that Dr Tobias raises asking. Voted year ago? I became director at research institute in downtown Los Angeles called Berggruen institute for building you program. And I also became Reid Hoffman professor of humanities at the new school of social research in New York. I've just kid who is playing sandpit. You know, I'm just a kid who's a little older. People sometimes refer to this s the second brain that's actually wrong because then you think in terms of evolution which nervous system, our brain or the enteric nervous system in our gut came first, then it's actually in our gut. So this is not the second brain is the first brain. So the gut brain the brain are got a came first. Right. Just a gut brain came first. That's right. Then why has barely anybody? Even heard of it envy. Think about intelligence everyone usually touch stare head and thinks it's in their head. But they don't recognize in that moment that he'd actually happens into whole body. And they absolutely don't think about the possibility that microbes bacteria are a part of this now maybe eight years ago, and the first studies published that suggested that there is a direct communication between bacteria in our gut and. Our Brian in discount. You can't imagine many neuroscientists thought that's crazy vibe would that be because they have been studying the brain as being tucked away in our call and not really related much to the body. And so the idea that that the teary are important is vialed. And this is where it gets really really weird to buys things that these bacteria change everything about who. We think we are. Pew think about your Brian as being you if being the place, very your consciousness or your sense of self or your mind is located. But then your brain depends on little substances that are produced by something. That's seems to not be that seems to be external to your buddy, namely bacteria. Then you have a very funny Kirke situation. Not you is actually part of U V don't know, very tie ends and his microbiome begins. So I'm not really just tied the person I'm tied the ecosystem, and there's like a weird Filaret of microbes in me in round me and the world, I interact with becomes part of me, and my mind. Like at that point. What makes me a human boy when I ate that cookie. And that cookie became part of my brain. Is that a good thing? Should I stick with the maple candy? Did I really make that decision? Or did the cookie microbes just wanna be with more of their family? And if I'm not the one making the decisions who am I. For such a long time, the Brian bus the place of self. But if the brain how it functions depends on chemical substances that are produced by Victoria, how can one think about humans as more than mere human? And this more makes it very difficult to think about the human as such as if he would exist as free or set apart or as independent like thoroughly integrated with our big Tyrian through them with our environment. Do you think the listeners after they turn the podcast off? Do you think that all this talk is going to change the way that they think about themselves and to find themselves the very short very straightforward answer is ties. So hope so then you take the microbiome serious, and you say, well, I don't know very tie-ins and his microbiome begins and what he thinks or what he Bill do depends largely on his victory. Then you cannot make differentiations between the human on the one hand, creative meaningful philosophical and mere nature and the other side. So you have to learn to think about unions as integrated. In the moment. Their behalf a lot of mass species extinction. Very have climate change produced by Uman's. So it would be very interesting for me very important for us the planet if he could succeed in thinking about ourselves as integrated thank you so much for spending the time to talk to me a guy with his hands in the wanting to know more. Thank you tied is a lot of fun. So I started this whole journey trying to find out if I should trust my brain or my got, and I was kind of like painting them against each other Pentagon style. But now, I know that my got in my brain, they can't be separated, and we actually can't really separate our minds from our bodies and our body from the world, it's a lot to take in. But like a wonder of Tobias, right? I'm thinking like if we can make people aware of what we really are could we gets bored with the likes superhuman perfect the earth perfect us program. And I wanted to start with my brother because he's my brother. He lives right beside me. He came. Are you doing? I'm good. I played soccer games in padded luncheon stacks, but I normally do anyway when you think of yourself, you think of your brain in a way, right? When I think of me, I think like my body and my head might butts. Yeah. But like have you ever thought as your got as part of your identity, Brent your Brian identity? No, no. So can how shocked would be if I told you that the bacteria that help form the gut braid or external bacteria? That hot dog, you it kin. What you did? Yeah. Look good Dumais my gay. But what do you feel about that? Cool. Would you consider the gut brain is a part of you? If it's just like external organisms he s. Because it is part of me. But the thing is they're they're all just organisms in microbes that aren't from you. Your intestines. This basically the super-duper long shaft that's like needle. And it goes all the way to your mouth, right voca? But we learned that the got which is part of it is actually filled with external organisms. Do you think that Connick connects you with nature in the world in some white om? No, do you think this talk will change for you think you are? Now, I thought I was like. This is getting deeper. But look in your eyes here. I started with this question about the validity of the statement. Should you trust your got an somehow like a couple interviews? It turned into enlightening people to the ways of the superhuman men Chanel whenever someone asks made a trust, my gut. I'm not gonna think got her brain got Brian all think, oh, wait their best friends. The head brain frosts, whatever the gut brain says. So the next time I'm like want that teen at all the burger or to the pizza. Oh, just listen to my got even if it's just more, greedy pizza microbes because the gut brain is my head brains. Best friend. Conserve? I'm writing this from the top ties bodies shoulder just between the heirs. It's me had I want to the world know that there's someone special to me someone so special that I just wanted to tell you his name is. But because you head brains understand can just call gut for. He's best friend. Same sentence. Huber? We'd what to say. Just whatever is craving. Always kind of gets what I want. Pretty much my mind. He completes. Brain. Three. More than the vision. Thank you so much for listening. I'm type the show was produced by Roddick Symington. Yes. Maturin archbishop release Livia Pasquarelli J, my guests, Dr emerald. Hi, Dr Tobias rains. Thanks to crystal do for the to'real assistance. The theme music is by the legendary Janis. And also, thanks Johnny for helping me ride and record the gut birdsong next time on ties why? The language of love is universal and sewage the language of pain and suffering loss till next time. Keep asking why? Another podcast. You should check out. It's called the fridge light. It's a fascinating journey into the hidden stories behind the foods. We eat hosted by top food writer, Chris Nuttal Smith it chows down one food phenomenal. No nam reveal in the unexpected backstory part sites per business part psychology, always fresh hot and delicious. Here's a taste. Are you a dark meat personnel? White meat person. What you preference on why that's a complicated. Question. Dark meat is just year and tastes better. And it's vitamins not found in white me less work when you white meat dark meat. You have to get dirty, and you have to take the bones out. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts for more CBC podcasts. Goto CBC dot CA slash podcasts.

scientist Dr Tobias CBC Brian CBC Bob mcdonald NASA Caitlyn ustralian Broadcasting Corpora France Joe John Tai Ty pool America Ston Don
Mars helicopter, Narwhal tusks and pollution, T. Rex in their billions , airborne COVID, and what we need to know about geoengineering

Quirks and Quarks

54:39 min | 3 months ago

Mars helicopter, Narwhal tusks and pollution, T. Rex in their billions , airborne COVID, and what we need to know about geoengineering

"I'm add host of ideas in this age of click bait and online. Shouting ideas is a meeting ground for people who want to deepen their understanding of the world. Join me as we crack. Open a concept to see how it plays out over place time and how. It matters today from the rise of authoritarianism to the history of cult movies. No idea is off. Limits ideas is on the cbc listening or wherever you find. Your podcasts is a cbc podcast. Eightfold all depends dark-haired inherited cracks. Hi i'm bob mcdonald on this week. Show first flight on mars. Nonsense ingenuity helicopter opens a new chapter in planetary exploration there definitely areas of scientific interest. That we simply can't reach except by being able to fly to it. And narwhal tusks preserve a history of what they've been eating and arctic pollution over the past five decades. What we get is a pretty dramatic change in diet as well as mercury also toronto. Sors rex by the numbers. Researchers calculate just how many of the huge predators there were whenever. I look at t rex skeleton. I know that the fossils are very rare. And i've always wanted just how rare plus more than a year in scientists wonder. When will we all understand that kobe. Airborne and when we said that this is the dominant mode of transmission. Yes we believe that this is driving the pandemic and it might be pastime seriously. Investigate how geo engineering. The climate could work. We really don't know if the technique works. we also don't know what the impacts are going to be all this and more today on quirks and quarks heading off to flake control for telemetry analysis early this week. The robotic helicopter ingenuity made history on mars reporting having performed spin up takeoff. Live hover. what you are hearing here. Is the nasa. Mars helicopter operations team hearing that their first flight was a success data list. I like i like of a powered aircraft. Another plan on thursday ingenuity took second hop and all seems well for more flights in the future. This is a mission that was six years in the making and as you can imagine designing a helicopter flying another planet where there's barely any air to push around was no easy task at the helm of it. All is mimi on. She's the project manager for the nasa ingenuity mars helicopter at the jet propulsion lab in pasadena california ms on welcome to our program. Thank you thank you for having me. So what was the moment like for you. When you and your team received the news that ingenuity is first flight on. Mars was success. Eight incredible. It was incredible and the primary reason. Our team is really tight. We've been working over six years on this. We have never innocence to really really really celebrate or feel like we are there until we've held up until we get to do the very first Flight at mars so really. That moment was the first time we got his say. We've done it well. What does successfully demonstrating powered flight on. Another planet mean for planetary exploration. It is game changing because just like on earth right traveling through the air here on earth the planes and helicopters complementary to the car on the surface and spacecraft in orbit so analogous to earth now at mars the ability to fly will be complimentary two rovers on the surface and spacecraft bought the orbit. So it absolutely game changing. Do you have destinations in mind that you would like to visit by air yes You know there's deep size of cliffs for example that have signs of expos. Ice cards there are sites or steep craters steep crevices that we would like to explore but we can with the rover a rover just can't rove through so those are deaf. They're definitely areas of scientific interest. That we simply can't reach except by being able to fly to it And secondly for the rovers and astronauts in the future right the couch that is able to provide high definition image of where where information ahead of the rovers and astronauts is something that would be extremely valuable just so before you make those kilometers of traverse to really know in high definition where they're going. What was the greatest engineering challenge in designing a helicopter to fly in the thin martian atmosphere. First and foremost really the ingenuity. The blades are one point. Two meter tip tip and for that roeder size right spinning around twenty four hundred rpm. I actually the first flight. We were above two thousand five hundred pm case so that meant that for the road or sites that we had and this size is dictated. By what size could fit on. Perseverance rover right. A monorail real. That's available for us to hitch a ride on. We were limited to one point eight kilograms so to really build this vehicle right. That's capable of first flying in extremely thin atmosphere right so the number one. The mirrored dizzy is about one percent compared to earth. So you have to spend really really fast. Which is very high powered activity right to be able to fly through the very thin atmosphere but not only that but for this vehicle to be a standalone on the surface of mars and being able to survive and operate autonomously all that capability packed into one. Point eight kilogram. So that was the biggest engineering nut to crack so to speak boy. If you've got blades spinning twenty five hundred rpm. That's way faster than a helicopter. Understand when you were testing it on earth it was super loud. We tested this on earth in a chamber right. So it's a twenty five foot diameter chamber about eighty-five tall that we pumped down to near vacuum and we beg for with carbon dioxide to simulate marris like thin atmosphere so in that chamber in a sense is a very very large canister of the rotor spinning. That fast it's basically the song in in a can so it is really loud so now that you've gotten your data back from the two flights Walk me through how those first flights went. It was a textbook. It really mesh our simulations well in terms of the flight trajectory you heard our chief pilot. 'ha-vad grips voice earlier when hobart projected that altimeter plot that showed how high the helicopter climbed to three meters in the first flight with the little jitter is as it is fighting fighting the win and staying up there for the thirty seconds that we commanded and he came down and landed in the spot on the ground. That plot was perfect. We were saying these look like the telemetry we. We read back in the many times that we tested this vehicle in our chamber so we were extremely pleased so i was a beautiful hover flight of thirty seconds. And what astounded us. The the images from the engineering camera that we have that came back with fantastic. They superseded our expectation thing. You've seen them. Hopefully you've seen them ingenuity. Took a picture of his own shadow as it was flying so those were just delightful to receive the first day then three days later we've gone. We've gone on to do the second flight now. This time we went up to a height of five meters and then we did two meter flight lateral and then we flew back to meters and landed. So we're very happy so far with our two flights so based on the success. You've had so far. Where do you plan on taking the helicopter on subsequent flights. Yes the next flight flight number three. We will go up again to five meters and this time. We're going to fly fifty meters out. And i'm extremely excited personally for ingenuity mars helicopter because finally it is gonna fly free so our team is super super excited. And i'm personally personally very happy for ingenuity for for this upcoming flight now. I know that there's a tiny fragment of fabric from wright brothers nineteen three flyer attached to win genuity. Where did that idea come from. Oh so there have been are. The wright brothers have been role models along the our team really wanted to put something that commemorated them. And the wright brothers material from the wright flyer from dayton museum in dayton ohio the museum let us have a small piece of it. And that's how we came with the right material so we're extraordinarily proud and happy that we were able to fly the very first flight on another planet and on mars carrying a piece of the right right brothers. Material is on congratulations on your flight. The sky is the limit. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you both mimi. On is the project manager for the nasa ingenuity mars helicopter at the jet propulsion lab in pasadena. California naar walls are often called the unicorns of the see. They're not mythical just rare and elusive spending much of their lives hidden in the arctic sea ice but of course the real analogy with the fabled unicorn comes from their long spiralled tusks. Actually an extended tooth that can protrude three from their heads now. An international team of researchers has discovered that much like the rings in a tree trunk. A narwhal tusk can provide valuable insight into changing conditions in the arctic and the pollutants were sending their from the south. Dr jean-pierre default is a postdoctoral research. Fellow in the department of natural resource science at mcgill university. Dr foege welcome to our program. Hi thanks for having me so just generally. What kind of information can you get from the tusk of a ton of information from the customer novel. Actually so as you mentioned in the introduction there like a tree trunk there's a rings that grow incrementally every year we can actually just count these up. Give him pretty accurate prediction of the age of the animal and each of those individual layers that we used to count the animal. We can take samples from and analyze number of different things. So i'll take me through. Then what did you find in these tasks when you examine them closely. So we're interested in looking at mercury exposure through time and the thing about mercury is it's a dietary contaminant Which means that for apex predators like the north pole and polar bear and kind of these high trophic level feeders. Mercury accumulated primarily through the diet. So we wanna know how mercury changes through time. We also have to know how the diet has changes through time and essentially what we find. Is that The past five decades. What we get is a pretty dramatic change in diet as well as mercury. Well where's mercury coming from originally so mercury is a natural compound so it's found all over the world that kind of baseline concentrations but what we know from previous study is current levels of mercury in top predators like the wall are comprised of almost one hundred percent anthropogenic mercury processes like coal combustion and other fossil fuel use as well as gold mining forest. Fires things like that are major sources of mercury. These are produced of course in the south. You know none of these things are are heavily produced in the arctic which is a pretty pristine area so of course is being transported from more southerly industrial latitudes and is being brought to the north and exposing kind of the whole food web in arctic ecosystems leading to pretty high levels narwhal ally. See so it's produced in the south of what carried in the air and then it just settles in the arctic. That's exactly right. Yeah natural currents in the atmosphere in the ocean just tend to flow from south to north from the equator north wise. So what we see. Is that the arctic. Actually a sink for a lot of contaminants despite the fact that very few humans live up there. What did you see then when you looked at the narwhal tasks of how the mercury levels changed over time so essentially we find that the mercury levels track pretty well. The died of these animals When the diet changes towards more high trophic level pray things like greenland halibut which are more mercury laden. We see mercury levels rise and then when they start feeding away from these high trophy pray we see the mercury levels. Drop the. what's interesting. Is we see a major deviation away from this pattern around the year two thousand in our data set and we say essentially because the diet suggests that mercury levels should be dropping. There is during this time even though what we actually see levels of mercury rising and rising much faster than they had previously that. There's obviously some other source of mercury going on here. That's not coming from the diet. I suspect that it's either a combination of increased emissions of mercury globally or change in the way that mercury moving within the arctic ecosystem again. Because we know that climate change is having very dramatic effects on the sea ice. it's also melting snow and permafrost. This is leading to more mercury that cycling in the environment and being taken up by kind of the plane tonic community which is making it more bioavailable and accessible in the food web leading to really high levels in our will but what happened in the year two thousand to lead to a sharp increase in mercury levels. That's a good question. I there's nothing particularly important about that year. Just seems to be in our in our record. We see kind of a major uptick during this time. Now you also mentioned that. The whales change their diet. Why did they do that. That's an important question. In and of course we think that it's linked with climate change So we know that you know air and water. Temperatures are rising rapidly and associated with that is major declines in ice so any changes in the sea ice is going to have important implications not only for where the animals migrate and also we know that fish species from further south are invading the arctic more and more as we lose a sea ice in this area. So what does that mean in terms of the mercury levels that are in the pray that the whales are eating exactly so you can think of it as almost a good news story because as we shift away from greenland halibut which was higher trophic. Pray our data suggests that the levels of mercury actually dropping off in the normal so in that sense. They're being exposed to less mercury than they had been in the past however does deviation from just justice really rapid rise mercury in the recent decade suggests that not only as diet important but of course where mercury is coming from and how is moving along the environment so the diet is one part of the story but human emissions is certainly. the larger. part of the story is what we show. What does all this extra mercury actually due to the whales affect us it have on them. That's the big question. Obviously and it's not an easy one to answer but what we have been able to decipher. Is that these levels of mercury are quite high especially in tissues in the brain and we know the mercury isn't neuro toxic. Not only that but the levels we see in our waller above the levels that are predicted to cause dysfunction in neurological tissue. Which of course has impacts for things like long term memory cognition and downstream effects on immune system and reproduction. Does this give you any insight into the impacts on the people who depend on these whales for food. That's another important thing to consider. Of course that so normal are still hunted in canada and greenland. And we do know from previous studies that i've during the normal hunting season. A lot of local communities in the north are exposed quite high levels of mercury often exceeding a world health guidelines for kind of daily and weekly city for mercury so there certainly is a risk and the fact that we're seeing levels rising above previous levels makes us consider that this is a potential risk factor for these communities. What's your take home message here. What do you hope. The impact of this finding will be what we hope with. This study is essentially to add to that body of evidence to suggest that common change is having an impact in arctic species especially four endemic species in the arctic like the narwhal which relies heavily on the sea ice as well as look at questions of of mercury. of course. we're interested in where this mercury is coming from and this is important because mercury is being regulated internationally so the fact that mercury levels are rising in a period. We're actually trying to reduce their levels of the environment is concerning and we need to have a better understanding of where this mercury is coming from. Dr deforest thank you very much for your time. Thanks for having me dr. jean. Pierre de forge is a post doctoral fellow in the department of environmental science at mcgill university. Anyone who's ever seen a tarantulas wreck skeleton on display in a museum or a cgi animated of one movie. Has douglas wondered. What would be the chances of running into one of these terrifying predators. I mean if you happen to be wandering the wilderness in the cretaceous now not everyone who wonders that can figure it out. But dr charles. Marshall could with the aid of some basic biology and a bit of fancy math. Dr marshall and some colleagues made their best guess. At how many t is there were at any one time and they extrapolated from that how many might have ever existed. And it's a scary number. Dr marshall is the director of the university of california museum of paleontology and professor of integrative biology at the university of california berkeley. Dr marshall welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you nice. Good afternoon but first of all. What got you interested in understanding. How many t rex's might have existed in the cretaceous period as you indicated in your introduction whenever i look at t rex skeleton and i have one right outside the museum that i direct. I know that the fossils are very rare. And i've always wondered just how rare one in a million one billion one and a trillion and then recently. I realized that i could probably work that out. Well how many fossils t do we actually have how many actual animals we have In the order of three dozen in public museums. There's probably double that in hands. And then of course there's lots of individual teeth and single bones. Okay so we don't have very many In our fossil record now before we get to how you calculated your number. How many t rex's lived on earth at any one time so at any one time. It looks like it was in the order of only twenty thousand. It might have been as few as one thousand seems way too low. It could have been as high as almost three hundred and thirty thousand and t rex's limited pretty much to north america. Alberta saskatchewan western united states. We think it probably lived as far south as mexico. But we don't have any fossils from there so if there's twenty thousand spread around north america I mean how dance is that so that turns out to be almost exactly won t rex hundred square kilometers okay so the chances of actually encountering one might be quite low if you were there pretty allow if you just having a picnic on a sunday afternoon. How did you calculate that number so it turns out that in the living world is a very strong relationship between population density and body. Mass elephants are fairly rare on the ground. Zebra is much more common rabbits and mice even more common and so it turns out if you know what it did for a living. It's a meter and you know it's body mass heading a little bit about its physiology. How warm-blooded it is you can estimate as population density. What did you need to know about. T. rex to figure all that out. So the first thing we needed to know what is. Its body mass. The maximum body mass is about seven tons possumus. Two the average massive t rex. You bump into on the landscape. Because they're not awfully grown was just over five tons and then we had to estimate what its physiology was. Most dinosaur workers agree that t. Rex was warm blooded but not quite as warm blooded as a lion or a tiger. Some people feel that could only get to. It's super large size so quickly if it had the physiology of a komodo dragon which is much more energetic than your average lizard. Dinosaur workers feel that that's a little bit too low so we split the difference somewhere between a lion and a komodo dragon and given that body mass the land will be able to support about one hundred square kilometers. If it's convoy other physiology somewhere between a lion and a komodo dragon so if there were twenty thousand t rex around to any one time. They were around for millions of years. So what are you. What would the total number of t. Rex could have existed on earth. We we wake up the total duration about two and a half million years and we had to look at how many generation- times that was. We use growth curves and other data to estimate that the generation time is about nineteen years plus or minus one which translates to about one hundred twenty five thousand generations in that two point five million years. And then you just simply multiply the two numbers twenty thousand times. The hundred and twenty-five thousand generations it comes out at two point. five billion t rex. Total two point five billion with a b. with a b. That's a very big number. We were surprised huge number. That's a huge number. Well if there were so many t rex around. Where are all the fossils. Well fossilized -ation coming. Full circle is really really rare and what we computers that we currently have about one in eight hundred million of them in public museums And so the rest of them just our rotted and decayed and the bones just disintegrated and you know dust to dust if you were able to make this kind of calculation for the number of t. rex that existed. Could you do this for other dinosaur species. Yeah absolutely certainly. This calculation can be done for triceratops or maya seora ed montessori but fossilized and so rare that if you had a species that also was rare. You could compute the probability that we wouldn't see it in the fossil record fossil records incomplete and one of the most crucial things knowing not just what we know. But what we don't know and this number may help us understand the number of dinosaur species that were to ready to make it into the fossil record in the first place and without calculation elation at says we probably still have an awful lot more dinosaurs to find now in your calculations you talked about Comparing around sort somewhere between a line and a komodo dragon. So we're talking about adults or were you also taking into consideration the younger ones. So when you calculate population density versus body mass. You need all the animals to play the same sort of ecological role turns out that fatih rex as it hits sexual maturity at about fifteen and a half years it's body mass suddenly spurts up but it's by force goes up by about a factor of ten. This looks like crush teeth change shape. So does the scout little bit so it looks like juveniles behaving different ecologically. Moreover fifteen point five years is sort of halfway through the lifetime of the animal they live to about twenty eight years so more than half of the fossils should be of juveniles and yet in hell creek montana. The most fossil differs place for t. Rex only fifteen percent juveniles. So that also suggests that they're living somewhere else doing something else ecologically and therefore we took them out of the calculation. Okay but if they were around us that add to the total number or were they just part of the overall seeing so the calculation we made was for adult t rex of course they were juveniles precedents as well and they were probably a lot more of them than they were the adults so at least five billion probably more total t. rex in the history of life. Oh so now. We're getting to a greater chance. I could have run into one back even if it was a little one. Yes that's a very good point actually. Yes marshall thank you so much for your time. Thank you very much indeed. Dr charles marshall is the director of the university of california of paleontology at a professor of integrative biology at the university of california berkeley. This is a droplet borne disease. We see a lot of folks on the streets of toronto wearing masks. But this isn't airborne it's spread by close contact and we don't think masks are helpful. Oops that's epidemiologist. Dr david fiszman on our show more than a year ago. In february of twenty twenty talking about how we thought cove nineteen infections. Were transmitted this time last year. The idea the virus was airborne was only a possibility based on what at the time was pretty limited evidence. Well what a difference a year makes. Many scientists now believe tiny aerosol particles that can remain aloft for extended times in indoor spaces is the predominant way this virus spreads i said many scientists not all in fact airborne spread still hasn't been officially acknowledged by the world health organization and various governments and that has had important implications for the policies they pursued to fight the pandemic dr fiszman recently co authored. A paper for the lancet journal outlining the ten scientific reasons. Why what he said last year was wrong. he's an infectious disease. Physician and professor of epidemiology at the university of toronto. Dalla lana school of public health. Dr simone welcome back door program. Thank you i feel like. I'm getting a bit of a come up here. Which is appropriate. It's not often. We have scientists on our program. Say hey i was wrong. I want to correct that. So back in february you said the virus was not airborne. What's your take on it now. Well you know it literally makes me cringe to listen to that audio. But i think as we've gone through this pandemic we've had tremendous opportunities to learn and we've had tremendous opportunities to be humbled. And in retrospect it's probably not surprising that some of what we said at the outset was wrong or in that case you know egregiously so so what changed your mind about how the virus is spread instead of just droplets that everybody was worried about. That can only go a couple of meters so wear a mask to it being airborne since that time i've really had an education from folks who study aerosols for living and it's really been eye-opening now. That clip was from february in february. We had an episode. That probably should have opened the eyes of people like me to the likelihood that this was an aerosol transmitted disease and that was a massive outbreak in close space on the diamond princess cruise ship. If you recall tremendously high attack rates in people sort of confined in indoor spaces who weren't in any kind of contact with each other but who were potentially in contact by aerosols through an h. Vac system on a cruise ship. We also saw the diamond princess. Some really strong evidence of a symptomatic infection and This phenomenon of pre-symptomatic infection where folks are infected in infectious and only develop symptoms later. Now is that because people who are either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. They're not sick so they're not coughing and sneezing all over the place. Just breathing normally exactly. They're not coughing and spewing. but what are they making. They're making aerosols. So what's implied. By pre-symptomatic transmission is the sorts of vocal activities. That people engage in before they're coughing are sufficient to spread disease in factors spreading at least half of the disease that we see. that's strongly suggestive of aerosol. We increasingly have these. Massive outbreak events on cruise ships inquires in meat packing plants in warehouses at weddings. All kinds of environments. Where people is the japanese said. We're in close closed and crowded and firemen's and those super spreader events which are the drivers of the epidemic are really only explicable by aerosol transmission with air assaults that can hang in the air for long periods of time that can travel farther than two meters between people and so forth and that can infect everyone in a space who's sharing error so implications in terms of prevention are tremendous and when we said that. This is the dominant mode of transmission. Yes we believe that. This is driving the pandemic. so what made the penny dropped for you. That these tiny aerosol particles that can remain aloft for long time was the predominant web spreading the disease. So i had to. I call them my road to damascus moments. In the summer of twenty twenty. The first one was in seminar. And i had the privilege of speaking at the same time as dutch. Virologist named marian copayments and marian introduced me to work by assault scientists than jack shy in the netherlands. And what chauvin showed. I did not know this is that there is this four order of magnitude increase in the volume of air assault. You produce as you go from quiet breathing up too loud talking and coughing. So there's this tremendous increase in the amount of these tiny particles they sub hundred micron particles that you produce as you use your vocal chords in your respiratory tract in different ways so if someone is singing or coughing or talking loudly that has the potential to really produce a lot of aerosol. That's in a space in. Some of that aerosol is going to hang sharpen then took the next staff in modeled that out in terms of under different kinds of spaces that are ventilated in different ways. One of the examples in his papers a bus. If you have an individual on that bus who infectious say pre-symptomatic they're going to contaminate that aired to different degrees depending on what they do with their vocal cords and how ventilated that buses is going to determine what the risk is my second road to damascus. Moment was a student at university of toronto. Had reached out to me because he and his supervisor for doing this systematic review respiratory tract viral loads and trying to model this out in terms of what the implications were for heterogeneity of infectivity. There's tremendous variation in how infectious people are over the course of infection that seems to peak on the first day of symptoms violence highest. But also. so there's not just changes over the course of illness and infectivity but there's huge variability between people now the world health organization which a lotta countries get their cues from still says droplets spread in close. Contact is the dominant mode of transmission. If the evidence is overwhelming as you say why do you think we're seeing such resistance to admitting that it's airborne. I think there are a few reasons for that. I think there's sort of a cannon terms of how this works and this is received wisdom and people are trained in this way and a lot of protocols in hospitals are based on this a lot of teachings based on this and of course what you see in terms of folks revising the guidance is there's the necessity of climbing down and saying we were wrong. I think there's also resources implications in terms of ninety five masks which are more expensive and ventilation which can be expensive. So if the viruses predominantly spread by tiny aerosolize particles. What's that mean for the guidance. We've been given on how to keep people safe indoors. Acknowledging assault opens a whole toolbox in terms of how we clean air and that involves since that are low tech just opening windows or moving activities outside. The second thing that we can do is we can clean air with things like of filters and the third thing that we can really work on is better ventilation for buildings. The other tool in the toolbox is better respirators. So that's where the end ninety five masks in these are masks that are fit to people's faces to create a seal and you have an excellent filter so that if you're sharing air with someone and they've contaminated the air with these tiny particles. You were then protected against breathing. That air in dr fiszman. Thank you so much for your time. Oh it's a pleasure. Thanks so much. Dr david fichman is a professor of epidemiology at the university of toronto's dolon school of public health now as the masks doctor says the evidence suggests well fitting cloth and surgical masks are still finding doors in most circumstances. But if you suspect the ventilation isn't up to par as especially if you're in a hot spot and ninety five masks would help do all this high fever and these united nations secretary general antonio gutierrez doesn't mince words when he talks about our global climate emergency. Nine of the hottest years on record happened in the last ten years. Carbon dioxide levels are higher now than they've ever been while humans have existed on the planet secretary. General gutierrez says twenty twenty. One is a make or break year in our fight against climate change five years off to pat. He's still not going in the right direction. He's promised to limit temperature. Rise was closest one point five degrees possible but to commitments made in perez. Were far from enough to get there. And even those commitments are not being met this week on earth day at an online climate summit global political leaders made new commitments but commitments are not action and the action. The world has taken has not been sufficient. Which is why many scientists are now saying reluctantly that we need to start work on a backup plan. They say it may be time to seriously study. The controversial idea of solar geo engineering cooling. The planet by artificial means perhaps by intentionally polluting. The upper atmosphere was sulfur particles to reflect incoming solar energy to bring down our planet's fever. Now geo engineering is not a new idea. But it's never been properly studied to understand if an how it will work and that's why the. Us national academy of sciences engineering in medicine recently published a report with recommendations on what research needs to be done to understand if it could work and how to do that work in the most equitable way one of the contributors to that report was doctor. Juan moreno crews and associate professor and canada research. Chair in energy transitions at the university of waterloo. Dr moreno crews welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you for having me sad. We appreciate how much urgency is there. Among researchers to address the possibility we may need solar geo engineering. I think there's in say is is very clear. The climate paralleled that you were describing. We're expecting that to happen by the end of the century. And he's hoping to notoriety these increasing floods increasing fires and and we don't see anything being done to to curve those those affects and our emissions causing climate change. We take the climate change impacts. Usually we start to think that we are beyond the point in which we could just rely solely on on emissions reductions. Okay now we've talked about the concept of solar geo engineering before on quirks and quarks and the best known ideas that you might have a fleet of airplanes that fly extremely high up into the stratosphere and they release these white aerosol particles up there and the particles would act like little mirror reflecting sunlight back into space and that would temporarily cool the planet. So it's as simple enough concept but what are the biggest holes in our knowledge about it. I think we have holes in our knowledge in three dimensions. At least i is that we really don't know if that technique works and by that i mean we don't understand enough of their chemistry chemistry and transportation mechanisms to actually say that a particular release of aerosol particles is going to have this higher effect we also don't know what the impacts are going to be of those techniques so we don't know in terms of a on nature we don't know they bucks on the economy we don't know the back society in general and also we don't know enough at all about public response and how people are going to respond to this intervention. So you're saying it's much more than just Can we cut down on the sunlight hitting the earth but what are going to be the trickle down effects from that that is exactly correct and more importantly that we really don't now how this thing is going to be implemented in terms of politics and international governance. So what do we know about how solar geo engineering would affect climate change in different places around the world so far research has shown that if we were to implement a engineering soviet union name program that reduces the average temperature of the planet. Let's say to industrial levels Right now we're one degree celsius increase relative to to print the say we compensate for that then Gradients are going to be overcompensated on average and some others that are gonna be under compensated. So when you say overcompensated. What do you mean by that in terms of temperature So even though we are correcting temperature on average that is problematic for example because the polls are warming faster rate a so called three in the tropics and from columbia so in columbia a the effects of your engineering will be more substantial than saying canada and anything. That is an important distinction. Some union is not anti climate. Change is a different type of climate. Change the happens to compensate for the climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But he's not perfect at that now. I know that you studied game. Theory the science of decision making as it pertains to solar geo engineering. So what are your concerns about how this might actually play out. Sola union changes the game literally in terms of decision making processes tradition on you. We think of mitigation emission reductions as a game in which. We don't have enough people doing enough. Because mitigation is costly and because the benefits of that mitigation out of the us across all countries. We saw union is the opposite. You have a inexpensive technique. They can really tailor your their benefits to your own country. So what you what we see is those countries that just want to mess with the climate and achieve their best they can and and that worries me because that possibility cooed resulting conflict in the sense that if we have initially china anaemia may be agreeing on the amount of cooling. The more we do more to preferences diverge and you end up in situations. In which countries maybe nuclear powers sit on opposite sides of what amount of calling is prefer and given up by drought or a sequence of drought over ten years. Then somebody's going to implement. It could implement it and that could be problematic in terms of international relations and and probably international conflict as well. Are you suggesting the possibility of what are essentially climate wars here. Yes give in mind that this is all theoretical wishes this spacing. Wish i leave but but yet that is possible and especially when you consider something that is even more science fiction which is the possibility of counter. You engineering the possibility that you could actually intervene. The planet now to cancel the you engineering programs of particular country. So now you're playing these sort of stratospheric wars and only if you are going to be able to cover say on this daryl countries righteous going to have to see and hope for the best which he's very anti democratic in just we've talked about the risk of not doing the research in time. What's the potential danger in doing this kind of research too early that he's had a really important question anything that we're grappling a lot. Currently and that is reflected on the report that will release. there are two main issues one. Is that the possibility of storage engine could affect they willingness to people to actually do the the costly investment which is reducing emissions and is when you have the possibility of of a way out then you are not to worry about doing the of investment and issue is that once you start to do research. People get super interested on these start to develop economic interests around the technique and then it becomes very difficult to stopped. So you're saying that. Just studying geo engineering gives it a kind of inertia sort of a life of its own. Yes that is one of the concerns that exists although i should cover out by saying that when people actually are exposed to the possibility of engineering we observed the opposite. Many studies actually showed that the may the the possibility of genuine scare people into doing more. Mitigation this is another possibility and and this is why we need to do motorization days because we really have not a clear answer to those questions so in the end knowing is better than not knowing in my equation yes especially because of justice issues and inequality across countries. I just. I just think everybody needs to know as much as we can. Dr moreno truths. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for having me as dr merano crews says there's a lot we don't know about solar geo engineering that we need to investigate and one of the major gaps in our knowledge is the potential side effects. It could have on life on our planet that issue has been top of mind for a team of scientists in the climate intervention. Biology working group. They recently released a study outlining many blind spots when it comes to the ecological effects of solar geo engineering. dr phoebe. Esky is the co lead of that working group and the lead author of that study. She's a spatial and community. Colleges at michigan state. university doctors are eski. Welcome to our program. Thank you bob. Thanks for having me. What are your biggest concerns about the potential impacts that you engineering might have on ecosystems. I think my biggest concern is that there's so much uncertainty. We have uncertainty in climate models. Themselves we also have uncertainty of course what potential impacts would be on ecosystems. Because we just haven't really looked at it and the models that are being run and these are the same models that we run woman looking at the climate impacts are at a pretty course resolution so the actual spatial information that we have to understand what might happen in the future with climate. Is that on. The order of something like two hundred climbers. By two hundred kilometers. Some of them are regional models or getting down into maybe ten kilometers there. But what's going on in. An ecosystem for any given organism can often occur at a much finer resolution than that and let's be clear all those species. Ecosystems are providing humans with essential functions and services. We rely on them for food for clean water for nutrients and so if we're going to step into another potential future here and moderate or affect the climate even further. We need to be really clear. About what those potential impacts are before. We even decided to do that. Well let's get specific. Then what are some of the examples of how species ecosystems might be affected. Yes so we know from a lot of climate change studies that certain organisms are especially sensitive to changes in temperature for example but you engineering also with sulfate injections would actually also increased uv. Uv is an impact especially on amphibians so frogs and salamanders that can affect their life cycle as well as just their population levels and contribute to their local extinctions in another example. A lot of the future projections for solar. You engineering suggests that actually the temperature extremes might be limited. And so what i mean by that is right now. We're seeing a lot of extremes from cancer. Pretended climate change. We're seeing heatwaves. Were seeing really strong cold snaps but a lot of the changes also are showing that winter temperatures in particular are getting warmer winter temperatures are essential for keeping invasive insect populations in check and what we might expect to see with some soldiers engineering scenarios. Is that those extremes could go away we could not get these heat waves and also these cooler cold snaps that could actually improve the chance that invasive insects might be spreading now. What about things like plants. If we're changing the amount of the quality of the sunlight that's coming in when we talk about potential solar geo engineering. We're looking at situations. Where in some cases were actually. We might expect to see some increases in photosynthesis but it would probably be negated by other impacts that are occurring from climate. Change is so for example. Some recent study has actually shown that there wouldn't necessarily be an increase in productivity from agriculture. Just through solar engineering. So it's a complex topic because there's a lot of different feedbacks involved between the earth's surface the vegetation and the climate system that ultimately impact different types of crops in different ways. And so we're looking at probably some just really very changes okay. So that's the potential impact on land. What about the oceans. Yes so you. Engineering might reduce temperature. But it's not going to affect our ability to mitigate or should vacation rising. co two levels are causing massive amounts of ocean acidification and so solar you engineering wooden actually affect. That wouldn't mediate that at all and that's a big problem. Because ocean acidification affects the basal food web of the ocean and then all of the other organisms that depend on it not to mention fisheries of course so we were to move ahead with solar geo engineering. And then you know so. Many people objected to it that suddenly we stopped what what would happen there. Yeah in a situation like that. If we were to suddenly stop sudden termination can have actually impacts on the actual focus of solar engineering which was reducing the temperature. The temperature actually could increase way. More rapid them we're experiencing now and so that is a real threat to ecosystems all the organisms that reside within them because species right now are having a hard enough time dealing with the pace of climate change. Imagine if that pace was even more rapid warming rent up super quick a lot of those organisms. Winfield the move fast enough and they be moving in different directions. Some creditors would probably lose their prey. We would have just a massive reshuffling and probably a lot of extinctions. So does that suggest that once. We start geo engineering. We may not be able to stop without catastrophic ecosystem effects if we are going to be able to reduce our emissions to a drastic degree that in order to stay within the one point five degrees as a target which many scientists have shown is the tipping point beyond which earth systems are going to be catastrophically impacted. If we're able to reduce our emissions we may be able to use swords you engineering to kind of increase the cooling to some degree but by doing solar engineering at that rate it's much less of a concentration and duration and so in that situation we might be able to gradually pullback on solar engineering once it was initiated in a target was reached but that would have to be in concert with also reducing our emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. So what kind of research do you think is most important for ecologists to do to get a better understanding of what can happen if we go ahead with solar geo engineering. I think that what we need to do. Ecologist is worked together really synergistically with our climate science colleagues and to date. That hasn't happened. And another thing that i think he called us really need to do is think about whether we could provide some other targets right now. All of the solar engineering scenarios that are run on these models have a target of temperature. So we want to reduce the temperature. What if we also have ecological targets. What if we have biodiversity conservation or the functioning of certain systems. Let's say we wanted to preserve the amazon rainforests or the arctic. Could those be targets that would both reduce temperature but also preserve these highly valuable ecosystems. Doctors are not ski. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you dr. Arnn esky is an associate professor of community and spatial ecology at michigan state university in east lansing. Who and that's it for this week's edition of quirks and quarks if you'd like to get in touch with us. Our email is quirks at cbc dot ca or. Just go to the contact link on our web page and to our web. Page go to cbc dot ca slash quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at cbc quirks. You can also get this on the cbc listen app. It's free from the app store or google play. Quirks and quarks produced by amanda buckle woods sonia biting and mark. Crawley are senior producer. Is jim lemons. I'm bob mcdonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts go to cbc dot ca slash podcasts.

arctic Dr marshall jet propulsion lab greenland halibut university of california berke nasa bob mcdonald cbc mimi dr fiszman genuity dayton museum
Coronavirus containment window closing, whale skin care, gingko trees eternal youth, does cloud seeding work, and  Does cloud seeding work, and listening to the sounds of the Arctic ocean

Quirks and Quarks

54:40 min | 1 year ago

Coronavirus containment window closing, whale skin care, gingko trees eternal youth, does cloud seeding work, and Does cloud seeding work, and listening to the sounds of the Arctic ocean

"This is a CBC podcast. Her modest eightfold. All Girl dark-haired inherited cracks cranks. Hi I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show whales migrate thousands of kilometres from the Poles to the tropics for skin. Care when they go to the tropics they warm up slough off the skin and when they come back to Antarctica. They look like have been to a car wash. Also the secret to eternal life stand still and be covered in bark when we looked to a number of criteria of aging. It was hard to tell a six hundred year old tree from a twenty year old free and making it rain. Researchers now have solid evidence. We can change the weather with cloud seeding so if he hadn't seated the cloud that would not have been any precipitation on the ground also going deep into the sounds of the northern ocean. And Are we close to the tipping point with the Cova Nineteen Corona virus outbreak. All this and more today on quirks and quarks CCS Denmark Estonia Lithuania. Ms Orlands and Nigeria. Have all reported their first cases the continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of Kobe. Nineteen to very high at global level. It's looking more. And more likely that the opportunity to limit the covert Nineteen Corona virus epidemic is disappearing as Canada's chief Public Health Officer Teresa. Tam said earlier this week. The window of opportunity for containment is closing cases of the illness. Have now been founded more than forty five countries and China is now not the only nation exporting the disease as infected travelers from Italy and Iran have also carried the virus to other countries. For weeks ago we spoke to Dr David Fiszman an epidemiologist from the University of Toronto. Who's been tracking and using computer models to monitor the spread of cove nineteen? We've brought him back now to update us on what we've learned about a disease that seems to be evolving from localized epidemics to global pandemic. Ironically restocked her fishman out his home. Because he's come down with something. Dr Fiszman welcome back to quirks and quarks sank you very much for having me back. How are you feeling? I'm I'm much better today. But abundance of caution and all that well thank you appreciate that public health authorities in many countries including here in Canada. Us is suggesting it's time to prepare for Cova. Nineteen to spread widely. How close do you think we are to that tipping point? It's hard to say we may have passed it. The BIG WAKEUP call for for our group last week related to some analyses. We did on on the likely epidemic size in Iran. Because as you know Canada has I think. Thirteen confirmed cases of At at the moment almost all of them imported but a disproportionate number of those come from Iran one in Ontario one in British Columbia. And I believe there's one in Quebec so when you look at those numbers and say wow it keeps popping the underlying size of an epidemic For us to be seeing imported cases in Canada has to be quite large. In fact there are a lot of countries that are much more. Closely linked to Iran by travel than Canada is pre example Syria Iraq Turkey. And you don't see a lot of cases there which made us also wonder whether you know those cases might or must be there but they're being missed some of those countries particularly Syria and Iraq have very weak public health systems. At this point well Romanian authorities have reported a couple of hundred cases. But there's also seems to be a proportionately large number of death. So what do you think's going on there? I think what you see in Iran and you probably also see this in Italy. What you see is as you say very high fraction of deaths which means that they're recognizing their epidemic late. So if you see an epidemic that starts with deaths what you know with that you've actually missed the epidemic by a couple of weeks because it takes people a while to die They seem to have deaths in Iran at all levels of society. I I know there are a number of prominent politicians. There were now ill and I believe one of their senior clerics died yesterday so this this seems to be very very very widespread in Iran. At this point our estimate was as of last week that they must have an epidemic Somewhere around twenty to thirty thousand cases all very shortly after candidate identified it's cases Kuwait Iraq Afghanistan Oman Bahrain. All said Turns it we have cases that are linked to Iran too. I think Pakistan now has won the real challenge with a place like Iran is that there seems to be a high level of denial that. There's any kind of problem there what you saw over the last couple of weeks was this massive effort at containment in China which actually seems to have turned the tide their massive effort at containment and Singapore which actually seems to have turned the tide their Hong Kong same but a Iran. What I think you may be seeing is what happens when you just allow us to run. Its course and say we don't have a problem here in stick your head in the sand. That's not just a problem for Iran because Iran's connected to a lot of other places Between Iran and Italy we have large numbers of exported cases and so the countries receiving those cases. It's like I've used this analogy a lot and I think it's a good analogy. You can feel fly balls when they're being hit to you one at a time when there are dozens and dozens and dozens of fly. Balls being hit you as an outfielder. You can't catch them all. And if each one of those has the potential to set up a chain of transmission when it lands it becomes highly highly likely that we get epidemics in the countries which the cases are exported if an outbreak were to happen here in Canada. What's your best? Guess on how it might happen. You know what what I hope. We're going to see. We have some really smart excellent public health officials in this country a lot of folks working in public health and clinical medicine. You've been thinking about this for awhile and many of US albeit with some gray hair have lived experience from SARS. What many of us are hoping to see in the in the coming days and weeks is much more active case finding is remember we said Iran and Italy are sort of starting with deaths at the beginning. What we don't want in Canada is for us to identify that. This is spreading in the community because we have a hospital outbreak because hospital outbreaks of what we experienced with SARS and that sort of a real negative war tech's Where you you identify something because there's someone with unidentified pneumonia in your hospital. They become very sick. They get into baited on they get a breathing down their throat to go to the ICU. And part of that process. That creates an aerosol that infects a bunch of healthcare workers and all of a sudden you have patients and healthcare workers sick in the hospitals. Taken down would it make a difference depending on where the virus comes from whether comes from China or a ramp. I don't think the virus cares too much about our ethnicities into at this point. Several of US have said and I've said this publicly I think for Canada. The place we really connected to the United States and there are again some excellent public public health professionals in the US. But some of the politics there really looks from this vantage from this side of the border like it might be interfering with their at break response and the US CDC has also had trouble with their test kits. So they're doing much less testing for this disease in the US. In Canada which to my mind suggests they're probably missing a lot more cases than we are. Which likely makes them vulnerable to the sort of scenario I've described suddenly explodes in a hospital. But what we manage to learn in the last month about. Just how LETHAL COVERT NINETEEN CORONA VIRUSES? And how easily? It can be transmitted so transmission. I think we knew pretty early on a big chunk of the secondary infections come from very few primary infections and that saved our bacon during SARS because these big clusters actually put up their hand and say hey look at me come control me. I there's action going on over here. The difficulty that we seem to have with this virus relative to SARS is that the severity is actually less and I remember last time we talked about how this virus may have hit the sweet spot between lethality and transmissibility. And I think that's that's being born out now that because it's less lethal you have more mild cases so it becomes very difficult to totally extinguish chains of transmission. The other really interesting thing this week is it's like Sherlock Holmes in the you know the hound of the Baskervilles. The clue is the dog that didn't bark. I think an important epidemiologic clue that may be emerging right now is that kids aren't getting sick and certainly aren't dying which to my mind is huge silver lining to this but are the kids really not getting infected or is nobody testing kids because kids. Just don't get that sick with this virus with other respiratory viruses like influenza. We know the kids tend not to get that sick but the really important for transmission of the virus in that community and again we need to ramp up our testing and be looking for the virus in places. We don't think it is in order to get the full picture of what the epidemiology is to your point about legality. Unfortunately it's becoming pretty clear and I think we're GONNA be arguing about this for a while in terms of what the exact numbers are but it's becoming clear that this is much more dangerous for older people than younger people in in China among identified cases. And you have to take this with a grain of salt because we all think that you're probably more likely to be identified as a case if you have more severe illness but among identified cases if you're under fifty your risk of death is clearly less than one percent. We're not sure exactly what it is. But it's less than one percent for a fifty year old like me. It's gone up to one percent in ten years time it'll be three percent than seven or eight percent and then among eighty year old right up to fifteen percent and that's among identified cases in China. So there's this mark takeoff in risk with age which parallels what we see with diseases like like influenza but just the absolute risk is much much higher than what you see for influence. And that's the worry well apart from preparing our health system individuals or you're GonNa Wanna do everything to avoid prepare for Kobe nineteen what can people do on their own behalf? You can do quite a lot on your own behalf. I think that some of this stuff is just basic. Emergency Preparedness In the course of public health measures neighborhoods or areas. Get get quarantined. It make it difficult You know to to restock your. Your pantry is so have a bit of extra food drinking water. Think ahead about what may happen with your kids if we go. The route of school closure as they've done in Japan have conversations with your family again. This is not something. That's Tova th nineteenth specific but we all need to have frank conversations about end of life care and what we would want Because because that is what this what this disease is and the reason we fear it is because it creates a relatively high risk of people requiring intensive care. Do you want to go into an intensive care unit? If you're very sick and be kept alive. Biracial means that's an important conversation. You know what are you going to do about work and travel do you? Do you want to be traveling to to countries where you may get caught in a bit of a lockdown situation? Cotton of quarantine. Do you have hand sanitizer? This is This is a droplet borne disease. We see a lot of folks on the streets of Toronto wearing masks. But this Dearborn. It's spread by close contact and we don't think that masks are helpful if you're a physician and hospital managing managing an infectious patient. We think Some degree of personal protection use for droplets is important. But people don't need to be wearing masks on on the street. What they need to be thinking about is social distancing and they do need to be thinking of keeping their hands clean because the way droplet born infections get around is get on surfaces. They get on you when someone coughs near you. And then you touch your face touch eyes nose and mouth and that's how they get in. There's a brilliant mathematical epidemiologist at Imperial College. London named Steve Riley who had some really great thoughts on twitter and kind of a lot of contempt for social media but boy is twitter useful at a time. Like this and Steve Steve. Riley noted that you know there are a few different things that you can do in terms of social distancing which seems to be important of for slowing down and flattening epidemic curves. And what I mean by that is. We're very likely to have an epidemic but do we want the cases to come all at once or do we want them to come more. Gradually we probably want them to come more gradually because then our healthcare system isn't flooded and overwhelmed but it involves hard economic choices like if you're gonNA suspend mass gatherings that since like Toronto Raptors Games and Maple leafs game so you're going to tell people not to go to the hockey game. Are you a advise people against gathering church congregations in schools? When we spoke to you a month ago you described the risk to Canadians at the time as zero. What would you know so so I don't think zero anymore. I don't know what it is and I think at the you know at the time. We're speaking. I'm not aware of any chains of transmission in Canada. I think public health officials in Canada have done an amazing job at identifying cases managing them appropriately and health and healthcare hostile as well of and preventing any onwards onwards spread among the cases. We know I think the difficulty at this point. Is You know Canada the US very connected you know the US now has cases without known epidemiologic links. And you know that this can kind of explode on you at any time so I don't know what the risk is as of today. I think the risk over the next month is reasonably high. That will start to see this spread in Canada. Doctor Fishermen. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much. It's such a pleasure to talk to you. Dr David Fichman is an infectious disease. Physician and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health So many species of whales spend much of their time in the frigid waters of the Arctic or Antarctic and migrate seasonally to Warm Tropical Waters these migrations cross thousands of kilometers and can take many months to complete just why they make these arduous journeys has never been exactly clear. Scientists have assumed that it could be for certain kinds of feeding opportunities or more likely to give birth inhospitable circumstances. Newborn calves might be more comfortable and able to grow faster in warmer water. But a new study by Dr Robert Pittman a marine ecologist from the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University suggests a different reason that whales migrate to somewhere warm. It's a bit like a day at the SPA. All that warm water is good for their skin. Doctor Pittman welcomed of course in quirks. Oh thank you Bob. Glad to be here. Okay let's start with the old thinking. Why did you suspect that giving birth and better food opportunities may not have been the main reasons for whale? Migrations we started tagging some killer whales in Antarctica and they were doing migrations and they were leaving an area where there was lots of food going to areas where. There's a lot less food in the tropics and then turning around and coming right back so we sort of knew that they weren't interested in going to low latitudes for feeding and the trips they made were very fast they up turned around and came straight back. They traveled to fast to have had a calf and brought it back with them so we had to find another reason for them to go to the Tropics and one thing we noticed about killer. Whales in Antarctica is turned very yellow when they've been there because died. Tom Settle out on their skin. Algae and Wales in dolphins are like humans they normally continuously shed their skin. And if they were doing this these diatoms wouldn't be found on them. And then we photographed Wales all the time and we see the same Wales at different times of the year and sometimes very clean and sometimes they're they're covered with these diatoms so when they go to the tropics they warm up and it causes their skin to become active and they slough off the skin. The diatoms go with it and when they come back to Antarctica. They look like into a car wash. Wow that's amazing. You say the accumulate this Yellow Tint the the Dia Tom so what's what's not doing to their skin. Well one thing it does is. It indicates that they're not sloughing. Their skin is normally would and the reason they do it and we do. It is It's our first line defense against bacteria and any other harmful microbes that might WANNA attack us for smaller animals that allows them to grow They can repair any wounds to their skin and stuff. So it's important to have a a turnover of skin on a regular basis. And we think that these whales their feeding in in Antarctica for instance. The water's actually sub-freezing because it's saltwater so it's minus two degrees C in a lot of places and we think that in order to conserve heat under those conditions they shut off the blood to the outer skin and that prevents heat loss but it also prevents skin cell metabolism and growing their their skin so there's a trade off there so we think that they stay down there. They feed get fat and then but they got turned around and ran back to the tropics and change their skin. Well how does the warm water helped them melt well? They're not concerned about heat loss when they go to the tropics so they can start They can let the blood flow out to the skin again. Skin cell metabolism starts up and skin starts to fall off as it normally would and if you see Antarctic whales in the tropics and you get behind him you can track them with just a skin. That's coming off of them. It's like they wait for a month to do this. And they do it all at once instead of doing little bits continuously They do quite a bit fairly quickly just wondering if we would would that each having having all these creatures all over your skin if it would each and they just I gotta get Outta here get this stuff off. They sometimes they they rub on things in the water. You know if they'll find a log or something sometimes Wales will rub on it and I think when they start to molt like this it's like if if you've ever had a bad sunburn and it starts to peel. Your skin gets itchy. Well when these whales get in the tropics they start breaching a lot and if you go over where they just breached. The surface is just covered with skin. Peeled also This might be one of the reasons that whales jump out of the water to track killer. Whales Do you think other whale species do the same thing? Well seeing these Diet Tom Accumulations and then losing them when they come back. It's been known for over a century that other whales in Antarctica. Also have these diatoms on it and we see fairly regular so to us. That is a pretty clear indication that they're not sloughing their skin also and that that might be the reason why all these whales migrate to the Tropics. So how long does it take the whales to go up to the tropics and back again to get this SPA treatment? Well it depends on the species of whale the killer. Whales that we track. They're gone six to eight weeks. Depending on how far south they start their trip they go straight up. Turn around and come straight back. Larger Whales Fin Whales Humpbacks. All the baleen whales because there's so much larger and they can lay on blubber that they don't have to feed for months they can be gone for five six months fairly easily without and not feeding at all and still nurse a calf in the case of females. Well now you said that the killer whales were swimming too fast to have cavs with them. So does that mean that. They're giving birth to calves in cold water. Yeah one of the Hypothesis for why. Large Whales Migrate to the Tropics is so that they can have their calves and warm water and they can grow faster but we now know that killer whales which are a lot smaller have their calves in Antarctica. At least at times and they they do perfectly well so it. If it's not too cold for a killer whale to have a calf in Antarctica a blue L. is definitely not going to have any problem so We view this as evidence that they in fact are not going to the Tropics. Just for calving. They're probably going there to molt but we'll find it advantageous to calf while they're there if you saw this happening from Antarctica do you think it also happens from the Arctic yes Arctic. Whales are also known to undergo migrations for instance a humpback whales in Alaska. They they go to Hawaii. They do that every year. And I think it's probably for the same reasons. Well it's nice to know that It's not just people who enjoy a nice trip to the tropics for a little warmth once in a while. Yeah this was. This has been a a puzzle to the scientific community for like a century. Now and people haven't been able to agree on why these whales are doing this. You know thousand many thousands of kilometers migration and spending half a year doing it and so it's been fun coming up with a different idea for people to ponder Dr Pitman. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Dr. Robert. Pittman is a marine ecologist from the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Your toes in the sand an ice cold drink in your hand. Weights lapping on the short is palm trees sway in the tropical breeze sound like paradise. This is winter. Saint Pete clearwater style with thirty five miles of white sand bliss and warm Gulf waters. Paradise is closer than you think visit award winning beaches dot com to plan your perfect getaway to Saint Pete. Clearwater voted the best beach in America by trip advisor for most living things getting older and eventually dying are facts of life. Now I say most living things because we know some plants more specifically trees that can live many hundreds even thousands of years. One famous tree is the Ginkgo Biloba. You might know it from gardens or street plantings or from its use in natural remedies. It's a large leafy tree native to China and it can stand anywhere from twenty to fifty meters tall. Some call it a living fossil because it seems to have been around in our planet for a whopping two hundred and seventy million years. But what's got scientists really excited about it? Right now is that they figured out how it achieves the cellular equivalent of eternal youth. Dr Richard Dixon was part of the team. That studied the Gingko secret to long life. He's a distinguished research professor of biological sciences at the University of North Texas in Denton. Dr Dixon Welcome to the show. It's good to be with you. So what happens in most trees when they age and die? Maybe the best way to describe this is to think of different types of plants like annual plants wildflowers which only have a very short lifespan and then produce seat for the next generation. So those are programmed to die. When they're quite young there then perennial plants like grasses where the main body of the plant above ground dies back every year on the plant regrows again the following year and then trees which may be short-lived that maybe twenty thirty fifty hundred years. Maybe they have a programmed lifespan. And not only do they age but they also programmed ultimately to slow down and die and the exciting thing about the Gingko tree from our research is that we believe that it doesn't actually have that program built into it so tell me how you went through the study to figure out how Gingko Biloba tree is Living so long and getting around the aging problem right. Well there are two things you probably need to know here. And one is the trees grow into directions they grow upwards and that's determined by a group of salves. The very top of the stem called the ethical Mary stem and these cells divide sort of downwards resulting in the tree growing going upwards. But there's also another group of cells called the Vascular Camby him the texts in a circle around the circumference of the tree and these cells controls the wistful the diameter of the tree and Gingko trees and other long lived trees can survive even though the epochal Mary stem at the top of the plant has been destroyed so this could often happen due to lightning strikes or perhaps intense cold or something like this so you often see out very very old trees which no longer growing tool but can still grow wide so we decided that the best area to look to try to understand how gingko survive so long is this. Mary stem the Camby Around the stem now is that layer of cells that just below the bark. Yes it's it's it's inside of the Bach yet. So how did you study it? So the idea was to first of all select trees that were known ages trees approximately twenty years old trees that were approximately two hundred years old and trees that were approximately six hundred years old. So you can stick a Bora into the trunk and go right into the center of the tree. Pull this out. And then you can actually count the tree rings to calculate the age so that was biological material and then what we did was to isolate just the Camby m cells from these trees and then using technical aren a sequencing essentially sequence all the genes that are actually expressed in those trees. So we could look at every single gene in the Gingko plant to see how it was expressed in a twenty year old tree a two hundred year old three or six hundred year old tree. And what did you see when you compare them well? What we saw was in some ways surprising maybe in some ways. Not You know. We know that Gingko trees lived such longtime so we obviously weren't necessarily expecting them the older trees to be in terrible shape but I think big surprise was incredibly good shape. The old trees were in so when we look to a number of criteria of aging the Ol- trees looked just like the young trees we looked for genes associated with senescence. And we know what these are implants and even Ginko for instance you know every year the leave sickness and drop off so the senescence program. It is programmed into the leaves but in the Caribbean there was no of Senescence toll. Now senescence. That's that program death you were talking about. That's the program death yes so that was unchanged in the old trees compared to be unchanged and a maybe that wasn't so surprising but what did surprises a lot particularly if we compare to processes the Tappan in aging in humans for example was that the genes that are associated with defense and protection of the plant. Were not being down regulated in older trees so essentially in relation to the immunity of the plant against stress or disease. It was hard to tell a six hundred year old tree from twenty year old tree. Wow any other characteristics that remained unchanged photosynthetic efficiency of the leaves was the same and the study was done with the male trees. Gingko has males and females separate plants and we also looked at number of seeds that was set each year and the viability of those seeds and that was not distinguishable between old and young trees. Boy What about its ability to continue to grow. We did see some changes that suggests the growth is gradually slowing as the plants get older particular after about two hundred years but the older trees the cells are still dividing and they are still growing. What's their secret to being able to keep all of this going into old age. That's something we would really like to know. Your conclusion from the paper is that there is a balance in these trees between maybe a gradual slowing off of growth but the maintenance of these really high levels of defense that essentially make the tree. I mean I use the word immortal and obviously they probably not immortal because eventually they will succumb to something. But but I think maybe you could say that. If a gingko tree was given theoretically totally optimal conditions and never had any threats to into tall then he could go on for a very very long time. How likely is it that other tree species that live hundreds or thousands of years like here in Canada? We have the giant cedars on the West Coast or the sequoia trees that they're using a similar mechanism that the King Gotree is. We assume that that is likely to be the case. The sequencing technology hasn't been around for that long so this is one of the first examples where it's been applied to long live trees. Dr Dixon thank you very much time. You're welcome it's been a pleasure. Dr Richard Dickson is a distinguished research professor of biological sciences. And the associate director of the Bio Discovery Institute at the University of North Texas in Denton. You know what happens to a toad when it struck by lightning? Same thing happens to everything as in comic books characters like storm from the X. men have unique superpowers. Let them control the weather. But you don't really need mutant abilities to control the weather. You just need. Some technology cloud seeding is a method. That's been in use since the nineteen forties. It involves shooting minerals into clouds to encourage them to rain or snow. The Chinese government is rumored to have tried to clear the skies for the Beijing Olympics by making it rain early and at least fifty two countries around the world have weather modification programs that use cloud seeding to try to control when and where rain and snow falls and of course it might potentially help mitigate some of the effects of climate change given all that you might be surprised to hear that from a scientific perspective. We've never had much hard evidence. That cloud seeding actually works until now. Dr Caccia Friedrich An atmospheric scientist with the University of Colorado Boulder lead a team to spend a lot of time in the clouds measuring whether and how cloud seeding works. Dr Friedrich welcomed Quirks and quarks. Thank you and thanks for having me first of all. How do you see clouds? What's the process? So the idea is we have these clouds of supercooled liquid. Supercooled liquid are really tiny cloud droplets so these cloud up just hover on the cloud and do not fall to the ground. So the idea of cloud seeding is that'd be putting some seating agent into the cloud nannies tiny water droplets freeze and then they merged with other freezing droplets and with a snow crystals and they become heavy enough to fall onto the ground when you say supercooled liquids. What do you mean? It's basically water sub-freezing so probably all of you know when you fly and you can have ice forming outside from an aircraft. That's basically what it is. It's liquid water that excess and subfreezing temperatures so below freezing. But it's still liquid correct. What's the material that you used to see them? So their various ways you can see them you can use to die you can use dry. Is You basically need to have something? That's very similar. In structure s like snow so we can even see snows and our study via using saviour died. Well if this has been in use since the nineteen forties. Why didn't people know if it was actually working or not the difficulties we had over the last? Almost one hundred years is that we had difficulty distinguishing what is generated naturally and what is generated by by the humans and putting stuff into the cloud. We'll take me through your study. What did you do so the way we designed the experiment is that we had the race research aircraft takeoff. I and the research aircraft would basically slide through the clouds that we intend to seed just to measure the background conditions without putting material in and then the seating aircraft will take off and fly parents that were perpendicular to the to the research aircraft. So that if we produce them seeding the research aircraft would eventually fly through those seated clouds and so the seating aircraft would be up and flying back and forth. Same Path usually perpendicular to the wind. And then at the same time. The research aircraft would also fly perpendicular to the clouds to surprisingly as we were going into this project in one day. We suddenly saw these sick sack lines and we were very puzzled because nature usually does not produce six aligns so in this case we thought okay. This needs to be seating line so we were looking for ten into the data and whether this is possible then. Interestingly enough the second day we saw the same seating lines and and that day we could even see individual flares how we put them into the cloud and then we were totally hooked. We're hoping to see that more often and totally start in three cases out of twenty four cases. So you see the you see sort of trail behind the plane in the cloud you see a tramp behind the cloud. Actually if you look very closely you can often see see cloud around airports and airplanes take off or land because they also keep a trail and they're seeing their seeding clouds as well. Yes you see like a trail of a line of clouds okay so once you did the experiment You seated the cloud precipitation. Did you get from that in totally? We get about water equivalent to two hundred eighty two Olympic size swimming pools that was distributed over the entire area of eighty eighty kilometers. Wow those like a long It's actually not so much since we're distributing this over the entire basin. Usually you just had like open to five. Millimeters opened five millimeter civilian light dust of snow. But again this will also over three days. Now how do you know that it was your cloud seeding that produces snow and not snow? That was going to fall naturally anyway so the way you can identify CD clouds again. We're talking about the super cool liquid clouds. They have a lot of liquid water and very little ice so once we see these clouds we can actually see the conversion from liquid water into ice. And that's what we saw on on the research aircraft so we could exclude any natural precipitation. So if he had ceded the cloud that would not have been any precipitation on the ground. What happens to the Silverado itself? Is it Harmful to the environment or people plans so all these cloud seeding 'em entities. They have to do an environmental study and they have to take water samples to show. How much sliver is in the water stream and so far at the the value stone exceed what is required by the environmental protection agencies. So so far. It's considered safe so far. Yeah I mean it again. It depends on how much seeding operations you do and how much area to see it again. If you read everything up then it might become a problem. Well considering you just got a light dusting of snow out of this experiment. Do you feel that cloud? Seeding is really worth the effort. It depends on the cost of water. So if you're in an area that's very a read and dry and you're under drought conditions. So then every trump cowan so then why not do cloud seeding? What was it like for you to see snow coming down from the sky knowing that you made it happen. I have to say like once. We saw this six lines and we had some of my colleagues. They've been doing this for fifty years and so be really really excited. And as I said we've got really hooked on this idea of okay. We can do it one day. We can do it the next day and we can do it now every time we cloud city so this was really exciting again at the beginning we were not quite sure whether that is us and whether this is really from cloud seeding but then once we could Reproduce those results several times. Then we actually got more confident. Well maybe next time you do it when the snow starts coming down run outside and try to do is that song says get the snowflakes on your nose and eyelashes exactly but also remember their silver iodide in the snow crystals. So on your nose. I'm not sure if you WANNA stick your tongue out feerick. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Dr. Katcher Friedrich is an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with the University of Colorado Boulder. The Arctic may seem like a cold desolate place. But if you listen closely you'll see it's anything but for the past four years. Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society have been eavesdropping on the animals. Moving through the northern part of the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia using state of the art recorders anchored to the sea floor with weights. They were able to record over thirty. Three thousand calls from whales walruses and seals. Not only does it sound amazing but it's also important data to have to paint a picture of how climate change is reshaping the Arctic and affecting the animals. That live there Dr Howard Rosenbaum and Dr Martin robards are with the Wildlife Conservation Society and we're co authors on this research. We caught up with him to hear their favorite sounds and about the work that went into getting them. So this region of the northern Bering Sea north of Saint Lawrence Island up through Bering Strait. I mean it's sort of that. Hallowed area very much the meeting of the Eastern and Western hemispheres and then within that we have this incredible migration of marine mammals. It's one of those incredible spectacles on the planet with as many as thousand bowhead whales coming through there twice a year. They're joined by some one hundred. Fifty thousand walruses tens of thousands of Bluer Gray whales and then you know hundreds of thousands of ICL's this is one of the great migrations on the planet and to me. We need to do what we can to make sure that it stays that way. My name is Martin robots I am regional director for wildlife conservation. Society's Arctic Burundi a program. I'm Howard Rosenbaum. Aigdirect wildlife conservation. Society's Ocean giants program the Arctic is experiencing rapid and tremendous changes. And yet there was very little information in this region. How are these animals using this particular habitat? What does that sound? Scape sound like how to animals communicate in the space. When are they present by having more information about how? The animals are moving through this area at a time of rapid climatic change. We can manage it appropriately so that we'd causing the least impact to those animals and to the people who depend on them. These gateways to the Arctic are now opening up for increased shipping ship. Noise can typically mask or minimize the communication space for these animals to communicate with one. Another you can liken it to walking down the street and basically city maybe New York or other work where you're talking to somebody and then the traffic picks up and settle. You're having to speak really loudly for them to hear. And in some instances some animals leave and try to call louder and louder and louder to get above those noise levels until they just can't do it anymore and they just basically stop calling in about two thousand twelve. We had an interest in having a long term monitoring of the noise in this area in what has been traditionally quiet area. We wanted to better understand what that quiet was. And how marine mammals we using it in a nutshell really? What we were doing is using novel recording equipment that basically sat just on the seafloor in the Bering Strait region of the Arctic and were recording Marine Mammal vocalisations in a year round fashion and also the ambient noise conditions in this area as far as putting out records for the first time it was a kind of a funny story we were all set to go out and deploy that first recorder and the weather came in and we had you know eight to ten foot swells for the next week. We weren't able to do anything we would just waiting waiting waiting to go out. And the boats worked with renowned Hunter Perry Pond Galley and his son Danny to travel twenty or thirty miles to deploy this quarter. This area is is renowned for some pretty horrendous winter. Storms and so. That's turning the ice and the water down to you. Know quite a depth but you know the ice itself is a few needed thick and really strong currents moving up to the western east of Saint Lawrence Island. Yeah these records a believer about seventeen thousand dollars each so you you put over the side and watch it disappear into the depths of you is definitely thinking. I wonder if I'll ever see that again. And it was just pure joy that these were going in the water but then it's a waiting game if think about this. We've we've deployed. It's late summer early fall just before conditions. We're about to turn really we gotta we gotta long wait in essence. Now we're waiting 'til typically may June July to go back out there and collect these units and see and hear what's on men now. We just got to hope for the best for the most part. We were able to retrieve those recorded successfully. There's also a few of those still on the bottom of the bering sea tried pretty hard to find them but they're still down there there. Is that next piece as their information. Did they actually record anything at all? We open up the recorders and you can do it. Pretty quick test to go you know. Is the memory card full and that in all cases was the case and so we go all right. They were recording. So that's always a good feeling. The batteries died. There wasn't an electrical malfunction in the machinery of it. What's really cool when we get the hard drives back? And were browsing or mining. These data sets you know we use computer programs to in essence pick up on these types of sounds and help a human analyst. Find them you know like she's am where you might hear a little clip and it identifies what the song. That's playing as well in similar ways in the computer can pick out. The particular stereotypical calls. I mean we were in the hundreds of thousands of minutes of recordings. Think about that for a minute. Thirty three thousand plus recordings of Arctic Marine Mammals. I mean one of the most exciting things is getting a positive result. And then and then getting to hear what these amazing vocalisations from each of these animals sound like hearing the song sequences for Bo head. Wales you've just brings a smile to your face. Ricardo who had been doing their on the recordings sent me the walrus knocking which is a really fun sound and it was. It was really gratifying to hear that. It was a very recognizable. Sound these lab repetitive and highly star. Typic- knocks these pulses actually almost. Sounds like someone's knocking on the door. Thinking like how does that animal that sound. I think my real favorite. Are these kind of absolutely wild calls made by bearded seals and having been in the Arctic and seen these animals up close and personal when you Kinda hear that sort of just amazing the more. We've done this work the more fascinating. It's being about the range of sounds that it down there. I mean we talk a little bit about marine mammals here but as an increasing body of research showing that fish Very dependent on sound for communication and are impacted by sound as well. In addition to hearing the Marine Mammal. Vocations we get to listen in on the ambient and atherogenic conditions. And so we would be able to pick up. Sounds of passing ships close to each of these recorders and that also gives us an interesting baseline in terms of what that environment now sounds like and what will happen as C. Ice Melts and shipping occurs increasingly through this region. So that's really important. It establishes a baseline for the here and now and as this environment rapidly changes actually empowers us and our colleagues and our partners from indigenous communities to use this information to better protect these animals and it also can help establish a connection to these animals with people that will never ever get a chance to see them and to me. That is the point of hope. Is that you know with the right information. We can do the right thing marine biologist Dr Howard Rosenbaum and Dr Martin robards are with the wildlife conservation. Society took science west course and without it's time for another quirks and quarks question. Hi My name is Robyn E saw. I'm from Calgary. Alberta my question is why does sell. Animals lay eggs and others give live birth. Thank you and here's the answer. I'm Bob Montgomery and I'm a professor of evolutionary biology at Queens University in Kingston Ontario. Well that's a really great question in part because we really don't know the answer yet and a lot of scientists around the world are have been working on this for quite a while and questions like this evolutionary biologists like to think of the costs and benefits of different traits and we could say that the the reason that some animals are live. Bearing is because that is more beneficial to them than than it is still eggs so animals eggs for example. Have to incubate them and those eggs are out there in the environment and susceptible to parasites and predators and the weather whereas library animals. Keep their babies inside them and they don't have that problem but they have a weight problem. For example Lizard called the yellow bellied. Three toed skink lives in Australia. Where some of the lizards in that species that live high on the mountains give live birth and other individuals live down on the coast the eggs and the ones that they eggs are in a warm environment where they can get away with that. They can put the eggs in the sand and the eggs will incubate but the ones up in the mountains cat and they eggs successfully. Because there's no way to keep the more I'm so they keep their embryo inside them and egg-laying live bearing groups in the fishes and other groups of reptiles and Amphibians so in those groups that looks like some species legs because they can and it's advantageous to them and others they have live birth because they and it's advantageous to them. Doctor Robert Montgomery is an evolutionary biologist with Queen's University and that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question our email is courts at CBC DOT CA or. Just go to the contact. Lincoln our webpage and get to our webpage Goto. Cbc DOT CA SLASH QUIRKS. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks and you can also get us on the CBC listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play works in quirks is produced by Amanda Bucko. It's Sonya biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer is Jim. Lebanon's I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts Goto CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Canada Tropics Iran Us China Arctic Antarctica Dr Howard Rosenbaum Bob McDonald influenza Wales Dr Martin robards Dr Robert Pittman Italy Bering Sea twitter SARS Dr Richard Dixon
Jun 13: What if we hadnt locked down? The return of race science, a dinosaurs last meal and maybe we can go to Mars, but should we?

Quirks and Quarks

55:41 min | 1 year ago

Jun 13: What if we hadnt locked down? The return of race science, a dinosaurs last meal and maybe we can go to Mars, but should we?

"Hi. I'm Dr Brian, Goldman. If you haven't heard my new podcast the dose, this is the perfect time to subscribe. Each. We answer your most pressing health related questions and right now we know you're grappling with covid nineteen on those we bring in top experts to answer your questions about the corona virus and post some of our own. Get the latest evidence in a way. That's easy to understand by subscribing to the dose. It's your guide to getting through this difficult time. You can find the dose wherever you get your podcast. This is a CBC podcast. Back. Eight Point dark-haired inherited. Cranks. Pi I'm Bob McDonald. On this week. Show new studies reveal just how well the lockdown work to avoid a Kobe catastrophe. We have seen some extraordinary tragedies. We averted the worst of it. Also as the world focuses on issues of anti-black racial bias, we look at the terrible history and sinister new president of race science. You can say that the inequality that we see in society is not -tural then. We don't have to do anything about it. These scientific intellectual racist arguments still hold so much power. And an immaculately preserved dinosaurs stomach contents reveals what the creatures last meal was. Specimen is kind of the gift giving plus the pathway to Mars. Should we go to Mars? Is it even at the call to ask people to go in order to send people on these long missions, we essentially have to violate every health standard that exists for astronauts right now all this today on quirks and forks. It's been a long and difficult few months as we've dealt with the COVID nineteen pandemic. According to official numbers close to seven and a half, million people around the world of had the virus, though the actual number of people. In fact, it is likely much higher and the current death count stands at more than four hundred thousand people. But given how difficult this is being economically and given the extraordinary hardship, many are facing due to lockdown measures. We still need to ask. Was It all worth it well this week? Two studies were published in the prestigious journal Nature that measured. What would have happened if countries around the world had not gone into lockdown in other words, we now know what we avoided and it's clear we've saved millions. Dr David Physican has looked at this here Canada's well. He's an infectious disease, physician and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto's Dala Lana. School of public. Health Dr Fiszman. Welcome back to the program. Thanks for having me back now. The first time we spoke back in late January. You said the defining problem in public health is that your job is to make nothing happen. So based on these new studies and yours. What do we now know what didn't happen around the world because countries went into locked up right I think that problem that difficulty with communication is what motivated these epidemiologists economists to do these studies. Because we did all this stuff, we disrupted the way we live. We took economic hits. And so these horrendous events of issues filling up overflowing people starting to die, because they can't even access care, never mind die from the disease. None of that came to pass on that scale. We have seen some extraordinary tragedies, but we averted the worst of it well, how many cases and deaths have been avoided due to these lockdowns? Saints Study from California looked six countries, the US France and Italy China and Korea Iran is an interesting one because I think there have been some issues with information coming out of Iran so a lot of challenges there in not perfect responses in all of those places, but nonetheless the estimate is that absent, these very aggressive public health measures you would have had half a billion people infected in those countries that would translate to five million people who would have died. Who did not die approximately. Approximately on the study that's focused on Europe estimates about three million deaths that did not happen not to minimize the many tens of thousands of deaths that did happen, but there are many people alive right now. Who would be dead if it weren't for the action that happened in March and April with these lockdowns, we can look closer to home here in Ontario in see that we had a tremendous surge in ICU admissions with real exponential growth going on in early intimate March and that ended. Suddenly in late March due to lockdown, but we would estimate that if we had waited a month on lockdown. We would be somewhere around fifteen thousand deaths in Ontario. Six hundred or so we've had from the community, so look around. Look at your loved ones. Look at your older loved ones particularly over age fifty. Some significant fraction of those people would not be here now if it weren't for this lockdown, it's saved a ton of lives. Those are astounding numbers. What went through your mind when you saw that? Yeah, I mean they're big numbers. That's exponential growth. That's why it's scary. Well now that we're starting to move out of the lock down, you recently co authored an open letter calling on public health officials to mandate mask wearing in certain situations. How could that help? Prevent us from having to lockdown? The Nice thing about masks and Cova is that they prevent both acquisition of infection. So if you're infected from an I'm wearing a mask, they keep me from getting your infection, but possibly more important with Kovic is, if I'm infected and don't know it yet, and we think about forty percent of the transmitting happens before I feel sick. If I have covid, it prevents me from giving you covet so there's this bidirectional impact on transmissibility well, if we're opening up our economy that implicitly such, we're going to be having more contact with each other so away to counterbalance that by decrease in the probability of transmission per contact that means we can open up our economy more and interact more. While still keeping our reproduction number at the same level. So what kind of conditions then do you think mash should be mandated? I think the Japanese had this from day. One in Japan's had a remarkable success in keeping covid from taking off, despite really not having locked down to the extent that other countries have they talk about the three season Japan I like to think of the four CS, but there three CS are close closed in crowded so by avoiding those three sees the Japanese have really kept their epidemic on a slow burn and maintain their economy at the same time my fourth C. is continuous for a long time. So if you're going to interact with someone, keep it short. Keep it brief. Masks enter into that because they might allow us to resume some activities that violate the three CS. If folks are in stores, it makes a lot of sense. To me for people to mask up and indeed I think storage should be demanding with their customers. Mass Cup. There's starting to be a push that we should should have to mask up when we're on transit. One of the difficulties with masks is of course you have to buy one in what we're seeing with. Covert in Canada right now is that it's hitting lower income people harder and I was very interested to learn. Learn this week that the Irish government they're talking talking about widespread masking now in Ireland, the Irish government is actually going to be sending packets of reusable masks to people to make sure that that the masks don't only get used by hiring people who can afford them, but they're available for everyone, and again I think for those who say you know. We don't want to be locked down. We want open our economy. Please embrace masks because there are a great way for us to open the economy wider than we would be able to otherwise and keep disease and check Morton. We were able to do otherwise. Now what about other regions in the country? I? Live in BC. We have quite a low rate here. It's not as bad as Toronto. Ontario at least should other areas also be mandated to wear masks when I look at the resurgences in British Columbia because this week set of pat a small resurgence there when I look at that I, think well, you know. Maybe if masks use were mandated in BC, it would be even quieter than it is. Is already. There's a study that actually came from Germany that leverage the fact that they introduced mandatory mask use at different times in different regions of Germany, and it almost acts like a shock in these models. He introduced the masks and Bang. You know a week later. Transmission is down and when that curve bends, really does seem to be tied to the timing of introduction of mandatory mass, so I think we're pastime in Canada to use more widely. Dr Pitman thank you very much for your time. Thanks as always Dr David Fiszman is an infectious disease, physician and Professor Epidemiology at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of public health. Don't feel. Safe as if I were a white teenager. My Age I'm always. Vigilant of with my friends, black lives matter black boys matter their lives, matter and that there's a large underlying issue in Canada. Where racism get swept under the rug and it's time that that issue comes out the ongoing protests across Canada the US around the world, demanding action on anti-black racism have focused new attention on a sadly durable injustice. On Wednesday of this week, many scientists and science organizations acknowledged the continuing issues with systematic racism in their disciplines, participating in the shutdown stem shutdown, academia and strike for black lives initiatives. This was meant as a day to reflect and plan action to begin to eliminate anti black racism in science. Racism and science has deep, historical and institutional roots, and there's been a disturbing revival of some of those routes in ideologies like ethnic nationalism and white supremacy. This includes the resurgence of race science. Ray Sciences the unfounded idea that there's a biological reality that will allow people to be classified into discrete groups. It's the search for scientific justification for the differences we may perceive between people of different skin, colors, religions or national origins. Last November. I spoke with signs journalists Angeles Saney about a book. She'd written investigating this issue. It's called superior. The return of Ray Science Angeles Sania assigned journalist and broadcaster based in the UK. Here's that interview. I welcome to quirks and quarks Hypo bits the pleasure to be natia. Why did you want to look into the return of race science? Well for lots of reasons, really I mean I grew up as an ethnic minority in London at a time when there was quite a lot of racism in the area that I lived in so these are issues of intending over my head for many many decades, and as a science journalist, especially the topic of human difference, and not only how we measure it, but also how that gets translated in society was a big topic for me, but I think this was the moment for me to write the book because. Of this rise in ethnic nationalism and populism, and the again we're seeing. This kind of biology is ation of race. In, populous fears whether it's DNA, ancestry, testing, or whether it's the abusive Ray signs that we see. Online and but there's certainly a revival. Well in your book, You explore the history of race science, and you take it right back to the age of enlightenment in the seventeen hundreds. Re you say it started? How did it get started back then well, I think many of us imagine that the ideas of race that we have now the categories that we use our eternal that there have been there forever, but of course they haven't at best. Many of them are no more than a few hundred years old and they date from. From the birth of modern Western Science from the enlightenment is when philosophers and thinkers European thinkers went out into the world, and just as they started classifying the natural world at plants and animals, they also thought about classifying human beings, and so while, of course we have always noticed difference I. Mean it's crazy to think that humans don't notice difference. The records we have now were really set in stone then in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in quite arbitrarily, so you know some of these philosophers would. Kind of have very cursory understanding of how other people live. Many of them haven't traveled at all, so they didn't really know how human difference played out, and so they would guess I mean Linares, who who is famous for drawing up many of the natural taxonomy that we use now. He even included within his categories, one for feral like humans, one for monster like humans, because as far as he knew. Knew these people existed well, and you also point out that he and most scientists and philosophers of the time where white males and upper class European, and the you know, this is no accident, the modern science that we use now the empirical method was born in Europe and many of the people who practiced it were upperclassmen of wealth, and they had a certain worldview, and I think it would be. Crazy to assume that that worldview wasn't affecting the way that they were thinking about human difference. It's no accident. I don't think that when they were dividing humans up into categories and deciding, there was a hierarchy between those categories that they always put themselves at the top. It's something that may scientists always hunting common the science of that era almost immediately manifested itself an ideology and politics. Can you give me some examples of that? Well so the idea is around racial categories that were devised at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth, centuries on the one hand scientists withdrawing on the political worldviews that were prevalent at the time in the cultures they belong to, and at the same time the science they were producing so when they devise these racial categories that again was used to reinforce the political worldviews that were out there in society, so these scientific ideas we used to justify slavery and colonialism and Later genocide apartheid, so they were always. They're going hand in hand. It was never the case that signs was kind of separate from the what was happening politically in the real world, it was always their both being fed by the politics and also feeding into the politics. Will, this area of race is came to a crisis point with world, war, two and some of the horrors that happened there. What changed after the war? Well. World War Two was a kind of seminal. Turning point for the way we thought about human difference, mainly because of the abuse of race signs and Eugenics by Nazi Germany, when we could see once and for all where these ideas could lead. That was the moment at which scientists started to turn their backs on it well, let's move into the modern era. Then there is a consensus in science today I mean biologists come up with a really strong scientific critique of the idea of race. Can you take me through that? Well. For seventy years since this kind of consensus of the Second World War, all that biology has done is reinforced the fact that we are so similar and in fact. The genetic differences between us we imagine that the genetic differences between racial groups these social groups that we use every day when signing census forms, opera found. They're really not. Entirely marginal to the point, the for example I I'm of Indian origin. My parents were born in India. But if I were to randomly pick a south, Asian person on the street and randomly pick a white Canadian person on the street and test genomes, it's perfectly statistically possible for my genome to have more in common with the white person and with the Indian person. That's how. Almost complete that overlap is so we are incredibly similar. As a species and the vast majority of difference that we see is accounted for by individual difference, so individual difference far outweighs group difference, so you're saying that Even though we may look different, we may have different skin colors are. We may have different cultural behaviors from genetic point of view. We're all the same. Yeah I think sometimes even skin color is misleading because we look, we categorize in certain ways, and we have to remember that people categorized differently in different countries, so someone could be categorized as black in in the US. be categorized as colored mixed race in South Africa and categorize complete differently in another country, there were huge variations in skin color even within the social categories. Categories that we use white. People can be anything from as Brown as I am very very pale. In India, there is the entire spectrum of skin color, and we think of India as a kind of brown country or the people from India well, they can be anything from paper wide all the way to very very black, just because we have these social categories we have. Ideas about what people within these social categories look like the real degree of variation within them is actually enormous. The skin color variants. For White Skin, for instance, the genetic variance for white skin, a found in sub Saharan Africa, so that was the oldest populations on the planet role of humors whole are pretty homogeneous genetically then why does raise still feel so real well? We use it every day. You know it's part of our everyday lives. It has been the hundreds of years. It has defined how we are treated by society. In the most visceral and fundamental ways because of. The politics of it because of segregation and slavery and All the different ways in which people treated differently based on the fact that these social categories are thought to exist, and we so easily conflate that with biology. We can't help but believe that because. These things have such great social meaning that they must have some biological meaning Ben to especially, because we in our heads associate them with biological features. Well, there's a kind of an amateur race science. That's very popular right now. You can see with commercial genetic testing. This idea appeals to people of all sorts of backgrounds. Do you think that is? It does and I have say it has greater appeal in places like the US in Canada where people. Tend to be of. Migrant backgrounds, so for example for me. I've never really felt the desire to have my ancestry tested because I know where my family a from I know. My parents were born in a certain region in India I can go there, and they're still members of their family living there now on as far as I know they've lived there for a very long time, but if say you are black American, and because of the history of slavery, you've been torn apart from that culture and. And that history and those routes, then Dan Ancestry testing does offer what may be the only way you have a reconnecting to what was lost and tragic on so many levels on one level, because that was done to people that they would ripped apart from their cultures and made to live lives completely removed from them, and secondly the DNA. Ancestry testing cannot give you very much. It can't give you that culture back. All it can give you is some kind of very vague fuzzy. Notion of where people who have some genetic similarity to now live and. You know that cannot account for everything that was lost, but for some people. That's all they have. Well. Let's get to the subtitle of your book. The return of science in some sense. One of the points you make is that it never really went away. What have you seen chain recently? Well the scientific racism that existed before the second, World War often. The war didn't completely disappear. There was this mainstream consensus shift away from the old fashioned cranial matry phonology of the policy and measuring people's skin, color or head shape, and making inferences from that, but there were people who still clung even after the war to this idea that we were not one human species. That racial mixing was somehow genetically dangerous. It was described as miscegenation. There was this assumption that. People of different races having children together would even we create these kind of monster like you know mutants who are physically and mentally compromised. And there was still there were people. There was mainstream scientists at big universities who claimed to this notion what happened after the war was they found themselves marginalized, of course, because science was moving away from that so they form their own networks, even with their own journals, if at one of those John also is started in nineteen, sixty one, the mankind quarterly is still in publication today, so for seventy years. This small network of people have nurtured these audiology these racist ideologies. Now online is that because the Internet makes it so much easier for people to communicate with each other and disseminate to this kind of material. There's been a proliferation of it so not just the mankind quarterly, but many many more online shadowy online journals, producing really dodgy poor scholarship, claiming that there are these profound differences between racial groups. The racial mixing is dangerous, essentially the very same kind of racism that you saw in the nineteenth century, but kind of repackaged so when you hear the phrases human biodiversity of race realism. This really is just code for that old fashioned scientific racism repackage for the twenty century we'll. How are these far right groups today using race science to sell their political ideologies? Well the heart of the ideology really hasn't changed for hundreds of because essentially, if you can say that the inequality that we see in society is natural, that is rooted in people's bodies, rather than rooted in historical or social circumstance, which it is then. We don't have to do anything about it then. We don't need Equal opportunities or affirmative action. We don't need to help. People improve their social social situation. Because this is just how things shake out naturally, this is their argument that do these natural differences playing out in societies, and this is why we see the inequality that we do often you know they refer also to gender inequality in this way, so racial and gender inequality is somehow. And this is very powerful, because if you can say that then the game of politics changes completely, and this is why these scientific intellectual racist arguments still hold so much power. Let's switch to those looking at differences who don't have obvious racist intent. Your lost chapter in the book is called Black Pills why racial allies medicine doesn't work, and this is an engagement with a little tricky issue here there. Well intentioned site is right now looking to study marginalized groups that may share susceptibility to particular diseases, so they want to help them. What problems do you see with that? While for me, medical. Research and health research is the one arena where ray signed seems to have survived. We it is, it has become so routine for us to go to our doctors and be told that because we are south-asian, for instance all we are Hispanic that we have some high susceptibility to certain diseases or conditions, and again this reinforces in the public imagination. Race must be real if that's possible. What we don't realize is that the research behind this is really using race as a proxy almost always so for example take the case of sickle cell sickle cell is a famous racialist condition. We associated with black people rather than white people, but globally it is found in those areas of the world where malaria is prevalent, because the sickle cell trait confers some resistance to malaria, and that means it's found not just in parts of Africa but also parts of the world where people have white skin so globally it is not rationalized, but because of the demographics of places like the US and Britain and because of the where the black communities come from, it looks like a racialist condition, and so again here we can see that racist being used as a proxy for the places in the world where malaria is common and for every condition that you can think of racist being used Naproxen kind of way. the example I give in superior is hypertension so when you talk about black pills the reason I use that. titles for the chapter is because the first black drug or drug designed for marketing to black people only in the US buydell. is to treat heart failure, which often results from hypertension and hypertension is perhaps one of the most racialist conditions in the world. It's heavily associated with black Americans and Black Britons but. We have found next no genetic evidence to account for these these differences in hypertension between people. What we do know is that hypertension and a high blood pressure a linked to salt intake. So if it were linked to skin color, which the existence of by dill might imply, then we would expect rates of hypertension to be heist in Africa right while in fact, they're the lowest Africa they're the highest adjusted in Finland and Germany, and the reason for that is diet because in Finland, people tend to have diets high in salty meat and cheese, and we know the same in America that if you're poorer, you tend to have more processed food in your diet, and that contains more salt and black Americans. We know tend to be poorer well. So when it comes to studying differences, how do you think the science community can best understand what's reasonable or acceptable to study and what isn't? Well, I think. Of course there are there is human variation, and there are statistical rations that play out in different populations in very subtle ways, and I don't think there's any reason not to do that kind of research in fact I'm of the view that if you can get your research funded by a reputable organization and published and peer reviewed in a reputable publication, you should be able to whatever concert she like, but we have to use these terms carefully. Often races used as variable without people, really defining it biologically, and not as very minimum. We should expect from a scientific variable that you'd be able to define it biologically and very often. People don't do that. They just treat these social categories as though they are biological without really doing the Legwork to figure out why that is a valid way to think about these things. Things so this is what I always say to researchers, I give a lot of talks at universities and in front of health researchers, and I always say if you are going to use a variable including Mace, then at least be able to define it well after looking at all of this. Do you think the study of differences? Even it's with benign intent is doomed to be CO opted by racism. Well I think there are. Are elements out that that will always look to science to reinforce that political views whatever the sign says so even though right now there are no geneticists in the world who will say that their work reinforces what racists believe. Even then scientific racists will keep preaching and keep reaching for you know the most arcane arguments we can find. Sometimes they will reach into the nineteenth century for for their evidence. Offer their data and. I personally believe. Perhaps they will always do that. But. It feels like the Internet in some ways amplifies these people in the same way it amplifies climate, change, deniers or flatter Thurs.. Waxes it gives them more of a platform than they really deserve Messina. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you Angeles? Saint, he is a science journalist and broadcaster based in the United Kingdom her book is called superior the return of race science. That interview was originally broadcast last November. I'm Keith Macarthur. Unlocking Bryson's brain is a podcast about my son. The rare disease that keeps him from walking or talking you Bryson's perfect. His life is really hard, and our families search for a cure. Oh, my Gosh! Maybe sites ready for this. It's part memoir part medical mystery. We can do just about anything modifying DNA heart in my throat. Cure is controversial unlocking bryson's brain. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Nineteen ninety-five, a college student disappeared on a trip across the USA avid portia missing right away, they went, take it, so his mother started investigating the case file I started going through and saw people that wasn't interviewed. I joined this mother search for justice. You recording US am. Someone knows something season six. Available now. A decade ago in Fort mcmurray Alberta miners found an unexpected surprise, a one hundred ten million year old dinosaur. It had been essentially mummified in thick mud from an ancient see and it was in near Pristine condition. The. Dinosaur was a notice or a low slung, heavily armored plant eater, and is considered to be the best preserved dinosaur specimen ever unearthed. It was more than just a skeleton. It came complete with intact skin, covered an armored plate so perfectly preserved. We can even see it's coloring. and. It wasn't just well preserved on the outside for the first time, scientists were able to see what dinosaur guts look like, and now researchers have figured out what this thirteen hundred kilogram herbivores. Last meal was so for the first time ever we can definitively say what a herbivorous dinosaur eight. Dr, Kayla Brown is paleontologist and curator at the royal till museum in drum, Heller Al Burda, he led the research. Dr Brown welcome to our program. Thank you very much. It's great to be back so first of all. What kind of dinosaur was this? And how was it so well preserved so it's a kind of dinosaur call than Kyle or an armored dinosaur. It's about five and a half meters long, or it would have been, and probably weighed about a ten and a half while the. How was this show well preserved? Well Earth, it didn't get buried in the environment. It lived in a once it died. It actually got washed out sea, and got buried in Marine sediments, and we think a a type of recalled concretion formed around it shortly after Berea and that basically sealed it in and kept it safe from the environment. Wow, so you've got like the whole body there you can see the whole thing. We don't have the entire animal. We have about the front two thirds of the animal, but what we have is exquisitely preserved all the bones of the skin, all the armor, their preserved in place, and their preserved in three dimensions, so it's the closest. You'll ever get to seeing what it looked like. A why is it important to know what this dinosaur eight? Well, our understanding of dinosaur died especially of. Dinosaurs is actually quite limited. We have very few occurrences of direct evidence of diet, so most of our understanding comes from indirect evidence, so we look at the shape of the t, the sheep of the jaws, the plants that were living at the time, but we didn't really know. We don't really know how specific these urban are, and what what range of Diet? They had so take me through what you did. Then how did you figure out what this dinosaurs last meal was so within the animal mentioned how exquisitely preserved the animal tissue is. There's a blob or a mass in its abdominal cavity. It's about the size of a soccer ball, but it's been squish down. And it's actually in our specimens broken into a couple of chunks, we took some of the smaller fragments, and we embedded them in a clear resin, and then we used assault a slice. Them very thinly polished them and look at them under a microscope when you do that. What actually makes up though stomach contents is exquisitely preserved plant material. And once we saw that material preserved. We knew we had to reach out to some paleobotanist. Colleagues actually identify what this material was, and then inform on the Diet. So what China plant material. Had the dinosaur eaten? The material is largely leaf tissue, and it's largely leaf tissue from ferns, and that in itself is not a surprise I think most people working on armored dinosaurs would thought that for leaves made up a large portion of its diet, but there were other surprises as well. There was certain plants that weren't represented in the things like acquisition, conifers and cycads. We're actually quite rare. And then there was things like chunks of wood, and the biggest surprise was actually would that had been turned to charcoal before the animal aided. Charcoal. What is that doing stomach? Yeah, that was that was a weird surprise. So what the charcoal means to us is that the animal was feeding in an environment for an force that had recently undergone a wildfire or force fire, and it's actually make sense. If you were a large Donoso, they can't reach up very high an area that's been really burt by forest fire is actually the perfect area to feed because you have a lot of. Of New Growth and that new growth is going to be things that are low to the ground, and it's going to be packed with nutrients and can be very digestible. All I see. They WanNa get those Nice Yummy new shoots that are coming up on the ground. Exactly they're both easy to reach and more nutritious than the old ones that are higher up. Did. You find anything else in the stomach ads, these firms and the charcoal. yeah, we found abundant paulin preserved in spores from the ferns and conifers that were alive, and that gives us an idea what the environment was like with the diversity of plants were. and. We also found gastro with gas. Our stomach stones, so they are rocks at the animal swallowed. And the ideas that they would help aid digestion. They'd be kind of a meal in the stomach. And this is what a lot of modern birds do that. Eat a lot of classes well, so so what the idea is that? The rocks are churning around in the stomach as part of the digestion. so when the bird swallow these stones basically pulverizes that plant material we think about a birds don't have teeth, so they can only do so much processing of that pie material in their mouth, so they moved that processing to the stomach, and it looks like these are dinosaur was doing as well. I'll show. You're chewing inside the gut rather than in the deep yet it's an opportunity to break down that plant material even further to get more energy and more nutrients out of it. Did this dinosaur teeth yes? Yes, the dinosaur had teeth. They were fairly simple teeth, and there's been a fair amount of research trying to figure out what type of material the animal could have been eaten in the past thought was restricted, eating very soft material, but in the last ten years there's been a lot of research sitting. No, it could have been a lot of tougher material, and that's actually supported by what we're seeing in terms of the stomach contents well well. How does this change what we know about? What herbivorous dinosaurs aid? In some ways it doesn't change in some ways. It confirms what we already thought. But there are some new surprises. The new surprise here is we can talk about how selective or non selective was. We think it was actually reasonably selected. It seemed to prefer certain types of ferns over others over over conifers and cycads. Why do you think it was such a picky eater and only eight the FERNS? That's a great question. We don't really know why, so we're not sure. If this abundance of certain types of food in the in the stomach is directly related to an individual preference, the animal had or just what was both within reach and locally available, and until we get a better sample size and more evidence, it could go either way. Just want last thing. When we visited museums very often, we see dinosaur skeletons, and you know the very impressive, but I'm I'm just curious how different it is for us a paleontologist to have more than the skeleton to have the skin, the color the stomach contents. Yes specimen is kind of the gift that keeps on giving. It's not just a skeleton. It is a specimen, and it shows what the animal actually looked like, and we can analyze that s scientists and get lots of exciting data about its life, but on a cultural level, a lot of our visitors have kind of an emotional response. When they first see this animal, there are people who a burst into tears when they first saw because I don't think. I ever thought they'd see a dinosaur kind of in the flesh ever and and there. It is sitting fun of them while. Dr. Brown thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much for having me on Dr, Kayla. Brown is a paleontologist and curator at the Royal Museum and Drum Heller Alberta. Get your loss. Whatever the reason you're on Mars is I'm glad you're there. And I wish it was with you, but what is considering the? Race we go they're. Landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around the scene. This season on quirks and quarks. We've been taking a trip to the Red Planet in series. We call the pathway to Mars. In previous episodes we have presented the many difficult challenges of getting humans to Mars and back will look at how we build and launch the rocket get the astronauts to Mars safe and healthy, and even build them a place to live. But. We left the biggest question to last and to introduce this question once again. I'm joined by the astronaut who spent more time in space more than half a year than any other Canadian Dr Robert Thirsk. Dr Thirsk, welcome back, thank you, Bob, so we really could have made this our first question in our mar series because it's fundamental. Should we go to Mars? Is it ethical? The send humans on a mission like this and do we have to worry about Mars itself? Well, yes, we should go I'm an astronaut, Bob, so of course I'll say say yes, but I really think before we go. The world really needs to develop plan of of water. Intentions are in whenever we explorer a new destination. We tend to trash the natural resources there. So? Yeah, let's explore Mars it's going to be. Inspirations can be mind blowing achievement, but before we go, the global community really needs to get an agreement on a coordinated plan of what we intend to do there I think the current outer space. Treaties are inadequate and they need to be rethought. I think in the long distant future hundred two hundred years to now yes I think we should set up a colony on Mars, but before we do such a thing we have to maintain Mars in pristine condition so that the scientists can go there and make sure that they can study the surface subsurface To better understand about Mars past geological historian with the. Could before Earth in the future. So that's the astronauts take. Yes, we should go, but there are many important in fact, fundamental, ethical, social, and even legal considerations around visiting and perhaps ultimately colonizing Mars. Dr. Lucian walkaway has spent a significant part of her career thinking about whether we should go to Mars. She studied the issues working on them with NASA and the US. Library of Congress, she's an astronomer based at the Adler. Planetarium in Chicago and Co founder of the just space alliance. Dr walkaway welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you for having me. So why should we go to Mars? You know my interest in astronomy is the question of where life might exist in the universe, and I think that you know going to Mars, presents a really incredible opportunity for astro biology search for life so to me if we're going to send humans to Mars that's kind of what I'd like to see us do. Let's suppose that one of our robots discovers life on Mars and improves that there is life on Mars there today. People can contaminate. We can bring our microbes there and contaminate the indigenous life. That's there so what about that issue? So our activities in space are governed by the Outer Space Treaty so the Outer Space Treaty dates back from sixty seven, and it sets forth. A number of principles of what humans can can't do so for example it contains phrases that spaces for the peaceful use of all mankind mankind, because it was nineteen, sixty seven, and most notably for the question that you asked. Is this question of environmental contamination? An Article Nine of the Outer Space Treaty says that we can't contaminate another world in such a way as to make it unusable for others. We don't want to go there looking for life and then realized that we're just finding the life that we brought with us on our spacecraft, because we didn't clean it well enough, right? That's not good science, but also we don't want to find the first evidence of life beyond earth, and then kill it by. Bringing some contaminant there or otherwise to contaminate the world in such a way that we would never be able to answer the question of whether Mars had life that was indigenous to it or not okay, so then how is that treaty holding up with plans now to send people to Mars even build colonies there with with hundreds of people living for for extended periods. While I would say that funny enough. The things that I have learned that have been most informative for me when I think about the outer space treaty have not been from space. Lawyers were space policy experts. It's really been from talking to historians of indigenous history here in north, America. The United. States had over five hundred treaties with. Native American nations and those treaties stood until resources namely gold were discovered by settler colonists, who were making incursions into native American land, and as soon as there was money to be made. Frankly the United States government not only didn't uphold the treaty. It actually enabled the settlers to go in and occupy that land, so he don't think when we think about space a lot of times we forget that we have lots and lots of history of what humans do and don't do under different circumstances that comes from here on earth. And you know if we look at the full history of things that are happened, there are many lessons for us to learn about what space exploration might actually look like in practice. A human mission to Mars is very risky I. Mean it's a it's a long journey there. You have to stay there before you can come back in the not too long journey back. Is it even ethical to send humans on such a mission? That's a great question so you know. There was a study done by the National Academies on this question of Methyl Medical Ethics, that report came out with at the very end of the saying in order to stand people on these long missions. We essentially have to violate every health standard that exists for astronauts right now, and that means that the importance of sending human beings specifically on this mission has to outweigh the risks of what they will endure physically boy. Another question that comes up is when we talk about missions like this and the cost of missions like this. Is it ethical to spend such vast sums on a mission? When while we have problems here on Earth assault? You know to me. Space travel is often or space programs are often a little bit of a red herring in this conversation because. Overall like Nassau's budget is incredibly small amount compared to for example the Department of Defense. and. There are a lot bigger pieces of our national budget. Speaking for the United States that could be given over to causes that I. would say are more directly related to people's safety like their ability to access housing and food, so one of the things that I particularly draw a lot of inspiration from A well. Two things release so a number of years ago. I was at a conference in South Africa. For something called the Salt Telescope and the Minister of Science gave the opening address at our conference, and she said you know people are often so quick to tell South Africa what to do with its budget, and that it should focus on taking care of its people, and not on having a telescope, but it is important for us to also have this investment in the future, so that people have places to go that are not just about. Surviving but about thriving and I think being able to hold those two ideas, those two realities together that. We want to survive, but we also want a future in which we can dream for really big things and have places to go. That are challenging. That I think those realities have to be able to co exist, and I often. You know I think we. We often pick on the wrong parts. where the money is getting spent so assuming we don't find life on Mars today and we want to make Mars more habitable for humans. What are the ethical issues around the idea of tariff warming Mars turning it from the cold dry desert. It is today into a warm wet world like the Earth. Terra forming is such a deeply sticky ethical issue, so for example I often pick on Moscow in interviews like this. Just he's very vocal. Gives me a lot of things to respond to you certainly not the only person with these ideas right, but he's often a big fan of talking about a tear formed Mars. So planets that have lost their habitability in the way. The Mars has are not empty swimming pool so that you can just sort of like refill, and they'll go back to being habitable places they they have fundamentally lost a lot of the geological processes that make planets hospitable to life as we know it. One idea that's out. There is that you know Mars has all this carbon dioxide. It's locked up in the rocks. The atmosphere is very thin carbon dioxide layer so one of the ideas that's out. There is like well what if you could release a lot of this carbon dioxide from rocks? Put it into the atmosphere, and then Mars would be warmer and then you. Could you like maybe melt? Some of those ice caps etcetera. While, the the process of releasing carbon dioxide. You still couldn't learn the planet that much, but more specifically, when you talk about releasing all the carbon dioxide from those rocks. We do that here on earth. It's called Strip mining. And Strip mining is not something that we do in places that we want humans to be able to live healthy lives, and so by looking at the examples that we have here on earth we can see the ways in which these sort of sci-fi ideas that seem value neutral on their surface, actually have possible implications for human life that we have good examples of are not good for human health. You know you also want to look at whether you even have the right to transform environments in that way, and I think the fact that we don't see you know space giraffes galloping across the surface of Mars often makes people forget that even if life is not existing on Mars anymore. There's still a lot that we could learn in the same way that we learn from histories of life here on Earth about where we came from, and that's an opportunity that we completely lose by a racing. It's history by changing its chemistry. One of the justifications for going to Mars is often presented as that it could be a backup plan. In case, we trashed the earth. How do you feel about that whole concept? You know I think this idea of martyrs as a backup plan. It would be almost comical if it wasn't so sinister. A lot of times they invoke these narratives around existential risk, so a big one that is often brought up is like what if an asteroid hits the Earth tomorrow? That's very resonant for a lot of people right because we have an example of what happened. A really big asteroid hit the earth. So everybody thinks of that and things well, that's bad. We don't want that to happen, but the thing. Thing, you never hear in those narratives about risk is anything that draws on humanity's responsibility to the planet that they currently occupies so you never hear people say well. We have to go to Mars. As a backup planet because of climate change because climate change is attended by a whole set of responsibilities that we have about stewardship to our environment, and the changes that we have wrought here on earth. So the question of responsibility, even if we want to go to Mars, even if like, I would love to see human beings explore remorse, but I don't think that that absolves us our our responsibility for the planet. Now people often say like well. You know in, say like A. Few Billion Years The sun is going to expand its you know worth will become unlivable etcetera etcetera. Honestly we should be so lucky to be here in a billion years. We have a lot of problems. But you know the other aspect of this is not just the sort of practical aspect, but it's also the very idea of what it means to backup humanity, and you see that overwhelmingly. The space program often reflects all of the racism and sexism. That exists here on earth. And so when we start talking about backing up humanity. You can't do that for very long before you get into. Who is going to make the decisions about who is worth backing up? And what does that look like in the past? What is it even look like in the present you know we're. We're sitting here this conversation at a moment when the entire world is convulsing in support of a relatively simple stay in the black lives matter. And so you know when we talk about backing up humanity while people are also struggling to have their humanity recognized here on earth. It's not a short leap to see that that might reproduce all of the discrimination that we've had here on earth so I think that the idea itself aside from absolving us of our responsibilities to the environment, they also result absolve a sufferer responsibilities to one another. The through welcome. Thank you very much for your time. Yeah thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure Dr Lucian. walkaway is an astronomer Adler, planetarium in Chicago the Baru S Bloomberg Nasa Library of Congress Charon Astro Biology and the CO founder of the just space alliance. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks. If you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question, our email is quirks at CBC. DOT CA or just go to the contact link on our web page and get to our page. Go to CBC DOT CA Slash Quirks where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog. You can also follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks. You can also get us on the CBC. LISTEN UP! It's free from the APP store or Google play. Quirks and quarks is produced by Amanda Muklewicz Sonia Biting and Mark. Crawley our senior producer is Jim Lebowitz I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening. For more CBC PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

US Canada Kayla Brown Europe Dr David Fiszman University of Toronto Bob McDonald FERNS India United Kingdom ray Germany assault Chicago South Africa Ontario
Coronavirus epidemiology, Greenland glaciers melt, squatting a better way to be sedentary, SmartICE supports northern life

Quirks and Quarks

54:41 min | 1 year ago

Coronavirus epidemiology, Greenland glaciers melt, squatting a better way to be sedentary, SmartICE supports northern life

"This is a CBC podcast. Her modest eightfold. All girl. Dark-haired inherited cracks pie. I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show Kobe nineteen has been declared a global pandemic and canceling culture. Could be our best defense against it. I am entirely comfortable with folks criticizing this and saying look you cancelled our concerts you cancelled the NHL season and then nothing happened. That's the point. Also hunter-gatherers revealed that a secret to health might be how we do nothing. They don't have chairs. They don't have couches so when they're resting they're using postures like squatting or kneeling or sitting on the ground and adapting to climate change by giving northern people a high tech way to help read their environment. That technology should not attempt to place the new acknowledging should augment all this and more today on court corks covy nineteen can be cut acted is as a pundit me we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next thirty days. Situation is very likely to get worse before it gets. Better Minister. Justin Trudeau will be an isolation for two weeks. His wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for cove in nineteen late last week of dramatic developments as the world response to the covert nineteen. Pandemic events are getting canceled. Left right and center everything from the NHL and NBA season to the Juno Awards. Schools are being closed. Public meetings. Postponed authorities are moving fast whether they're moving as fast as the virus remains to be seen. We're lucky to have Dr David Fiszman with us again to walk us through the latest science on the cove nineteen pandemic. I say lucky because as well as being a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He's also an infectious disease. Doctor Who's been pulled into hospital duty. But he's been able to make time and a busy schedule to speak with us. Dr Fiszman were glad you could join us. Welcome back it's it's a pleasure to be back. Thank you so given what we know about the pandemic right now. Do you think the responses we've seen with the cancellation of events like the Juno awards or the suspension of the NBA. The NHL seasons closing schools. And all these other actions are they appropriate. They're highly appropriate. We have to be proactive rather than reactive I. I'm delighted that Ontario has decided to have an extended a three week. March break to allow kids. Who come back from the US a good fourteen days extra after they come back to Stay at home in case they have any symptoms of kkob after returning from Florida. And I think it's exactly the right thing to do. I think we need to do it for the sake of vulnerable folks in our society. And I'm I'm I'm delighted to see us do it. Proactively rather than reactively in a time of crisis. What what do you say to people who say? Well you know a lot. More people die from the flu every year. We get the flu every year. We don't react that way. We're just over. We're we're we're over hyped scared yet. The case fatality of this thing is probably twenty that of influenza and bad influenza year. I'm a clinician. Clinician will tell you that in a bad influenza. You're our hospitals are filled to bursting There's a log jam are ICU's full. Our emergency rooms are full. People wind up basically boarding in the emergency rooms because all the bets in the hospital or fall. That's a bad flu. This is twenty times worse so so the idea is for this not to be bad. And that's why we have to intervene so strongly. We're fundamentally a disciplined that's about prevention and and Having our actions result in non occurrence of events and I'm entirely comfortable with folks Criticizing this and saying look you you you cancelled our concerts. You cancelled the NHL season. You terrible person you Restaurants mt out for a month and then nothing happened. That's the point by doing that. We make nothing happened for a little while until this starts to heat up again. That's that that's exactly the point and absolutely. We're going to be criticized for overreacted reacting. And I'll be delighted to be criticized for overreacting. If and when thing happens because nothing will happen as a result of proactive social distancing if we allow this to get bad it gets bad fast and it gets horrible fast. And that's why we have to be proactive. I mean look. We have the same thing with Folks saying why. Do you pasteurized milk. Nobody gets Bruce Celosias. Well you know people don't get infectious diseases from their milk anymore because we pasteurize it. Why do you vaccinate kids against measles? Kids don't get measles anymore. Well kids don't get measles because we vaccinate them so we really do struggle with the non occurrence of events as a as a key deliverable of public health. That is what we make. We make things not happen so that people can enjoy life and not have to worry about infectious diseases and I'm fairly confident that over the next year or two we will have a vaccine candidate will figure out how to scale up production of that vaccine and we will make this go away so folks can get back to their lives but until that happens. I think we're going to be living a little bit differently than we have been up until now. Why are these extreme measures being taken this time? I mean prevention was not so extreme. When SARS came through right SARS was very hospital focused. It's ours was an intense time But but but the SARS corona viruses. I I think we discussed last. Time was really more towards the virulent end of the spectrum. That means it was a virus. If you were infected with it it was much more likely to kill you than covert is Was about ten ten to seventeen percent of the time. Sars would kill you. The thing is that SARS didn't seem to be that transmissible outside the hospital environment out in the community cove it has given up some of that variance so we think about two to four percent of people who get it will will die the the true numbers probably somewhat lower than that because we think we undercount the mild cases. So let's say it's one percent that's probably a reasonable guesstimate. That's still a lot of people. In fact it's lawsuit variance relative to SARS. Maybe one of the things that allows it to be Transmitted readily in the community. Because it's sort of like a stealth. It's a stealth virus folks in Wuhan. Think they must have missed about sixty percent of mild cases of covert. That's in the context of basically martial law having been imposed a massive effort at surveillance in case finding they're still missing sixty percent of the cases because they're mild that poses a formidable challenge. If you're going to try to control this disease as we did with SARS which was through identification of cases quarantining of their contacts and isolation of the cases themselves. It just doesn't work if if a large number of the cases are invisible well when it comes to other countries Which ones are dealing with it. Well and which ones are dealing with it badly so. Italy is having a terrible time. There's not enough kind of ICU beds in machinery to save lives of people who go into respiratory failure so people are now dying in Italy without care because the hospitals are full to bursting By contrast I think at this point we can look at Singapore. We can look at Hong Kong. It places that have intervened early and aggressively before things became quite dire and seem to have quashed local transmission quite quickly using fairly dramatic social distancing measures. But but that's allowed them to kind of move on and get back to business. That's why I think the decisions that are being made in Canada this week. About proactively enacting. Social distancing measures are so important. We're following the example of the countries that have done well are there indications from countries like China that is possible to get this embassy epidemic under control? Maybe even stop it absolutely the Chinese. Yeah you know against. I think what a lot of folks would have bet Took a massive epidemic which was very large at the time they even identified what was going on They turned the tide and they appear to have minimal number of new cases at this point So so that that was a Herculean task What we think based on our modeling and I worked with a very talented math mathematical model named named actually shoot and then excellent epidemiologist named Amy greer. What what we see in our in our models is because the reproduction number for this virus is actually quite low. It's only to say to you know two times. Two four eight sixteen thirty two doubles. So so there's exponential growth in it can be terrifying because to is close to one if you can reduce that reproduction number just a little bit and get it down below one. Then this doesn't transmit anymore and it fades and what's remarkable A colleague of mine at McMaster David earn his pointed this out for years. What's remarkable is that if you look at for example a bubonic plague epidemic in London England in the seventeenth century. The contour of that epidemic curve is exactly the same as the controversy. Fema curve for a flu season in Ontario in two thousand nineteen part of that is obviously if you allow an epidemic to grow until half the population has either died or come through and become susceptible. He reached what's called a critical fraction of susceptible and when that critical fraction of Susceptible 's falls below a value of one half the basic reproduction number. That's when the epidemic pizza and starts to decline so for basic reproduction number of to once you have less than fifty percent of the population susceptible the epidemic pizza and starts to decline. And go down the other side. And you can say well. That's great thing and that'll happen. Whatever we do. It's true but if you think about the fact that fifty percent of the Canadian population is about nineteen million people. This this doesn't peak in the absence of any Ba- any behavior change or any public health intervention until fifty percent nineteen million. Canadians are infected. At which point it still has to go down the other side of that kind of bell shaped epidemic curve. What we see historically and what we're seeing with this in in Wuhan what we're seeing with this in daigle and South Korea right now. What I think. We're starting to see in Italy as well. Thank God what we're seeing is that the curve gets bent very much more quickly than that so you don't have to wait until half the population remun- for the epidemic to peak and turn people adapt in different ways. We get frightened. We distance ourselves from one. Another naturally We come up with good ideas about how the disease might be spread. And we implement them. The difficulty in Italy is the doing that and they're bending the curve but because of the pace of the disease and the high likelihood that it causes respiratory failure particularly older people who get it by the time you're bending that curve you have saturated your hospital capacity and people are starting to die because you can't care for them you can't offer them anything so that's the tragedy of covert if you wait until it's a crisis and then say we're going to respond to this crisis by implementing drastic public health measures. They will work. They will work predictably. But you've already missed the boat because the time to intervene was before it got bad because you knew it was going to get bad. He knew that when it was quiet was the time for you to intervene. So that's why I'm so delighted to see what on -Tario other provinces are starting to do this week. Well you do a lot of modeling on how. The epidemic spreads Do you see any trouble spots. That may not be so obvious from the reported. Figures are infections and deaths that we've seen so far you know what what's what's fascinating is. I sort of feel like forensic epidemiology is coming into. Its Own. We've been doing a little bit of that Some of my colleagues have been looking at imported cases from places like Iran from Egypt from Italy and based on air travel volume is you can back into estimates of how large that underlying epidemic would have to be to have infected travelers coming to your country with a certain frequency. Folks have had other approaches like using data from evacuated passengers from Wuhan free sample who've been on flights out of Wuhan Andrew. Getting swabbed as they come off the airplane. The rate of positivity in those people stepping off the airplane inasmuch as those folks are not too sick to travel is actually a pretty good index of the prevalence of mild and possibly minimally symptomatic infection in a population. So that's been a very clever way. That folks have come up with to estimate what fraction of cases we must be missing what fraction of people getting off airplanes. Who Feel and look fairly well. Actually test positive for covet. The third the third kind of forensic technique if I may that's been developed comes from the The folks who do viral of file genetics. Basically they reconstruct family trees for viruses and look at how much they drift and how far apart they must be. And how many people? They must have passage through in order to be as different as they are. And a great example of that as a fellow named Trevor Bedford who said on the west coast of the US who is used on diversity in viral strains in Seattle to estimate that based on a couple dozen I think cases at that time estimated that the true underlying epidemic size must be about six hundred cases so there are a lot of. There's a lot of really good science that's being That's coming out very fast. And it's very hard to keep up with but at the same time as awfully encouraging in terms of all the smart people who've kind of had their attention focused and have this this this new application for all of these wonderful diverse skills. The last time you were on our program you were particularly concerned about the situation in the US and how they're dealing with Kobe. What's your take on that? Now you know the United States to me actually represents a little bit of a tragedy. You have a country that has in the CDC probably the Best Public Health Institution on the planet And you see it. Hamstrung by a federal Executive branch what that results in is basically a decapitated public health system. And what you see that states that have strong public health systems and strong public health institutions and even cities like New York City Department of public. Health is as good as any the New York State Department of Public Health. The California Department of Public Health Seattle Washington has has amazing infectious disease resources of necessity. Those state institutions are kind of rising to the occasion and doing the job and I think it's no coincidence that the hot spots in the United States that perceived hot spots right now are the places that have strong state level public health institutions because those state level public health institutions are are able to do the surveillance when the federal authorities have sort of dropped the ball. What I really worry about in the United States is you have tremendous variability between states in terms of the strength of public health institutions In the southeastern United States there are a number of places that have historically lagged in a lot of public health indicators Alabama Mississippi Louisiana are on that list. We have a situation in Nevada for example. Where last week there were. Three Nevada linked cases reported in total two of them were in Las Vegas and the third one was in Canadian who had just returned from Las Vegas. So that's a lot like the Iran. Work that I think we may have talked about last time the forensic epidemiology when the folks say well there's not much of an epidemic year but you're exporting cases that means there is a big epidemic there because most people aren't on a given day getting on an airplane so if you're exporting cases it means prevalence is high so. I worry about those quiet places in the US. I worry about Florida were apparently Testing capacity vary limited. And I think you have a large concentration of individuals in the age groups that get very very sick from the virus so I think there are a lot of blind spots in the United States. It's a very big very heterogeneous. Country ended lax lacks effective public health leadership. Right now. It's not just a problem for the Americans. It's a problem for us to because we'll import those cases. I do think that it's a reasonable moment. Given the prominence that kind of large gatherings have had in the history of this so far he given the mega church associated outbreak in in Korea given some of the hospital super spreader events that are reported from China. I think we have to realize that clustering together in La given the cruise ship outbreaks clustering together in large groups in small spaces is a bad idea for right now. I think it's a golden moment for us to embrace a lot of the technology we have where we can communicate and conference and share information without Sharon viruses. And I think this is. The moment are really to use those doctor Fishman. Thank you so much for giving us your time again. I know you've been extremely busy. It's a really valuable talking to you. Thank you so much thank you. Dr. David Fiszman is an infectious disease. Physician and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health for the Greenland. Ice Sheet is massive covering one point seven million square kilometers. That's about two and a half times. The size of Alberta it holds enough fresh water to raise global sea levels by more than seven meters and it is melting fast seven times faster than it was in nineteen ninety-two last year in July alone. The Ice Sheet lost one hundred ninety seven billion. That's with a B tons of ice. It's the single largest driver of sea level. Rise globally and. It's been a bit of a mystery as to why it's melting so fast well now new studies showing that the ice sheet isn't just being attacked from the top down. Researchers have discovered a previously unknown secret path on the ocean floor. That's funneling huge. Volumes of warm water under Greenland's coastal glaciers and melting them from the bottom up. Dr. Janine Schaffer is an oceanographer from the Alfred Vagner Institute who led the research. Dr Schaffer welcome to quirks and quarks. Yeah thanks not tell me about where you were working in Greenland. I studied the glaciers in northeast Greenland. And it's yeah. It's basically two big glaciers there and the one We are really interested in or we were really interested in and still interested in. So it's like the longest of the Lakers the so-called seventy nine north glacier and it's laying on top of the ocean for more than eighty kilometers. So it's quite a big our we are there of is kind of Swimming on top of the ocean. And it's six hundred to one hundred meters. How difficult was it for you on the ship to get close to the to the tongue of the to the edge of it as floating on the water? Oh yeah there was actually while they're exciting because there was no ship there before because usually you have a fast ice cover there and fast is means that you have sea ice and it's attached to land and the problem is then when you go. There was even a good ice breaker. You can't push the ice away because there's land so It's only since the two thousand that this pasta is cover is breaking up more regularly now in summers and so in two thousand sixteen we went. There was the icebreaker Appalachian and we were lucky that the ice was breaking up and there was some wind pushing the ice away from the glacier and from the land and so we manage to go in front of the calving front and actually there was no ship. They are before so we even didn't know how deep it would be. Actually the captain was a little bit afraid of fitting lands so we were really slowly and yeah we only managed to do it because it was sunny and if if it were in fog the captain would've never done it actually. Okay so there you are. You're at the tongue of the glacier. Now how did you study what was going on with the water underneath so we mapped actually the seafloor and we found that there's really kind of a Canyon and then within the Canyon there is a sill and The water behind the cell is really flashing down and so there's a kind of an overflow across the cell and it brings we a lot of Oceana keyed below the glacier. So you're saying there's this The to- The glacier is stuck on this this island and then there's a hollow behind it so the ocean water the warmer ocean. Water is going through this gap and then it spilling into that that Little Canyon on the other side like a waterfall. That was happening. Yeah that's yeah that's definitely what's happening and that's yeah really impressive to see and and we found Quite strong water speeds of up to zero point five meters per second. That might not sound fast. But it's quite fast in the ocean and this means that a lot of ocean keyed is transported below. So what effect is that? Having on the melting of the glacier yes so the melting then going on Quite yes Longley. So and there is a really special dynamics behind and that means basically when the water layer sickening and the desert. When it's getting warm because one mortar is expanding. Dan You have more water coming in. And so you have a strongest relation you enhance the circulation and thereby the melting so we kind of make a budget of our little Cavity they are below the glacier and we find that there's as much heat going into the glacier to met glacier from below as actually kind of sixty nuclear power plants produce so it's really a massive amount of heat melting the glacier from below Dutch astounding if you saw this on this one glacier. Do you think it's happening to the other? Glaciers in Greenland well we also did some measurements at the neighbouring glacier and we found really similar aspects there but there it's even harder to measure something but we believe that probably they are the same dynamics play a big wall melting the glacier. So help me picture this area. What's it look like it's beautiful? It's amazing I mean you have landscape there in the north and its first you have the sea ice in the ocean. This is already so. Many colors is just wide but then also blue border. It's beautiful and then you poke the land and Sunday. You have this really big mountains and I was lucky enough to also have a helicopter flight across glacier and you could see rivers wanting sue across the glacier tongue and they were beautiful blue but also yeah at the same time. It's quite fighting to see all this med going on there sean spectacular but I guess with all that water would be scary. Indeed so how will you continue to monitor the glaciers of Greenland from this point So what we did now at the seven North Leisure and also the neighboring one We played some instruments there. Continuously measure actually the current speeds and also the temperature and salinity. So we can actually say something about also the season of Bhai ability and how this whole simulation and ocean keyed is actually changing within a couple of years. Were you surprised to see this kind of salt and fresh water circulation happening underneath the glacier where we knew that there would be this kind of water there in general but we were really surprised to see how strongest relations well. How will this affect the predictions? On how quickly the Greenland ice sheet is melting. What it means is that if this glaciers are getting unstable the whole is is flowing of form the ice sheet faster into the ocean and thus and add a lot of freshwater into the ocean icon. Say from this study. How fast would happen or when But it's definitely one little puzzle puzzle piece In a way to solve this and also to improve our icesheet glacier ocean models and resolve those we can then Twi to predict. Actually what will happen in the future? Dr Schaffer thank you very much for your time. Yup thanks a lot for the for talking. Dr. Janine Schaffer is an oceanographer from the Alfred Wegener Institutes Helm Hold Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany support for this podcast and the following message come from Baylor University dedicated to groundbreaking research innovation and Capacity Building Collaboration Baylor researchers infused of quest for discovery with a distinctly Christian voice this commitment illuminates path as we prepare the leaders of tomorrow to make a meaningful difference in our world learn more at Baylor dot edu slash research. That's Baylor Dot Edu slash research. Raise your hand if this is your life eight hours a day at a desk then drag yourself home and spend the evening on the couch. Even if you hit the gym a couple of times a week you probably spend a lot of time being pretty sedentary and all that slothfulness is linked to the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases but it turns out. The problem may not be the amount of nothing we're doing but how we're doing that nothing. That's the message from a new study led by Dr David Reich Lynn. He looked at the Hudson hunter-gatherers in eastern Africa and how they spend their downtime. He's an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California Dr Ryan. Welcome to the program. Thanks for having me on. It's nice to hear. Why are you interested in studying? What hunter-gatherers doing their downtime so We look to hunter-gatherers as a window into our evolutionary past in some ways so we think about this lifestyle this hunting and gathering lifestyle as a really key lifestyle in the evolution of Human Physiology hunter-gatherers today share some features of their lifestyle with the kinds of ways. We live for for a long time so we thought that if we could understand sedentary behavior in modern hunter gatherers that could give us a window into the evolution of human inactivity and perhaps help us understand why inactivity has negative health effects today. We'll tell me about the people in Africa that you studied. How physically active are they compared to us here? In North America. Sure not surprisingly. They're much more active. So we work with the Hodson who are a group of hunter gatherers who live in northern Tanzania and they do all of their foraging on foot. They don't use any mechanized transportation. They don't use guns. Everything's a hunt. They hunt with bows and arrows and so they move long distances and they're highly active neom we tend to think of physical activity in the US and Canada in terms of how much time you spend in in moderate intensity exercise and the government recommends about twenty two minutes per day. The odds are getting more than three times. That amount per day okay. So they're active now. How healthy are they compared to us? Well they don't suffer from The kinds of chronic diseases that we see or at least at the same levels that we see in more industrialized societies like the US and Canada. So from our work with the Hudson. We don't see much evidence of cardiovascular and Cardio Metabolic Disease Risk so they are from our perspective a very healthy population in terms of chronic disease. Risk okay so lots of activity. They don't have any signs of cardiovascular disease. Now how inactive are they? Well that's the kicker right because we when we went into this work. We kind of assumed. Well this hunting and gathering lifestyle is probably just doesn't leave a lot of time for being sedentary especially compared to our lifestyles here but we were pretty. Surprised we tracked. Inactivity using wearable accelerometers so that gives us a really accurate measure of how often they're said Terry and they are inactive or sedentary for about as long as we are on average about ten hours per day which is pretty similar to what happens in industrialized societies. You're kidding sedentary would through your mind. Would you saw that well? We were pretty amazed and pretty surprised. But when you think about it. It's it's actually not that shocking. When you're as active as they are you tend to need to recover from that activity but the key to that lifestyle. Is that when you're moving? You move and when you're not moving you arrest. So what did you find how the people were spending their inactive time? Well that was where we really kind of wanted to get into a little more detail. So not only were the Hodson inactive for the same amount of time as we are but it looked like they were spending that time in postures that are very different than the postures we use so in industrialized societies as we sit for long periods of time were generally in chairs or on a couch and that tends to reduce muscle activity in our lower limbs. We don't have to use our lower limb muscles to support ourselves on wearing chair and that may be the key reason why sitting is so harmful from a health standpoint. The Khadija don't have chairs. They don't have couches so when they're resting they're using postures like squatting or kneeling or they're sitting on the ground and so we spent quite a bit of time watching and seeing what kind of posture they used and then we actually measured the muscle activity that occurred in these different postures and found that indeed these kind of squatting postures elicit higher levels of muscle activity than sitting in a chair. So they're inactive as long as we are but their inactivity occurs in postures that might produce some more muscle activity so there are a little more active than their arrest. Well how much Muscle activity is involved in spotting. Well what we the way that we measure that as we looked at muscle activity relative to walking and in some of the lower limb muscles squatting involved muscle activity that was about twenty to forty percent as high as you get in walking so not as high as walking but much larger than we see during chair sitting where your muscles are maybe five percent as active as you see in walking twenty to thirty percent of walking. What what is it about squatting? That needs so much muscle activity. Well when you squat once you get into that posture. You are activating muscles to keep yourself balanced over your feet. Basically and so. It's not a completely passive way to rest. You half you. You're doing these. Minute muscle contractions to keep yourself balanced well if squatting has such a strong effect on overall health of keeping muscles active. What's the Tako Messy Chair? I mean should we have squatting desks get rid of chairs Bernard couches? Well burning your couches might not be a bad idea but squatting desk. I'm not sure is the way to go especially people who stops like most of us stop squatting when we were kids but what. I do think we can take home from from. This kind of work is that our bodies are likely adapted to much more consistent levels of muscle activity throughout the day and that that was probably part of how we lived for a long time in our species. And it's really these kind of more modern inventions like chairs and couches. That seems to be a mismatch with that passed and so I tend to think of any way that you can just increase. Muscle activity throughout the day is going to be away. That will improve health How has it changed your working life? Well I actually use use a motorized desk that where I can trade off between standing and sitting. I definitely advocate finding ways to do this. That are completely in line with what you need to do during the day. A motorized desk. What you chase it around the opposite it goes up and down on a motor. Doesn't move around the room. Although that's not a bad idea to keep the desk moving rather than the treadmill desk the desk actually just moves. I liked that patent that all right. Let's work on it. Okay UH curriculum. Thank you very much for your time. It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me. Dr David Rocklin is an associate professor of biological sciences. At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles climate change is happening all around us and will impact communities across our country in different ways over the next couple of months on quirks and quarks. We want to highlight the way. Science and technology is being applied in local communities across Canada to engage with the unique challenges. They face in a warming world whether it sea level rise drought flooding extreme heat events. The list goes on of course one place where climate change is being felt more intensely than anywhere else in our country is the north and much of the story of the North is Ice Sea. Ice is a fundamental part of the landscape in the north in a way that's difficult to imagine for southerners and the north is warming so fast that the isis changing in new and unpredictable ways so researchers have teamed up with people in communities in the North to develop a new initiative it puts technology in the hands of northern people that can help reinforce their deep knowledge of the environment in which they live. Even as it's being transformed around them it's called smart ice. My name is Rik Sal. I am with smart is in Nain. I am. The northern production need at the name production center. I mean to see for the inuit people. I mean it's basically our highways to get your food. I mean we need safe sea ice for the people to travel a land to go hunt. Seal rabbits purges and the big thing is As you know you know food. Insecurity is huge in north so with people not being able to hunters original foods. I just being a major factor in their lifestyle but the ability. What we're doing with smart as to actually be pioneers in what we're doing. I think that lead to more people having the confidence to go hunting and fishing on the ice and to be sure that it's going to be safe. Dr Trevor Bell is a research professor in the Geography Department at Memorial University Newfoundland and the leader the smart ice program. He's been working with people from northern communities like Nain in Labrador where rex. How lives and nunavut. Were Andrew Arak. Who you'll hear from later in the interview works with Smart Ice Technology Dr Bell. Welcome to court clerks. Thank you for the opportunity first of all. Can you give us a picture of the kind of deep knowledge that people have that allows them to navigate the C. I. Safely? I think it's important for your listeners to understand that for enumerate CIC is almost a normal condition for the ocean surface. It's frozen six to nine months of the year and although it becomes Highway four them. It really I think we need to remember. It's part of their culture. It's deeply embedded in who they are. So let's hear from REX. Howl in Nain again you you have to learn to read the ice conditions. I mean you just can't go out and and just assume is safe. You know I learned by following my dead. If we went out hunting efficient you know would get bored of most advice from elders that he knew that previously before him. There are many different types of saltwater conditions. You have to look out for One big thing is the rattles up there. That's a high moving title current that never freezes You know you have to be aware of Ho faster. Curtains moving how cold it is. How deep devices you have to be aware of the ice color you have to be aware of how it froze crystallized or if she device Some of the work that Catherine Wilson my graduate student is doing with the community of pond. Inlet cheese identified over sixty five terms that describe ice and of course that's very much broken down by season when ice freezes up which can start September October and some communities and then during the wintertime. Which of course is the dark season and ice behaves very differently at extreme Kohl's and then of course when we get into the springtime There's a whole other set of terminology that describes not just the ice as it physically looks but about how good it is to travel on. How safe it is to travel on. And so people are. Finding is some of that terminology. Some of their experience is Becoming inconsistent with the sort of ice that they see today and the changes that is Andrew. And I'm the operations lead or smog ice. Within the clicking dog region it was a survey that wanting twelve so to ice and two-thirds so scared to travel on the ice and fifth of the people who normally you harvest the seal or care blue in the winter one able to do so because of a condition you know your extreme extreme environments and so on a wrong decision can can mean life or death. Well how climate change changing the ice in unpredictable ways. It makes it more difficult to predict. Will I think it's I'd say there's probably no area of the ice that has not experienced change and last ten has been told last ten to fifteen years? It's been a credible changes. So it's thinning from underneath and some of the signs that they've used to indicate safe travel are visible from the surface but they they are not able to obviously see under the ice and realize that Warmer Ocean water stronger. Ocean currents are literally eroding and thinning the ice from underneath of course the length of the season is huge change. I mean the. It's freezing up weeks later than just maybe in ten years five to ten years ago. It's breaking up much earlier. And some of that break-up as unpredictable so once again there are signs that the US to to be able to say well. We should be closing to flow edge. Which is that edge of the land. Fast Ice Where there's a lot of biological activity and with a lot of hunting goes on you know. Typically there were signs indicators that The the local community could say well. Yes we need to start shutting this down the next couple of days. That's coming in much earlier and unexpectedly and so- catching people out so there seems to be a knowledge gap here between the traditional knowledge of how the ice should be. And what's really happening? How are you planning to fill that gap with technology one of the things that I experienced When I was working with new Nazi was a winter. A back in two thousand ten. Where a lot of these extreme is conditions occurred because there's really warm winter the key thing for them and the key thing to undermine SM- what every smart does is that it that technology should not attempt to replace the knowledge. It should augmented it if you like. It should help as you said. Fill this gap in the current conditions of changing versus what People have known for for many decades centuries. Tell me about the technology that does that one of the key things that they were looking to understand was Ice Thickness so we worked with some scientists to essentially establish boulder stationary sensor and a mobile sensor. That will record the CIA thickness and communicate that back to the community. So there's a stationary sensor that you know you can put into the ice frozen into the ice at the beginning of the season and removed at the end of the season looking at how temperature changes in the ice and snow from the Ocean to the air to actually establish the ice thickness in the snow depth. And so using iridium satellites or whatever. We communicate that back every hour every day. Back to the community. So that's what we call our smart buoy and let's hear from Andrew Aric stationary. Sensors instruments are about twelve feet high. And they have built team. Gps and the transmitter. So I go out to the site and drill a hole inaugur and put device down to ice. The bottom portion will be submerged underwater. The middle portion will be on the ice and snow on the top. Portion will be showing taking air temperature and transmitting data to a satellite. And we are able to get that information on our computer monitor back in the office. It also measures the snow thickness. And when you go north people will tell you. It's snow. Thickness is so important because snow on top of the ice axes an insulator and it prevents the ice from thickening. If you have a very early season snow depth and so in periods of time when it's swept away by high winds are you don't have a lot of snow than than you can actually get quite a quite good ice thickness adapt and not really helps with travel. They also mentioned that. There is a mobile device that can measure Z is. Yeah so D- Working with Dr Christian Harrison his team He had already developed A sensor that use let McNair own G to essentially send pulses down into below the the ice and detect the interface between the bottom of the ice and the Sea Water. And so the amount of time it takes for that to happen. Gives you an idea off the ice thickness and as you travel along the ice? That is Detecting the ice thickness very quickly and matter of milliseconds we call it the smart comedy because comedy is the next like word for Sort of slight a nice lead that you pull behind just mobile we we put it on the sled and we have it especially rugged is for an Arctic environment and most importantly we made it such a it could be monitored in real time for the operators snowmobile so on the handlebars of Snowmobile David. Small little computer. That's insulated and kept warm with a little heater which is reading off for them. The thickness of the ICE Has Their traveling but when they come back into the community that information is automatically uploaded to A website where people can access that information but we also in some cases just print it off and give it to elders. I'm a member of the search and rescue team here in pond inlet and accident near the floor edge and we need to go to the site with a search and rescue team and I brought my smart comical because I knew they wanted to. They wanted to let a plane. You know the flow edge and I want to let the pilot know of how Isis and what the conditions are an outtake in real time and US pretty impressed the pilot that on the ice near the flow. Which now if you're talking about an instrument that's on accommodate on the sled behind a snowmobile out on the ice. Is it the people themselves that are driving those snowmobiles? I mean who's doing it. Yes so we train our injuried operators in the communities to operate the equipment trouble. Shoot it. We work with a lot of young people in the community as well as the elders and you know. We find that they've that they're they've really high capacity for operating and maintaining and fixing unpublished. Shooting this equipment what. I do for my community during the wintertime when we have ice. Gi's and go out and measure the ice thickness for the community. The work that I do. I just don't go out where I would like to go. I attend Community meetings I with the hunters trappers for the council or you've been talking to overs or and I try and get their feedback of where they need to go. So it's not mainly up to me. Were like to go. I asked the community I. What kind of enthusiasm have you seen from the communities when they get this information on the ice? I think it's the important thing for us. Is that were responding to a community concern so we never go into a community for not invited. So they're very encouraged by it but I think what's perhaps just as important is as the way in which we work with the community. We spent several years working with communities to try and establish a relationship with them because in many cases those legacy there which is not always positive were either university researchers or even a company's going to a community to take advantage of them. And what we're trying to do is really turn that whole idea upside down. Having communities empowering them to make decisions for how smart I should operate in our community who should be hired and really asking them about you. Know what the new developments. How would you like this to work? How else can we help them or put into their hands? Tools will help them adapt to the changing environment including sea ice. I think it's great rather than having An outsider coming up. I feel that Having my little representing the gophers Since each community is unique in their own way so I think people are really responsive to that I think it's it reflects Their societal values it sort of encourages and enables in you eat self-determination inside of monitoring for climate change. Well I there. There is a concern. I think That the traditional knowledge is being lost. and not being passed down through generations as much. And you're saying that your technology may actually augment that may may help yes and I think no matter what part of the world and what indigenous population peoples that are being impacted by climate. Change deal all tell you that. Their traditional knowledge is what is the ultimate characteristic. Do they have that will help them adapt to climate change? Augmenting that with other information whether it's satellite imagery wetter it's technology that tells them ice thickness. I think adds to that. But really W-. We need to strengthen that tradition knowledge. Make sure that it you know. In the cases where younger generations may not be getting it. How can we help elders in communicating that to them so? I don't want to give you the impression that you know us. Non-indigenous researchers become in and helped to transmit that knowledge if you sat in in a workshop that we've been we've been holding in communities it's conducted entirely in enough to Tuck So we is. Non Indigenous researches are only facilitating enabling that really. It's it's par has to be done with in. I'm by the community and name we we. We just recently finished a pilot project where we hired on seven local used to build the smart boys. We integrate this modern technology that are built by introduce To be sent Canada White. I mean right now with smart ice and smart boy that we're building and another this mark comic that we also have manufacturers. Well there's nothing else out there doing what we're doing. So I mean we're We're very proud to be the first pioneers partnering with Knowledge With With Technology And unfortunately again with climate change They said we'll just get bigger and bigger. We involve and train and you'd because they're going to be the recipients of this knowledge. They're the ones I suppose who have grown up with technology in our hands whether it's to computer games or whatever and and very easily take to our technology but what was showing them and what. The elders are communicating. Is that technology and The new knowledge is what together is the key to adopting to climate change. How many communities in the Arctic have you introduced to the Smart Ice Program? Well we we as I mentioned earlier takes several years to do this. And we are in communities a We've been working with new Nazi right from the outset and we are moving into some communities. Indie new VIYELLA would region. And we've been talking to communities INDUNA vics so really right across D- New Homeland Called in union gas knocked Abell. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. Dr. Trevor Bell is a research professor in the Geography Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland. You also heard from rex. Howls smart ice northern production lead in Nain Labrador and Andrew Iraq. The nudity operations lead for smart ice pond inlet on Baffin island in nunavut and. That's it for this week's edition of course in quirks if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question our email is quirks at CBC DOT CA or. Just go to the contact. Lincoln our webpage and get to our webpage go to CBC DOT CA Slash Quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to our audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CBC quirks you can also get us on the CBC listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Works in courts is produced by Amanda Becker wits Sonya Biting and Mark Crawley. Our senior producer. Is Jim Levin's? I'm Bob McDonald for listening for more. Cbc PODCASTS GO TO CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

United States NHL The glacier influenza Canada professor Dr. David Fiszman Greenland Italy Florida Dr. Janine Schaffer Wuhan Nain Bob McDonald Ontario Justin Trudeau China Los Angeles
Why are food pantries crucial?

Your Why: A Chapelwood Podcast

37:50 min | 9 months ago

Why are food pantries crucial?

"There's episode of Your Wife Podcast is brought to you by anchor anchors the easiest way to make a podcast. Let me go ahead and explain first off. It's free second off. There's a creation tools that allow you to record Eddie, your podcast right from your phone or computer. Then anchor also helps distribute your pockets, all the major platforms such as apple or. spotify, you can also make money at anchor by getting sponsorships with no minimum listenership requirements. It's everything you need to make a podcast one place we use it. We love it easy to use interface. If this is your wi making podcast, go ahead and make it you can download the free anchor APP or go to Anchor Dot FM to get started we're back Some technical difficulty eights verse episode. It happens it happens. So we're back and we're here Bob Luton You're playing. Howdy and welcome to your Wi. First episode of season three, we have the fairy food pantry on with Bob the Bob. Bob Luton Bob McDonald on later. But first off or with our co host Matt Russell Matt do you WanNa give us kind of an intro do here at Chapel at who you are and everything like that sure. My Matt Russell and I'm part of the. Executive. Team. And pasture united. Methodist Pastor And been on staff here since February of this year although this is Kinda my second time around when I first got out of ministry I was. I was appointed to chapel would. and. was here for twelve years and then left and it's been amazing being able to come back in this capacity. Yeah, so one thing that I liked to do to begin every episode with Co House, I have a list of when we forget at the time I had. One hundred and eighty seven icebreaker questions really yes. It's a long list, and so I was all. So, we're going to go through one, hundred and eighty seven. So get ready for the next three. No. I'm a you choose a number between one and one eighty-seven. Wow and we'll ask you the icebreaker question and we'll move on from this sixty-seven sixty-seven. Okay. I sixty seven. Tell about a gift you have given in which you are proud of. Oh. A Gift I have given which I am proud of. Oh Okay I don't know why this came to mind but so. I don't know it's been ten years or so I wrote I bought a fish, bowl And then I. I wrote down a memory of my sister and I something that I was either grateful for or memory that really caused me to either laugh or to think you know. Really good things about a life that was connected to my sister and for three hundred. Five memories or things I was great for I. wrote those down and I put them on a fish bowl and I gave it to her for Christmas and so she pulled one out a day for a year. As a way of an it was just my way of just telling my sister. was great before that's awesome. What a creative gift like. High emotional value. Yeah. Low economic value. Yes. which is great and it was it also signals. I mean I wanted to kill my sister growing up so that I saw three hundred and sixty five things that I was grateful for meant that there was a lot of healing. Well, it's like you know when they say like Oh for every for one put down, you should have like two or three put up you had a lot to bank in oh listen. I mean three hundred sixty five would not have been doing that justice if that was a math we were working. Okay. Awesome. Well. We're going to talk about here in the intro. We're GONNA talk about a Promo video that. Shot together while the time people are listening to this, this will already ordering out. So you can go on social, Media Chapel, would you MC serving in? You can find facebook instagram Youtube, find us on Youtube under your and you can watch the full video of me and Matt Getting an expert. What was your? What were your thoughts on that whole experience? Can I say this? So I get an email from you saying, Hey, I'd like to have you be a guest on the podcast and it comes with the Promo. Video would you like to do it? I said brother anything forever yes. Of course, and then comes the the we're going to be doing this on an ice bath so I gotTa tell you. I have never. been so like my body has not been that shocked I, don't think ever. Ever, I mean, we got into that ice bath. I cannot even tell you that once it got like my my cognitive functions just like became detached and I was just I all I wanted was to see my mother and I, wanted to get out of that is bat. Those are the two things. Awesome well, and it's funny because beforehand a little behind the scenes I printed out little script for us. And I handed it to Matt Matt Goes Oh I don't need this. I've got got his lockdown got locked in my head, and I said, as soon as we get in those ice baths, I promise you everything's GonNa go. We're GONNA do everything in didn't believe you and so it turned out that way. I don't even I'm serious I. Don't remember what I said after I got in that bath. Yeah. So yeah. Hey you need great again. We've seen. Have you seen the full video? I have it. Okay. We'll show you after this. We got to leave gotta leave them on gotTa go watch the hold. Week and a half cold. Yeah I. I went home and I think I slept it was like. If you've ever gone out of a pool and like you've just been water right and then you get out in your body just tired like you take a great nap after you get out of the pool or the beat out of the ocean or whatever and. I felt that expedited like we were in water for like thirty seconds. No. No I think it was more like it felt like five and a half hours. Is No way that was thirty seconds real time? It was like two minutes. Body, wise internal clock it was five and a half hours. Yeah. But we got out I. my body was just so drained of energy I got home, and I really curled up onto my couch. The Field Asleep at threw off my night because then I woke up at like nine o'clock that night now you're ready to go I was like well now I'm ready for the entire day and it's o'clock at night so. The effects of it for definitely more than just in the moment and so is that something you would like after doing that? Would you do that weekly now? Is that something like? You do like. Ice. Bath Monday. Yeah. Monday. That would be that's an idea said Matt. Russell Never Matt Russell if you on Social Media Hashtag ice bath Monday if you do it, Matt will get into ice bath again. Of course, I will. That's just that's how that will work. Tag never asked. So gotta move on ice bath. You know I'm excited for this episode. Yeah with Bob Bob and. So. Yeah. I mean Bob and Bob Bobbing around they. That was Bob Luton's weren't as he walked out, which is Bob Moon a funny guy. And so yeah, they're going to sit down with us and we're GONNA talk about the Food Pantry and everything how it started off what that process from you know really like we're fair for even started in the fifties to what it became too in the seventies two words at now. And then we're GONNA be talking about over the past seven months what it's been like in the pandemic since Shepherd Surrey Ministries, and some of the other people have rally behind it and help sustain it over the past couple months. It's amazing. I'm excited about this conversation because I think when I want to think about our culture and just the fast food nature instagram nature of it it's it's what's next and when I think about Bob Wootton and Bob McDonald. Folks that have really put roots down in the soil of a place and have nurtured something, and so these folks have been so faithful and an area that they were just saying, Hey, this is what we're going to do, and then this global pandemic comes and chapel what is able to do profound ministry because both folks have been faithful and I don't even want to say small way Sir. The King of the great they're big things Oh. Yeah. Great hype up for this interview. So we're going to go ahead and cut to that and then we're GONNA back here. So we're here with Bob Luton. Embalming. Donald WanNa give us a brief introduction each one of y'all kind of tell us who you are, what you, what you do, what you've done. And all that. Well I'm Bob Layton. I've been at fairhaven associate for thirty five years and. I've witnessed a lot of wonderful work at the Pantry. And Bob what's your job at fair haven slash applewhite Currently a pastoral care Associate Awesome By McDonald? I came to. Fairhaven. About nineteen. Sixty. Sixty seven. and. The sanctuary had been completed. And we were. Glad to see that we had come from extremely small church. So we had Tom Fitting in. This large church? But found our way and. got into the workings of the various committees and and. Just stay, and it's been a fantastic experience. What's been your role with the even food pantry over the past years Well In. The beginning. It was Donna slit that had. started the pantry costs. Of the shutdown of the northern economy. And people were flooding into the Church office asking for food and different things and she was. The main person that's help started. Because they had formed the Society of Saint Stephen. And that. Got The got involved with this so I I was a helper all along the way. And then When the Food Bank was founded put she helped do that to. The, we would go out and pick up food from there. I, had a pickup truck so i. To go with her to do that. And it just uh. Naturally came into to being. After after a while after she became our business administrator than I had the full. coordination of. What a great way to say that in that Kinda bleeds into what we're talking about today, which is very food pantry and what it's been through the years it started off with, and then you know what? It's even become now in a pandemic. And just wife said it's touched and so we kinda wanted we wanna start from the beginning and kind of work away to where we're at now and so. This podcast is called your y and the reason we do that because we talk about the whys behind organizations and people why go out and serve why they love other people and everything like bad and so. That's what we want to start off with the fair for Food Pantry is and you kinda hit on it and I'd love to kind of dive deeper into that. What what was the? Why? Behind starting the favorite food pantry? What did you see in the community that was there that y'all said, hey, this is a this is a need and we need like in this is the process that we got the starting it and I'd love to hear that. Bob covered that in some fist series well interviewing Donald Slip which Bob just mentioned. she said that they were delivering Christmas baskets in Carbondale. The early Seventies. And it just really hit her heart that there was such a drastic need for food and and at that time, the Society of Saint Stephen had been starting a dental clinic and doing some other things the Carbondale area, which is north of where fairhaven is. And when she saw the people that were affected by the situation that Bob just mentioned. Being. So many people that were hungry. She said, she looked out in the parking lot and saw a van pull up that had it almost was looked like beverly hillbilly situation with with mattresses tied to the top of the van. allowed. That she just knew that there was a huge ministry that was needed. And it all started in the closet. In the front of the church. Her husband built some shelves. They had canned foods. And it didn't take long overwhelm that situation and moved to a container and then to Scout Hut, and then to the pantry building, which we currently have which was I believe it was eighty, eight or eighty nine. That, the new the pantry building actually. Came onto the site. and. It's awesome to see that process of against starting with that. Why of You know there's this need for food in the community and then okay. How do we address that need? Well, we're going to go we're going to give out food and what does that look like to give out food and we've? Seen that process of starting off with some shelves on sudden, you're having to build stuff like his. There's just such a need and so what have been some challenges through the years that the fame food pantry has seen kind of you know how it's dressed new things and adapted. Over time. Well we had A. I the. The crew was serving out of little. Container Building. that. One, of the Saint, Stephen, Society members had brought in. And it was. Extremely hot for the volunteers so It was right next to the Scout. Hut. And they. Made a deal with the scouts. To let them serve the food during the daytime out of the Scout Hut and the Scout Hut would have that container building for their. Equipment and and things that they need. and. One of the things that happened in December of eighty eight I believe they had a series of catastrophic. And it was an amazing. God thing because it galvanized the community support for the pantry there was so much publicity about those burglaries like one night after another. And they ended up having their best year. As far as serving numbers of people in the Christmas after that. and. It just made it clear that they needed a larger building. So it was a catastrophe. That led to the arrival of of the two. trailers that are combined together to create the building and I think looking back over some of Bob's notes for the. Who've been working on? I could count one point three, million. People that have been served up until the pandemic started. and Bog reminded me that because of the way they were required to count. That they couldn't count a person who came back a second time. So what that means is that quite a few more people than than that actually. Were served because they could only be counted once it's amazing. I. Mean. That's it. Conservatively. That's That's a fourth of the current population. And there's just from one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, five I couldn't find any records prior to eighty five. So it's eighty five through this past march and it was founded in seventy. We call we think of it as seventy, five roughly. The records are kind of murky about exactly what of the container was put into place in that? Situation started but about one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, five. Okay. Wow. So yeah. So you're still missing you know fourteen years of data in that too which is. Just an incredible. Yeah and just to think and if I'm not, if I'm remembering correctly y'all were around for the Houston Food Bank and we're really like one of the first. Food Pantries in the Houston area just in general. So really pioneers in that in and just ahead of the game seeing that neatness. No. As a church, you know that's you know such a NEAT avenue to be to be able to get the time line at place like at fifty, five, fifty, four, the church started, and we started serving people even thin. And then the. End about sixty seven by mentioned the do building was bill, which made it very visible from the street. And that's when they got overwhelmed. With the little closet and then moved to the. Container and then to the other bill. Wow. So, something I want to talk about as well is it's hard not about the food pantry without wanting to talk a little bit about Bob, McDonald and all that she has poured in over thirty years of just hard work in volunteering, and so I'd love to just hear your heart behind you know what's kept you going I mean that's hard to be a part of anything for that long. Let alone a volunteer position and so I'd love to hear. kind of what that was like and why you kept on serving in the way you did. I guess it was just born into me from from my family to serve and. That's when we moved to Houston. The sanctuary had already been completed and We did Various volunteer things with with fairhaven. And then A. When Donna became our of business administrator. Upper came the pantry coordinator. and. No. It. We had to. Start. Getting the food the she had helped start the the Houston Food Bank by that time, and we would go out there. That was way East Tasca Seton Liberty, road or somewhere. Always got caught by the trains and. Everything was so lottery system we would go out and they would draw. Numbers out. So we manage to get mainly. Pinto beans, fifty pound sacks, and. A few other things. And then we came back and. Would unload in the boy scout still in the boy scout her thin. and. Then she would go and and do her job as business administrator, and now would stay with the ones in the pantry in four. Scout. And when the? Burglaries happened. We thought well, if we put some food out side overnight, maybe they wouldn't break in. But that didn't didn't work. We had three to. One of our volunteers at that time. Called the TV stations. and. They came over. And interviewed. and. From that, we received fantastic outpouring from the community of the various churches Oh. Organization it was just fantastic the amount of support that came in. With Food and money and and that's how we were able to start planning for a new building. Now. It's just. It is amazing. And I know that when. When we talk about the Food Pantry, there are so many and you know that bothers said there's so many volunteers that had been a part of that you have. Really. Connected Yourself to folks that have really seen this as their own mission and there's Evan and I. When we think about our ministries and kind of longevity of it. I hope that you know that you're one of the folks that we look at. That I. Look at Person I think what is faithfulness will Guyq and. That's different than stardom that's different than trying to be an influence or all those kinds of things when I think about those folks that have been faithful in the way that the Gospel. In that Hebrews describes people, faith. Bob. I think of you and I think. That's what it means to. Weaken and week out and I love the way you answer that I think is my parents put it in me. You know that's s why I've done this for. Three generations I think and I look at the boys I'm raising and I would hope that someday they're sitting where you're sitting thinking saying. Parents put that in me and I just it's a person that has washed you from afar. For a long time I want to say thank you. Thank you for. For doing what you do what you've done. Well but I don't think I deserve a whole lot of. Anything just we know. that. One of the reasons why we love you. Know. Now, we're going to transition into talking about again just open conversation about what the Food Pantry is now, and over the past seven months just you know and it really starts with the foundation that you set up that like if that wasn't there not just you but all the volunteers everyone at fairhaven that this just. This overwhelming desire this faithfulness to serve and love on people in the community that is just a bedrock into what fairhaven and chapel would art. That was not there to start off with. There's no way that the food pantry would be at where it's at today and I think a lot of people can look and say L. Look at what? The food banks and what y'all stepped in and like you know doing well. This wasn't set up if the foundation was not there there's no we would build Iraq on sand and it would have I mean house on sand and it would have just collapsed and so kind of time line wise that first week whenever chapel came out and said, and they were sending people home and say, Hey, you know we're out we don't want people in the office right now we're GONNA have Sunday service. I'm I actually called you and we talked about what y'all were thinking. You talked about how you know obviously with the volunteers that have been there. They were in the at risk group and they were people that couldn't be out there serving for their own health and that's we didn't want them out there serving and so but that was immediately a need that we sensed and we knew this this just can't be dropped until thanks real and at that point to as well, we don't know. How long this is going to last it was Oregon. Is this going to be till at that time? It was like, Oh, we're going to not be the church for two three weeks and then it was like, okay, it's GonNa. Be through April, and then it's going to be in the summer and so we just no one knew at that time what was going to be like Silverlake we Just can't let this. We can't just say let's just put this on hold until things are back normal, and that's whenever me and Suzanne and Matt and everybody here at Chapel kind of helped stepped in and we're like, okay what can we do and that's whenever we came up with this drive through model of getting food and just putting it in the back of people's trunks as drive through the. Parking Lot. and. So it's just it's incredible to think about all. That's happened there. Yeah. It's amazing. What I think about the collaboration there's. The faithfulness bobbing. You have cultivated that space that BOB new been there for thirty five years and the way that y'all have collaborated in that space and then that crazy kind of. That happened with fairhaven and chap would that that is working out but it's it's what Paul talks about working out our faith with fear and trembling in Oh and this pandemic happened, and there's a sense in which the collaboration of the Food Bank of Fairhaven of Chapel would have colluded towards the goodness in the world that I don't think any of us. at least I I would not have foreseen that. Can y'all. Can you talk a bit about what it's like to watch this thing that you've cultivated then? Of serve literally. Hundreds and thousands upon thousands of people. Now in a short span of time what's what's the? Data on I wrote down some statistics actually and I can kind of share those. We think it was. Two weeks ago that we crossed over two hundred thousand individuals served since since March twenty third. So yeah. So this is a time March twenty third, which was the first Monday and it's crazy because on Friday which is October twenty third will be our seventh month running the drive through model which again. Seven months ago would have never thought in October that we'd still be there, and but again, these numbers show how much of a neither been in two hundred thousand. Individuals. Served we have served over forty thousand families now. And we have given over one point five, million pounds of food. In the past seven months. which is crazy. We're averaging right now we're actually are hitting our new highs per day. We're actually averaging over the past couple of weeks three, hundred, fifty families served per day, which is it's crazy. I mean you go out there and we're out there tended to chew a Monday through Friday and most as we start off with three lines. Back Gassner and that that parking lot and. You just talk to these people and you hear that here the need and it's Just such a strong right now and so yeah. It's just amazing to me. To begin to get some of the behind the scenes of transfer because Bob both been in isolation you know we've seen credible work that's been going on and the hundreds of people and the cars lined up in the driveway. But to hear you talk about you know those moments when you kind of decided well. Guess, we need to pick this up and keep it going. It's just an amazing. Kind of thing to to see the intersection as you mentioned of all of these. Pieces the merger, the the the need for food. The legacy of the pantry that's been there since the early seventies and so forth to see all of that come about it evolve into what it is today and with an unknown about what is going to be like you know after we emerge into a post pandemic world, we just don't really know yet. And it's it's incredible to think back to whenever me met and Suzanne at the very early days of this runs zoom calls talking about the food pantry and just like what our responses as a church and again was very early on that we're like, okay, this has to be something that we focus on. All things happening right now food is like we knew. Immediately the grocery stores are being affected and you heard all the stuff on the news, we knew this was going to be a need and somebody said, what's the best way we can serve that and it again, it was just this immediate recognition of what the favorite food pantry was, and again, why try to go reinvent a wheel why did try to build something from the ground up whenever there's been this amazing building already there that We could use an it was. I. Mean Again, just incredible and. Because the food pantry is part of the DNA within fairhaven. and. So being able to turn at a really crucial time in our city and country and world. and. To have a resource, then can be like up because it's been there. It's cultivated. It's not like. Maybe. We should think about no that's been that's soil that has been producing fruit. For for generations well, this has been an amazing conversation and I feel robbed to cut it short. But you know this is we we try to make this enjoyable and bite size for people, and so I think we've done a really good job of again from a very three thousand view just going over what this has been, what it's been the community always. Liked to at the end of the interview section of the podcast. Let our guest have a final word and let y'all have just a moment. If y'all feel led to say anything talk about anything in the MIC is yours. It can be food pantry related it can be whatever whatever's on your heart. This is just your time to say say whatever you want. Gratitude. Grateful to Bob in four volunteers over so many years. And all the community people who stepped up to help and businesses that have contributed. And I'm grateful to. Evidence Suzanne Mad, and others who have stepped up to make it happen right now I'm just overwhelmed very. Well I'm just extremely thankful for the All through the years we have had a completely ecumenical pantry with volunteers we even had We've had mormons and that are just fantastic murders and we have had a Jewish person. That was most helpful with us. So we feel that we are completely ecumenical and that has helped so very much to have. People that will volunteer without worrying about. Who who we are, what we do and I think that we have gained many volunteers because of that and we're so grateful to. CHAPA would for picking up when. As we said earlier. Very few of our volunteers were. Not In the. Area where we had to be. Quarantined I guess they are. Couldn't be out and So. Thankfully. Saying and Evan came in the whole chapel is. Serving Ministry. Has Been. Fantastic. And I don't we don't know what it'll ever turn out after this, but there will be changes. We hope we'll be working together again now for sure off to do, we'll we'll have to do a follow up episode like in a year and see check back in and see where we are hopefully post pandemic. and. So but thank you all for coming on. It was great talking with you all and. Really. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you him. And we're back and so. Matt. What did you think about the interview you know? As I said earlier, I was excited about this just kind of being able to meet and talk with. The BOB's and just being able to hear their history and the way that started in a pantry. You know, and now when when I, when I'm there watching what's happening in the things that you're leading? Evan and it's just amazing to see from Pantry to this like massive operation. Yeah. It's crazy. It really is an there's a sense of legacy to that I think that. There's this idea within our own faith that we're standing on the shoulders of others. Right and so I. I look at Bob and I think we're standing on her shoulders and when we say that to her, she says, well, I'm standing on my parents shoulders in you know if we were able to interview them I'm sure that they would talk to us about whose shoulders they're standing on. So That was great. So really enjoyed that. Hope you all enjoyed it as well. So. Kind of going forward. We are going to talk a little bit about these kind of things love to talk about you and Jon Stevens. Do Your podcasts. Yeah Pot. Have mercy, and so I'd love to talk about what that is and what y'all's idea which is why behind that podcast. Yes. The white I started just to kind of talk about the changing nature of the church in the church as it embraces kind of it's. It's the future of of of where we're going and all those things then the pandemic eight, and so we've been really talking a lot about the the church in the midst of a pandemic where how the churches responding that we've talked a lot about what's happening over at a at the food pantry and the ways that we can continue to serve there but it's a it really is a way to have a longer conversation that can happen on a Sunday morning and and it's been a lot of fun John Stevens is just a blast to be around into work on A. Of Yeah and I love listening to it every week and Y'all have. I enjoy seeing such honest conversation especially between shoe pastors, leaders of shirt. Well, Matt do you have our call to action? Yeah. I mean I one of the things I think in one listening to both of the BOB's. A couple of things. The first thing I would encourage folks to do is to is to sign up into serve at the at the food pantry here. I know that that there are need. There's a need volunteers and it's an amazing place to put your faith into action. And two people are asking in John. Stevenson. Said this people said well, the churches closed with the Church hasn't been closed. In fact, the Church Chapel would in some ways has never been so active as we are in this place right now in the pandemic so I would say get involved, serve somewhere reach out and one of the best places to do that right now is is what you're doing you and Susanna doing it the food, the food pantry. Yeah and if you're wanting, we have a sign up genius online if you're wanting to come serve with us, we're open. Monday through Monday through Friday and then even, and then on three to five on Thursdays, we have a special shift where we are handing out these weakened food bags to SBA students. So it's only a specific time for them to come and pick up that food, and so you can sign up for any of those slots go to chapel dot org slash serving, and then from there, you'll kind of follow the prompts but you'll. Click serving the city, and then from there kind of find yourself down a path that will lead you to the fair from food pantry where you can click to serve their or go to any of our social media's, and we have the links posted and pinned there that you can sign up there. That's great. That's it for season three episode. One people thanks for listening along. We made it through it were back. As always, we would love to hear from you all this podcast is podcast conversation. Just conversation between us that are on the mics. It's a conversation between us and y'all as well, and so we would love for you to go ahead and subscribe follow us in any of your whether it's on. Youtube. It's on facebook. It's on spotify items wherever it is that you listen to your podcast, go ahead and subscribe their leave us a review would that helps us be able to engage more people and you know the more people that listen the more engagement we get again this is about stirring you the listener to find your y. and so and then again like us on facebook Instagram Chap would unc serving you can search that up will pop up. Loves. Contact with Y'all and here from y'all and so yeah thanks go and find your white people. Need.

Bob Bob Food Pantry Matt Russell Matt Church Chapel Bob Luton Bob McDonald Bob Luton Bob Matt Russell Evan Scout Houston Food Bank facebook spotify Youtube administrator Donna slit wi
May 30: Swearing makes pain more tolerable, Mt. St. Helens 40 years later, turning plants into carnivores and COVID reopening speedbumps

Quirks and Quarks

55:10 min | 1 year ago

May 30: Swearing makes pain more tolerable, Mt. St. Helens 40 years later, turning plants into carnivores and COVID reopening speedbumps

"I'm Keith Macarthur. Unlocking Bryson's brain is a podcast about my son. I am the rare disease that keeps him from walking or talking Bryson's perfect. His life is really hard and our families. Search for a cure. Oh My Gosh. Maybe science is ready for this. It's part memoir part medical mystery. We can do just about anything modifying. Dna Heart in my throat cure. His controversial unlocking braces brain. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. This is a CBC podcast to monitor all human dark-haired inheriting cranks. Hi I'm Bob McDonald on this week. Show a kiss can make a boo feel better but so can swearing up a storm. The important thing for reducing pain is look at the words that we think are important. So there's no point in the F. Word if you actually preferred the B word on the C plus four decades after the eruption a scientist still learning about Mount Saint. Helen's sticks out from space still forty years later. I mean if you pull up a satellite image. It's like. Wow what's this big area? That looks so different. It's the Mount Saint Helen's landscape also understanding how carnivorous plants got a taste for eating meat. And some plan they were able by playing around with juggling genes to make themself insect counters and the risks of reopening with covid nineteen still circulating. How do we know when we've gone too? You know might worry is really that by the time we realize we are starting to have a growing problem again that will be very challenging to control at that point all this today on quirks and quarks. Hi How are you? This is your first time getting Buddy wasps. Yes yes it is. Take off your shirt great. We go was the although. I'm never tried body waxing but I can bet it's no fun and I suspect if I tried it I might be prone to letting out a string of swear words. There's something about shouting curse word. That just seems to help melt the pain away. Well now a new study out of the swear lab and yes. That's a real place at Keele University in the UK is adding to our understanding. A why exactly expletives help with pain it seems that when it comes to pushing past the pain shouting Kelly Clarkson just won't do you truly need the bad words to do any good. All Robertson is a postdoctoral research assistant in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. She led the Study Miss Robertson. Welcome to our program thank you. It's great to be here first of all those the act of swearing actually relieve pain or does it just seem that way as a great question so the research suggests that swearing doesn't relieve pain. You still fill the same amount of pain that you would with if he didn't swear but it allows you to tolerate the pain for Longa. Oh so you can put up with more. You swear exactly. You can tolerate the pain for much longer if you swayed. If you don't swear well take me through your study. How did you find this out? So this is a long line of research that has been done with Richard Stevens on myself. Looking at how swearing affects pain and pain perception tolerance. What we do is we asked participants to come into the lab and to tolerate pain for as long as they can. We usually call the cold press the task when they put the hand in ice cold water which is usually around three to five degrees. Which doesn't sound that cold when you're not doing it but believe me. It's freezing and we ask them to keep the hands of much for as long as they can and then take out when they want to do it anymore while repeating either a swab or a neutral. Wed So in our latest study we wanted to look at whether the morphology of swear. So how swearword sound whether that affects anything or if it's something else going so we got participants to either repeat the F. Word to either repeat control web or they could say what out or the web twists and. He's were fakes. Where was that? We came up with? Okay so they They're putting their hands in cold water seeing how long they can take their trying. These different words. What difference did you see when they use the different words well? We hypothesize that perhaps faucher might help in the same way. That's why woods help because it sounds very similar. It's got up. I found the end. When you think about the kind of was that we might not be able to say on this Radio Show. They might follow a similar kind of pattern and we thought twins pipe. Help because it's funny. There was an idea that perhaps help because the hilarious and they help distract you in that way. What we found was actually that there's nothing that can be a good old sweat when you when we have people swearing with a hand in the water. They could tolerate the cold water for longer by up to eighteen seconds. Which doesn't sound like a lot but actually when you need to get through this horrible experience. Eighteen seconds is a long time. Wow that's what so. Why do you think there was such a difference between actual swear words in these other words either the neutral or the funny ones that you're using so there's two dominant theories? There's one idea that it's the fight or flight response. Swearing gives you a little bit of a jolt. It helps your heartbeat faster. It helps your respiration rate increase. And so let gives you power adrenaline to get through stressful period. The other idea is the after you finish wearing. It increases the break. So you've got the fight or flight response and you've also got the rest of relaxation response to after you finish wearing the recommendations response goes in which suggests that your body is entering a data raft and has dealt with stressor and there's a two days but as the recent towns we don't really know whether they are exclusive whether they worked together. What's going on and that's really exciting for as research in the SWALE APP. What was the? What was the the word that had the greatest effect on pain tolerance? It's a good old. Isn't that the F? Word the F. Wet THAT WOULD. Do you know what it is about that word that makes it so powerful now. I mean there's something wonderful about the word the F. Word so I was very lucky and got to work at Tilburg University for two months last year and doing some Twang research and I had a wonderful sample of one hundred and fifty people from across the world so the Dutch the English or American but it was timely different languages and I got them to nominate the top five hours and over ninety percent of the participants across all languages had the F. Word in that top five so the something about that word that we love. That's cross cultural. And I just think that's quite beautiful in its own way. So what else do we know about the effects of swearing on our brains? There's a lot of ideas about what swearing as in in and I think we're coming into a better understanding of behaviors and knowing that not everything is holy battle. Holy good so people might have said when you were growing up. That swatted suggest that you're not intelligent when actually research suggests that if you swam you're likely to have a high of intelligence We also know that swearing affects pain tolerance. But it means that you can go for longer when you're doing advance if exercise so it's just a really good catchall for anything. That really sucks. So are you saying that swearing is actually good for you definitely know some people who swear much more than so does that mean that they experience less pain so we do know that there's something called a habituation effect and what that means. Is that the more you do something. The less of an effect you have so people who swear less more likely to have greater pain relieving effects than have grates reflects for dealing with advanced experiences. Now you mentioned a cross cultural thing. Is this just for people who speak English? What about other languages? That's a great question so a couple of years ago. I ran a study looking at swearing-in Japanese. The backstory for this was when I was an undergraduate. I did a year abroad in Japan and like any good language learner. I wanted to learn the swear words fast and so I was surprised. Fine was that's why I was Japanese star exist like they do in English. It's very much about manipulating the way that you put together your sentences in your fives to be rude or dishonorable to somebody and I wanted to know whether or not we still saw this pain. Relieving effect will manipulate the honor in the social standing to create a profane experience for participants. And what we found was exactly the same as what we found. Our English punishments Japanese people. Swear in the same way that we A. We found that when participants who Japanese were asked to swear during the cold press cast when they put a hand in the ice cold water. They could tolerate the pain. I think it was about forty four percent longer than Japanese participants. Who didn't sweat so now that you have discover the analgesic of swearing on pain. What you're next up so I've just finished up a study looking at effects of swearing on emotional pain. So I'm really looking forward to hopefully talking to you about that. In the future but spoiler alert. We sound similar thing so when you having an emotional painful experience it's also beneficial to. Soi Although we didn't at Tolerance we looked at how this would help you later on after the emotional experience because I really want to see how swearing helps people in the real world while I must say as Robertson. This has been a very painless interview so I can simply say. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure. Ali Robertson is a post doctoral research assistant in the Department of Experimental Psychology at University of Oxford. This is the CBS Evening News with. Morton. Dean did they. There was a violent explosion of a different kind early this morning in the Pacific Northwest Washington. State's Mount Saint. Helen's blew her top and police report that five people in an area north of forty years ago this month. Mount Saint Helen's in Washington state erupted in spectacular fashion on May Eighteenth nineteen eighty a violent volcanic explosion ripped the top four hundred meters off nearly three thousand meter high mountain. Leaving an enormous horseshoe shaped crater pulverized rock and ash were launched many kilometers into the sky as an enormous plume formed above the volcano near the ground superheated winds three hundred degrees Celsius full of toxic gas and hot rock. Dust cascaded down the mountain at two hundred kilometers. An hour wreaking enormous havoc six hundred square kilometres of forest was obliterated homes and highways were destroyed and buried ash rained on much of the Pacific northwest and fifty seven people died but despite the catastrophic destruction almost immediately after the eruption life return to the scorch shattered landscape and understanding. How that happened is being the life's work of Dr Charlie. Christopher a researcher with the US Forest Service at the Mount Saint Helen's national volcanic monument. He first arrived at the volcano when he was just twenty two and has spent the four decades since the eruption of Mount Saint. Helen's studying how the ecosystem around it came back to life. Dr. Christopher Lee welcome to quirks and quarks. I thank you pleasure to be here. Do you remember where you were on? May Eighteenth Nineteen eighty-one Mount Saint Helens erupted. I sure do and actually I was quite distant from the volcano in southwestern Wyoming working on an ecological project on a reclamation of mine spoils following coal mining. So what was the first time then that you to Mount Saint? Helens after the eruption. Well it was about two months after so was in July of one thousand. Nine hundred eighty. We were contacted and asked if we'd be willing to come up and test them of our hypotheses about how ecosystems should recover following severe disturbance. So when you got there what was the landscape like. What did you see? Well was quite astonishing primarily because of the sheer scale of disturbance. Because as far as the I could see the verdant force that had been there had been leveled or absolutely obliterated in no longer present whatsoever and it was steaming landscape with fetid waters. And and just Erie to say the least and it appeared that there's no way any life could have possibly survived Wolf sure. Why would anything survived that? Kinda shattered landscape. What kind of surprises did you have about? What actually did survive the blast right? The Big Aha moment was that there was an archipelago a series of islands with survivorship in some cases they were tiny islands maybe perhaps a single individual plant or a sapling of a tree in other cases lakes that had been afforded protection of ice and snow because of the timing of the eruption in this case entire aquatic ecosystem survived in situ what about animals also animals again. Timing turned out to be really important at eight thirty two. Am In the morning on May Eighteenth. The son had been up already for three hours. So perhaps a dozen or more of the small mammals denizens of the mounting. Helen's pre eruption landscape had already sought retreats under the ground in logs and so they were spared the brunt of the eruptive forces whereas diurnal daytime active road in such as squirrels and chipmunks were in harm's way they were very much subject to the forces and perished in the single most important factor. The first thing that came from Mount Saint. Helen's was one that in the face of such adversity. Survivorship was the rule and that we went on to learn decade later was at its types and the amount and distribution spatial distribution of those organisms. That are single. Most important factor of regeneration in the post eruption ecosystems. So it was good for the night owls because they had just put themselves to bed underground in their burrows and They survived the blast. So the I guess. Luck is a big part of who survives these kinds of eruptions. That's exactly correct. And it's not just the time during the day but also the season for example. We have many birds that come to the Pacific northwest. During the summer to nest and those birds had yet to return to the mountain. Helen's landscape so if the eruption had occurred just two months later those birds would have been nesting very much vulnerable to the forces. And what have perished in the same thing can be said for salmon and steelhead because there were many culverts that were out at sea while they were maturing before they came back to spawn in the rivers around Mount. Saint Helen's so there were many different mechanisms and factors that led to this complex fabric of survivorship so for example all of the five large mammals mountain goats elk deer. Black Bear. Puma or mountain is all instantly perish within ten minutes time of the eruption of the onset of the eruption whereas many small mammals survived by virtue of being tiny and being what we've was crypto biotic hidden in places that afforded them protection. How soon did the ecosystem around Mount Saint Helen's start to recover and turn green again? Well the regeneration process happened when the volcanic substrates were still hot and steamy stuff happens. It's not like they're just there's discrete point of okay it starting now and that's the single biggest challenge for organisms and for ecosystem development in these posts eruption landscapes in that if you are in the hardest hit areas without survivors. Somehow you need to get the basic building blocks of ecosystems and that's carbon and nitrogen back into the system and the material that's belched out from the bowels of the earth income after these volcanic vents are absolutely devoid of these two essential building blocks of ecosystems and so here's where these inputs become critical to jump starting regeneration of the ecology and ecosystems do. Remember the first time you saw a green plant poking through that devastated landscape. Oh I sure do these are indelible memories because you know just imagine being a young ecologist half trained in being dropped off a chopper into this place that was so foreign and so it was it was there was nothing it was monochromatic. Everything was grazed waits to to black shing color. And so believe me. When you saw any form of life it popped out and so I absolutely recall one of my first trips into the blast area and I looked over and I thought I saw a little glimmer of green and walked over and sure enough. It was this parsley fern. Just a tiny fern that had a small font growing up through the mantle of ash a very rocky place so that particular plant. I had been revisiting every single summer since then on my first trip in in the spring I should say and so I was in there just yesterday out on a plane and revisited that plant so this is your forty in a row that same individual plant and so every year. I go and greet that plant as I enter the blast area. Well how was it possible for a plan to actually get like nutrients? Out of what's basically just pulverized rock well right so inputs. Become imperative and so. That's why this this rain of material that's being driven by the winds so when you remove the forest shifts and behaves much more like a grassland or desert where the winds are dispersing organisms and matter and so it starts with just this this Daryl. Ix these derelict's of dispersal so these insects that are caught a loft in the winds and deposited onto the pump surfaces. And although there's no way for them for most of them to persist so they're just surely enriching volcanic materials but there are some number of predators largely beetles and spiders that can exploit these looks dispersals so the very first communities develop are not what we learned in our in our ecology one one college course but in which would be plants but instead the first communities develop were indeed these carrying predations communities of beetles and spiders and so that was the initial community. But what's really note is that there's always heroes in these landscapes and what we learned early on by one thousand nine hundred eighty three. Is that a very unlikely plant. Species played an enormous role and this was the prairie loop and it's a tiny plant perhaps largest that would get would be twenty five thirty centimeters across that is in diameter and perhaps ten centimetres in height. This species survived high on the flanks of Mount Saint Helens and somehow some seeds got down right in front of the crater within the first year after the eruption in that actually that moment was the beginning of what would become this vast spread of lupins across this fifteen square kilometer area and the reason that loop was able to exploit this barren landscape was because it was absent keeping in mind of nitrogen carbon was because of special association it has its roots with the bacteria and this bacteria can produce nitrogen and it provides that nitrogen to the plant and intern the plant fixes carbon sugars through the process of photosynthesis and provides that to the bacteria. So it's this beautiful relationship. If you scratch my back I'll scratch yours. And as a result loop could exploit the landscape and in doing so they increase the nitrogen and carbon. And the amount of organic material and facilitated decolonization of all these other plants and animals that were arriving and so lupins played this incredibly important role in many locations around the volcano where life was obliterated. So what other as you say biological heroes? Both plants and animals were around in the early part of the recovery of mount. Saint Helen's out in the broader landscape so talking about perhaps throughout about five hundred square kilometers of the area. The pocket Gopher was incredibly important and this is a small rodent. The size of a of a small squirrel say and they live beneath the ground. And what's interesting about the gopher as you could see where they survived because as you're flying over the landscape and a helicopter the volcanic materials the pumice NASA was light grey color and we're go for survived as they're digging for their forage. They have more soil than they know what to do it. So the spell it to the ground surface. In the form of a mound. Well when you're flying over you can see these dark brown mounds of the old forest soil. These could be nature's little rotor. Tellers by churning the old nutrient rich soil complete with the biota of soil microbes off fungal spores to the surface. So what we learned pretty quickly. As these mounds increase the suitability of the site chemically physically and biologically that promote plant growth. That's astounding gophers as rototiller stealing the soil over. So after the initial recovery of the The Lupin and the action of the GOPHERS and Ferns and all that what were some of the big stages of recovery. After the first couple of years we would see that initial the spread of herbs and grasses which then promoted another key player which was the elk and the L. came in and because there are a large animal wing three hundred kilograms thirty or so of them they can strongly influence the plant communities and then what he plans took a foothold beginning about fifteen years after the eruption particularly willow and so willow is another one of these heroes species because so many organisms require it either for or preferred. I should say either for food base or for substrate for cover from predators weather and for nesting so when you visit Mount Saint Helen's now how different does it look to you. Compared to when you first saw it right. After the eruption overall the landscape looks markedly different insofar as it's transformed from a largely gray landscape to a largely green landscape. And it's really astonishing to look at this landscape and recognize just how vastly different from the surrounding areas? And when I say that I mean the region going from northern California up to southern British Columbia and it's six from space still forty years later. I mean if you pull up a satellite image. It's like wow. What's this big area? That looked so different than everything else. Well it's the Mount Saint Helen's landscape and it's what we have learned in the second grade a pithy. Is that if you leave nature alone? And don't tamper don't try to fix it. Don't try to restore just leave it alone that these really remarkable slowly regenerating complex early habitats develop but because we've been suppressing wildfires and if we do have a fire we often run in and do salvage logging and replanting we trunk. We don't allow these communities to develop. But instead what are we? Plant the late successional species conifers. If you look at the long historical record these types of slowly regenerating landscapes used to be quite common in our region but our activities have really reduced that dramatically. And so we don't have a whole lot of old growth. We don't have much of these early complex systems and we have a whole lot of these. Middle aged stands just have faith in nature's ability to heal itself. Now you've been at this now for forty years. What's it been like for you to follow a project like this for so long? I mean personally. A great deal identity is tied up in his place. Because I mean it's not like I just go there to work. I mean from my house. I see Mount Saint. Helen's it's the place I've taken my two daughters to pick huckle berries and to forge for fungi in the fall and go fishing. Mount Saint Helen's is really intertwined in my very fiber both from a professional career perspective but also from a very personal on a very personal level and from the professional. You know it's it's a place that's been so such a rich opportunity for me. I arrived at twenty two. I thought it was going to be a summer. College position turned into forty years later. Who would have thought I mean that it dead? It had that kind of of longevity and so it's been it's been rich in it's quite remarkable to be able to spend so much time on that landscape and get to learn the cast of characters and see an event that's happened thousands of times over many thousands of years throughout Cascadia and to actually be there during my lifetime in my backyard which came to be my backyard to witness how these forests innermost initial stages. Early stages begin. The foundational work of creating would one day will be an old growth forest. Dr Christopher Lee. Thank you so much for your perspective. It's a pleasure talking to you wonderful talking with you. Thank you Dr Charlie. Christopher Lee is a researcher with the US Forest Service at the Mount Saint Helen's national volcanic monument. Hi I'm Dr. Brian Goldman if you haven't heard my new podcast the dose. This is the perfect time to subscribe each week. We answer your most pressing. Health related questions right. Now we know you're grappling with covid. Nineteen on the dose. We bring in top experts to answer your questions about the corona virus and post some of our own the latest evidence in a way. That's easy to understand by subscribing to the dose. It's your guide to getting through this difficult time. You can find the dose. Wherever you get your podcasts. How impatient not familiar is the theme song from the Nineteen eighty-six Movie Classic Little Shop of Horrors? It's got the classical Hollywood musical. Themes boy meets girl. Boys carnivorous alien. Plant tries to eat girl giving you son in your way. I oh man in real life. Carnivorous plants are no threat to humans. But we do find a macabre fascination with the way they trap and devour insects and understanding how these unique plants gained the ability to eat. Animals was a puzzle. Doctor Reiner Hedrick has been determined to understand after nine years of genetic detective work studying three different carnivorous plants. He thinks he's figured out how these planty volved into the most skillful green hunters on the planet. Doctor Hedrick is a professor of biophysics and botany at the University of Pittsburgh in Germany. Dr Hendrik welcome to quirks and quarks. Oh Yeah I'm happy to be here so first of all. What was the the driving force behind the evolution of these non carnivorous plants into insect? Eating plants like Venus flytrap in the first place while I mean the applaud anomaly live. They have enough nutrients into soil but in some spots in In in swamps for example there is a depletion nutrients and that means that the plants thaw and some plants in evolution Gupta kick by playing around with juggling genes to make themself insect counters which nutrients were the plants after so the plant after nitrogen very important. Fertilizers are rich. In nitrogen phosphate and also minerals like potassium calcium and magnesium licey. Well before we get to how you figured out how the plans to develop disability. What were the three carnivorous plants? You studied so the launch I was most interested in was the Venus flytrap because of the hunting skills being an active using a trap and the aquatic sister of the wiener slide trip the water wheel which is smaller and it has affected flee no roots and lived in water and Hans for Aquatic Crustaceans. And of course the sun you because it has a trapped which uses glue to have eaten the praise stick to these tentacles and then when the tentacles recognized the prayed and the role the leaves and press fiennes sex to they're kind of choosy suggestive material and being than dissemble and the nutrients sucked out often. In fact it's an easy. So how did you investigate how these three carnivorous plants develop their ability to eat insects? First of all day are in the same family of plants. So this is very important because if you want to go into genomes and compare their software and hardware to drive a trap for Systematic Research. Reasons be used carnivorous plants. Which are very much related to each other to find the roots of Cannery. What do you need to become carnivorous plants? So what were the major changes that allowed the plans to adapt to meeting? The major Fab was that they were able to move genes for nutrient uptake from the root to the leaf to make the leave a route which allows them to a mine. The prey which got stick to the ten tackles which hold the insect tight. What were the evolutionary steps that you found that they went through to develop a taste for insects. What we were exploring was what do they have in common and looking at the jeans they had in common or D W we found genes required to lower the insects. This is a Venus flytrap. Thirty produce a cough you with is a smell of fruit and this attracts the insects to visit the trap and once visiting the trap it will by exit in touch one off twice the trigger and the REP is closed. What we also found is jeans which required to sense touch so the so called touch chiens after touch the electrical signals produced. The electrical signal is translated into a hormone. It's a touch on on and the hormone producing genes. Were also they have in common that this week plans? Andy were increased in number and density and then we found also increased in number and density. Deans need to make a digestive juice. That means if the praise kept and the trump is closed they secrete a digestive loyalty which then grinds up the insects. I the skin. Which is a polymer. They have an enzyme. Which can cut the polymer in pieces and then they have something we have in our stomach. Which is the protein degrading? Moya t so when the skin has than they can send the enzymes into the insect meet and then digest the meat and take advantage of the breakdown products of the meat which we called Amino acids but how does duplication in the genome help these plans to go through this remarkable transformation from getting nutrients from the soil to getting it from insects so plan to do we adopt to a new environment. Dwi Kate genome so to have a playground to play with a new set of genes. You maintain the old set of genes your normal or father genome and then the daughter genomes. You can use to play around and see how you can modify some jeans to favor your new skills you want to gain like Cannery. You make the you gene products and for tissues for the new trade. You are going for what happens to the The old genes that used to get nutrients from the roots but we found is amazingly that a whole lot of nominally route located. Gene's got lost and in Divorce. The wheel there is no route anymore is a water planet. Not Need to route anymore so they gave up any route function and have now all routes functions only in the trap. So you make the trap route. Let me see if I've got this right here. You saying that these these plants that used to get nutrients from their roots. They duplicate part of their genome. They have these these extra genes that they then repurpose to get nutrients from the leaves instead of the roots. Yeah so how long would the transition to carnivorous sixty million years? Sixteen million years. Some time you know you do it in a year or so. I would not in the lifetime of a man. Okay Doctor Hedrick. Thank you so much for your time. Okay thank you Dr Reiner. Hedrick is a professor of biophysics and botany at the University of Pittsburgh in Germany. Well teams. We've entered the phase of the pandemic where we're moving from a pitched battle with the virus. Cintas something more like a delicate dance. Most provinces and territories are doing well. Lockdowns are easing social isolation is lifting and things are looking relatively optimistic but others Quebec and Ontario and looking at you are easing restrictions despite the fact that the corona virus is still spreading in the community in ways. We don't completely have a handle on so we're definitely not out of the danger zone by any means and so as we ease restrictions open more doors and more businesses what potential pitfalls might lie on our way and if we do stumble how easy will it be for us to tighten things back up again to prevent small outbreak sparks from becoming viral wildfires. We asked Dr Amy Greer to take through the obstacle course of opening. She's Canada Research Chair and population disease modeling at the University of Wealth Dr Greer welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you for having me. What are you most concerned about? As provinces and cities begin reopening. What really keeps me up at night is that we've started reopening you know. I'm based in Ontario. We've started reopening here at a time when daily case counts are still high. We're starting to see that. Compliance with physical. Distancing measures is starting to wane and we have still quite limited testing and contact tracing capabilities. So you know might worry is really that by the time we realize we are starting to have a growing problem again as indicated by things like ICU. Admissions deaths we will have so much underlying transmission in the community that it will be very challenging to control at that point. So you're saying that we may have a sort of a false impression. That things are getting better when we may not have a good handle on it. I think that in parts of Canada things are certainly looking good. And I'm very optimistic. About lots of places I think in Ontario much of the transmission we are seeing is gt a centric. So there are many parts of Ontario. That have not reported cases in quite some time. But you know we know that. Physical distancing measures are challenging to maintain over the long term. And we know that. This disease is transmitted by close contact. And so as those contacts start to creep up we will expect to see some amount of transmission beginning to happen. So how can we actually get a better idea? What's really happening now? Because aren't case numbers today. Actually reflecting transmissions from two weeks ago exactly so we have indicators that we look at but many of those indicators are what we call lagging indicators. Because you're right. They represent transmission events. That happened some time earlier. So one of the things we keep an eye on is called the reproductive number. And so you may have heard other people talk about this. But it really describes in the context of public health measures the epidemic growth in the face of control and if that number is greater than one each case infects more than one new case but as the outbreak progresses and we implement lots of different types of public interventions. Our goal is to try to drive that number below one and that tells us that we're slowing epidemic growth and so that effective reproductive number is something that we really keep a close eye on on a daily basis but could things get out of control where it becomes hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Most certainly you know I think the challenge with Cova nineteen is that individuals can transmit their infection before they are clinically ill so a person can be infectious to others but not yet realized that they're sick and so they may still go out into the community to get their groceries to meet up with a friend. Those sorts of activities are risky because those people can be infectious and so good testing and contact. Tracing is going to go a long way to help us to minimize and contain any sparks. That flare up. This forest fire analogy seems to be appropriate here. I mean sparks can burst into fires with just a little bit of win the extra fuel around so based on what we know about how this virus spreads. How do we evaluate how risky different situations may be? Because it's different across the country. Yeah you're exactly right and one of the things that there's been a lot of talk about is is the role of super spreading. And so earlier I told you about this reproductive number and it's a bit of an oversimplification because a reproductive numbers really average so some people might transmit a little bit less. Some people might transmit a little bit more but some people might transmit a lot more and so we need to really think about. What do we know about certain types of activities or settings that might be high risk for these sorts of super spreading events? So is location. Also a factor. They're certainly. I think that that is a big part of it. What we don't really know about these types of super spreading events is is whether or not they're driven by biology. So is it that some people have specific characteristics or is the observation really a function of specific behaviors or settings and in Japan. Actually they call these the three CS so closed space crowded places close contact and so all of those three things on their own represent individual risks. But when you are engaged in activity where those three things overlap concurrently. I would view that as a very significant high risk type of activity or setting. I'm thinking of the tragic example of the choir where one person had covid nineteen the choir got together saying and then it was spread among the group exactly so you know from a risk perspective. We really want to think carefully about the proximity of other people. The setting so whether we're indoors or outdoors the type of activity so this choir activity. You know. Clearly people are singing. It potentially generates droplets and the duration time you know obviously longer duration periods are higher risk than than very short periods. Well we've come a long way since we first went into lockdown in March How can we use what we've learned since then to reshape our lockdown mechanisms from what's been basically blunt force into sort of a finer scalpels? We know that much of the case activity if you will really is quite. Gta centric right now. There are large parts of Ontario. That have not reported cases for quite some time and so we need to think perhaps about ways to manage a very large province with a very large population in a way that allows us to let some parts of the province. Get back to business or perhaps have a phased approach based on more local conditions rather than using kind of a province wide approach. Now we're hearing a lot about How Quebec is the other obvious problem region in Canada? Are they facing the same kind of challengers their situation different from Ontario? In general the situation is quite similar. Both Ontario and Quebec have had their outbreaks especially early on being very heavily driven by institutional outbreaks. And now as we start to get some of those institutional settings under control and we've learned a lot about how to do that. I think we now are starting to need to look to the community more to really be thinking about communities spread. And how do we manage community transmission and not again comes back to testing and contact tracing thought agree? Thank you very much for your time. Thank you for having me. Dr. Amy Greer is Canada Research Chair in population disease modeling at the University of wealth so constant caution will be our watchword trying to remember to wash our hands whenever there's the slightest risk of contamination being careful in grocery stores not to wander too close to people watching encounters in hallway sidewalks. You know the new normal actually. I'm not sure there's a phrase I loathe quite as much as the new normal. I'm tired of the isolation the social deprivation. I wanted to be over and I'm sure I'm speaking for all of you. In fact after the virus the psychological emotional strain of the lockdown and now the careful reopening is a real worry people are feeling the strain and that strain could have an impact on our compliance with the measures that are protecting us and everyone else and that could be very important as we reopen or if things go badly. We have to lockdown again. Dr Nikola Lisa. Tara is a behavioral economist at the University of Toronto. Who Studies what. Motivates human altruism is also recently studied psychological. Factors that go into whether or not people comply with lockdown orders. Dr Last Sotero welcomed quirks and quarks. Thank you for me. What role do you think behavioral science will have to play in getting us through safe reopenings or even closing back down again if things get out of control well in this definitely priority when thinking about the medical issues scientific epidemiological ish but as it turns out from a behavioral Scientist Point Of View Visa Festival? Off Comedy then Behavioral Tendencies. That is going on with with individuals just to mention if you of course. We're a long time we've been in our is related at home. These staff could when maybe some people start being too overconfident as we say thinking that someone else would be effective in fact that I'm fine. I'm strong I'm healthy so I can go out that of course if everybody's thinking that way everybody goes out and of course we have a problem or really people wants to really go out to. Sea otters might overweight certain evidence that fairs that some activities have not that dangerous. That risky like staying in the staying our door for them. Which is through. There is deserving but if you only pay attention to that evidence just because you want to go out and you also don't consider the same time. The potential cost potential drawbacks. Then you ever sort of embarrassed biased view of of the race. Can you can underestimate it. Mind you also the opposite possible you start looking at these images of people in the ICU. Or start looking at these. Images of crowd parks crowd at bars. And you might all the way that evidence even if it concerns only minority of of people and you might be afraid in a sense to go out. You Overweight. The risk and of course also from an economic point of because these also what reopening is about of with allies economy. If people are too scared more than they showed in a sense that people are not going to go out and so you can also has this opposite effect there is there is a lot of these behavioral and cognitive bias is a tarit player. So there's a lot of work for behavioral scientists here now. It seems like it's been a long few months under this lockdown and people are talking about isolation fatigue. How much might that influence our ability to assess risk of whether or not it's safe to go outside a resume normal activity if we really want to go out. If you really can't stand being at home any longer and we wanna find out whether it's actually a good idea to go out. We might not look at the early then. The News in sort of impartial way or objective. Way As we should but we might focus only on information that confirms our desires our preferences and sort of avoid whatever evidence says that feel too risky but we focused only on one side. We get sort of a sort of vicious cycle or self reinforcing cycle of being more and more convinced that there is no reason to stay to stay at home and so adjusted as it is important for individuals to try to look at the evidence as objectively as they can also from the point of your for example authorities. Media's tried to give information in a way that is unbiased that clear spirit might actually help people avoiding following a falling in this kind of in this kind of bias. Now you studied factors that go into whether or not people comply with lockdown orders. So where do you see the danger areas with human behaviors? We start reopening but also if we have to lock back down again if the numbers rise right so regarding the you know the the project of course. The to reopen most likely is going to be sort of insects. It's not be all at once but you know it also hard to draw a line what to do what not to do. So one issue I see. The reopening is how different people might draw their line and to what extent will be able to to coordinate in drawing the appropriate line for for different activities garden. Closing back a well definitely undesirable for a number of reasons including economic reasons of but into possibility people know about it in fact would be running service in Italy though and actually the majority of people still expect that Somporn there will be a need maybe in a few months off immediately but it's likely that would be a neat clothes back again. These might be south. Something that scares people and make them comply more. Okay so you give them the worst possible a scenario when stanchion because too strong and there is a perception that time bearing the cost others not then people might might get pied might get tired of it and also show positive behavior showbiz behavior very often also in the media. You know we see a crowded park and led to believe that all parts in the city in Toronto for example crowd that people are not complying with diesels Israel. That's probably not the case there are. Some people are not behaving properly but the majority of people are behaving really really well. So why not? Why don't we show that? So many other people at the social nor in a sense is to behave well so by yourself behaving well you are part of the good guys and there are a few of them well. How do our expectations factor into whether or not people comply with Public Health Directives? Expeditions play a big role. They play a big role because at the end of the in a democratic society. You can't impose these fencing or is elation by putting the police of the military everywhere we have to rely on your willpower and people form their expectation that they might affect their ability and willingness to comply what we find in our work. Because we've been working a little bit on. This is that it's not just the expectations that matter but the match or mismatch between expectations and the announcement by the public authorities so for example the idea of promising the two more weeks and then two more weeks of moving the goal post continuously might really upset individuals and create a negative attitude toward these these activities other governments Canada also as well for why they kept the end date of forlorn type of vague. And in a sense these petitions lower and avoided these resentment that we might have seen elsewhere dot. Thank you very much for your time. Thanks for Dr. Nikola. Tara is chief scientist at the Behavioral Economics in Action Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. And that's it for this week's edition of Quirks and quarks if you'd like to get in touch with US or send us a question for our upcoming question show our email is works at CBC dot ca or just go to the contact link on our web page and get to our webpage go to CBC DOT CA slash quirks. Where you can subscribe to our podcast. Listen to audio archives or read my latest blog you can follow us on twitter and facebook at CDC quirks you can also get us on the CBC listen APP. It's free from the APP store or Google play. Quirks and quarks is produced by Amanda Buckets Sonia Biting and Mark. Crawley our senior producer. Is Jim Lemons? I'm Bob McDonald. Thanks for listening for more. Cbc podcasts Goto CBC DOT CA slash podcasts.

Mount Saint Helen Saint Helen Mount Saint Ontario Mount Saint Helens Miss Robertson CBC Canada Bob McDonald Doctor Reiner Hedrick Mount Dr Charlie Japan US Forest Service scientist Dr Nikola Lisa University of Oxford Bryson Dr. Christopher Lee Kelly Clarkson