6 Episode results for "Paul Loosen"
From nose to toeshow coronavirus affects the body, and a quantum microscope that unlocks the magnetic secrets of very old rocks
"Welcomes the science podcast for April. Twenty four thousand twenty. I'm Sarah Crespi first up this week. We talk about what we know now. About the effects of Corona virus on the body system by system news writer Meredith Wasserman then staff writer hall loosen joins us to discuss in quantum diamond microscope. That's cracking the magnetic secrets in the very old rock. Sir What does it mean to be sick with current Oh virus we typically think I probably of shortness of breath symptom that will determine whether you should go to the doctor. You have a fever could lose your sense of smell. Maybe some stomach problems. Who What does this virus actually? Due to the body Meredith Wiedeman team of reporters from science looked at what we know of its effect system by system. It's not a complete picture yet but researchers are starting to pull it together. Okay Meredith how are you? I'm fine how are you Sarah? I'm good. This is a very comprehensive story from nose to Toews. I think they saw in one description of the work. Yes and so what happens? When a person comes in contact with the novel coronavirus. He essentially they inhale it and respiratory droplets. They might also pick it up on fingers that they then placed to their face from an inanimate surface the virus finds a welcoming home in the upper respiratory tract. A back of the throat the nose. Because there there are cells that are rich in what are known as ace two receptors and these are receptors that live on the surface of some cells and that the virus needs in order to get into those cells. We don't know the numbers but some people are just gonNA clear the infection and move on with their lives. Right they are. They're going to either be a symptomatic not even being aware they are infected and they can be very infectious in this stage or they might feel crummy they might have Malays. They might have aches fever. That really within a week or so start to recover ordered. They might go into a more serious phase of the disease. This is when the virus makes its way into the lower respiratory tract. That's right if your immune system can't beat back the virus while except in your nose and throat then the risk goes up of marching down your windpipe and into what we call the respiratory tree. The whole system of Airways that leads to the far reaches of the lung. And that's where the virus again finds a welcoming home because the tiny air sacs called Alveoli where oxygen exchange occurs with the blood also adds an abundance of these ace to receptors on their cell surfaces. And this is a problem because if the immune system goes on the attack these tiny spaces in the lungs you can get really serious problems. Sure it becomes what we know as pneumonia and ammonia simply as lung inflammation. This particular virus can cause a really rip roaring lung inflammation but these patients may have in quotes. Mild the MONJA. Although I don't think anyone has described how they feel as mildly affected or they may turn a severe sharp corner where they begin a rapid downhill. Slide into what we know is acute respiratory distress syndrome where. There's just a raging pneumonia and on their chest xrays or C. T. Scans you're GonNa see white where you should have seen black. Lack representing air in an white. Is this whole inflammatory? Response trying to beat back the virus but doing damage itself. Alveoli walls breakdown either can be clots in the little tiny blood vessels that supply the OBVIO- light nurse. Just a real STU real mess and when people deteriorate very seriously enough deny one thing that researchers are trying to understand is how serious is this immune response and would intervening at that point. Be Helpful for patients. If you have just a regular immune response and you start giving immune suppressing drugs your disarming your your Mahameed in a minority of gravely. Ill patients the immune system goes into this really damaging hyper immune state. Call that a cytokine storm when levels of certain chemical signals and the blood. Go absolutely off the charts and in the end what happens is the immune cells of the body began attacking healthy tissues and you can get widespread kwoh-ting you get the blood. Vessels leaking blood pressure plummeting. It's a catastrophe for the whole body. So in efforts to combat that out of Control Immune response they are deploying drugs that go after specific ones of these chemical signaling molecules known as cytokines and just to be clear here. Most of what we're going to be talking about is for severely affected patients people who are in the ICU people who are coming into the ER. So let's turn to the heart and blood vessels meredith. This is something surprisingly being seen in maybe twenty percent of patients. Yes it's clear that the heart and blood vessels are a target for Kovic and just how unwise still being sorted out. Let one paper in. Jama cardiology found heart damage in nearly twenty percent of more than four hundred patients who were hospitalized for the disease in. Wuhan another found forty four percent of patients in an ICU. There had abnormal heart rhythms. And then there's also an increased tendency to blood clotting that in a Dutch. Icu nearly forty percent of patients had blood. That was clotting abnormally. These are extremely problematic issues and people. That are already very sick from pneumonia. What has been seen happening to people's hearts there seems to be heart inflammation and it's possible because the heart lining and the blood vessel lining just like the cells in the lungs and the nose is rich in these ace two receptors again. They're the viruses port of entry into into cells. So the cells could be. It's possible that they're being in the heart. And the vessels directly inflamed. It's possible there at the lack of oxygen. Getting through because of the problems in the lung is doing additional damage to her vessels could be that a societal kind storm releasing all these inflammatory molecules again and sells remember they attack normal healthy tissue and that can include the linings of blood vessels so there are these multiplex of potential causes that may indeed vary between patients as to what's causing let. But it's clear that there's cardiac and vessel damage in a significant number of severely. Ill patients let's take a turn now to the brain. This is something that we've seen some scary reports on actually of inflammation in the brain and we've also seen law sense of smell in corona virus. Patients is that something that's related to the brain it might be that's not been established but there is a direct connection from so-called olfactory neurons. The ones that light you smell running from the nose up to. It's called the olfactory bulb which connects to the brain as one of our sources. Put It as a nice sounding feary who I have to go and prove that it actually extends to the brain but there are more general brain effects. That don't trace back to loss of sense of smell for one thing. The bloods increased tendency to clot can put patients at risk of having strokes. There's also a problem in that. A lot of these folks developed kidney failure that in itself can cause delirium and problems for the brain in addition there can also be a quote unquote sympathetic storm. It's sort of an overreaction of the nervous system that somewhat analogous to the site of kinds storm and that's common after traumatic brain injury some people with Cova nineteen can lose consciousness. So there's just a whole panoply of potential brain symptoms another symptom that I'd heard of before reading this story and I haven't heard most of this. Was that people can have symptoms in their gut. They can have diarrhea. They can have upset stomach. Does this mean that you know the virus pieces of the virus are surviving digestion? Yes apparently it does. And one of the suggestions is that patients are swallowing their own respiratory secretions and that the virus is carried live and somehow survives the acid environment in the stomach to land in the small intestine which is again replete. With these ace two receptors. An so virus can establish. Wow a robust infection. There that's it's thought what's leading to diarrhea nausea and other problems in perhaps on average about twenty percent of patients across studies. I WANNA take a step back here and just talk about how all these different systems being affected kind of expand the pool of people who have pre existing conditions that would make corona virus infection. Really dangerous for them. Can you talk a little bit about that? Sure so since we were just talking about kidney disease in the kidneys. That's one of the organ systems. Where if you have a pre existing kidney disease that gives you basically a handicap when you start this race with this new virus than we think of something like diabetes harms the kidneys. So if you start with a lower baseline of kidney function these chronic kidney patients with pre existing kidney disease are at seriously greater risk of developing acute kidney injury during the infection in the same way diseases that affect the blood vessels will also put patients at higher risk. High blood pressure diabetes again congestive heart failure all these kinds of pre-existing disease just make patients that much more vulnerable. Should they become infected? So how is research like this? It's so preliminary. Were really just beginning to understand the progression of this infection. How will this help with interventions or treatments? I think it will certainly offer clues and sign posts. There will be new discoveries that hopefully will lead to highly effective drugs but we have already a good deal of information that points the way to either existing drugs or targets for drugs now being developed knowing for instance the outline of a site a kind storm which is something that can be triggered by other viral infections or bacterial infections. We have a starting place with that. We have these drugs already being deployed and other inflammatory states like rheumatoid arthritis that you can then say well. If they're beating back a certain site assign one of these out of Control Chemical Messengers in arthritis may be they will also be back some piece of the cytokine storm. That's going on in these severely ill patients and so you have such drugs being deployed in clinical trials. What we know about the ace two receptor and it's detailed protein. Structure has been defined by a couple of new important papers hopefully will give us new unique targets to actually prevent binding there. Which would be terrific. Yeah so what? Was it like trying to report on this? Big Mix of peer reviewed preprinted small clinical studies firsthand reports. Those kinds of things was very challenging. Every scientist and physician we interviewed really added the caveat. This is science on the fly. Our knowledge today may be completely eclipsed a month from now or what we're thinking about how this diseases is acting may be proven wrong within three weeks. This is obviously an ongoing endeavor to understand how the disease progresses what conditions set you up for getting extra sick and then you know the mechanisms that are happening at the cellular level. Where is the best information going to come from? Do you think. Is this something where people need to set up. These robust studies that you described. Are they doing that now? Yes in fact. They are doing it but hampered by the fact that they're trying to at the same time in many cases take care of desperately ill. Patients cleverly does the analogy goes trying to build the plane. While you're flying at this information is going to be constrained or imperfect because of the situation. It doesn't mean it's not going to be important. Thank you so much meredith. Spent a pleasure Sarah. This story was reported. By Meredith wiedeman Jennifer cousin Frankel Jocelyn Kaiser and Catherine Medicine. They're all staff writers at science. You can find a link to the story. And all our corona virus coverage at science mag dot org slash podcasts. Stay tuned for an interview with staff writer. Paul Loosen on one. He quantum diamond. Microscope is revealing about Earth's early tectonic shifts. This week's episode is brought to you in part by Kiwi Cow. He Co create super cool hands on projects designed to expose kids to concepts in stem art and design all from the comfort of home. He because mission to help kids build confidence creativity and critical thinking skills and have a blast while doing it. Each crate is designed by experts and tested by kids and teaches a new steam concept. You can sign up for an ongoing subscription or purchase a single crate that strikes her interest or both head to the Cuban coast store to shop by agent interest search bestsellers store exclusives and find the perfect fit for the kid in your world. Each box comes with all the supplies needed for that month. Project Plus easy to follow instructions and enriching content. Choose from a bunch of different topics designed for all ages with Cuba Coz hands on art and science projects. Kids can engineer a walking robot last off a bottle rocket explorer colorful kid-friendly chemistry and a whole lot more all from the comfort of home. Have you need to make steam seriously fun? Delivered to your doorstep. Hit your first month free on select crates at Kiko Dot com slash magazine. That's K- I W I C O dot com slash magazine. Now he has staff writer Paul Loosen. He wrote a story this week on a quantum diamond microscope. That can look at fine traces of magnetism. Hi Paul Blow what. I say find traces of magnetism mean how fine. How small are these little pieces of banditism? These are magnetic signals trapped in ancient ancient rocks typically that get down to grains of the rock that are thinner than the width of a human hair. How does it work? I used the word diamond and the word quantum and iker scope which. I'm not exactly sure how they all relate to each other is actually kind of complicated. But we're here boils down pretty easily so diamonds in their carbon lattice view injected nitrogen atom into it knocks out one of the carbons and the next to it. This vacancy to call the nitrogen vacancy center that little vacancy has low cloud of electrons around act like free atoms. That are very hyper sensitive to magnetic fields among other things. And so if you stick the diamond right next to that sample you're trying to get at then. Stimulate it with laser light a sign of the magnetism of that sample POPs right up and sign is glowing Yeah it's Changes in the color red. This was something that was observed when people were looking at diamonds as components of quantum computing. Yeah I mean. People have known about these imperfections for decades and physicist used it for a long time to experiment on quantum stuff you know it's existent room temperature solid piece of matter and then some physicists at Harvard and elsewhere realized. Hey you know this could actually be a super sensitive sensor for applications and not just are playing around. Yeah we about this as something that can kind of do spatial resolution of magnetism in rocks Is it more sensitive then instruments and if so how sensitive is it? It is not the most sensitive. It's very sensitive but there are these cryogenically cooled. Superconducting Squid. Magnetometers are called are much more sensitive. Still they're trying to get it up to that sensitivity. But they've wasted on that so really you know it's something that can do a lot of samples but it's this resolution where it can get finer details and show you the overall map for lines up with the microscopic picture you have of what you're looking at what. I caught my attention about. This topic was actually a science advances paper. That's also coming out this week on very early plate tectonics and actually lead the quantum diamond microscope fit into this. Finding and then it turns out you know has had a lot of other interesting results using this technique. So can you talk to us first about the early plate? Tectonics so this is dame back three point two billion years ago okay. That seems really early. It's within the range of what many geologists expect. There's a huge error bar anytime from three billion years ago to four plus billion years ago soon after Earth formed there are credible guesses that could be made their different lines of evidence but this type of Paleo magnetism evidence which is very good evidence hadn't previously been found past two point eight billion years ago. So how can Paleo magnetism tell us about tectonic movement the Earth's magnetic field Runs to these rocks as their crystallizing spins the electrons around and causes orientation in the magnetic rocks. And that is than fossilized into the rock as it turns from lava into assault both spent decades figuring out how to extract these signals. Back out of these lavas not just with this curium but also with these super sensitive other times. Superconducting sensors see. You can see how the rocks were oriented when they solidified and then if the plates move you can say oh well. This one's not where we expected to be right. So you have this one data point and then if you have another one for three point five billion years ago for nearby rocks you can be like. Hey this is the minimum distance. They must have traveled. How is this different? From other techniques that have examined Paleo magnetism that have been applied to this problem? There some break techniques out there. You know the new study you mentioned uses those as well to get the actual estimate of the pill magnetism because that's still a more sensitive technique with acuity M does is it allows you to believe your estimate because the the old estimates would give you this bulk signal and accused him. Gives you kind of a map of this tiny thing where you can say oh? Is this magnetic field coming? From something that formed right the rock formed or is it something that happened later on some sort of magnetism that can be imported law new magnetic. Graham's come in ob it's all some distortion trying to figure out what's primary versus. Secondary fuels allow debate in the field. What would it mean if we could pin down a date for when plate tectonic started? Why's that important I? It's kind of just goes back to our basic understanding of how the world works. We know it started right. But what are the world. Look like before if you go far back enough. It can come into the debates about the rise of life. Was Plato conches. Involved in the rise of life did it fuel the carbon cycle the kind of hardcore massive skill rock carbon cycle. It all depends on how far back you push it. But these kind of connections to the evolution of life on earth changes in kind of chemistry of Earth. All can get skewed. Depending on one plate to Connex started this has been used on rocks from Outer Space. Or are they trying to learn by looking at the magnetic map of this meteorite? Will they know it? Likely formed around present-day Jupiter further out than previously measured meteorite for magnetism. And with the kind of fine spatial scale. They could see this one little sulfide ram of this little melt inclusion that could have you know a magnetic signature from the very early solar system and they saw a very weak magnetic field from it weaker than they might have expected to see compared to the previous data points they have of a meteorite that form closer to the center of the solar system. What's generating a magnetic field? In that scenario it comes from the first collapse of the molecular cloud to form the the dust disk and then sheer rotation in the dust convince amplify. What kind of questions are people asking about magnetic fields? At that time the traveling question here is to what extent exist but did it play a role in the formation of the planets so you can explain the formation of the without magnetism but it's quite possible that some also played a role in bringing together these dust particles to form into comes into your comps bigger clumps that eventually became plaza moles and then planets. And if you can especially if you can find that the magnetic field is patchy and variable not just this uniform thing then maybe these patches were stronger helped 'cause planet formation. You mentioned to me but it's not in a story another application for this for extra terrestrial rocks or non earth rocks. Yes so Roger Food. Who's the geologist? Who's been pushing? This forward has a a famous meteorite sane in his lab perhaps one of the most infamous meteorites in the world a meteorite from Mars that back in the nineties was blamed as evidence of life on Mars Life on Mars next not looking for life on ours. But it's also called one of the most studied rocks maybe the most state rock on the planet. He's searching for signs of the ancient Martian magnetic field from that and when it started how it might have changed very cool all right. Thank you so much Paul. My pleasure follow loose and is a staff writer for science. You can find a link to his story and a related paper in science advances on plate tectonics at science mag dot org slash podcast and that concludes this edition of the Science. Podcast if you have any comments or suggestions for the show right to us at science podcast at a s that. Org You can listen to the show on the SCI website that science mag dot org slash podcast. There you'll also find links to the research news discussed in the episode. And of course you can subscribe to the show on overcast stitcher spotify Pandora Apple podcast and many other places. This show was edited and produced by stare. Crespi with production help from prodigy. Meghan Cantwell and Joel Goldberg. Jeffrey Cook Composed Music behalf of Science magazine publisher AAA US. Thanks for joining us.
Calculating the social cost of carbon, and listening to mole-rat chirps
"Ah to understand how. America is facing up to its challenges domestically and globally. You can rely on the financial times. Our journalists report on the nation's biggest stories in issues not just from the perspective of the us but from the perspectives of beijing. Brussels and london to our few america's news in global context with the financial times read more at f. t. dot com slash new agenda. Welcome to the science podcast for january. Twenty ninth two thousand twenty one. I'm sarah crespi each week feature the most interesting news and research published in science and the sister journals first up this week. The new biden administration announced on day. One has plans to recalculate the social cost of carbon. It's basically a way of estimating the economic toll of greenhouse gases produced today on future generations staff writer. Paul discusses why this value is so important and how it will be determined next up researcher in barker talks about the sounds of naked mole. Rats you may already know that these amazing mammals are pain and cancer resistant. But did you know that they make these little chirps to identify themselves. As members of their colony as a new administration comes into power in the united states. We're seeing some swift changes in certain scientific areas rejoining the who the paris climate agreement. A new director of the office of science technology and among these early moves the biden administration has also asked for a recalibration of the social cost of carbon staff writer. Paul loosen is here to talk about this change. Hypo hello high. So this was announced on the first day biden was in office that the cost of carbon to future generations needs to be looked at. What exactly are they counting here. This gets pretty pretty quickly. But the social cost of carbon essentially is used in all the big regulatory decisions that the government makes it essentially takes the economic damage which really reflects the damage to our everyday. Lives will come with a policy that allows more greenhouse gas emissions or less greenhouse gas emissions. Now runs it out through the future then comes back to put a number on what those emissions are going to cost us so it's like a price on carbon except it's not it's not a carbon tax or anything what was happening under trump. So obama had put this all together under his administration when trump came in they may to small changes that drastically decrease the number so i instead reflecting the damage done to the entire world. It looked only at the damage. Done the united states in the future and it increase some as called the discount rate which is essentially how we value future generations. And what we can do with when we get wealthier to kind of a combination of those two you increase that enough. You essentially go far enough in a future. You don't care what happens. There was basically a devaluing down to a dollar per tonne of carbon. Co two in some circumstances before. Gets you what it's going to be potentially in the next Four years how will this carbon cost be calculated. Now what are they gonna take an how. What are these numbers that we just mentioned about discount and how far into the future. We look how those going to be calculated before said they'll go back to the global damage feel bama administration news and they have to timespans here. I a rapid thirty day revision and then a year long final update that rapid thirty day revision. They could either go back to the obama era policies or they could even set the discount rate lower. Which many economists think is appropriate and new york state actually in their own calculation late last year. What might devalue be then for this short palpitation. The thirty day one or the yearlong. How would it compare to that one dollar amount that you talked about. Possibly within thirty days it could go up to one hundred. Twenty five dollars per tonne. That discount rate is a powerful thing on its own so that's moving from three percent to a two percent rate everything staying the same including global damages. There are a lot more changes that could happen for that year. Long update that could reflect a lot of new signs and new methods are now going into the bottles that form this number. What are people looking at with respect to climate. Let's take that first. How might that be different than what was considered under the obama administration so these economic models scott integrated assessment models that you're used to produce all this you know they have lots of knobs the climate models like this very simple climate models are built into them didn't really reflect the best science particularly. They warmed to slow compared to more complex models. Now there have been a few new simple models felt by climate scientists that more accurately reflect that consensus so those can probably be used and one big change is. There's been a group of economists and climate scientists who've been putting together these econometric estimates of the future damage of climate change damage from climate pile uncertainty onto uncertainty. They take these massive data sets from as many countries as they could find globally and look at short term variations over a couple of decades or shifting weather use that to try and extrapolate out into the future to some extent so there's more data informing is policies even if they are ultimately uncertain this value if it was that one hundred times or possibly more what kinds of regulations this is gonna impact when is taken into consideration. Can you give us some examples. So any of your teen air. Regulations determining the future of power electricity in the country. That's all regulated by epa that will all factor in this cost of carbon the efficiency standards for a refrigerator cars all these things that the government overseas it often makes ways oria compelling case even more compelling the rarely flips it from negative to positive and that cost benefit analysis so it's a tricky standard cousin. See with a number. How much moves. How much do you rely on that to support your decision making the it's a complex dance but knowing that this value is out there will make this assertion stronger and it's has a lot of validity and i think the courts would respect to. Why do you think that this is something that the administration decided to do day. One is it because there's probably a lot of new regulation on the horizon and this needs to be there to buttress. I mean there's a lot of for to be done and think the thirty day kyle people by surprise but this will probably as needed to start getting to work allow these regulations that they'll be looking at the trump administration did wreak did the obama administration ones and so they can't just repeal them. They have to rework through the rulemaking process and to get that started. You need this higher. Cost of carbon probably. Okay thanks so much paul. Thank you paul. Visit is a staff writer for science. You can find a link to this article. At science mag dot org slash. Podcast could naked mole. Rats be the new model for language. Learning stick around for the sound of naked mole rats chirping at each other and my interview with researcher and barker about what the sounds mean naked mole. Rats are famous for a few reasons first. They have some striking biological features like being resistant to cancer and insensitive to certain types of pain. they're also use social mammals. They live in colonies with a queen now in a science paper this week. Alison barker and colleagues. Show that naked mole. Rats learn songs from each other. Allison is here to talk about how they figured this out and why it's so special. Hi alison hi sarah. Thanks for having me here today. Sure i love talking about these guys at find the so amazing researchers have been studying these rodents for a long time and what. They've not noticed. These interesting sounds that they make. We have an example that you sent here of a courtship song. Let's play that. So why hasn't this been a survey before. actually it has been observed but it's always been kind of noted as an interesting side feature because really there's so many cool things at these animals. Do researchers have often focused on these other futures and they thought well naked mole. Rats are kind of weird in general and the fact that they're chirping allot probably mean something but no one really took a look at it until we came along the focus. Here in this work is on what you call. Soft chirps and these are typically exchange when to mole rats. Meet in the dark in a tunnel. Here's an example That type of exchange was play that now and figured out was that these are colony specific a basically serve as identifying calls. How did you figure out that these were specific to a colony. We took advantage of some new technology. That's been developed over the last few years. The type of computer analysis called machine learning and this allowed us to advantages so we were able to record a lot of soft terms so more than thirty thousand of them and we were able to streamline the analysis of the soft terms and it's not so common to have naked mole rats. I was lucky to work in a lab in berlin where several colonies and we also had collaborators where we had access to naked mole. Rats that are in south africa. So we've played a few samples of these sounds courtship song soft turps and obviously they're audible to the human ear but you tell which type of song we're listening to or can you tell you like as an expert on listening to the stuff had you tell a colony dialect from a different one. I can definitely tell some of them. I think with a little bit of practice actually. I'm pretty confident anyone can do. This have had a lot of practice with them. An embarrassed who bit. But i can certainly recognize certain individuals. Wow i think that brings up a good point though so with this machine learning. You're able to play down. The machine learning can place it into a certain collie but how do we know that this is what the mole rats are recognizing. I mean could they just be recognizing their cousins voice or the smell of someone from their colony. That's a really good point. I just wanted to maybe touched upon machine learning again. If i can for a second because i know that sounds like kind of a big fancy term. Actually i mean really what we're just doing is we're giving this machine which is a computer program a lot of information and it sets up. Its own sort of rules about how to classify this information and we also give an answer key so then it can check how accurate it is and that was of course a really important thing that we needed to test in the paper was okay. The machine can do it. But that doesn't mean the naked mole. Rat can do it. We actually tested that in a very simple way. We had thousands of these recordings of the software and we chose the soft terms. Because they're very common and they're also very simple acoustically and so we were able to place a single murad in a behavioral timbre where we could play. Sounds that we had recorded from the colony. And they're pretty good at recognizing individuals that they know in the colony and the way that we could assess this was that they actually respond to the recording. The morales was sort of preferentially respond actually two individuals from their colony. But of course they might just be recognizing someone that they know within the colony so to test this. We've made sort of like a robot morad. We basically took the average sounds statistics from each colony and may fake sound. When we felt that back into our machine it would predict that the fake murad was speaking that dialect but it didn't overlap with any individual that existed in the colony and when we tested animals with that procedure we found that they still preferentially responded so chirping back to the playback and so this was really strong evidence for us that actually the mole rats were somehow able to extrapolate a colony dialect or some features of the dialect and that they were able to recognize that well. Let's turn to wear this dialect comes from one of the important findings in the study is that these are learned. How are you able to show that this learning was happening. We managed to cross foster hops naked. Mole rats are a rare breeders. So as you mentioned before there's only one breeding female in the colony and that's the queen. And so she gives birth. Maybe four times a year. If we're lucky so we actually got very lucky. And that we had several colonies that gave birth within a same two week period. And so we're able to transfer pups from one colony to another and we were able to do this in three separate experiments and we're able to track the pups as they grew up in the new environment. We would predict that if the dialect is something that's completely genetically determined than the birth colony dialect would appear no matter what environment you were raised. And so after about six months of living in their foster colonies we recorded lots of soft chirps from the adopted pups and we are able to again use this classification algorithm. We had developed an ask the machine. Which language is this mallrats speaking. And so we find three out of three times so across the board the dialect that the mole rat was speaking was the one of its adoptive colony so they seem to be able to at some point in their early life. Learn something about the new environment the new acoustic environment and they're able to use that to kind of fit in. Why is it important that these mallrats no local lingo. You say in the paper. These critters are kind of xenophobic. They're willing to kill interlopers. Is this kind of protecting the ones that do live. In the colony from execution. I think in general being part of a social group is very important for a lot of species. I think this is especially important for the naked mole rats because they live in an environment which is often kind of harsh and one of the reasons they've been able to survive as the developed. These really strong social bonds so implicit in that is the need to understand who belongs to your group. And who doesn't. And i think when you have a very large group in the wild colonies can be up to three hundred individuals. So that's quite an organizational task. And so yeah. We really think that having a vocal queue is something that can help unify the colony. And that if you're not performing probably in many ways if you're also not speaking the correct language than that may be a signal that you're going to be punished in store perhaps yet executed. We talk about the fact that these foster pups learn from their environment. They're basically learning songs from the mole. Rats around them. Why is this such an important fine. Well i think it really expands our understanding of how vocal communication evolved and how it's used in the animal kingdom. Obviously humans are incredibly good focal learners. And there's been some amazing work studying birdsong example and they've shown that birds can learn very exquisitely to produce new types of sounds and primates can learn to associate different. Sounds with different environmental cues. But there really hasn't been a rodent. That's been shown to do this. So i think that's what i find. Kind of remarkable about this. It also to me makes a lot of sense because when you look at the evolution of cooperation you'd need to have a high level of communication for that to succeed. it's maybe a bit surprising that the naked mole. Rats chose vocal communication. We also thought that there might be an factory q. Or a visual. Cue vision was kind of easily excluded. Because they're basically blind. They live underground. They're not going to do dances like bees. And apparently they're not doing mountains like some other invertebrates. That's who i mean. I would really love if they were doing dances. But i think instead we have. They're doing symphonies. Perhaps so we have some more songs. It really kind of makes us take another look at the natural world and eat you can realize how much diversity is out there and how often evolution has sort of evolved similar solutions to problems. Researchers have been using songbirds Sometimes to understand things like language acquisition the evolution of learnt vocal learning and maybe mole. Rats are going to be another place where that could be studied but right now you can't say for sure that they're doing the same thing. What don't we know. What more do we need to learn about. Naked mole rats to make these comparisons. Yeah so i think i should. Maybe we just clarify bit mentioned that the beginning that mole rats are learning songs. And we don't actually know that they're learning songs. We know that they're learning this one pacific greeting call. It's likely that there's probably some cultural transmission of these more complex vocalisations but yeah just want emphasized that we definitely haven't shown that here. I think you bring up a really interesting point about songbirds and one of the things. That's so remarkable about them is their ability on a motor level to manipulate. Sounds and to learn new motor patterns. This has been classically divided into two types of learning so there's the production learners which are the song birds and then there's a kind of usage learners which are more like the non human primates. And so they often will have like sort of a large vocal repertoire. But they don't actually modify sounds very much what they do is they learn. Sort of contextual associations. There is a really great study with vervet a type of monkey and they show that they have a different sound for different predators and they can learn that. I think what remains to be seen as where the naked mole rat falls on that spectrum. Are they really good. At this usage learning so are they able to associate specific. Sounds with specific activities or are they actually able to change through sort of detailed murder control different aspects of their localization and and i think the evidence with the pups suggests that that may be possible. Which is really intriguing but we certainly need to look at some of these other vocalisations like you played at the beginning. This courtship songs and see how they're transmitted across generations. I think that we're really in a position to do this. Because we really only scratched the surface with the naked mole. Rat vocabulary as we talked before they are a little. You're not friendly to outsiders are naked. Mole rats friendly to people. Do you have to handle them okay. I'm glad that you this. Because i was afraid that this was going to get pitched as though these aggressive animals and i really wanted us to say well. There's so cooperative. And that's the lesson we should all learn to communicate better yet. They're incredibly gentle. I really like handling them. I know some people are put off by teach. but they're actually very cuddly. They sweep together in a giant pile. If you handle them they also get very cuddly. I think they're very yeah. They like humans. That's school as i mentioned. There's a queen. She's the one who has the babies in the colony. What's her role in this dialect to she set the tone for the colony to we think. So actually we're not exactly sure how she does it. But we did find that when the queen is lost and so this happened we had one colony that we were tracking for more than a year and actually quite rare but the queen died twice and because of this upheaval within the colony we were able to record the soft chirp developed in periods of stable rule and also in periods of anarchy. And what was really interesting. Is that the dialects completely fell apart when the queen was gone. We're not entirely sure how. She's controlling the dialects. We did test to see if everyone the colony was trying to match the queen and that actually seems to not be the case so she is somehow controlling that everyone is conforming to a dialect. But she doesn't seem to care that it's actually her like herself. Chirp that they're matching was so the adults were able to learn a new soft chirp when the new queen was established yet. I'm not sure if they were if we could really say that it was a learning. Or if they're more able to. I mean i guess. There's some sort of template matching because they're all converging and they're all speaking similar say. There is some sort of vocal filtering in place. But they're able to control themselves vocally when the queen is their individual variability increased a lot when the crew was gone. Normally the only individual who has an incredible amount of variability is the breeding male. And so we actually kind of think that he's allowed to be a bit more free because he's the one that has to entertain the queen with his singing so she somehow really allowing him to a bit more locally free and when she's gone everything falls apart all right alison. Thank you so much all right. Thank you alison. Barker is a postdoctoral researcher. At the max tilburg center in berlin germany. You can find a link to the paper. We discussed and a related insight at science mag dot org slash podcast and that concludes this edition of the science. Podcast if you have any comments or suggestions for the show right to us at podcast at a s that org you can listen to the show on the science website at science mag dot org slash podcast on the site. You'll find links to the research at news discussing the episode. And of course you can subscribe on the site or anywhere. You get your podcast. This show was edited and produced by sarah crespi with production help from policy. Meghan cantwell and joel goldberg. Transcripts are by scrubby. Jeffrey cook composed the music on behalf of science magazine and publisher triple. As thanks for joining us.
Visiting a once-watery asteroid, and how buzzing the tongue can treat tinnitus
"The award winning curiosity daily podcast from discovery will help you get smarter about the world around you every day in less than ten minutes, you'll get a unique mix of research based life hacks, the latest science and Technology News and more discoveries. Cody Goff and Ashley Hamer will help you learn about your mind and body outer space and the depths of the sea and how history shaped the world into what it is today. This week's episode is brought to impart by bio eats world. I WanNa tell you about a new podcast called bio eats world about how biology and technology are shaping our future as a pandemic has clearly shown US biology matters big time, but it's power and potential goes way beyond the current health care crisis. This new show from the team behind the A sixteen Z podcast explorers through conversations with experts how biology today is where the computing revolution was fifty years ago on the precipice of changing everything much like software before it, and because of our ability to engineer it biology is eating the world. You can subscribe now to bio each world wherever you get your podcast. Welcome to the science podcasts for October two thousand twenty. I'm Sarah Crosby. Weekly feature the most interesting news and research published in science and the sister journals. First Up, we have staff writer, Paul Ryan, he talks about the. Rex Mission to. The asteroid venue. was has been there since two thousand eighteen and will finally a sample on October twentieth few weeks away. What have we learned so far? We also hear from researcher Hubert Lamb about a new treatment for Tinnitus. What used to be called ringing in the ears the team uses by modal stimulation, laying sounds in the ear and buzzes on the ton to change the brain and turn down the Tinnitus. Now, we have staff writer Paul Loosen. He wrote a story this week on a stack of papers published in science and science advances on the OH. Cyrus Rex Mission to the asteroid Banu Hi Paul Hello Okay on the podcast we last checked in omnia Cyrus Rex Mission in December twenty nineteen, the craft had been orbiting and surveying this asteroid for quite a while and some surprising things that popped out. For example, there are small ejection events, tiny rocks, jumping off the asteroid and surprisingly big boulders littering its surface, and that's meant a change to plans for a sampling from asteroid. What's changed about that? Paul before the spacecraft reached do they had thought it would look like this kind of. Plane like a beach was kind of the infamous term that Dante Lauretta. used. Had all these boulders kind of shocking. These polders are safety hazard and there's no spot that reached the criteria for a safe approach from the original plans. So they've had to reduce the area that they will sample by ten times. So much smaller sample area they had to pick a site they had to figure out if the crash could actually land there, but it hasn't happened yet. We're not there sampling is coming up in a few weeks October twentieth. In the meantime, we have this package of six papers. They tell them more detailed story of the asteroid surface. It's gravity or about these boulders what did you find particularly interesting in this in this new information about the asteroid one big question with sampling asteroid and bring it back to Earth is why are you spending one hundred million dollars to get a sample when we have all the stuff on earth we have tons of meteorites on earth kind of the volunteer sample return. These papers really show examples of several things that could be caught these samples that you just wouldn't be able to learn from a meteorite thing that really stands out to me the mess of carbonate veins in these boulders. At the parent body, the kind of planet testimony that venue Brokaw from once this major water system, Moeen through it as an ancient water world. When you save veins, you mean, there's just like you know what does that mean? Exactly this bright slash linear slash of mineral that deferring from the rest of the rock it's different than Iraq and you think it's made of something that indicates water y. so these carbonates are known to perform from water from hot water in precipitate out that water, you just don't get them. So the same things are evidence of water on Mars as well, and it's not just a little rock in of water it's like a little river of water. Yeah, so the ideas from meteorites they'd always, yeah, there's on these asteroids, but there's only little tiny pockets that don't around you know a couple of millimeters or something like that. But this is kind of showing that these. Mike had at least the parent body of Ben New had water flow in throughout the whole asteroid and probably a lot more water than once thought this definitely connects to the main this mission. What can we learn from asteroids that we can't learn for meteorites, but it also tells us something about the formation of the solar system. Then like what was going on way back when when we had has mills running around the have there's there's also the story of the Solar System? Merged even as Cyrus rex was launching, they realize that asteroids like Ben New Form Beyond Jupiter and migrate all the way in this is something only emerged meteoroid stays in the past decade realizing they have these two separate pools of asteroids and the samples from Ben you might be able to actually say if that's true does finding this carbonate, these veins of carbonate support the idea that asteroids delivered water to Earth definitely in this is a fairly well accepted ideal already with this further bolsters that claim provides institute remote-sensing evidence of Hey these probably had a lot of water. So maybe this was one source of the water it's not. Definitively rule something out because who knows. Yeah, it's definitely a major support for that one. Sad. But here is the boulders aren't the exact target for sampling was ours rex is not going to land on a boulder if it's just not possible, but we'll still be able to tell us more about these veins more about water content more about carbonates from the sampling that a new. Yes. So the this instrument that they used to detect this carbonate I that came from a close fly over the sampling site earlier surveys have shown that it's covered in carbonates. Or carbon burying molecule. So that could be like organic compounds like amino acids, other stuff stuff that they expected to see but there are signatures of that throughout the asteroid. So even the pebbles will have some stuff we mentioned earlier that the parameters for where the sampling can happen changed. Once the crafts had reached asteroid what are the risks here as we get closer to the date? Is there still big questions about whether this would be successful or or how much you can get the definitely they've created this hazard map. Of, the sampling sites, this kind of pure circle of green there's a chance they come in to this red area that is hazardous, and then the spacecraft students. Autonomous Louis will waive itself off and kind of retreat back testing that five meters away, or there's the chance says, hit a boulder a little bit and skews needs to press flat against the surface to be able to suck stuff up. So there's a chance that doesn't happen. They've the ability to says, and then try again at a backup site in January. If it doesn't work out. There is a chance that these boulders are very soft, but we don't want to find that out by landing something on them. You know they're really curious why they got what Ben will look like. So wrong what the surface would look like one of these papers try and figure that out and it finds that a lot of these boulders are so porous that they're kind of fluffy. So they always look like what a beach might look like in the radar or infrared signal that they got. Of Ben who explains why they had this kind of signal suggesting a beach the spacecraft could probably crush these borders if rammed into them, but they don't WanNa do that. That makes sense. So l know how much they got, but we're GONNA have to wait for the analysis for quite a bit. It's due to arrive in twenty, twenty three in Utah. We should mention why it's autonomously sampling to near Earth asteroid but right now it's not near Earth and it's much farther than Mars from Earth right now, there's a about an eighteen minute lag between what happens there and wheel here. So all has to be done a ton misleading because of that is there anything else you think we could learn from the sampling? There's the question of these one of the sources of life, this kind of chemistry and that was going on in the. Early Solar System for these organic molecules that men were delivered to Earth. Maybe there's some way of teasing out what this looks like for the altered on impact with Earth could be something that holy surprising when you get those samples back. All right thank you so much Paul. Thank you haul in as a staff writer for science you can find a link to his story and the related papers and science and science advances at science mag dot org slash podcast. Stay tuned for an interview with Hubert limb about a new way to treat tinnitus. This week's episode is brought to you in part by the healthy minds APP. Why bother with yet another meditation APP because the healthy mind program APP was built by narrow scientists who first brought the powerful effects of Meditation and contemporary of practices on the brain to the world it's a shot in the arm for your mental health that doesn't leave you guessing but offers a hands on deeper journey for times of unrest and beyond. A fully realized program wellbeing that goes beyond mindfulness providing real relief for users including stress management, the ability to develop a deeper understanding of oneself and the mental relief that comes from well being and resilience with science filled podcast style lessons, and thousands of hours of meditations even active meditations that you can do on the go. The healthy minds APP is freely available. Thanks to generous donors. You can train your mind to be more focused, Tom and resilient take control of your wellbeing today visit HMO evasions dot org slash science to learn more. That's. H. M. Innovation Dot org slash science to get started today. This episode is brought to you in part by Varsity tutors many of us are wondering how the new normal will affect our children's education transitioning from being in a classroom for seven hours. A day to learning from home can be difficult to keep kids learning and engaged checkout varsity tutors. I E tutors delivers free live in Richmond classes taught by experts that make learning fun. What I found especially helpful is at all these free classes could help you help your child needs to brush up on high school physics or math need to remember how to learn. To, read varsity tutors can help on top of that. versity tutors has hundreds of free online classes that are guaranteed to enrich your child's educational experience whether it's a class taught by an astronaut musician or wildlife expert. There's fascinating subjects for everyone. Bercy tutors has you covered for all your back to school needs from one on one tutoring self study tools, learning pods, and home schooling resources. To Reserve your spot in a free class. Go to varsity tutors, dot com slash science bag that's varsity tutors dot com slash science mag gave your child the confidence and keys to success today at varsity tutors dot com slash science mag. Today we're GonNa talk about Tinnitus sometimes called tonight us and this is the perception of annoys either all the time or intermittently this noise that isn't really there, and this is pretty common about ten to fifteen percent of people have it and it's not caused by any one thing could be some really loud noise injury to your ear age relating deafness, which all in all makes something that's really hard to treat. Hubert lemon colleagues wrote about an approach to treating tinnitus this week in science translational medicine. The technique is called by Modal Neuro modulation and is shows much promise in a clinical trial high Hubert. You tell us how tennis works. It's something that could affect started the ear or it could be in the brain is that correct? That is correct. There's different types of Tinnitus but if you WANNA simplify to a kind of more objective where they're sounds actually being produced by your ear with that tennis or subject if Tim`rous, Inada more believed to be happening in the brain and so what we're talking about today, his four subject Tinnitus, a sound being produced in your brain without actually any sound coming. Into your ears in our approach is than to try to adjust the brain to reduce that sound. Can you tell from the outside when someone has subjective? Tinnitus. For the most part no, there is no method to measure the Tinnitus, the loudness and the tears per set that individual has and that's one of the challenges of how we actually measure and assess how treatments work. Can you tell through testing where along the auditory pathway? This is originating you know is there way to know which kind of person? Has There isn't way specifically identify where along the auditory pathway the community generally are realizing that multiple brain regions are being involved with tennis perception not only just auditory where you think it would be also non auditory things like emotional centers, lyndyk pathways, people call it memory pathways to there are lots of regions involved. One thing you can do is you can assess the type of Tinnitus that they have in terms of the sound quality of the sound perception so you can ask them first of all. Know is it tonal like or is it noise like? Is it fluctuating? So you can get a sense of that aspect of it and can also do some matching play sounds even tone generator individual can adjust the frequency of the loudness and do their best to match it. Some individuals will have more complex sounds that are just not. So easily pinpoint actually have a few samples here, and if you don't like irritating noises, you might want to skip ahead a few seconds we have one that's a tone. And one that's more like a shushing noise. These are individuals, sounds but some people actually hear a bunch of overlapping noises right does correct before the approach we're going to talk about today you know the paper that you wrote, you talk a little bit about how this was treated in the past tennis is interesting in that there has been so many different approaches that have been tried simple sound generators you play music could be like a background noise generator could be more specific tailored sounds of regent vigil, and those can cover up the Tinnitus and or interact with tinnitus to help reduce the burden on the individual. Currently, there is no clinically validated medical device or. Drug Treatment for Tinnitus the only clinically validated option right now, which is shown to be quite effective is using more cognitive behavioral types of approaches. One that is a more well known inter field is cognitive behavioral therapy to help a person deal with the tinnitus in overtime. Then the brain itself does adjust and adapt so that they truly do not many of them are not even aware of their tennis anymore in certain conditions Ryan that hostility city of the brain is none of the target of what you're trying to do here. Let's talk by Modal Neuro modulation big words loss of syllables can you break it down for us? I. In the word neuro modulation. A lot of that stands from the Neural Engineering Neuro modulation world casing electrodes into the brain for stimulating regions. For example, like Parkinson's disease where people have tremors and they'll apply electrical current, you could stimulate the coke Leah on after restoring hearing with cochlear implants, visual prosthetics. So a lot of that concept of kind of modulating or altering cell activity in your brain for restoring function but also treating function I mean that that's where this. Word Neuro modulation stems from we are trying to do something like that. We're doing it from a noninvasive approach if you think about Canada's as being coated in some neurons or cells in your brain, your guess, how do you disrupt that activity? Have you reduced activity and there's two ways to approach this one is you can actually try to suppress or reduce switch off those themselves. The other way which is what we're trying to do is more tried to make other. Cells more sensitive and more active and you kind of make those tinnitus selves be not important anymore because then the brain k. these other sounds these other cells, these are important. You do this with sound and electrical stimulation of the tongue that's the by modal part. We actually play a rich core of sounds in the treatment combined with tongue stimulation we might play like one kilohertz and then we stimulate your tongue and we know by carrying those two from. Animal experiments in my lab and other previous research that you can actually make more cells become aware sensitive to one kilohertz and just activate more selves, and then you do it for eight kilobits overall you keep doing this you will start to make the brain more sensitive to lots of different sounds, which then distracts the brainwave from Tinnitus I'm GonNa, play the treatment sound here. This one I promise will not be as annoying as a symptom sounds. So we played before. So. Does that sound like a tone or does that sound like the beach heard of it sound like music? One part is is tones. They're not exact like very sharp towns. They have some kind of brought to them in sense that like is multiple tones can make Jelly speaking most energies in a given tone one kilohertz that sound than will be presented for short period of time depends on the stimulation condition we provide but eighty milliseconds. Is How fast we do it but the stimulus itself could be more like underwater twenty milliseconds. So very short from traveled file, it changes frequencies. But with that, we have background sounds and that background sound is more rich broadband wideband, sound noise legs out but it actually sounds a bit like music. It's adjusting with US towns to make everything more comfortable to listen to I'm GonNa, play it just a little bit more of the treatment sound. Is there something about having a mixture of sounds that makes the brain pay attention? The key thing we're fighting is it really is about the phone haired with the tongue stimulation that is driving changes of the brain. Let's talk about why get the tongue involved? How are you stimulating? Hug does it tastes like does it feel something Jerry speaking there's no taste changes, but there is definitely a tingling sensation on the tongue kind of waited to like very soft version of pop rocks for people. That when they're young, maybe not little. Fizzy Fizzy Candy or soda and then switches around different locations on your tongue paddle looking device that is placed in your mouth, and we asked him to use it for about thirty minutes the session at the same time as this audio that we were just talking about correct the audio then is is presented in a coordinated way with the tongue stimulation. For. The study we use three different stimulation settings. It's more about the timing of land tongue stimulation happens relative to the sound in one setting. We have them happen at the same time. In another setting, we have some offset between when the tongue is stimulated and the sound occurs. Then another settings much more offset delay. Why get the tongue involved? What is that doing to signal to the brain? Pay attention to this and forget about that other thing that's been annoying you for however long there's been multiple groups that have independently working on this. This approach we ended up on the tongue through different pathways by lab we weren't sure which body region would be the most effective driving changes. We just know from many studies before that if you combine sound like pure tones with another non auditory input I mean it doesn't Have to be a sensory could be visually to be emotional pathways or be sending memory pathways. But if you pair it, you can cause these changes. So we just did a trial and error approach. We stimulated all over the body, the tongue, the s, the neck, the back legs you name it, what we found was that electrical stimulation of the ear or the tongue appear to be the strongest drivers of plasticity or changes. In. The brain that we believe evolved from for Tinnitus treatment in parallel neuroma devices, they were interested in the tongue. They had more a systematic approach and they came across my paper and then it was like, oh. My goodness. We both found similar things of what we team up in restless history hugh tested this on a large group of patients. Can you talk a little bit about Queer patients were and how much of? This treatment did they get? We try to keep it as open as possible we were looking for adults who are eighteen or older and those who have subjective tinnitus and we call it chronic. We basically defined it as having tennis at least three months and up to five years. We did some questionnaires for assessing the burden level of Kansas. For the most part, the required a broad range of individuals that were we to the. You mentioned that the tongue stimulation was thirty minutes and they had the ear the sound going on at the same time. How often did they do that and and for how many days we recommended that they used the device one hour per day that one hour could be broken up into two sessions of thirty minutes. For twelve weeks and after treatment whether any changes in what did you see you know it would be nice to have more reliable objective measures to characterize the loudness of Tinnitus. There are some approaches that people are looking into using I'm one of the people who believe that questionnaires are more useful ultimately ended the day I'm more interested in you know, are you feeling better and has your symptom severity reaction to emotional your functional reaction to the tennis has that calmed down and so that's why for us we use tinnitus handicap inventories, one of the most widely used, and so there is another one called Tinnitus is functional. And that also is beginning to be more widely used and how did the patients fair breath three, hundred, twenty, six are disciplines in the study in terms of those returning back we had more than eighty percent of individuals coming back eighty six point two percents showed improvement on tennis hadn't kept in Detroit t hi, and then we had eighty one point, two percent that showed improvement on the tennis functional index ended departed mentioned, which I think is the most encouraging and has been shown in previous studies. The long term benefit is that we took the device back after twelve weeks. This is the party did not anticipate what happened. I thought that it would recover back after a few weeks. Few months, but we have a large number of individuals who out to twelve months had these improvements can this approach by modal Neuro modulation be used on other disorders where neuro pathways are acting up I'm not sure I know of an exact parallel case could be migraines or seizures or things like that without sounding to alternative medicine light my view has always been even deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's trump. You know it's a complicated network and you have these trends somehow you electrically stimulate the brain and then the tremors suppress. It's not that you're we recovering or restoring the complex pattern that was lost somehow you're almost kind of shifting things and letting the body do what it does best. To get it to a stable state and in the same attendance, we're providing all these many different inputs but we're really relying on the brain, the body itself to find its happy medium to use this information, and then get out of this abnormal pattern driving details or the attention to the tendency, and so I think many other neurological and psychiatric conditions can be viewed this way. So if that's the case, then you can use different types of inputs to interact with the circuits that are driving those conditions. What are the next steps to get this type of treatment into use in the clinic? It is available in Europe in Ireland and also Germany, and so we do hope that we. Can bring it also to the US. Do you know what happened to these people do know what is different for them I mean you know their symptoms are the sensation is different do you know what happened in their brain that is the question I'm so interested in you have a second study we were able to go down that route that question you ask we are analyzing that data still, and you know hopefully in the year we can publish that I feel like what we're doing here. We're just opening the doors to this new approach and I'm hoping that my lab but other groups will take on the challenge to figure out what's going on in the brain. Thank you so much. Thank you Sir I really an honor to be in a few tear Hubert limb is an associate professor in the departments of biomedical engineering in odorless. At the University of Minnesota and chief scientific officer at Neuroma Devices Limited you can find a link to his science translational medicine article that science mag dot org slash podcast, and especial. Thanks to the American Tinnitus Association for those tinny sound samples. And, that concludes this edition of the Science podcast. If you have any comments or suggestions for the show, right to us at science podcast at a s dot Org. You can listen to the show on the science website at Science Mag Dot. Org Slash podcast. On the site, you can find links to the research and news discussed in the episode, and of course, you can subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts. This show was edited and produced by Sarah Crespi with production help from Prodigy Meghan can't well and Joel Goldberg. Jeffrey composed the music on behalf of Science magazine and its publisher triple as thanks for joining us.
Arctic sea ice under attack, and ancient records that can predict the future effects of climate change
"Welcome to the Science podcast August twenty. Eight Two Thousand Twenty I'm Sarah Crespi first up this week staff writer Paul Loosen talks about new ways to lose sea ice. It turns out the rapid loss of Arctic Sea ice is not do to just hotter air but also things like dangerous hot blobs of ocean water. Next Damian, Fordham talks about Health Paleo. Archives of what happened to biodiversity and ecosystems during different climate change scenarios in the past can help with prediction and conservation under human induced climate change. And in our book, segment, Kiki Sanford talks with author Carl burst about his new book calling bullshit the art of skepticism in a data driven world. First up this week, we have staff writer, Paul vison he wrote on new processes that are killing off our dixie ice even faster than previously thought Hi Paul Lo. Oh, bearer of good news as will. Your story starts with the polar stern. This is a ship hosting the Mosaic Mission multi-disciplinary Drifting Observatory for the study of Arctic climate, and we've actually talked about the polar star on the podcast for but surprisingly, the mission came to an early end. What happened there supposed to be in the ice for about a year? Yes. Commission thought just rethought. So. They had done projections on how fast the is travels how far it goes and plan all that together they thought, oh, we freeze on the spot we should stay in a flow for a year, but the ice just moved faster and a very straight line, and so it got out in eight months as pretty much dissolved after eight months and the researchers were like, okay we're no longer stuck in an ice floe like we planned but we also got to see the end of an ice floe which wasn't something they expected to observe no, and now they are back up in the North Pole trying to look at a new ice flow and catch ice floe formation up there. It ends in October we know that Arctic Sea, ice is disappearing year-over-year. A lot has been lost since the nineteen eighties seventy five percent by volume has disappeared since then but we're learning now is that it's not just hot air doing the damage the ice there's also things like dangerous heat blobs. What's this all about the Arctic is unlike be Atlantic or Pacific Ocean fundamentally shaped by the ice on top of it because of that Is, you have this cold freshwater and beneath it, you have this layer of Atlantic warm salty water that salt makes it heavier, and so the Arctic Ocean actually gets warmer as you go down and this water has been locked off it doesn't reach the ice it can't interfere with can't melted and there are now initial indications that it is starting to melt off the ice for parts of the Arctic. So it's cooking the ice from underneath. Is it getting bigger is getting higher up in the see what's happening and what's causing it there is a new study in the journal climate just came out last week that provided the first indication that the warm Blob is actually starting to melt ice or that it's been more of a threat but not one that had been realized there are two tenths. Always it's being fed. You have the ever warmer Atlantic water's traveling farther north and getting in there more the waters and their warmer, and also as the ice retreats around the margins of the Arctic more of the Arctic. Ocean is being exposed to heat and these heated marginal waters. There's a theory that they end up deep down under the ice and contributing to that. Are Up in addition to the warm lab, we also have faster currents the water itself is moving around more quickly. How is that affecting the sea ice? This is not a totally verify thing there are indications they're not all published. So take it with a grain of salt. It makes sense if you have more ocean exposed to the wind, the wind can catch. The ocean and move the water faster. So it makes physical sense, and then this might also start moving the ice around vaster shunting into warmer spots where it might be more prone to melt. The last effect you talk about is rougher. So not only is the ice being warmed, but it also is basically easier for the wind to catch hold of and shove around. Big. Question about the next couple of decades of the Arctic is as we move to this first year is it's called. It's thinner only lasts one year before melting. How's that change? The behavior of is, is more prone to deformation to crump lane, and then you know if crumples more catches the wind, it's not clear. You know that the Nice you might think, Oh, well, that should crumple easier could be true but still not clear that overall will lead to more from Queen everywhere because thicker ice can actually temporarily hold on just gets more wrinkled with time and you know so it's it's not a clear question and. This is where the space lasers come in. Yes. So in two thousand, eighteen NASA launched Istat too, which is laser altimeter measures the bumpiness of the Earth surface in ice in particular and snow, and they're really providing for the first time a clear picture of summer, sea ice, which is something of the three dimensions of summer ceus, which has always been this kind of fast wipe. Blank canvas with a lot of puddles on it, and now you can start to really tease out some of these things that mosaic might see this local flow scale extrapolate them to the Arctic overall another mission or another research project that's underway that is also looking to see a very large portion of the Arctic. All at the same time is this group of research vessels. I think. To twelve research vessels all going to the Arctic at the same time. Yeah. So it's called these synoptic Arctic survey national missions coronate in time they all have third individual funding. They're all supposed to go this summer to provide this baseline measure of the Arctic rather than these individual snapshots that you tend to get. That's been totally disrupted by the pandemic most of them will hopefully. Go next summer a couple or starting right now is this unusual for so many ships to be there at the same time it is. It hasn't been coordinated like this and also more ships can get up there. Now if less ice, we have less ice, the Arctic is changing, but it's maybe easier to observe user in ship, but you WanNa step on that ice Ma less we're learning the ice is going away and a bunch of different ways. What do we do with this information? How does it help us understand climate change? Is it just bad news? Even the most optimistic scenarios have even if we start kyw emissions, the Shiites will probably disappear for the summer. The next couple of decades likely not supple but this is not tipping point. This is something that if we cut emissions eventually that I will start reforming again, not irreversible, but the earth takes. You know even fast systems like ice take and take decades to reverse. So you'll steps we take today will eventually to change the future of it. When we take away from all this, these different feedbacks that are coming up will help us gauge when the ice will go in the summer, which will be important politically important, geopolitically important for national security and also shipping. And then once we understand how it goes that might help us figure out how it comes back. All right, Paul. Thank you so much. You're welcome all this is a staff writer for science. You can find a link to his story at science MAG, dot org slash podcast stay tuned for an interview with Damian. Fordham about predicting the future of ecosystems under climate change by looking back in time. This week's episode is brought to you in part by Kiwi Co Q. creates super cool hands on projects designed to expose kids of all ages, concepts and steam science technology engineering art, and math q mission is to help kids build confidence creativity and critical thinking skills and have oblast while doing it. Each crate is designed by experts and tested by kids and teaches a new steam concept each boxes delivered monthly and comes with all the supplies needed for that once project class detailed kid-friendly instructions, and enriching magazine filled with much more to learn about. The crate seem each line caters to different age groups, and there are a variety of topics plus the crates have everything you need. So you don't have to worry about running out for extra supplies with Ky-ko's hands on art and science projects. Kids can engineer a walking robot blast off a bottle rocket explorer, colorful, kid-friendly chemistry, and more everything you need to make steam seriously fun delivered to your doorstep. Get your first month free on select crates. At Qa, Co dot com slash magazine. That's K I, W I C O dot, com slash magazine. Climate change is heating up globally. Temperatures are reaching a high, not seen in more than a million years this week Damian Fordham in colleagues writer review in science on how new tools that help us look far into the past. A very old climate change events can help us protect biodiversity today as climate change ramps up high. Damian is our how you I'm good review looks to the past to. Help predict the future what is going to happen to diversity to ecosystems as the climate changes why is this important source of information for what might happen in the next century or to the gives us critical reference points in US history to identify things like ecological processes and characteristics that influenced the extinction risk and ecosystem change. One other thing you can do is can give us this opportunity to expose. Determine the resilience of biota too abrupt climate warming events. How far back are you looking? Are there certain periods that are really useful to think about? With focused on a period that we call the light for Ternary. Quaternary itself goes back two and a half billion years. We've really focused on the last one, hundred, thirty thousand years to really see if we could find periods and regions of the earth that have experienced climate conditions that Walnut in the twentieth century, quite similar to today and periods when regions have experienced rights of warming a similar to what is being projected for the twenty first century you mentioned in your review that this is easier to do now. That we have better tools and better access to the past. Can you describe some of that evolution in the techniques we've got an ability to date with a fair amount of precision and we're able to do that at a much cheaper cost. We've also got incredible molecular tools now with the taking off of genomics, which allows us to really open a window into the past in terms of demographic responses of species at even potentially evolutionary responses of Spacey's. Of Species that are alive today have been through twenty cycles, of cooling, and heating or glaciation and De glaciation. What are some examples of responses to climate change that happened in these past? Millennia. We've been now to show identify ecological responses such as Lodge Ryan. Shifts where talking here, shifts of hundreds to thousands of kilometers in response to ancient warming events at these have had knock on effects. So we've seen community shifts and this in turn affects things like ecosystem services. So the things that we rely on today and in terms of product productivity nutrient cycling. Can you give examples that people might be familiar with the locations or the animals or species in terms of looking to species that have responded to these warming events back in the last interglacial. So this is a period about one hundred and thirty thousand years ago. The world was as warm as it is today if not warmer and what we saw in this time, we saw hippos in the UK they expanded their ranges up to the UK and good example from America is in the West, would John Tortoises roaming around and believe it or not? At this time tie the Sahara was green and it was Co.. Is potentially to some extent by warming in the north of Africa driving the monsoonal rains south. So very very different world and I think that really points up this systems approach that you take in the review. The idea that you're not just looking at the movement of one animal you're looking at the effect on biodiversity and the effect on you know whole group of interacting organisms the Iowa. The review was really look at diversity in his different facets from the gene right through to the ecosystem, but I think this is something that was really what novel that we managed to do in this paper in doing so. We were able to then try and quantify at least provide stronger understanding of how these different elements of biodiversity respond to a Wilma world, but also respond to abrupt warming. So rapid warming, and from that, we can really start to take these lessons into conservation and use that to inform policy. We don't have all the answers now but what are some of the big lessons you think we've learned so far from looking at the pass through this lens we'd know that Species Ryan, just will shift I. We also know that when they species ranges shift that they will change the composition of communities one of the other. Lessons that we've learned a lot from the past is that species respond to climate warming at different rates the whole community doesn't shift as one. Consequently, you can Ashley See non analog communities. So communities that have been saying before old due to these clubbing bombing events I think not a lot of people know that this isn't the first time that warming of this Repentiti the speed has been experienced on earth but you do talk about that in your paper, what are what are some parallels that you've seen in the past but focusing particularly here on the loss twenty, thousand years as the earth emerged from glacial climb. During this period, they're actually a number of periods of very, very fast warming warming in a matter of decades warming in terms half of the temperature increase that happened between the ice age and modern condition. So imagine that happening in just a matter of decades. In some areas, this is up to ten degrees Celsius. So we pay now to defy of those periods at then actually look and compare them to future rights of warming, and we can see particularly in areas of the Arctic Eurasia Amazon and New Zealand that there have been periods that quite comparible to the future, and so then we can do is that we can go through we understand body responses to these very fast warming events and these appearance will be soul lodge shifts in abundance Sudan trajectories in abundances. We saw a lot of species moving around and we started to see local extinction events are there are important? Differences that we should keep in mind when comparing the past climate change that we've seen to human induced climate change in what's happening. Now you know I really think there is that's a great question. So the well that we're looking at for the twenty first century, Israeli plot a unique lot realization. In US history, we need to actually go further back than the lost one hundred thirty, thousand years. In fact, we need to go back about three million years to the mid ply saint or possibly even fifty million years to the air saying for conditions when co two levels comparable Ohio than to die. So this is a long. Time ago and the world then was really quite different to what we're saying on the future climate change take. For example, if we look at the polls going into the twenty first century, we still have a lot of polar ice and these periods the polarized was greatly reduced and this resulted in blase levels. So in terms of the work that we've done, we're not looking at troon climatic analogs of future global warming. But what we are able to do is we're able to ascertain ecological responses to what a wall will would look a lot and also too fast rights of warming. This is a thinking tool as you. Say this. Is a way of you know looking in the past and seeing patterns and thinking about how those patterns might apply to the future. How can those be current into action on the part of humanity? How can we apply these lessons to conservation preserving biodiversity as this really is something different to what has previously been put on Piper of putting the scientific literature actually tried to come up with a common currency in terms of metrics. So we tried to develop L. at least show that metric some is in which we can calculate rights of by diversity change in the paused a not all that dissimilar to how going. Try, to record current versity loss and use that for managing future Bata versity. In terms of setting targets, we can actually use the metric spending. These metrics that cover from population declines to changes in species, distributions to shifts, communities to even shifts in ecosystem function and services. We can take this information and we can learn directly from it. So we can actually start to understand what an abrupt warming event means. Four species in terms of shifting vegetation's in time. So they population trajectories for. We know that the population trajectories of many for example, called adapted spacey's went through major major declines in response to these warming events, and as of brought the warming events, what do we need to learn more about what do you think are the next steps for developing this thinking or this approach in terms of Paleo climate and climate science? It'd be nice to be out to actually generate full transient climate change bottles over the last one, hundred thousand years, global reconstructions using bottles all the. Climate since the last interglacial period, we could be looking to build on the efforts that are being made to make a lot of these Paleo data open access so that people like myself can use them modeling tools and skills to access this and to generate the tops of bottles that will be so informative full diversity conservation going forward in terms of the genomics that would be great if the continues to be such a heavy focus on community sky sequencing biological reminds preserved in permafrost. 'cause marine light deposits. There is the possibility hopefully soon, that will be out even unravel the ability of populations to adapt genetically to rapidly changing conditions make quite a holy grail, but I think the technology is getting there. Thank you so much Damian. So pleasure Sir thank you for having me Damien. Fordham is a professor and global change ecologist at the University of Adelaide Environment Institute and School for Biological. Sciences you can find a link to his review at science mag dot org slash podcast. Don't touch that dial still to come is Kiki Sanford's interview with author Carl Bergstrom on his book calling Bull Shit the art of skepticism in a data driven world. Welcome to the book segment of the Science Podcast? I'm Dr Kiki Sanford. The following interview contains mild profanity. Yes. So the sort of origin story is the Jevon West, my co author and I have been good friends and collaborators for very long time Jevon was going to be teaching a new course on began. He was telling you about it. I said okay. Let's I'm going to teach classical calling bull shit on big data and been a bit of a skeptic about that. Laughed and said, and I'd love to teach that with you. One thing led to another and soon Enough University of Washington Professors Carl Bergstrom Angevin West weren't just teaching a class Dr Bergstrom sat down with me to talk about the book that came out of it calling bullshit, the art of skepticism in a data driven world. Thank you for joining me today on the science podcast Carl to beat her. What originally got you thinking about bullshit. My PhD is in studying the evolution. So I started out thinking about communication and manipulation and what makes communication honest and win in animals lie to each other and how does that work and these questions have been of interest me throughout my entire career the chapter called the nature of Bullshit, describes some examples of animal deception. Why was that important for you to include in a book about Human Deception? The thing about communication is that when we communicate that gives me direct handles over your behavior. So if the things I was telling, you weren't going in some way influence your behavior there'd be no reason for you to pay attention at least in some sort of evolutionary context especially for. The animals signals once you start having organisms having direct handles over one another's behavior, but they've got somewhat inflicting interests that sets up these really interesting dynamics where deception becomes possible but not too much deception otherwise, the signal wouldn't be heated at all. So it was fun to get at least nine to that in the book. Then to point out bullshit isn't something that started in inhale find the US net I mean, it's something that goes away back. Tell me about the distinction between old school and new school wool shed school bullshit is the sort of weasel wording and be here from corporate spokesman were political figure making excuses or whatever I Think. We're all pretty sensitive to that. We live in a world is we say you know saturated with that sort of stuff. We know how to pick that up. We're not as good as I would like us to be but we know about that kind of stuff what we see more and more of as the world becomes more and more data driven. As we see this new school bullshit, the comes clad in the trappings of statistics and quantitative figures and data graphics, and that sort of thing I think much less facile ad challenging bullshit in that form. Do you think we can learn to challenge the new school bull even without a Master's Degree in statistics or technical background at all, you don't need to let yourself be pushed around by numbers someone comes and they've got the numbers. You don't have to just back down and say, okay, well, I guess you've got the numbers they've got a statistical analysis and you don't understand the stats. You don't have to disagree with their conclusions just by thinking clearly about what's going on knowing a few basic principles. You can see through this stuff and you don't need to be vulnerable to this kind of that we're seeing and more oven is used people's detriment all the time you have an example if you think about this election by US problem and. You think, okay. There's these two doctors in Bakersfield who are saying that they can estimate the fraction of people in California with cove it and they're saying that because some percent of the people that come to their clinic are positive for covid that must be the percentage that's positive in California. He don't have to have any map medical training at all to say, well, wait a minute. Why do people go to the clinic during the middle of a pandemic? That's because they think they've got cove it. So of course, they're getting really high numbers there in its massive over estimates of the prevalence in California, these are the kinds of lessons that we. Try to teach and this is the way call s without having to look into the statistics. How do you go about teaching people to be more inquisitive about the information that they're getting? Is there a basic level of mathematical numeracy that people need to have to be able to start addressing this or can it be addressed more generally I think you can absolutely be addressed more generally mean in our course, there's no mathematical prerequisite. We don't expect anybody to have any mathematical background we think about the statistics or the machine learning on or whatever is a black box. You can leave it as a blackbox because nineteen times out of twenty when someone gives. You a bullshit claim the bullshit isn't in the black box. It's not some artifact of the technical procedures that people have put in the wrong data or taking the wrong conclusions from the output, and so that doesn't require any kind of mathematical sophistication. I think this is so important in a world where more and more we are expected to make our decisions and former beliefs based on data from your experience and I your very vocal on twitter. Have you found it worthwhile to call bullshit on people on online I? Think that the calling bullshit can be useful if you choose selectively what to call on me and you can't oak to shout down. Every piece of misinformation out there on the internet or there's something called Brandolini he's law and Brandolini law maybe the Fundamental Law Bullshit Studies, which is that it takes an order of magnitude more effort refute bullshit and to create I'd say tours of magnitude probably now based on empirical experience in other words, it's sort of a losing battle. If you're going to try to sweep up all of that stuff on the other hand, there are pieces of misinformation that become very very prominent and need to be tackled by people who have credibility in the scientific community so that the news media and others can say, this is not a credible claim. This is why. We have to deal with the added challenge of the algorithms that help spread misinformation are the trick is to figure out how to use that for good instead of using it just for information to spread further in the challenge, there is that. So many of the algorithms the used on social media user experience bus, the underlying algorithms are designed to maximize engagement. Engagement is linked to how shocking and startling and surprising things are not how accurate they got this system. That's really put into place to maximize the spread of extreme ideas and so trying to figure out how do we counter that and take this infrastructure that could be used in very, very powerful ways and increase the degree to which it's being used for good. If Google's motto were still do no evil. You know maybe they their algorithm for Youtube would be a little bit different. One of the single best examples right. Devin has this great story about how he and his son are watching live feeds the. Space Station and sidebars flatter videos. But that's because the algorithms of learn that you get pushed for more and more extreme content and that's a regular feature algorithm. What approaches can we take to solve this obvious problem? How do you do what the Big News, right? How do you deal with this information? You could try technology and a lot of people claiming that they've got artificial intelligences that can detect false news I'm. Very pessimistic about this. I think the problems very, very hard even as it currently stands, and then if we start to get good at it than the nature of fake news and misinformation will change, you can use nine tagging district machine learning to find ways to get around the machine learning filters are catching this. So I I, don't see this ever being a winning game what about regulation it should the government get involved. Cautious about regulation because I do strongly support a broad interpretation of First Amendment Rights. There are certain things that probably should be regulated by to see people have more control over if information that they get through their social media feed, I should be able to turn off the filter that twitter puts on what I see and just see things that people I follow post in the order that they post the. So I'd like to see that sort of thing we should ban targeted political advertising absolutely allowing people to find tune adds to a very small number of people in A. Possibly, really noxious demographic and do it in a way it's dark so that no one ever knows that they ran that ad the way people find out if I run a racist ad, during Super, Bowl, everyone knows I ran a racist ad but if I push it to five hundred people in one particular location in one particular demographic that may never even be detected that shouldn't be going on but regulations really I mean, there's twenty so far we can go that so far this seems rather defeating. Is there anything that might actually work with Jefferson I see is the third leg of the stool and the only one you stand on his education and we feel like we need to catch up in terms of teaching people how to be informed consumers of. This. Is what our courses about this is. What's so much of what people are truly integrated curricula. Now, I would say to Washington and now has media literacy in its state standards, which is extremely important step i. think that's going to be a really key piece were in one of these mismatch situations where technology got a little bit out ahead of our education base for dealing with it, and so we're obviously suffering from that right now but I do think we can catch up looking forward now is there A take home message from the book that people can use I think there's a lot of it. We all need to constantly working on our bullshit detectors and so on. But with practice, you can get quite a bit better at it. One of the things that we teach students and we all the time is if something seems too good or bad to be true, it probably is and when you see that track back to the source, so you know I think that's a key example that over and over. Again plays out and Cova because we'll see these claims getting made around covert that are these extraordinary scare stories and you track back to the source because he this things are documented and and this is this was probably organized propaganda from opponents of the Chinese Communist Party at the time. Same thing if things seem too good to be true somebody gets on national television and says that hydrochloric went is going to cure this and is the mystery cure. It's just there's a cover up on the part of the. Doctors of the country to prevent us from using it. Then that person is probably not telling you the truth that even if that person is say holding the highest office in the land, you still want to track back to the source of those claims and try to understand where is that argument coming from Oh okay. He's got a doctor who thinks that we're making vaccines at alien DNA that his source and then my source are these large randomized controlled trials that say it doesn't work food we want to believe. Those lessons are fundamental. How does somebody tell the difference between those two things? This is really hard I. think it's like that one is a really tricky one. We've had some other examples like this. You know say Johnny needs out of Stanford with his contrarian view about virus extremely established very well respected epidemiologists that was making claims. So what do you do about this and I think the trick there is really to train delayed try to look at a range of opinions and if they're across the board in particular, the one year hearing is an outlier. Then that gives you a lot of reasons to. At least cold, some doubt in your mind triangulating is a tunnel were, and so one of the things I really strongly encourage people to do is to identify and follow the very best professional reporters that work on these things and I think that's great advice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate getting to talk with you. That was fun and thank you for joining me for this interview with Carl Bergstrom about his book calling Bullshit, the art of skepticism in a data driven world. I'm Dr Kiki Sanford and I hope that you'll join us again for a peak between the pages of another science book. And that concludes this edition of the Science podcast. If you have any comments or suggestions for the show right to us at science podcasts at as dot org, you can listen to the show on the science website that's science mag dot org slash podcast on the site you'll find links to the research and news discussed in the episode, and of course, you can subscribe anywhere you get your podcast. The show was edited and produced by Sarah Crespi with production help from Prodigy Meghan Cantwell and Joel Goldberg, Jeffrey Cook Compose, music on behalf of Science magazine publisher triple as thanks for joining us.
Step Up: Whistleblowers, Russian Protests, and the Washington Monument
"It's Thursday September nineteenth. Welcome to skim this. We're breaking down the most complex stories of the day and giving you the context on why they matter today today the House Intelligence Committee and the country's top intelligence official are digging it out over mysterious whistleblower can elaine then protesters protesters against the Russian government had been gaining Steve and the arrest of a film after their has mobilized even more backlash on stage and finally we had to the mall the National National Mall. We're here to make your evening smarter. Let's skim this. The most complicated story today is about a whistle blower in Washington right now. The head of the House Intelligence Committee and the Acting Director of national intelligence are in a standoff over a mysterious mysterious whistleblower complaint made last month. We don't have many details on what this complaint was about but the Washington Post is reporting that it has to do with a promise president trump trump allegedly made to a foreign leader but other news outlets are saying the complaint was about more than just one convoy trump hat. There is still a lot of unanswered questions and surrounding this whole case so today we're going to get into the legal protections for whistleblowers why this complaint is getting so much attention and where things go from here. Let's get into do it starting with a definition. A whistle blower is any person who alerts a higher up to wrongdoing at a company or in the government ah a few decades ago. Congress decided that whistleblower should have some cover if they flag any shady actions so in one thousand nine hundred nine. Congress passed the whistleblower Lower Protection Act to make sure that federal government employees won't face retaliation for whistleblowing but that law excluded employees who work in the intelligence community think DOC FBI CIA National Security Agency Congress said we don't want to protect you if you leak classified national security information so in one thousand nine hundred eight. Congress passed sort of affects the intelligence community whistleblower protection act so people in the Intel community could at least blow the whistle to to Congress without blowing the lid off classified information in two thousand ten Congress created an intelligence community inspector general or I G to look into whistleblower complaints coming from within the Intel community which brings us back to the complaint. We're hearing a lot about today. Reportedly a member of the intelligence community any heard about something that made them easy. We don't know what it is but again the Washington Post says the whistle blower claim to say trump made some kind of promised this to a foreign leader during a phone call they decided something sketchy was going on and filed a complaint that was last month the New York Times and CNN cites eight sources saying the complaints about more than just one phone call. It's about multiple actions but what those actions were is still not clear so why complain getting so much attention today because now the head of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Adam Schiff knows about it and wants details. He says that the whistle blower wanted the info to get to Congress. See by law the whistle blowers complaint sets it's off a chain of events whistle blowers in the intelligence community have to send their complaint to the I g then the idea has say yeah. This is a big deal or or not if it's big he sends it to the Director of National Intelligence Schiff says the I g use the words credible and urgent so he passed it onto the deny the deny is then supposed to forward whistleblower complaints to the House and Senate intelligence committees within a week of getting one but the acting DNA Joseph Maguire didn't do that when the I g realize the complaint wasn't getting run up the flagpole he apparently went around the DNA and send a letter directly directly to those committees like heads up. You should know about this thing shifts sent a letter to the DNA essentially saying W. T.F. Why didn't you tells tells about this shift said he wondered if the complaint was being purposefully concealed last Friday he issued a subpoena telling McGuire either hand over the complaint or come talk to my committee in a public hearing. So where do we go from here. I it looks like acting director. McGuire decided to go with door number two. He is expected to testify in a public hearing next Thursday but the House Intel Committee didn't want to wait for deeds today behind closed doors they heard from the I g the guy who went around the DNA. He reportedly didn't share the full contents of the complaint but according to some reports he says it wasn't just about one instance and he wouldn't save this complaint was even about the President Committee chair ships spoke after the briefing and said they're still determined to get to the bottom of it. This shows how someone is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the contemplating like we said there's a lot about this complaint that we don't know like who made it in the first place which foreign leader trump allegedly spoke to and what he may or may not have promised us to that person but reporters are playing their own version of guests who the Washington Post reports that according to White House records trump had interacted with at least by foreign leaders leaders in the weeks before the complaint including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong UN also in the mix the prime ministers of Pakistan and the Netherlands ends and the Emir of Qatar to be clear. It's normal presidents to chat with foreign leaders. That's kind of what what it means to be president. What's weird is the alleged promise and that the whistleblower complaint didn't go through the usual channels this afternoon. CNN is reporting according to the White House and the DOJ were apparently involved in the decision to not tell Congress about the complaint but so far they're the only ones reporting that so what the skin while Congress tries to get to the bottom of what the complaint is about and why it's taken so long to get to them. Trump is trying to throw water are on the whole thing this morning. He tweeted that the story is fake news and asked quote. Is Anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader meanwhile the question of what's in the complaint and why didn't go through the usual channels to make it to Congress and whether it's even a legit thing those are still not be but expect there to be a lot of back and forth on that between the trump administration and Congress uh coming up actors in Russia are getting creative after this summer's pro democracy protests more on that after the break so you like to listen to skim this on your way home from work which is great because we love being your commute buddy but if you're looking for more from the skin we've got you covered enter the skim APP. It has everything the skin has to offer kind of like our one. Stop shop wake up with the news. You need to start your day. Get a five minute. Read for your lunch break. Check out our weekly deep dives on everything from marijuana legalization to the student loan crisis and at five PM Eastern listened to that day's episode of Skim this it right on the APP to download search the skin. That's with two M's in your apple APP store or Google play happy skimming the next. Let's head now to Russia where anti-government protesters could be gaining momentum after a pretty cruel summer. Russian Russian opposition parties basically people who aren't thrilled about President Vladimir Putin's power trip wanted to compete in Moscow city council elections this month but in July election officials in Moscow locked some top opposition candidates from running claiming they didn't collect enough signatures to get on the ballot doc thousands of people took to the streets in protest and that really angered the Russian government big-name position leader. Alexei navalny was among those those arrested after that protest for planning to lead what a spokesperson said. We're unauthorized demonstrations the following weekend his arrest in the continued crackdown only made things things worse and protests and arrests went on one of the people thrown in jail was a young actor named Paul Loosen up and on Monday. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison for allegedly dislocating a police officer shoulder during those protests video. Saddam's arrest appears to show him being tackled by police after just walking through public square looking at his phone. The judge wouldn't let the video be used as evidence in court even though it showed that he didn't do anything which fueled allegations that case against Ustinov wasn't fair. We should mention some people say that as protesters. There's are being sent to jail instances police using excessive force. This summer aren't even being investigated so tensions over that are already brewing but Ustinov sentencing sentencing this week sparked a surprisingly large and creative backlash according to the New York Times one of Ustinov's actor pals conveniently named Alexander Pal while posted a video calling on others to join a virtual flash mob in support of the actor that I need to finish up pretty soon more and more actors posted their own and videos towards Alexi Navales team is keeping track of all these videos they say the videos show actors making their case onstage during curtain calls after some recent performances today those clever protests could be paying off government prosecutors reportedly now want Ustinov released on bail because of the public outcry and a Moscow court says we'll consider it tomorrow. WPRO protesters calling fair elections in Russia's still face major hurdles because it's difficult to get the Russian government to change course on much of anything but but these actors have found a new way to speak out literally on stage today. US and Chinese trade negotiators met up for the first time in nearly two months and they're just trying to see if they can even be in the same room together so while while we wait for them to figure that out the trade war continues and the latest front in this war appears to be about who makes the world's best smartphone last week apple unveiled its it's iphone eleven at a flashy press event and today powerful Chinese smartphone maker Wallpa- had a snazzy launch of its own for its new phone called the mate thirty thirty the meat thirty selling points sound pretty familiar a screen with curved edges and a super slow mo camera but wall weighs new phone is missing something thanks to the trade war. Google APPs earlier this year the US basically banned American companies from doing business with Wallpa- saying that the company posed a national security risk and that restriction Matt Wallpa- couldn't work with Google or use its latest android operating system on new you products meaning no official Google apps like maps g mail or the play store while we admit it could lose ten billion dollars because of these restrictions and and analysts say the lack of Google APPS will make it tough for the mate thirty to compete with companies like apple meaning the smartphone wars on big time even if the future of the bigger U. S. China trade war is still murky before we go today. We've got a fun fact coming to you. From the National Mall Three years ago The Washington monument it closed for structural renovations today if finally reopened the monument is the tallest structure in DC. When it first opened in the eighteen eighties ambitious visitors take the monuments eight hundred ninety eight steps to the top then be added a steam driven elevator because that's a lot of steps the catch only men were allowed to use it? Women and children had to take the stairs because apparently the elevator was deemed too dangerous for them. Now everyone can use the elevator because Doug and the stairs are closed because it turns out walking up the monument stairs can be too dangerous for your health. How do you like that and that's all for Skim this things listening and be sure to subscribe. We'd also love for you to rate rate and review US wherever you get your podcast for more skim sign up for our free morning newsletter the daily skin right on our website at the skin dot com. It's everything you need to know to start your day right in your in box.
How far out we can predict the weather, and an ocean robot that monitors food webs
"Hello. Welcome to the science podcast for February. Fifteenth two thousand nineteen I'm Sarah Crespi in this week's show. I'm talking to staff writer, Paul loosen about whether there's a hard limit on. Whether prediction is fifteen days as far as we can get and Meghan, Cantwell and Trig Faucheux discuss his paper on an Thomas bought. That's mapping final plankton off the coast of Norway. How far out can we predict the weather we've gotten pretty good at it? But is there a limit staff writer, Paul vision is here to discuss a study that says, yeah. About two weeks, that's the maximum for the mid latitudes. Anyway. Hi, paul. So the app on my phone gives me ten days of weather, and it's pretty good. I expect a little variation in those like ladder days. But is that the best that we can do right now is the best we can do right now the top and models from Europe, and the US really they max out at skillful predictions about ten days we've been getting better at this over the last few decades, what has been that rate of increase each decade. They've added one additional day of predictability, this is a really great success. But is that gonna stop we can't just keep adding one day of prediction a decade forever? Probably not it would be nice. It'd be great for job security for forecasters. Yeah. But this is something meteorologists have wondered about for fifty years, and they have often said maybe it's about two weeks. And this new study seems to say, yeah, it does seem to be about two weeks. How can a study prove a negative that we can't get better than you know, a certain limit. It can't to a certain extent. You know there. There's always gonna be ways you could improve this method. But yes, so they took the last version of the European model which contributed the best in the world and ran at about a hundred and twenty times, which is not really operationally expensive, these are supercomputer type models. So they ran out hundred twenty times a day change something about the initial conditions or what they were measuring or what they were excluding in these different sessions. Yeah. So a lot of the air that we see in miles could also drive from our uncertainty about what were observing today. So we don't have these perfect understanding of the weather and so trying to tease out. What is a problem do? Our imperfect knowledge versus the inherent chaos of the atmosphere has always been issue. But if you do this kind of big ensemble suite of models, Ryan them all together, you can artifice -cially make it seem like you have no error in the observations. You can narrow the range reduced to ten percent from the current uncertainty and that creates kind of artificial certainty. This is kind of presuming that or even better in the future. Measuring that we know more about how weather works and that we're better at inputting that data into these models. And when all those assumptions, we still get this two week limit. Yep. Implausibly better. We'll probably never get a good and still you comes to this two week limit that Edward Lorenzo who is a famous meteorologist mathematician. Father of chaos theory is fly Mr. butterfly effect. He hostile laid in a nineteen sixty-nine study that probably seem to be about two weeks law. People quibble about the model said may be didn't, you know, really? Like the atmosphere. But now these new models that do look a lot like that Mr. to the point of even having convection, the kind of cloud thunderstorm systems for me in them, which is hasn't been the case in the past still run into chaos after two weeks and no better than your me. Guess in base off climate records. Let's go back to the butterfly effect. Great moot. Natta great for people who don't know what this was about. I was kinda surprised that there was a paper kind of just thought it was like a thing that people say from scifi there was that too freshest butterfly as the crush history. This is the flap of butterflies eggs affecting weather. Yes. Yes. So the runs seize on this zeitgeist, I think to the paper from nineteen sixty nine I think he coined it in early seventies on referring to this. But it's something profound not just about this dependence on initial conditions. But it shows that when you have these nested chaotic systems that just impossible to predict beyond a certain limit. Because. This error start to these very small scales. Men infects each level up and up until its strode the whole system. This is something even if you have perfect knowledge of initial conditions that can't be helped, wait. So if you have perfect knowledge of the initial conditions, you still can't know because because the Mathis too hard. I don't know because the no math can help you. Okay. So that really does put a live a heart. Limit on what we can know about the future of weather, probably. What about these long term predictions? Were they say this is going to be a hot summer or snowy winter how does that fit in with this finding that's a different kind of forecast in. This is more about the day to day come weather forecast. Those are called sub seasonal seasonal prediction, and they use seasonal patterns on his called like the Madden. Julian oscillation these things that can govern. You can't make this, you know, all rain six months from now in X place, but you can make this kind of broader prediction might be Rayner than normal month. That's very active area of research and promising so looking at broader patterns to be able to make broader predictions but not sinking into late July fourteenth, just telling you. That's that's your sunny day that you should get married on. Yeah. The the seasonal prediction, there's really the marriage of whether research and climate science suspicion of climate science. How does climate change affect our ability to predict the weather if we're trying to do these day-to-day predictions are these models going to hold? Yup. If a lot of things change about the planet, the chaotic short-term, whether I don't think it will these models are initialized with the data every six hours or twelve hours. And so they you know that represents the world as it is right, then, and that's just like, you know, a quick snapshot. And here's projecting these atmospheric flows out from it. So doesn't necessarily depend on climate knowledge since the weather processes those are same. And we just look at initial conditions get our prediction. Yeah. But maybe these broader oscillations where you're looking for seasonal changes. Those might obviously be more difficult to understand under climate change, the other might be more difficult or they might be just more town. Jane, you know, it's not static world it's of changing world. So you're trying to use just makes it a little trickier. I would say, but that's why this field is really coming from climate signs as well that people are trying to understand this, and they were trying to understand for twenty years from now and started to be ten years from now. And now it's moving into the season. No predictions. We talked a little bit about the benefits of knowing the weather in advance hitting the two week. Limit is going to make for a big improvement in in some of these things that people rely on knowing the weather for I think every day you add as a huge game for the economy, especially people who really depend on knowing. I'm sure there's an infinite amount money on Wall Street interested in this airlines farmers all the people that really just depend on this way. No, be a great boon for them. That example, you gave us someone getting notification there'd be snow on their flight. Yeah. Bill lead scientists on this study as he was finalizing the study he got a notification that his flight to London was going to be problematic five days out, and that he should re book it for free with the airline and us like, well, I should listen to the weather. Forecasters is one and he took it early flight at a lovely day in London. And then his flight was canceled the original. All right. Thank you so much Paul. Yep. Thank you. All. V center is a staff writer for science. You can find a link to his article and the research we talked about that science MAG dot org slash podcast. Stay tuned for Meghan Cantwell's interview with trick Faucheux on using Thomas robots to map phytoplankton patches off the coast of Norway. Saito plankton maker Skopje plants of plankton play a vital role in the productivity of ecosystems. But characterizing exactly where they are in the ocean is challenging I'm here with Tikva assume to talk about how he and his team created a three D model of where these fight oh plankton occur using an automated underwater vehicle. How're you doing to your study was conducted in Norway? What brought your team to the specific study site. Do the island cold in the at this island? There has been a famous bird mountain that this home to a number of different seabirds that forage on different fish in the ocean outside however during less thickets there has been a sharp decline in the number of birds to try and understand. What is happening? We tried to collect the across the whole ecosystem around this island. Fido, plankton are. At the base of this food chain. So in order to characterize exactly where these fighter plankton art before going into your methods to evaluate this. What was traditionally done to do a survey like this? Traditionally it has been done from boats ships by deploying instruments overboard, either pulling them straight up and straight down and looking to have or extra in some cases, towing them behind the ship. What were the limitations to those kind of methods ships are still the most important sensing, but for minoshe Novi. But it's it's limited in sampling almost scales. Cannot to detail service of the water column. It cannot maybe move that fast. And the their mobility is limited. So chips are important, but they're not covering the process who wants to study at a scale, which is given up for definite representations. Fido, plankton are also not consistent in where they are the concentration varies a lot. How does they? Distribution of the Fido Clinton usually impact the ecology of an area. We used the cold this at shenice and it relates to a number of oil physical processes biochemical processes in the water Coleman different ways on different scales. And the it's a very hard question. And there are a lot of people trying to understand these intricate mechanisms our paper tried to map this out in a way. So that we have a measure on how patchy on how this distribution actually is to get a better sense of the three distribution of these Fido plankton your team used in Thomas underwater vehicle or an AU v to characterize exactly where these phytoplankton are. How does the UV survey this area to create a model what we have developed a system that allow the av to take decisions based on the observation the steering the mission? So this way, we're utilizing old information. That this available to us in the beginning. It's actually boxing in a volume of water. So it's falls on the sides of a volume and based on what it sees when it's traveling along the sides of this box it estimates. How the distribution of plankton this inside the robo tries to open mice its roots. True, given volume of falter trying to give the best map of the mount than distribution of plankton. And it does that by utilizing a statistical model at the Bill during its journey through the water, and it continuously update this and the subsequent data collection is planned based on the this estimate that gradually gets better than the sensing strategy. Also gets better what kind of sensors are on this av. And how does that specifically help you measure the amount of Fido plankton in the water column? The plankton is usually. As a proxy true chlorophyll? So by measuring the presence of chlorophyll were actually trying to get the bulk measurement doesn't how much the plankton. There is we use statistical framework called the golden process to try to do this in the effective manner. So that we can take this measurement of chlorophyll and tied to concentration model plan our data collection. So they tries to stay in the region where it has the most concentration it's actually interesting to get the map of the highest concentration because you can usually tie this to other types of measurements. Which we have done in the paper. How big was the area that you characterized and how long did it take for the AU v to generate a three d model of the area? It seven hundred by seven hundred majors av uses forty minutes. Approximately. To cover the size of the box. And once that model this made than we have estimate. It uses for two minutes to traverse the insides of the William the whole thing takes proximity one and a half hours allow that's really fast yen needs to be fast. Because the as I said there's current. So if we spend too much time, the we don't get the snapshot, we only get some smeared out snap showed that this actually very time dependence. We able to get other measurements. Besides chlorophyll from this hour and a half traverse. So it commenced all their measurements. So you can say something about is the concentration based on a salinity layer ardor plankton distributed along this gradient of temperatures entity with over or is there some other physical effect that this keeping them where? They are. And then you can look also at the interaction with the soup plankton, which is measured from the boat. In our case, we had a something cold a silhouette camera which measures and counts the number of different soup plankton species. So that you can see how the distribution is affecting the part of the plankton because if if the soup likeness easing, the Partha plankton, you will have a low concentration, but this concentration can also be because there is a physical force in the ocean. At this point, the recurrent or something else in in order to make claims about that you need to know how these things are related essentially need more than one data set in order to be short at your statements in actually correct based on this survey. Did you find any sort of relationship between these other factors in the presence of final plankton? So this favor was basically, it was more focus. They're still looking at the data for this one. Because you know, we have so much date than there is so money, right? Small things to do. So I guess the mystery of why the birds are declining is still not solved, then it's essentially a picture that you need to build over time. When trying to find out something about the birds because we took a snapshot of that area. And then that tells of something about the state of that ecosystem at that time and in order to say something about why the birds are declining. When you go back and take that snapshot once again than Greeley, go detailed into what changes are we seeing from snapshot day to snap should be. Thank you so much. Sure pleasure to be here today. Global soom is a researcher at the applied underwater robotic laboratory, Norway, you can find a link to his research article at science MAG dot org slash podcasts. And that concludes this. Edition of the science podcast, feminine comments or suggestions for the show. Ray to us at podcast at a s that orgy, you can subscribe to the show anywhere. You get your podcast or you can listen on the science website that science MAG dot org slash podcast to place an ad on the podcast, contact mid roll dot com. The show is produced by Sarah, Crespi and Meghan Cantwell. And edited by podgy Jeffrey cook composed the music on behalf of science magazine publisher triple AS, thanks for joining us.