It’s Friday! You’re almost there! Get ready for your long weekend with a bit of science.
- Could we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with peanut butter? Smell and memory are closely tied together, and the ability of Alzheimer’s patients in this study to smell peanut butter was closely tied with the severity of their disease. Much as I love me the peanut butter, I’d like to see some tests based on jelly and Fluff, please.
- There’s a lot of ways to go about discovering new species, but this the first time I’ve heard of someone discovering a new species of tick after pulling it out of their nose.
- The smell of pumpkin spice is nothing like the smell of pumpkin, both from an olfactory and a chemical point of view. But who would want a pumpkin latte?
- The practice of allowing parents to opt-out of having their children vaccinated definitely made a 2010 pertussis outbreak in California worse.
- Programmable “smart” antibiotics that can be turned on with light only when and where they’re needed? Yes please.
- An antifungal foot cream might do double duty as an HIV-killer.
- Brown recluse spiders make more than a really nasty venom. They also produce super strong, super stretchy, wicked weird silk.
The government is still shut down, which means that:
- There’s no one to track an ongoing
1817-state Salmonella outbreak. [Update: Turns out it’s only 17 states. But still.]
- Academic groups and companies are stepping up to take on flu surveillance.
- Government scientists can’t go to conferences because for fear of being fired.
- The 2012 Nobel Prize winner in physics (who works for a federal lab) has been furloughed because he’s “non-essential.”
- Millions of dollars worth of experiments in federal labs — some the product of years of effort — have been laid waste because no one is there to tend for them.
- And the Antarctic research season has been put on ice for this year.
I’m sure I’m missing a lot more.
On the bright side, it’s Nobel Prize season! Time to bag us some laureates:
- The physics prize went to two researchers whose work was instrumental in finding the Higgs boson — one of whom, Higgs himself, promptly went missing.
- The prize for medicine and physiology was awarded to three scientists for their work on fatty spheres in cells called vesicles, which act as the cell’s UPS or FedEx network.
- And the Nobel Prize for chemistry went to physics…that is, to a group of scientists who used the concepts of physics to develop sophisticated computer models of how chemistry works.