What Tim's talking about on radio – 4 August

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about the decline of tiny seaweeds in the ocean; diet and disease; orang-utan couch-potatoes; high tech odour prevention; and more…

1. Ocean greenery under warming stressThe amount of the tiny algae known as phytoplankton in the ocean has declined substantially over the past century, according to a study by Canadian marine biologists. Since 1950, for instance, the mass of algae has decreased by about 40%, probably in response to ocean warming. And that’s a huge worry because marine phytoplankton accounts for about half of the Earth’s photosynthesis and is at the base of the entire marine food chain.—Nature

A Nature report can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100728/full/news.2010.379.html

2. Western diet tied to intestinal disease and allergies—New Italian research suggests that, because of their diet, people living in rural Africa have a healthier mix of microbes in their guts than their Western counterparts. And that may protect them from intestinal diseases, obesity and allergies.—Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/08/western-diet-tied-to-intestinal-.html

3. Orang-utan couch-potatoes—An orang-utan swinging through the forest uses less energy than a person lounging in an armchair, American researchers have found. In fact, for their size, orang-utans expend less energy than nearly every other non-marsupial mammal. It makes them better able to survive on limited food.—Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/08/orangutans-go-green.html

4. Marijuana time warp US researchers may have figured out why people who smoke marijuana lose track of time—the active compounds in dope disrupt the body’s internal clock. They actually make the nerve cells which determine the daily rhythm of the body—in the suprachiasmic nucleus in the brain—fire more frequently.—Journal of Neuroscience

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/07/marijuana-time-warp.html

5. Why dogs and their owners look alike—Dog owners and their pets are said to resemble one another—perhaps with good reason, according to Austrian scientists. They found that dogs were likely to imitate their owners naturally.—Proceedings of the Royal Society B

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727714.500-why-dogs-and-their-owners-are-so-alike.html

6. Supermaterial could stop your shoes from smelling Graphene oxide—a material built around sheets of carbon one-atom thick—can prevent odour in your shoes, say Chinese researchers, by killing the bacteria which produces it. The material is also very strong and conducts electricity.—ACS Nano

A New Scientist report can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727715.300-computer-supermaterial-could-stop-your-shoes-smelling.html