Backward stars, bionic ears and the day after tomorrow

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about marijuana without the high; bionic ears with no strings; backward stars; the Day After Tomorrow; and more

Cannabis-like drugs could kill pain without the high—Researchers in America have teased apart the mind-altering and pain-relieving effects of THC, the main biologically active component of marijuana. This could open the way to cannabis-based pain relievers without side effects such as hallucinations and impaired mobility.—Nature Chemical Biology

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

Bionic ears with no strings attachedExisting cochlear implants can’t be worn all the time—especially when sleeping or where they are likely to become wet. That’s because the unit carrying the power supply, processors and especially the microphone has to be worn externally. Now Cochear Limited, the Australian company that has nearly 70 per cent of the world market, is developing a system with fully implanted microphones, meaning the bionic ear could operate 24/7.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

A bacterium that acts like a toothbrush Japanese researchers have identified a new ally in the war against tooth decay—a mouth bacterium that produces an enzyme that prevents plaque formation. The finding could eventually lead to the development of a new kind of toothpaste.—Applied and Environmental Microbiology

A Science story on this topic can be found at

Gulf Stream could be threatened by Arctic flushRapid warming in the Arctic is creating a new and fast-growing pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean which at present is at least 7500 cubic kilometres in size. European scientists are concerned that it could flush into the Atlantic Ocean and slow the Gulf Stream, bringing colder winters to Europe.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

Backward stars point to galactic cannibalism—A researcher in Spain’s Canary Islands has come up with the first solid evidence to support the theory that stars orbiting the wrong way in their galaxy’s heart are probably the remnants of another galaxy that was gobbled up. It’s an area of study in which Australian astronomers also are heavily involved.—Astrophysical Journal Letters

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

Killer waves: How orcas hunt their favourite seal—Killer whales living off Antarctica have come up with an ingenious and deadly seal-hunting manoeuvre. After locating a seal on an ice floe, groups of whales swim towards it pumping in sync to generate waves to wash their victim into the water.—Marine Mammal Science

An illustrated Science story on this topic can be found at