What Tim's talking about on radio – 13 July

Tim’s blog

Listen to Tim Thwaites every second Tuesday on Tony Delroy’s Nightlife, ABC Local Radio nationwide after the 11 pm news. See what he’s talking about this week.

1. Microbe genes could curb livestock burps. New Zealand scientists have published the genome of a bacterium that produces methane in livestock. This should help researchers identify and target the genes whose protein products contribute to producing large amounts of the gas. We may end up vaccinating cattle, sheep and goats to prevent them burping and thereby reduce significant greenhouse gas emissions.—Australasian Science.

Further information can be found at www.australasianscience.com.au/article/issue-july-august-2010/microbe-genes-could-curb-livestock-burps.html

2. An interesting  environment may ward off cancer. Making their homes a little more complicated increases stress in mice, but keeps them healthier, a study in the US and New Zealand has found. Mice raised in a complex environment are less likely to get cancer, and are better at fighting it when they do.—Cell

A Nature report can be found at www.nature.com/news/2010/100708/full/news.2010.342.html

3. Nanoparticle bandages could detect and treat infection A self-medicating bandage could become a mainstay of burns units, according to an international team of researchers who are developing it. Laced with nanoparticles, the bandage detects harmful bacteria and responds by secreting antibiotics.—Journal of the American Chemical Society

A New Scientist report can be found at www.newscientist.com/article/dn19158-nanoparticle-bandages-could-detect-and-treat-infection.html

4. Cracking the tsunami code. The devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 was the result of the second biggest earthquake ever recorded. But another quake almost as large struck the same area three months later and only caused minor damage. A new study has determined the critical difference, and may help those planning for future emergencies.—Science

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/07/cracking-the-tsunami-code.html

5. Law of hurricane power discovered. The intensity of hurricanes follows a simple mathematical law, according to Spanish researchers. Unfortunately, as sea surface temperatures rise, this law predicts there will be more powerful hurricanes each year, and more hurricanes in total.—Nature Physics

A New Scientist report can be found at www.newscientist.com/article/dn19157-law-of-hurricane-power-discovered.html

6. Tyrannosaurus: A fearsome scavenger? T. rex was not too proud to turn down a free lunch, it seems. East Asian researchers have reported finding a bone quite clearly gnawed by the big lizard, but from a beast neither attacked nor killed by it.—Acta Palaeontologica Polonica

A New Scientist report can be found at www.newscientist.com/article/dn19153-tyrannosaurs-historys-most-fearsome-scavengers.html

7. Fireflies’ flashy mates have to be in sync. Hovering in the air like tiny fairy lights isn’t good enough for some fireflies. They have to showboat by crowd-flashing in unison. Apparently, it’s a major turn on for the girls, American researchers have found.—Science

A New Scientist report can be found at www.newscientist.com/article/dn19152-fireflies-flashy-mates-have-to-be-in-sync.html

8. Football results influence voters. Maybe it’s lucky Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi aren’t up for election just now. Sports results can influence voting preferences, a US researcher has found.— Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A New Scientist report can be found at www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727683.400-football-results-influence-voters.html

9. ‘Sinister motion’ may bias soccer referees. Soccer referees may not care which team wins, but they do care about the direction in which players are moving. Motion, it turns out, looks more ominous going right to left than vice versa.—Public Library of Science, ONE

A Science report can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/07/scienceshot-sinister-motion-may-.html