Why elephants hate ants, using nanofibres to purify water, talkative pandas… Tim on radio

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about why elephants hate ants; using nanofibres to purify water; the impact of computer games on driving; talkative pandas; and more

A new reason to lose sleep—Sydney researchers are studying whether the significant numbers of people who suffer from sleep apnoea—an obstruction to breathing—are also prone to oxygen deprivation and brain injury. A story on this can be found in the latest edition of Australasian Science.

Why the ‘sixth extinction’ will be unpredictable—A major round of extinctions is underway, but predicting which species will survive could be harder than we thought, according to a Sydney researcher. He has just published one of the most accurate analyses ever on diversity.—Science

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19397-why-the-sixth-extinction-will-be-unpredictable.html

How fish oil fights inflammationAmerican researchers now think they know how Omega-3 fatty acids block inflammation. And they also have found that these fish oils help fight diabetes in obese mice, pointing the way to potential therapies for humans.—Cell

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/09/how-fish-oil-fights-inflammation.html

Nano-engineered cotton promises to wipe out water bugsCotton laced with silver nanowires and carbon nanotubes could provide a cheap and effective way of purifying water in remote locations, according to US researchers. Under the influence of a weak electric current the cotton can damage the outer membranes of bacteria and kill them.—Nano Letters

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727765.900-nanoengineered-cotton-promises-to-wipe-out-water-bugs.html

Forget mice, it’s ants that elephants really hate—A truck full of stinging ants can really spoil your appetite, if you are an elephant. African elephants avoid this discomfort by refusing to munch on acacia trees housing ant colonies, an American zoologist has found. And that helps protect the trees.—Current Biology

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/09/forget-mice-elephants-really-hat.html

Computer games may be spawning reckless driversDriving-based computer games like Grand Theft Auto may be encouraging adolescents to behave recklessly when they take to the roads for real, a Belgian study of the attitudes of teenagers to road risks suggests.—Accident Analysis and Prevention

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19399-computer-games-may-be-spawning-reckless-drivers.html

Ancient bacteria could improve anti-ageing cosmeticsWhere better to look for a sunscreen formula than in cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)? They thrived on Earth long before there was enough ozone to block harmful ultraviolet light. US researchers have now uncovered the genes and enzymes involved in making their sunscreen molecules.—Science

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19392-ancient-bacteria-could-improve-antiageing-cosmetics.html

Solid gold, thanks to bacteria—A biofilm of bacteria that can refine ore into gold has been found in a Queensland mine. The researchers who identified the bacteria say they might be able to be modified into detectors which fluoresce when they come into contact with metal.—Geology

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/09/scienceshot-solid-gold-thanks-to.html

Gabby pandas are manly pandasMale giant pandas bleat during the mating season, some longer than others. Researchers have found these are the more aggressive ones, who pull the girls.—Biology Letters

A Science story on this topic can be found at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/08/scienceshot-gabby-pandas-are-manly-pandas.html