Science Friday for Friday, September 6, 2013

Do Your Gut Bacteria Influence Your Metabolism?

In a new study, researchers were able to make mice lean or obese by altering their gut bacteria. Jeffrey Gordon, an author of the study, discusses how the interaction between diet and the microbial community in our gut influences our health.

Life From Mars

Could life on Earth have been seeded by Martian life forms hitching a ride on a meteorite? Chemist Steven Benner says that crucial elements for the precursors of organisms on our planet would have only been available on Mars three billion years ago. Benner and planetary scientist Christopher McKay discuss the possibility of the Red Planet kick-starting life on Earth.

Alzheimer's Potential Missing Link

Reporting in Neuron, researchers write that a protein called mGlu5 may play a role in nerve cell death in Alzheimer's disease. They found that blocking the protein with an existing drug restored memory in mice. Lead author Stephen Strittmatter discusses what this means for future Alzheimer's treatments.

Radio Rewind: Monty Hall

In 1993, Monty Hall, host of the game show Let's Make a Deal, joined us on the program to discuss how contestants used risk and probability to win big prizes.

Worldwide Researchers Flock to Penguin Meeting

Researchers from around the world gathered this week in Bristol, UK to talk about some well-dressed birds. Peter Barham, one of the organizers of the Eighth International Penguin Conference, describes the meeting and some of the questions penguin researchers want to answer.

Wildfires Consume Funds Flagged for Prevention

This year, the U.S. Forest Service has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting wildfires, cutting into funds originally set aside to prevent them. Fire historian Steve Pyne compares the way we manage fires today to how we manage health--focused on emergencies, and not prevention.

NASA Craft to Sniff Moondust, Test Laser Broadband

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will suck up dust and gas floating above the Moon to catalog the ingredients of the thin lunar atmosphere. LADEE project scientist Richard Elphic says the orbiter will also shoot data from the Moon using a laser, in the first test of space-based broadband.

This Doc's Prescription? Use This App, Twice Daily

Cardiologist Eric Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, says smartphone apps and add-ons can now perform ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, and tests of blood pressure. He says the apps give him--and his patients--a better portrait of day-to-day health.
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