The diamond in the dirt: discovery of a new antibiotic!

“Scientists have discovered a new kind of antibiotic — buried in dirt. Tests in animals show that it is effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and it could lead to desperately needed treatments for deadly antibiotic-resistant infections.”

This isn’t terribly surprising, most of our antibiotics have been found in dirt. But the practice of digging through the microbial communities in dirt to find antibiotics was thought to be a tapped out approach.

Want to know how scientist did it anyway? Read about it here!

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Sperm packages of ungodly size, genitals that double as a souped-up stomach, and an unexpected set of chewing jaws

And all of those are found in just one species, the Pieris rapaethe cabbage white butterfly.

In an wonderful piece over at the Atlantic, we learn about the crazy sex life/organs of this very common butterfly.

I was enthralled reading the whole thing, but the main investigator is quoted below, is really why I’m sharing this.

“Jumping spiders with telescope eyes are singing and dancing to impress their mates. That butterfly on your kale has a chewing jaw in its reproductive tract that helps it to regain control over its own reproductive timing. It is this ability of life to continually surprise us that brings me such joy as a scientist. And it’s my hope that, in some small way, my work can return some childlike wonder to the daily lives of others. It is only through falling back in love with nature that we stand any chance of saving it.” –Nathan Morehouse

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Breeding a better bee

One problem with honey bees is that we move them around so much. Specifically half of the bees in the US go to California during a critical 22 day period to pollinate the almond orchards.

This means that most bees are best adapted to survive in the California, which means that the PNW bees don’t really thrive in their colder than optimal environment.

Well one bee keeper is taking it upon himself to stop honey production and focus on making queens that are best suited for the Washington and PNW environment! Read about it here.

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HPV vaccine is reducing the rate of cancer

Ok, that’s a bit of a careless title. I’ll admit it. There’s only correlation, not causation.

But ten years ago the HPV vaccine was introduced in Australia, and then rapidly in 130 other countries. Since then the number of cases of cervical cancer have been halved.

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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Fear can drive people to believe the unbelievable

I had an argument with a colleague the other day about engaging people who disagree with you. She said why bother when people aren’t going to change their minds?

I’ve posted a lot about science communication, and being a voice of science and reason in the face of ignorance and fear. Even if it’s aggravating, even if it’s annoying, even if it’s frustrating, if scientist don’t engage than all people are hearing is the fear.

And this article speaks to that fear really really well. I don’t know what it’s like to have a child and fear for their autism, but hearing this perspective makes me even more resolved to keep talking.

So if anyone needs me, I’ll be engaging people on the internet (the wine helps).

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The field of human evolution is crazy right now

I’ve been avoiding posting about this for weeks. Every time I go to write a post, I find a new article explaining how everything we know might actually be wrong.

Which is an alarming pace for any field to be moving, but in a field with such a paucity of resources, it’s nothing short of awesome.

Want to know what’s currently being shaken up in the field of human evolution?

Read about it here!

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New Science Communication Goal: Become a Comic Book Hero

I don’t need to be Ironman, or the Hulk. Although it would be cool to be Beast, or Professor X, I’d settle for being a scientist comic book hero!

Like Dr Sheiner, a research fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology at Glasgow University. She can be found in a new comic published by the Centre entitled Toxoplasmosis. It’s the latest in a series of comics the centre has been producing in recent years as a way to help explain what it does and why it is important.

Read more about it !

And I’m putting it out there… I’d be happy to be a comic book hero.

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