Friday coffee break: Stinkbugs and Tasmanian facial cancer and spider-mimicking moths


From Amy: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking into unleashing parasitoid wasps to control invasive Asian stinkbugs.

From Devin (@DevinDrown): A cure for the contagious cancer plaguing Tasmanian devil populations may rely on making the cancer cells “visible” to the devils’ own immune systems.

It turns out that [devil facial tumor disease] cells down-regulated genes that are required for antigen processing—ultimately leading to a lack of MHC expression on the outside of the tumor cells. Without that signal from the MHC molecules, the immune system is oblivious to this sinister presence, and the cancer proliferates until it has killed the animal—explaining why this disease has a 100% mortality rate.

From CJ (@cejjenkins): What scares sperm whales? Orcas. But, what, exactly is scared by a moth that looks like a spider?

From Sarah (@SarahMHird): What not to do in the early stages of your academic career. And, if you want to despair for the future of science in the U.S., here’s a depressing article about how Pennsylvania science teachers handle/avoid teaching evolution.

“My approach is to teach the textbook content of Darwinian evolution but modified to explain that data can be interpreted differently dependent upon one’s world view.”

From Jeremy (@JBYoder): Sixteen-year-old sets up a DIY chemistry experiment, gets charged with a felony. There’s a petition you should sign.

A system that values obedience over curiosity isn’t education and it definitely isn’t science. Her expulsion and arrest sends a very clear and striking message to students, especially urban students of color: Don’t try this at home, or school or anywhere. Science exploration is not for you!