The American election was tough on a lot of people. No matter how you lean politically, it’s been hard to watch anger and hate divide people in the US and beyond.
Even Trump is still upset
So let’s lighten things up a bit. Let’s take a look at some science news from the past week, and in the process put the election out of our minds, if only for a bit. For now, we can forget all about Trump, Clinton, the election, the transition team, protests, and the fact that the Doomsday Clock now has to factor in the chance of nuclear war along with climate change. Let’s focus on some exciting and ground-breaking science.
While we still can
Narwhals are tremendous at echolocation – Much has been said about walls this election. Know what hasn’t been given the proper attention? Nar-wall. Which is how you pronounce “Narwhal”. Like, the whale that sort of looks like a unicorn.
Make the Artic Great Again
Admittedly, that segue from “wall” to “Narwhal” was a stretch. Know what else is a stretch? The narwhals’ ability to travel under ice for miles and miles to find a small hole to breathe in. How do they do this? With echolocation. They make little clicks with their special lips – up to 1000 per second – which are amplified through their domed head, like a lens.
They’re going to build a wall, and make the polar bears pay for it
They can then put together an underwater map in their mind to find holes in the ice. Their echolocation works like a bat’s, only better. They have great echolocation, the best echolocation. It’s just tremendous.
Chimps Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends – Know who needs a friend right now? Chimpanzees. And every single person on the planet, but also chimps. Chimps use friendship to regulate their stress levels, even when fighting outside groups of chimps. Chimps with strong social circles have lower glucocorticoid levels, meaning their less stressed around their friends. That’s nice. Everyone deserves a good friend, right?
Monkey overcomes paralysis, walks again – Some people said they were paralyzed with fear after the election. Well, good news for them! The day after the election, news broke that a monkey with a paralyzed leg regained the ability to walk.
He’s off to join a protest
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, were able to plant a chip into the monkey’s brain that allowed it to send a wireless signals to a group of neurons below the area of spinal damage, letting brain-body commands bypass the injured part of the spine. This technology could improve recovery in paralyzed humans in the within the next 10 years.
Trump might still even be in office. Hooray.
Woman with ALS communicates again – A woman in Germany developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, back in 2008. You may remember this disease as the one tied to the ice bucket challenge that was so popular in 2014.
Trump showed what an everyman he was by having Miss Universe and Miss USA dump water on him on the roof of his skyscraper.
The Ice Bucket Challenge raised 115 million dollars. Hillary Clinton tried to dump water on herself but then melted, according to a Trump supporter I talked to. Anyways, that German woman I mentioned benefitted from ALS research. The disease robbed her of the ability to speak or move, and she could previously only communicate through blinking. Now, she can now type, and can send messages to her family and friends.
I assume she’ll use a secure email server
How is this possible? Brain implants that send signals to her hand. Kind of like the monkey. It’s been a pretty big week for brain implants, apparently.
Maybe too big
Great Sexpectations – Let’s end with one of the better puns based on sex and a Charles Dickens novel to come from the scientific community this week.”Sexual destiny” believers think that bad sex with a partner means the whole relationship is bad. “Sexual growth” believers think that sex can be worked on, and isn’t indicative of the whole relationship. Believing in sexual growth is healthier for relationships. Sexual destiny believers, or “sex destiners,” as I just started calling them, have problems. They bring their problems with them. They’re bringing crying. They’re bringing baggage.
And some, I assume, are good people
Full disclosure, the lead author of this study is a friend of mine and is awesome. I’m going to try to get her to interview for this blog, once I inform her of its existence. It’s going to be a tremendous interview, believe me, believe me. Some people question the size of my interview skills, but I guarantee there’s no problem, I guarantee.
Anyway, that’s a wrap for now. I hope you were able to take your mind off of politics for a while and enjoy a big, heaping taco bowl of science news. Remember, there are always good things from the world of science, even when there is not from the rest of the world. Who knows what science will come up with next?
Or where it will come from
Dan has small hands. Email him at dan [at] scienceeverywhere.ca to see a topic covered here.