Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 13th Mar 2011

Why did a Laser Make My Nuts Glow?

Walnuts (c) Intension @ wikipedia

Can you electrocute weeds? Why do teeth go wobbly? And which cells last a lifetime? In this bumper edition of the Naked Scientists, we tackle your pressing science questions and find out how the shuttle manoeuvres in space, what makes wounds itch, whether reverse osmosis can make moonshine and if static can stick a cat to a wall. Plus, how diamonds deal death to tumours, cooperation in the elephant world and an update on the Japanese earthquake situation. We also hear how a hairy leg can help you bend water to your will, and Diana discovers why potato peelers never need sharpening!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:45 - Earthquake Update

    A major earthquake struck the East coast of Japan on the 11th March. We discuss the situation, and the implications for the Fukushima nuclear power plant...

  • 07:45 - Diamonds - girl's best friend, cancer's worst enemy

    Scientists have added a sparkle to the arsenal of anti-tumour agents by successfully demonstrating that diamonds can augment the cancer-killing properties of some drugs...

  • 11:05 - The DNA that makes us Human

    Scientists at Stanford University in California have discovered how certain changes in our DNA have sculpted the evolution of human specific traits and those in particular that set us apart from our closest relatives...

  • 17:35 - Tiny cameras

    A way of making minute cameras cheaper than ever before has been developed.

  • 19:30 - Elephants show Cooperation

    Researchers have shown that elephants are able to cooperate just as well as chimpanzees, to retrieve a tray of food that can't be retrieved by one individual alone.

  • 23:04 - Do any cells last a lifetime?

    Hi Chris, I had a question I was hoping you could help with. I know that over the course of our lives we lose lots of cells that die and are replaced, but I wondered what cells are with us (if any) from birth until death? Presuming one lives to be 60 or so plus. Thanks ...

  • 25:27 - How does the space shuttle manoeuvre?

    Hello Naked Scientists! My name is Taylor and I'm from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. I love the show and listen every week. Since Discovery has just completed it's last launch, I've come up with a couple questions that I was hoping you guys could answer. 1. W...

  • 28:13 - Can you electrocute plants?

    I have some rather nasty weeds in the yard and I don't want to use chemicals. Is it possible to electrocute the weeds? John Burnap

  • 29:47 - Why did a blue laser make my nuts glow?

    Dear Chris, A while ago I ordered some blue lasers online, I got them a few weeks later and was having a blast lasing things around the house to see if they do anything strange, like fluoresce or something, I happened to hit a bag of cashews with the laser and i noticed someth...

  • 32:43 - Why do healing wounds itch?

    We are told that if a cut is itching it is healing, and that scratching itches is bad for healing, why have we evolved this tendency to cause the healing cut to itch?

  • 35:17 - How is it possible for the microwave background radiation to be "left over" from the Big Bang?

    Hello!! I've recently become an avid listener to both The Naked Scientist and The Naked Astronomy podcasts. I find both very interesting and entertaining. Keep up the good work. Here's my question: Since microwaves travel at the speed of light, how is it possible for t...

  • 37:46 - Planet Earth Online - Water Repelling Soils

    If you've ever neglected a houseplant, you'll know this problem - when you finally come to water it, the water doesn’t soak into the soil, but it forms beads all over the surface. On a larger scale, these hydrophobic soils can cause major problems. To discover how, Planet Eart...

  • 47:20 - Can ethanol be purified by reverse osmosis?

    Hi guys great show.   Question for you all regarding reverse osmosis water purifiers.   I am making my own home brew spirits with dextrose and yeast, then it got me wondering if I could get rid of the water by putting it through the RO plant.   Before I boil off the fusel...

  • 48:47 - Why do we see blotches after looking at lights?

    Why is it that when you look into any type of light for a long period of time that blotches of black appear when you look away?

  • 50:49 - Bending water - static attraction

    Bend a stream of water without even touching it.

  • 55:11 - Why does warm water feel scalding to cold hands?

    I live in Michigan in the USA and since I've had to shovel a lot of snow over the last week a question came to mind.  What is going on physiologically when I put my freezing cold hands under barely warm water but it feels near scalding to me? Thanks and keep up the great podc...

 

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From New Brunswick, Canada. Why does snow melt preferentially around the trunk of a tree, when the thaw starts as it is doing here at the moment. Is it because the tree is a better thermal conductor or do the electric currents flowing in the tree act like an electric fire, the resistive losses being converted into heat? Ken Burke, Sun, 13th Mar 2011

I seem to remember reading that while some cells do indeed last a lifetime (e.g. brain cells) they have their components replaced periodically. I've heard it said that no atom in your body has been there for more that 7 years.

Are these factoids true? I wonder because they would seem to contradict the idea of "cells last a lifetime", but not necessarily (ever hear of a historic building or ship in which every splinter and nail has been replaced at some point, yet it is still somehow considered the same building?). walthertph, Mon, 21st Mar 2011

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