Seeker

We Didn’t Think This Part of the Brain Existed, And It Could Save Your Life3m03s

We Didn’t Think This Part of the Brain Existed, And It Could Save Your Life

Much like how buildings drain excess fluids through pipes that lead into a sewage system, human bodies also have a network of vessels for moving things around. It’s called the lymphatic system, and while this network seems to run all throughout the body, it has only recently been observed around much of human brains. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) clinicians injected a dye-like substance to help them visualize the pooling of liquid in human and marmoset brains. In MRIs of both species, researchers saw evidence that fluid leaked out of the blood vessels surrounding the brain and collected into what seemed to be lymphatic vessels contained in the brain’s dura. This newly identified path of waste is potentially relevant to degenerative diseases related to aging such as Alzheimer’s disease, where toxic by-products build up in the brain instead of getting removed. Another potential avenue of research is the way the lymphatic system helps traffic immune cells between the blood and different tissues. Blood vessels directly supplying blood to the brain have a protective layer called the blood brain barrier that controls what gets in, but the arteries and lymphatic vessels outside the brain don’t have the same gating system. This means that they are an easier entry point for dysfunctional immune cells. With the new discovery of lymphatic vessels present in the dura collecting and draining fluids, future studies will focus on whether immune cells can also travel to and from the brain via these vessels. This video, " We Didn’t Think This Part of the Brain Existed, And It Could Save Your Life ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 14, 2018
Artificial Intelligence Is Mapping the Pacific Ocean’s Secret Soundscape | The Swim5m30s

Artificial Intelligence Is Mapping the Pacific Ocean’s Secret Soundscape | The Swim

Each night at sea, the crew aboard Seeker deploys a "hydrophone" -- a specialized microphone designed for use underwater. While the boat stays at or navigates back to Ben's last GPS point, the hydrophone sits 25 meters below the surface and eavesdrops on the chatter of cetaceans and the hum of boat traffic. Scientists like Dr. Hervé Glotin at the University of Toulon have built robust "machine listening" systems to analyze these some 3,000 hours of recordings - and actually recognize which species are present where, and which areas of the Pacific are most cluttered with man-made noise. "A soundscape is a recording of a multiplicity of sounds," Hervé explains. "Like if you look to a mountain's landscape, you will see trees, rivers, roads, buildings, maybe snow, maybe clouds. This notion of objects is the same with sound." It is the job of his lab's AI models to parse and interpret this soundscape, and label these "objects" by species or sound type. "Biophony are the sounds from biology activities. Anthropophony are the sounds from human activities. And geophony is the sounds from wind, and the rain, and the tectonic," Hervé explains. It is anthropophy, or anthropogenic noise, that presents a particular challenge to these marine mammals, who rely on clear communication channels to be able to find each other over long distances and navigate their environment. "The more you have sounds in the sea... the less the animals can communicate between each other. So the less they meet, the less they mate, the less they reproduce. The less the species can hear, the less it can hunt, the less it's eating," Hervé explains. An ocean too noisy to hunt or call for a mate means species are in trouble. However, if this project is successful, it will represent the largest dataset of its kind. If the evidence of the sounds of the Pacific Ocean, and the wildlife population densities they indicate, can reveal where the key routes and channels of migration and communication for cetaceans exist, policymakers can develop solutions such as "quiet zones" to help alleviate the stress of human noise on wildlife communication. This video, " Artificial Intelligence Is Mapping the Pacific Ocean’s Secret Soundscape | The Swim ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 13, 2018
NASA Is Going to The Sun, Here’s Why That’s So Crazy3m34s

NASA Is Going to The Sun, Here’s Why That’s So Crazy

The Sun is an unpredictable violent ball of gas and plasma, radiating fusion energy. It can send streams of charged particles right towards Earth without warning, potentially causing catastrophic damage to our power grid. And while we need the Sun to live, we also need to protect ourselves from its wrath. The problem is we actually know very little about our nearest star because we haven’t been able to get close enough to fully understand its behavior. But finally, NASA believes it has the tech to touch the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first trip to a star. It will get seven times closer to the Sun than any mission before, and that’s because of the probe’s Thermal Protection System, or TPS. The spacecraft and its instruments are shielded by an 11 centimeter thick piece of carbon foam sandwiched between two panels of superheated carbon-carbon composite. The TPS will enable the front of the shield to withstand temperatures as high as 1,370 degrees celsius, while the inside of the probe remains at the comfortable heat of a summer day -- about 30 degrees Celsius. Twin solar arrays will power the spacecraft and its cooling system, which surprisingly utilizes a low-tech coolant: pressurized water. The ability to function in extreme heat is incredibly important because the Parker probe will venture to the corona -- the Sun’s outermost atmosphere. There, the data it collects will help answer two of the most vexing questions in astrophysics: why the corona is hotter than the solar surface and how solar wind is accelerated. From Earth, we can only ever see the corona during a total solar eclipse, which is why it is incredibly difficult to study. Because the density is so low, the corona’s brightness is overpowered by energy coming from the solar surface. As the last layer of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona extends millions of miles into space. Here, temperatures can rise to over one million degrees Celsius which is about 300 times hotter than the photosphere, the lowest layer of the sun’s atmosphere. At this extreme heat, the Sun’s gravity can’t hold on to rapidly moving particles charged in the corona so they escape in streams of accelerated plasma, known as solar wind. These streams carry the Sun’s magnetic field far into space at speeds up to 800 kilometers per second. There are theories about the causes of coronal heating and solar wind acceleration, but we haven’t been able to land on a definitive answer without actually going to the sun and that’s why the Parker Solar Probe is so crucial. The spacecraft will orbit the Sun 24 times, coming as close as 5.9 million kilometers and moving as fast as 690,000 kilometers per hour. Once close enough, it will trace energy as it moves through the corona by measuring particle properties and shock waves in the Sun’s plasma. If Parker manages to complete its seven year mission, its data will revolutionize the way we look at the Sun by solving these longstanding solar mysteries. Parker’s discoveries will also help us better predict our nearest star’s volatile behavior and enhance our ability to forecast solar storms to avoid global disaster here on Earth. This video, " NASA Is Going to The Sun, Here’s Why That’s So Crazy ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 11, 2018
Quantum Diamond Sensors Could Give Us a New Look Inside Our Bodies3m43s

Quantum Diamond Sensors Could Give Us a New Look Inside Our Bodies

Quantum effects are measured in nanometers, which makes it difficult to study and observe without disruption. To overcome these issues, researchers have developed clever ways of indirectly observing quantum interactions. One study group in Japan aligned an array of quantum sensors called ‘nitrogen vacancy centres’ which don’t study quantum interactions themselves, but rather the effects these interactions have on other objects. In this case, the nitrogen vacancy centres detect the behavior of protons in a protein sample Nitrogen vacancy centres occur as impurities in the crystal surface of the diamond. These impurities happen at specific locations throughout the crystal structure and each provides a single-photon signal that can be detected by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Quantum interactions would disturb the nitrogen vacancy centres in predictable ways and researchers would be able to measure the changes. Tools such as this could help tell scientists about quantum mechanical relationships that drive behavior and help detect individual proteins in a cell. This video, " Quantum Diamond Sensors Could Give Us a New Look Inside Our Bodies ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 12, 2018
What Does It Sound Like When Black Holes Smash Into Each Other?3m28s

What Does It Sound Like When Black Holes Smash Into Each Other?

If two black holes collide in space and nobody’s around to hear it, did they make a sound? It turns out, yes, and we can hear them with the help of a supercomputer. Every few minutes a pair of black holes smash into each other. When black holes collide, also known as black hole mergers, they cause ripples that travel through spacetime. This is what we call gravitational waves. As you may have heard, 2015 marked the first time we were able to detect gravitational waves, arguably one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the 21st century and confirmation of Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity. While there are some gravitational-wave producing events that are distinctly measurable--that we have observed and recorded--there’s also what researchers call the gravitational-wave background. This is basically background noise resulting from all the hundreds of thousands of gravitational-wave producing events, like black hole collisions, that we can’t distinguish individually because our equipment isn’t sensitive enough to discern them. This video, " What Does It Sound Like When Black Holes Smash Into Each Other? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 10, 2018
Are A.I. Robot Brothels the Future of Human Sexuality? (Part 3 of 3)11m41s

Are A.I. Robot Brothels the Future of Human Sexuality? (Part 3 of 3)

Everyone looks into the past when it comes to sex. whether discussing the Victorians being more restrictive, or the 1960s being open minded. But what will the future of sex look like? As relationship definitions and technology develops, are we on the cusp of a new era of sex? Several companies are actively working on putting AI and robotics into the sex dolls that already exist. But in addition to sex robots, the future of sex could get virtual. Virtual reality is making waves in the Pornography Industry, and a new field is developing around it: Teledildonics.  Teledildonics is formally defined as technology developed for remote sex. This ranges from VR headsets, to haptic technology meant to help you feel the experience.   This video, " Are A.I. Robot Brothels the Future of Human Sexuality? (Part 3 of 3) ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 9, 2018
How Do Cochlear Implants Work?3m15s

How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

A cochlear implant is a medical device that goes inside the cochlea, the spiral structure of three fluid-filled canals coiled up like a snail's shell in the inner ear. In one canal of the cochlea, there are hair cells along the length of the spiral. At the base of the spiral, the hair cells respond to higher frequencies and at the apex, they move at low frequencies. When these hair cells move, they trigger nerve cells that convert the sound wave to electrical impulses and passes the signal on to the brain for processing. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when any part of this chain is not working as it does in a hearing person, and can be caused by many factors including age, loud noises, trauma, disease, or genetics. Sometimes a hearing aid is sufficient to treat sensorineural hearing loss, but when it is not, a cochlear implant may do the trick. A typical cochlear implant consists of two parts: a speech processor and the implant itself. The speech processor sits on the back of the ear, taking in sounds and converting them to electrical signals, which are fed to the implant resting under the skin. The implant has a long array of electrodes that curls up inside the cochlea, which, when triggered, in turn disturb the nerve cells like the hair cells normally would. The brain can then interpret the electrical signals as sound. A cochlear implant unfortunately can't restore a full range of hearing just yet, and may not help make finer distinctions between the tones of speech and music. While there is debate over the usage of the devices in the deaf community, cochlear implants are still a marvel of science and technology. This video, " How Do Cochlear Implants Work? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 8, 2018
Will Supercomputers Create Virtual Maps of Your Body in the Future?4m19s

Will Supercomputers Create Virtual Maps of Your Body in the Future?

Imagine a world where you have your own medical avatar: a sci-fi like profile built using your real-time health data. Dr. Larry Smarr is pioneering such a world––he has been studying his anatomy in such minute, extreme detail that he recently directed his own surgery by providing doctors with what is essentially Google Maps for his body. "How about you come over to my virtual reality cave," he proposed to his surgeon before his colon resection operation, "and we'll decide, as patient and doctor, where point A and point B are you're going to make the cut?" "That's like my 16-year-olds do with video games," she replied. "Yeah. We want to take video games into the surgery suite." Larry believes the future of medicine will be to transform the 'sick-care' system into a true, preventative 'health-care' system by allowing everyone full access to their body's data to make better-informed health decisions. This video, " Will Supercomputers Create Virtual Maps of Your Body in the Future? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 6, 2018
Cellular Cannibalism May Have Led to the Evolution of Everything, Including Us4m08s

Cellular Cannibalism May Have Led to the Evolution of Everything, Including Us

Around 1.4 billion years ago, a jump in evolutionary complexity may have occurred when a simple single cell engulfed another simple single cell through phagocytosis. These two cells likely had some genetic variability between them and a more complex cell was born. Through phagocytosis, the ingested cell is not chewed up and digested, but rather forms a beneficial relationship with its devourer. Endosymbiotic theory suggests that post-phagocytosis, the resulting symbiotic relationship was so successful over generations that the engulfed cell eventually relied on the host cell to provide the resources it needed to survive and the host cell likely gained the benefit of any advantageous features its prey may have evolved such as the ability to generate energy or photosynthesize. The mitochondria in human cells and the chloroplasts required for photosynthesis in plant cells may have started out as bacteria with extraordinary abilities that were engulfed by other cells. These compartments still have minimal circular genomes that look like bacterial genomes, evidence for the hypothesis that they were once independent. Although this approach to symbiosis is limited to simple, single celled organisms, there is evidence that more complex genomes can still benefit from contact with foreign genes. One example of this is a protein called Arc that works very similarly to the viral coat proteins of retroviruses like HIV. It assembles together to create an envelope that carries RNA between cells — this is how retroviruses infect their hosts. In mice and possibly in humans, this behavior is essential for memory function. It’s likely that the human version of Arc came from a virus that infected a cell long ago and now we can’t form memories without it. This video, " Cellular Cannibalism May Have Led to the Evolution of Everything, Including Us ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 4, 2018
The James Webb Space Telescope Is Delayed (Again)! What Is Happening?3m27s

The James Webb Space Telescope Is Delayed (Again)! What Is Happening?

The James Webb Space Telescope being developed by NASA is set to be one the most exciting space observatories ever developed! With totally novel technologies and instruments, it will give us new insights into our universe. Unfortunately, its completion and launch has been delayed. Again. What’s going on? The initial completion window for the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, was supposed to be between 2007 and 2011. There were some pretty severe budget and scheduling issues, resulting in a 2011 overhaul of the project that set a new completion date for October of 2018. That turned out to be a little too optimistic, so they pushed it back to May of 2020, and now here we are with another new hopeful finish line of March, 2021. This telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, so this is the kind of telescope we send out into space, all by itself! Unlike Hubble, though, the JWST will orbit out of our reach. It won’t be serviceable, even by robotic missions. So, before it launches, it has to be perfect.   This video, " The James Webb Space Telescope Is Delayed (Again)! What Is Happening? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 3, 2018
You Can't Just Swim Straight Across The Ocean6m37s

You Can't Just Swim Straight Across The Ocean

How do you plan a swim across the world's largest ocean? Ben Lecomte and the crew of Seeker have been working closely with meteorologist Jeremy Davis and his team at Weather Routing, Inc, as well as partners like Dr. Nikolai Maximenko from the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii, to plan the optimum route that will keep the journey as short and sweet as possible –– with some surprising twists and turns. From the get-go, this was never going to be easy. In order to complete his journey, Ben need a map to navigate strong currents , eddies and even to compensate for the circumference of the Earth. “The further North you go the circumference of the earth becomes less and less so that can help you shorten the overall voyage,” says Jeremy Davis, operation Manager at Weather Routing, Inc, “If you stay too long those wings at sea are going against him which will wind up slowing him down.” Ben’s team has been planning this route for over three years with the help of Jeremy Davis. It is his job to provide direction for anyone crossing the ocean: from commercial vessels to cruise chips to rowboats, and now – Ben. “We have been tracking Ben. He has been able to swim on average 20-30 nautical miles per day. It all depends on his own energy levels, time of the day, visibility, all those factor can play into it. We want to make sure we are on the best possible route, to help shorten it as much as possible, and give him the most favorable conditions. The weather is going to be the crucial success factor on this voyage,” adds Jeremy. Thus far the winds and the weather conditions made the swim a grueling experience for Ben. “It has been frustrating, especially the time I swam for 8 hours. A full day of swimming and then I realized I only covered 5 miles,” Ben Lecomte says. “Maybe this is why nobody has done this before,” concludes Tyral Dalitz, First Mate, and Research Manager. With that rate it would take Ben three years to cross the ocean, so Jeremy and the crew are taking advantage of ocean behaviors and bathymetry to speed things up. If they go farther up shore he can go into the Kuroshio current which will be a major boost for his swim, he can cover a lot more ground in a short period of time. The Kuroshio is a warm water current that flows off the coast of Japan and then peels off to the east, driven by the circulation of the North Pacific Gyre - a large area of high pressure moving clockwise. Taking the maximum advantage of it has accelerated Ben’s mileage to as much as 45 miles per day. He gets a good push whenever he swims. Like in a highway – instead of going straight you need to follow the road. They need to trust the weathermen, the scientists and to work as a team for full success. This video, " Why You Can’t Just Swim Straight Across The Ocean | The Swim ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: August 1, 2018
Severe Storms Disrupt Ben Lecomte's Record-Setting Swim1m52s

Severe Storms Disrupt Ben Lecomte's Record-Setting Swim

Becoming the first man to swim across the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo to San Francisco was never going to be easy. Over the past two months of this perilous campaign for ocean conservation and science, Ben Lecomte and the crew aboard Seeker have faced rough seas, seasickness, nausea, and a constant stream of plastic. The 51-year-old swimmer has still doggedly progressed more than 500 miles, pushing forward eight hours daily against a parade of hurdles. Now two typhoons, Jongdari and Wukong, have interrupted his momentum and forced the ship to head back to port in Japan — a development that reflects the difficulty of the journey and the unpredictability of the ocean. Tropical storm Jongdari had already created hazardous swimming conditions along Japan’s eastern coastal waters when it became a hurricane-strength typhoon as it approached Japan this weekend, hitting the island nation with winds of up to 110 mph and cutting off electricity to more than 158,000 households. At least 24 people have been reported injured. Wukong has meanwhile been churning the ocean northeast of Japan. Read more here. This video, " Severe Storms Disrupt Ben Lecomte's Record-Setting Swim ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 31, 2018
Do You Love Swimming Pools in Summer? Let Us Ruin That for You4m08s

Do You Love Swimming Pools in Summer? Let Us Ruin That for You

Pools are gross. Pathogens thrive in water and harmful viruses, bacteria, and protozoa can be transmitted from one person to another by way of pool water. Over 14 years, health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported almost 500 outbreaks linked to treated recreational water, causing more than 27,000 illnesses and eight deaths. Since many people don’t go to a doctor when they’re sick, and it’s difficult to test water for contaminants after an outbreak, those numbers could be higher still. It seems that a lot of these outbreaks are caused by pools that weren’t treated properly and in fact, that does happen remarkably often. A 2016 CDC study found 80% of public pools had health and safety violations with one in eight facilities failing their inspections so badly they were closed immediately. Most outbreaks can be prevented by properly treating pools with chlorine. When added to pool water in the form of hypochlorous acid or hypochlorite ions, chlorine reacts with the lipids in a microorganism’s cell walls or enzymes inside the cells and kills them. But chlorine also reacts with ammonia in sweat and urine. This results in chloramines, which are responsible for that distinctive pool smell. That smell combined with red irritated eyes means a pool is under chlorinated, not over-chlorinated — a properly treated pool has no smell. However, even if a pool is chlorinated, some pathogens can still survive and lead to disease. Several preventative measures pool-goers can take are showering before swimming, not peeing in the pool, not swallowing the water, and staying away from the pool if one has recently had diarrhea. This video, " Do You Love Swimming Pools in Summer? Let Us Ruin That for You ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 31, 2018
White vs. Pink Noise: Which Will Help You Sleep Better?3m41s

White vs. Pink Noise: Which Will Help You Sleep Better?

White noise has long been used as a sleep and relaxation aid. But what is white noise, and could there be other "colors" of noise that are even more effective for relaxation and even memory enhancement? White light has all the colors of the rainbow equally represented, which is why it doesn't look like any one particular color. Likewise, the frequencies in white noise are equally represented, with the lowest audible frequency having the same power as all the frequencies above it. Because white noise contains all frequencies, it can help mask other noises like the ringing of tinnitus... but humans don't hear all frequencies equally. The distance between 30 and 60 hertz sounds the same as the distance between 10,000 and 20,000 hertz, and we're more sensitive to high pitched noise. Enter pink noise. The energy in pink noise is highest for low frequencies and is halved every time the frequency doubles, meaning every octave has equal power and the net effect sounds less bright and more balance than white noise. While white noise is by far the most researched white color, pink noise studies are on the rise recently. One study from 2012 found that participants who listened to pink noise while they slept showed an improvement in deep sleep and reported sleeping better. But pink isn't the only other "color" of noise out there... blue noise, brown noise, and gray noise all have official or colloquial definitions, and scientists are just beginning to understand the complex connections between sound and cognitive function. This video, " White vs. Pink Noise: Which Will Help You Sleep Better? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 30, 2018
The ‘Ham Sandwich Theorem’ Will Change How You See the Universe… Seriously3m57s

The ‘Ham Sandwich Theorem’ Will Change How You See the Universe… Seriously

To understand the Ham Sandwich Theorem, one has to start with the Pancake Theorem. This theorem states that if there is a pancake on a plate, there is at least one cut that would divide the pancake cleanly in two. If another pancake is added, there will still be at least one cut that divides both pancakes in half. Fairly simple, but that’s due to the fact that the Pancake Theorem only deals with 2-dimensional space. The Ham Sandwich Theorem takes the concept of the Pancake Theorem and moves it into 3-dimensional space. The Pancake Theorem states that given n measurable objects in n-dimensional Euclidean space, it is possible to divide all of the objects in half (with respect to their volume) with a single (n-1)-dimensional hyperplane. This convoluted statement actually expresses something very simple — if there is a ham sandwich with three parts (2 slices of bread and 1 slice of ham), it is possible to use a single cut to divide the sandwich in half, no matter where the 3 items are. This doesn’t just mean that the sandwich as a whole can be halved but also means that if the sandwich was dropped and the individual pieces were scattered around, there still would be a slice that divided the sandwich equally in two. While this theorem seems silly and fun, it actually is helping research the very nature of the way the universe behaves, assisting in computer simulation of everything from atomic phenomena to the movement of celestial bodies. This video, " The ‘Ham Sandwich Theorem’ Will Change How You See the Universe… Seriously ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 28, 2018
Could Magnonics Spark the Extinction of Electronics?3m15s

Could Magnonics Spark the Extinction of Electronics?

Is there a better, more efficient alternative to electronic processes? Usually, electronics work by moving electrons through circuits and logic gates to perform calculations, but in doing so must overcome resistance, which wastes energy and generates heat. So instead of forcing electrons to push each other along, researchers are looking into ways to make them "do the wave..." meet "magnonics." Electrons have a property called spin, and this spin can be oriented either up or down. Atoms can generate magnetic fields if the spins of their electrons align. When energy is applied to that magnetic field, the direction of the field is reversed and the strength of the field weakens. The energy that dampened the magnetic field is passed along and this wave of energy can be thought of as a particle called a magnon. Magnons can be used to carry information. However, while the silicon circuits that conduct electrons are relatively easy to make, the magnets that transport magnons are not. Most researchers use a material called yttrium iron garnet, or YIG, but it is notoriously difficult to make, and to combine with other materials. Researchers have tested a few materials, and the most promising seems to be a material called vanadium tetracyanoethylene. This material was the first carbon based magnet that was stable at room temperature, but once exposed to oxygen, it would burst into flames. While it's difficult to work with magnons, and even harder to develop new transistors for them, researchers have found it possible to convert a magnon into an electrical signal. This means researchers could simply combine magnonics and electronics which would bring them one step closer to smaller, faster, and more efficient computers. This video, " Could Magnonics Spark the Extinction of Electronics? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 28, 2018
Naked Mole Rat Moms Are the Queens of Their Creepy Kingdoms3m09s

Naked Mole Rat Moms Are the Queens of Their Creepy Kingdoms

Naked mole rats are extraordinary mammals that live the entirety of their lives in an underground network of tunnels. They exhibit a social system known as cooperative breeding. Which means that each individual in the population has a specific job to do in order to keep the whole group running as a cohesive unit. Much like a bee or ant colony, there’s a mole rat queen – the only female in the entire population to have babies. Queens are typically larger and stronger than all other females in the colony. There are just a few males tasked with providing sperm to the queen - but otherwise, the rest of the population doesn't engage in sexual reproduction. Females that don’t breed have one of two jobs: bringing food to the queen or taking care of older offspring. While males typically have jobs like tunnel digging, defending the colony and watching out for predators. The queen mother mole rat never leaves the tunnels, and her life is dedicated to producing and feeding young. Food, in the form of tubers - nutritionally dense plant structures found underground, akin to potatoes and yams, is the source of all her energy for hydration, gestation and lactation. Mama gestates a new litter of 10 to 12 pups every few months. The naked mole rat has an extended lifespan of up to 30 years and individual queens have been observed to birth over 900 babies during that time. For a mammal, this is a truly unparalleled phenomenon. Queen mole rats, despite their reproductive feats, even appear to age less than the workers. Eventually, there will come a time for a new queen to be crowned once the previous one dies. That selection process is one of the few times when naked mole rat females show high levels of aggression. A few of the largest subordinates fight for the top spot until one of them emerges the victor - and she gets to work on a new empire of her own. This video, " Naked Mole Rat Moms Are the Queens of Their Creepy Kingdoms ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 27, 2018
Some Sharks Live For 500 Years And Can Teach Us A Lesson4m19s

Some Sharks Live For 500 Years And Can Teach Us A Lesson

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again - the deep dark waters of the ocean are filled with wonders. We know so little of what is really hiding in its depths, it sometimes even scares us. What’s not to be afraid of, right? We see all sorts of movies about gargantuan sea creatures lurking in the black abyss, waiting for the right time to float up to the surface, we hear campfire stories of sailors lost at sea because of unknown forces. Even if we don’t believe in the supernatural, the fact is that the water hides some of the greatest predators that ever lived. Sharks are being discovered to live longer than previously thought — in some cases, centuries longer than we’d thought before — and these old species are giving researchers new insight into both shark ecology and potentially the science of aging. The main reason biologists couldn’t pinpoint the age of sharks was due to the difficulty of aging sharks. Usually, marine life age is measured by features such as scales and otoliths, which are boney calcium deposits that are essentially the fish’s "ear bones". Unfortunately, sharks lack many of these key structures that biologists rely on and the methods that shark scientists had been relying on were inaccurate. A new study took a different approach, determining shark age using bomb carbon dating. This method is based on the atmospheric nuclear tests that were conducted in the 50's and 60's, which deposited a huge spike of a certain kind of radiocarbon into the atmosphere. Researchers can then detect the spike of this particular radioisotope in the tissue of animals that were alive during those tests. This breakthrough is crucial because conservation policy is built around life spans of living organisms. Fishing regulations and environmental protections that impact shark population of all kinds are built on population models that rely on our knowledge of how these animals survive and reproduce, and if numbers are wrong, it could spell disaster for conservation efforts. In addition, scientists are also interested to see what long-lived sharks can teach humanity about living for centuries. There’s so little we know of our planet, and naturally, it makes us curious as to what else is out there. This thirst for knowledge makes us push our boundaries and reach for the unknown. So far we’ve been able to see almost everything that’s above ground but there are many unimaginable things lurking in the water’s depths and the insides of our mysterious planet. We are reaching for the stars, but we know only a few percents of what the ocean waters hold. There have been many expeditions in the darkest parts of the sea, but we have yet to reach the bottom of the abyss. We have gone down to 35,858 feet below the sea’s surface, and if we ever want to go deeper and reach the ground, we would have to travel even further down inside the Mariana Trench under the Pacific Ocean , swimming down the Challenger Deep, the deepest section of the trench. The expeditions thus far have proven to be very fruitful, bringing knowledge of life in complete darkness in excruciating conditions. Just imagine what the waters hold even further down! How Seeker Will Collect The Most Extensive Data Set of the Pacific Ocean | The Swim This video, " Some Sharks Live for 500 Years, What Can We Learn From Them? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 27, 2018
This Is Everything Happening in Your Brain During Sex... It’s a Lot! (Part 1 of 3)10m41s

This Is Everything Happening in Your Brain During Sex... It’s a Lot! (Part 1 of 3)

Freud would say sex is at the center of human development, but procreation is literally the goal of most every species on our planet. So what is actually happening to our brain before, during, and after sex? Usually, before sex happens, the body has to get aroused. That involves a bunch of different biological processes. In meta analysis of 58 studies by Dr. Carla Clark on a site called BrainBlogger, the four components of sex are cognitive, emotional, motivational, and physiological. The cognitive component involves the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the limbic reward and emotion systems. The emotional component involves the brain’s emotional center, the amygdala, which is thought to evaluate emotional connection and content of the sexual stimulation. This video, " This Is Everything Happening in Your Brain During Sex... It’s a Lot! (Part 1 of 3) ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 26, 2018
Is It Easier to Recognize People Who Look Like You?3m14s

Is It Easier to Recognize People Who Look Like You?

An individual's face instantly reveals important social information about them, such as their race, age, mood, identity, and possibly their gender expression. This is why disorders like prosopagnosia, or 'face blindness' –– when someone is unable to tell familiar and unfamiliar faces apart –– can be so life-altering. Severe sufferers of prosopagnosia have reported difficulty recognizing not only faces, but also animals and objects, like cars. This is due to the fact that the same nodes in the brain linked to facial recognition (the occipital face area, fusiform face area, superior temporal sulcus, and amygdala, for example) also help us distinguish animals, objects, and even car types. People who can identify different dog breeds and car models at a glance are drawing on the expertise on a large range of these specific objects and animals they've built up over time. This same principle applies to faces: if a person is consistently exposed to diverse faces, they will have an easier time distinguishing between them. However, those raised in more racially homogenous communities, for instance, may have more difficulty when it comes to telling people from other race groups apart. This sociological and psychological phenomenon is called "own-race bias," and leads to a phenomenon known as the "cross-race effect," in which own-race faces are markedly easier to both distinguish and remember than those of another, less familiar race. The cross-race effect has implications for social interactions at all scales, from socializing in the workplace to eyewitness testimony in the courtroom. But the outlook isn't hopeless - some evidence shows that simply being aware of this psychological bias can help your brain combat it, by focusing on subtler detail when scanning a person's face. This video, " Is It Easier to Recognize People Who Look Like You? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 25, 2018
Sunshields & Nukes: What We Need to Terraform Venus and Mars3m36s

Sunshields & Nukes: What We Need to Terraform Venus and Mars

There's a reason why Venus is often called the hell planet. Its surface temperature is 864 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead. Its air is a suffocating stew of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide which creates a runaway greenhouse gas problem, and its atmosphere is 90 times thicker than Earth’s, which would literally crush you. Even with that, Venus is still a potential candidate for terraforming, which is a process that turns a hospitable planet into one that could support life. As we continue to over saturate resources on Earth, people like Elon Musk, believe we need to start looking to other planets to call home. And that begs the question, which planet is better to terraform Venus or Mars? To put Venus in perspective, it’s a terrestrial planet with similar size, mass and gravity to Earth. It’s also pretty close, we could get there in 5 months versus the 9 months it’d take to reach Mars. And while Venus’s atmosphere is a hellscape, it does give us something to work with. At 50 km above the surface, Venus's atmosphere is quite Earth-like, with atmospheric pressure similar to ours. So one idea is to build floating colonies that would coast in the clouds. Known as HAVOC - High Altitude Venus Operational Concept - NASA scientists proposed sending astronauts inside an "aeroshell" that would enter Venus's atmosphere at 4,500 mph. The shell would fall away to reveal a folded airship, which is just like a floating blimp. The blimps would then use Venus's carbon dioxide atmosphere to float. Another idea suggests cooling the planet down with a giant sun blocker. A sunshade mirror would be placed in between the Sun and Venus, cooling the atmosphere down and blocking the planet from solar wind. Terraforming Venus is a complicated task, so how does Mars stack up? For starters, the red planet is super cold,  at minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and a very thin, unbreathable atmosphere comprised of 95% carbon dioxide. Yet, it's size, structure, and presence of water is similar to Earth. To retrofit this planet, one method proposes importing huge amounts of ammonia or hydrocarbons to create a livable atmosphere. Another idea proposed by Elon Musk is to melt Mars' polar ice caps by dropping thermonuclear bombs on them. Carbon dioxide would be released and that would thicken the Martian atmosphere. At that point, it might be possible for liquid water to flow on the surface which could start a greenhouse effect on Mars. Ultimately, these are all pretty far-fetched plans and it’ll probably take thousands of years and incredible resources to terraform these two planets.   This video, " Sunshields ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 24, 2018
Cold War Nuclear Fallout Is Still Affecting the Pacific, What Does That Mean for Us?4m37s

Cold War Nuclear Fallout Is Still Affecting the Pacific, What Does That Mean for Us?

During the Cold War, the United States government conducted a series of 66 nuclear tests in remote areas of the Pacific, in an effort to put its terrifying atomic potential on display to the world. Seventy years later, the Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the Marshall Islands are still essentially uninhabitable. Dr. Ken Buesseler and his team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently ventured back to these sites to see how much radioactivity is left over, and where it is coming from. The researchers tested seafloor sediments, groundwater, wells, as well as the water column and marine biota for different levels of radioactive elements such as plutonium and cesium. They conducted forensic-like analysis to determine the sources of the waste, which they could identify down to the specific testing event where it originated. Throughout his career studying radioactivity in the world's oceans, Ken notes that nuclear activity of any kind -- from clean energy to hydrogen bombs -- will have serious human and environmental effects. “This is definitely one of those nations that will suffer the most from sea level rise due to climate change,” explains Ken, “so they have this double whammy. They have the radioactive waste that hasn't allowed them to move home, and now, they're experiencing the effects of sea level rise and loss of their entire island, all their atolls, a place to live. "It's been frustrating that we run 400 plus reactors around the world's oceans, around the edges in an inland, and yet we aren't maintaining a cadre of science to deal with the environmental consequence of doing that." This video, " Cold War Nuclear Fallout Is Still Affecting the Pacific, What Does That Mean for Us? ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 23, 2018
Cockroaches Are Indestructible, And the Secret Is in Their Genome3m35s

Cockroaches Are Indestructible, And the Secret Is in Their Genome

Cockroaches are gross, but it turns out they might do some good in the world. Their genetic code was just fully sequenced and provided surprising insight into their seemingly eternal survival. Not only can cockroaches multiply quickly, regenerate from traumatizing wounds, fit into any crevice, survive incredibly forceful physical extermination, but despite their inherent gross factor, they may also hold an important key to help researchers understand human biology. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that when under stress, female cockroaches can lay unfertilized eggs that still hatch due to parthenogenesis. In addition, they uncovered the genes that are responsible for the regeneration of lost limbs and in-body anti-microbial production. These genetic features all could be part of the reason cockroaches have a tendency to become resistant to extermination methods. Cockroaches may also be able to help improve our robotics. Researchers are interested in the cockroaches’ exoskeletons, with its ability to withstand over 900 times the cockroach’s body weight and squeeze into tiny spaces through compression. Experts say that if bots can be made with similar features, fields like search and rescue could be revolutionized. There’s still a long way to go in this area of research, but but it’s going to be interesting to see what we can learn from animals like this and what we can take from their genetic mechanisms to use for our own benefit This video, " Cockroaches Are Indestructible, And the Secret Is in Their Genome ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 21, 2018
Study Shows That We Might Be Seasoning Our Food With Plastics4m05s

Study Shows That We Might Be Seasoning Our Food With Plastics

We all know that we are fighting a war against time to save our planet. Ecologists are warning us every day that our planet is dying, and it is all our fault. We hear stories about the rise of the ocean levels due to climate change, we read about PM10 and PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere, about floating islands of trash in the middle of our oceans, about holes in the ozone layers, about deforestation. But it doesn’t really get to us. Civilization has grown a lot in the past few centuries. We’ve managed to evolve from being nomads to flocking just one place and creating traditions that last centuries. The new millenium found us living in concrete jungles, totally unaware of what is happening in the world around us. We hear the warnings but we don’t really understand what they mean. It almost looks like it’s happening to someone else living on a planet far, far away. The expansion of humankind is inevitably the downfall of nature. We constantly tear down ecosystems so that we can build our own, eradicating whole species in the blink of an eye. The animals living in these areas are forced to live inside of our system, or perish. If this isn’t the only problem, we are smothering them with the side effects of our living. They are left to barely exist among the sea of plastic that piles up on our planet by the tonne each day. There have been many efforts to deal with this man-made threat, but unfortunately, there is nothing that eradicates it forever. Microplastic is a type of plastic debris that has been weathered down into tiny fragments, usually 5 millimeters long or less. Discussion around microplastic usually revolves around how this trash affects ocean life as plastic is regularly found in the bellies of birds and whales. A study has shown that European consumers can ingest up to 11,000 particles a year from shellfish alone. Now this problem is making its way to the kitchen table as microplastics are being found in commercial sea salt around the world. The two types of plastic most commonly found in sea salt, polypropylene and polyethylene, are two types of durable plastics used in grocery bags, plastic bottle caps, prescription bottles, lunch boxes and more. In addition to salt, these plastics have been found in the ocean, fertilizer, food chains, and even the air we breathe. To top it all off, plastic can take up to 400 years to naturally decompose. What does this mean for us? Well, it isn’t entirely clear. Plastic hasn’t been around long enough to understand the long-term harmful effects of consumption, but researchers know that accumulation of microplastics can cause particle, chemical, and microbial hazards. This video, " Are You Seasoning Your Food With Microplastics? (You Totally Are) ", first appeared on seeker.com . What do you think about this video? Make sure you tell us more in the comments down below. If you like what you see, don’t forget to share it with others who might like it as well. It just might be the highlight of their day! Enjoy!

Seeker
Published: July 20, 2018
How Seeker Will Collect The Most Extensive Data Set of the Pacific Ocean4m13s

How Seeker Will Collect The Most Extensive Data Set of the Pacific Ocean

The accomplished long-distance swimmer, Ben Lecomte, is now well into the most grueling and exciting swim of his life. For eight hours a day, he is chipping away at more than 5,000 miles of Pacific Ocean that lies ahead of him. Joining Ben is an eight person crew on board the 20-meter ship, 'Seeker'. While assisting Ben in his swim, they are also collecting data that will provide an important depiction of ocean health by tracking microplastics, monitoring plankton, and even collecting audio. Ben is also the subject of scientific research, with data being collected on his gut biome, his heart, and his mental health. Two medics are on board to help care and conduct tests, even developing a routine to protect Ben's body and mind during this superhuman feat. Ben has completed long distance swims throughout his life, including traversing the Atlantic Ocean in 1998. That time, he was swimming for cancer awareness and research -- this time, he's hoping for environmental change so that humanity can preserve the oceans for the future. This video, " How Seeker Will Collect The Most Extensive Data Set of the Pacific Ocean ", first appeared on seeker.com .

Seeker
Published: July 19, 2018