Fifty years since Apollo 11 first brought humankind to the Moon? No, it doesn’t seem like yesterday. It’s been way too long since we’ve left the comfort and safety of Earth orbit. Let’s go back to the Moon and beyond!
On This Week’s Show
- A recent visit to an asteroid
- Why catching a cold may not be such a bad thing after all
- And a not-so-recent visit to the moon
Science News with Chris MacAlister and JD Goodwin
Hayabusa-2: Japanese spacecraft makes final touchdown on asteroid
- It was only a few years ago that we were getting so excited by NASA’s Rosetta mission which orbited a comet, and its Philae lander which (kind of) successfully landed on it.
- As if this isn’t impressive enough, Haybusba-2 is basically showboating now because it’s not just gone down to the asteroid once, it’s now done it twice!
- On its first landing (in February) it collected some surface material; and this was pretty much the best that could be hoped for since the asteroid turned out to be much rockier than anyone had thought back when they were planning the mission.
- The people at JAXA know how to deal with stubborn space rock. In April, the spacecraft dropped a two-kilogram copper cylinder from about 500 meters above the surface to blast an artificial crater about 10 meters wide and 2 meters deep into its surface.
- This operation released material from deep within the asteroid. The team back on Earth watched where this debris settled and then sent Hayabusa down to pick some up.
- Hayabusa-2 will leave Ryugu in November (which I daresay will be a significant relief to Ryugu) and is due to return to Earth in 2020. At this point the coverage of this story in Science News says “That’s when the team will confirm that the spacecraft successfully collected the dust.”
A Common Cold Virus Wiped Away Bladder Cancer in One Patient
- A group of researchers have just published a paper in the journal Clinical Cancer Research which reports that cancer is vulnerable when exposed to a cold virus.
- Whilst there are many, many forms of cancer there are even more pathogens that cause common colds. This is precisely why you never build immunity to colds, because you’re not just dealing with one disease.
- This study falls firmly into the small but promising category. It only involves 15 patients who were all suffering from bowel cancer. It this won’t sound pretty but these patients were delivered a sizeable dose of common cold, in the form of Coxsackievirus-A21.
- This hour long viral jacuzzi was delivered and repeated for each patient before they were taken into surgery to have and remaining tumour removed.
- Why did they find? There was evidence that the tumours had been damaged by the virus in all the patients, but in one lucky patient the tumour had been completely destroyed!
- So what’s going on? One of the problems with cancer is its ability to sidestep the immune system (since it is made up of your body’s own cells). The Coxsackievirus damages cells which then coaxes the immune system into action, removing any compromised cells, cancer or otherwise.
- The biomechanics of this leave the cancer cells more vulnerable to this virus than healthy cells, which turns Coxsachievirus into a type of magic bullet.
- What is exciting about this study is that it’s not just an idea, this is evidence of the treatment working in practice. What’s more, it’s not using some sophisticated bespoke designer virus, this is a wild strain common cold virus that is already kicking around and could theoretically work on any human with no tweaking needed.
Moon Landing Footage Would Have Been Impossible to Fake. Here’s Why
In Other Science News this Week
- Earliest modern human found outside Africa
- An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe
- Southern right whale moms and calves may whisper to evade orcas
- Cats in Australia Kill Over 2 Billion Wild Animals Each Year
- French healthcare will stop paying for homeopathic treatment in 2021
That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.
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This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by Pro Podcast Solutions.
Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister and me.
I’m JD Goodwin.
Thank you for joining us.
And remember…follow the science!