On This Week’s Show

  • Giant Planets
  • Bad news for the vapers
  • Planet Nine from Outer Space
  • Some really old bugs

Science News with Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister

Giant planet around tiny star ‘should not exist’

Nevena Hristozova

  • Scientists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain have discovered a planet almost half the size of Jupiter orbiting a star much smaller than our Sun.
  • They used the so called radial velocity method – if a star is orbited by an object like a planet, due to the gravity of that object it will also wobble in space as the two bodies – the planet and the star will have their gravity forces working in opposite directions of each other.
  • However, the ratio of the planet to star size was so big, that they originally thought that it’s a system of two stars orbiting each other that they are detecting.
  • Usually planets form gradually when a mass of material due to its gravity collects more and more materials, dust and debris from interstellar collisions and by doing so forms its own core.
  • This one, however, is so big that it’s impossible for it to have formed in this way, according to the principal investigators of the project, Juan Carlos Morales.
  • The alternative hypothesis is that a disk of gas spontaneously collapses to form the core of a planet all at once.
  • Apparently this is the first time astronomers are able to observe a planet which must have followed that pattern of development.

BBC Science and Environment, New Scientist

Vaping-Related Illnesses Hit Nearly Every US State

Chris MacAlister

  • In August of 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was investigating 94 possible cases of “severe lung illness associated with vaping” in teens and young adults.
  • The CDC have now announced 805 confirmed or probable cases across 46 U.S. states. This includes 12 fatalities.
  • Whilst patients report symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughs, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. The cause of the illness remains a complete mystery. There are some possible links to certain chemicals but that’s about the best that we have.
  • There appears to be a high correlation with patients vaping cannabis products and there are concerns that black market vaping products can also contain cannabis oils.
  • The CDC recommend that people consider not using e-cigarettes while the investigation is ongoing. They also say that e-cigarettes should not be used by youths, young adults, pregnant women or adults who don’t already use tobacco products. And, do not buy e-cigarette products off the street or modify the products or add substances that aren’t intended for vaping by the manufacturer.

Live Science

‘Planet Nine’ may actually be a black hole

Nevena Hristozova

  • Scientists are exploring a new hypothesis that Planet Nine may not exist, that it is not a planet at all.
  • Since it is so far from the Sun a planet is very hard to detect and it will receive very little light from the sun, and reflect very little light to be detected. A black hole won’t be easier to detect.
  • However, the scientists who propose this alternative hypothesis will sieve through the data from the Earth-orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to try and test for it.


Fossilised microbes from 3.5 billion years ago are oldest yet found

Chris MacAlister

  • Raphael Baumgartner at the University of New South Wales in Australia and his colleagues now have oldest credible fossil claim of around 3.48 billion years old.
  • Their rocks came from Western Australia from a site known as the Dresser formation. It contains layered structures called stromatolites which are known to form when microbes grow into thin layers. 
  • So how do you get credibility for such a precious artifact? You drill a hole into it. Inside, they discovered “exceptionally preserved organic matter” according to Baumgartner. There are even structures consistent with those seen in biofilms.
  • Further validation came in the form of various chemical analyses which suggest that there was organic matter that had originated from living organisms.

New Scientist

Meme Busters

Fact Checking Greta

In Closing

That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

If you have any suggestions or comments email us at podcast@bluestreakscience.com

You can subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast or any other podcast player of your choice.  

If you have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad you can get the Blue Streak Science app from the App Store. 

This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.

Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister.

I’m JD Goodwin.  

Thank you for joining us. 

And remember…follow the science!

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