118 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Paleo Soup Cans, and Good News from the UK

On This Week’s Show

  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • Prehistoric Cans of Soup
  • Good news from the UK regarding energy consumption

Science News with Chris MacAlister, and JD Goodwin

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Chris MacAlister

  • Science Nobels are traditionally awarded to 3 people and the 3 people accepting this award are Stanley Whittingham of the State University of New York in Binghamton; John Goodenough of the University of Texas in Austin; and Akira Yoshino of Asahi Kasei Corporation in Tokyo. 
  • Stanley Whittingham was the first person to show that the concept of a Lithium battery could work.
  • John Goodenough realised that the problem with Whittingham’s battery was the materials that he was using. By switching the materials around he managed to create a lithium ion battery that was almost twice as powerful as Whittinghams. Despite the improvement, the battery still wasn’t commercially viable as it was still liable to overheating and would not cope with many recharges.
  • The final leg of our story lays with Akira Yoshino. By substituting the use of pure lithium within the battery with lithium ions he made the batteries safer and more durable without compromising on the power output. His work was the final step that allowed lithium ion batteries to become marketable.

Science, HuffPo Science


Bones Filled with Marrow Served as Prehistoric Humans' ‘Cans of Soup'

JD Goodwin

  • There is now evidence from the Pleistocene Epoch that our ancestors employed a novel method for preserving nutritious fats and proteins
  • Fossil evidence they looked at was over 400,000 years old
  • The findings show that these paleolithic humans didn’t eat everything immediately after making a kill
  • In most of these cases the prey were Persian fallow deer
  • The researchers examined more than 80,000 bones collected from this cave called Quesem Cave, near Tel Aviv
  • The leg bones brought back to the cave often showed cut marks which were different than the butchering marks
  • The researchers suspect these cut marks were made later to remove dried skin which was wrapped around the bones to aid in preservation
  • According to lead author Ruth Blasco of Tel Aviv University, “We discovered that preserving the bone along with the skin for a period that could last for many weeks enabled early humans to break the bone when necessary and eat the still nutritious bone marrow”
  • This bone marrow preservation strategy demonstrates the cognitive ability of these Pleistocene humans to plan for future needs, using a method which helps to reduce energy expenditures to achieve the required caloric intake necessary for survival. 

Live Science, Science Advances


Renewables overtook fossil fuels in UK electricity mix for first time

Chris MacAlister

  • The UK has just had its first ever annual quarter where more of the country’s energy was generated by renewable sources, rather than from fossil fuels. 
  • The figures came from a study by climate website Carbon Brief
  • Over the period, 40% of electricity generation came from renewables. With half from wind farms and the rest from biomass, solar and hydropower. By comparison, gas power stations provided 38 per cent of electricity, with coal supplying just 1 per cent. Nuclear’s share was around 20 per cent.
  • The figures are provisional though. The Carbon Brief figures are based on a preliminary analysis of government and industry data.

New Scientist


In Other Science News this Week

  • Title: Alexei Leonov: First person to walk in space dies aged 85

BBC World

  • Title: Cows painted with zebra stripes repel flies

The Guardian

  • Title: A supermassive black hole shredded a star and was caught in the act

Science News


In Closing

That concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team.

Our hosts today were Chris MacAlister, and me.

I’m JD Goodwin.  

Thank you for joining us. 

And remember…follow the science!

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