Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Science


I was reading the latest New Scientist while drinking my post-lunch cup of tea, as you do, and I thought I share a couple of things that interested me.

In Sweden, they are trying to wipe out racoon dogs, which are not native. They got most of them with various strategies including sniffer dogs, but the way they are finding the last few struck me. They get a sterilised male (which they name Judas), tag him and let him loose. He looks for a mate, one of the few left hiding away. When he finds one, Wildlife Management shoot her. So Judas sets out again to find another. Who gets shot.

I know the humans have their reasons for eliminating this introduced pest, but still. What a horrible sad lonely life for Judas. Always looking for love, bringing death with him. That made me sad.

Another thing, which I don't know if I'll explain very well. A research team thinks we have the wrong strategy in aggressively killing off as many cancer cells as we can. This leaves a lot of space for the really nasty cancer cells that are resistant to chemo, and after a short remission period they often take over and kill people quickly. In studies with mice, the mice lived a lot longer if the original cancer was controlled but not wiped out. The "weak" cancer took up all the space so the "strong" cancer couldn't multiply so fast. It would be different if we were able to kill all the cancer, but often we can't, so in many cases it would be better to live with a milder form. I'm sure there will be a lot more research on that.

And finally, there was a study where people were led to a room by a guidance robot (like a garbage bin with wheels and glowing arms to point the way) and then had to fill out a questionnaire about it. Then there was a fake fire alarm. People had the choice of running out the way they had come or following the instructions of the guidance robot who pointed a different way. The researchers thought people would have trouble trusting the robot after such a short acquaintance. But 26 out of 30 followed the robot's instructions. I guess we trust robots already.


  1. You'd think Judas would know what's coming everything he finds a mate

    1. Hope springs eternal I guess. Or testosterone.