The hagfish or "slime eel" shoots out slime containing silk-like fibers of remarkable strength. Douglas Fudge, a biologist at the University of Guelph, says it could be a good substitute for today's synthetic fibers--it's 10 times stronger than nylon, for example--and bacteria can be trained to make it.
In a paper to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, researchers identified five possible planets around the star Tau Ceti. One of these alien worlds is within the star's habitable zone. Study co-author Steven Vogt discusses whether life could exist on the planet.
The ancient Maya had many scientific accomplishments: they tracked the Moon and the planets, knew a solar year was 365 days, and even invented the concept of zero. As for the 2012 apocalypse? It's simply a misinterpretation of the Maya calendar, say archaeologists Marcello Canuto and William Saturno.
Reporting in Science Translational Medicine, researchers write that neural stem cell implants were able to slow the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, in mice. Study author Evan Snyder discusses the stem cells' protective effect, and why human trials may not be far behind.
The SciFri Book Club is touring the solar system, with Dava Sobel's 2005 The Planets. Call in with a review of the book. Plus Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, joins the club to give an update on what's happened planet-wise since the book was published.
The Audubon's 113th Christmas Bird Count is underway, and thousands of volunteers are taking part this year. Ornithologist David Bonter, and Gary Langham, Audubon's chief scientist, share tips on which species to look out for, and how even birding beginners can get involved.
The Great Drought of 2012 dominated headlines this summer, but so far, it has not had a major impact on the prices of food on your holiday table, except the dairy products. That prime rib is more expensive for other reasons.
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