Virus Fishing, Mantis Shrimp Boxing, and Carbon Cutting Bryozoans

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(A peacock mantis shrimp. Photo by Jens Petersen/Wikimedia)

In this week’s Science Friday news roundup, Ed Yong, science writer for The Atlantic, talks about a new blood test that can fish out millions of human viruses at once, which, he writes, “should take a lot of the (educated) guesswork out of viral diagnosis.” Plus, mantis shrimp are heavy hitters, and gauge the strength of their foes in a fairly straightforward way—by punching each other, repeatedly.
Then, a group of Antarctic bryozoans—or “moss animals”—seem to be flourishing as climate change contributes to sea ice melt. A new study inCurrent Biology found that the filter feeders, which chow down on phytoplankton, for example, are helping sequester carbon—effectively removing some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Douglas Main, a staff writer for Newsweek, talks about the good and the bad of these carbon-cutting bryozoans having a field day in the warming waters.

 

Agatha Christie’s characters were electrocuted, shot, stabbed, and occasionally shoved off cliffs. But more often than not, says chemist-turned-author Kathryn Harkup, they were poisoned. Over 83 detective books, Christie killed hundreds of characters using poisons as diverse as digitalis (foxglove), strychnine, and thallium, and she won praise from chemists for her scientific accuracy. Harkups talks with Ira about the many poisons Dame Agatha employed, and explains how the “Queen of Crime” grew to know so much about chemistry’s dark side.
Read an excerpt from Kathryn Harkup’s book, A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. For more fact cards, like the one below, about the poisons Agatha Christie used, click here.

 

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