Best. Science. Fiction. Show. Ever.

"The Expanse" is the best vision I've ever seen of a space-faring future that may be just a few generations away.

Credit: "The Expanse" / Syfy
  • Want three reasons why that headline is justified? Characters and acting, universe building, and science.
  • For those who don't know, "The Expanse" is a series that's run on SyFy and Amazon Prime set about 200 years in the future in a mostly settled solar system with three waring factions: Earth, Mars, and Belters.
  • No other show I know of manages to use real science so adeptly in the service of its story and its grand universe building.
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How tiny bioelectronic implants may someday replace pharmaceutical drugs

Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.

Credit: Adobe Stock / SetPoint Medical

Left: The vagus nerve, the body's longest cranial nerve. Right: Vagus nerve stimulation implant by SetPoint Medical.

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
  • Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
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Here's a 10-step plan to save our oceans

By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Credit: Cameron Venti on Unsplash
  • 2050 is predicted to be a bleak milestone for the oceans - but it's not too late to avert disaster.
  • Here are 10 actions the world can take to strengthen and preserve our oceans for generations to come.
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New research shows that bullies are often friends

Remedies must honor the complex social dynamics of adolescence.

Photo: rawpixel / Adobe Stock
  • Bullies are likely to be friends according to new research published in the American Journal of Sociology.
  • The researchers write that complex social dynamics among adolescents allow the conditions for intragroup dominance.
  • The team uses the concept of "frenemies" to describe the relationship between many bullies and victims.
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Scientists grow extremophile microbes on rocks from Mars

The results could help NASA's Perseverance rover find evidence of ancient life on Mars.

Microscopic imaging of chemolithtrophic growth on Martian meteorite fragments.

Credit: Milojevic et al.
Surprising Science
  • In a recent study, researchers simulated the environment of ancient Mars and tested whether a type of extremophile found on Earth could grow on fragments of a meteorite from Mars.
  • Extremophiles are organisms that have adapted to survive in conditions in which most life forms cannot, such as ice, volcanoes, and space.
  • The results showed that the extremophiles were able to convert the rock into energy. What's more, the microbes left behind biosignatures that could help scientists identify evidence of past life on Mars.
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Lab-grown brain organoids mature like real infant brains

After 20 months, scientists find lab-dish brain cells matured at a similar rate to those of an actual infant.

Artist concept of organoids (not scientifically accurate)

Credit: Girl with the red hat/Unsplash/jolygon/Adobe Stock/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have found that cultures of embryonic brain cells mature at the same rate as a 20-month-old infant's.
  • Researchers have looked to such cell structures, called "organoids," as potential models for understanding the human body's biological mechanisms.
  • Their study validates the use of lab-dish organoids for research.
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Why science denial and science negation are different

Surprising as it may seem, we are all very good at denial. Negation, however, is a different phenomena.

Credit: mvdiduk, Rob Atkins via Adobe Stock / Big Think
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  • What makes a person espouse an ideology so intensely as to negate the reality of well-established facts? Perhaps the differences between negation and denial can help us understand.
  • Negation looks to the past, while denial looks to the present and future. We negate a historical fact and we deny the reality in front of us. Negation involves a conscious choice to lie, even if it involves the suffering of millions. Denial is subtler and, surprisingly, we all do it.
  • Climate change conflates both negation and denial. Hopefully, understanding why will spur more into action, as we choose to become heroes of a new anti-denialist narrative.
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