|Once again we’re taking a week to answer questions sent in by students all around the world. Any question is welcome from any student. Today we’re going to explore the question of whether Stanley Kubrick made The Shining as a confession that he was behind the alleged moon landing hoax; whether acupressure wristbands are a way to cure nausea or just a placebo; whether you should use hydrogen peroxide as a bactericide on minor wounds; the songGloomy Sunday and if it has indeed been connected with an increased number of suicides; the true nature of whatever danger can be expected from common laser pointers; and whether we need to worry about hoards of human-animal hybrids swarming down from the mount ains. Let’s get started at a creepy old lodge hidden away up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado: by Brian Dunning
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|WONDER OF THE WEEK
Naked mole rats have a secret defense against cancer.
Naked Mole Rat
East Africa is home to a strange little beastie called the Naked Mole Rat (Heterocephalus glaber). About the size of a mouse, it lives underground and is almost completely hairless. It is also otherwise unusual in more than one way.
First, its skin has no sensation of pain, allowing it to burrow more aggressively than other underground dwellers. (It also prevents itching, which would be nice.) But, perhaps most intriguingly, it is immune to cancer.
Why? Animal cells are wrapped up in what we call the extracellular matrix, the main structure of the membrane that holds the cell together and also regulates intracellular communication. In the naked mole rat, this matrix contains a polysaccharide called high-molecular mass hyaluronan, or HMM-HA. For reasons not completely understood, one of the perks of HMM-HA is that it prevents cancer cells from spreading. Its role as the intracellular gatekeeper puts it in a unique position to do this.
Could this be adapted to humans? Probably not, but further study may yield useful preventive measures.
Contributed by Brian Dunning.
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|FROM THE SKEPTOID BLOG
The Case of the Spinning Statue – In a Manchester museum, an ancient Egyptian statue spins slowly in its case. Is this some ancient curse or mystical power? Are the Egyptian gods at work in the plain view of museum visitors with their evil powers? Or could it possibly be physics at work. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself. by Mike Weaver
Macroevolution Vs Microevolution Arguments – Young Earth Creationists will often grant that what they call “microevolution” does indeed occur, as it can be observed directly; while denying what they call “macroevolution” since only its evidence can be observed. Is Macroevolution or Microevolution even a scientific designation? You decide…. by Stephen Propatier
H.H. Holmes Is an Angry Ghost – Was American serial killer H.H. Holmes the real Jack the Ripper? Does he haunt his descendants to this day? It’s one of those pop-culture stories that gets repeated while its only real source is a single lone researcher who works in solitary. But could it possibly be true? No, absolutely not. Here’s why. by Jennie Burd
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|100, 200, AND 300 EPISODES AGO
100 episodes ago – The Abominable Snowman – Of all the world’s famous monsters and wild men, the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas is among the most elusive. Some say that it must be a relic of Gigantopithecus, the giant oraguntan relative that used to live in the lowland bamboo forests. Some say it must be a relative of Bigfoot. Some say it does not exist at all. But famous mountaineers and other reputable sources claim to have witnessed the beast first hand.
200 episodes ago – Bride of Listener Feedback – Skeptoid answered another round of feedback from listeners, including some who were upset by my assertion that the Pacific Garbage Patch is more myth than reality. Most of the feedback in this episode was really off the wall, something of a rogues gallery of nonsensical hate mail.
300 episodes ago – Ann Coulter, Scientist – We cracked open a bestselling book from a prominent author and read all sorts of pseudoscience. Gee, haven’t heard that one before, have we? Sometimes it seems that the more popular a cultural phenomenon, the further away from true science it’s likely to be. This target is a purveyor of claimed science that disputes the scientific consensus on the origin of species. And, in scientific circles, this author is a pretty easy target: Ann Coulter.
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