April 15: AI scientist develops theories, bear hibernation and risks of immobility, Canadian astronaut on the moon

Quirks and quarks54:02AI Scientist Develops Theories Risks of Bear Hibernation and Immobilization Canadian Astronaut on the Moon Medieval Monks Moon Science New Look at Womb and Moonless Earth


In this week’s episode of Quirks & Quarks

A new AI can develop scientific theories like a human scientist

Quirks and quarks9:05A new AI can develop scientific theories like a human scientist

Artificial intelligence has proven very useful in sorting through large amounts of data to find patterns and correlations, but until now it took a human to develop theories to make sense of those patterns. University of Maryland Baltimore County Associate Professor Tyler Josephson was part of the research team that developed an AI system that can use mathematical and logical reasoning to build a theory based on real-world data, analogous to the way a human scientist does. This research was published in Nature Communications.

A new kind of AI can develop theories based on mathematical relationships it sees in real-world data. (Marina Sun/Shutterstock)

Canadian astronaut on a trip to the moon

Quirks and quarks08:00Canadian astronaut on a trip to the moon

Canadian astronaut and former Canadian Forces fighter jet Jeremy Hansen has been selected as one of four crew members to fly on NASA’s Artemis II mission, which is scheduled to orbit the moon in about a year and a half. CBC science reporter Nicole Mortillaro spoke with Hansen the day after his trip was announced.

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen is dressed in his blue flight suit in front of a green sign that reads:
Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. (CSA)

Understanding the secret of bears’ hibernation may help people avoid blood clots

Quirks and quarks8:23Understanding the secret of bears’ hibernation may help people avoid blood clots

When people are immobilized for long periods of time, we run the risk of developing potentially serious blood clots. However, hibernating bears face no such challenges. Ole Froebert, an invasive cardiologist at Örebro University in Sweden and Aarhus University in Denmark, who studies hibernating brown bears, believes he has unlocked the secret of how they avoid blood clots. When bears hibernate, they produce less of a specific protein that acts as the glue in blood clots, a factor that also kicks in after about 27 days in humans, when they lose their mobility. Theirs research was published in the journal Science.

Researchers crouched next to a brown bear outside in the snow while a woman with a stethoscope listened to its heart and a man took a blood sample.
Swedish researchers collected a blood sample from an anesthetized brown bear as part of their study investigating how hibernating bears manage to avoid blood clots. (Ole Fröbert)

Medieval monks observing the moon provided valuable data on climate

Quirks and quarks8:03Medieval monks observing the moon provided valuable data on climate

Medieval monks in Europe made observations that have provided scientists today with clues to the volcanic activity that affected the climate and may have influenced the start of the Little Ice Age. Monks noted the changes in color and brightness of the moon, especially during lunar eclipses. Atmospheric scientists, incl Matthew Toohey from the University of Saskatchewan understand that these changes are the result of aerosols produced during eruptions. His research was published in Nature.

A glimpse into the womb – a new book examines the neglected science of the womb

Quirks and quarks3:32 p.mA glimpse into the womb – a new book examines the neglected science of the womb

Journalist turned midwife Leah Hazzard he did not doubt the importance of the womb, for no man could be born without it. But the more she learned about the uterus, the more she was surprised by what scientists and health professionals don’t know about it — especially when it comes to its function outside of reproduction. She explores what we know and what we still need to learn about the uterus in her new book, The Womb: The Inside Story of Where We Began.

A collage of a photo of a woman next to a book cover.
Journalist-turned-midwife Leah Hazard writes about what we know – and what we have yet to learn – about the uterus in Womb: The Inside Story of Where We Started. (Marilena Vlachopoulou/ECCO/HarperCollins)

Oddities Question: How would Earth have been different if it had never collided with the object that created the Moon?

Quirks and quarks2:12How would Earth have been different if it had never collided with the object that created the Moon?

A listener asks: The moon formed when the Earth collided with a small planet. How would Earth be different if this collision never happened? For the answer, we hear from Elena Hyde, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Alan I. Carswell Observatory and York University in Toronto.

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