science podcast #7

Three Malaria Stories, plus Pigs and Hippos

malariamosquito

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This week we focus on malaria, which sickens hundreds of millions of people a year, mostly in developing countries in Africa and Asia. The disease is caused by a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes. The World Health Organization says a key anti-malaria drug may be losing its power. We travel to Cambodia, where the malaria parasite seems to be developing resistance to the drug.

We also have a malaria story from the United States, which eradicated the disease in the 1940s. We take a historical look at how the U.S. accomplished that feat. The story originally ran as part of a fantastic series in 2005.

We check in on the Mosquito Barcode Initiative. It is trying to catalogue the DNA of every mosquito species in the world. Researcher Yvonne-Marie Linton is leading the project. It’s a rough job—often, researchers catch the mosquitoes by using themselves as bait.

In astronomy news, last October scientists spotted an asteroid hurtling through space on a collision course with earth. It wasn’t big enough to cause mass extinction, but it offered a rare opportunity for scientists. Peter Jenniskens, an astronomer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, tells us about his effort to recover pieces of the meteoroid from Sudan.

For years there’s been a debate over which animal is the closest living relative to whales. The top two contestants have been hippos and pigs. New research out this week from the University of Calgary and Georgia Southern University gives the edge to hippos. This rebuts a study of prehistoric bones done two years ago by another group of researchers. The latest work focused on DNA.

Music:
Ros Serey Sothea, I’m Sixteen

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