Science Roundup: Worms, Snorkels, Cell Battles Science Friday highlights science news from the week, including: sea worms that drop bioluminescent bombs, how deepwater rice avoids drowning and what happens when bacteria and fruit fly immune cells meet.

Science Roundup: Worms, Snorkels, Cell Battles

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Up next, Flora Lichtman here - is here with our Video Pick of the Week.

Hi, Flora.


FLATOW: What have we got this week?

LICHTMAN: This week, we have a science news roundup.

FLATOW: All right.

LICHTMAN: It's like a three in one this week.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: A trifecta.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Exactly. And so maybe we can run through them quickly.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: The first one, I think this is pretty spectacular. These researchers from Scripps in Monterey Bay and a few other oceanographic institutions sent down a deep sea submersible vehicle. And they came back with really bizarre-looking sea worms.

FLATOW: Sea worms.

LICHTMAN: And when I said this to Karen Osborn, who is the researcher. She was like, oh, they're not that bizarre. But they - I think for a non-sea worm expert…

FLATOW: Yeah. They don't look like - I looked at it, they didn't look like a worm.

LICHTMAN: They have, you know, kind of these...

FLATOW: Hairy bodies, yeah.

LICHTMAN:, fluffy bodies. And here is their amazing claim to fame, they have these appendages on, kind of on their neck area that they - that Osborn calls bombs that they can deploy as decoys when predators are attacking them.



FLATOW: So they drop the bombs...

LICHTMAN: So they drop the bombs...

FLATOW: ...and they - these are brightly lit things...

LICHTMAN: And then they - and it's even - it just gets better and better. They drop the bombs and then the bombs start to bioluminesce, to glow. It's just an amazing...

FLATOW: Wow. Oh, I have to go see it.

LICHTMAN: You haven't seen it yet.

FLATOW: You can see this working at on our Video Pick of the Week up there in the left side. Number two, Flora?

LICHTMAN: Okay. Number two: Rice. Apparently, some varieties of rice can outgrow floodwaters, growing at insanely fast rates. So you can watch rice, sort of, outgrow...

FLATOW: Grow by the minute, some of it, right?

LICHTMAN: Yeah. It's like 25 centimeters - you'll have to just look at the video.

FLATOW: Because I saw some of the rice, and it was higher than a building. They had a little corner of a building.

LICHTMAN: Exactly.

FLATOW: And you can watch - it's like a meter. You can watch it climb up to the side of the building.

LICHTMAN: Right. Absolutely. And so researchers this week discovered what genes are responsible.

FLATOW: Really good part of the video. Number three.

LICHTMAN: And the third one is what happens when bacteria and immune cells go head to head. So for the first time ever, researchers from the UK were able to capture this battle between the immune cells in a fruit fly embryo and bacteria that are attacking. It's very dramatic.

FLATOW: So you can watch them attack one another.

LICHTMAN: You can watch their battle.

FLATOW: Attack and defense.


FLATOW: Who needs Sunday football?


(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Who needs "SmackDown?"

LICHTMAN: You have a cellular smackdown on the SCIENCE FRIDAY Web site.

FLATOW: There you go. That's at - you can see Flora's videos this week at Click on the left side where all our videos are and we'll -you have something special coming up that you're going to be filming soon?

LICHTMAN: Yes. Actually, I guess a little promo. We are going to the New York Hall of Science and we're going mini-golfing with an astronaut.

FLATOW: All right. That's all you get. Fantastic. If you don't want to watch that in couple of weeks, you don't deserve it. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: Flora Lichtman, who is talking about our SCIENCE FRIDAY Video Pick of the Week.

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