Insulin Marketplace, Hair, Whale Size. December 13, 2019, Part 2 from Science Friday

From Science Friday - Why Diabetes Patients Are Getting Insulin From Facebook Almost one in ten Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the most recent statistics from the CDC. With those odds, you likely know someone with the disease. And you may also know that most diabetes patients need to be treated with insulin therapy—frequent injections of a hormone that helps regulate their blood sugar—or face serious complications, like blindness, nerve damage, or kidney failure.  Unfortunately, a good number of these patients can't afford to purchase insulin through official channels, like pharmacies and hospitals, even with the help of health insurance. In such cases, diabetes patients are turning to what one recent study called "underground exchanges"—platforms like Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook—to get access to the drug they need.  Ira is joined by one of the authors of that study, Michelle Litchman, a nurse practitioner and researcher at the University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City, to talk about what patients are doing to combat the high cost of insulin in the U.S. Combing Over What Makes Hair So Strong Hair is one of the strongest materials—when stretched, hair is stronger than steel. A team of researchers collected and tested hair from eight different mammals including humans, javelinas, and capybaras to measure what gives hair its strength. The basic structure of hair is similar across species with an outer cuticle layer surrounding fibers, but each species' hair structure accommodates different needs. Javelinas have stiffer fibers to allow them to raise their hair when it's in danger. Their results, published in the journal Matter, found that thinner hair was stronger than thicker strands. Engineer Robert Ritchie, who was one of the authors of that study, talks about the structure that gives hair its strength and how bio-inspired design can create better materials. How Whales Got Whale-Sized We live in a time of giants. Whales are both the largest living animals, and, in the case of 110-foot-long blue whales, the largest animals that have ever been alive on the planet.  But whales haven't always been gigantic. Until about 3 million years ago, the fossil record shows that the average whale length was only about 20 feet long. They were big, but not big. The rise—and growth—of the lineages that gave rise to humpbacks, fin whales, and other behemoths happened, in evolutionary time, overnight. So, why are whales big—and why are whales so big now? Now, researchers who parsed data from feeding events of a dozen different whale species think they have the mathematical confirmation. Writing in Science this week, they say baleen whales, who become more energy-efficient as they grow, benefit from bigness because it lets them migrate to food sources that appear and disappear at different points around the globe.  Study co-author Jeremy Goldbogen, a marine biologist for Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, explains the delicate balance of energy and size for giant mammals, and why bigness is such a compelling biological question.
Insulin Marketplace, Hair, Whale Size. December 13, 2019, Part 2
2019-12-13 13:36:45
Why Diabetes Patients Are Getting Insulin From Facebook Almost one in ten Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the most recent statistics from the CDC. With those odds, you likely know someone with the disease. And you may also know that most diabetes patients need to be treated with insulin therapy—frequent injections of a hormone that helps regulate their blood sugar—or face serious complications, like blindness, nerve damage, or kidney failure.  Unfortunately, a good number of these patients can't afford to purchase insulin through official channels, like pharmacies and hospitals, even with the help of health insurance. In such cases, diabetes patients are turning to what one recent study called "underground exchanges"—platforms like Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook—to get access to the drug they need.  Ira is joined by one of the authors of that study, Michelle Litchman, a nurse practitioner and researcher at the University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City, to talk about what patients are doing to combat the high cost of insulin in the U.S. Combing Over What Makes Hair So Strong Hair is one of the strongest materials—when stretched, hair is stronger than steel. A team of researchers collected and tested hair from eight different mammals including humans, javelinas, and capybaras to measure what gives hair its strength. The basic structure of hair is similar across species with an outer cuticle layer surrounding fibers, but each species' hair structure accommodates different needs. Javelinas have stiffer fibers to allow them to raise their hair when it's in danger. Their results, published in the journal Matter, found that thinner hair was stronger than thicker strands. Engineer Robert Ritchie, who was one of the authors of that study, talks about the structure that gives hair its strength and how bio-inspired design can create better materials. How Whales Got Whale-Sized We live in a time of giants. Whales are both the largest living animals, and, in the case of 110-foot-long blue whales, the largest animals that have ever been alive on the planet.  But whales haven't always been gigantic. Until about 3 million years ago, the fossil record shows that the average whale length was only about 20 feet long. They were big, but not big. The rise—and growth—of the lineages that gave rise to humpbacks, fin whales, and other behemoths happened, in evolutionary time, overnight. So, why are whales big—and why are whales so big now? Now, researchers who parsed data from feeding events of a dozen different whale species think they have the mathematical confirmation. Writing in Science this week, they say baleen whales, who become more energy-efficient as they grow, benefit from bigness because it lets them migrate to food sources that appear and disappear at different points around the globe.  Study co-author Jeremy Goldbogen, a marine biologist for Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, explains the delicate balance of energy and size for giant mammals, and why bigness is such a compelling biological question.

46 minutes, 58 seconds

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