We ring in 2019 with news of lovelorn crickets, the far side of the moon, food allergies, and a new branch on a big tree. But the proverbial elephant in the room is the ongoing shutdown of the United States’ government.

On This Week’s Show The far side of the moon Food allergies? Remember those reports of sonic assaults by the Cuban government against US embassy staff? We have some surprise information about that. We close with some discussion about a new kingdom of life and what it really means Science News with Sophie McManus and JD Goodwin What Does China Want To Do On The Far Side Of The Moon? JD Goodwin On the 3rd of January China’s Chang’e 4 lunar explorer landed on the far side of the moon. This is the first time we’ve done a soft landing on that obscure part of the moon.

Okay, so let’s talk about why the far side of the moon is so interesting.

The moon is tidally locked to earth, that is, it doesn’t rotate in relation to our planet. We only see the one side of the moon, whether it’s illuminated or not.

The far side is also geologically very different. The crust is much thicker and older, and consequently it has been struck with more rocks and asteroids.

On our side of the moon we can see those dark areas, called mare. There are very few of those on the moon’s far side.

Chang’e touched down in a 180km crater that itself is within another huge basin, the South Pole-Aitken Basin. This basin was formed when an asteroid perhaps 500km across slammed into the moon billions of years ago. A big hole in a big hole.

Putting the lander at this location should give it access to some of the moon’s oldest rocks…kind of like being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And the lander is gonna examine and do science on these rocks.

They also have a lunar penetrating radar which can map out and study the subsurface down to a depth of 100m.

Being on the far side of the moon will also give the researchers a chance to look into the universe without being hindered by light from the earth. So to take advantage of this the lander has a low frequency radio telescope that will allow it to look at a frequency band that we can’t use on earth because of electromagnetic interference.

And the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry experiment. This experiment was created by researchers in Germany. It’s goal is to look at radiation on the moon in great detail so that humans will be able to shield themselves on future missions.

So, watch this space!

BBC Science and Environment

Many People Who Claim to Have a Food Allergy Actually Don’t Sophie McManus We probably all know people with a food allergy. Some of these allergies can be deadly, others more of an irritation or inconvenience. The most prevalent food allergens among U.S. adults are shellfish (affecting 7.2 million adults), milk (4.7 million), peanut (4.5 million), tree nut (3 million), fin fish (2.2 million), egg (2 million), wheat (2 million), soy (1.5 million), and sesame (.5 million).

There’s some surprising news out this week that in fact many people who believe they have an allergy…don’t.

A study was carried out in the US on 40,000 adults. 19% of these people stated they had an allergy to a type of food, whereas the researchers found that only 10% of them actually had an allergy. Bizarre!

Lead study author Dr Ruchi Gupta is a paediatrics professor at the Northwestern University Freiburg school of medicine. Dr Gupta stated that symptoms may reflect food intolerances rather than true allergies.

Genuine food allergies can of course be dangerous and should always be considered. But it seems as though a lot of us are simply intolerant, or deciding that we are, rather than really allergic.

Live Science

The Sounds That Haunted U.S. Diplomats in Cuba? Lovelorn Crickets, Scientists Say JD Goodwin There were a lot of things happening back in late 2016. Lost in all that noise was the story of American diplomats who suddenly became ill in Havana, Cuba.

They reported hearing various types of unpleasant sounds. This happened in housing maintained by the Cuban government as well as in hotel rooms.

The personnel actually showed symptoms consistent with brain injury, although no head trauma of any kind was shown.

U.S. officials immediately suspected that the Cuban government was behind this.

Well…new research suggests there many be another reason.

Crickets. Really loud ones.

Recordings were made of these so-called attacks, and were released by the Associated Press.

So some researchers took that recording and discovered that its parameters lined up perfectly with the Indies short-tailed cricket.

And according to the researchers their findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, do provide strong evidence that crickets were indeed making the sound on the recording.

Now that doesn’t rule out any nefarious activity by the Cuban…


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