Humpback Hit Factory
Play episode · 21 min

There's a humpback whale song sensation that's sweeping the South Pacific. We'll learn about the burgeoning study of "whale culture"-and why these super smart cetaceans may have a lot more in common with us than we'd ever imagined. For more information on this episode visit

Want more?

Meet National Geographic Photographer Brian Skerry, and see examples of his work beneath the waves.

Read Ellen Garland's original paper on whale song transmission, and listen to the humpback audio recordings that helped her piece this phenomenon together.

Here's the backstory behind those whale songs you heard at the top of the show, from Roger Payne's Songs of the Humpback Whale.

Also explore:

Sperm whales in the Caribbean form clans that have their own unique dialects-and thus culture.

Video: Off the coast of Argentina, seasoned killer whales hunt sea lion pups.

Whale song recordings off Hawaii have revealed a strange series of deep beats almost inaudible to humans.

An unusual number of humpback whales are dying along the U.S. East Coast, and scientists are racing to figure out why.

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StarDate Podcast
StarDate Podcast
McDonald Observatory
Orionid Meteors
Halley’s Comet won’t return to the inner solar system for another four decades. But it makes its presence known tonight with a meteor shower. The shower isn’t named for the comet, though. Instead, it’s named for the region of sky in which its meteors appear to “rain” into the atmosphere — the constellation Orion. A meteor shower takes place when Earth flies through the orbital path of a comet, which is a big ball of frozen water and gases mixed with bits of rock and dirt. As the comet gets close to the Sun, some of the ices vaporize, releasing some of the solid particles. Over time, these bits of dust spread out along the comet’s path. Halley has made many trips around the Sun, so it’s shed a lot of debris. The comet dust has spread out all along its orbit. Earth flies through this path every October. As the particles hit the atmosphere they vaporize, forming the incandescent streaks known as meteors. The Orionids are pretty reliable, although not usually spectacular. At their peak, they produce a couple of dozen meteors per hour. This year’s shower will be at its best tonight, although a few Orionids punctuate the sky for several nights after the peak. The Moon is a crescent in the early evening sky tonight, so it sets well before the shower starts to speckle the night — providing dark skies for the “calling cards” of Halley’s Comet. Tomorrow: the Moon and some bright companions in the evening sky. Script by Damond Benningfield Support McDonald Observatory
2 min
Heme Review
Heme Review
The Body After Eating Several Pounds Licorice Candy
Based on N Engl J Med 2020; 383:1263-1275. Video version of this podcast: Chubbyemu video of this case: Laxative Brownie video from 2017: Tweet me:  IG me:  FB me: Licorice candy has glycyrrhizin which increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. This causes hypokalemia. Hypo- low. Kal- kalium (potassium). emia- presence in blood. Potassium signals muscle relaxation. Low potassium, low relaxation. Heart can't relax, then it stops.  Real licorice candy is not easy to get in the United States. It's not at big chain grocery stores. Most of what you can buy from the big brands is licorice flavored, and won't do this. References: A 54-Year-Old Man with Sudden Cardiac Arrest. N Engl J Med 2020; 383:1263-1275. The Pharmacological Activities of Glycyrrhizinic Acid (“Glycyrrhizin”) and Glycyrrhetinic Acid. Sweeteners. 2018 : 245–261. Sustained Leukocyte Count during Rising Cortisol Level. Acta Haematologica 118(2):73-6. Licorice-Induced Hypermineralocorticoidism. N Engl J Med 1991; 325:1223-1227. Young WF, et. al. Apparent mineralocorticoid excess syndromes (including chronic licorice ingestion). In: UpToDate, Post, TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2019. Quinkler M, Stewart PM. Hypertension and the cortisol-cortisone shuttle. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003; 88:2384. Funder JW. Apparent mineralocorticoid excess. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2017; 165:151. Funder JW. 11 beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase: new answers, new questions. Eur J Endocrinol 1996; 134:267. --- Support this podcast:
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