Xenotransplantation, Internet of Things, Sea Life Essays, Water Taste-Testing. Dec 2, 2022, Part 2

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Consider Empathy For The Yeti Crab (And Other Sea Creatures, Too)

It’s easy to empathize with certain animals: soft fur, big eyes, and family units make it simple to relate to creatures like panda bears, cats, and dogs. Even some undersea critters like dolphins and whales have large fan bases among land-dwelling humans.

But the ocean is filled with many more creatures than just mammals, and many of them fall in the category of “weird.” Defector staff writer Sabrina Imbler thinks a lot about these critters that evade our categorization of “cute.” Things like deep sea worms, jelly-like invertebrates called salps, and the ghostly, hairy yeti crab are Imbler’s bread and butter.

Imbler’s new book, How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures, is filled with essays comparing aspects of their life to bizarre creatures of the deep sea. From exploring their queer identity through the underwater dance parties of the yeti crab, to grappling with living as a mixed-race person through hybridized fish, each essay is poetic and intimate. SciFri producer Kathleen Davis chats with Imbler from their home in Brooklyn, New York, about the importance of finding empathy with the strangest creatures on our planet.

Read an excerpt from How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures here.

Advances In Pig-To-Human Organ Transplantation Hold Promise

Earlier this year a pig heart was successfully transplanted into a human for the very first time. Unfortunately, the patient lived for just under 2 months. But it still marks a big milestone in the field of xenotransplantation, or transplanting organs from one species to another.

Scientists are optimistic that advances in pig-to-human organ transplantation could save the lives of some of the over 100,000 people in the waiting for organ donations in the United States.

Ira talks with Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, professor of surgery and director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, about what he’s learned in the 10 months since the historic heart transplant, and about the barriers to widespread acceptance of interspecies organ transplantation.

Later, Ira talks with Dr. Megan Sykes, professor and director of the Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University about how scientists decided that pigs were suitable organ donors in the first place, and the latest advancements in pig-to-human organ transplantation research.

Teaching Your Smart Devices To Get Along

If you’ve ever tried to connect a new Internet of Things device in your home, such as a smart plug or light, you know it can be a complicated process. Not every device works with every other device, and even the most tech-savvy customer may find themself turning to Reddit for help troubleshooting.

These are problems a new Internet of Things standard called Matter aims to solve. Created by a coalition of home device companies, Matter allows devices that run it to speak to each other, set up seamlessly, and communicate securely. The standard officially launched in early November with dozens of new Matter-enabled devices.

Ira talks to Jennifer Pattison Tuohy of The Verge about the problems Matter aims to solve, and some of the practical hitches along the road to a more seamless smart home.

Putting Tap Water To The Test

Every time you turn on the tap, you become the last stop in a complicated journey.

Water from snow and streams collects in lakes and reservoirs, and cities pump it through complex filtration systems to make it pure enough to drink. The particular balance of invisible minerals in each pour from your kitchen tap makes for subtle differences in every glass. One might call it the terroir of tap water.

In a bustling hotel ballroom, surrounded by exhibition booths showing off the latest pipes, pumps and filters, a panel of judges gathered to spot those differences.

I was one of them.

The American Water Works Association assembled a panel of water wonks for its Rocky Mountain regional meeting in the ski resort town of Keystone. Here, we put tap water to the test, blind tasting samples from six cities across Colorado to crown a winner.

To read the rest of the article, visit sciencefriday.com.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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