Regular readers of this blog will know how much I detest research on animals, so I decided to focus all my effort on this week’s Dear Science show to discussing scientific studies that used actual human test subjects!
The first features a quirky but cool study from Jessica Green’s lab in Oregon. The paper released as an open access article in Peer J
this week describes how humans create a cloud of bacteria in the air surrounding them (made me think of the Peanuts character Pig Pen). This is not in itself surprising bearing in mind our bodies release about 10 million bacterial cells every hour, but what was interesting was the discovery that when these bacteria were sequenced it became clear the genetic signature of this cloud was unique to individuals – opening up all sorts of possibilities for forensic and surveillance uses in future.
I also highlighted two other interesting research articles in the show. One addressed how sperm get ‘directions’
from the fallopian tube on their way to meet an egg, which sounds ironic bearing in mind how grown men are not that keen on asking for directions (as proven by the MythBusters TV show!). The other piece of research provides biochemical evidence that caffeine resets the human circadian clock
– but that bright lights may be almost as useful if you are in need of a late night pick-me-up!