Hibernation & Updates | SciByte 101

Hibernation & Updates | SciByte 101

We take a look at hibernation, suspended-animation, Apollo 11 Engines, Earth in pixels, updates, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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— Show Notes: —

2013 Summer SciByte


  • Lemur Hibernation
  • Fat-tailed dwarf lemurs are the only primates that can hibernate
  • Lemurs are unique in that they can go the entire hibernation period-up to eight months-without fully sleeping
  • During hibernation, a lemur’s breathing can slow to one inhalation every 20 minutes, and its heart rate drops from a normal 200 beats per minute to just 4 beats per minute
  • Lemurs can hibernate, surviving three-quarters of a year without deep sleep,
  • When lemurs hibernate, scientists speculate that they experience only REM sleep. Though no one can prove whether lemurs actually dream
  • Lemurs in captivity often don’t hibernate
  • In the wild some of [the lemurs hibernated] 40 feet off the ground in the middle of the forest in coastal Madagascar
  • So the team that visited the primates in their natural habitat-Madagascar had a hard time getting data
  • By placing the lemurs in special nesting boxes and attaching EEGs to their tiny foreheads while they hibernated, they were able to record their vital signs
  • Researchers found that when it was warm outside, close to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), the primates would only hibernate in REM sleep.
  • Sleep Deprivation Study
  • A 1989 study by sleep scientist demonstrated the lethal consequences of sleep deprivation
  • When the researcher kept ten rats awake, depriving them of non-REM sleep, they developed skin lesions, lost weight, and experienced an erosion of their gastrointestinal tracts.
  • After 32 days, all of the rats were dead
  • Rats Induces Into Hibernation / Suspended Animation
  • Rats spent hours in a state of chilly suspended animation after researchers injected a compound into the animals in a cold room
  • The animals’ heart rates slowed, brain activity became sluggish and body temperature plummeted.
  • Lowering Body Temperature
  • Lowering the body temperature of a non hibernating mammal is really hard
  • As temperatures inside the body fall, several failsafe systems spring into action
  • Blood vessels near the skin squeeze tight to hold warmth in, the body starts to shiver and brown fat, a tissue that’s especially plentiful in newborns, starts to produce heat
  • The scientists in the study bypassed the rats’ defenses against the cold with a compound that’s similar to adenosine, a molecule in the body that signals sleepiness
  • Suspended Animation Experiment
  • After about an hour in a room chilled to 15* Celsius, the rats grew lethargic
  • Their brain waves slowed, their blood pressure dropped and their heart grew sluggish, occasionally skipping beats
  • The rats’ core temperature dropped from about 38* to about 30* C, or 80* Fahrenheit
  • The researchers measured even lower temperatures in further experiments – rats’ core body temperature reached 15* C or about 57* F.
  • The rats weren’t in a coma, nor were they asleep or truly hibernating
  • Hibernating animals’ metabolisms plummet and their temperatures sink much lower
  • The Arctic ground squirrel, for instance, cools to about -3* C when it hibernates
  • This is a new state that the scientists don’t really know what it is
  • In the experiment, loud noises and tail pinches failed to arouse the rats.
  • They didn’t eat or drink. Occasionally, one would slither into a corner, but for the most part, the animals stayed still for up to 6 hours
  • In unpublished experiments, Tupone has kept the animals in the unresponsive state for 24 hours, he says.
  • Warming the room coaxed the rats out of their torpor, the recovery process takes about 12 hours, during which the animals ate and drank voraciously
  • After recovering, the animals were alert, moved around their cages normally and slept when tired
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Could People Hibernate? Lemurs Give Clues – News Watch | newswatch.nationalgeographic.com
  • Rats induced into hibernation-like state | Life | Science News | sciencenews.org


Apollo 11 Engines Found! || Summer SciByte August 01, 2013


Earth in Pixels || Summer SciByte August 01, 2013

  • As Seen On
  • Summer SciByte | August 01, 2013 | SciByte
  • The Image
  • On July 19 the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn took a picture of every living thing on Earth.
  • At 898.4 million miles away scientists turned the spacecraft to take a picture of Saturn eclipsing the Sun, in the background was the Earth and Moon.
  • It reminded me of the famous \’pale blue dot\’ image. Bringing the entirety of human history, and all life that we know of into a few pixels reminds me that we are only one tiny corner of a grand universe.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • What the Earth and Moon Look Like From Saturn | UniverseToday.com


— Updates —

ARKYD Telescope



Looking back

  • September 17, 1822 : 191 years ago : Rosetta Stone decyphered : At the French Academie Royale des Inscriptions, Jean-François Champollion read a paper, Lettre a M. Dacier, describing his solution to the mystery of the triple inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone which had been unearthed July of 1799, by Napoleon\’s army near the Rosetta branch of the Nile. (Baron Joseph Dacier, to whom he addressed the letter, was Secretary of the Academie.) Champollion\’s work to decipher the hieroglyphics had began in 1808. Thomas Young did some preliminary fragmentary work, but otherwise it was Champollion\’s major accomplishment. In 1823 he gave more details in a series of memoirs read at the Institute, published the following year
  • Rosetta Stone – Wikipedia

Looking up this week

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