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Hank serves up a buffet of news items that includes an approximate date for the end of everything, scientific proof that when it comes to sex bigger IS better, and a look behind how the London Olympics are going green. Bon appetit!

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References for this episode can be found in the Google document here: http://dft.ba/-3c22
Welcome back to the Sci Show news nerve center that is my office on today's menu we have news about human extinction, plus scientific proof that when it comes to sex, bigger really is better and finally, a look behind how the London Olympics are going green. Bon appetit.

First some new insights into the extinction of people, and the extinction of everything.  On Monday an international team of archaeologists announced that we modern humans were in fact the main force that drove neanderthals into extinction.  

You might have already assumed that, seeing as you're a modern human, and you're alive, and the neanderthals aren't alive.  But for a long time archaeologists thought that neanderthal extinction was actually caused by an eruption of a super volcano 40 thousand years ago. Specifically Italy's Campi Flegrei volcano, which I talked about a few months back.

The new study explored layers of microscopic volcanic glass that the eruption scattered all over Europe and north Africa. And it found that the eruption occurred thousands of years after neanderthal populations had already started to shrink, and modern humans began replacing them.  

In Greece, Libya, and four caves in central Europe they found evidence of modern human activity increasing before the eruptions.  While signs of neanderthal life dwindled. So scientists say, with the neanderthals already weakened by competitions with modern humans, the Campi Flegrei explosion, and the ten thousand year volcanic winter that it caused, was probably the last proverbial nail in the coffin. So yeah, if you're sad about there not being any other sentient species on the planet, you can go ahead and blame yourself for that.

Now, to cheer you up, here's a little bit of news about the extinction of everything. Like you, me, Mila Kunis, the superman reboot, and all the other stuff in the universe.

Earlier this week a team of Chinese physicists pinned pointed the time at which the universe will end in a bizarre and painful sounding cataclysm called the Big Rip. As you probably know, the universe has been constantly expanding since the big bang.  And its rate of expansion has actually been accelerating, driven by a force we call dark energy.

The big rip theorizes that eventually the rate of expansion is gong to become so extreme that gravitation and the other fundamental forces of physics will be powerless to hold things together. Galaxy clusters will break up.  Galaxies and star systems will fall apart.  In time, planets and everything on them, right down to molecules and atoms will be shredded into oblivion.

Sucks! I know. But using what they call the most well behaved perimeters for dark energy available, the Chinese team says that this big breakup will happen in exactly 16.7 billion years.  So you still have plenty of time to finish that term paper, find your mom a birthday gift,  and watch all the comic book movies you want.

The new research is published in the journal, "Science China."  To learn more about the Big Rip check out our citations below.

Now, I'm happy to be the first to let you know this, science has proven that two important assumptions we have about sex are indeed true.  First, sex often comes at a cost.  And second, size matters.

In the journal "Cell Biology" this week, German biologist reveals that wild Natterer's bats can actually hear flies having sex, and attack them right in the middle of the act. The scientist spent four years studying bat behavior in fly infested barns.  Which, horrible idea, but, discovered that bats can detect faint clicking sounds  that a male fly's wings make when he's doing the humpty hump. So even though bats can't typically use their echolocation to find stationery flies on walls or ceilings, they were able to find and attack flies as they were mating twenty-six percent of the time, and of those attacks, sixty percent were successful.  So the researchers conclude that bats have learned to track flies sex sounds to get two meals instead of one with every strike. All I've gotta say is, what a way to go.

Now, hot of the presses in the journal of science comes research from my home town right here in Missoula, Montana, where entomologist  Douglas Emlen reports that when it comes to sex appeal, bigger really is better. For a long time we've understood that big flashy fixtures in male animals, like horns, antlers, and feathers, have been used to draw the attention of females. But what those fixtures actually had to do with an animal's fitness has not been clear.

Emlen and his colleagues studies rhinoceros beetles and tinkered with their genes to see which one's most affected the growth of their signature weird looking horns.  What they found is that the gene responsible for the creation of insulin, and other substances, called growth factors, directly influenced horn size.  Insulin and growth factors are responsible for tissue growth and overall size of many animals.  So, the scientists suggest that big showy appendages really do reflect the quality of the fitness of an animal.

And another bit of news I just wanted to point out that I managed to talk about this whole thing without once making a play on the word horny.

Finally, the 2012 summer Olympics began today and I am as limbered up and ready as I'm gonna get.  I may not care a whole lot about sport, as Mitt Romney calls it, but I care a ton about saving the earth. And this year's Olympics are taking some new measures that organizers say could make them the greenest games ever.

Officials estimate that the games are going to bring 11 million people to London over the next seven weeks, and at its peak, the amount of extra traffic will amount to 3 million more car trips than London sees on a typical day.  

So researchers at the university of Lester have developed a new technology to measure the impact that all of those people will have on London's air pollution.  They call their new technology city scan, and it uses two big spectrometers on rooftops to scan the skyline to create real time, three dimensional maps of the atmosphere over the city.  So instead of making a few measurements at specific locations, city scan will be able to map pollution levels all over London all at once.  City scan will be specifically tracking nitrogen dioxide, which comes from car exhaust and is known to cause respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma.

Beyond that, organizers of the games are taking steps to make sure that the Olympics themselves don't add to the problem.  For instance, these are the first games to track their total carbon foot print. From the initial construction of all the facilities, all the way to the closing ceremonies.  And, to keep carbon and air pollution down, cars have been banned from the Olympic grounds in London's East End.  Only public transportation will be allowed.  This may sound like a small step, but we know it works.  Organizers of the 2008 Beijing games banned fifty percent of private vehicle use during the games and the national center for atmospheric research said this week that it cut the city's CO2 emissions by as much as 97 thousand metric tons.  

In addition to trimming pollution, organizers have set a goal of adding zero waste to local landfills, through a combination of composting, recycling, and reduced packaging use.  They've gone as far as to color code all the packaging of everything sold at the games with the receptacles that they should be tossed in.  Right down to sandwich wrappers. 

So, all of this is awesome.  And good for them.  Maybe this will actually encourage me to watch some of the games, which is not something that I traditionally do.  

Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow news.  If you have any suggestions or questions for us, please leave those in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.  And we'll see you next time.