An HIV Mystery, the Search for E.T., and a Bug Bite Itch Zapper

11:56 minutes

Three years ago, an infant known as the “Mississippi Baby” raised hopes of a cure for children born with HIV. After a period of intensive treatment, followed by two years with no medication, the baby seemed to have kicked her infection—until the virus re-emerged a year ago. But this week, researchers at the 2015 International AIDS Society Conference learned of a new case: that of a French teen whose HIV has been in remission for 12 years with no drugs. BuzzFeed News science editor Virginia Hughes joins Ira in the studio to talk about the medical community’s response, along with other stories from the week in science.

Plus, is anybody out there? That’s what Russian billionaire Yuri Milner wants to know. On July 20—the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing—he announced the launch of the Breakthrough Listen initiative. With Milner’s investment of $100 million dollars over 10 years, the project will use telescopes in West Virginia and Australia to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Though this initiative is focused on finding alien messages rather than transmitting messages, researchers still debate what communication to send, if any, should we make contact with extraterrestrials. Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research (which is not the group that received funding from Milner), explains what we have to gain and lose from sending out targeted messages to potential alien life.

Segment Guests

Virginia Hughes

Virginia Hughes is science editor at BuzzFeed News in New York, New York.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak is a senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. He also hosts the SETI Institute’s Big Picture Science radio show.

Meet the Producers and Host

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.

About Becky Fogel

Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.