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NASA Looks To Launch Astronauts From American Soil – On Science

November 21, 2013

Experience meets innovation in the future of space exploration.

Ride receives the Medal of Freedom.

A surprise in the origins of Native Americans.

And we’re going nuts! Today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m your host Emerald Robinson.

NASA is combining their hard knock experience with commercial innovation to realize the dream of astronauts once again launching into space from American soil. The US space agency is asking commercial partners to develop crew transportation systems. Commercial companies have already proven that they can get supplies to the International Space Station but NASA’s asking them to up their game. But they warn such systems need to be safe and efficient and also cost-effective for American taxpayers. Systems will include rockets, spacecraft, and ground transportation. Commercial companies have already made a lot of progress designing and developing the next generation of US crew transportation systems for low-Earth orbit but NASA says the next phase of development will ensure a strong emphasis on crew safety. They said the request for proposals begins the journey for a new era in US human spaceflight. And the goal is to launch by the end of 2017.

And although one astronaut has already made it to that final frontier, she still inspires us today. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week in a special 50th anniversary ceremony in honor of President John F. Kennedy. Ride first took flight on the Challenger shuttle on June 18, 1983, at the age of 31. She completed two missions aboard the shuttle and then went on to a career in academia, teaching at the University of California San Diego. However, Ride continued to be a big part of space exploration as an advisor and investigator until her death in 2012 at age 61. As a teacher, Ride shared her pioneer spirit with her students telling them there were no limits to what they can do—no matter race or gender. Thank you Ms. Ride, you’re an inspiration to us all. NASA’s Charles Bolden had this to say—“thanks to Sally’s work throughout her lifetime, young women and girls can now aspire to fly into space.” Sally Ride was a true American hero.

And speaking of Americans, a new study is shedding some light on the origins of Native Americans. Researchers from the Natural History Museum of Denmark and Texas A&M say that DNA from a gene pool discovered in the skeletal remains of a 24,000-year-old young Siberian boy could be responsible for about one-third of all modern Native Americans. DNA sequencing from the skeleton showed that 14-38% of the modern Native Americans had this Siberian connection. How did this make the researchers feel? They said, “well, it surprised us quite a bit.”

What’s not surprising is the cardiovascular decline of children. I rarely see kids running around and playing like we used to. They’re always glued to their technology. A new study from the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences revealed that the cardiovascular fitness levels of kids is about 15% less than when their parents were at their age. The study looked at running fitness of kids between 1964 and 2010. The change was consistent over gender, race, region, and age of the kids. The only variations occurred across countries. The decline happened consistently about 5% every 10 years. Researchers warned that if a child is unfit now, then they are more likely to be an unhealthy adult. Don’t get me wrong kids, I love technology, but just put it down every once in a while and run around!

Here’s new research to go nuts over! A recent study from Harvard revealed the strongest evidence yet that eating nuts can reduce a person’s risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, as well as a number of other diseases. Researchers found that study volunteers who regularly consumed a one-ounce daily serving of walnuts, almonds, cashews or tree nuts had a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause during the 10 year duration of the study. Well, that’s got me feeling nutty.

And that’s what’s up today On Science. Go ahead, go nuts!



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