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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 9:56 EDT

NASA Employees Love Their Workplace – On Science

December 20, 2013

Where’s the best place to work in the US government?

What’s making your blood boil?

An old school fix for a new school problem?

And Curiosity’s year-end review. Coming up today On Science.

Hello and Welcome to On Science, I’m Emerald Robinson…

Where is the best place to work in the government? I think all of the space cadets know. NASA is the best place to work in the federal government for the second year running, according to the new Best Place to Work in Government report. The report was based on a survey of 400,000 federal employees that was taken in the midst of the budget crisis. Yet despite federal money woes, NASA employees never missed a beat. NASA said “In the tradition of the ‘can do’ spirit that has enabled us for more than 50 years to turn science fiction into science fact, they have consistently rolled up their sleeves and worked hard at achieving our major goals.”

And here’s a little science behind a science fiction story. Maybe the reason the Incredible Hulk was so aggressive was due to inflammation in his blood. According to a study with nearly 200 participants, people with intermittent explosive disorder (IED) possess elevated amounts of two markers of systemic inflammation in their blood. IED is a psychiatric illness characterized by impulsivity, hostility and recurrent aggressive outbursts. The two biomarkers associated were C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, both of which cause inflammation in blood levels and are associated with aggressive behaviors. But it’s like the chicken before the egg, they don’t know if the aggression or the inflammation comes first.

And here’s a relationship where the cause and effect is clear. NOAA has linked the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to lung damage and adrenal hormone abnormalities in bottle nose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay. And three years later it’s still affecting the dolphins’ health. One year after the spill, researchers gave 48% of the 29 bay dolphins a guarded prognosis or worse and 17% were in poor or grave condition. The majority were expected to die. And three years later, the spill is still affecting the dolphins. A rep from Oceana said, “while we have seen an unusual number of dolphin deaths during and after the spill, this report verifies that the oil took a larger toll on dolphins.”

Privacy invasion is a hot topic these days, and if it is of concern to you, there might be a common fix-it-all solution! Lately we’ve heard of LG TV’s spying on viewers and now it seems your webcam can be remotely activated. Researchers at John Hopkins University have shown how a new attack can force the Mac iSight camera to come on without turning on the camera’s LED light. Creepers! Here’s an old school fix…duct tape! Just put it over the lens of the iSight camera when not in use and voila! Creeper-free. Is there anything that duct tape can’t fix?

Maybe you’ve already started reflecting on your past year, well, the Mars Curiosity Rover has too. Here’s Curiosity’s 2013 year in review according to redOrbit. February 8 marked the rover’s first drill and the first drill into Martian bedrock ever. From that it collected samples and analyzed it through its Sample Analysis at Mars and Chemistry and Mineralogy instruments . Results showed that conditions could have once been favorable for life on the Red Planet! In July, Curiosity provided clues on how Mars possibly lost some of its atmosphere. On August 6 the rover celebrated its one year anniversary on Mars. September marked the discovery of water on Mars. By December Curiosity performed the first ever geochemical analysis on another planet. 2013 rocked for Curiosity! Here’s to more Red Planet discoveries in 2014!