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Hubble Reveals New Information About Cloudy Exoplanet – On Science

January 2, 2014

Peeling back the clouds on an alien world.

Earth’s is already hot and getting hotter.

Pulling the plug on old school light bulbs.

And drinking’s damaging DNA. Coming up today…On Science!

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

Hubble has uncovered more of a mysterious alien world. Scientists had been studying super-Earth exoplanet GJ1214b and knew a little bit about it. But after 96 hours of study with the Hubble Telescope, they know a lot more. GJ1214b is located 40 light-years from Earth towards the constellation Ophiuchus. It orbits its parent star every 38 hours, which makes its atmosphere easier to study. That study revealed evidence of clouds blanketing the planet. These clouds, however, hid the composition and behavior of the planet below. Even though Hubble wasn’t originally designed with such studies in mind, the team pushed the telescope to its limits. And what did they have to say for themselves? “It’s exciting!”

Earth, on the other hand, won’t be so hidden behind clouds in the future like that planet. A study by the University of New South Wales says that Earth’s temperatures will rise 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. And results of this would be no bueno for agriculture, especially in already warmer climates. The Australian team of researchers says they have a new key for predicting cloud behavior and, according to their predictions, carbon dioxide levels will double. They’re describing it as “climate change madness.” The team says the problem with climate change forecasting has been the inability to predict cloud behavior, but thanks to their new method, they can now account for clouds in their models. They say they are “hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.” Well, thanks for the bad news!

And it’s lights out for incandescent light bulbs. The old school bulb is a thing of the past. Starting today, the incandescent light bulb can no longer legally be produced in the United States. Why? Because it’s not energy efficient enough. So it’s LED and CFL all the way now. These bulbs are expected to lower the environmental impact of artificial lighting, and here’s the big plus, save money. And if you’re traditional, don’t worry. The good ‘ole incandescent bulb will still be on shelves until supplies run out.

What caused the mysterious deaths of 27 bald eagles? Officials are now saying it appears to be due to the West Nile Virus. Lab tests revealed evidence of the mosquito-borne virus. The eagles exhibited symptoms like head tremors, seizures, wing paralysis, and weakness in the legs and feet. All the infected birds were from northern and central Utah. It was a mosquito bite, however, that spread the disease. The eagles contracted the virus by eating Eared Grebes, a duck-like bird, that were infected and had recently died. The virus can be spread to the birds of prey if they eat infected animals. The Utah Department of Health said humans in the area should not worry, since it is winter and mosquitoes, which normally spread the virus, are not around. That’s a relief for Utah.

Okay all you young healthy adults who like to go out and party hard on the weekends, it’s not good for your health. Well you probably could have guessed that because here’s the science of it. A new study from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico found that a group of students who drank alcohol over the weekend had twice the oxidative damage compared to a control group that did not consume alcohol. The team also found damage in 8% of the cells in the control group and 44% in the exposed groups, which if you can’t do the math because you’re still hungover, that’s a 5.3 times greater damage of cells from drinking. The study idea came from a professor at the school who noticed a lot of her students coming in hungover on Monday mornings so she challenged them to research the effects. Wonder if it did them any good?

And that’s what’s happening today on Science. See ya tomorrow!



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