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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 7:51 EDT

Space Station To Play Host To The Cold Atom Lab – On Science

February 3, 2014

The temperature is dropping on the ISS.

Does taking care of a pet make you a more sociable person?

What new croc is on the block?

And why you don’t have to feel too bad after Sunday Funday. Coming up…On Science!

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

It’s getting chilly on the ISS. Researchers at NASA are developing a new device to be used on the International Space Station called the Cold Atom Lab where matter can be studied at near absolute zero temperatures. At absolute zero, all of the thermal activity of atoms theoretically halts. Researchers predict that matter will react differently and its states will be altered. This branch of physics is known as quantum mechanics and they say it may possibly be able to help them discover new forms of matter and novel quantum phenomena. Bringing the temperature down to just one ten-billionth of a degree above absolute zero might allow researchers to make observations relative to the theory that matter can be in two places at once and that objects may behave as both particles and waves. I guess we will have to wait and see when it launches in 2016.

Here’s a warm thought. A new study from Tufts University found that young adults who take care of a pet have stronger social relationships and bonds to their communities. In a survey of 500 volunteers between 18 and 26, those who looked after animals reported participating in more “contribution” activities like volunteering in their community or helping friends and family. There was a direct correlation between pets and contribution—the more they looked after a pet, the higher the contribution score. Also, those with a pet connection exhibited more empathy, self-assurance and feeling in touch with other people. So I guess man’s best friend makes you a better friend.

There’s a new animal on the block. Well, they used to be on the block but we’re just now finding out about them. Researchers from Mesalands Community College and the Museum of Texas Tech University’s Division of Paleontology have discovered fossils of a new species of an ancient crocodile-like reptile. This 17 foot long croc died out more than 200 million years ago. The researchers discovered two skulls of the reptile in Texas. One was better preserved than the other and had a long, skinny snout, noticeably different from previously discovered fossils of phytosaurs. They also believe that one skull was female and the other male based on a crest present on one and not the other. They said that finding this new species of phytosaur suggests others are out there waiting to be discovered.

The U.S. Army has successfully demonstrated new fully autonomous convoys. The convoys are comprised of various types of driverless vehicles of various models. During the demonstrations, they showed how these unmanned vehicles can operate in urban environments by navigating a series of hazards and obstacles like intersections and oncoming traffic. The new unmanned convoys are part of an effort to keep soldiers safer. The vehicles are standard-issue vehicles that have been outfitted with kit of gear locked and loaded with a range of algorithms to make them autonomous. Lockheed Martin, the company that is working with the Army on these vehicles, said this gear could be used on virtually any military vehicle.

If you enjoyed the food more than the actual game this Sunday, well, we’re right there with you. But here’s the good news—the weight you actually gain depends on weekdays. A study from Cornell University found that weight fluctuations depend on the days of the week. Participants exhibited higher weight after the weekends and decreased weight during weekdays with the lowest point being on Friday. Those who lost weight overall were people who had better compensation patterns, losing more weight during the weekdays. So everybody may gain weight on the weekends, but it’s about how much you lose on the weekdays that ends up being what matters when considering overall weightless goals. So I shouldn’t feel so bad about the 10,000 calories I ate yesterday. I can make up for it this week, right?

And that’s what’s up On Science! See you tomorrow!