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Space Weather Is More Volatile On Venus – On Science

April 15, 2014

What’s causing crazy weather on Venus?

Who’s not allowed to journey on MarsOne?

Which state scores highest in overall wellbeing?

And what’s triggering your sleepiness? Coming up today…On Science!

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

What would Earth look like without its magnetosphere? Essentially Venus. The second planet from the sun gets far more volatile space weather than our Earth, thanks to its lack of a magnetosphere. Venus doesn’t have a magnetic field to protect itself from the Sun’s coronal mass ejections. Scientists say that space weather explosions around Venus are so large they’re bigger than the entire planet and could even swallow it whole. Say it ain’t so! Can you imagine a Solar System without Venus? Fortunately, Venus has a little bit of protection in its ionosphere, but a really big CME will blow right past that. ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft is helping scientists learn even more about this volatile Venus-Sun relationship. So folks, be thankful for our magnetosphere.

Thou shalt not participate in MarsOne—if you are Muslim that is. Otherwise, I guess you don’t have to worry! The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment located in the United Arab Emirates issued a fatwa—an edict based on Quranic scripture—against the MarsOne project saying that a one-way trip to another planet with no potential return to Earth posed a risk to life that can “never be justified in Islam.” Basically they’re saying it’s a suicide mission and that you will be punished in the Hereafter as such. But MarsOne is saying hold up Islam to try to hang on to their 500 potential Muslim candidates who have applied for the program. MarsOne said to the GAIAE, the project will give Muslims “the chance to become the Neil Armstrong of Mars.” And that they have to think of Mars as a potentially habitable planet waiting for participants. So basically think positive. And that “it’s certainly worth the risk involved. Even punishment in the Hereafter, MarsOne?

Maybe Muslims should reconsider their dreams of moving to Mars and move to North Dakota. A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey found that North Dakota ranked highest in residents’ overall well-being out of all 50 states. What makes it special? Well, according to the survey, two factors shot it to the top—Work Environment and Physical Health. Researchers accessed citizen well-being in those two and four other areas—Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, Healthy Behaviors and Basic Access. South Dakota came in a strong second . I didn’t really realize the Dakotas were exactly accessible. Others at the top of the list included Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado and, of course, Hawaii. Which state ranked the worst overall? West Virginia. Hmm… sounds about right.

And speaking of well-being, a lot of Americans are working themselves to death—even going in when their sick. A new NSF international survey found that one in four Americans clock in when they would rather take some NyQuil and clock out instead. The biggest reason, at 42%, was due to workload. Participants said they couldn’t afford to miss deadlines, while 37% said they just simply couldn’t afford to miss work. Twenty-five percent said their employer expects them show up no matter what. While you might keep the hand sanitizer handy in the presence of a sick co-worker, the survey showed we don’t typically judge, with only 16% saying they thought their sick colleagues were selfish for not staying home. But we will probably tell them to go home as 57% of participants said they would tell a sick co-worker to leave work if they were too sick to stay. Well, sickness can’t keep me from bringing you your daily dose of science and technology news.

When my sleepy-time neurons start firing, however, that’s a different story. That’s a little bit harder. Researchers at Oxford University say that we have nerve cells in the brain that alert us to the fact that it’s time to sleep. These neurons fire when we’re tired and cool down when we’re rested. So good news for my fellow insomnia sufferers. They say that this info might help them develop new drugs to help target these regions of the brain for a better night’s sleep. The study was carried out on fruit flies, but researchers say it could apply to humans. Researchers found that mutant fruit flies with these regions of the brain turned off had trouble sleeping even after being awake all night long. And this lack of sleep affected the flies learning and memory. I know that consequence well! Researchers said these sleep neurons are kind of like a thermostat that determines how long you’ve been awake and then sends out electrical signals to put you to sleep.

And that’s what’s cool in science and technology today.



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