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Curiosity Finds More Evidence Of Past Water On Mars – The Daily Orbit

May 31, 2013

More on Mars’ watery past.

Who’s the most likely to text and drive? Not who you think!

When did turtles get their shell?

And a little THC for the brain on today’s Daily Orbit!

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.

I feel like we should have an on-going segment entitled—“Was there ever water on Mars?” Well, here’s more evidence on the “yes” side. The Curiosity rover captured images of pebbles in an area on Mars named “Hottah.” These pebbles were worn flat, smooth and round as seen with rocks shaped by flowing water. Rocks weathered by wind become angular. Scientists say that in order to have “moved and formed these pebbles, there must have been flowing water with a depth of between 10 cm and 1 meter and a flow rate of about 1 meter per second.” I have to say I’m on team “yes” in the Mar’s water debate.

And with the summer heat and humidity comes the dreaded mosquito bites. But researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute say they’ve genetically modified some mosquitoes to lose their sense of smell. Hallelujah! They targeted the “orco” gene, which is linked to smell using a genetic engineering tool called zinc-finger nucleases. Once the mutated individuals matured, they studied the role of this gene and found that these mosquitoes had diminished activity in neurons linked to odor-sensing and a reduced preference for the smell of a human. Even when swarming around an arm slathered in the repellant Deet, they couldn’t smell it until they landed, at which time they quickly flew away. Researchers said this research provide insights on existing repellants and provide ideas about future repellants. I wish they could genetically modify all mosquitoes—they obviously love my perfume.

And from mosquitoes’ sense of smell to turtles and their shells. Just when did turtles get their hard covering? Researchers are now saying it was 40 million years earlier than they previously thought! The turtle is the only animal that forms a shell on the outside of its body by fusing ribs and vertebrae. Studying the recently discovered fossil of a 260 million year old African species, scientists were able to pinpoint this as the beginning of the evolution of the turtle shell. They say that like all complex structures, the shell evolved over millions of years to reach its current shape, which includes 50 bones in the turtle’s body. So modern turtles meet your great, great, great—well million times—Great-Grandpa.

So the Mayhem Man commercials makes it look like it’s a 16 year old in a pink SVU that you have to worry about texting and driving, but new research says that’s not so. In fact, researchers found that it’s college-educated, middle-aged men that are most likely to text and drive. A survey showed that men in general were 10% more likely than women to be on their phones while driving and those who earned more than $100,000 a year were top offenders. Also interesting, looks like a little religion keeps you off the phone as non-religious drivers were more likely to whip out their phones their religious peers. Hmm. Ironically it’s always the older man in the Mercedes or Lexus that rolls down his window to yell at me to get off my cell phone! Go figure.

And while it might seem that a little THC kills brain cells, turns out it can protect the brain before and after an injury. Researchers found that a small dose of THC seven days before or three days after an injury protects the brain cells from cognitive damage. THC signals brain cells to begin growing and even prevents cell death. In small doses, THC conditions the brain to prepare for injury and builds up its resistance. But that’s a small dose… as in 1,000 to 10,000 times smaller than the average joint. So they’re not saying to smoke a doobie a day. Also, how can you plan for an injury?

Well that’s all for the Daily Orbit. See you next week kiddos!




emerald robinson

Emerald Robinson is the host of the Daily Orbit, Red Orbit's daily video news program. Known for her Southern charm and a quick wit, Emerald made her television debut on the daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Since then she has appeared in many feature films and TV programs, including a tour as host of Auto Trader New Car Review for WheelsTV.

Read more about Emerald here ...