February 18, 2013
Australia Is Home To Third Largest Asteroid Impact Crater – The Daily Orbit
What really had an impact on Earth?
What new app could leave you hands-free?
And the evolutionary history of back pain.
All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Talk about ‘roid rage! Asteroid that is. Researchers say that a 12 mile wide asteroid ravaged the Earth between 360 million to 298 million years ago. The impact zone located in the East Warburton Basin in the northeastern part of South Australia is the third largest impact terrain found on Earth to date and could have been responsible for the late Devonian mass extinction.
I’m sure that soon there will be iPad app for deflecting asteroids. There’s literally an app for everything it seems and so it’s not so surprising that scientists have developed a system allowing a car to be navigated by your iPad. Scientists from Oxford recently unveiled a Nissan Leaf with built-in lasers and cameras to allow the car to be driven via iPad. The car creates a 3D model of its surroundings to create a map which it can remember, allowing the car to drive itself along familiar routes. The car will be able to ask the driver via the iPad on the dashboard if they want to engage the autopilot. Fear that the car may not brake for bicyclists? Not to worry. The car scans for obstacles around 13 times per seconds looking for objects that sit up to 164 feet ahead. So let’s say it picks up a pedestrian, the car comes to a controlled stop and waits for the object to clear. When can you get one? Scientists say the technology could go mainstream within the next 15 years. I need it now, so I can do my makeup in the car—so convenient!
Ohhh poor Yu… No not you – Yu the loggerhead turtle that has no front fins! This 25 year old turtle was rescued after a shark attack left it severely disabled. Sea turtles have long, paddle-like flippers that allow them to swim at speeds up to 15 kilometers per hour. Scientists are trying to fit prosthetic fins to this 32 inch long, 227 pound loggerhead. She’s a big girl! So far scientists have tried several prosthetic devices on the turtle, but none have worked. So it’s back to lab to try to get Yu cruising again. You can do it Yu!
And Yu ain’t the only reptile getting a little help from scientists. A team of researchers recently compiled a new report on the current conservation status of reptiles. The report involved over 200 world renowned experts, assessing the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected species from across the globe. Of the estimated 19 percent of reptiles currently threatened with extinction, 12% are considered critically endangered, 41% are endangered and another 47% are vulnerable. Three critically endangered species are considered possibly extinct, as two recent searches have been unsuccessful. Scientists say the threat of extinction remains particularly high in tropical regions, mainly as a result of habitat conversion for agriculture and logging. Researchers said that “many species are highly specialized in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions they require for day to day functioning which makes them particularly sensitive to environmental changes.”
Back trouble? You could try walking on all fours. Researchers are saying that back problems increased as humans evolved to bipedal walking. The original design they say was for us to be on all fours. When we began to walk upright, our spines developed into S-shaped structures causing stress at certain points, which resulted in conditions like swayed backs, hunchback and scoliosis. Also, the one-foot-at-a-time gait twisting motion that causes a lot of wear and tear on our vertebrae often results in herniated discs. One scientist said “Unfortunately, we can’t go back to walking on four feet. We’ve undergone way too much evolutionary change for that—and it is not the answer to our problems.” I don’t think anyone was considering that it was.
That’s all for today’s Daily Orbit. We’ll see you right back here tomorrow!