October 29, 2012

Moving Asteroids With A Paintball Gun – The Daily Orbit

What’s adding a little color to asteroid protection?

What recent observation is fanning the flames of Earth’s possible fate?

And moving the Moai – literally!

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit, I’m Emerald Robinson. If an asteroid comes at Earth, grab the paintball gun! Yep you heard me right. Forget the nukes or fancy atomic bombs like in the movie Armageddon, a new study says that launching a few paintballs from a spacecraft at a relatively close distance to an asteroid could throw the space rock off course. A pale asteroid would reflect sunlight causing photons to bounce off its surface over time, creating enough force to push the asteroid in a different direction. But it’ll take more than one pellet of paint! The study found it would take 5 tons of paint to deter a space rock like Apophis, which may come close to Earth in 2029 and 2036.

Well, if an asteroid doesn’t hit Earth, looks like our planet is still in danger of being devoured by the sun! Don’t worry it won’t be any time in the near future. A teams of astronomers recently observed a star engulfing one of its own orbiting planets, and scientists say Earth, and the rest of the inner planets, could suffer the same fate…in about 5 billion years. But, the theory is not unanimous. Some researchers believe that Earth’s orbit might spiral outward keeping the planet a safe distance from the approaching inferno of the sun. However, the sun could expand so quickly after using up all of it’s hydrogen from its core that Earth has no chance at escape. The silver lining either way, we obviously won’t be around to have to worry about it!

Japanese researchers say they have developed a way to tell you your dreams. They monitored three male volunteers as they slept using an EEG machine to record their brain waves. They looked at how the change in brain activity could be related to the actual content of the dreams. The researchers say their data shows that dreaming involves some of the same higher level visual brain areas that are involved in visual imagery. Researchers reported that while some of the dreams were out of the ordinary, most people dream about mundane experiences from everyday life.

So I may finally be convinced to get the flu shot this year. Every year I chickened out because I prefer to avoid shots altogether – but it looks like getting the shot is also good for your heart! Cardiologists are saying that the flu vaccine could help keep a person’s cardiovascular system healthy while avoiding heart attacks and stroke. The study examined over 3,000 patients, with an almost equal split between patients with and without established heart disease. Researchers found a reduction in the risk of suffering a major cardiac event by 50% over a placebo. It also reduced death from any cause, heart-related or otherwise, by approximately 40%. Cardiologists are excited about these added benefits from the flu shot but say more research is required. Alright sign me up for the shot.

And here is a long-debated mystery that a team of researchers feel they have solved: How did the Moai get to their post on Polynesia’s Easter Island. Weighing more than four tons, researchers say that these statues could have been ‘walked” to their destinations using ropes and workers giving a good ole “heave-ho.” But they didn’t just leave their theory on paper; they put it to the test! Using a replica of one of the statues of Easter Island, the teams used ropes to “walk” it down a path at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii. They claim that these massive statues could have easily been moved into place utilizing a small number of people, tugging on ropes, back and forth. I think “easily” might be a relative term here. Chanting “heave-ho” throughout their work, the team was able to shuffle the statue about 400 feet in under an hour.  Well, you have to applaud their commitment to their theory!

That’s does it for the Daily Orbit!  I gotta go get my flu shot…ugh!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+