August 27, 2013
Raspberry Pi And A Stuffed Bear Flying High – The Daily Orbit
Was Baumgartner bested by a bear?
The coffee conflict continues on.
Sea otters to the rescue!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
What comes after Baumgartner? How about a Baumgartner Bear? Okay, so it’s not really called that but a robotic teddy bear has recreated Felix Baumgartner’s October 2012 record setting leap from near-space. The bear’s name is actually Babbage, and contains a Raspberry Pi low-cost computer, which transmitted tracking data and shot video through the bear’s ascent up in a hydrogen-filled balloon, and back down to Earth. Babbage actually topped Baumgartner reaching 39 km compared to Baumgartner’s 38,969. So I guess Babbage actually holds the record. Uh-oh Baumgartner I smell a challenge!
So I know you’re probably getting confused on exactly what four cups of coffee a day means for you. Is it good or is it bad? Don’t you wish researchers would make up their mind? Well, today four cups of coffee falls onto the “good list.” A new study showed those four cups resulted in a 59% decrease in the risk of prostate cancer recurrence or progression in study participants compared to no more than one cup of coffee per week. They aren’t quite sure, however, which components in coffee are anti-carcinogenic and say larger, more random studies are needed to determine that. So in the last month that’s two points for coffee and one for no coffee. We’ll be keeping score.
Not only is this little guy cute as a button, but he’s also helpful! Scientists say previously declining seagrass beds in the Central California area, which are an important fish habitat, are recovering thanks to the return of sea otters to the coastal region. It’s all about the food chain. Here’s how it works: Pollution from nitrogen-rich fertilizers had led to the near extinction of seagrass in the area, as it promotes the growth of algae on seagrass leaves and they don’t get enough sunlight. But the sea otters consume enormous amounts of crabs, which typically feed on slugs and other grazing invertebrates. With fewer crabs, these grazers proliferate and feed on the algae that grows on the seagrass leaves which keeps them clean and healthy and catching some rays. Since the sea otters return to the region in 1984, researchers have seen a remarkable leap in the recovery process. Good job little sea otters!
But scientists aren’t giving tortoises at one conservation center a pat on the back. And it’s not even their fault! Officials at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center outside of Las Vegas say that they’re going to have to euthanize hundreds of tortoises because of – get this – lack of funding. It’s all about the dollar bills y’all. Scientists examined the center’s 1,400 desert tortoises to find the ones hearty enough to be released into the wild. Officials say they will need to euthanize about half of the inhabitants before the center closes in 2014. The lack in funds is due to the housing recession. Money from penalizing developers who had destroyed tortoise habitats funded the center but with the housing market drying up, so have funds for tortoises. Experts believe there are fewer than 100,000 desert tortoises in the wild, where there once were millions. Poor little tortoises!!!
And poor little butterflies! Things aren’t looking so bright for them either! Conservationists say that the monarch butterfly population is drastically decreasing in numbers. What’s to blame? Illegal logging, changing climate (of course), and the disappearance of milkweed plants—which caterpillars feed on and are the only plant upon which monarchs will lay their eggs. Experts say people tend to remove milkweed from their gardens in favor of “more appealing” plants. Concerns were raised after scientists found Monarch butterfly numbers in Mexican forests, where they hibernate in the winter, were the lowest in 20 years. However, there is no immediate concern that this butterfly will be extinct. Whew that’s a relief. But it’s something that should be addressed, as the health of the monarch population directly affects birds, flowers, and other insects. Let’s grow some milkweed and keep the butterflies around!
And that’s it for the Daily Orbit!