March 7, 2013
Comets May Have Seeded Life On Earth – The Daily Orbit
Is there an answer to the age old question “Where did we come from?”
Is sex better than meds? We’ll give you that answer.
And pressing the delete button on obesity!
All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
“Where did we come from?” “How did we get here?” Those are the questions we humans have been asking since the dawn of time. Now a group of chemists out of UC Berkeley and the University of Hawaii, Manoa are asking: “Did the building blocks of life come to Earth from outer space?” New research says it’s possible. They say conditions in space are capable of creating essential building blocks called dipeptides, or linked pairs of amino acids, shared by all living things. Therefore it’s possible these molecules were brought to Earth by a comet or meteorites, serving as the catalyst for the formation of proteins, enzymes and even sugars. So life on Earth could have extraterrestrial origins. Now my question is, where did the basic molecules come from?
Oh sorry I was just thinking about somebody. You don’t know who I’m thinking about. Wait, how did you know that? Researchers at Cornell University are reading people’s minds. Using MRI technology, they detected that the mental models we form of people produce unique patterns of brain activation. MRI scans showed different patterns of brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex when participants were thinking of different people. This suggests that the brain codes the personality traits of others in distinct brain regions. Maybe I don’t want people to know who I’m thinking about. Right now I’m thinking about John Lennon, “imagine all the people…”
And imagine this—a robot fish that can sense the flow of water and adjust? There’s Roboboy, all DARPA’s animal bots, and now a fish-bot. This new robot uses a fish’s lateral line sensing capabilities – meaning that it can detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water to help with orientation. The research team called FILOSE wanted to develop efficient robots based on Mother Nature that can orient themselves, navigate, and control their movements in water. And they did it! Their robo-fish can save energy by finding regions in the flow with a weaker current, interact with the flow to move forward, detect flow direction and swim upstream…or just stand still, well not stand but you know. They say robotic fish could be used to move independently through the water and measure water quality and conditions to aid in lake and river clean-up. Or it could make for another movie idea as I always like to think of—this would be “robo-fish gone rogue.” Can you imagine it?
Forget the migraine meds and go for a little lovin’. Okay, you men out there are going to love this next one. Researchers say no more excuses—sex alleviates headaches! And here’s the kicker. They found that sex is more effective at fighting the pain than the typical over-the-counter painkiller. A significant majority of study participants reported that their migraines felt better after making whoopee, um who really calls it whoopee? And one in five said their migraines completely vanished. Researchers say it’s most likely the release of endorphins that provides the relief. So ladies, you’re gonna have to come up with a new excuse. Sorry.
And out of all of the obesity news that we bring you, this one might actually be positive and is definitely my favorite so far. Researchers have found that by deleting the Plin2 gene in mice, they can eliminate obesity. Plin2 produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism. These plin-less mice showed more restraint in food consumption, were more physically active and their fat cells were 20% smaller than the average mouse. They also showed a reduction in inflammation and a lack of fatty liver disease. And why do we care if these mice can be fat-free? Because we humans also have this Plin2 gene and researchers say these findings have the potential to be replicated in humans. That’s awesome. There are a lot of things I wish I could simply delete.
Well that’s it for today’s Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow Orbiters!