September 20, 2013
There Is Still Hope For A Comet ISON Show – The Daily Orbit
Comet ISON fizzing out? Fooey!
What’s the ultimate weather forecast for our Sun?
Life on Mars: Impossible or just improbable?
And here’s to your health on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Well, if you were sad about the news of the “fizzing out of ISON,” here’s a ray of hope. Red Orbit’s got an exclusive scoop on the current state of Comet ISON. Astrophysicist Bruce Gary of the US Naval Research Laboratory says that reports that the comet is fizzling out are “nonsense” and media hype. According to Gary, ISON is right on track, gradually brightening and beginning to show an extended coma. But as we all know, comets are fickle things, sometimes leaving us looking at the night sky with no spectacle. ISON has yet to reach perihelion where it will come closest to the sun, which could be its demise. Gary says its survival chances are 50/50 but that he and others are leaning toward the scenario where ISON survives and gives us a show this December. I hope so. I’m tired of getting disappointed by comets; they’re like a bad boyfriend who doesn’t show up for the dance.
But in a couple of billion years no one will have to worry about that anyway. In one of the longest range weather forecasts ever made, a team of UK scientists says that the increasing intensity of the Sun will evaporate the oceans and end life in about 1.8 to 3.2 billion years. At that point Earth will enter the “hot zone.” Oh yeah. They made this prediction by looking at models of other planets and their stars outside of our Solar System. They say these findings are important because it gives us clues about other planets in their system’s so-called habitable zones and the potential for the evolution of complex life; basically whether they have a window of habitability long enough to evolve complex life. But humans won’t have to worry about getting scorched up by the sun. We’ll die out way before that. Humans can’t survive with even a small increase in temperature. I mean we’ll probably be living on Mars anyway right?
And chances are we don’t have to worry about intruding once we set up shop on the Red Planet. New evidence from Curiosity reveals that Mars actually lacks methane, contradicting earlier reports. Methane can be a key sign of life because it is a byproduct of microbial metabolism. But scientists say life on Mars isn’t completely out of the question. There are even some terrestrial microbes that don’t produce methane as a byproduct of metabolism. The rover is still going to keep searching for methane but in much lower concentrations, well under 1 part per billion; less than 1/6 of what earlier studies predicted. Way to keep with it, Curiosity. He ain’t no quitter!
Although you can Google anything you want to know about your health and even self-diagnose, which my doctor told me to NEVER do, the Internet giant is going even further. Google has launched an independent healthcare company aimed at developing new technologies to fight age-related illnesses and extend the human lifespan. The new venture, Calico, will be run by Arthur Levinson, the former chief exec of the biotech company, Genentech. While it’s still in its early stages, Levinson says that Calico is looking at the long-term to improve lives through healthcare and biotech, but he believes they can make good progress within a reasonable time scale with the right goals and right people.
While trying to increase the human lifespan, here is something Google and Calico might want to take a look at! A new study out of China says that vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke. Previous studies had conflicting findings on the subject, with some saying it may even increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. An analysis of the results of 14 randomized clinical trials showed an overall 7 percent reduction in stroke risk for those who took a low-dose vitamin B supplement. However, it didn’t appear to affect the severity or fatality rate in the event of stroke. They said different types of B vitamins have varying effects, and they recommend talking to your doctor before starting a B regimen. My doc shoots me up with vitamin B personally.
And that’s your Daily Orbit. Catch you next week Orbiters!
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