June 26, 2013
New Potentially Habitable Planets Discovered – The Daily Orbit
It’s a bear of a miscount.
The eyes don’t lie.
Look out for the NEO.
And nerds rule on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Ever heard good things come in threes? Well ‘tis true and even better when it refers to one of my favorite topics—exoplanets. Astronomers discovered a record-breaking six planets orbiting host star Gliese 667C and 3 of the 6 are candidates for habitable planets. Here’s a refresher on habitability—the planet must exist within the zone around the star where liquid water could exist. Sitting in the constellation Scorpius, Gliese 667 is a full system meaning it doesn’t have room for any other planets. And this I loved—astronomers said if you were to stand on one of these 3 super-Earths you would see two other suns besides the host star visible during the day and as bright as the full moon at night. Imagine that! Wow!
How many grizzlies are there in Yellowstone Park? It’s like guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar and everybody has a different number. The grizzly bears of Yellowstone were put on the endangered list back in 1973, taken off in 2007, put back on two years later, and could possibly be taken back off next year. The US Fish and Wildlife Service reported that numbers surged from 200 in the 70s to over 700 today. But a new study is challenging that saying numbers are actually on the decline and that observers for the FWS saw the same grizzles time and time again instead of new bears. If removed from the lists, grizzlies would be fair game for hunters. Yikes!
The eyes will give you away every time. And researchers are counting on that. Using electroretinography, scientists at Drexel University found that food stimuli, in this case a piece of a chocolate brownie, caused a spike in dopamine released in the retina of the eye. Scientists have observed this phenomenon when studying the drug Ritalin, but this is the first time they’ve studied the effect food has on dopamine in the eye. Researchers say this method could be useful for food addiction and obesity prevention research.
Who says it’s not cool to be nerdy? Didn’t they get the memo that Kanye West had made it chic to be geek? But a new study says that stereotypical images of “computer nerds” portrayed in TV and film have deterred women from the field of computer science. Researchers found that the common view of computer scientists as solitary and socially unskilled does not fit with how most women see themselves, which is people-oriented and friendly. They say that this prevalent image of the field is keeping women from entering STEM education—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Girls, it’s cool to be in STEM! They also found that the stereotypes didn’t have an effect on a man’s decision to study computer science. The researchers said that understanding what keeps women from entering the field will help with achieving better gender parity. I’m a nerd and I’m proud… It’s hip to be square.
Roger! I’ve spotted a NEO headed this way. Ha! What’s a NEO? It’s a “Near Earth Object.” And astronomers using the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope in Hawaii have spotted asteroid 2013 MZ5 which is the 10,0000th NEO to be detected. To be a NEO a comet or asteroid must come within an orbital distance of about 28 million miles. MZ5 is about 1,000 feet across, but thankfully will never be close enough to Earth to cause harm. Astronomers say they average three NEO discoveries a day and there are probably about 100,000 left to be discovered. And want to be on the NEO case? Well NASA has announced the “Great Challenge” asking citizen scientists, along with the pros, to focus on detecting and characterizing asteroids and how to deal with the threats. Let’s take these NEO’s down.
And that’s your Daily Orbit. [ sees asteroid ] Spotted! One down, 99,999 to go!