October 25, 2012

ESP May Actually Be Real – The Daily Orbit

Can you predict the future?  Scientists say maybe so!

Do grandmas give us longer lives?

And what’s DARPA up to now?

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson. I predict that there will be a loud crash right about now. Wow can you believe that? Scientists say that if you ever had a feeling about something that may happen, then you may actually be predicting the future. If you’ve ever been sitting at work playing a game, and you get that sense that your boss is coming, and a few second later they do—you’ve had what scientists are calling “presentiment”–as in, sensing the future. Researchers don’t know much about this phenomenon yet,  but they’ve found actual changes in activity in the cardiopulmonary, skin, and nervous systems. I predict that the next story will be about long life.

Look I was right! Okay, okay maybe I cheated.  New research suggests that human longevity may be due to grandmothers helping with childcare at an early stage in human history. A study compared the life spans of humans and apes and determined that human life lasts longer thanks to grandmothers helping to feed their grandchildren. The “grandmother hypothesis” says that when grandmas help feed their grandbabies after weaning, daughters can have more kids at shorter intervals. And women who become grandmothers end up with a longer postmenopausal lifespan.  Researchers say that “Grandmothering” was the initial step toward making us who we are.” So if you are lucky enough to have your Grandma around, give her a kiss and say thanks!

Well, we’ve been bringing you a lot of news about DARPA’S endeavors: the cheetah-bot….the mule-bot…and so on. Now DARPA is inviting teams to join in on their innovative fun! The agency recently announced that the “Robotics Challenge” has begun! Over the next two years, teams will compete to develop and put to the test hardware and software designed to enable robots to assist humans in various emergency response scenarios. Teams will be on one of two tracks: Track A will create robots themselves while Track B teams will be provided with the Boston Dynamics-designed Atlas robot. DARPA will fund seven ‘Track A” teams and 11 “Track B” teams. Contestants include universities such as Drexel and Carnegie Melon and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Johnson Space Center. The prize?  $2 million to be awarded to the winning team sometime around December 2014. For a detailed list of the selected teams, check out the Daily Orbit Facebook page.

And it’s time for another update in the ongoing sea ice saga. This rendition we are calling “opposing ice.” A new study from NASA says that the melt off around the Arctic is actually accompanied by a record expansion of sea ice around Antarctica. But the growth in Antarctica is not nearly as large as the decrease in the Arctic. They say this “bi-polar” story could be due to changes in atmospheric circulation driven by the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. Ozone absorbs solar energy, so a lower concentration of this molecule can lead to a cooling of the stratosphere over Antarctica. Stayed tuned for our next episode of “As the Ice Melts…..”

Awww that’s sooo cute! (Yawn) Oh excuse me…. Well, we have all known yawns are contagious. And if you are a dog owner you also know that man’s best friend “catches the yawns” too. However, a new study says that while a grown dog can catch the yawns from humans, young puppies don’t have the ability to do so. Those under the age of seven months are immune to the yawn contagion. Since yawning is an empathetic trait, this finding indicates that a dog’s sense of empathy develops as it matures.

Well that’s a cute and cuddly way to end today’s show. We’ll see you tomorrow right back here on the Daily Orbit! (yawning) I just can’t stop yawning now…geez…excuse me!

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