March 25, 2013
Blazing Fireball Seen Along The East Coast This Weekend – The Daily Orbit
What lit up the sky this weekend?
What may soon be putting a stop to cracking your smartphone.
Cracking the theory on the massive dino die-out.
Plus a whole lot of meteoritin’ on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Fire in the sky! Well many Orbiters on the East Coast got to see quite the spectacle in the Friday night sky. A meteorite bright enough to be classified as a fireball soared above the East Coast Friday night around 8:30 pm in a blaze of red, green, and blue. NASA said it was as bright as a full moon. Sightings were reported from as far north as Ontario and Quebec down to Washington D.C. Ugh! I was in DC Friday night! I can’t believe I missed it!
And it’s all the about the fireball but this next one wasn’t quite so harmless. A group of American scientists are suggesting that it was a speeding comet, not a slow-moving asteroid that actually wiped out the dinosaurs. Studying the Chicxulub Crater in Mexico, researchers determined the impact object left much less iridium and osmium than previously thought, suggesting the object that hit was smaller than an asteroid and faster moving – like a comet. The crash sent off such massive shockwaves as to trigger giant tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions sending a super-cloud of dust into the atmosphere. Those poor dinos didn’t know what hit ‘em.
But on the flip side, it was another natural disaster that allowed the dinos to thrive. About 135 million years before that comet wiped out the dinosaurs, scientists say gigantic volcanic eruptions triggered climate changes that took out about half of the Earth’s species, allowing dinosaurs to evolve and dominate the planet. A new study using rock dating looked at uranium isotopes in basalt, a type of rock left by eruptions. Researchers were able to narrow down the time margin of the eruptions to a few thousand years, the most precise dating yet for a prehistoric event. Samples were taken from all over the world, from the New York suburbs to Morroco to North Africa, suggesting these volcanic eruptions had a global impact and opened the door for the dinos to evolve and dominate! Well, that is until that comet took them down.
Picture this…hanging out on the beach, chilling with some robots? While they might not be looking to send robots on a vacation, researchers at Georgia Tech are looking at ways to help them better walk in sand. Applying what they have coined “terradynamics,” this team has found that convex legs in the shape of the letter “C” help robots move more easily and quickly on granular surfaces. They made such legs using what else but a 3D printer. These legs help the robot generate large lift and small body drag allowing it to run fast. They say robots with these legs could one day be used in beach rescue missions. So it would like a David Hasselhoff robot then? Baywatch bot!
[ breaks phone ] Ugh not again! Don’t you hate when you drop your phone, crack the screen, and have to truck it over to the Apple store? Well according to MIT, manufacturers might soon use a more resilient material for smartphone screens—sapphire. Ooohhh, I like the idea of precious stones on my smartphone. The crystalline form of this aluminum oxide is harder than any other natural material other than diamonds – another one of my favs. It is 3 times more scratch resistant and 3 times stronger than Gorilla Glass, which is great news, except it’s 10 times the price. However, MIT says that new, less expensive manufacturing techniques could soon bring down the cost making it feasible and that they are convinced testing will start in 2013.
Well that does it for the Daily Orbit! [ looking at phone ] I hope sapphires can save my screen. Well, one thing is for sure, they won’t be using emeralds—they’re known to crack.