February 14, 2013
Black Hole Growth Is Not Limited To Only Galaxy Collisions – The Daily Orbit
Black holes just keep getting bigger.
Making music makes you smarter.
The Arctic Sea Ice is still melting.
And a whole lot of love on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to a Happy Valentine’s Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Well it’s Valentine’s Day on the Daily Orbit and we’ve got lots of science love to share!
If on a day like today you feel like that black hole in your heart keeps expanding, well, you’re not alone—black holes in the universe are growing faster than astronomers previously thought. Originally, scientists had thought that black holes were unable to grow except when galaxies crash into one another—limiting their growth potential. But, new observations from the Hubble Telescope indicate that black holes can grow even in quiet spiral galaxies showing that collisions are only a small contributor to black hole growth. Black holes need a little galactic love too!
And did you have no love for the piano lessons your mother used to force you to go to as a child? Yeah, know that one. Well thank your Mom because new research suggests that involvement in a music program at an early age can help children develop strong brain connections. Learning to play an instrument early on develops motor skills by promoting coordination between hands and visual or auditory stimuli. Researchers say that this is especially true during the “sensitive period,” between 6 and 8 years old. They say the benefits extend past playing an instrument. It’s never too late to start.
And here’s a Valentine that I know you really wanted—more proof that the Arctic Ocean sea ice is shrinking. A program at the University of Washington created a 34-year monthly picture of what’s been up with the total volume of the Arctic sea ice using weather records, sea-surface temperature and satellite pictures of ice coverage to determine ice volume. They confirmed that the summer minimum in the sea ice is one-fifth what is was in 1980. And it’s really a vicious cycle. As the ice sheets shrink, there is less surface to reflect the sunlight back into the atmosphere. Therefore, more sunlight is absorbed by the ocean, increasing its temperature and continuing to melt the sea ice. Scientists say that although the debate continues about what factors have contributed to the current situation, greenhouse gases remain at the top of the list.
Do you blast yourself with Vitamin C when you feel the sniffles and sneezes coming on? While the power of C has long been used to fight colds, there’s been little scientific evidence to back it up. But a new study says that Vitamin C is particularly beneficial for people under heavy short-term physical stress. The team looked at marathon runners, children in a skiing camp, and Canadian soldiers and found that Vitamin C halved their risk for developing the common cold. But they say that taking vitamin C every day for the average person to shorten infrequent colds doesn’t seem reasonable. Just in case, can’t hurt!
And if your heart is hurting and you’re feeling blue this Valentine’s Day—meditate for the pain. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can decrease chronic pain and improve depression. But why? Researchers say that training in mindfulness techniques allows meditators to control what body sensations they pay attention to, and to tune out pain and discomfort. When you meditate mindfully you have to focus on your breathing, and then re-focus when your brain begins to wander enhancing brain control of the portion of the brain that receives sensations from the body. Well that makes sense!
That’s all for today’s Daily Orbit! Be mine Orbiter?