July 12, 2013

Iowa Town Sitting Atop A Meteor Crater – The Daily Orbit

A big find in Iowa.

It’s all about the core.

Finding the colors of another world.

And programming the perfect man on the Daily Orbit.

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.

Digging for a well and find shale? Geologists say that the presence of shale beneath the town of Decorah, Iowa, resulted from a meteor impact 470 million years ago. While digging for a water well beneath the town, a nearly perfectly round shale deposit of 3.4 miles across was discovered. This hidden impact is five times the size of the famous Barringer Crater in Arizona. Based on the size of the crater, scientists say the meteor that struck was about 820 feet in diameter and may be connected to other impact craters in the Midwest. Scientists say such impacts occur somewhere on Earth about every 30,000 to 60,000 years. Wait that’s pretty frequent. So when would we be due for another one?

Is that 30,000 to 60,000 years in today’s terms? Or from 300 million years ago? Because scientists say that the length of a “day” hasn’t always been the same. We all know a day equals one rotation of the Earth, but that length has changed over time. Three hundred million years ago the average day only lasted 21 hours, making a year—or one orbit around the sun—about 450 days long. But Earth’s rotation has slowed since then. Scientists now believe that changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, which is generated in the Earth’s core, affects length of day—along with other factors such as wind force against mountain ranges. The study also concluded that the Earth’s lower mantle is a poor conductor of electricity giving new insight into the chemistry and mineral makeup of Earth’s deep interior. My trainer always says it’s all about the core.

“I see your true colors shining through…” Astronomers have determined the color of an exoplanet only 63 lights years away from us and it’s deep azure blue. Ooh la la. They have determined that it looks much like our fair Earth. But that’s where the similarities stop. HD 189733b is a gas giant with thousand degree temperatures and violent winds. Its color doesn’t come from oceans and seas for there are none on this hot-Jupiter, but from muddled, chaotic atmospheres filled with silicate particles that disperse blue light. How do astronomers even know this considering they can’t really “see” the planet’s true color? They used the Hubble Space Telescope’s Imaging Spectrograph to watch the planet’s reflection as it orbited its host star.

That’s one planet you wouldn’t find an elephant on—well, obviously. Elephants have to have water to keep their cool. An article published in The Journal of Experimental Biology says that when temperatures get high, elephants rely on “evaporative cooling” to lower their body heat. In evaporative cooling, liquid on the skin is heated by the air until it becomes a gas and evaporates. The remaining liquid contains less energy—in other words, the molecules are moving more slowly—which means it is cooler. This can cool the skin and, therefore, the blood supply under the skin. When exposed to a cool shower, elephants exhibited even more evaporation in the study showing that they were using the additional water source to increase evaporative cooling. So when it’s hot, elephants will use all the water they can get to cool themselves down. Go take a cold shower, Dumbo.

And on to Atlas—but not the atlas that immediately comes to mind. Meet this Atlas—the most advanced humanoid robot ever built. This 6’2” hunk of metal boasts 28 hydraulic joints and has amazing balance. Built by Boston Dynamics, Atlas is part of DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge and a few lucky civilians will get the chance to program and pilot the bot using their own software. Seven teams will compete against each other for the $2 million dollar prize using their own custom software to program Atlas. Could I have an Atlas to program to be the perfect boyfriend?

And that’s it for the Daily Orbit…. Seriously, can I get one of these Atlas’, I wasn’t joking. This is SO not what I meant!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+