February 21, 2013
Kepler Scientists Say They Have Found The Smallest Planet Ever – The Daily Orbit
What little guy is making big science news?
Twitter tells a tale of happiness.
Phone photographers are going pro.
And mapping meteorites on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
A mini planet of sorts has been discovered in a new planetary system. Dubbed Kepler-37b, it is only slightly larger than our moon, smaller than Mercury, and about a third the size of Earth. The planet resides in the Kepler-37 system which has a star similar to our sun but cooler and smaller. Even though it’s cool to know such a small planet exists, don’t expect to be hearing reports of life from 37b. The tiny planet has no atmosphere and is therefore unable to support life. Scientists say that such tiny worlds can only be discovered around the brightest stars observed by even Kepler suggesting that there are probably a lot of other small planets out there that we can’t see. That’s really cool, or I guess technically 37b is really hot!
And Twitter me this—what’s the happiest state in the US? Scientists at the University of Vermont studied 10 million tweets to find the saddest and happiest states. Hawaii boasts the happiest people– No surprise there! Who wouldn’t be happy in paradise? How about the saddest—Louisiana. I guess Mardi Gras doesn’t cure the blues. Critics of the study say Twitter is a questionable method but researchers pointed out their findings correlate with Gallup surveys of happiness, income, and obesity statistics.
Say cheese! Instagram has everyone feeling like a professional photographer and the quality is only going to get better! A new processor chip developed by scientists at MIT will give every amateur the edge, creating professional looking images by creating more realistic or enhanced lighting using your smartphone, tablet, or digital camera. The chip performs High Dynamic Range, or HDR, imaging which means it takes three separate “low dynamic range” images with the camera—including normal exposure, overexposure and underexposure then merges the three together. But does it automatically Photoshop your picture to make you look perfect?
Okay, who saw that one coming? Well, scientists say they can…well, kinda. A new study found that chromosome tips, known as telomeres, can be used in predicting susceptibility to infections like the common cold. The team measured the length of telomeres of a 152 participants and then subjected them to the cold virus and quarantined them for 5 days. No fun! Researchers discovered people with shorter telomeres were more likely to become infected with the cold, a good indicator of who needs vaccines and extra protection. Wonder if those participants knew what they were getting into? “We’re going to expose you to a virus and quarantine you.” No thanks.
All this meteor madness got your mind wondering if one ever hit in your neck of the woods? Well, a new map will let you know. Inspired by the recent meteoric activity, one man created a meteor heat map that shows every meteoric event that has occurred on land since around 2,300 BCE. So far, that’s 34,513 locations. I’ll put a link on the Daily Orbit Facebook today so you can check out the full interactive map! Zoom in a find your location and see if you’ve been hit! Makes me think of “goodness gracious great balls of fire!”
That’s all for today’s Daily Orbit. We’ll see you right back here tomorrow!