December 31, 2012

Mars Rover Has a Big Year Planned In 2013 – The Daily Orbit

How does a rover celebrate New Year’s on Mars?

Who were the year’s most offensive celebrities to science?

And we’ll tell ya why a little neuroticism does the body good!

We’re getting ready for the New Year on today’s Daily Orbit!

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit New Year’s Party. I’m your host Emerald Robinson.

While you may be considering your New Year’s resolutions like cutting back on the chocolate – which we’ve learned is actually good for you — the little Mars rover Curiosity has a resolution of its own, to find carbon molecules on the Red Planet. The little rover that could will ring in the New Year drilling into its first rock before moving on to the base of Mount Sharp where it will search for the “chemical building blocks of life: complex carbon-based molecules.” Although the process will take no more than a month to complete, the journey there for Curiosity will be a long 9 months. Geez that’s like giving birth! Well, happy New Year Curiosity and good luck on your journey!

And as E! has their reviews of the year’s dumbest or most outrageous celebrities, we science nerds get a list of our own too. The charity Sense about Science released its annual Top Celebrity Science Abusers in 2012 report, highlighting the silly scientific things celebrities say and do. Actress January Jones made the list with her dried placenta pills after giving birth saying that they gave her a boost – but the only boost she’s getting is in toxins and other unsavory substances. Olympian Michael Phelps scored honors with his defense of peeing in the pool because “chlorine kills.” Well, Michael, pee is sterile anyway. Mitt Romney might not have won the presidency but he wins a spot on the SAS list for suggesting opening windows on planes in case of fire could be helpful. Oh Mitt! But tops honors goes to Simon Cowell for having his house “healed” and for carrying pocket-sized inhalable oxygen shots. Just don’t use too many Simon, high levels of oxygen can be toxic. Congrats to all the celebrities that made this year’s list! Try to think before you speak next year.

And if you’re New Year’s resolution is to be a little less neurotic or OCD, you might want to rethink that. A new study shows that high levels of neuroticism paired with “conscientiousness” — high levels of organization and self-control – could actually be good for you! In the study, subjects who reported high levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness, had lower levels of Interleukin 6, or IL6, which is a key biomarker for inflammation and chronic diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Though neuroticism is typically linked to increased substance abuse, higher inflammation, and increased risk of mortality, researchers found that in the presence of conscientiousness, the negative effects of neuroticism are buffered out. They speculate the lower IL6 levels are because healthy neurotics more closely watch their lifestyle and seek treatment when a health issue arises. Cheer’s to neurotics everywhere!

Besides being adorable to look at, pandas could hold the key to a new way of combating antibiotic resistant microbes. Immune cells of the endangered creatures produce an antimicrobial peptide that is effective at wiping out bacteria. The peptides took less than an hour to eliminate the same pathogens that survived for more than 6 hours with other popular antibiotics. Researchers say the peptides could ultimately be used to develop new meds or improved antiseptics for cleaning. But the endangered status of pandas could hamper research efforts.

Calling all female physics fans! A new study in the UK shows that only 1 of 5 honor-level physics students in the UK are women and only 17% of students applying for undergrad physics programs are women. Also, nearly half of all state co-ed schools in England have no girls participating in advanced physics programs. So what’s the deal? Are girls just not good at Physics? We don’t think so! The study also found that in all girls schools – women were 2 and half more times likely to take advanced physics classes. Which begs the question, is there an ingrained cultural perception in co-educational establishments that physics are somehow “NOT for girls?” In the UK the European Commission has launched a campaign to encourage women towards physics and in the US, Dartmouth College is attempting a similar campaign. I myself took AP physics. So ladies, we can do physics and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Girl power in 2013!

That’s all for this year’s Daily Orbit! See ya in 2013…on Wednesday! Happy New Year!

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