June 10, 2013

Mars Rover Finds Evidence Of Water That You Could Drink – The Daily Orbit

Did Mars having drinking water?

Should we continue to protect the gray wolf?

Cancer ain’t a new thing.

And yoga for the brain on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

NASA’s taking the ‘Opportunity’ to “drink in” new evidence of Mars’ watery past.  The rover Opportunity has found evidence in a rock rich in clay that appears to have formed from non-acidic water.  Up until now, the rover had only found evidence of sulfuric acid, but one scientist said “this is water you could drink!” This new find is painting a portrait of a water-rich Mars with conditions conducive to life in its youth some 3 and a half billion years ago.   Opportunity will now travel on along the south rim of Endeavour Crater to search for more clues on how Mars became the Red Planet. Drink in the success, Opportunity!

Is the US Fish and Wildlife Service potentially releasing the gray wolf from the threatened and endangered species list too soon? That’s what some people are saying about one proposal submitted by the FWS that would delist the wolves and return management of them to the states where they dwell.  The gray wolf went under federal protection in 1978.  Now there are about 6,100 gray wolves in the continental U.S.  The FWS says they’re ready but some environmental groups say “they are walking away from wolf recovery before the job is done.”  A second proposal submitted by the FWS would maintain protections and expand recovery efforts to the Mexican gray wolf in the southwest area of the nation.  So if you want to give your opinion, there is a 90-day public comment period before a final decision is made.

While we often think of cancer as a disease born of our modern lifestyle, truth is it’s been around a long time.  Researchers have discovered evidence of bone cancer in the rib of a 120,000 year old Neanderthal from Croatia.  Before this find, the oldest bone tumor was found in a 2,200 year old Egyptian mummy.  The Neanderthal had a type of cancer where normal bone is replaced with fibrous bone tissue.  Researchers can’t say for sure if the disease led to the ancient hominids death.

Blaming no new neurons on your forgetfulness in your old age?  Well, you can’t use that excuse anymore!  Until now scientists had believed we were born with a certain number of neurons, and that was all we got.  Turns out the adult brain does continue to generate new neurons.  The study, which actually came about due to early Cold War-era bomb tests, looked at donated adult brains of deceased individuals that had picked up a carbon isotope during nuclear testing in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  The carbon isotope allowed them to calculate the growth of new cells.  What they found was that the hippocampus had gained between 700 and 1,400 new neurons in these adult lives.  Unfortunately that doesn’t make up for the rate of cell death in the brain with age but scientists said that, “even limited regeneration can provide a cognitive boost.”  So you can feel a little better about aging!

But if you are feeling a little slow upstairs, maybe try some yoga!  New research says that spending twenty minutes on the popular yoga called “Hatha” is better for your brain than participating in vigorous exercise of the same time.  Study results showed that reaction time and accuracy on cognitive tests improved more after yoga than following aerobic exercise.  Also the participants could better focus mental resources, rapidly process information and learn, maintain and update information more effectively following yoga.  Researchers feel this might be because the breathing and meditation involved translate beyond the yoga practice to day-to-day activities.

Well that’s all for the Daily Orbit.  “Namaste”

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