February 11, 2014

Recurring Slope Lineae Provide New Clues To Water On Mars – On Science

Want to bet there’s liquid water on Mars?

What state is giving new meaning to “higher” education?

Does height matter in finding your perfect mate?

And the sound of innovation for deafness. Coming up today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

Anyone want to place bets on if there is still liquid water or not on Mars? New images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show finger-like markings that stream down Martian slopes when temperatures change, which would most likely occur if liquid water was present. Scientists are calling these dark flows “recurring slope lineae” and they have found 13 confirmed sites. They say they’re stronger when it’s warmer and less significant when it’s cooler. Sounds like water right? Either of the explanations that scientists have come up could suggest the presence of liquid water. Best guess so far? These features occur from the flow of near-surface water in which salt helps to keep the water from freezing. I’m putting my money on water on Mars.

And Florida’s gambling for more green. Florida won’t vote on legalizing medicinal marijuana until November, but one school is getting ahead and bringing a new meaning to “higher learning.” A school called Medical Marijuana Tampa is offering classes on the history and pharmacological benefits of cannabis – and yes how to grow it. A one month class is $499 but good luck getting in as all classes are currently full. Your best bet might be getting hired in one of the 15 open positions. If the state legalizes pot, they will open 5 more classrooms, 15 treatment centers and one lab. And they only have the best intentions. One rep said “it’s education oriented. We’re not trying to set up a shop where we’re selling drugs. We’re trying to educate people.” How much has he been smoking?

A new study isn’t just blowing smoke. Cigarettes have frequently been linked to respiratory cancer, but listen up ladies, now cigarette smoking has been linked to breast cancer as well. A new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that study participants who smoked were 30% more likely to develop any type of breast cancer. Those who currently smoke or had smoked a pack a day for more than a decade previously had a 60% elevated risk of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer – the most common sub-type of breast cancer. They think that some chemicals in cigarettes could be acting as estrogen and disrupting the hormonal cycle, which is why it increases the risk of estrogen receptor breast cancer. Let’s just add this to the long list of reasons not to smoke.

Size does matter. Well, height does anyway. A new study from Rice University and the University of North Texas looked at how “height” factors into mate preference. Taking data from Yahoo! personal dating advertisements, they found that nearly half of women tended to care about a man’s height, whereas for men it wasn’t nearly as important at 13.5%. Further study of university students confirmed that finding with 55% of women wanting a taller man and 37% of men wanting a shorter woman. Come on guys, us tall girls need love too! One female participant said “as a girl, I like to feel delicate and secure all the time. There’s something to be said about wearing high heels and still being shorter.” Well you know what? There’s also something to be said about being 5’9” and rocking your heels anyway.

And I hear the sound of innovation in hearing implants. Many deaf or near-deaf people have been helped with cochlear implants, but MIT in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have developed a new, low-power signal-processing chip that works like a cochlear implant without the bulky external hardware. The implant works for eight hours between charges, which is done wirelessly without the need for the bulky battery pack outside the ear. And the prototype engineers showed at a recent conference plugs into a smartphone and can charge within two minutes. Another plus, it needs no outside microphone. But as with all new technology, there are still some growing pains. Current cochlear implant surgery takes between an hour and an hour and a half, while this new technology takes 3 to 4 hours to implant.

And that’s your On Science for today. Have a great day On Scientists!

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