November 20, 2012

Even Apes Get The Middle Age Blues – The Daily Orbit

Monkeys and middle age…what a crisis!

Happy kids, wealthy grown-ups?

And what star’s photograph is making headlines? Probably not what you think.

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

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

A dachshund “nose” what it’s like to walk again thanks to the marvels of modern science. “Jasper” had been unable to walk since a 2008 injury severely damaged his spinal cord. Doctors injected Jasper’s spinal cord with his own olfactory cells from his nose. Six months later, and Jasper can walk!  His owners say he even “whizzes” around the house. The team says that one day this application could be used to restore human spinal cords, but for now the procedure is still very limited. They say it will still be some time before they can tackle the harder range of functions lost in spinal cord injury such as hand and bladder function and temperature regulation. Still the fact that Jasper can walk again is really amazing.

So it turns out that it’s not just your 50 year old neighbor that suddenly started getting spray tans, went out and bought a Corvette, and started bumping Flo’ Rida that is experiencing a midlife crisis, scientists say the middle-aged ape at the zoo is going through it too. The study looked at apes in captivity and found that their sense of well being bottomed out during their late 20s-30s—the ape equivalent of middle-age. Umm….glad it’s not the human middle-age. And how exactly do you judge an apes well-being? Researchers had zookeepers complete a questionnaire that surveyed each animal’s mood, their pleasure when socializing and their success in achieving certain goals. After analyzing the results, researchers found that well-being in the apes dropped during middle age, but rose again as the animals moved into old age. They say these findings suggest that the midlife crisis has biological rather than sociological roots.

Well, money might not buy you happiness, but happiness might mean you get more money. A new study found that happy kids may grow up to be wealthier adults. Here’s the breakdown. The correlation is based off the idea that happy people have a greater chance of obtaining higher education. With that higher education degree, they are more likely to be promoted over their not so happy co-workers. Thus making more income per annum.  So if you want your kids to afford a good nursing home for you instead of a crappy one, make sure they’re happy.

Here’s a question you might want to ask your surgeon: so, how much gaming do you do per day? A new study revealed that high school and college “gamers” are more adept at using robotic surgical tools than medical residents. The study took a group of high school students, college students, and medical residents and tested them on 20 different skill parameters and 32 different teaching steps on a robotic surgery simulator, which uses a 3D virtual-display — similar to modern video games. High schoolers took the lead, with the college students second, and the medical residents…? Yep, they were the least adept. But before you get really worried, the medical residents did perform a complex virtual surgery better than the high school students, even if they aren’t as adept at using the robotic tools. The researchers say that medical educators should rethink how to best teach these new generations with enhanced visual-spatial experience and hand-eye coordination.  Their recommendation? Two hours a day of gaming for all future surgeons. But remember– it’s still not an excuse to sit in front of Call of Duty all day…not all of you are training to be surgeons.

What star photograph is making headlines?  FYI it’s not Lindsey Lohan. Maybe I should say making science headlines. A rare glimpse of a “super-Jupiter” exo-planet “Kappa Andromedae B”, or “Kappa And b” for short, has been captured circling its host star. Astronomers used the Subaru Telescope to capture an image of the planet around its massive star Kappa Andromedae. Getting the rare picture was challenging, as the star Kappa Andromedae is 2.5 times the mass of our sun and “Kappa And b” circles its star at nearly twice the distance that Neptune orbits our sun.  The astronomers had to use advanced techniques for observation and image analysis to get the shot. They are looking to further observe the planet to get a better understanding of the gas giant’s atmospheric chemistry and to learn more about its orbit. They are also looking for other planets around Kappa Andromedae.  Well that’s a winning shot….take that Lindsey Lohan.

And that’s it for today’s Daily Orbit. We’ll see you back here tomorrow for more fun science news!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+