May 28, 2013

Apollo 11 Moon Dust Turns Up After 40 Years – The Daily Orbit

Where oh where did that moon dust go?

What do crack, meth, and diet cola have in common?

An app for a mini-lab?

And an itch you don’t have to scratch…on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

Where did my moon dust go? Ugh! I’m always misplacing it! Ever put something somewhere for safe-keeping and then forgot where you put it? Well, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California did just that. After being lost for 40 years, vials of moon dust collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts have been found safe and sound, sitting safely in storage all this time. But scientists at the facility were surprised that this iconic dust from man’s first walk on the moon was even in their lab. NASA has requested the samples back but the real question is how and why was something of this nature lost in the first place? Good question NASA. Oh look I found it!

Okay, maybe that was a bad idea. But why do we itch anyway? Researchers at NIH say it’s due to a small molecule that is released in the spinal cord that triggers a sensation that the brain reads as “itch.” This could be important in helping to relieve patients who suffer from eczema or psoriasis. Just talking about this study makes me itch!

And researchers are itching to understand why amphibian numbers are rapidly dropping around the nation—even in designated protected areas. They say the rate is more severe than previously believed and even populations thought to be stable are in decline. Wowsah! Amphibians have survived in bodies of water all over the world for more than 350 million years, but now the pressures they face exceed their ability to survive. At current decline rates, half of amphibian species will disappear from their habitats within 20 years. But what disturbs researchers the most is the decline of amphibians in protected areas like national parks and forest, suggesting that stressors “transcend landscapes.” Poor little amphibians.

So you’re a citizen scientist and all you need is a lab? Well get excited! A new app turns your iPhone into a mobile mini lab. The new app and cradle uses the phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other organisms. And the pros will be using it too, for on-the-spot tracking in the field to map the spread of pathogens and so on. The cradle contains a smaller version of optical components that you would find in bigger lab devices—and much cheaper—at $200 compared to $50,000. Now I know you’re sitting there saying, “where do I place my order?” The team hopes to make the cradles widely available by next year. Put me on the list!

Crack is whack! Especially for your teeth. But if you think you’re doing yourself a favor by getting “cracked out” on diet cola instead—think again! Diet soda might be as bad for your teeth as crack or meth. Research was based on a woman in her 30’s who drank at least 2 liters of soda a day for almost 5 years—how did she ever get to sleep is my question? Anyway, dentists found she had the same amount of dental damage as 29-year-old meth user and a 51-year-old crack addict. But the soda addict admitted to not seeing a dentist in two decades—still I’m pretty sure it’s been a while since the meth or crack addict had seen the old “D” too. They say that the effects of all three are comparable because they are all highly acidic substances. So diet soda drinkers here’s the really scary part—that woman had to have all her teeth removed just like the drug addicts. You know what I don’t want it anymore…

Well that’s all for the Daily Orbit! See you tomorrow!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+