April 10, 2013
Mars Trip? Get There Faster With Nuclear Fusion! – The Daily Orbit
The trip to Mars may get a whole lot shorter.
Standing up to stage fright.
What’s up with lazy genes.
And what are you looking at? On today’s Daily Orbit.
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Well, if your boss wouldn’t be too keen on you taking a 500 day vacay to tour Mars, how about a month? Researchers from the University of Washington are trying to develop a new kind of engine that uses nuclear fusion, making the interplanetary trip cheaper, safer, and quicker—bringing the total trip time down to 30 days. So far they have developed a type of plasma which is encased in its own magnetic film and when compressed creates nuclear fusion. Next step? Testing it in a rocket. They said that a piece of nuclear material the size of a grain of sand provides the same fusion power as a gallon of rocket fuel. But safety is a major concern. Would you really want to be strapped to canister filled with explosive fuel?
I’m sorry but could you please stop staring at me? Oh, you’re not—excuse me I’m sorry. Scientists have discovered that individuals will likely think people are staring at them even when they aren’t. Gaze perception involves taking in visual cues like the position of another person’s eyes and head, and then sending those signals to the brain for computation. In a new study, scientists found that when they made it difficult for people to see where others’ eyes were looking, people still believed they were being stared at, suggesting the brain makes automatic assumptions. They say this could be a defense mechanism or due to the human desire for interaction. So no, Josh Honaker, I was not staring at you in the lunchroom in 10th grade—your brain just assumed that.
All of a sudden I feel really nervous about being in front of you guys. Oh no! It’s stage fright! New research says that you can overcome your stage fright by learning to rethink the way you see your shaky hands, pounding heart and sweaty palms. Researchers divided participants into two groups where one group was given literature on the benefits and advantages of stress while the other group received nothing. Participants then had to give a 5 minute extemporaneous speech on their strengths and weaknesses. Cardiovascular information showed that participants in the group who were psychologically prepped to deal with stress were better able to cope with the public speaking task. When we think we can’t deal with stress, our body pumps more blood, and because we feel threatened, it concentrates on the core—restricting flow to our extremities and brain. So breathe, relax. I can deal with stress. Wow! I feel so much better!
Except for that I’m really tired of standing here. Why do I have to stand here soooo long. Can somebody get me a chair. “Stop being lazy!” It’s not my fault—according to a new study anyway, that suggests that being lazy could be in your genes. They observed rats on an exercise wheel and bred the most active with the most active and the laziest with the laziest. After 10 generations of breeding, they found the more active rats chose to run 10 times more than the lazy rat kids. They say this could be true for us humans and may provide insight into obesity, especially the childhood obesity crisis in the US. Lazy rats! Ha! Can’t you just picture that!
And if the thought of rats doesn’t make you shudder—how about imagining bed bugs crawling in your bed! Ahhh! Well, if bed bugs are a problem for you, and you New Yorkers I know can feel me, researchers have a remedy. There’s a centuries-old remedy for bed bugs in southeastern Europe, using kidney bean leaves. The microscopic hairs on the leaves effectively stab and trip the biting insects—and researchers want to mimic Mother Nature. Using these leaves as a template, researchers are working on a manmade version—but have not been as successful in snagging the bugs as the real deal. But they plan to plug away on development as this new remedy could provide a non-toxic alternative to “not letting the bed bugs bite.”
Well, that’s all for today’s show. I feel like bugs are all over me! Ahhh! Stupid bed bugs!