April 2, 2013

Microchips May One Day Help Fight The Urge To Eat – The Daily Orbit

A little electronic intervention in the fight against obesity?

Oh no!  What does the FBI have to say about the UFO?

What’s got engineers feeling ant-zy?

And a little science romance on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

Eat and eat and eat and you just can’t seem to stop?  I hear ya.  Well, a new technology is putting a little charge in controlling your appetite.  Scientists are developing a microchip which they claim can suppress appetite.  Just a few millimeters in size,  the chip will attach via electrodes to the Vagus nerve – which communicates between the gut and the brain – and will be able to read electrical and chemical signals indicating appetite.  This little chip essentially says to the brain “woah-slow down buddy” or  “drop that fork” altogether.  But it’s still gonna be a hot minute before it’s available as they plan to start human testing in 3 years.  However, they say it could be an alternative to weight loss surgeries in the fight against obesity.

What was that?  A new memo entitled “UFOs or NO? The Guy Hottel Memo” released by the FBI has got unidentified flying objects headlining again.  In the two years since the FBI opened their online repository the “Vault,” the most read doc has been a 1950 memo telling a third-hand account of flying saucers.  The memo tells the story of 3 flying saucers with three 3 foot tall men dressed in metallic cloth.  So aliens know how to dress!  But the FBI says it was written too late to be describing the Roswell incident and it was most likely the result of a hoax conducted by a convicted man named Silas Newton. So the FBI must seriously want people to read something else in the “Vault” if they’re taking the time to write a memo about it.

This next story will have you feeling ant-zy.  But it’s pretty cool.  Scientists have developed robotic ants that mimic the behavior of real ants.  Instead of following each other by scent like real ants that emit pheromones, these mechanical ants, or “Alices” as they’ve been dubbed, follow each other by using their antennae to follow the light trail left behind by other ants.  In a maze test, the robot ants slowly began to navigate the maze successfully by following one another until they found the most efficient route in just 30 minutes.  Talk about smart little robot ants.  I keep picturing them singing “Whistle while we work” even though that makes no sense.  Robots don’t whistle.

Last week we talked about the massive migration of Americans to the coastal regions, and now a new poll says that Americans want additional measures to be put in place to prevent destruction from massive storms. And those polled said that if you wanna move to the coast, then you need to foot the bill.  The poll was administered by Stanford University and prompted by the recently devastating Hurricane Sandy.  It showed that the majority of people believe that the temperature and sea level are rising and will translate into more storm damage. Americans favored more pro-active prevention efforts, but were clear that those living in coastal areas should be the ones to pay for the additional preventative measures.  Researchers say poll results should be helpful for coastal county policy makers.  They said “the question is, how does public support for preparation translate into action?”

And NASA is taking action in monitoring the Ozone layer.  It plans to launch a new highly-sophisticated ozone sensor called the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III or simply SAGE III – that’s much easier – to the International Space Station in 2014.  From there, SAGE III will be able to monitor ozone levels in the troposphere all over the globe by analyzing the light that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere when the sun or moon rises or sets.  Its predecessors were used at the end of the 70s and in the early 80s to confirm the ozone layer’s decline.  The new SAGE will be able to tell us exactly how the ozone is recovering.  NASA says “essentially SAGE III is analyzing the colors of the sunset to track ozone.  It sounds romantic, but this is hard science.” Well personally I like a little romance with my science.

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

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