August 7, 2013
Get Ready For The Perseids Meteor Shower! – The Daily Orbit
Earth’s about to take a shower.
Flipping over the sun.
A Martian colony unites in D.C.
And tweeting for TV on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
It’s almost time for a shower. While that is true in a different way for a few of you, I’m talking about the Perseids meteor shower. This annual showing is set to place on both August 11 and 12 and will be most intense after 11:00 pm. And it will be quite a show with little interference from a waxing moon that sets in mid-evening. The Perseids, named for their constellation of origin, Perseus, appear each year as the Earth passes through the debris field of the Swift-Tuttle comet. For the best view of these awesome fireballs, go outside away from city lights, and in an area that provides a wide-open view of the night sky. Lie back and enjoy. With a little luck you should see a shooting star every minute or so on average. “You might be my lucky star…”
And if you flip over shooting stars, then you’ll really flip over this—well the sun will flip anyway. Solar experts are anticipating a major event in the next three to four months—the sun’s magnetic field is going to flip! Every eleven years, the Sun reaches the peak of its cycle and proceeds to switch polarity—meaning north becomes south and vice versa. This is the halfway point of a solar max and that means a lot of solar activity. The flip occurs when the Sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken to zero and then emerge with opposite polarity. This switch means some stormy space weather for Earth as we pass through undulations the Sun’s current sheet—which carries the electric current generated by the Sun’s rotation. And since this is one of the weakest solar max’s of the century it could also mean cooler temperatures here on Earth. Does that have anything to do with this unusually cool August we’ve been having?
Okay, so I’m really sad that I missed out on this yesterday! A group of 40 volunteer Mars colonists gathered right here where I am in D.C. to hear about Dutch entrepreneur Bas Landsdorp’s plan to build a permanent base on Mars by 2023. If Lansdorp can raise the needed $6 billion to send these volunteer colonists on a one way trip to the Red Planet, this group of 40 pioneers will embark on a seven-month journey to Mars. See I’m all about visiting Mars but it’s the “one-way” part I get hung up on. His non-profit organization called Mars One plans to first establish satellite communication systems and then start sending the brave souls in groups of four to live and die on the planet. Volunteers will receive 8 years of training before their journey—well, that’s more than the pilgrims got. One volunteer said “I’d rather die looking upon Earth from outer space than to be on my deathbed thinking I could have had my chance.” To each his own. Mars is just a little too far away from my Mama!
Are dolphins sounding more like us humans every day or what? So we recently talked about how dolphins use whistle calls as unique names to identify one another and now scientists say that dolphins keep lifelong social memories—longer than any other non-human species. Dolphins can remember their old tank mates’ whistles after being apart for more than 20 years. They say this recognition may surpass human facial recognition, since faces change over time but the whistles do not. This indicates dolphins’ high cognitive abilities comparable to only humans, chimpanzees, and elephants. I’m good with names. I have dolphin memory.
And do you remember a time before Twitter? With it so integrated into every part of our life, it’s hard to. Now researchers are asking, will a Tweet make or break a television show? Using Nielsen ratings for analysis, researchers found that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets and a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in. They say viewers may actually be swayed by tweets. We’re so easily influenced. They concluded that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming. And tweets can influence which shows get renewed, or canceled. Duh-duh-duh…. all you Orbiters tweet “What the @dailyorbit!”
And that’s it for the Daily Orbit! Catch you on Twitter