October 11, 2013

Saturn And Jupiter May Have Diamonds At Their Core – The Daily Orbit

What’s sparkly, girl’s love them, and found in the center of Saturn?

Have researchers found the building blocks of life outside of our solar system?

What’s the best cure for a hangover?

And the military goes Iron-Man style on the Daily Orbit!

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

The other day it was raining diamonds from a comet and today it’s two planets with a ton a diamonds. A team from the California Specialty Engineering and the University of Wisconsin Madison, say that Jupiter and Saturn could contain solid diamonds in their core. That’s my kind of planet. And deeper in the core they say are liquid diamonds because the temperatures would be so high they would melt. Scientists had previously linked diamond cores to Uranus and Neptune but this is the first time their two neighbors have been thought to have the same. How does this happen? Methane in the planets’ atmosphere turns to soot in storms, starts to sink during which it turns into graphite – a form of carbon – then as the graphite continues the journey to the center of the planet, the growing pressure and temperature squeeze and heat them into specks of diamonds floating in a sea of helium and hydrogen. While we’d like to go mine them, yes I’m all for it, they say not to get ahead of ourselves. The diamonds in space might look a little different than on Earth. Jupiter and Saturn are now a girl’s best friend!

These space stories just keep getting better and better! Researchers have, for the first time, discovered key components for life existing outside of our solar system-water and a rocky surface. Using the Hubble Telescope and the Keck telescope in Hawaii, the team from the Universities of Cambridge, Warwick and Kiel, detected an excess of oxygen in the debris surrounding white dwarf star GD61. They said the debris was from a shattered asteroid that contained considerable amounts of water. But they believe the asteroid had been part of a bigger body, like an exoplanet, that had been composed of 26% water by mass, far more than that of Earth. They say finding water in a large asteroid means the habitable planet building blocks once existed in that system and maybe, just maybe, still exist. Exciting, no?

And while water is one of the major necessities for life and a cure for most things, there’s one better for a hangover. Chinese scientists have determined that Sprite is the best cure for a hangover. They took an in-depth look at what actually causes a hangover and found that it’s actually the process of breaking down the alcohol that causes the symptoms like headaches and nausea. The liver breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde and that’s what makes you sick. After studying 57 different beverages, from soda to herbal teas, they found that Sprite actually sped up the ALDH process and caused the alcohol to be broken down more quickly. Hence a shorter hangover. So some of you may want to stock up on Sprite for Monday morning.

This is your brain. This is your brain on poetry. Scientists at the University of Exeter used fMRI imaging to see how participants’ brains responded to poetry and prose. The “reading network” brain areas were activated in response to any written material but more emotionally charged writing aroused several regions of the brain. These regions are predominantly in the right side and had previously been shown to produce the “shivers down the spine” emotional reaction to music. Also, when volunteers read a favorite passage of poetry, the areas of the brain linked to memory were activated more strongly than “reading areas,” showing that reading a favorite passage is a kind of like having a recollection. Also poetry, not prose, was found to activate areas of the brain associated with introspection. Researchers said this is “all part of work that is helping us to make psychological, biological, anatomical sense of art.” Science and art together is a beautiful thing.

Here’s an example of art inspiring science. Tony Stark himself may have been the inspiration for the latest in defense-wear. The U.S. Army is working to develop an Iron Man-like suit that would give soldiers superhuman strength. This exoskeleton called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) is essentially “smart armor” that would have layers of smart materials fitted with sensors, as well as, a wearable computer similar to Google Glass. It would monitor soldiers’ vitals and use hydraulics to increase strength. It would be “power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon” all in “one” but they say no “one” industry can build it so they’re calling on research and development organizations, private industry as well as government labs and academia to support the project. Someone call up Tony Stark.

And that’s all for your Daily Orbit. Have a great weekend Orbiters!

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