May 21, 2013
Space Travel Is Hard On Animals And Humans Alike – The Daily Orbit
Diving dolphins discover what?
Channeling your inner-dolphin.
And catching some rays on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
The latest space travelers were a little furry and a little scaly. The Russian capsule Bion-M No. 1 containing animals and biological experiments successfully returned to Earth Sunday landing 750 miles south of Moscow. The capsule contained 53 mice, lizards, gerbils, and other small animals. Sadly less than half survived the voyage. The capsule also carried some microflora and plants that also succumbed to the stresses of space travel. Despite the death toll, researchers say they obtained the data they were looking for on how microgravity affects the skeletal and nervous systems and the muscles and heart, which could help pave the way for a manned mission to Mars. The Russian space program hopes to begin construction on a lunar base in 2030 that would be used as part of a flight to Mars. Poor mice, they always get the short end of the stick., even in space!
Scientists are looking to our “inner-dolphin” to help the blind and visually impaired. New research has shown the blind could possibly use echolocation, similar to bats and dolphins, to determine the location of an object. Experiments showed that both sighted and blind people with good hearing, even without previous echolocation experience, could successfully find where objects were by use of echoes. Researchers now want to develop echolocation training programs and assistive devices for the blind and for sighted people in low-vision situations. I’ll have to try that the next time I can’t find my glasses in the dark!
And speaking of dolphins, two very special dolphins being trained by the US Navy uncovered a 19th Century Howell torpedo that is one of only 50 ever made and one of two in existence. The Navy trains dolphins to detect mines and other underwater objects because of their natural sophisticated sonar ability. The Howell torpedo found is non-functioning due to its underwater tenure but is being cleaned for display at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.
And from undersea detective dolphins to landmine-sniffing bees—animal instincts are identifying bombs. Now, scientists are using honeybees in the hunt for unexploded landmines in Croatia and areas in the Balkans. De-mining is a major issue for the Croatian government who is set to join the European Union on July 1. During the War of Independence nearly 90,000 landmines were randomly buried with tens of thousands still in existence. Scientists are training the honeybees to detect the mines by mixing traces of TNT with their typical sugary food. But scientists say it’s easy to train one bee; it’s training their colony of thousand becomes a problem.
And as summer is right upon us, most of us not so naturally bronzed goddesses are thinking about what kind of sunscreen we should use to protect us. But like so many other things in our lives, our SPF too may be misleading us. A survey of 1,400 sunscreen products did find that most met the December 2012 requirements put in place by the FDA, such as the need to filter out both UVA and UVB rays, as well as a ban of the misleading word “waterproof.” But some bottles still boast a 50-150 SPF which the group says is misleading because at 100-150 SPF, you’re only getting 1-2% more protection. They say this is a manufacturer gimmick and that all anyone needs is an SPF 30 to be reapplied every two hours. So remember all your fair maidens out there, slather on the SPF 30 and have fun in the sun!
And that’s all for your Daily Orbit! I’m gonna catch some rays!