July 25, 2013

How Did Martian Valleys Form? – The Daily Orbit

How did valleys form on Mars?

Do hobbits look more like humans or apes?

The invincible Hero Shrew.

And throwing punches on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

How did Martian valleys form? That was my Martian valley girl impression. Well, one researcher says it from orographic precipitation – rain and snow that falls when moist prevailing winds are forced upwards by mountain ridges. The source of the valley-forming water has long been debated – some saying it originated underground and others by precipitation. This orographic effect can be found in Hawaii and these researchers feel that valleys on Mars formed in the same pattern. Researchers used a new general circulation model to test their precipitation theory, but don’t know it was rain or snowmelt. They say the next step is to develop a snowmelt model.

And in the Valley of the Anduin River some say originated what creatures? If you know your Lord of the Rings, you would know that’s the hobbits. So that’s fiction, but in real life scientists say that ancient humanoid species referred to as the “hobbit” closely resembled humans and not apes as some experts previously thought. So then they did look sort of like Frodo?! Using the skulls of these primates found back in 2003, they based their reconstruction on the skull in relationship to its soft tissues and found the new reconstruction indicated more human like cheeks. I’m calling them the Frodo sapiens—my homage to Peter Jackson.

And this sounds like something right out of a Peter Jackson movie—a Hero shrew with extraordinary strength. Okay, so it’s not “hero” as in “save-the-day-hero” but just a type of this furry little mammal. But it has recently been found to have interlocking vertebrae that make the spine four to five times more robust relative to body mass. And it’s the only mammal like that. Researchers watched in amazement as a full-grown man stood on the back of the Hero Shrew, and it walked away unharmed! It is a super-hero! Where we humans have 5 lumbar vertebrae, Hero shrews have 10. The Hero even differs from other species of shrews in its vertebrae. Researchers added a really great quote saying “The Age of Discovery is not over!”

And neither is the age of technological advances! A Korean research team has developed a new pen to extend existing features on smartphones. The MagPen is a magnetically driven pen interface that works both on and around tablets and smartphones that have magnetometers embedded in them—which most already do since they function as compasses for location-based features. The phone senses and analyzes the magnetic field produced by a permanent magnet embedded in the stylus pen. The team is also working on a series of magnetic accessories called “MagGetz,” which include the Magnetic Marionette, a magnetic cover for a smartphone, which offers augmented interactions with the phone. The best way to describe it they say is that these magnetic features change your phone’s living environment from 2D to 3D. I’ll take one!

And here is a different story than we’re used to reporting here on the Daily Orbit and it might give you some food for thought this weekend. Researchers looked at the psychology behind bar fights. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even think the brain was even involved! Contrary to the “bystander effect,” where people tend to not intervene because they think others will, researchers found that people DO tend to intervene in bar fights for fear of the violence escalating. And that’s when it can get ugly as those who intervene end up fighting with others and we have a full on bar brawl! Surprisingly people tend to intervene more in male-to-male conflicts. I really thought people would be more likely to break up a girl fight—but that is a little scarier!

And that’s all for today’s Daily Orbit.

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+