November 4, 2013
Most Distant, Earliest Galaxy Ever Discovered – On Science
How lucky are astronomers lately?
The sweet sound of space beyond space.
Who’s got PETA tattle-telling?
And who’s headed to Mars, today On Science)
Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m your host Emerald Robinson.
Lady luck be a lady in the sky! When a team of international scientists began a survey of galaxies, they didn’t expect to find an early galaxy with a high amount of star formation because they’re just so few of them. But that’s exactly what they did find. In fact, they found the most distant and earliest galaxy ever discovered. The galaxy was first observed with NASA’s Hubble Telescope and then confirmed with the Keck 1 telescope in Hawaii. They say this find indicates that our infant universe held a greater number of intense star-forming galaxies than astronomers previously believed based on certain models and theories. However, they’re not sure if they just got really, really lucky in such a big find so fast or their predictive models are slightly off. Well astronomers, maybe you should by a Powerball ticket just in case.
The sweet sound of a new era surrounded Voyager 1 as it entered interstellar space. NASA announced they detected “interstellar music,” indicating that Voyager 1 did indeed leave our Solar System’s heliosphere. But music, really? How can that be when sound requires air and there’s no air in space? By music, NASA actually means plasma waves, which were detected by the probe’s Plasma Wave Science Instrument. These waves our mortal ears could not hear…however, Voyager’s high sensitive instrument detected electron waves in the plasma. NASA says the sounds conveyed demonstrated that Voyager 1 “had made the crossing.” So it other words, it’s the sweet sound of success!
Unfortunately, one startup company is not a big success with PETA. Not long ago, we brought you a story about Backyard Brain’s RoboRoach—a device that hijacks a cockroach’s antennae, allowing the human controller to tell the insect to turn left or right using an iPhone. Now PETA is claiming it’s a classic case of bullying—and they’re telling on RoboRoach—in this case to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. PETA claims the device teaches kids to be mean to insects by pulling their wings off and controlling their mind. Backyard Brain says it facilitates early interests in neuroscience and provides a training ground for future scientists. The big question though is do the insects feel pain. And about that no one is entirely sure.
Pick your poison—more warming or less rainfall. Neither thank you! But new research says it’s one or the other. A new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research says that, although global warming alters worldwide precipitation patterns, geo-engineering to counteract would too. Global warming due to greenhouse gases would cause a 7% average increase in precipitation compared to preindustrial conditions. However geo-engineering methods, like capturing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere or launching mirrors into orbit to reduce global surface temperatures, would decrease monsoonal rains in some regions by 5 to 7% with a worldwide average decrease of 4.5% compared to preindustrial conditions. Scientists broke it down like this, “there’s no win-win option here.” Well, that’s promising. But…
India’s feeling hopeful. India’s space agency is preparing to launch an orbiter to Mars tomorrow to beat out China and Japan in what some are calling the unspoken space race in Asia. The rocket will take almost a year to travel to the Red Planet. However, the mission isn’t without its critics who say that the poor country can’t afford a space program with most of its inhabitants living on less than $2 per day. But India says that the mission, which aims to map the Martian surface while studying the atmosphere and looking for methane, will yield technological advances that bolster the country’s development prospects. Well at the very least India can look at China and Japan and be like “haha, we beat you.”
And that’s what’s up today On Science! Catch ya tomorrow science nerds!