February 28, 2014
A Seed Is Planted And A Star Is Born – On Science
How is the birth of a star a family affair?
Can babies really learn to read?
What peanut-shaped celestial body has our attention?
And how do you get more salmon? Coming up today.. On Science!
Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.
A seed is planted and a star is born. Astronomers using the Smithsonian Submillimeter Array looked at stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. This nebula is located 11,700 light years from us towards the constellation Ophiuchus. Though it looks like a dark, cloudless spot in the sky, it actually is a series of dark absorption clouds that hides a wealth of stars from our view. With the telescope, this team of scientists found 23 cosmic “seeds” in two areas of the nebula. The seeds are faintly glowing spots that could eventually birth one or more stars. These stars generally weigh between 5 and 25 times the mass of the sun and they aren’t born alone but “form in villages.” Guess it’s take a village to raise a star. The astronomers added, “It’s a family affair.”
And speaking of nurseries, have you heard about these DVDs and other media products claiming to help babies learn to read? It kind of freaks me out. But do they even really work? A collaboration of researchers from different universities in Canada and The States put teach-baby-to-read products to the test. They exposed a group of infants between the ages of 9 months to 18 months to the products which included DVDs, flash cards, and other media. Another control group received none of this training. Follow up visits and lab tests to assess reading skills revealed no noticeable difference between the experimental group and the control group. I guess even with all the new technology out there babies still have to go at a normal pace.
NASA got some interesting footage of an asteroid using its Deep Space Network. Astronomers took this collage of radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2006 DP14. From the radar, they determined that the asteroid is 1,300 feet long, 660 feet wide, and shaped like a big peanut. But that’s kind of normal as it’s a type of asteroid known as a “contact binary” because it has two large lobes on either end that appear to be in contact. But don’t think near-Earth is so near. The asteroid at the time the images were taken was about 2.6 million miles away and came with 1.5 million miles at its closest. Scientists say radar is a great technique for finding asteroid size, shape, rotation, surface features, and surface roughness. It can also be used to predict asteroid orbits in the future, which will help NASA’s Near-Earth Space Object Program to prevent the real Earth from ending like a disaster movie.
Dewatering can be a disaster when it comes to salmon populations. A team of researchers in Washington found success in boosting salmon survival numbers by altering operations of the Priest Rapids Dam in Washington state over the past 30 years. They planned water flows around salmon life events like egg hatching, when the young fish emerge from the gravel and when the smolts will migrate to sea. Before the specific operation timing, dropping water levels didn’t leave young fish or eggs enough water to stay immersed or they could leave young fish stranded on the shoreline or entrapped in pools of water that heat up or dry out. From their efforts, the team saw a 283% increase in the freshwater productivity in the particular area they were working. Yum… I like the idea of more salmon. Maybe I shouldn’t say that right now.
And researchers are suggesting farmers change their livestock’s diets. A new study says that there’s more profit for farmers in incorporating a higher quality feed in their livestock’s diets and it would help reduce carbon emissions as well. Livestock productions is responsible for 12% of human-related greenhouse gas emissions. The largest percentage of this is caused by land use change and deforestation. Researchers say that if farmers would mix higher-energy feed in the livestock diet mix along with the grass, less land-change would be needed. And there’s a bonus for farmers – livestock that eat more energy-rich diets grow faster and make more milk making more money for the farmer. Sounds to me like it just makes sense!
And that’s what’s happening On Science. See you next week!