September 18, 2013
This Is Your Brain…On Soda – The Daily Orbit
Regular or diet? Can your brain tell the difference?
What cities tickle your nose?
And staring up at the moon on today’s Daily Orbit.
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Which is diet and which is regular soda? I can’t tell. Turns out I’m not alone. New research shows that carbonation in soft drinks decreases the neural processing of sweetness—especially from sucrose—making it difficult for the brain to determine the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners. Researchers said this could be good for weight loss as it promotes the consumption of lower calorie drinks rather than the sugary, high-calorie ones. But as with everything that sounds too good to be true, there’s a downside. The combo of sugar and sweetness can lead to more sugar and food consumption and its vicious cycle that is linked to obesity and metabolic diseases. Oh, well, just another thing researchers get you excited about and then take away….
But here’s something for you gizmo and gadget junkies. The startup company Occipital launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new device—the Structure Sensor. What is it? It’s a gadget that works with your iPad to turn it into a 3D scanner. The Structure Sensor is a bracket-style clip that fits over your iPad and uses its own infrared sensor and black-and-white camera (for depth perception) as well as the iPad’s own camera. Occipital CEO Jeff Powers says there’s a lot you can do with it. Scan and print replacement parts, or use it to create replicas of things around you. Act fast though! Be one of the first to pledge $329 and you get the full kit by December. After that, the price tag jumps up to $500 and you have to wait until February. Guess I’m going to have to join the rest of the world and get an iPad with a camera and toss my antique.
And now let’s go from technology for fun to technology that changes lives—or saves lives I should say. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate along with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab are getting ready to unveil a new radar-based technology that can detect a human heartbeat buried beneath 30 feet of crushed material, 20 feet of solid concrete, or from a distance of 100 feet in open space. Called “FINDER,” it will be used along with current rescue resources to find living victims in disaster scenarios like earthquakes, tornadoes, or instances like 9/11. A recent test proved successful and they anticipate a commercial version by spring 2014. I love when technology has such a positive impact on our world!
Aaaaa-choooo. Oh allergies. And they can be worse depending on the city. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America named the top 10 worst cities for 2013 fall allergies. Topping the list—Wichita, KS, then Jackson Miss, and third, Knoxville, TN…all cities where ragweed thrives. Tennessee had three cities ranking in the top ten. The AAFA based their rankings on pollen scores, number of allergy medications per patient, and number of board-certified allergists per patient. Well, you won’t catch me in Wichita anytime soon!
So maybe your allergies are kicking in this fall, but you have to love the crispness in the air, the changing leaves, and of course the Harvest Moon. According NASA, tonight at sunset is the time to catch the large pumpkin-like Harvest Moon, which happens every September near the autumnal equinox. Because of the moon’s orbital path this time of year, it will rise right around sunset giving it a reddened color from the sunlight, clouds, and atmospheric dust. Its name, however, comes from farming. As the summer growing season came to an end, farmers had to rely on the light of the moon as they busily worked past sundown to harvest their crops—hence the Harvest Moon. I love a good story.
And that’s all for the Daily Orbit.