February 26, 2014

Evidence Of Water Found On An Exoplanet – On Science

Who can we thank for slowing down climate change?

Could cooked meat make you lose your mind?

Why vegging out is good for you.

And computer viruses go airborne. Coming up today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

A team of astronomers had two reasons to celebrate recently. Not only did they possibly find the evidence of water on an exoplanet outside of our Solar System, but the find was made using a new technique – so now they know the technique works! They used high-resolution L-brand spectroscopy to measure the radial velocity variations of the hot Jupiter in the tau Bootis system. And they have a lot of hope for the future of this technique. They say that this technique used with more-powerful future telescopes could help examine the atmospheres of planets that are much cooler and more distant from their host stars.

With climate change news we usually only hear the bad, but here’s some interesting positive news for a change. The heat content of the ocean, along with global-mean surface temperatures of the planet and in the troposphere, have shown very little warming since 1998. Is it thanks to more fuel-efficient vehicles? Better environmental laws maybe? Well, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say there’s one factor we’ve overlooked – volcanic eruptions. They say that volcanic activity in the early part of 21st century may have helped to cool the planet by shooting sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere, which can form volcanic aerosols. These droplets reflect some of the sunlight back into space, cooling the Earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere. And volcanoes usually get such a bad rap when it comes to climate change!

Cooked meat is getting a bad reputation these days as well. Chemicals produced during the cooking of meat may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s say researchers in the United States and Italy. The chemicals produced are called advanced glycation end products, or AGE products. These are created when proteins or fats react with sugar at high temperatures during the Maillard reaction. In the study, mice exposed to a higher AGE diet had difficulties with cognition and coordination as they aged, produced less of an anti-aging protein and showed higher levels of a protein considered a primary biomarker of Alzheimer’s. Human trials in people over 60 indicated a link between AGEs in the blood and cognitive decline over the course of months. Good reason to maybe go veggie?

And here’s another reason you might want to consider a vegetarian lifestyle. A vegetarian diet can help lower your blood pressure. Japanese and American researchers sifted through data dating back to 1900 all the way up to 2013. Observational studies revealed that vegetarians have lower average systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to carnivores. Researchers say switching to a veggie diet is more cost-efficient than buying drugs to treat the same problem. And the side-effects of a vegetarian diet, unlike meds, are all good: weight loss, lower cholesterol, and better blood sugar control. Good reasons to go green!

Just like human viruses go airborne, so too could computer viruses. A team of researcher from the University of Liverpool demonstrated how Wi-Fi networks could be used to make a computer virus contagious through the air, moving through densely populated areas as effectively as the common cold. They created a virus called Chameleon, which they tested out in a lab setting to see how it spread across Wi-Fi networks. The virus not only spread quickly through homes and businesses, but it was able to avoid detection and identify Wi-Fi access points not protected by encryption or passwords. Chameleon collected and reported credentials of all other WIFI users who connected to it. It had been previously assumed that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus to spread through Wi-Fi…guess most people were wrong. Now we need to work on developing Airborne for computers.

And that’s what happening on science today! Watch out for Chameleons when you surf the web today, On Scientists!

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