October 23, 2012

Talking Beluga Whale Sounds Eerily Human – The Daily Orbit

Look who’s talking now! Hint: It ain’t the babies in the movie.

What’s about to get swallowed up by the black hole?

And what researchers are saying about Friendship 2.0

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

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

(Whale talking: “Welcome to the daily orbit”) Holy Moly a talking whale! Not unlike recently released audio of a male beluga whale who was able to pick up on human speech patterns and replicate them (soundbite). Scientists say whales usually produce vocals in a completely different way from humans, which means the whale had to modify its mechanics to make the speech-like sounds. Biologists were first inspired in 1984 when they heard human-like conversation coming from a whale and dolphin enclosure, and narrowed the sound down to one special whale.  Biologists say, “Such obvious efforts suggests motivation for contact.” Whale: “And in more science news…” Em: “Hey wait I’m the host of the show here!”

Whales! I tell ya! Anyway…More adolescents seem to be permanently attached to their cell phone, constantly checking in and checking out others on Facebook. Dubbed Friendship 2.0, this new phenomenon may not be all that bad. A new study shows that digital media enables teens to reach developmental milestones, giving them a sense of belonging and the ability to share their personal problems with others. They load pictures and get to tag their friends, share a funny story, and give insights about their day or problems that may be weighing on them. However, researchers say with this constantly available online community, it’s questionable if teens are developing an autonomous sense of self. That’s questionable with some adults I know too.

Looks like the black hole is hungry and it’s about to get some dinner! Scientists have determined that a black hole in the middle of our Milky Way galaxy is getting ready to feast on an approaching cloud of dust and gas. New computerized simulations show 3D imaging of the possible demise of the cloud “G2.” With dust twice as hot as the surface temperature of Earth and gas twice as hot as the sun, the simulations show that the cloud will not survive the encounter with the black hole. Scientists say it will break up into some incoherent structure. Hey black holes have to eat too! It’s the Circle of Life.

And surprise, surprise! Scientists have found another toxic source of greenhouse gases. New research has found that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere together with increasing temperatures is making rice agriculture a large source for the greenhouse gas methane. Scientists say as more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, rice plants grow faster, which speeds up the metabolism of methane-producing microscopic organisms that live in the soil beneath rice paddies—leaving us with methane. But they add, that simple changes in rice cultivation, such as mid-season drainage or alternative fertilizers, could help reduce methane emissions. Also switching to more heat-tolerant rice cultivars and adjusting sowing dates would be highly beneficial in reducing emissions.

And my mom knew this a long time ago without anyone having to tell her. A new study says that children with televisions or other electronic devices in their bedroom lose sleep and develop bad lifestyle habits. Scientists also found that children who had such electronic devices as computers, cell phones, television, and video games in their room had a greater likelihood of being obese or overweight. They warn parents that if “you want your kids to sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle, get the technology out of the bedroom!” Why do kids need all that stuff anyway? What happened to using your good old imagination?

That does it for…(whale voice off-camera) Em: Oh okay fine you can close the show. Whale: “That’s it for the Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow!”

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