March 12, 2013

New Star System Found In Our Own Backyard – The Daily Orbit

What WISE guy is shining in the night sky?

Smack-talking shoes—only Google could think of that.

A cloud for robots?—A computational cloud that is.

Let’s get stepping on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

Well astronomers just got a little Wise-r about our universe. A new solar system named after the WISE satellite has recently been discovered just 6.5 light years away. It consists of two brown dwarfs and is the closest system found to our sun in the last 97 years. Its close proximity makes it a good hunting ground for planets and puts it on the short list for future space missions. In fact, the system is so close that astronomers say Earth’s television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there. Can’t you just see some extraterrestrials sitting around watching an Earthly tella novella … “Porque Hector?”

Ever get lonely and just, I don’t know, wish your shoes could talk to you? Well, be careful what you wish for. A new pair of shoes a la Google, will get you stepping. The new prototype shoes, demonstrated at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive event in Austin, TX, will compliment and encourage you when you’re active, but watch out! Get lazy and get ready for some sole-to-sole trash talking. But don’t expect to be styling and profiling in your new virtual personal trainer kicks. Though I have to say they do look kind of retro with a big conical speaker slapped on the shoe laces. Although a fun idea, right now the shoes are still in a concept phase and not quite ready for the market. [ Shoes: Emerald, get with the program and move on…. Emerald: Alright, alright… ]

Well from shoes that talk to an Internet just for robots—what’s this world coming too? Actually this is pretty cool. Programmers have developed the RoboEarth Cloud engine that will enable robots to handle more complex tasks and adapt better to change by moving the some of their key computing processes into the cloud. The platform allows robots connected to the Internet to directly access the powerful computational, storage and communications infrastructure. They explained it like this: Say a breakfast making robot is making some biscuits to drizzle honey over when, oh no, the honey is in a different jar than he is used to! Now he can take a picture of his surroundings and figure out which mysterious bottle contains the honey by relying on processes stored in the cloud. The cloud can also tell him things like the best way to grasp the jar when picking it up! But the real question is – where does one get these breakfast cooking robots?

And what secrets are you revealing on Facebook? According to a new study, a whole lot more than you think. Researchers used participants’ Facebook “likes” as clues to their views. They fed the “like” data along with other publicly available online information into an algorithm and guess what they found? It’s possible to predict private characteristics like sexuality, religious views, political views, intelligence, age, gender, emotional stability and recreational drug habits just by “like” updates and info in the public domain. They say this raises major privacy concerns as advertisers could use this data to target users. So if you “like” people knowing everything about you, keep clicking “like” on everyone’s status.

And here’s something to “like.” Turns out tropical rainforests are more resilient to climate change than previously thought. Deemed “the most extensive study of its kind,” the new research looked at 22 different global climate models. They found that rainforests across the world did not lose their biomass (that’s plants and plant material) even as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased over the century. They only found forest cover loss in one model, and only in the Americas. Although this is great news, researchers warn that climate change is but one factor that affects the rainforest and that we must remember that other factors like fire and deforestation will also affect biomass in the forests. But at least there was a little bit of good news. [ Shoes: Emerald, stop dilly dallying and close the show. Emerald: Um yes sir, I mean yes, shoes! ]

Well that’s all for today’s Daily Orbit! [ Shoes: Stop being lazy and get moving! ]

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+