Daily Orbit – A Relic of Our Infant Universe

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,235
    10-2-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, astronomers find a radio signal from the early universe, ancient pollen sets the fossil record of flowers back 100M years, and London’s fighting crime with math.



    What light is shining on our Universe’s history?


    Fossils show flowering plants are far older than we thought…


    Too much or too little of a good thing can be bad…


    And fighting crime Hollywood style on the Daily Orbit!


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


    There’s a light shining from our past.  Using ESA’s Herschel Telescope and the South Pole Telescope, astronomers have found the Cosmic Microwave Background signal--a relic from the Big Bang that was imprinted on the sky when the Universe was a wee 380,000 years old.  The radio signal, which is barely detectable at just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero, has been bouncing around space and gives insight into the infancy of our universe.  Also exciting was the presence of B-modes--patterns of polarized light that are extremely hard to detect and arise during inflation-- a very rapid expansion of our Universe, i.e. the Big Bang, or from the phenomenon of gravitational lensing.  Scientists say finding these signals will likely yield critical information about the origins of our universe. 


    And from the history of our Universe to the history of our planet; New fossils found in Switzerland push the origin of flowering plants back 100 million years to the early Triassic Period.  Flowering plants were thought to have evolved 140 million years ago based on an uninterrupted sequence of fossilized pollen records.  But new, well-preserved pollen grain fossils say they originated much earlier.   And just what would the plants had look like?  At that time Switzerland was near the subtropics, but was drier in areas that weren’t near the Barents Sea, so most likely the flowers were across a broad ecological range.  Well, if Switzerland hadn’t moved, we’d be in our bikinis instead of ski suits on holiday.


    Speaking of which, on my recent holiday I think I got a bit too much sleep!  According to the CDC, too much sleep or too little sleep both can lead to chronic disease.  Researchers found that people who receive 6 or less hours of sleep each night or 10 or more were at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and obesity.  The ideal amount of sleep is between 7-9 hours, but the study found that 31% of adults in the U.S. sleep too little and 4% sleep too much.  Researchers also say to keep in mind that sleeping longer doesn’t mean sleeping well, so you need to understand that both quality and quantity of sleep impact your health.  I always had thought the more the better!


    And brushing your teeth before you jump in bed for your seven to nine hours of sleep might get easier and shorter.  A new 3D printed toothbrush that is tailor fitted to the individual promises to clean teeth in just six seconds.  Called the Blizzident, it looks more like a mouth guard, has 400 soft, tapered bristles, and is personalized from impressions of patient’s teeth.  Instead of brushing, you put it in your mouth and bite down.   So it’s more of a grinding than brushing. The big plus, says the company, is that you’re brushing those hard-to-reach places without thinking about it. It ain’t cheap though, as digital scans of your teeth cost between $75-$200 bucks and the custom brush is another $300 bucks. But with 10 times the bristles it should last you ten times longer.  Not if you’re a compulsive brusher like I am.


    Math is making its way into crime fighting!  Authorities are starting to use computer programs running algorithms to establish crime maps, and even predict where crimes could happen.  How Tom Cruise of them.  A program called PredPol predicts crime in real-time and has already reduced crime rates in London.  Using algorithms, it creates a heat map of where and when crimes will happen, creating a “predictive area” of a specific set of streets, which allows police to attend to the higher-risk areas.  So essentially it puts police in the right place and right time to stop crime.  


    And that’s your Daily Orbit!  See you tomorrow Orbiters!