Daily Orbit – From Trash to Treasure

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,323
    1-4-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, astronauts may soon have a way to turn their trash into radiation shields, the internet is a big culprit in the battle to reduce CO2 emissions, and dosing and driving may be a bigger problem than you think.

    Emerald Robinson: It's like space magic! Turning trash into treasure, dangerously driving drowsy, and adding a little color to your cocoa mug for taste, all that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit.

    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit! I'm Emerald Robinson. I am going to sail into space and find me some treasure! Turns out space trash could be a spaceship treasure. Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in California are developing a trash compactor that heats up trash, such as plastic water bottles, clothing scraps, and duct tape, and then compacts them into tiles to be used as radiation shields during a deep-space mission. If the plastic component of the items is high enough, they can shield against radiation and could be placed along the astronauts' sleeping quarters or in a small area in the spacecraft to create a storm shelter against solar flares. Those astronauts are getting to be so trashy.

    And if you thought that was garbage, a new model says that the Internet produces a vast amount of greenhouse gas. So that's got researchers working on a way to reduce the carbon footprint of the World Wide Web. Researchers explain that industry behind the Internet, Information, Communications, and the Technology produces more than 830 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the aviation industry's annual production.

    These researchers are suggesting more efficient power usage of facilities, more efficient use of energy-efficient equipment, and renewable energy resources in order to reduce emissions. They say if we don't work to combat the problem now, emissions from the Internet will double by 2020. Is it just me or does everything we do create greenhouse gases?

    Ever been driving down the highway and then all of a sudden you wake up? Scary right? Been there. According to a survey by the CDC, 1 in 25 motorists have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. Guilty! In fact, highway data shows that anywhere from 2.

    5% to 33% of all fatal car crashes involve drowsy driving. Of the 147,000 respondents in the survey, 4.

    2% admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel within the last 30 days.

    The survey found men were more likely than women to dose while driving, and Texans were the most likely to nod off. So make sure you get plenty of sleep, especially you Texas men before getting behind the wheel, and remember, friends don't let friends sleep and drive.

    And who would have thought the color of your mug affects how your hot chocolate tastes? Researchers say that the color of the container where food and drink are served can enhance some of the product's attributes. When looking at hot chocolate, researchers found study participants preferred the taste of the drink from orange or cream colored mugs.

    They say these findings could prove handy for chefs and other food service professionals who want to discover which colors persuade customers to buy their products. All you Starbucks competitors should be taking notes.

    Guessing the number of planets out there in our galaxy is kind of like trying to guess the number of jelly beans in the huge jar at the fair, a long shot. But astronomers at Caltech say that our galaxy alone holds at least 100 billion planets. They made their estimate while analyzing planets orbiting an M-dwarf star called Kepler-32, which serves as an example of a vast majority of stars in the galaxy.

    They said, Kepler has enabled us to look up at the sky and know there are more planets out there than stars we can see. Think about that the next time you look up at the night sky.

    That's all for today's Daily Orbit! We will see you on Monday Orbiters.