Emerald Robinson: Face-time over face to face? Weighing in on supermassive black holes and pinning down a pigeon. All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson. Face to face seems to be losing its place in today's social world. A new study reports that Gen X'ers, individuals in their mid-30s to late 40s are as likely to engage via email or social media as face-to-face contact.
Researchers say that this first generation of the electronic era is balancing new social media with traditional interactions very well. In a typical month they engage in about 75 face-to-face contacts or conversations, compared to about 74 electronic contracts through personal emails or social media.
Supermassive black holes remain a mystery to astronomers but a few ambitious star gazers say they have a new way to weigh in on some answers to these puzzling galactic objects.
These monstrous objects cannot be explained by the usual black holes methods, and it's very hard to determine their mass, the problem being that most are too far away to examine with the Hubble Telescope.
But astronomers at Oxford University determined the mass of a black hole at the center of our galaxy by determining the velocity of the carbon monoxide spinning within the cloud of gas surrounding the supermassive black hole.
Astronomers say that this new method paired with new telescopes in development will revolutionize the study of supermassive black holes and give insight into their formation.
On a diet and feel like you just can't take it? Eat a snack! And that's a scientific suggestion. A new study looked at self-reports of satisfaction from participants indulging in large or small snack portions. Results showed that smaller portions were capable of providing that same feelings of satisfaction as larger portions.
So dieting, they said, isn't about good and bad food necessarily. If you're craving a food, it might be an option to eat it, but in a smaller portion size. So I can have my cake then?
Where oh where did my pigeon go? Oh geez he's probably lost again. But why do homing pigeons get lost? Geophysicist Jon Hagstrum proposes that these birds follow ultra low frequency sounds, or infrasound for navigation, which are generated by waves deep in the ocean. He believes that disruptions in their ability to hear, gets them disoriented.
Previously scientists thought that all birds navigated by smell or by sensing the Earth's magnetic fields. Hagstrum says this research doesn't necessarily prove his infrasound theory, but it creates a pretty good idea.
And today marks 10 years since the tragedy that took the lives of seven astronauts when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the Texas sky upon its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Crew members of the STS-107 mission had just wrapped up 16-days in orbit conducting international scientific research for NASA, which was to be their last mission. The seven astronauts were lost about 15 minutes before they were scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center.
The cause of the tragedy? A damaged TPS, or Thermal Protection System that shields shuttles from heat from atmospheric compression upon re-entry. During the launch, a piece of foam insulation about the size of a small briefcase had broken off from Columbia's external tank and struck the left wing, damaging the TPS.
After the accident, nearly 85,000 pieces of orbiter debris were shipped to Kennedy Space Center for reconstruction to determine damaged areas. About 38 percent of the orbiter Columbia was eventually recovered. Today, we remember those seven astronauts and their contribution to space exploration.
Well, that's all for today's Daily Orbit, see you next week. Oh look, he found his way back.