Daily Orbit – Hubble Views Messier 77

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,452
    3-29-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, Hubble takes a picture of the Messier 77 galaxy, there’s a new advancement in cancer research, the the jellyfish enters the robot world.

    Emerald Robinson: Art plus science equals a thing of beauty. Obesity leads to less physical activity-um duh? DNA sheds light on breast and ovarian cancer. And swarming and swimming robots! Yikes! On today's Daily Orbit!

    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson. For all of you science art enthusiasts, today's Hubble Art Exhibit features a beautiful piece of work portraying the spiral galaxy Messier 77. This galaxy sits in the constellation Cetus, about 45 million light-years away from us. It is the closest and brightness example of a class of galaxies known as the Seyfert galaxies, which are full of hot, highly ionized glowing gas. An amateur astronomer uncovered this photo in Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition where amateur sky gazers sift through the Hubble archive for images that have never been seen by the general public before. This particular amateur said that he had to combine different datasets to get different colors, by combining channels of different wavelength. Well he said a whole lot of technical stuff. You know, he really doesn't sound like an amateur at all.

    And here's a little hope in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer. Multiple studies involving the genotyping of more than 250,000 individuals have produced new DNA sequences helping to reveal the underlying causes of breast and ovarian cancer.

    One study found that women with mutated copies of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a much higher risk of both breast and ovarian cancer, as much as 65%. Another found four new sequences associated with Estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, the more aggressive and harder to treat form of breast cancer. Researchers say that these DNA sequences can be incorporated into risk models helping to predict a woman's risk of cancer and allowing for either preventative surgeries or more frequent monitoring. They said the studies were so large that the results are really trustworthy.

    Okay I know it seems like a given but researchers say that obesity leads to less physical activity. I know you're saying yeah duh! But surprisingly no one has ever studied this side of obesity-having only looked at the opposite-how lack of exercise leads to obesity. Researchers put accelerometers on 250 females to accurately measure activity level, since most people fib in self-reports. And no, researchers weren't shocked at the findings, saying it's not rocket science and it's very logical, but it does provide more insight into how the vicious cycle works and how it can be stopped.

    Well it's time for more robot news! Meet the latest in robo-technology-a jellyfish named Cyro. Currently in development at Virginia Tech, this robotic jellyfish is the size of a human at 5' 7" and 170 lbs. Cyro is a larger version of its predecessor Robo Jelly unveiled by Virginia Tech in 2012. So why make a bigger version? Because a larger vehicle allows for larger payload, longer duration and longer range of operation. And why a jellyfish of all sea creatures? Because a jellyfish is ultra-energy efficient. The project is funded by the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center and they say the goal is to create water machines for surveillance purposes and monitoring the environment.

    Engineers say Cyro still has some improvements to undergo before it could really be used. Okay, a beach incident when I was 9 has left me with a fear of jellyfish. So my question is-will Cyro have tentacles that sting?

    And from robots that swim to robots that swarm. Aaah! Tiny robots are taking over! Scientists in the UK are currently developing teams of tiny robots that can swarm together to perform tasks such as pushing an object across the floor.

    The team has been working with a group of 40 robots. Inspired by natural systems like a school of fish or a flock of birds, the idea is to create a system where the work is evenly distributed without a single controlling unit. They hope that these cool little worker bots could be helpful in non-invasive medical procedures, military rescue, and commercial manufacturing processes. I have some task suggestions myself program them to do my laundry or give me a massage!

    Well that does it for today's Daily Orbit. I was just kidding! You don't have to do help with my laundry! Help!