Daily Orbit – Insect Genome Sequencing

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,539
    10-9-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, ants are more closely related to bees than wasps, worldwide mobile broadband booms, and illiteracy is liked with poor health.


    Are ants a bee’s next of kin?


    How is broadband connecting the world?


    Reading for your health….


    And diamonds from the sky on the Daily Orbit.


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


    A new study from the University of California Davis has found that ants are more closely related to bees than to wasps.  Scientists had originally thought that ants were more closely related to certain parasitoid wasps, like yellows jackets and paper wasps, and more distantly related to bees.  However, current genome sequencing and bioinformatics shows the opposite. They say this new information in the evolutionary tree will help provide a new framework for understanding the evolution of phenotypic traits such as nesting, feeding, and social behavior within insects.  Well ain’t that the bees knees.


    I guess everything in the world really is connected and we’re growing more “connected” by the day.  According to a United Nations report, forty percent of the global population will be online by the end of the year thanks to widespread adoption of mobile broadband services.  The report also predicts there will be 6.8 billion mobile phone subscriptions by the same time, and that’s almost as many as there are people on Earth.  Mobile broadband prices have fallen almost 82% in the last four years and is more affordable than fixed broadband, making it more accessible to the masses. Experts noted that the least-connected nations are home to one-third of the world’s total population, who could really benefit from connectivity in regards to health, education, employment.  They say we need to figure out a way to enable these struggling countries to connect to help lift them out of poverty.


    Perhaps you’re using your broadband to connect to IQ games and brainteasers online that make you smarter. Well, good luck with that.  New research from the Georgia Institute of Technology says that online games that promise to promote mental function and boost intelligence are only halfway telling the truth.  They say the games might improve memory but can’t improve overall intelligence.  It’s been thought that working memory capacity--the ability to recall information stored in the mind quickly--and general fluid intelligence—the ability to infer relationships and do complex reasoning--go hand in hand.  After putting graduate students to the test, they found you may be able to improve your working memory capacity, but not fluid intelligence.  One researcher said, it’s like comparing height and weight, just because intelligence and memory capacity are closely correlated, it doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing.


    Here’s an unlikely intelligence connection though--reading skills and health.  A team of Norwegian scientists says people with poor reading skills tend to be less healthy than those who can read easily.   They used data from the adult literacy and life skills survey and found that a relationship exists between literacy and self-reported health--feeling pains, fatigue, or emotional problems.  Here’s why and it makes more sense.  People who aren’t good readers don’t obtain the health information they need.  Most health and well-being advice is communicated through newspapers, magazines, and the web.  Even a doctor’s appointment is typically followed-up with printed instructions. If you can’t read well, you can’t properly follow the instructions.   They recommend people with poor literacy brushing up on their reading skills for their health and also for professionals to look at how health-related information is being made available.


    Comet ISON keeps getting closer and closer, but fortunately we’re safe from it striking.  But what if a comet did hit us?  Well, scientists say one has before.  South African scientists have found the first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding.  The evidence is a tiny pebble, found in the Saharan desert, which scientists say they believe is a remnant from the nucleus of a comet that entered Earth’s atmosphere 28 million years ago above Egypt and exploded, raining fire down upon the Earth killing everything it touched.  The impact heated up the Saharan sand so much it formed yellow silica glass, which can be found in the yellow-brown scarab of Tutankhamen’s brooch. The shock of the comet explosion also produced diamonds, usually only seen deep in the Earth from pressure.   So does that mean it rained diamonds?  Imagine that!


    And that’s it for the Daily Orbit, see you tomorrow!