Daily Orbit – LEGOs Build the Future

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,197
    9-9-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, LEGO teams with NASA to build the future of spaceflight, shark attacks in Hawaii are linked to migration patterns, and the FDA says arsenic in rice is safe.

    Lego building goes to the next level…

    Shark bites on the rise…

    Could eating rice kill ya?

    Orbiters start your engines for another Daily Orbit!

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

    Well, kids aren’t just building houses and forts with their LEGOs anymore—try hydrogen powered airliners and supertankers. Lego announced the winners of its “NASA’s Future Missions:  Imagine. Invent. BUILD” competition that asked young Lego enthusiasts to combine real NASA research with their vision for the future of spaceflight or air travel using LEGOs.  The “Flying Extinguisher 4000 Fish Eagle” won in the young builders division, designed for putting out wildfires and boasting vertical and short field takeoff and landing capabilities, with a wing designed for traveling long distances.  But the winner overall was the “Hydrogen Powered Regional Airliner” designed to reduce fuel consumption, noise and emissions with a blended hybrid wing body and hydrogen-fueled, turboelectric engines.   Winners got a special trophy and NASA souvenirs. I think the best thing I ever built with my Legos was a princess castle…

    Watch out for those sharks!!  They’re migrating!  Researchers say the large numbers of shark attacks off the coast of Hawaii may be explained by migratory patterns.  A 7-year study of the tiger shark movement from biologists at the University of Hawaii and Florida found that about 25% of mature female tiger sharks that normally stick close to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands travel to the Main Hawaiian Islands in the last summer and fall, primarily to give birth.  This migration coincides with increased reports of shark attacks.  Already this year there have been 8 reported attacks and the first fatal attack since 2004.  Something to keep in mind if you’re planning a Hawaiian getaway.

    Maybe you could potentially die from a shark bite, but you’re not likely to die of arsenic poisoning from eating rice. Testing conducted by the FDA found that low levels of arsenic in rice aren’t enough to make it dangerous.  Because rice grows in flooded fields, arsenic is released from the soil and more easily absorbed by the rice plants than other crops grown in drier soil.  The FDA determined that brown rice has the highest level of arsenic and instant rice has the lowest.  They added that arsenic levels were “too low to cause immediate or short-term negative health effects,” but the next step will look at long-term consumption.  The FDA’s advice?  Eat a well balanced diet without too much of any one food—including rice.

    If you’re annoyed by having to pay 5 bucks for your favorite coffee at Starbucks, then stay away from the famous civet coffee. Scientists have determined a way to tell real Civet coffee from imitations by determining the coffee’s metabolic fingerprint.  Often the target of fraud, this famous coffee ranges from $150-227 a pound.  It is produced in countries like Indonesia where civet cats eat the ripest coffee berries and poop the beans out.  Those beans are the collected, cleaned, and roasted.  By looking at the metabolites present in the coffee beans, scientists can determine if the beans were ever put through the civet cat’s digestive system, which leaves a fingerprint of sorts including levels of malic and citric acid.    Why this ID system is far from being practical yet, scientists say it’s a good start.

    Nissan is getting on-board the smartwatch train. The “Nismo Concept Watch” is intended to connect Nismo racecar drivers with their cars and even their fans.  The watch will help drivers monitor the efficiency of their vehicle, including the average fuel consumption and speed, along with telematics and performance data of the car.  In addition, it will monitor the driver’s biometrics including heart rate, brainwaves, core body temperature, and hydration level.  The Nismo watch is a product of Nissan’s mobile Nismo Lab launched earlier this year featuring the latest in advanced biometric training tools for Nismo cars and athletes.  Go team Nismo!

    And that’s all for the Daily Orbit.  They should let me drive a racecar…Or not….