Daily Orbit – Showtime for Saturn

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,696
    4-26-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, Saturn makes its way close to Earth, learning a little more about lightning, and using your bike to power your phone.

    Emerald Robinson: A Pink Moon gets a partial disguise.

    How hard is it to burn off that burger?

    Why do we feel safer with our crew?

    And we're shedding some light on today's Daily Orbit!

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

    Well, Orbiters in the Eastern Hemisphere got to see the first lunar eclipse of 2013 today. The partial eclipse took place during the Pink Moon and was visible from the Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Western Australia. So that Orbiters in the Western Hemisphere didn't feel left out, a Slooh broadcasted of the eclipse live on the Internet. And here's a question for you, is a Pink Moon pink? No, it's called that because it's the April full moon and it's named after one of spring's earliest blooming flowers, the wild phlox, which is pink. However, I for one would love to see a pink moon.

    Even if we could have seen the lunar eclipse in the Western Hemisphere, we wouldn't have had a great view anyway, thanks to light pollution. But a team of researchers say they have an answer. They have reportedly developed a new lighting system for street lights using LEDs that shine light only where needed, sparing nearby homes and even the night sky from unwanted illumination.

    It's also more efficient, cutting energy consumption by 40-60 percent, and will be more adaptable to different designs. That part I really like. LED is all the rage and predictions say LED applications will double this year and triple by 2016. A prototype should be ready in the next 3 to 6 months, followed by practical installations next year. Maybe soon I can toss my sleep mask I have been wearing.

    The latest in robotics? Flipperbot. I just love the names they gave to these robots. Flipperbot is a sea turtle-like robot that is helping scientists learn about the mechanics behind walking on sand-like surfaces. Not only will it assist in learning about locomotion, but it will also help us understand about the evolution of the appendages that allow turtles and seals to move about.

    They want to understand how in soft sand these animals move their limbs in such a way that doesn't create a yielding of the material on which they walk. They say, like a jump shot, it's all in the wrist. The Flipperbot simulates the flexible wrist of turtles, which locks in place on solid ground, but bends forward in the sand. Scientists say this info could give designers clues in making appendages for sand pedaling robots.

    Did you hear that? Wait. where's my posse at? I'm scared! Research says there is definitely safety in numbers or that's how we feel anyway. A new study out of Michigan State University showed that when we are alone, we perceive threats as being a lot closer, but when more people are with us, that misperception disappears. The study was inspired by previous MSU research that found that hyenas were more likely to seek out the source of a threat when they were in a group, and more likely to flee when they were alone. And apparently the same is true for humans. While it may seem like, um, yeah, duh, researchers say that's an evolutionary trait, having people around makes us feel safer.

    Okay, this next one is interesting because I could care less when I see how many calories are in food, but you tell me how much work I have to do to burn that dish off and I'm like nuh-uh. Many fast food restaurants have started listing calorie counts on their menus, but the majority of studies have proved that these numbers actually do little to curb the amount of food people consume. In a new study, participants were either given a regular menu, a menu where the calories were listed, or one which replaced the calorie count with the estimated number of minutes of brisk walking that would take to burn that burger or whatever the food was.

    They saw no difference in the average calories ordered from both the calorie-count group and conventional menu group, but the exercise menu group ordered significantly less. So basically, we don't like the thought of working it off. Does that make us lazy? Hmm.

    Well, that's all for today's Daily Orbit.

    So if I order the Titanic Tuna Mount with the overboard fridge fries, how much work do I have to do? What? Five hours of brisk walking, does it well to start now.