Daily Orbit – To Infinity and Beyond

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,914
    2-20-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, the universe might actually be finite, a robot learns language, and acupuncture might be the answer for allergy sufferers.

    Emerald Robinson: All things must come to an end, even the universe. Look whose learning language now. 19 degrees of the Internet. And why is that baby crying? On today's Daily Orbit!

    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson. All things in life end, but we could always feel like the universe was infinite and would go on forever. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it might not be so. Scientists say it's 'bad news bears' for the future of the Universe. But before you start partying like there's no tomorrow, you should know that physicists are predicting the universe still has billions of years left in it.

    They say an alternative universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us. This prediction is based on the Higgs-Boson (or God particle) that was supposedly discovered at CERN last year. The formation of a new universe would create a vacuum effect sucking up the current universe. Or maybe our universe will just enter the Twilight Zone-and for all you young ones, that's not referring to Bella and Edward.

    They've made robots that walk, talk, and work it Gangnam style, but now a robot that can actually learn? Robots typically aren't taught but programmed, but a new artificial brain system could enable robots to learn language. They have put the brain into the iCub robot for testing.

    The robot has a complex body with 53 motors that can move the head, arms and hands, waist and legs and is capable of sight and hearing. But he's still no C3PO. In other words, you can't carry on a conversation with the robot just yet since a human brain processes language in real time and the artificial brain isn't quite that fast. Maybe they should try using robot speak-I-understand-you-iCub.

    It may be 6-degrees of Kevin Bacon in life, but for the web it's 19-clicks-to-every-page. New research says that any two web pages are a mere 19 clicks apart. That's pretty surprising considering that there are about 14 billion web pages and 1 trillion web documents out there.

    Researchers came to these findings using a simulated model of the web. Even though the majority of websites are poorly connected, sites like search engines, indexes and aggregators are extremely well connected and bring the less connected sites into the fold. They say this connectedness on the Internet is a reflection of our social tendency to form communities. And they even developed this beautiful picture to represent the Internet's interconnectivity.

    So I hear people recommend acupuncture for everything. Headache? Get acupuncture. PMS? Acupuncture. Your dog died? Acupuncture. And now seasonal allergies? Yep, a new report says-acupuncture. When the usual antihistamines don't work some people are looking to alternative medicine to treat those itchy, watery eyes.

    In an 8 week study, researchers found that acupuncture relieved many allergy symptoms, with a decreased need for taking traditional allergy medications. A group of participants were given "sham" acupuncture, and researchers noted a marked decrease in their symptoms as well, noting there may be a strong placebo effect when undergoing acupuncture. It doesn't hurt to try. Ouch! Please don't try this at home!

    I just love babies. They're so cute and cuddly-when they're not crying. But why do they cry? We know the main reasons are hunger, pain, anger and fear, but it's hard to tell which is which when the kid's just screaming. Studying a sample of 20 newborns, researchers found that eye movement and the dynamic of the cry provides clues.

    For example, if a baby is crying because they're afraid, they keep their eyes open almost the whole time and move their head backwards. A baby in pain has a high level of tension in the eye area and forehead, and they cry at their maximum level. Researchers also found that caretakers can't usually identify the reason behind why their baby is crying. What's wrong? Is it pain, anger, fear?

    Well that's it for the Daily Orbit.

    Okay, somebody make it stop! Do you want a Twinkie?