On Science – 2013 Word of the Year

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,457
    11-19-13: On this episode of On Science, selfie becomes the word of the year, the ISON saga continues, and MAVEN is on its way to Mars.


    The word selfie is finally legit….

    ISON keeps giving us the run-around….

    MAVEN moves toward Mars…..

    And men are just plain nosey….coming up today…On Science! 

    Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

    (taking a selfie)  #winning!  The “selfie” has been named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013.  And for those of you who live under a rock and don’t know what a selfie is, Oxford defines it like this:  (n.) a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.  Although usage of the word went up a whopping 17,000% in 2012, it’s nothing new.  The term was coined back in 2002 in a posting in an Australian Web forum.  However, there were opponents to 2013’s “word of the year,” who felt that “twerk” really should have been this year’s winner.  And I’m sure Miley Cyrus had to agree with them. 

    And Comet ISON needs to just make up its mind!  I don’t know whether to get my hopes up or not.  First it was on, then it was off, then no it’s definitely on and going to be the stellar event of the century and now some are saying, not so fast.  Scientists with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the Astronomical Institute at Ludwig Maxmillian University say that their observations suggest that the comet’s nucleus has broken apart.  What evidence?  They said the comet ISON, which iscurrently viewable in the eastern predawn sky, has wings.  They said the coma wings suggests the presence of two or more sub-nuclei with individual expanding atmospheres and may indicate the nucleus splitting in the coma.  And what does that mean?  Less of a chance of survival for the comet’s nearing encounter with the sun.  It’s like a bad on-again-off-again relationship.

    In more upbeat space news, MAVEN is on its way to Mars!  NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission launched from Cape Canaveral this week.   The mission will look at the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere to better understand it’s atmospheric history—specifically how Mars’ climate has changed over time due to the loss of atmospheric gases.  And it’s a good time in the sun cycle for MAVEN’s mission.  We’re approaching a solar max and scientists believe the sun played a role in helping gas escape the planet through the upper atmosphere.  The government shutdown made things a little dicey for MAVEN’s launch but in the end all things were a go.  NASA said “the spacecraft is symbolic of the hundreds of people that have been a part of this since Day One, and all kinds of support that’s needed to get us here.”

    I always say men are nosier than women.  And a new study backs me up.  Okay, so maybe not in that context.  A study from the University of Iowa Department of Orthodontics looked at why the average male nose is 10% larger than a female’s. Observations during the study showed the nose size became different between men and women during puberty as young boys are gaining more lean muscle mass.  With this muscle mass comes a need for more oxygen.  Therefore a larger snout is necessary.  And here Ithought it was just the Pinocchio effect. 

    Hold on, gotta get my workout in.  Trying to drop a few pounds before the holiday.  Whew!  I really worked up a sweat.    Researchers from Duke University say that using text messages to keep track of diet and exercise habits could help people stay committed to their weight loss goals.  In the study, obese women who used daily texting as part of the Shape Plan weight-loss intervention lost an average of nearly 3 pounds whereas those who stuck to traditional methods gained 2 1Ž2 pounds.  The texters would be sent a message asking for a response including the steps they walked, the # of sugary drinks they consumed, and if they ate fast food the day before.  Then they would get a reply with feedback and a personalized tip.  They say texting is quicker and more efficient than other labor and time-intensive data entry systems.  Oh, they could take it one step further in include the word of the year “selfie” in the program.

    And that’s it for On Science.  Catch ya tomorrow!