On Science – Half The Legs, Half The Energy

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 8,918
    1-15-13: On this episode of On Science, scientists study why primates and humans are 50% less active than other mammals, researchers say family dinners can help prevent obesity, and scientists have discovered a commonality between the formation of paraffin wax and LCD TVs.

    What is the benefit of walking on two legs as opposed to four?


    How can a family style lunch possibly combat obesity?


    What’s the wave of new discovery on Venus?


    And are scientists helping or preventing hackers?  Coming up today… On Science!


    So half the legs equals half the energy.  A team of researchers from Hunter College found that humans and other primates burn 50% fewer calories each day than other mammals.  But here’s the plus side, our slower metabolisms could explain why we mature slowly and live longer lives. They studied a variety of primates in zoos and in the wild monitoring the body’s production of carbon dioxide to come to their findings.  On an interesting note, those primates in the wild didn’t really burn more calories than the ones in the zoos suggesting the physical exertion could have less of an impact on daily energy expenditure than previously believed.  Researchers said that the higher caloric expenditure of our four legged friends contributes to the aging process and that’s why they have shorter lives.  I’ll take burning less calories for less aging.


    And speaking of calories……..The University of Illinois Child Development Laboratory has a suggestion for daycares—how about having a family style lunch or dinner?  When I think family style, I think of how I overstuff myself but experts say that sitting kids down to a table to eat, having them serve themselves and pass food helps them recognize they are no longer hungry.  They say pre-plated meals don’t teach children to read their own body’s hunger cues.  Family style meals teach them about portion control and care givers should ask children if they are “full” instead of “done.” They shouldn’t encourage them to eat “another bite.”  This recommendation is to help combat obesity as 25% of all preschoolers are overweight or obese and 12 million preschoolers eat 5 or more snacks or meals at U.S. care facilities each day.


    There’s a wave of new information concerning the second planet from the Sun.  Venus' atmosphere acts more like a river or ocean than Earth’s atmosphere and a new study from ESA focused on the planet’s lower atmosphere, which behaves like the surface of a body of water with waves and all.  The waves are called gravity waves and can be hundreds of miles across.  New images from Venus Express’ Visible Monitoring Camera suggest that previous theories that topographic features influence these waves are most likely correct.  For example, whenever stable air flows over Venus’ largest mountain, Ishtar Terra, it generates the waves in the atmosphere.  Researchers say this new information is exciting “because it strengthens that case that topography is likely to be a significant influence of the atmospheric circulation of Venus.”


    As if hackers need any help in cyber attacking, case in point Target, scientists are giving them a little help.  A new mathematical model identifies the precise, most vulnerable moment for hackers to attack a cyber victim to inflict the most damage.  Where are these scientists at exactly?  The University of Michigan.  However, they are not trying to enable hackers but predict their next attack.  They say using their model makes it possible to calculate the optimum time of a cyber-attack.  They tested their model based on the Stuxnet attack of Iran’s nuclear program and other highly organized attacks that exhibited optimal timing.  It may be developed for cyber-attacks but it can be equally effective in modeling cyber-defense.  Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.


    What does your LCD and a paraffin wax have in common?  Well, researchers at the Physics and Material Science Unit of the University of Luxembourg found that wax molecules in paraffin align in a similar way to the processes that take place in liquid crystal technology, or LCD.  The discovery was made while studying the crystallization process of wax on a macroscopic level, since little has been known about that process in the past.  What else they have in common?  I like to watch an LCD TV while getting a paraffin manicure.


    And that’s what’s happening today On Science.  See you tomorrow!