On Science – Virgin Galactic Blasts Off

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 5,737
    1-14-14: On this episode of On Science, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft, SS2, does test runs to prepare for the groundbreaking commercial space flight, scientists discovery a deep trench in Antarctica, and researchers say parents who mix up their kids’ names shouldn’t feel too bad.

    How has Virgin Galactic reached new heights?


    Should you feel bad about calling your kid the wrong name?


    What giant lies beneath the ice in Antarctica?


    And there's a new way to crack into show business…  Coming up today.. On Science!



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


    SpaceShipTwo keeps going higher and higher.  In a recent test run Virgin Galactic’s reusable space vehicle, the SS2, reached an altitude of 71,000 feet and speeds of Mach 1.4.  This is test flight number three on it’s journey to be the world's first commercial suborbital space flight ever, tentatively planned for later this year.  Let’s put 71,000 feet into perspective—that’s about twice as high as most commercial jetliners fly.  In this particular run, engineer’s were testing the spaceship’s reaction control system for maneuverability in space and a thermal protection coating on its tail bone to protect the vehicle skin from the rocket motor temperatures.  And they checked them both of the list because the objectives were successfully completed.  Whelp!  That's two steps closer to space for Virgin Galactic tourists.


    We’ve seen Hollywood crack the code in so many storylines over the decades, from DaVinci Code to Minority Report, but what about cracking the Hollywood code?  One blogger is doing just that.  While watching Elysium, computer programmer John Graham-Cumming decided to track down the code used in the movie to reboot the space station. After a little research he found that the code was taken directly from the Intel software developer’s manual, which he thought funny and tweeted.  He got so much response that he launched a Tumblr  of movie codes.  Turns out cracking movie codes is pretty simple.  Here’s an interesting one.  When Tony Stark boots up his suit for the first time in “Iron Man,” the code is actually programming language from a Lego computer.  So John, are you saying that life and death codes in Hollywood movies are nothing more than an illusion?


    And reminiscent of the movie title “What Lies Beneath,” researchers have uncovered an illusion of nature.  Hidden beneath ice in Antarctica, scientists have discovered a massive and ancient subglacial trough, even deeper than the Grand Canyon.  This team of UK researchers was charting an ancient mountain range called the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands that are buried beneath several kilometers of Antarctic Ice, using satellites and radars when they discovered the deep valley.  The subglacial valley is up to 3 kilometers deep, 300 kilometers long, 25 kilometers across and in some places reaches more than 2000 meters below sea level.  Researchers say the find was “incredibly serendipitous” and “that it just goes to show how little we still know about the surface of our own planet.” 


    I’m used to answering to “Jekey-cod-em-I-mean-ugh-Emerald,” as my mom goes through the list of my sibling names to finally get to my name.  But that’s common.  A new study out of the University of Texas at Austin say parents set themselves up for errors when giving their children similar-sounding names.  Although the alliteration may be cute, think about how that’s going to come out when one kids spilling the milk while the other’s having a meltdown.  Participants with names that share an initial, like Jason/Jamie, or final sound, like Amanda/Samantha, reported their parents calling them the wrong name more often than those who didn’t share similar sounding names.  A subset of respondents said they were also called the name of the family pet.  So I guess you’re parents do love the dog more than you after all.


    Maybe Mama just needed a little meditation.  A new report from the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management details how transcendental meditation is the only type of meditation that is accompanied by physiological measure and descriptions of transcendental experiences.  In the study of 52 subjects, they describe their transcendental meditation practice as a “state where thinking, feeling, and individual intention were missing, but Self-awareness remained.”  The researcher noted physiological changes with the practice like a shift in breath rate, skin conductance and EEG patterns.  The researcher said regular meditation allows a person to become more self-aware and able to handle the challenges of everyday life.  Hey, why not give it a try?


    And that’s what’s up On Science. I'd better get to crackin'! (code running in the background…)