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Habitable Planets & Chimps | SciByte 24

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We take a look at new extra-solar planet discoveries, chimps, supernova, Alzheimer’s, Mars, Cables, updates on New Horizons spacecraft and Voyager 1 and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Extra-solar Planets

Flinging Chimps

  • The low down
  • Chimps are the only other species besides humans that regularly throw things with a clear target in mind
  • Researchers studying such behavior have come to the conclusion that throwing feces, or any object really, is actually a sign of high ordered behavior
  • Watching chimps in action for several years and comparing their actions with scans of their brains to see if there were any correlations between those chimps that threw a lot and those that didn’t or whether they’re accuracy held any deeper meaning.
  • Chimps that both threw more and were more likely to hit their targets showed heightened development in the motor cortex
  • Better throwing chimps didn’t appear to posses any more physical prowess than other chimps
  • Significance
  • Language processing occurs in the left side, which also controls our right hands; and most people use their right hands to throw, as do chimpanzees.
  • Such findings led the term to suggest that the ability to throw is, a precursor to speech development.
  • Those chimps that could throw better appeared to be better communicators within their group
  • Why did these chimps learn to throw in a captive context? The chimp learns is as a form of communication.
  • Throwing stuff at someone else became a form of self expression
  • * Of Note*
  • While throwing at first might not seem demanding, coordinating it requires intensive, on-the-fly calculations.
  • An equation for throwing a ball, for example, would include the distance to a target, the ball’s heaviness and the thrower’s strength. A moving target makes it even harder
  • Social Media
  • Emory University @EmoryUniversity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Researches find poop-throwing by chimps is a sign of intelligence @
  • Poop-Throwing Chimps Provide Hints of Human Origins @
  • Philosophical Transactions
  • Emory University

*— NEWS BYTE — *

Supernova warning signs?

Alzheimer’s Research

  • The low down
  • One of the earliest known impairments caused by Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of sense of smell
  • There is currently no effective treatment or cure for the disease
  • Since the 1970s, loss of sense of smell has been identified as an early sign of this disease
  • Smell loss can be caused by a number of ailments, exposures or injuries
  • Significance
  • Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have confirmed that the protein, called amyloid beta, causes the loss of sense of smell
  • Amyloid beta plaque accumulated first in parts of the brain associated with smell, well before accumulating in areas associated with cognition and coordination
  • Just a tiny amount of amyloid beta – too little to be seen on today’s brain scans – start this process
  • While losses in the olfactory system occurred, the rest of the mouse model brain, including the hippocampus, which is a center for memory, continued to act normally early in the disease stage
  • Mice were given a synthetic liver x-receptor agonist, a drug that clears amyloid beta from the brain
  • The sense of smell an be restored by removing a plaque-forming protein in a mouse model of the disease
  • After two weeks on the drug, the mice could process smells normally
  • After withdrawal of the drug for one week, impairments returned
  • Team are now following-up on these discoveries to determine how amyloid spreads throughout the brain, to learn methods to slow disease progression
  • * Of Note*
  • We could use the sense of smell to determine if someone may get Alzheimer’s disease
  • Use changes in sense of smell to begin treatments, instead of waiting until someone has issues learning and remembering
  • We can also use smell to see if therapies are working
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Reversing Early Sign of Alzheimer’s – Animal Experiment Successful, For A While @ Medical News Today
  • Early sign of Alzheimer’s reversed in lab @ Medical Xpress
  • Published in The Journal of Neuroscience
  • Research by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Martian Glaciers

Spandex Cables

  • The low down
  • Japanese company Asahi Kasei Fibers, originally designed the elastic cable material, called Roboden, for wiring the soft, flexible skin of humanoid robots.
  • The new cable can stretch by a factor of 1.5
  • The cable material is made of an outer elastic shell with spiraled internal wiring that unspirals when pulled.
  • Multimedia
  • VIDEO @ YouTube – Worlds First Elastic Electric/Data/USB Cables – Roboden #DigInfo
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Spandex manufacturer makes elastic electrical cable (w/ video) @ PhysOrg](–12-spandex-elastic-electrical-cable-video.html)
  • Stretchable Cables, Designed for Robots, Handy for Humans @](

New Horizons (Pluto spacecraft) – Update

Voyager 1 – Update

  • The low down
  • Launched : Sep 05, 1977
  • Speed : 10.5 mi/s [17 km/s]
  • Significance
  • NASA’s Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge
  • It has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space
  • Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space.
  • The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.
  • Social Media
  • Voyager 1 @NASAVoyager1
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Curiosity Rover | SciByte 22
  • NASA’s Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge @ JPL.NASA


Looking back

  • Dec 11, 1911 – 100 years ago – Marie Curie’s second Nobel Prize : Marie Curie became the first person to be awarded a second Nobel prize. She had isolated radium by electrolyzing molten radium chloride. This second prize was for her individual achievements in Chemistry, whereas her first prize (1903) was a collaborative effort with her husband, Pierre, and Henri Becquerel in Physics for her contributions in the discovery of radium and polonium.
  • *Dec 7–11 1972 – 39 years ago – Last moon mission *: On Dec 7th Apollo 17, the sixth and last U.S. moon mission, blasted off from Cape Canaveral. On Dec 11th astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landed on the moon for a three-day exploration, while Ronald E. Evans remained in orbit. Flight Commander Eugene Cernan was the last man on the moon. Typically the backup crew for an Appolo mission was to serve as the main crew 3 missions later, but with Appolo 17 scheduled as the last Moon mission there was heavy pressure to put a geologist to the crew (Schmitt.)
  • Dec 10, 1984 – 27 years ago – First Extrasolar Planet Discovery Announcement: The National Science Foundation reported the discovery of the first planet outside our solar system, orbiting a star 21 million light years from Earth. The object was found orbiting Van Biesbroeck 8, an extremely faint star about 21 light years from Earth. However, it seemed to abruptly vanish when later attempts to observe its gravitational pull on Van Biesbroeck 8 failed. It is currently unknown whether the object ever existed.

Looking up this week

  • Keep an eye out for …

  • Wednesday, Dec 7 : As darkness falls, Jupiter is to the upper right of the Moon.

  • –Saturday Dec 10 – Total Eclipse of the Moon–

  • The Moon is totally within the umbra of Earth’s shadow for 52 minutes. The partial stages before and after totality each last more than an hour.

  • At the instant of greatest eclipse (14:32 UT) the Moon lies at the zenith in the Pacific Ocean near Guam.

  • The exact hue (anything from bright orange to blood red is possible) depends on the unpredictable state of the atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. As Jack Horkheimer (1938–2010) of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium loved to say, “Only the shadow knows.”

  • Timeline

  • Partial Eclipse Begins – 4:45am PST / 12:45 GMT

  • Total Eclipse Begins – 6:45am PST / 14:06 GMT

  • Total Eclipse Maximum – 6:32am PST / 14:32 GMT

  • Total Eclipse Ends – 6:14am PST / 14:57 GMT

  • Partial Eclipse Ends – 8:17am PST / 16:17 GMT

  • What you can see

  • NASA

  • ShadowAndSubstance

  • United States & Canada : The western United States and Canada will witness a total lunar eclipse. The action begins around 4:45am PST when the red shadow of Earth first falls across the lunar disk. By 6:05am PST, the Moon will be fully engulfed in red light.

  • Europe : Seen as rising over eastern Europe

  • Asia and Australia : Visible from all of Asia and Australia

  • Austrailia and Japan : The eclipsed Moon hangs high in middle of the night

  • South America & Antarctica : Not able to see the eclipse

  • More on whats in the sky this week

  • Sky&Telescope

  • AstronomyNow


  • HeavensAbove


Neutrinos & Tatooine | SciByte 17

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We take a look at the so called ‘Tatooine’ planet that hit the news recently, some updates on the supposedly faster than light neutrinos, new underwater invisibility cloak technology, maps, Mercury, Tsunami tech, and even take a peek at what’s up in the sky this week.

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Show Notes:

Why did we bring SciByte back?


  • Too much out there is just plain distraction, why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? This is an important mission for us at Jupiter Broadcasting. We don’t want to offer only entertainment, but also information, news, and other things that just make you a treasure trove of small talk at your next cocktail party!
  • I almost see it as a public service too, this stuff is important and it impacts our entire universe!


  • There are a lot of interesting things going on out there in science, but getting to the interesting bits without all the hype you get from major media outlets is a trick we are hoping to pull off.
  • The whole scientific method is about investigation and acquiring new knowledge to add to or correct old knowledge. We’ll provide you with enough knowledge to show off to friends and family and provide you the means, with the help of our trusty show notes, to further investigate the things that interest you the most.
“Tatooine” Planet

Faster than light Neutrinos

——————————————- News Byte ———————————————————

Functional Invisibility cloak! using mirage effect underwater

Error in Greenland Ice Map

Planet Mercury Full of Strange Surprises

  • The low down
    • The Messenger Spacecraft orbiting Mercury has completed it’s first Mercury day of orbit
    • That’s 176 Earth days, while Mercury’s years is a mere 88 Earth Days, that’s 2 years / day
    • The first 6 months of data was released including information on magnetic field, Mercury’s
      tenuous exoshpere, and surface composition
    • The surface composition of Mercury is different the other inner rocky planets
    • there are huge expanses of volcanic plain in the surrounding the noNorthern polar region
    • Evidence suggests that it formed during a different time than the other inner planets
    • There are also substantially hier amounts of sulfur and potassium than predicted (both vaporize at high temperatures, so extreme high-temperature events in it’s past are ruled out)
    • Scientists have also discovered vents, measuring up to 25 kilometers (km) (15.5 miles) in length, that appear to be the source of some of the tremendous volumes of very hot lava that have rushed out over the surface
  • Mercury has a weak magnetic field
  • Multimedia
  • Social Media
  • Further Reading / In the News
Japans Answer to another Tsunami mini Noah’s Arks?

The complete Astronaut Dad comic revealed at New York Comic-con
  • A graphic novel that tells a moving, fictional story about a group of backup astronauts in the early 1960s, and the complicated relationships they have with their families.

——————————————–Science Calender——————————————————

Looking back this week
Looking up this week
  • Keep an eye out for
    • This month Saturn sets just before Jupiter rises, and Venus is moving from the morning sky before dawn to the evening sky.
    • This month Jupiter is in opposition (opposite the sun to us), but it makes for good observations
    • Jupiter is roughly 45° up in the late evening skies to the East (height depends on where you are and what time your observing)
    • In the Pre-Dawn hours of the 20–22 you can see the Waning Moon in the SE about half way up the sky, along with the planet Mars
    • You might also be able to see a few Orionid metoers later this week in the SE skies as they peak in the Early morning hours of Saturday Oct 22, waiting till just after midnight might get you rates of up to 25 meteors per hour ( ~ 1/ 2.5 min )
    • The ROSAT X-ray observatory, launched in 1990 by NASA and managed for years by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within the next two weeks. Current best estimates place the re-entry between Oct. 21st and 24th over an unknown part of Earth. (A Day before re-entry the estimate will be +/- 5 hours)
    • ROSAT re-entry page
    • Check the links for more information and updates, when and where you can see satellites going over head and even ongoing data updates on the chances of Aurora where you live
  • More on whats in the sky this week

SETI Shutdown | J@N | 4.26.11

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Today the SETI project announced they’d be suspending the search for alien signals indefinitely today. We look at what it would take to start this project back up, and why the timing of this shutdown is so critical!

Plus we chat about what this really means for the long term life of the SETI@Home project.

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Show Notes:

Mountain View SETI announces “hibernation” of Allen Array
Actual .PDF sent to investors:

- Indefinite closure due to lack of funding
* If every US citizen donated 3 cents annually, they could operate indefinitely.
* Actual pricetag: only $5million, over the next two years

- Original construction privately funded primarily by Paul Allen (total of $50million donations)
* Now maintained by UC Berkeley thru donations from …
– Nat’l Science Foundation: Cut funding to 1/10th of previous year.
– State of California: Cut funding COMPLETELY

Timing could not be worse:
* Kepler telescope recently catalogued 1,235 planets potentially capable of supporting life
* SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak compared the project’s suspension to “the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria being put into dry dock. “

Future of SETI:

The Allen Array is not the only SETI station, but it is the only one dedicated entirely to the project. Elsewhere, teams have to borrow/rent time on arrays.

The SETI@Home project will continue:
But since this is a sifting of ‘old’ data, to find things that SETI scientists may’ve missed, it may slow down? With less data coming in, will there be enough for hobbyists to sift through?
Similar to SETI@home, except that it uses HUMANS instead of “at rest” CPU cycles to track patterns of potential signals. Thanks to partnership with GalaxyZoo project, significant findings can be followed up on almost immediately.
Also includes (or will include) an open-source initiative for code and algorithm development, to further increase the efficiency of SETI.

Our thoughts on SETI:

-A gov’t sponsored answering machine? At least then, they won’t get a busy signal when dialing in. That’d be embarrassing.
-Arczer believes that SETI is the only thing keeping the invasion at bay. Now they can take us by surprise!


Written by chris

April 26th, 2011 at 10:38 pm