Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ We pick the science of life Fri, 28 May 2021 10:17:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://www.sciencepicker.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/uploads/sites/15/cropped-New-Project-32x32.png Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ 32 32 Five reasons artificial intelligence can help space exploration https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1557/ Sat, 17 Jul 2021 12:51:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1557 With the problems of our ecosystem, it is important that we explore all options on how to survive. While some look to improve our planet, others consider the options around us in outer space. Already explorations are underway to figure out if there is another planet that is habitable and how to get us there. […]

The post Five reasons artificial intelligence can help space exploration appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
With the problems of our ecosystem, it is important that we explore all options on how to survive. While some look to improve our planet, others consider the options around us in outer space. Already explorations are underway to figure out if there is another planet that is habitable and how to get us there. One of our greatest assets with this is Artificial Intelligence. It has been helping to solve our problem at a faster rate than we used to before. And with each new advancement, we are finding that there are even more ways that AI can help as we navigate the stars.

1. Assisting astronauts

In many science fictions films, main characters are being shadowed by AI robots that help with many different tasks. This foreshadowing in cinema could possibly be a goal for our reality with the development of Artificial Intelligence. We could craft robots to help assist astronauts as they work outside the space station where there is limited resources and the threat of death is very high. Whether carrying tools, or providing guidance on how to handle an issue, these little helpers can be the difference between life and death.

2. Designing and planning

By using AI to help with the designing and planning of future shuttles and stations, it is possible to reduce the element of risk for malfunction and weak spots in the structure as well as increase the production rate immensely. Researchers have been working to create a system that would help with the initial mission designs based upon the information of previous launches. This makes the job of preparing for a new trip to the stars a lot less time consuming.

3. Data processing

Whenever a satellite collects data and sends it back, this information cannot be quickly assessed by a single person within a lunch hour like is seen on television shows or in movies. It comes in large chunks and most time must be worked to piece back together. This takes a very long time to be processed and right when it ends another batch comes in and the work begins again. With an AI, the information can be processed at a faster rate and improve our understanding of what is out there in outer space in real time. The faster we understand, the quicker we can make the great leap into the great beyond.

4. Safe travel

One of the biggest issues that astronauts must face when in outer space is the challenge of space debris. Ranging in all different sizes and shapes, the smallest piece can be as equally as dangerous as the biggest. And with nothing to stop their momentum as they move hundreds of miles an hour around the planet, this can endanger both the lives of the astronauts and the safety of the shuttles, satellites, and stations that hover up there. With Artificial Intelligence, the computer that guides these instruments could come up with maneuvers to get them out of the pathway of these dangerous elements.

5. Navigation in space

With the use of satellites and global imaging, it is not hard for a person to visit any spot on the planet from the comfort of their computer. Mapping services can help a person feel as though they are standing in front of monuments located across the Earth. So why isn’t it possible to use this same type of technology to map out other celestial bodies? With an AI, a satellite could be sent out to map the Moon or other planets and relay the images back to Earth so that when the time comes and the technology supports it, astronauts will already have a good look at where they are going and what to expect.

The post Five reasons artificial intelligence can help space exploration appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Next level health: smart bandages detect infections in real time https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1556/ Sat, 03 Jul 2021 12:51:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1556 Bandages have been around for many years, and you probably don’t think much about them. People have made little updates to them over the years, such as adding the newest pop culture characters so that kids want to wear them. Well, another update involves smart bandages. A smart bandage does everything a regular bandage does. […]

The post Next level health: smart bandages detect infections in real time appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Bandages have been around for many years, and you probably don’t think much about them. People have made little updates to them over the years, such as adding the newest pop culture characters so that kids want to wear them. Well, another update involves smart bandages.

A smart bandage does everything a regular bandage does. It protects the wound while it’s healing, but it goes one step further. The smart bandage is capable of analyzing the wound in real time, detecting infections.

This is possible because of the nanosensors embedded in the bandage. Nothing crazy happens with these nanosensors; they’re safely tucked within the fibers of the bandage while they analyze.

Infections aren’t always detected until it’s too late, especially if the wound is covered and you can’t see what’s going on. This noninvasive way of monitoring the wound is a step in the right direction.

You might be wondering how these nanosensors detect a potential infection, and that’s good. Curiosity is a good thing, and the way these sensors detect a problem is by detecting concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which shows up in high concentrations when an infection is brewing.

At first, scientists were having a hard time using nanosensors because they didn’t know how to keep the sensors in place and keep them highly sensitive. Microfibers helped solve this problem. The smart bandage will connect to a smartphone or a wearable so that the user can monitor what’s going on within the wound.

While a smart bandage is helpful to anyone with a wound, it is of incredible use to a person with diabetes. Infections are common when you have diabetes, and detecting an infection could prevent the patient from dealing with complications. Detecting an infection early means fewer antibiotics, and for folks with diabetes, it could mean preventing limb amputation.

Roxbury’s NanoBio Engineering Laboratory designed this new bandage. This laboratory is inside the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, and that’s where all the magic happened.

The folks in this laboratory had to figure out how to optimize the fabrication of a fiber that could hold nanotechnology without disturbing its sensitivity.

The team had to use specialized microscopes to create the materials for the bandages. It’s clear that creating this kind of bandage took a lot of effort, and it’s also quite costly, at least initially. Hopefully, this kind of technology will become easier to make so that it’s accessible to more people in the future.

It’s important to point out that the smart bandage isn’t available yet. This is still in its early stages of development. The bandage is promising, and it seems like it’s going to become available soon, but there’s still a long road ahead.

The bandage has to go through a verification process. The team is going to have to verify the bandage’s function in a petri dish. There, they will introduce cells that you normally find in wounds to make sure the nanotechnology can detect infections brewing.

The verification process seems more of a formality because the team is pretty sure they’ll be able to move on to the ‘in vivo’ process. This is when the smart bandage is used on live animals. In this case, it’s going to be used on laboratory mice to see if the bandage can detect infections on their wounds.

It seems like something straight out of a science fiction movie or show, but nanotechnology is here, and it’s offering solutions to health no one could have ever imagined. Science is still at the beginning. There’s no telling what more can be done with nanotechnology, but it’s exciting to see.

The post Next level health: smart bandages detect infections in real time appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
What you should know about daily consumption of orange juice https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1555/ Sat, 19 Jun 2021 12:51:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1555 Drinking orange juice during breakfast, in the mid-afternoon, or after a hearty dinner can be refreshing; it has a great taste, flavor, and mouthfeel. Besides, adding orange juice (OJ) to your diet is one way of maintaining a healthy diet. Orange juice has many health benefits; it is rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants (hesperidin), and […]

The post What you should know about daily consumption of orange juice appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Drinking orange juice during breakfast, in the mid-afternoon, or after a hearty dinner can be refreshing; it has a great taste, flavor, and mouthfeel. Besides, adding orange juice (OJ) to your diet is one way of maintaining a healthy diet. Orange juice has many health benefits; it is rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants (hesperidin), and vitamins. That said, it is essential to know what happens to your body when you drink OJ. Aside from having many benefits, there are consequences of taking too much orange juice. Studies have established that eating some citrus fruits can cause undesired effects on some people and interfere with medications. Therefore it is vital to understand how OJ impacts your body for you to make an informed decision.

Below are the effects of taking too much orange juice:

Immunity boost

Drinking a glass of orange juice every morning is a great way to boost your immunity. OJ is rich in vitamin C, which protects the body against immune system deficiencies. Vitamin C improves immunity by promoting the production of white blood cells and phagocytes. These cells are essential in fighting infections. Due to their immune-boosting properties, orange juice is a preferred drink during the cold and flu season. Other than that, vitamin C protects the body from free radicals.

Digestive health

Orange juice that contains fruit pulp is a good source of fiber. Drinking orange juice eliminates digestive problems linked to insufficient acidity. OJ increases the desired acidity within your stomach and improves digestion. Drinking orange juice is suitable for your microbiota; it improves gut microbiota’s composition and function.

Glowing complexion

Drinking orange juice is beneficial to your skin health. OJ is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that aids in the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein responsible for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. Also, it helps to reduce wrinkles making your skin more youthful. Besides that, vitamin C protects the skin from oxidative damage.

Heart health

Orange juice is rich in antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid, which promote heart health. The dominant antioxidant in orange juice is hesperidin. It is responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease and improving blood vessel function. Drinking orange juice lowers the risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure. Some studies show that OJ consumption lowers cholesterol levels (LDL) and reduces diastolic blood pressure. Besides that, orange juice increases HDL cholesterol which promotes heart health.

Weight gain

Orange juice contains a high concentration of sugar, making it a high-calorie beverage. High-calorie drinks increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Besides, drinking too much OJ can cause you to put on some extra pounds. Drinking OJ when hungry does not satiate your hunger; you take more juice which means more calories are ingested.

Teeth damage

Consuming too much orange juice can cause severe damage to your teeth. The high concentration of sugar and citric acid present in orange juice is part of the harmful elements that destroy your teeth. The interaction of OJ and plaque makes plaque acidic. The acidic plaque attacks your teeth and weakens the enamel making it susceptible to damage, infection, decay, and stains.

Heartburn

Drinking too much orange juice can cause one to develop heartburn. Orange juice has a low pH which makes it very acidic. The citric acid present in juice is the primary cause of getting heartburn. It is advisable to avoid drinking orange juice if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)disease or acid reflux. Drinking orange juice on an empty stomach can trigger heartburn symptoms.

The post What you should know about daily consumption of orange juice appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
How we know the Earth is round https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1505/ Sat, 05 Jun 2021 14:40:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1505 Despite thousands of years of scientific backing and countless pieces of evidence to the contrary, there’s a sizable and still growing number of people who believe that our mother Earth is flat. Scientists have known that the Earth was not flat for millennia and is instead a spherical shape or round. Today, it’s easier now […]

The post How we know the Earth is round appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Despite thousands of years of scientific backing and countless pieces of evidence to the contrary, there’s a sizable and still growing number of people who believe that our mother Earth is flat.

Scientists have known that the Earth was not flat for millennia and is instead a spherical shape or round. Today, it’s easier now than ever to prove that the world is round by simply looking at the photos of images taken from satellites in space.

Still, there is a movement, a group of people who reject the notion of a spherical-shaped planet. These people are known as “Flat Earthers.”

Flat Earthers are roughly 2% of the United States population, or approximately 6.5 million people, who believe that the Earth is not round despite profound and conclusive scientific evidence.

It’s a growing movement that continues to increase to this day.

What do “flat Earthers” believe?

The flat earth model of the planet places the North Pole at the center of the world. The continents splayed out surrounding the North Pole, and Antarctica surrounds the world on the edge of the world, forming a gigantic wall of ice that protects the Earth and its residents.

The sun is 32 miles in diameter and hovers around the Earth at about 3,000 miles away, hovering around the North Pole. The moon is the same size and behaves the same way. When the sun is up, the moon is not, and vice versa.

What is beyond the ice wall is unknown, but the ice wall acts as a barrier to protect the Earth’s people. In a nutshell, this is what Flat Earthers believe.

The evidence

Ancient people believed that the world was flat because the world looked flat from their vantage point on the ground—this, along with the fact that most ancient people didn’t travel too far from their homes, contributed to this misconception for thousands of years.

That all changed around 2,000 years ago with the ancient Greeks.

The ancient Greeks observed that during a lunar eclipse, the shape of the shadow that the Earth left across the moon’s surface was always round. The only shape that leaves a round impression was a sphere. From this, they were able to conclude that the Earth was round.

Another observation made by the ancient Greeks concerns the constellations. They noted how the patterns of stars change as they moved from North to South. Basically, constellations that were visible on one part of the planet were not visible elsewhere.

Polaris, the North Star, for example, is directly overhead at the North Pole. As one traverses the planet moving further south, they will note that Polaris becomes less visible, disappearing once they reach the Southern Hemisphere. It’s impossible to observe the North Star from a place like Australia.

Looking around the solar system, the other celestial bodies that occupy the same space as our Earth all sport a spherical shape, yet somehow, Earth is the exception.

Finally, and the most conclusive piece of evidence that humanity has devised, images from space. Over the past 60+ years of space exploration, satellites, probes, and various other space crafts have launched into orbit, and every one of them has taken photos of the Earth in a spherical shape. Countless astronauts aboard the ISS (International Space Station) have taken photos themselves, all of which displaying the Earth in its signature, beautiful round shape.

Conclusion

Despite all conclusive evidence to the contrary, people who describe themselves as “Flat Earthers” will continue to ignore the reality right in front of them in favor of fantastical flights of fancy in the form of what they deem “a global conspiracy. To hide the truth.” Turning a blind eye away from hard evidence and science favors their fantasy version of reality.

This is no laughing matter, however. The Flat Earth movement is steadily growing and will continue to grow unless science remains steadfast in its pursuit of truth and knowledge and people do not fall prey to the ignorance therein.

The post How we know the Earth is round appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Tips to make your batteries last longer https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1502/ Sat, 22 May 2021 14:39:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1502 Batteries are helpful devices, but it’s frustrating when your battery-powered gadget stops working. Of course, batteries aren’t meant to last forever, but should they die so quickly? People use batteries for nearly everything nowadays, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could extend the life of these devices? There are several things you can do […]

The post Tips to make your batteries last longer appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Batteries are helpful devices, but it’s frustrating when your battery-powered gadget stops working. Of course, batteries aren’t meant to last forever, but should they die so quickly? People use batteries for nearly everything nowadays, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could extend the life of these devices?

There are several things you can do to get the most out of them. With these tips, you won’t have to get into your car constantly for a battery run. The following are some things you can do to make your batteries last.

Switch to rechargeable batteries

One thing you can do to stop worrying about your batteries is just switch to rechargeable batteries. You will have to spend a good chunk of cash on these batteries, and you will need a charging station, but after those initial costs, you won’t have to worry about batteries again.

Now, once you make the switch, you’ll also be saving money since you won’t have to buy them again. Each charger charges the batteries differently, so make sure you read the specs. Some will charge your batteries in a few hours, while others will take a little longer. If you use batteries often for different things, then this is a good idea.

Using the fridge

It might be strange to hear, but if you put your batteries in the fridge, this will prolong the life of each battery. This trick will work for any kind of battery, especially NiMH batteries though it’ll also work for alkaline batteries.

Heat is your batteries’ enemies, so keeping them in your fridge helps. All those unused batteries you keep in a drawer somewhere should be placed in your fridge. Ideally, you could put them in a small fridge in your garage. If you can’t do that and must put them in your kitchen fridge, place them in a box so that they don’t get in the way of the other stuff you have to put in there.

Remove unused batteries

The next thing you want to do is be honest about how often you use certain devices. You probably have a few items that require batteries that you don’t use much.

It might be a chore to remove these batteries, but if you want them to last, it’s the best thing you can do. You might want to start with seasonal items you only use at certain times in the year. You also want to remove batteries from emergency gadgets. You should store these batteries in the fridge or at least a cool, dry place.

Charging correctly

All batteries are not the same. Sometimes, you have a battery that you can’t or don’t want to remove like the battery in your smartphone or tablet. These types of batteries have to be charged correctly if you want them to last a long time. You should only charge the battery when it’s low to prolong its life.

These batteries are meant to be used until they’re almost out of power. It might seem odd to wait that long before you charge your phone or tablet, but it’ll protect your battery’s health. Charging your battery improperly might damage the battery. You might notice that the battery drains faster than it did before.

Now, you know a few tricks you can use to make your batteries last as long as possible. Perhaps one day all gadgets will only use solar power, and while there are some solar options available, they aren’t too efficient yet. At least you have these tricks to help you out until things change.

The post Tips to make your batteries last longer appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Facts about Saturn, the Planet of the Rings https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/facts-about-saturn-the-planet-of-the-rings/ Sat, 08 May 2021 14:39:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1499 Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is the second largest after Jupiter. It can be seen without a telescope and has been known to men for thousands of years. The Romans called it Saturn, after the god of time and the harvest. But it was Galileo Galilei who first saw it through a telescope. […]

The post Facts about Saturn, the Planet of the Rings appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is the second largest after Jupiter. It can be seen without a telescope and has been known to men for thousands of years. The Romans called it Saturn, after the god of time and the harvest. But it was Galileo Galilei who first saw it through a telescope. But in 1610, his telescope was so primitive that he could not distinguish the glorious rings, only that the planet appeared to have handles on each side. When he looked at the planet a couple of years later, he noted that the ‘shoulders’ had disappeared. They reappeared in 1616, looking like handles on either side of Saturn.

It wasn’t until 1656 that Christiaan Huygens of Denmark came up with the answer. The ‘handles’ were actually huge rings circling the planet at an angle. And when Saturn was in a particular orientation to the earth, the rings were side-on to us and could not be seen. About once every fifteen years, the rings ‘disappear’ to us. While the rings are immense, about 180,000 miles across, the depth of the rings is only about a mile, which is miniscule at that distance. Huygens was also the first man to see that Saturn had a moon, which became known as Titan.

Scientists thought at first that the rings were one solid ring. James Clerk Maxwell pointed out that if the ring were solid, it would break apart due to Saturn’s enormous gravitational pull. He postulated that the rings were made up of billions of small objects in orbit around the planet.

In 1675, the French scientist, Jacques Dominique Cassini noticed thin black lines running around the ring. He had the advantage of new and improved telescopes at the Paris Planetarium. He suggested that Saturn had not one, but seven rings with empty areas in between them, which were the thin black lines.

Slowly, grudgingly, Saturn has given up its secrets to scientists over the centuries. With better telescopes, they began to discover that Saturn had many more moons than just Titan. Cassini found four more major moons: Rhea, Tethys, Iapetus, and Dione.

Centuries passed before much more was discovered about the ringed planet. It was the flyby spacecraft, Pioneer 11 in the 1970s and Voyagers 1 and 2 in the early 1980s that got the first close looks at the planet.

In July of 2004, the Cassini explorer craft arrived on scene and the first real exploration of the system began. Cassini made hundreds of flybys of the moons. It sent a probe named Huygens to the surface of Titan, finding huge oceans of methane and ethane with a surface temperature of -290 degrees F. Chilly!

Enceladus, another of Saturn’s many moons, is thought to have a subterranean ocean, based on multiple flybys by Cassini. And scientists think that there may be life, albeit microscopic life, in that ocean.

Cassini also found a hurricane at Saturn’s North Pole. The hurricane is fifty times bigger than any earthly storm with winds four times as fast. It also doesn’t move. The hurricane just sits at the North Pole and churns.

Cassini went out in a blaze of glory, plunging into the wild gaseous clouds of Saturn in 2017. This ‘Grand Finale’, as it was dubbed, consisted of sending the spacecraft dipping in between the rings before heading into the atmosphere of the planet. The little spacecraft continued to come up with surprises, demonstrating that the ‘ring rain’, a rain of particles down from the rings, was much more complex that the hydrogen and helium they expected. Instead complex molecules, including water ice, nitrogen, methane, and organic appearing breakdown products were found.

Cassini also found twenty more moons in Saturn’s rings, bringing the total to 82, although many are still awaiting verification of moon status. Saturn now surpasses Jupiter for the most moons in the solar system.

The next big Saturn mission is Dragonfly, which is scheduled for takeoff in 2026 for the purpose of exploring Titan. Dragonfly will arrive at Titan in 2034.

The post Facts about Saturn, the Planet of the Rings appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
A look at how fireworks actually work https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/1496/ Sat, 24 Apr 2021 14:39:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1496 Fireworks are an integral part of many of our celebrations today. With their spellbinding arrays of patterns, vibrant colors, and sounds, fireworks offer a multisensory experience with the perfect pomp and grandeur for important events. It is no wonder that fireworks are not only a staple of Independence Day and New Year celebrations in the […]

The post A look at how fireworks actually work appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Fireworks are an integral part of many of our celebrations today. With their spellbinding arrays of patterns, vibrant colors, and sounds, fireworks offer a multisensory experience with the perfect pomp and grandeur for important events. It is no wonder that fireworks are not only a staple of Independence Day and New Year celebrations in the United States but also mark multicultural celebrations all over the world.

Fireworks can be traced back to as long as 1,000 years. While the fireworks then were nothing more than small, noisy explosions, modern versions are capable of extravagant displays with a wide range of colors, shapes, and sounds. Fireworks have significantly evolved over the millennia, undergoing much experimentation along the way. You may wonder how fireworks actually work. Here is a closer look at how some of the popular fireworks do.

Rockets

Rockets are probably the most common fireworks in the display repertoire. A rocket typically consists of an aerial shell made of gunpowder and small pellets of explosive materials called stars. While it is the metal compounds in the stars that impart their color to the fireworks when they explode, it is the various configurations of the stars that produce the different designs. The shell is equipped with fuses and loaded into a mortar that is set on the ground or often partially buried in dirt.

When the fuse below the shell known as the fast-acting fuse is ignited, the gunpowder explodes, propelling the shell into the air. While airborne, at the targeted altitude, another fuse inside the aerial shell, the time-delay fuse, ignites and triggers a second explosion. This causes the shell to burst open and send the stars flying outwards in all directions, producing the pyrotechnic display.

Fountains

Unlike rockets, fountains do not launch into the air to create displays; instead, they are ground-based fireworks that emit displays while being stationary. The anatomy of a fountain is simpler than that of a rocket. Usually conical in shape, a fountain comprises a paper or a plastic tube filled with pressed pyrotechnic composition and clay plugs at either end. The plug at the base of the fountain is solid while the clay choke at the top has an aperture. The metal compounds in the composition determine the color of the fireworks.

When the fuse is lit, the fuel composition ignites and unleashes sparks that are forced out of the aperture at the top. The effect is volcano-like plumes of cascading sparks in a multitude of colors.

Catherine wheels

Catherine wheels, also known as pinwheels are another type of fireworks that are very common. As the name suggests, Catherine wheels eject sparks as they spin, creating a spiral of sparks. The basic design of a Catherine wheel includes a powder-filled spiral tube with a pin through its center that is attached to a pole or a mount. Bigger Catherine wheels generally have a plastic hub at the center on which to rotate with tubes mounted on the hub. These tubes, much like fountains are filled with a pyrotechnic mixture of ingredients.

When lit, the fuses combine and ignite the mixture; as the powder burns creating sparks, the thrust from the explosives causes the hub to rotate, making the display mesmerizing.

Hopefully, after reading this, you understand how some of our favorite fireworks actually work. Fireworks are synonymous with celebrations these days. They bring us together as we gather to watch the displays. However, as we enjoy the beauty of fireworks, now, we can also appreciate the fact that what we see is a celebration of science and precision.

The post A look at how fireworks actually work appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Facts about the Milky Way and all its wonders https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/facts-about-the-milky-way-and-all-its-wonders/ Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:38:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1493 The Milky Way is an incredible scientific wonder. It is also a delicious chocolate bar. Today though we want to focus on the giant galaxy full of billions of stars, not the marvelous wonder that fits in the palm of your hand. The Milky Way is something we often hear about it and we all […]

The post Facts about the Milky Way and all its wonders appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
The Milky Way is an incredible scientific wonder. It is also a delicious chocolate bar. Today though we want to focus on the giant galaxy full of billions of stars, not the marvelous wonder that fits in the palm of your hand. The Milky Way is something we often hear about it and we all know that we are in it but most of us know little else. Read on to learn a little more about this far from little, magnificent galaxy.

The milky way is clearly not little. It is massive. It contains over 200 billion stars which are just impossible to imagine in our tiny minds. Yet if you can imagine 200 grains of sand, try multiplying that by a billion and it will give you an idea. That didn’t work? That is because there really is little in our world that comes close to helping to illustrate the size of the milky way. The Sahara desert has 1.5 septillion grains of sand so it is a little more than 200 billion. However, in terms of galaxies, the Milky Way isn’t that large at all. It is considered a medium-sized galaxy.

There are some galaxies that are only a few billion stars and some that have 200 trillion stars. The Milky Way sits somewhere in the middle of all of that. This is nice as it makes us feel small but not tiny. The Milky Way isn’t even one galaxy. It is the accumulation of a number of galaxies because as it grows bigger it is adding more and more to it. It recently captured the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy and is still taking over all of its star systems.

One fascinating thing about the Milky Way is that you have never seen it. You may be thinking back to a science book right now that should a spiral of stars but this is just an artist’s (or scientist’s) rendering of what they think it looks like. The truth is we can’t get far enough away to ever take a picture of it. So we have based our estimates on other galaxies and what we know about the Milky Way to make up a picture. We have decided it is spiral-shaped and has four long arms.

To many people, the Milky Way is the universe. I mean, it is certainly all we know about the place we live. Yet the Milky Way is only 13.6 billion years old, the universe itself is 13.7 billion years old. So in some ways, the Milky way is just a little behind the entire universe. Over that 13.7 billion years it has been changing constantly too.
The Milky Way gets its name thanks to the Greeks. Legend has it that the Goddess Hera sprayed milk across the sky and created the galaxy. Of course, this has become the way that western cultures refer to the galaxy but to other cultures who never heard these old stories, they have different names. The Chinese refer to the galaxy as the Silver River while in parts of Africa it is known as the Backbone of the Night.

Clearly, we still have a lot to learn about the Milky Way and the universe beyond it. Yet what we do know is already incredibly fascinating. To think it contains over 200 billion stars is just mind-boggling and to think that in the entire universe there are somewhere between 200 billion to 2 trillion galaxies is almost upsetting. It makes you realize that the idea that we are the only intelligent life in the universe is just laughable.

The post Facts about the Milky Way and all its wonders appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Could fire breathing dragons exist? https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/could-fire-breathing-dragons-exist/ Sat, 27 Mar 2021 10:24:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1490 The TV show game of thrones caused an incredible reaction around the world. It was one of, if not the most successful show of all time. However, it was based in a purely fictional time. If the giants didn’t give that away then surely the flying fire-breathing dragons did. While the fictional setting was obvious […]

The post Could fire breathing dragons exist? appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
The TV show game of thrones caused an incredible reaction around the world. It was one of, if not the most successful show of all time. However, it was based in a purely fictional time. If the giants didn’t give that away then surely the flying fire-breathing dragons did. While the fictional setting was obvious to most people, some were caught out on Twitter asking “What year is Game of Thrones set in?” and other comments that showed some people thought Game of Thrones was history, not fiction. While they were mocked by many, many, many people, was it such an embarrassing mistake to make? Many of the costumes were taken out of a certain period in history when raiders and knights existed. There was a time when people were much taller so “giants” are at least conceivable. There was some magic used during the show but allow me to ignore that for now. This leaves dragons. Are fire breathing dragons so ridiculous or could they have once existed? Let’s investigate.

To start let me be clear, I don’t want to analyze if fire-breathing dragons ever did exist, just whether it was possible that they could have existed. As I see it there are two key reasons why flying fire breathing dragons could not have existed. There is no evidence of flying dragons and there is no evidence of animals that breathe fire. These are pretty big obstacles to overcome but let’s try.

To say there is no evidence of flying dragons is not exactly true. In the time of dinosaurs, there were many that had wings and flew. The evidence of this is well documented. These dinosaurs were very large too weighing as much as a tiger and with a wingspan of 11 meters. Therefore it does appear possible that flying dragons could exist. Today many argue that flying dragons still exist. They are just much smaller. There are a number of species of lizards and snakes that can basically fly. Some have wings that allow them to glide while snakes can basically propel themselves through the air. You could argue that both of these don’t really fly they more fall with style but the snakes, in particular, have been shown to “fly” the length of a football field.

This shows that it is conceivable that dragons could fly. Would they be armor-plated beasts that appear heavier than elephants? Unlikely. Although until 2001 scientists didn’t understand how bumblebees flew so it is possible.

The next question is could they breathe fire. There is no animal in the world that does this but there is one beetle that comes close. The bombardier beetle releases a boiling hot fluid onto anyone that comes close to it as a defense mechanism. The idea that an animal could produce a flammable gas is not outside the realms of possibility at all. All it would require then would be someway of igniting it. If the gas ignited when it came in contact with the air it would appear like breathing fire. If not, the animal could have to ignite by creating a spark in its mouth. This wouldn’t be impossible either by rubbing teeth or tendons in a certain way.

Do I think the people on Twitter were foolish for thinking Game of Thrones was a history show? Absolutely! Do I think people were right to mock them? Absolutely! Is it conceivable that Game of Thrones was a history show? Absolutely not! However, is it possible that at one point in the long history of the world there was a fire breathing dragon – yes, yes it is. Even though it is unlikely I still prefer to believe in a world of fire-breathing dragons, although maybe not white walkers.

The post Could fire breathing dragons exist? appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
Earwax holds the answer to many health questions https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/earwax-holds-the-answer-to-many-health-questions/ Sat, 20 Mar 2021 10:15:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1487 The body is an amazing thing and while it has an incredible ability to regulate its own health it often requires us to understand the language it is speaking. If you are a runner you will know that you need to listen to your body all the time and translate how you are feeling into […]

The post Earwax holds the answer to many health questions appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>
The body is an amazing thing and while it has an incredible ability to regulate its own health it often requires us to understand the language it is speaking. If you are a runner you will know that you need to listen to your body all the time and translate how you are feeling into understanding whether you are running too fast, too slow, overtraining, are exhausted, not sleeping enough, or something else. The body gives lots of little tips that if we simply open our eyes to will inform us of many important things. While we have known this for a long time we never knew how important the ear was, until now.

In the modern age, we are starting to understand mental illnesses more and more. Stress and anxiety are two of the leading causes of serious health problems in modern society. People are working too hard, stressing about their family, and basically becoming anxious all the time. This is having a negative effect on their heart, their health, their wellbeing. Doctors now know that cortisol is an important ingredient when it comes to creating stress. People who have high levels of cortisol are more prone to mental health conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety. They are less able to deal with the normal everyday drama of the world and struggle as a result.
If you are someone who gets mad occasionally don’t simply assume it is explained by cortisol levels. It may be something simpler like your job or habits are leading you down a stressful path – sort these things out first. High levels of cortisol may also result in rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, flushed face, skin changes, and mood swings. If you are experiencing some of these then perhaps it is your cortisol level.

For years doctors have had methods to test cortisol. Saliva and urine are two known ways to test it. The problem is they don’t work very well. When we test cortisol levels we usually care about how they have been impacting someone over a medium or long-term period – not the short term. Salvia and urine can only test short term levels and the results often generate more questions than answers because of this. In fact, some people find the test itself stressful and can produce high cortisol levels just for the test.

This is where the ear comes in. It turns out that ear wax may offer a better method of testing as it is easy to get a sample and that sample is not impacted by the test itself. Not only this but as the wax is a build-up over time it can actually tell its own cortisol story. The test appears to be cheap and effective. Although it is only in the initial testing stages, the outlook is very promising.

Earwax may have more benefits than that. Initial results also suggest that it can identify COVID 19 antibodies that accumulate. The test could be used to determine those who are less at risk of catching the disease. Hopefully, this is something that we won’t need in the future but even if we don’t it shows the potential that earwax has to really inform a lot more about our own makeup, health, and well-being.

Cortisol is a powerful ingredient in understanding stress, anxiety, and depression. While we have been able to understand it for years we are now starting to understand how to measure it in a better more meaningful way. This will allow us to make huge strides in understanding mental health. Earwax is the answer and experts say that we are only beginning to understand the things we can learn from earwax.

The post Earwax holds the answer to many health questions appeared first on Science Picker.

]]>