Archive for April, 2015

Your Smart Phone is Making You Lazy

Its official! your smart phone is making sure that you think less and become lazier. Scientists at the University of Waterloo have conducted a research which says that our dependence on smart phones to find out everything from instant directions to a place or recommendations for a good restaurant is making us think less.

Users of smart phones avoid thinking for themselves, prefering instead to just glean the data that they require using a quick search or an app. Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, and a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at Waterloo says that theirĀ  research provides support for an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence. Whether smartphones actually decrease intelligence is still an open question that requires future research says Gordon.

Nathaniel Barr, the other lead author of the paper says that decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind. Our reliance on smartphones and other devices will likely only continue to rise, said Barr.

Therefore it makes sense to understand how smartphones affect and relate to human psychology before these technologies are so fully ingrained that it’s hard to recall what life was like without them. Already it is difficult to imagine doing science projects without the help of a smartphone.

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The Sun Rules All the Planets

The sun is the center of our solar system and it literally controls all the planets that are in orbit around it. The fact was driven home by a small discovery at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where researchers recorded a relatively small puff of solar material escaping the sun. Unfortunately it was not very good news for Venus who lost dramatic amounts of oxygen from its atmosphere four days after the flare up in the sun.

Our sun constantly emits light, energy and a constant flow of particles known as the solar wind that bathes the planets as it travels out into space. This interplay of energy between the sun and Earth is essential to ensure that it stays a living planet. We just don’t realize just how dependent we can be on the Sun.

The magnetosphere protect Earth from the harsher energies that the sun send out across the solar system. However Venus and some of the other planets do not have this layer of protection and solar flares or transgressions affect them far more drastically. It is the reaction of these planets that the scientists are studying.

They are also trying to figure out just how much the magnetosphere is essential for life on earth to be sustained. The results of this scientific study may be a few years in the coming.

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Discoverer’s Ashes go to Pluto in New Horizons

Not many people may remember that Clyde W Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s third zone died in the year 1997 at the age of 90. New Horizons is the space shuttle that NASA launched nine years ago to study the planet Pluto. It also carries on board the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh in accordance with the final request of the man.

While it may be considered unusual for the space craft to be working as a funeral director, the people at NASA have placed his remains to the inside of the upper deck with the inscription “interned herein are the remains of American Clyde W Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s third zone”.

Tombaugh worked at the Percival Lowell observatory in Arizona. He was tasked with finding the then nicknamed “Planet X” which was eventually called Pluto way back in 1930. He would scout the night skies from the observatory recording the skies and all the objects in them hoping to find confirmation of the new planet.

The presence of the planet was confirmed by him in the movement visible in two photographs taken in January 1930. Little wonder then that the latest scientific study of the planet is also acting like a personal tribute to him.

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New Horizons Discovering Pluto

Pluto has been in the news for a number of reasons of late, not the least of which was being deprived of its planet status. Those who consider it to be the ninth planet are mad at the body of astronomers who have demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet status.

There is a lot we do not know about Pluto. Some trivia we have been able to glean from a distance including the fact that a day on Pluto will be equivalent to six and a half earth days. We expect it to be covered in ice and have extremely cold temperatures on the surface. However there has been little actual evidence to support these opinions.

The New Horizons space craft from NASA is on a historic mission to help us understand the planet Pluto better. It has recently begun its six month fly past of Pluto and will be sending home images that will exceed the resolution of the Hubble Telescope based images of Pluto that we currently have.

As the planet reveals its secrets over the next six months, scientists will be eagerly studying all the new data that is revealed in this science project. Perhaps now we will actually know what Pluto is all about instead of merely making informed guesses.

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Would You Dine with a Fox?

For a while the whole wide world was wondering what the fox said, but then the curiosity died down. Now a new restaurant in London is coming up with a novel plan to introduce you to the fox while you eat. The idea behind dining with the fox is essentially to get to know the wild animal a bit better.

In urban areas foxes are usually seen as a menace that digs up gardens, disturbs trash cans and cuts through fences. The people behind the restaurant want to introduce the slightly more playful and fun side of the fox to the diners. By watching the fox at close quarters and seeing how it reacts and plays with humans is supposed to do the trick.

The restaurant is not yet open, but here’s the kicker, more than fifteen hundred people have already signed up to have a meal with the elusive fox. The novelty of the idea has sure caught the eye of more than one family, who wishes to come in and say hello to the fox.

In a way this is an interesting opportunity to conduct a science experiment to see just how many people would be willing to dine in the presence of a wild animal. So would you dine with a fox?

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