Posts tagged Cool

The Sky is Falling! Perseid Meteor Shower Coming

Even though the comet is far away now, in an elliptical orbit that brings it close to the sun just once every 133 years, rock and ice from it have spread out in a ring all along its path.  The comet itself will probably be pretty good to see if you can hang on until July 2126, but in the meantime, like clockwork, it gives us an annual meteor shower in mid-August.

This is not the best year to see the Perseid.  A full moon will brighten the sky on Friday night and Saturday morning, just as the shower peaks.

"The best time to look is during the hours before dawn especially on Saturday morning, August 13th," writes Tony Phillips, an astronomer who manages the Science News page at NASA’s website.  "The full Moon will be relatively low, and the meteor rate should be peaking at that time."

Hypersonic Flight: New York to Los Angeles in 12 Minutes?

(WASHINGTON) — On Thursday, the military test-launched a rocket carrying a new aircraft that could reduce the flying time between Los Angeles and New York to minutes: less than 12 minutes, to be exact.

Three-Foot Tall Crime Fighter Overcomes Genetic Disorder

(SANTA ANA, Calif.) — Being three-feet-two-inches tall doesn’t stop Ryan Berger, 34, from taking on crime in Santa Ana, Califorinia.

Though he lives with a rare genetic disorder that leaves his bones brittle and requires him to use a motorized wheel chair, Berger has followed in his father’s footsteps by joining local law enforcement.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder affecting the bones and connective tissue, prevents Berger from physically making arrests, but he does everything else an assistant detective might do — from questioning suspects to testifying in court.

Berger hails from a “cop family.”  His father John Berger is a retired detective for the Santa Ana Police Department and his brother, Mark Berger, currently works with the Anaheim PD.  Though he didn’t originally intend to get into law enforcement (he studied computer science), Ryan Berger has been drawn into the family business.

"It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble," Berger jokes.

The Santa Ana PD made a few adjustments to office equipment to accommodate Berger, but otherwise, he does “everything most able-bodied people can do,” says his supervisor Sgt. Troy Guidry.  “Mentally is where he’s so tough — his attitude with life.  That’s why he fits in so well,” Guidry adds.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, affects anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 Americans, though the majority of cases are not as severe as Berger’s.  More than half the cases of are the mild type 1, which includes bone fragility, slightly shorter stature and joints that are prone to dislocating, according to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.  Many cases are so mild as to go undiagnosed.

For all types, the disease is characterized by a decrease in the body’s production of collagen, which leads to varying levels of fragile bones, joint looseness, and other complications.

For those like Berger, who have type 3, symptoms are more severe and include a very small stature, incredibly fragile bones, and discoloration of the teeth.  Many patients with type 3 have a shortened life expectancy; either from lung problems or to disability-related accidents, says Dr. Jay Shapiro, director of the Bone and Osteogenesis Imperfecta Program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

More Health News From ABC News Radio -»

Allergy-Sniffing Cars in the Works

(DETROIT) — The Ford Motor Co. plans to leverage its existing SYNC infotainment system to monitor pollen alerts and local weather forecasts as part of its health management services geared toward helping the more than 60 million Americans plagued with asthma and seasonal allergies. 

Anyone who suffers from asthma or allergies knows it helps to have a clear understanding of environmental factors and potential symptom triggers such as pollen counts in order to avoid an attack. To sniff out the best allergy prevention applications, Ford worked with experts, including medical device manufacturers, health care management service providers, and Web-based medical alert services, to come up with a series of onboard “apps” and phone apps that can be synched up to your ride.

To avert itchy eyes and runny noses, the cars will use a variety of tools, including Bluetooth wireless connections, that will allow the cars to share information with medical devices and perhaps even doctors, much the same as it already allows voice activated cellphone connections. Working off the same GPS technology that gives you driving directions and traffic reports, cloud-based applications — software you can access without owing a physical copy — will provide instant access to medical services. 

Ford is also partnering with www.pollen.com, among others, to SYNC-enable its smartphone Allergy Alert app. This will provide drivers with location-based, day-by-day index levels for pollen, asthma, cold and cough and ultraviolet sensitivity, as well as four-day forecasts.

And this is just the beginning of Ford’s health care cars. The company is exploring a variety of apps and services for diabetics, including glucose monitoring and real-time patient coaching, behavioral education and medication adherence support.

Ford, which is apparently the only automaker with such “medical” cars in the works, plans to have the mobile allergy sniffers on the road within two years. 

More Health News From ABC News Radio -»

Brain-Control Interfaces Could Help Detect Fatigue, Distraction

(SAN DIEGO) — A new class of brain-computer interface technology could not only let you control devices and play games with your thoughts, but also help detect fatigue in air traffic controllers and other workers in high-stakes positions.

Researchers at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, have made it possible to place a cellphone call by just thinking about the number.  They say the technology could also tell whether a person is actively thinking, or nodding off.

Tzzy-Ping Jung, a neuroscience researcher and associate director of the center, said the system uses brainwave sensors (or Electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes) attached to a headband to measure a person’s brain activity.  The brain signals are then transferred to a cellphone through a Bluetooth device connected to the headband.

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“In the cold vacuum of space, there is no edible ice cream, but there is  radiation from massive stars that is carving away at cold molecular  clouds, creating bizarre, fantasy-like structures.”

@nightline:

Breaking news from the Carina Nebula, 7,500 light years away (what’s that in lookback time? anyone?). A Hubble Space Telescope image released this morning by NASA. Actual captioning information from the Hubble site: “In the cold vacuum of space, there is no edible ice cream, but there is radiation from massive stars that is carving away at cold molecular clouds, creating bizarre, fantasy-like structures.” Photo: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Project (STScI/AURA)

“In the cold vacuum of space, there is no edible ice cream, but there is radiation from massive stars that is carving away at cold molecular clouds, creating bizarre, fantasy-like structures.”

@nightline:

Breaking news from the Carina Nebula, 7,500 light years away (what’s that in lookback time? anyone?).
A Hubble Space Telescope image released this morning by NASA.
Actual captioning information from the Hubble site:
“In the cold vacuum of space, there is no edible ice cream, but there is radiation from massive stars that is carving away at cold molecular clouds, creating bizarre, fantasy-like structures.”
Photo: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Project (STScI/AURA)