The Planetary News Radio – Episode 9: Artemis Moon Mission, Video Games and Gun Behavior, and Sabertooth Cat Fights

Hello and welcome to the Planetary News Show Episode 9 with your host Bryan White. Today I’m going to do another “Science in the News Segment”. Just to explain really brief, this [segment] is me talking about  recent trending science news articles that I haven’t necessarily read the article, but I might have looked up some of the background or some of this controversial checked in on it. I it sounds like I’m next to a family of ducks, that’s because I am so they’re just chilling. We’re all just chilling here by the river in Corvallis, Oregon, talking about science. These are probably some of those friendliest ducks I have ever happened to cross. All right, let’s get started.

NASA has chosen its first 3 partners for its Artemus Moon return mission. This is really popular right now. NASA’s making some major headway on its goal to return to the moon. NASA’s goal to return to the moon is picking up, so they’re going to send a robotic lander and a robotic orbiter by 2020, and humans on the moon by 2024. It’s chosen it’s private partners, and they’re starting to contract this out. So we’ll have boots on the ground on the moon by 2024. That’s exciting.

Let’s see what else? SpaceX Starlink satellite again in the news for concern over the idea that it might block out [the view of] stars [once they are] in orbit. Since the total fleet of this Starlink

satellite orbit is supposedly something like 12,000 satellites, it’s a legitimate concern. I don’t know how valid it is because there’s already thousands of pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth, and people haven’t really been complaining about that. So I think people should think about this and apply logical consistency. And so if you’re going to criticize Elon Musk for polluting orbit, then I think you should also criticize all of the other institutions that have been doing that for the last 50 years. But again, I see a logical inconsistency here with people complaining about it [because] I don’t see a real push for removing space junk anywhere, [just a recent focus on Starlink].

Here’s an interesting one, its potentially controversial so I did actually go look at the research article. [The title of the article is,] “Study considers length between violent video games and behavior with guns”, and this was published in one of the JAMA Network journals. Now what this study concluded was that a group of children who played video games that had guns in the video game we’re more likely to pick up and use a disabled gun, pull the trigger, and point it at their peers than children who had played games that only had swords or children that did not play violent video games. What this says [to me] is you had kids who went and they played a game with guns in it, so now they know what a gun is in the game. Presumably, they can see the trigger that and see how to hold a gun. So you taught them how to hold and use a gun. The result of this study is children play a game that teaches them how to use an object and they see the object in real life, they pick it up and play with it. That makes total sense. But I would like to see is if they’d put out swords and see if kids who played the sword game also were likely to play with swords. [This was included with the study but with Nerf/foam swords]. And so really, they’ve just confirmed the fact that kids emulate what they see in video games.

Now they do have a valid point, because now the sword is one thing, but in the instance of the gun, you have truly taught the kid how to play with a gun. And so if you are a family and you have guns and you leave your gun sitting out and your child has played video games that have guns in it, that child is more likely to pick up and play with a gun in an unsafe way. So if anything that stresses families who do have guns to be protective of the gun if they have children that are exposed two video games but also in general if they have children. People who have guns should be locking them up and preventing children from accessing them, unless for some reason that child is specifically being trained to use a gun (e.g., sport shooting), then that’s a different story. In other words, accidental play behavior is what should be avoided. So that’s an accurate headline because all the headline says is that there’s a link between violent video games and behavior with guns, presumably all the games that have guns or violent because you’re shooting people.

Let’s see what else. “Juno Space probe identifies changes in Jupiter’s magnetic field.” That’s interesting. So the Juno space probe is really cool because it spent many years [(2011 launch year)] traveling to Jupiter and arrived there in 2016 and begin photographing its moons which gave us a much clearer pictures of Jupiter’s atmosphere. And the nice thing about Juno is that at the end of its mission, which should be in 2021, it will descend into the atmosphere of Jupiter. And if you remember in the movie 2001 a Space Odyssey, they descend in the atmosphere of Jupiter. And, of course, all sorts of weird, strange things happen in that movie. And so we’ll find out what types of weird, strange things might happen to Juno as it descends into the atmosphere of Jupiter, a fitting end for a probe.

Let’s see, invasive flowering species might overpower native ones because of warming climate. Well that’s makes sense. That’s likely true. I wouldn’t call that a new new result, maybe a “new to you” result.

Let’s see what else flipping my pages here, “Physicists create a stable, strongly magnetized plasma jet in the laboratory”. That’s interesting, because plasma is a stable, sustained stream of ionized gas. This is only charged gas particles that are being expelled from some creation point. And this is what large parts of stars are made of. This is saying that they’ve created a stable stream of plasma that’s magnetized and at supersonic speeds. So it’s a supersonic stream of plasma that’s magnetized. This is closer to the surface of what a star might be putting out, so it’s a better system to study what types of electromagnetic effects are happening on the surface of a star. So that’s kind of cool.

Astrocytes protect neurons from toxic buildup. I mean, that’s a true statement, and maybe I’ll take a minute here to. Critique that statement. That’s something you might read out of a textbook, so this doesn’t really tell me anything new [or draw my interest in to read the article]. Astrocytes are [nerve] cells that surround neurons along with [types of] glial cells and support those neurons. And part of that support presumably would be toxin removal. So it’s an entire system around neurons involved in actual neural networks and synaptic processing that supports them and astrocytes are part of that. So this doesn’t seem terribly interesting to me, I’m just actually criticizing this title as being boring.

“Climate change is already affecting global food production unequally”. That it is also true or something I would expect again. It doesn’t tell me anything new, though, just from the headline

Eruption of ice volcanoes through liquid water over the frozen surface of Pluto. That’s a good title that tells me something new, because last time we talked about Pluto having water, and now we’re talking about an eruption. So there was an eruption on the surface of Pluto, and maybe that’s how we know that there was water underneath it. So that’s it. A good title.

See what else? This was an interesting one, “Punctured school suggest saber-toothed cats fought amongst themselves”, and then it’s a picture of a sabre-toothed cat skull impaling another sabre-toothed cat skull. And I kind of think this is a little funny because I don’t know what else they would be doing other than fighting, because they used the word “suggest” [in the title]. But I suppose since we weren’t actually there, all we have are the fossils. It is a suggestion. It’s a very strong suggestion based on this picture. Definitely looks like these sabre-toothed cats were fighting. Now, the interesting thing is that this would confirm that the tooth of a sabre-toothed cat was actually strong enough to break through bone and could be used in fighting. A lot of times in mammals or large vertebrates you find, or in in general, in the animal kingdom, you find lots of structures that aren’t actually used in fighting that look like they might be. A good example might be horns on a chameleon or rhinoceros beetle. [They’re used for locking/grappling during a fight, but not necessarily for actually impaling during a fight]. [So a lot of structures that look they are for fighting might just be] for show or for sizing up other members of the same species, but not necessarily for actually damaging another member of the species. And it looks like here now they’ve confirmed at least that sabre-toothed cats could indeed use their teeth for fighting. So that’s cool.

Last one for this episode, “Black hole created in the lab confirmed Stephen Hawking’s radiation theory”. That’s interesting, because that makes me want to read the article, because there was a big controversy with black holes when Stephen Hawking first proposed them that they would infinitely gain mass. And so the question was, “Do you or infinitely continue to gain mass? Do black holes ever lose mass?” And the answer was later hypothesized to be, yes, they do lose mass – they bleed out energy in the form of radiation, and this radiation is named Hawking Radiation. And so this is black Hole created in a lab. That’s really cool. I want to read that because I want to see how they did that. And so maybe this is something in a particle accelerator that mimicked some properties of a black hole for a split second. I don’t think they actually created a black hole. [These are actually sonic black holes that are made using water, but that mimic the relativistic properties of a black hole.] I think this is a sensationalist title, but maybe they mimic some property of a black hole that would suggest that hawking radiation exists, some curious how they did that, and that’s all that I highlighted today to look at, so I will sign out.

And that’s Bryan White signing off with The Planetary News Radio. Thanks for listening and have a good day.

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