Planets & Brains | SciByte 18

Planets & Brains | SciByte 18

Hello everyone and welcome back to SciByte!

We take a look at water around distant stars, baby planets, the teenage brain, vaccines, satellites, and even take a peek at what’s up in the sky this week.

Too much out there is just plain distraction, why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? 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 at Jupiter Broadcasting are hoping to pull off.

SciByte will provide you with a treasure trove of small talk for your next cocktail party, the 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.

Direct Download:

MP3 Download | Ogg Download

RSS Feeds:

MP3 Feed | Ogg Feed | iTunes Feed

Show Notes:

‘Oceans’ of Water Around Distant Star

Baby pictures of a Planet

Teen brains’ growing pains

  • The low down
  • Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a standardized measure of human intellectual capacity that takes into account a wide range of cognitive skills
  • IQ is generally considered to be stable across the lifespan, with scores at one time point used to predict educational achievement and employment prospects in later years
  • Researchers tested 33 normal children, first between the ages of 12 and 16, and then again four years later, using both IQ tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which measures blood flow in the brain.
  • Verbal IQ, measured by language, arithmetic, general knowledge and memory tests
  • Nonverbal IQ, measured by solving visual puzzles.
  • While the teens were in the lab, structural MRI brain scans measured particular brain regions.
  • Four years later, the team invited the teenagers back for a redo
  • Significance
  • Overall, IQ scores held steady: Average IQs were 112 in 2004 and 113 four years later.
  • About a third of the teenagers had meaningful changes in IQ, and a handful showed dizzying climbs or plunges.
  • One such plunge was 18 IQ points — which would be enough to demote a person from genius status to merely above average.
  • The retest also turned up an IQ gain of 21 points — which would elevate a below-average person to above average.
  • Some people who scored high the first time around scored even higher later, and some low scorers scored even lower.
  • The team suspected mundane explanations such as differences in the teens’ levels of concentration at the time of each test. But the brain scan data argued otherwise.
  • The IQ changes were accompanied by changes in the brains’ gray matter, which is made up of nerve cells.
  • This would be encouraging to those whose intellectual potential may improve, and would be a warning that early achievers may not maintain their potential.
  • Multimedia
  • Location of brain regions where grey matter changed @ LiveScience
  • Activations in the regions identified @ LiveScience
  • Social Media
  • Twitter account for Education Week @educationweek
  • Twitter account for Nature News&Comment @NatureNews
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Verbal and non-verbal intelligence changes in the teenage brain @
  • Study: Adolescents Can See Dramatic IQ Changes @EducationWeek
  • Study: Teens’ IQ may fluctuate over time @ USA Today
  • Teens’ IQs Can Fluctuate, Study Suggests @

*— NEWS BYTE — *

First Wide-Scale Malaria vaccine shows promise
  • The low down
  • The first vaccine against malaria to undergo wide-scale testing shows that youngsters who got it were about half as likely to come down with the disease over a 14-month follow-up period as were those who didn’t receive the vaccine
  • The malaria vaccine also reduced cases of severe malaria — the kind that can result in hospitalization.
  • Severe malaria in the two age groups combined, among those getting the experimental vaccine, was reduced by about one-third, slightly less than the researchers anticipated.
  • Random thing to note
  • Measles continues to show up sporadically as unvaccinated people traveling to other countries unwittingly bring back infections
  • Pre-vaccination days in the 1960s, the United States could expect hundreds of thousands of infections and thousands of people hospitalized
  • Social Media
  • Twitter account for New England Journal of Medicine @NEJM
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Malaria vaccine yields protection @
  • First Results of Phase 3 Trial of RTS,S/AS01 Malaria Vaccine in African Children @ New England Journal of Medicine
  • Measles cases up in U.S. and Canada @
The War of the Worlds

Stream the entire radio broadcast:

  • The low down
  • Performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938
  • The program starts with an introduction from the novel, describing the intentions of the aliens and noting that the adaptation is set in 1939, a year ahead of the actual broadcast date
  • Only notices that the broadcast was fictional came at the start of the broadcast and about 40 and 55 minutes into it
  • Many missed the repeated notices that the broadcast was fictional, dialing in about 15 min into the program (after the notices) when a more popular program ended it’s first comic sketch and the 1st musical number began
  • Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a “sustaining show” (it ran without commercial breaks), adding to the program’s realism
  • After the play, Welles informally breaks character to remind listeners that the broadcast was a Halloween concoction
  • Significance
  • Within one month, newspapers had published 12,500 articles about the broadcast and its impact
  • During this period, many newspaper publishers were concerned that radio, a new medium, would render them obsolete. They may have taked the oppotunity to embellish the story suggest that radio was dangerous.
  • Contemporary news articles indicate that police were swamped with hundreds of calls in numerous locations, but stories of people doing anything more than calling authorities mostly involve only small groups.
  • In Concrete, Washington, phone lines and electricity went out due to a short-circuit at the Superior Portland Cement Company’s substation. Residents were unable to call neighbors, family or friends to calm their fears. Reporters who heard of the coincidental blackout sent the story over the newswire, and soon Concrete was known worldwide
  • Many listeners sued the network for “mental anguish” and “personal injury.” All suits were dismissed, except for a claim for a pair of black mens shoes (size 9B) by a Massachusetts man who spent his shoe money to escape the Martians. Welles insisted the man be paid
  • In February 1949 a Spanish-language version The broadcast set off panic in Equador. Police and fire brigades rushed out of town to engage the supposed alien invasion force. After it was revealed that the broadcast was fiction, the panic transformed into a riot.
  • National Public Radio aired a remake on the 50th anniversary of the Mercury Theatre play in 1988. It starred Jason Robards, Steve Allen (who as a youth listened to the 1938 broadcast), Douglas Edwards, Scott Simon and Terry Gross. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word or Nonmusical Recording”.
  • Multimedia
  • The War of the Worlds (Original 1938 Radio Adaptation) [Audio CD]
  • The War of the Worlds (Special Collector’s Edition) (1953)
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • @ Wikipedia
  • Voice of Reason: ‘War of the Worlds’ Truths and Myths @
  • Radio Beat: Oct. 30, 1938 – The broadcast that scared a nation
  • The War of the Worlds Download – Internet Archive


ROSAT Sattelite


Looking back this week
  • Oct 27, 1780 : 231 years ago – First U.S. astronomy expedition: Four professors and six students left on a three week expedition to record a solar eclipse from Penobscot Bay in Main. Although the U.S. was at war with Britain, the British officer in charge of Penobscot Bay permitted the expedition to land and set up equipment to observe the predicted total eclipse of the sun. Unfortunately saw a thin arc of the sun instead of its complete obscuration by the moon.
  • Oct 28 1868 : 143 years ago – A patent was registered for a machine that let legislators vote with a turn of the switch and a patent era was born then Thomas Edison applied for his first patent the “Electrographic Vote Recorder.” U.S. Patent No. 90,646 He would eventually hold over 1,500 patents
  • Nov 1 1879 : 132 years ago – There was light! Edison signed the patent application for his electric lamp U.S. Patent 223,898. In the next few weeks, he also filed for patents in Britain, Belgium, Italy and France, as referred to in a Correction dated 18 Dec 1883, in which Edison requested that the U.S. patent be limited so as to expire at the same time with whichever of the foreign patents had the shortest time to run.
  • Nov 1 1884 – 127 years ago : Greenwich Mean Time : In 1884, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted universally at a meeting of the International Meridian Conference in Washington, DC, USA. From then the International Date Line was drawn up and 24 time zones created.
  • Oct 28 1894 : 117 years ago – A patent was issued for inserting paper into a machine that recorded the time when a lever was pressed recording the time employees started and ended thier work day and Daniel M. Cooper of Rochester, N.Y. received the first U.S. patent for a time clock (No. 528,223).
  • Oct 29, 1998 – 13 years ago : John Glen returned to space at the age of 77, 36 years after his first orbit round the Earth.
Looking up this week
  • You might have seen …

  • Spectacular Northern Lights Display Leaves Skywatchers Spellbound

  • A dazzling aurora light show amazed skywatchers across North America, from Canada to Arkansas, and other northern regions Monday night (Oct. 24), painting the sky with striking green and even rare red hues

  • Auroras are caused when charged solar particles hit Earth’s atmosphere, causing a glow as the particles collide.

  • Unfortunately for sky watchers, the geomagnetic storm appears to be in decline and no further significant space weather is expected at this time

  • Keep an eye out for …
  • The constellation Andromeda’s main figure is two streamers of stars that form a long, skinny V. It is high in the east and northeast at nightfall, and climbs directly overhead by midnight.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26 – New Moon (exact at 3:56 p.m. EDT).
  • Thursday, Oct. 27- Jupiter rises around sunset and is in the sky all night, ’s brightest for the year, too, far outshining all the true stars in the night sky. Look for it low in the east as night falls and arcing high across the south later on.
  • Friday, Oct. 28 – look for the thin waxing crescent Moon very low in the southwest; Venus will be to its lower right (separated by roughly a fist-width at arm’s length )
  • Dusk Oct 28–29 ~30 min after sunset looking to the SW You will see the cresent moon, the red star of Antares and you might even get a peek at Mercury and Venus low on the horizon
  • More on whats in the sky this week

  • Sky and Telescope
  • AstronomyNow
  • HeavensAbove

Question? Comments? Contact us here!