SpaceX & Easter Island | SciByte 47

SpaceX & Easter Island | SciByte 47

We take a look at the spaceward journey of SpaceX, ancient arthritic reptiles, Easter Island statues, bouncy exploration probes, mousetrap IV dispenser, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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SpaceX – Dragon shipment to ISS

NASAKennedy Channel: | Credit: SpaceX


Dispensing IV fluid with a mouse trap

Credit: YouTube Channel – RiceUniversity | Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

  • The low down
  • In severely underdeveloped parts of the world, conditions can be pretty primitive and may not even have electricity
  • In understaffed medical settings, monitoring IV-fluid delivery to patients can be a challenge
  • Physicians would like a tool that can better moderate IV-fluid delivery to children, who are often connected to adult IV-bags
  • Now a team of Rice University freshmen have taken a mousetrap and built a better way to treat dehydration among children in the developing world.
  • Significance
  • The goal of the project was to regulate the amount of fluid delivered to children so we could prevent overhydration and under-hydration
  • The device can be mounted on a wall or attached with clamps to a portable hospital IV pole
  • Mechanical, durable, autonomous and simple-to-operate volume regulator that uses a lever arm with a movable counterweight similar to a physician’s scale to incrementally dispense IV fluid.
  • The system uses the change in torque as an IV bag is drained of fluid to set off a mousetrap-like spring that clamps the IV tube and cuts off the flow of saline solution or other prescribed fluids
  • The most time-consuming part of assembling the device was calibrating the counterweight and determining the precise spacing of the notches the counterweight falls into and holds as the fluid drains
  • Tests have shown the device dispenses fluid within 12 milliliters of the desired volume in increments of 50 milliliters.
  • When the desired amount of fluids have been dispensed the clamp goes off and it folds the tubing in a V-shape, the way you would crimp a garden hose to make the water stop coming out
  • Of Note
  • Device designed by the IV DRIP team is inexpensive; it costs about $20 to manufacture
  • This summer four of prototypes will be sent to Malawi and Lesotho, to test them under practical field conditions
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube : Turning a mouse trap into an IV drip volume regulator at Rice University | Rice University
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • This ‘mousetrap’ may save lives: Students create mechanism to regulate IV fluids for children |
  • This ‘mousetrap’ may save lives |

Arthritic Ancient sea reptile

Credit: Simon Powell

  • The low down
  • Scientists at the University of Bristol has found signs of a degenerative condition similar to human arthritis in the jaw of a pliosaur, an ancient sea reptile that lived 150 million years ago
  • This type of disease has never been described before in fossilized Jurassic reptiles.
  • This specimen is a 8 metre long pliosaur with a crocodile-like head, a short neck, whale-like body and four powerful flippers with huge jaws and 20 cm long teeth
  • Significance
  • This particular individual had an arthritis-like disease that had eroded its left jaw joint, displacing the lower jaw to one side
  • The creature probably lived with a crooked jaw for many years, because there are marks on the bone of the lower jaw where the teeth from the upper jaw impacted on the bone during feeding
  • The skeleton suggests that the animal could have been an old female who had developed the condition as part of the aging process, although was still able to hunt in spite of its unfortunate condition.
  • Of Note
  • Unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke
  • They were at the top of their food chains, so there would not have been any predators to take advantage of an aging, disabled pliosaur
  • With a broken jaw, the pliosaur would not have been able to feed
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Ancient sea reptile with gammy jaw suggests dinosaurs got arthritis too|

More than meets the eye of the Easter Island statues

  • The low down
  • Scientists generally accept that the statues on Easter Island were made sometime between 1250 and 1500 AD
  • When most people think of the Easter Island statues, moai, they think of the eerie heads popping out of the ground
  • Explorers have long known there was more to the 887 statues on Easter Island than just the statue heads made famous in photographs.
  • New images of the bodies of the statues now being circulated were from the October 2011, Easter Island Statue Project Season V expedition
  • The Easter Island Statue Project is the the longest collaborative and evolving artifact inventory ever conducted within the context of the Easter Island archaeological survey
  • Significance
  • Full-bodied statues have been known to exist on Easter Island for hundreds of years
  • A new archaeological survey shows that the statues go much deeper underground that had been anticipated
  • Some of the statues being uncovered tower more than 30 feet in height, from base to top, and weigh more than 80 tons.
  • Many of the statues now being uncovered have petroglyphs that have been preserved by the surrounding soil
  • The newly uncovered statues join one other statue, out of over 1,000 documented have multiple petroglyphs carved as a composition on their backs
  • Some of the new petroglyph writings on the recently excavated statues appear fairly unique, many with individual petroglyphs
  • Found near the statues
  • Some evidence of human burials
  • Tuna vertebrae near the bottom of a recent excavation
  • Evidence of ceremonies and very large quantities of paint
  • Over 500 stone carving tools, from large picks, to finer basalts, obsidian for finishing details
  • Evidence of post holes, some large enough for a tree trunk, and rope guides carved into some of the statues
  • Multimedia
  • Image Gallery : Easter Island statues have bodies, too |
  • Image Gallery : Archaeologists excavate Easter Island’s statues | FoxNews
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Easter Island Statue Project
  • Easter Island archaeology project digs up island’s secrets | FoxNews
  • Easter island heads have bodies!?? | The
  • Easter Island statues have full bodies and contain ancient petroglyphs |


A swarm of exploring rover/spacecraft

Credit: Marco Pavone

  • The low down
  • As an alternative to the traditional rover/spacecraft exploration one researcher from Stanford University is suggesting we unleash a swarm of rover/spacecraft hybrids that can explore en masse.
  • Significance
  • The project has been developing a concept under NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program that would see small spherical robots deployed to small worlds, such as Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos, where they would take advantage of low gravity to explore, literally, in leaps and bounds.
  • Similar to what NASA has done in the past with the Mars rovers, except multiplied in the number of spacecraft and reduced in cost
  • Of Note
  • They could also be used to evaluate the resource potential of small bodies in view of future human missions beyond Earth.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Robotic spacecraft / rover hybrids for space exploration |
  • Space Exploration By Robot Swarm |

The return of COSMOS?


  • Curiosity, T minus 75 days to Curiosity Rover touchdown


Looking back

  • May 29, 1919 : 93 years ago : Einstein’s relativity theory proved : A solar eclipse permitted observation of the bending of starlight passing through the sun’s gravitational field, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Separate expeditions of the Royal Astronomical Society travelled to Brazil and off the west coast of Africa. Both made measurements of the position of stars visible close to the sun during a solar eclipse. These observations showed that, indeed, the light of stars was bent as it passed through the gravitational field of the sun. This was a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s theory that gravity affected energy as in addition to the familiar effect on matter. The verification of predictions of Einstein’s theory, proved during the solar eclipse was a dramatic landmark scientific event.
  • May 25 1961 : 51 years ago : Moon landing announced : The formal announcement of an American lunar landing was made by President John F. Kennedy speaking to the Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space program in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” YouTube : JFK Moon Speech
  • May 25, 2012 : 1 year ago : SciByte 1 Posted : The first SciByte was posted on Jupiter Broadcasting. The episode covered gravity, everything from quantum mechanics and black holes to gyroscopes

Looking up this week, you may have seen : Annular Solar Eclipse

Credit: Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre

Looking up this week

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