Discovered: superstitious people don't work out; the unit for measuring space just got longer; kids consume adult levels of sodium; warp drive may be possible.
Warp drive theoretically possible. Have you ever dreamed of accelerating the Starship Enterprise into warp drive? Well, you're a total nerd. But rejoice! Your dreams are about to come true! Well, maybe they won't literally come true this second, but astrophysicists are now saying that travel beyond the speed of light could actually be possible. At least in theory. According to a revision of work presented by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre back in 1994, a warp in the space-time continuum could feasibly take a spaceship between two points in space at speeds faster than 299,792,458 meters per second. "Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light," says Icarus Interstellar president Richard Obousy, about to blow your mind. "But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light." So if the fabric of space-time were sufficiently warped, a football-shaped craft could traverse space at speeds 10 times faster than light. Sending real astronauts into warp-drive still may be a long way off, but the scientists who presented these findings at NASA's Johnson Space Center sound reasonably confident that their research has real-world applications. "The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation," says NASA's Harold "Sonny" White. [Space.com]
People who believe in luck don't believe in exercise. Do you believe black cats will bring you bad tidings, or that stepping on a crack might somehow bring harm upon your mother? If you said yes, then you probably don't exercise, according to a new study from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The institute's director, Deborah Cobb-Clark, suggests in her findings that people who believe the world is governed by chance are less likely to exert the willpower necessary for leading an active, healthy lifestyle. Cobb-Clark believes that spreading information about the effects of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets is all well and good, but public health officials must also address superstition. " Understanding the psychological underpinning of a person's eating patterns and exercise habits is central to understanding obesity," she says. [University of Melbourne via Jezebel]
The universe just got a bit bigger, or at least our standard unit for measuring distances in space just got a bit longer. Convening in Beijing for a meeting of the International Astronomical Union, researchers elongated the astronomical unit (au) by 9 meters, bringing it from 149,597,870,691 to 149,597,870,700. The au was originally based on the average distance between the Earth and the sun, but researchers decided to round the measurement up for the sake of simplicity. Besides, such a yardstick does not remain constant, as the sun is always losing mass, and thus perpetually altering the distance between itself and us. "I've been teaching celestial mechanics for 20 years and it was always a pain to explain the old definition," says Technical University of Dresden's Sergei Klioner, who has stumping for the au revisal for the past seven years. "It was clear that it was unnecessarily complicated," he says. "I'm happy that I don't have to explain this any longer." [New Scientist]
Children are practically binging on salt. We crave foods like french fries and potato chips because of their high salt content, even though we know that over-consuming sodium can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. And kids are the worst over-eaters of salt, new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. According to the data collected on 6,200 kids aged eight to 18 from 2003 to 2008, American children typically eat as much salt as adults. They ate about 3,300 milligram of salt per day, which adds up to 1,000 more milligrams than the suggested intake. Fifteen percent of the kids already exhibited high blood pressure or prehypertension. [CBS News]