Science

Inverse Daily: The center of the Solar System?

Also in this edition: An update on Hyperloop, a new Abstract podcast, news about dog years, and the latest 'Not Sports' column.

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As a kid, I celebrated the 4th of July by going to a grassy field, between a nursing home and jail, to watch the official fireworks set off along a nearby river. I grew up in New Hampshire, a state that is unfortunately known for its fireworks.

Among the many viewing options, we decided on this spot because it was near where my grandmother lived in a nursing home, so we could visit her after the show. It has only recently dawned on me how cruel of a decision it was to set off fireworks in the vicinity of both elderly people and inmates, who were not actually able to view this display. On top of that, they’re both populations that tend to suffer from health issues, which can make the sound of fireworks triggering and unpleasant.

It’s no coincidence that the nursing home and jail were close together — if you look at a map of many towns and cities this is often the case. Jails and nursing homes are both often designated for the cheapest, least desirable land, away from the center of town.

It’s likely no coincidence that my town overlooked the needs of both populations for the sake of everyone else’s dumb fun. In any case, I no longer celebrate the 4th of July, in a country that plainly denies so many people, including inmates and many nursing home residents, the right to a dignified life.

I’m Greta Moran, your interstellar guide to all of Inverse’s latest science and technology stories at Inverse Daily.

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Tech’s Next Disruption: The emotional mind

Virtual reality can dramatically alter how we perceive ourselves — and even how we treat others.

And artificial intelligence, when fed enough data, can correctly identify something dramatic — and a little private — about how we see ourselves.

In this episode of The Abstract, we dive into two mind-expanding pieces of research.

Listen & Subscribe:

The link between work and longevity

By tracking the physical and mental health of over 3,000 people and their job characteristics, researchers discovered that people are more likely to develop depression or die when they have little control or limited cognitive abilities at work. Meanwhile, people tend to stay relatively mentally and physically healthy if their job is intensely demanding and they have a high degree of autonomy.

“To protect your physical health, you should look for jobs that provide challenges that you have the skills and job resources to accomplish,” Bethany Cockburn, co-author of the study, tells Inverse. “To protect your mental health, look for employers who value your well-being by not asking you to work in an under-resourced job, which might cause you to have too large of workloads or work too fast.”

Discover the crucial connection between work and longevity →

More on work and health:

How old is your dog in human years? Study upends 7-year rule

It’s an old trick: To tell how old your dog is in human years, simply multiply the pup’s age by seven. However, new research suggests the popular dog-age-calculating method isn’t actually all that accurate.

Dogs and humans age at different rates, so the relationship between the two aging processes isn’t linear, finds a new study. Scientists present an alternative formula to calculate how old a dog is in human years, based on the chemical composition of dog and human genomes.

The team focused on methyl, chemical groups found in our bodies which change as we, and dogs, age. Methyl helps scientists estimate the age of a cell, tissue, or full organism — called an epigenetic clock.

Comparing changes in methyl between dogs humans allowed researchers to develop the new formula — with a handy chart that represents human ages in the lifetime of Tom Hanks.

Here’s the story on how to understand your dog’s aging process →

More not-to-miss animal news:

Hyperloop: Elon Musk outlines new, curvier competition

Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s proposed vacuum-sealed transit system, could be taking on a more realistic challenge. This week, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO explained that for the firm’s fifth pod design competition, teams would be asked to run their hyperloop pod along 6.2 miles of curved track.

It’s a big change for these pod competitions, which until now have run on 0.8-mile tracks. The hyperloop, first outlined in 2013, is designed to transport people and cargo at theoretical maximum speeds of 0ver 700 mph. A longer track could help teams reach closer to those speeds.

Read about the challenge ahead for Hyperloop here →

More on Hyperloop:

Not sports: Major League Wiffle Ball

You know Wiffle Ball as a yard game with a yellow bat, and hollow ball. You’ve probably never seen it like this.

Wiffle ball is actually a strangely hyper-competitive ecosystem. There are leagues all over the country where players reportedly throw the ball around 90 miles per hour. One of these leagues is Major League Wiffle Ball, a league in Michigan that started in 2009 in a front yard, but now produces professional-quality games. Major League Wiffleball has sponsors, 145,000 Youtube subscribers and 82,00 Instagram followers.

Kyle Schultz, a senior at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor plans to run Major League Wiffle Ball full time once he graduates next spring. Here’s why Wiffle ball might actually be serious enough to support a full-time career.

Here’s the fascinating story on Major League Wiffle Ball →

Dive deeper into the bizarre world of sports:

Scientists found the center of the Solar System, and it’s not where you think

When we think of Earth and its neighboring planets orbiting around our common host star, we picture the center of the Solar System as smack in the middle of the Sun. However, that’s not entirely true, according to new research.

The planets and the Sun actually orbit around a common center of mass. And for the first time, a team of astronomers has pinpointed the center of the entire Solar System down to within 100 meters, the most precise calculation yet.

Their findings are detailed in a study published in April in The Astrophysical Journal and will help astronomers in their quest to hunt for gravitational waves given off in the universe by objects such as supermassive black holes.

Learn more about the center of the Solar System →

More from space:

Meanwhile …

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