International Intonation: Oct. 17, 2012

Mark Hendricks, Contributor Ω

Supersonic space jump creates new record

An Austrian daredevil plunged from the edge of space into the record books.

Felix Baumgartner broke two world records on Sunday, Oct. 14; one for the highest ever recorded freefall and one by being the first skydiver to fall faster than the speed of sound.

Baumgartner ascended 38km above the earth on a balloon capsule before entering into just over a four-minute freefall. His speed reached 1,342.8 km/h according to Brian Utley, an air sports official for the jump. That’s considerably faster than the speed of sound, which stands at 1,236 km/h.

Baumgartner’s record breaking freefall was part of the Red Bull Stratos mission, a campaign by the energy drink company that aims to advance scientific discoveries in aerospace for the benefit of mankind, according to their website.

Perhaps the most significant implications of this jump are for future astronauts. This jump is a “step toward creating near-space bailout procedures that currently don’t exist,” Baumgartner said in a statement before his freefall.

Where you can find out more:

Doctors prescribing pills to help struggling students

There is an increasing trend in the United States where doctors are diagnosing ADHD in children who do not have it in order to give access to education-enhancing drugs.

For a lot of low-income families that can’t afford to put their children in better schools education is a real problem. A growing number of doctors have started diagnosing children with ADHD as a cheap way of improving a child’s grades.

“We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid,” Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician and vocal advocate of this practice, told the New York Times.

In 2007, 9.5 per cent of all children aged four to 17 in the United States were diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s scary to think that this is what we’ve come to; how not funding public education to meet the needs of all kids has led to this,” a Californian superintendent told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity.

Where you can find out more:

Fighting Alzheimer through caffeine

A recent discovery has linked caffeine consumption with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists from the University of Illinois recently discovered the exorbitant amount of caffeine that we students consume on a regular basis not only help us make it through the day, but also helps to fend off Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine does this by preventing inflammation in the brain. The experiment was conducted on mice that were split into two groups. One was administered caffeine, while the other was left as a control. The mice then underwent oxygen deprivation to simulate cognitive impairment.

The mice that were administered caffeine recovered their ability to form new memories 33 per cent faster.

The study can be found at the Journal of Neuroscience.

Where you can find out more: