5 Really Weird Things We’ve Sent Into Space

July 31, 2014

Space exploration is one of our most ambitious yet most expensive endeavors. This should go without saying, but it costs a lot to send something into space. That is why every payload carried aboard shuttles is monitored carefully. However, some of these payloads have contained a lot more than the bare essentials. As you are about to see, we have sent a lot of wacky stuff into space.

Tardigrades

Space Tardigrade

Cuter and tougher than you will ever be Source: So Faking News

Out of all the animals that have been to space, tardigrades are definitely the coolest. These teeny-tiny microscopic critters are the Toyota Hilux of the animal world – they can withstand just about anything. This places them in a category known as extremophiles – organisms that can thrive in harsh environments.

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6 Dramatic Chemical Reactions To Try At Your Next House Party

July 30, 2014
Chemical Reactions Beakers

Source: Cambridge

The world chemists live in can be a strange and terrifying place. Old-timey cartographers used to place dragons over the unknown lands on their maps. Any scientist doing research is operating on the border between the known and unknown worlds, and what lurks in the undiscovered country is sometimes found to breathe fire and—shed its skin? I don’t know much about dragons. Anyway, here be six dragons of chemistry that nerds in lab coats discovered, tamed, and set to work doing tricks for us in laboratories.

Chemical Reactions: Thermite Eats Through Metal

People who play first-person-shooter games know thermite as an explosive that sets off a brilliant white light when used to destroy a piece of equipment that might fall into the enemy’s hands. People who will shortly be facing federal indictments know that thermite can totally be cooked on a home stove using rusty nails and aluminum powder.

The resulting mix is officially good for spot welding cracked metal. Unofficially, it will eat straight through the engine block on the Camaro your ex’s new boyfriend drives. Kids, ask your parents.

Chemical Reactions: Sulfuric Acid Turns Sugar into an Evil Snake

When you were a kid, the worst part of the Fourth of July was those snakes. Remember those? The package always had a dramatic sketch of some explorer in a pith helmet wrestling with the world’s most improbably large boa constrictor. This was felt to be a selling point, by the way. But when you set the things down on the street, evacuated innocent civilians, and finally got the things lit, they just kind of twisted around and let off a bit of smoke that made your dad come outside and check his tires.

Scientists had the same crappy childhood you did, and so when they grew up they went looking for the awesome experience they felt they’d been cheated out of as kids. Except theirs involves sugar and freaking sulfuric acid.

The 10 Most Fascinating (And Terrifying) Fringe Sciences

July 25, 2014

Fringe science is any field of scientific inquiry which represents a significant departure from orthodox theories or bodies of work. Sometimes fringe sciences are accepted and become mainstream. Evolution, The Big Bang Theory, and Continental Drift all began on the fringes of science and today–while still debated by some–are taken as scientific truth.

Here are the top 10 fringe sciences and theories that could become mainstream in your lifetime.

Fringe Sciences: Cybernetics

Fringe Science Terminator

Source: Alpha Coders

Cybernetics is the study and re-creation of control systems (the nervous system, the brain, and mechanical-electrical communication systems). In other words, it’s the attempt to create human-robot hybrids which, as we know from EVERY MOVIE EVER MADE ON THE SUBJECT, never ends well.

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Life In Everyday Space Will Stun You

July 23, 2014

We think of astronauts as leading very dangerous and exciting lives when they are out there in space, pushing the boundaries of human exploration ever forward. And, of course, all of that is true, but life in space (specifically, aboard the International Space Station) also offers a lot of downtime. When they are not working, astronauts still need to live their lives, which are actually a lot closer to ours than you might think. Most of the everyday things you and I do at home, they also do them aboard the ISS. However, the lack of gravity surely adds a layer of difficulty to even the simplest of tasks.

Everyday Space ISS

At $150 billion, the ISS is the most expensive thing we’ve ever built. Source: AMS02

Let’s say you’re an astronaut and you just woke up. You would probably want to go through your morning routine, which might include trivial stuff such as brushing your teeth or washing your hair. Here’s where lack of access to running water makes things a bit tricky. Since you are living in a place with billions of dollars worth of electronics, water floating around is probably not a good idea. Therefore, you don’t get the benefits of a running tap or shower.

Astronaut brushing his teeth

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Harley Davidson’s Electric Evolution

July 19, 2014

This is what comes to mind when you hear the name Harley-Davidson, right?

Harley Davidson Electric Motorcycle Men

Source: Columbian

Or something like this:

Or maybe even this:

Harley Davidson Pin Up

Source: eBay

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Natural Phenomena That Science Has Trouble Explaining

July 15, 2014
Natural Phenomena Colony Collapse Bees

Source: Reuters

Colony Collapse Disorder

Since honeybees started dying off in frightening amounts around 2006, there has been much discussion over just what the culprit of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is, and a recent report released by the USDA sheds little new light on the subject. There exists no single smoking gun in relation to CCD, but many probable causes.

Natural Phenomena Colony Collapse

Source: Wikipedia

Researchers have looked to parasitic mites found in abandoned colonies (the Varroa mite), any number of different viruses, colder winters, bacterial disease, as well as many different pesticides used on crops to explain the phenomenon. However, they have yet to uncover how these scenarios are working in conjunction with each other to rapidly wipe out the American honeybee population. The following chart deals with the particular neonicotinoid based pesticides and the Varroa mite, and how they relate to honeybee populations worldwide.

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