On August 10th, astronauts on the International Space Station sampled their first space-grown salad and pronounced it “good.” They were treated to freshly harvested red romaine lettuce grown in the “Veggie” plant growth chamber—a special structure designed to make gardens flourish in weightlessness.
You are here
Quantum foam. It may sound like the name of a new craft beer, but it’s something even more amazing.
To ‘see’ it, you have to dive down the rabbit hole of quantum mechanics -- a branch of physics that describes how light and matter behave at atomic scales. In this bizarre realm, matter can be in two places at once; electrons can behave as both particles and waves; and Schrödinger’s cat can be alive and dead at the same time. Or so the quantum theorists tell us.
Muscles are miracles of nature. They convert energy into motion more efficiently than any gasoline engine or electric motor. They’re extremely resilient and even heal themselves. Instead of degrading with use, our muscles become stronger the more we work them.
As Mark Twain once said, “Distance lends enchantment to the view.”
This definitely holds true for the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, a new space weather mission from NOAA that also carries NASA instruments to keep an eye on Earth.
Launched in February 2015, DSCOVR is now a million miles from Earth where it can look back and see half of our planet all at once. The view prompted President Obama to tweet:
Warning: Earth is surrounded by electrons that can be disruptive to our technology.
Wildland fires in the U.S. torch an average of 7 million acres of land each year. The western U.S. is one of the worst wildland fire ‘hotspots’ on Earth. In the western states, drought and heat are the perfect ingredients to make wildfires wilder. The hot, dry conditions make bone-dry fuel out of plants and trees, and winds can sweep a fire along as fast as 14 miles an hour.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft is a prolific hunter of planets outside of our Solar System. Since it launched in 2009, Kepler has confirmed more than 1000 of these exoplanets and catalogued thousands of more candidates. The menagerie includes planets with densities greater than iron and lower than Styrofoam; planets smaller than Mercury and bigger than Jupiter; planets with one sun, two suns, and even four suns!
Traveling in space has many odd effects on the human body. One of the strangest has to do with vision.
After spending some time on the International Space Station, many astronauts discover that they cannot see as well as they do on Earth. The effect is so well known that members of the crew routinely pack “space glasses” to correct their vision in orbit.
The human body is incredibly complex. Every part of us—from our bones to our blood cells—is subject to a host of chemical reactions and molecular interactions that, without our conscious effort, keep us alive.
But what happens to these processes when we leave the planet?
When the Space Age began, there was no such thing as a “graphical user interface.” Astronauts interacted with their electronics using only knobs and toggle switches. It was a different time.
Fast forward to 2015.