science and experiments

theatlantic.com
Stones Have Been Popping Out of People Who Ride Roller Coasters
Using centripetal force to prevent a $4 billion healthcare cost
By James Hamblin

1. Doctor finds anecdotal evidence that people are passing kidney stones after riding on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World

2. Doctor makes 3-D model of kidney, complete with stones and urine (his own), takes it on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 60 times

3. “The stones passed 63.89 percent of the time while the kidneys were in the back of the car. When they were in the front, the passage rate was only 16.67 percent. That’s based on only 60 rides on a single coaster, and Wartinger guards his excitement in the journal article: ‘Preliminary study findings support the anecdotal evidence that a ride on a moderate-intensity roller coaster could benefit some patients with small kidney stones.’”

4. “Some rides are going to be more advantageous for some patients than other rides. So I wouldn’t say that the only ride that helps you pass stones is Big Thunder Mountain. That’s grossly inaccurate.”

5. “His advice for now: If you know you have a stone that’s smaller than five millimeters, riding a series of roller coasters could help you pass that stone before it gets to an obstructive size and either causes debilitating colic or requires a $10,000 procedure to try and break it up. And even once a stone is broken up using shock waves, tiny fragments and “dust” remain that need to be passed. The coaster could help with that, too.”

SCIENCE: IT WORKS

New Research Heading to Earth’s Orbiting Laboratory

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…dragon? A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is set to launch into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket toward the International Space Station for its 12th commercial resupply (CRS-12) mission August 14 from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It won’t breathe fire, but it will carry science that studies cosmic rays, protein crystal growth, bioengineered lung tissue.

Here are some highlights of research that will be delivered:

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ISS-CREAM! 

Cosmic Rays, Energetics and Mass, that is! Cosmic rays reach Earth from far outside the solar system with energies well beyond what man-made accelerators can achieve. The Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (ISS-CREAM) instrument measures the charges of cosmic rays ranging from hydrogen to iron nuclei. Cosmic rays are pieces of atoms that move through space at nearly the speed of light

The data collected from the instrument will help address fundamental science questions such as:

  • Do supernovae supply the bulk of cosmic rays?
  • What is the history of cosmic rays in the galaxy?
  • Can the energy spectra of cosmic rays result from a single mechanism?

ISS-CREAM’s three-year mission will help the scientific community to build a stronger understanding of the fundamental structure of the universe.

Space-grown crystals aid in understanding of Parkinson’s disease

The microgravity environment of the space station allows protein crystals to grow larger and in more perfect shapes than earth-grown crystals, allowing them to be better analyzed on Earth. 

Developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, the Crystallization of Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) under Microgravity Conditions (CASIS PCG 7) investigation will utilize the orbiting laboratory’s microgravity environment to grow larger versions of this important protein, implicated in Parkinson’s disease.

Defining the exact shape and morphology of LRRK2 would help scientists to better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and could aid in the development of therapies against this target.

Mice Help Us Keep an Eye on Long-term Health Impacts of Spaceflight

Our eyes have a whole network of blood vessels, like the ones in the image below, in the retina—the back part of the eye that transforms light into information for your brain. We are sending mice to the space station (RR-9) to study how the fluids that move through these vessels shift their flow in microgravity, which can lead to impaired vision in astronauts.

By looking at how spaceflight affects not only the eyes, but other parts of the body such as joints, like hips and knees, in mice over a short period of time, we can develop countermeasures to protect astronauts over longer periods of space exploration, and help humans with visual impairments or arthritis on Earth.

Telescope-hosting nanosatellite tests new concept

The Kestrel Eye (NanoRacks-KE IIM) investigation is a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging system payload, including an off-the-shelf telescope. This investigation validates the concept of using microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to support critical operations, such as providing lower-cost Earth imagery in time-sensitive situations, such as tracking severe weather and detecting natural disasters.

Sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, the overall mission goal for this investigation is to demonstrate that small satellites are viable platforms for providing critical path support to operations and hosting advanced payloads.

Growth of lung tissue in space could provide information about diseases

The Effect of Microgravity on Stem Cell Mediated Recellularization (Lung Tissue) uses the microgravity environment of space to test strategies for growing new lung tissue. The cells are grown in a specialized framework that supplies them with critical growth factors so that scientists can observe how gravity affects growth and specialization as cells become new lung tissue.

The goal of this investigation is to produce bioengineered human lung tissue that can be used as a predictive model of human responses allowing for the study of lung development, lung physiology or disease pathology.

These crazy-cool investigations and others launching aboard the next SpaceX #Dragon cargo spacecraft on August 14. They will join many other investigations currently happening aboard the space station. Follow @ISS_Research on Twitter for more information about the science happening on 250 miles above Earth on the space station.  

Watch the launch live HERE starting at 12:20 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14!

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Date Ideas for When You’re Finally Together But Broke from Buying Plane Tickets
  • Walk around your S.O.’s town and have them show you places they love
  • Look at photo albums 
  • Bake cookies together
  • Try to bake a traditional dish from your country/region
  • Paint together
  • Play loud music and dance/sing together
  • Binge watch tv/Netflix
  • Go for ice cream
  • Go to animal shelters
  • Go window shopping at the mall
  • Go thrift shopping
  • Take your dog for a walk or to the dog park
  • Go to the movies on discount days (usually Tuesdays)
  • Build a blanket fort
    • watch movies in fort
    • sleep in fort
  • Make breakfast in bed for your partner
  • Do junior science experiments with household products
  • Prepare a candlelight dinner for your partner (or prepare it together)
  • Go to you/your S.O.’s (former/current) high school for sporting events
  • Watch a local amateur play
  • Play video games together
  • Play board/card games together

the other day i was covering for one of our cashiers and a customer came through with a monster high doll. normally I’ll ask if the kid or whoever is a fan of whatever the person is purchasing and this person told me “yeah, she’s really into science and this one is sciencey, but i’m not too keen about the outfit”. i look at the box and nod and say “yeah, I don’t think open-toed heels are safe for a laboratory environment”. the customer just looked up at me with big eyes and whispered back “thank you for saying that”

Counting Down to the Solar Eclipse on August 21

On Aug. 21, 2017, everyone in North America will have the chance to see a solar eclipse if skies are clear. We’re giving you a preview of what you’ll see, how to watch and why scientists are particularly excited for this eclipse.

On Aug. 21, within a narrow band stretching from Oregon to South Carolina – called the path of totality – the Moon will completely obscure the Sun, giving people on the ground a view of the total solar eclipse. Outside this path – throughout North America, and even in parts of South America – the Moon will block only a portion of the Sun’s face, creating a partial solar eclipse.

Image credit: T. Ruen

Eclipses happen when the Moon, Sun and Earth line up just right, allowing the Moon to cast its shadow on Earth. Because the Moon’s orbit is tilted with respect to the Sun-Earth plane, its shadow usually passes above or below Earth. But when they all line up and that shadow falls on Earth, we get a solar eclipse.

How to Watch the Eclipse Safely  

It’s never safe to look directly at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun – so you’ll need special solar viewing glasses or an indirect viewing method, like pinhole projection, to watch at the eclipse.

If you’re using solar viewing glasses or a handheld solar filter, there are a few important safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Check a few key characteristics to make sure that you have proper solar filters – sunglasses (even very dark ones) or homemade filters are NOT safe  
  • Double-check that your solar filter is not scratched or damaged before you use it
  • Always put your solar filter over your eyes before looking up at the Sun, and look away from the Sun before removing it 
  • Do NOT use your solar filter while looking through telescopes, binoculars, or any other optical device, such as a camera viewfinder – the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eyes, causing serious injury

Get all the details on safety at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

No solar viewing glasses? Pinhole projection is an easy and safe way to watch the eclipse. You can create a pinhole projector from a box, or simply use any object with tiny holes – like a colander or a piece of cardstock with a hole – to project an image of the Sun onto the ground or a piece of paper.

If you are in the path of totality, there will come a time when the Moon completely obscures the Sun’s bright face. This is called totality, and it is only during this phase – which may last only a few seconds, depending on your location – that it is safe to look directly at the eclipse.

Wherever you are, you can tune into nasa.gov/eclipselive throughout the day on Aug. 21 to hear from our experts and see the eclipse like never before – including views from our spacecraft, aircraft, and more than 50 high-altitude balloons.

A Unique Chance for Scientists

Total solar eclipses provide a unique opportunity to study the Sun and Earth. During a total eclipse, the lower parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, can be seen in a way that cannot completely be replicated by current human-made instruments.

The lower part of the corona is key to understanding many processes on the Sun, including why the Sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface and the origins of the Sun’s constant stream of solar material and radiation – which can cause changes in the nature of space and impact spacecraft, communications systems, and orbiting astronauts.

Photo credit: S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol

For those in the path of totality, the few moments of the total solar eclipse will reveal the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. 

Total solar eclipses are also a chance to study Earth under uncommon conditions: In contrast to the global change in light that occurs every day at dusk and dawn, a solar eclipse changes illumination of Earth and its atmosphere only under a comparatively small region of the Moon’s shadow. This localized blocking of solar energy is useful in evaluating our understanding of the Sun’s effects – temperature, for example – on our atmosphere. Of particular interest is the impact on Earth’s upper atmosphere, where solar illumination is primarily responsible for the generation of a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere.

We’re also inviting eclipse viewers around the country to become citizen scientists and participate in a nationwide science experiment by collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via the GLOBE Observer smartphone app.

For more eclipse info, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov and follow @NASASun on Twitter and NASA Sun Science on Facebook.  

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

npr.org
It's Like An 'Electric-Fence Sensation,' Says Scientist Who Let An Eel Shock His Arm
A neurobiologist noticed something strange whenever he tried to fish out electric eels in his lab using a net with a metal rim and handle. So he decided to roll up his sleeves and investigate.

Ken Catania of Vanderbilt University lets a small eel zap his arm as he holds a device he designed to measure the strength of the electric current. Here’s what he learned. 

The famous image of Einstein’s desk, exactly how he left it, mere hours after his death

Before his passing Einstein had refused the surgery for the internal bleeding that subsequently took his life; saying: “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly”.

As can be seen here with the mountains of shuffled paper and scribbles on the blackboard, Einstein certainly did do his part and worked until the very end.

(Time)

Five Ways the International Space Station’s National Lab Enables Commercial Research

A growing number of commercial partners use the International Space Station National Lab. With that growth, we will see more discoveries in fundamental and applied research that could improve life on the ground.

Space Station astronaut Kate Rubins was the first person to sequence DNA in microgravity.

Since 2011, when we engaged the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage the International Space Station (ISS) National Lab, CASIS has partnered with academic researchers, other government organizations, startups and major commercial companies to take advantage of the unique microgravity lab. Today, more than 50 percent of CASIS’ experiments on the station represent commercial research.

Here’s a look at five ways the ISS National Lab is enabling new opportunities for commercial research in space.

1. Supporting Commercial Life Sciences Research

One of the main areas of focus for us in the early origins of the space station program was life sciences, and it is still a major priority today. Studying the effects of microgravity on astronauts provides insight into human physiology, and how it evolves or erodes in space. CASIS took this knowledge and began robust outreach to the pharmaceutical community, which could now take advantage of the microgravity environment on the ISS National Lab to develop and enhance therapies for patients on Earth. Companies such as Merck, Eli Lilly & Company, and Novartis have sent several experiments to the station, including investigations aimed at studying diseases such as osteoporosis, and examining ways to enhance drug tablets for increased potency to help patients on Earth. These companies are trailblazers for many other life science companies that are looking at how the ISS National Lab can advance their research efforts.

2. Enabling Commercial Investigations in Material and Physical Sciences

Over the past few years, CASIS and the ISS National Lab also have seen a major push toward material and physical sciences research by companies interested in enhancing their products for consumers. Examples range from Proctor and Gamble’s investigation aimed at increasing the longevity of daily household products, to Milliken’s flame-retardant textile investigation to improve protective clothing for individuals in harm’s way, and companies looking to enhance materials for household appliances. Additionally, CASIS has been working with a variety of companies to improve remote sensing capabilities in order to better monitor our oceans, predict harmful algal blooms, and ultimately, to better understand our planet from a vantage point roughly 250 miles above Earth.

3. Supporting Startup Companies Interested in Microgravity Research 

CASIS has funded a variety of investigations with small startup companies (in particular through seed funding and grant funding from partnerships and funded solicitations) to leverage the ISS National Lab for both research and test-validation model experiments. CASIS and The Boeing Company recently partnered with MassChallenge, the largest startup accelerator in the world, to fund three startup companies to conduct microgravity research.

4. Enabling Validation of Low-Earth Orbit Business Models 

The ISS National Lab helps validate low-Earth orbit business models. Companies such as NanoRacks, Space Tango, Made In Space, Techshot, and Controlled Dynamics either have been funded by CASIS or have sent instruments to the ISS National Lab that the research community can use, and that open new channels for inquiry. This has allowed the companies that operate these facilities to validate their business models, while also building for the future beyond station.

5. Demonstrating the Commercial Value of Space-based Research

We have been a key partner in working with CASIS to demonstrate to American businesses the value of conducting research in space. Through outreach events such as our Destination Station, where representatives from the International Space Station Program Science Office and CASIS select cities with several major companies and meet with the companies to discuss how they could benefit from space-based research. Over the past few years, this outreach has proven to be a terrific example of building awareness on the benefits of microgravity research.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

The Effect of Music, Prayer & Words on Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto:

Keeping in mind our bodies are 65% water.
You are what you tell yourself you are.
You are what you tell others they are.
Thoughts truly become things… choose good ones!

Humanity and aliens

So I was trying to sort out just how many different headcanons of “humans in space“ I’ve stumbled across so far. And I’m loving it, because they’re all amazing and so very much “base humans are bizarre“ instead of the old sci-fi cliché of “base human is base alien”.

But yeah, there are a whole lot of them.

  • Humans are determinators. Unstoppable and tireless monsters who can ignore broken bones, and whose biology is quite simply put terrifying on multiple levels.
  • Humans are ancient giants, whose spaceship are often colonized by smaller species who can live for generations in certain parts of the spaceship before traveling away from there.
  • Humans are galactic cats, hanging around on other species’ spaceships and including them in their “packs”.
  • Humans are complete nutters with crazy science and utterly insane experiments, and the scientific leaps they make are a thing of wonder.
  • Humans are impossibly lucky for as long as nobody tells them about it. They’re put in charge of everything with quotes such as “leadership”, when in actuality the aliens just want things to turn out fine despite the odds.
  • Humans are casually selfless, throwing their own lives away to save the lives of others for no other reason than that “it was the right thing to do”. It’s so normal for them that heroics like it are kind of tossed aside when something “more interesting“ comes along a week later.
  • Humans will laugh at their own injuries because they honestly consider them amusing.
  • Humans will form emotional bonds with literally everything.
  • Humans will attempt to pet even the most infamously lethal creatures in the galaxy, because “it looked cute”.
  • Humans will question literally everything, for basically no reason other than “just because”. But is also fully inclined to believe people at the drop of a hat, despite the absurdity of their claims.

And then there are the more “aliens are not like us“-theories.

  • Humans are the only creature with light-based senses, meaning that they perceive the world in an entirely mysterious way, filled with things like “color” and “the speed of light” and “transparency”.
  • Humans are the only creature to ever develop a decent throwing-arm, and is as such the only one to instinctively comprehend the concept of “ranged combat”.
  • Humans are the only creature with pattern-recognition, and will see familiar things in random patterns, as well as being the only species to understand “camouflage”.
  • Humans are the only creature to reproduce sexually. Everyone else is creeped out by how this causes their children to mutate seemingly at random.
  • Humans are the only creature with a story-based imagination, meaning that they basically hold the export-monopoly on all produced fiction in the galaxy.
4

Isaac Newton conducting experiments; refracting white light with a prism, bending light through prisms and resolving it into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

Opticks: Or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light, 1672.

Bucky: “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back.”

Steve: *Joins the army despite being physically unfit.*

Steve: *Jumps on what he believes to be a live grenade.* 

Steve: *Volunteers for a dangerous science experiment.*

Steve: *Storms a HYDRA base by himself.*

Steve: *Runs deeper into a HYDRA base that has just been rigged to self destruct.*

Bucky: “So basically you interpreted “don’t do anything stupid” as an invitation to do everything stupid short of crashing a plane into the ocean or picking a fight with aliens.”

Steve: *Adds that to the list of things to do next time he and Bucky get separated.*