New Record for Female Astronaut

The longest time spent in space by a woman was previously recorded at 288 days by Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. Now female astronaut Christina Koch is all set to break the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. The forty year old will be spending 328 days in space to help study the effects of long term spaceflights on the human body.

Christina has been on board the ISS since March 2019 and will continue to be there till February 2020, if all goes to plan. NASA is gearing up for it’s foray to Mars and is collecting scientific data on the effects on being in space for longer periods of time than the standard four months that most astronauts usually spend on the ISS.

This has led to longer in space time for certain astronauts to help study the potential issues that may crop up during the long flight to Mars and back. While the ISS is merely orbiting about 200 miles above the Earth, the conditions on board the space craft traveling to Mars are likely to be pretty much the same. This science project is taking planning ahead to a whole new level!

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Rage Welcome Here

As a society we are not very tolerant of people who tend to lose their temper frequently. However as any mental health expert will tell you, anger is a valid emotion and needs to be addressed in a healthy manner. Holding on to your rage is eventually going to show up as high blood pressure and cardiac problems, possibly even a stroke that could leave you paralyzed.

Being able to release your rage in a controlled environment is the key. You get to vent it all out, safely, without hurting yourself or anyone else. People at the AXE Rage Room in Jordan, Amman, have to agree that smashing things like televisions, computer screens and other old discarded junk is rather liberating.

Another way they deal with their anger is by writing their problems on a blackboard and targeting them. Yes somewhat similar to throwing darts on the photographs of your ex, your mean boss and other who may bother you, it seems to release all that rage in a controlled and healthy way. Now there’s a science experiment that couples undergoing a divorce may like to participate it!

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User Controlled TV

The film that you are watching has a preset plot and characters that walk you through it. You sit back and watch the show as it unfolds as a mute spectator. Now imagine that the characters turn to you mid dialogue and ask you for your advice in what to do next! Does it sound like you fell asleep while watching the film and are now dreaming?

It may not really be necessary that you are dreaming. In fact user controlled TV is coming soon. These choose your own adventure type of stories will require input from the watchers to develop the story line along many possibilities. You can choose what the characters will do next, rather like some gaming apps at present.

Netflix recently launched it’s first interactive film, Bandersnatch. Now it’s successful reception has led the producers to consider making two full series of interactive adventures. One will be an animated series for children in a futuristic-medieval world. The other is an action based adventure for adults.

Would you consider it a cool scientific experiment to make your characters climb a mountain instead of entering a jungle? Who knows what else you will be able to make them do in the future!

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Staph on ISS

One would imagine that the International Space Station would be a place where the common contagions found on Earth would not be found. Unfortunately it seems that microbial and fungal colonies seem to thrive there just as they would on the surface of the planet. What’s more while the fungal communities are stable, the microbial communities change over time.

The microbes were found littered across the International Space Station by a team of NASA researchers with a consistency that one would associate with a gym or an officer on Earth. They are just as likely to threaten the health of the astronauts on the space station, as they are to make the people in an office fall ill due to constant exposure.

The microbes found were mostly human associated ones which are considered opportunistic pathogens on Earth. Examples of microbes found include Staphylococcus aureus, Pantoea and Bacillus. Given that there are currently six residential astronauts on the International Space Station, someone may want to take up a clean up drive to ensure that no one falls ill in space.

Think about it as a science project whose sole aim is to ensure that the residents of the ISS remain healthy during the time that they serve on the space station.

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99 Years With Situs Inversus

In order to live a long and healthy life, you need to have a healthy body that you pay attention to. You need to eat nutritious food, get exercise and have a good lifestyle. At least that’s what conventional wisdom will tell you, but what if you have been born with a rare condition called Situs Inversus? What’s the possibility of you surviving to a ripe old age then?

Situs Inversus is a rare condition in which the major visceral organs are reversed or mirrored from their normal positions. This means that organs like the liver, stomach, and other internal abdominal organs are shifted from right to left. Rose Marie Bentley, a woman from the Pacific NorthWest never knew she even had this condition.

Her heart was still on the left side of her chest, but the rest of the organs were transposed from right to left. Her body was donated to research in 2017 after she died by her husband. It was only when the students at the Oregon Health and Science University used her cadaver for science experiments during a normal anatomy class that the rare condition was revealed. Now that’s one way to prove that your textbooks were wrong!

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New Blue Northern Lights Courtesy NASA

The northern lights are a well known phenomena and quite a tourist attraction for those visiting Norway. The beautiful display of the famous auroras was intersected by strange blue lights with geometric patterns on the fifth of April. The gorgeous symmetric patterns may have pleased the eye, but the worried the locals.

These were definitely not part of mother nature’s show. The locals were wondering about the possibility of alien invasions and the discussions about just what caused this phenomena were hot and bothered. Conspiration theories have been the next step, thankfully people were still in the discussion stage. This lasted till NASA owned up to causing these new blue lights in the area.

Apparently NASA was using a pair of rockets in the area to conduct an experiment that was supposed to study the processes taking place within the polar cusp of the Earth. This is the region where the magnetic lines bend down through the planet’s atmosphere, resulting in the creation of the northern lights. Now that was a science experiment that got more results than it had bargained for!

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Beyond Cryogenics

Traditionally cryogenic liquids were used to achieve low temperatures for research and industrial purposes, with a variety of liquefied gases and a range of applications. Liquid nitrogen is the most commonly used cryogenic liquid these days. Another popular cryogenic is liquid helium.

While cryogenic liquids have been used for maintaining cooler temperatures in research laboratories, they are not only potentially hazardous but also extremely expensive. Not to mention rare to harness in the natural state. In addition making sensitive measurements in cryogenic environments poses many difficulties to researchers.

For these reasons research has been ongoing to create a cryogenics free environment, which would still be able to maintain the cooler temperatures that are requisite in certain science experiments. At Oxford Instruments researchers are working on nano technology based instruments that can help eliminate the dangers and uncertainty of using cryogenic liquids.

Since Nano Devices are extremely sensitive, they can be used to make a wide range of temperature measurements. This means that they can be used effectively at room temperature as well as extremely low cryogenic temperatures. As the instruments are improved, they may well take over the niche, removing the need to use cryogenic liquids in science experiments.

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Up-cycling Plastic Waste

The resources we have are limited. That’s why the emphasis on reusing everything we can. We have all heard of recycling waste products so that they may be reused to save the planet more wear and tear. Now we have the concept of up-cycling plastic waste.

From the innovative people on the planet come a number of options to up-cycle your plastic waste. Plastic brown grocery bags have been made into yarn and stitched into a suit. Plastic bottles have been cut and reworked to make storage units for daily necessities. Plastic crocs that have broken have been remade into bird feeders hanging on a tree branch.

While a large number of ideas have been formed around already existing plastic products, at the Swansea University, researchers have come up with a technique to up-cycle the plastic waste bags that were used for food packaging, and make electricity conducting carbon nanotubes from them.
Alvin Orbaek White, who headed this science project hopes that
idea of upcycling waste in this way not only offers a potential solution to the problem of environmental plastic disposal, but by turning it into something useful that we can use for energy

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Regulations for Drones

What started out as a simple hobby to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV has turned into a potential commercial venture with drones flying from location to location with mail, courier items, medical supplies and more. People are buying and flying drones as a hobby and doing all kinds of tricks with them. The number of drones being flown at present is very few compared to what can be envisioned for the future.

As more companies gain permission to fly their drones for whatever commercial or other purposes within the city limits it is going to become increasingly more important to have regulations for flying them. This fact becomes even more important when you consider that last year in the US nearly 69 collisions with drones were avoided. Of course there were some collisions which could not be avoided on record as well.

The aerospace sector needs to be ready to handle this potential crisis. Not only do they have to undertake the issue of flying so many drones safely within city limits, they have to ensure that the buildings and infrastructure is also kept safe. Not to mention keeping the drones out of the zones where commercial airliners are likely to fly in and out of the city airport. This is one huge science project that needs a lot of attention.

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Challenges of Being Pioneering Women in Space

Have you ever felt bad because you were the last to be picked for a sports team? It’s disappointing, but you tell yourself that when you are an adult these things will not happen. Guess what? Even when you are pioneering woman astronaut, it may still happen as Anne C McClain and Christina H Koch discovered on the International Space Station. This occurred when they attempted to have the first all female spacewalk.

The mission which would have turned out to be a historic one had it gone through, had to be called off due to the lack of medium sized spacesuits. There is only one medium sized torso component available on the ISS. The duties that require the space walk will still be carried out by two astronauts. the mission comprises of a six hour space walk during which lithium ion batteries will be installed to help power the research laboratory.

While Christina H Koch will still be participating in the mission, Anne C McClain will have to wait for the next one. As for the women only spacewalk? That’s a science project that will have to wait for another day!

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