For an hour and a half or so earlier this month, 30 teachers from Ohio middle schools weighed nothing at all. The same went for me; for TV personality "Science Bob" Pflugfelder; and for 2,016 optic-orange ping-pong balls.
Have a good idea that you've been dying to test in zero gravity? NASA is opening up a few spots on the International Space Station for research ideas from private entities, providing some of its prized zero-gravity research real estate to ideas from commercial firms, non-profits, and academic institutions as well as federal, state and local governments.
Scientists working on behalf of NASA have successfully levitated a mouse using a strong magnetic field. I pay taxes so that stuff like this can happen. I don't hate animals. It's for understanding microgravity better, ok?
Getting married in apparent weightlessness looks like fun; it's the next best thing to getting married in space.
Keep in mind that I use the terms "apparent" or "simulated" weightlessness, because, as discussed in a previous article, we're not talking about actual weightlessness in these situations. Actual weightlessness requires the absence of a gravitational force.
Doesn’t it seem that all movies and television shows suggest that space will one day be populated by nothing but dashingly lithe men and buxom women? Well there’s a reason it’s called science fiction, because extended space travel could actually leave astronauts a gross, bloated, unattractive mess. Astrobiologist Dr Lewis Dartnel projects that long-term exposure to zero gravity has the potential to ravage your looks in the most unappealing ways.
When humans eventually live on the moon and Mars, the discomforts of eating freeze-dried food and drinking our own urine will hardly be our only space nuisances. Apparently, our feet will tingle, we'll get headaches and toothaches, our eyes will be runny, and we'll have chronically stuffy noses.
Scientists have a pretty good notion of what will happen to your body when you're walking on the moon or traveling gravity-free for two years en route to Mars -- thanks to a cadre of bed-ridden test subjects.
Watch as the theoretical physicist pirouettes through the air! Marvel as the greatest brain of our time floats through space! Be astounded as his iron stomach appears to withstand the rigors of the "Vomit Comet"!
On Thursday, Stephen Hawking boarded a zero-gravity flight for the honor of being shot up and down on eight nauseating parabolic dives. The flight was potentially just the first step toward an actual trip to space. Last year, after announcing his firm belief that the human species would not survive unless it found a way to leave Earth, and expressing a desire to try space himself, Hawking was offered a spot on the yet-to-exist Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
"Space, here I come," Hawking said at the end of his flight. And if Richard Branson ever manages to build the thing, maybe we'll get to see our favorite physicist kickin' it zero-g style for more than 25 seconds. —Abby Seiff
Only six degrees separate you from zero gravity, or at least from its
thrilling physiological side effects. According to recent research,
lolling around for several weeks in a bed inclined six degrees—with
your head at the low end—mimics the muscle atrophy and bone
degeneration associated with spaceflight. This shortcut to zero
gravity may help researchers study the physiological implications of a
trip to Mars. Sure, muscle and bone loss isn't usually the highlight
of a trip to space, but a few weeks in bed is a lot cheaper than a
ticket on Virgin Galactic. —Eric Mika
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.