Month: October, 2017

Dinosaur May Have Looked Like A Raccoon

About 130 million years ago, a small feathered dinosaur danced across the open plains in what is now northeastern China, hiding in plain sight thanks to its striped tail and a “mask” of dark feathers.

Scientists discovered this stealthy color pattern after studying remarkably well-preserved fossils of Sinosauropteryx, a small carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous.

It may now be one of the few known examples of countershading in dinosaurs, a mix of dark and light body coloring modern animals still use as a method of camouflage.

Great white sharks, for example, are dark on top to blend in with murky waters when seen from above, but are lighter on their bellies so that they match the sky when viewed from below.

Countershading also makes an animal appear narrower from the side, which can make it seem like a smaller, less attractive meal for predators.

Great white sharks, for example, are dark on top to blend in with murky waters when seen from above, but are lighter on their bellies so that they match the sky when viewed from below.

Countershading also makes an animal appear narrower from the side, which can make it seem like a smaller, less attractive meal for predators.

In their study, published this week in Current Biology, study coauthors Jakob Vinther and Fiann Smithwick of the University of Bristol present their evidence that Sinosauropteryx was countershaded.

Based on preserved pigments found in the fossils, they say that the animal would have had a coat of rusty brown feathers on its back.

From the side, the feathers would have starkly shifted from dark to light, with paler plumes running across its chest.

The dinosaur looked like “something between a roadrunner and a rock wallaby,” Vinther says.

The result not only offers clues to how Sinosauropteryx looked, but also to how it might have hunted and evaded predators in an open, sunny landscape.

We now can perhaps paint a better picture of which dinosaurs in this environment were interacting with each other,” Vinther says. (This massive armored dinosaur may have used camouflage to hide from predators.)

In recent years, scientists have been able to isolate and study melanosomes, which create the pigment melanin, preserved in fossilized feathers. These chemicals offer clues to what ancient animals looked like in life.

When feathers are preserved, that’s because there’s melanin in there,” Vinther says. “If there’s no pigment there, the keratin just decays away and we have nothing left behind.

For Sinosauropteryx, the team examined three fossil specimens preserved in China, took photographs, and then mapped out their color patterns based on the images.

The researchers also created 3-D models of the dinosaur and made different images in varying lighting conditions.

Because Sinosauropteryx’s color contrast is more defined and higher up on its body, it likely lived in an open habitat in direct sunlight, they argue.

[The] dark-to-light pattern on the body needs to balance out the shadows,” Smithwick says. He adds that the research gives a more “holistic approach” to looking at the Sinosauropteryx specimen by analyzing its color patterns and behaviors.

Fossils are preserved in different ways, which can make defining characteristics in multimillion-year-old specimens tricky.

Sinosauropteryx was a feathered species, and Schweitzer says the bandit-like mask could have been the result of feathers falling around its face during degradation.

The three fossils are also different sizes, likely indicating different ages at their time of death, and Schweitzer says it’s possible the tail banding is a juvenile trait that was lost in adults.

The fossils also do not have feathers in the abdominal region, which could mean, as the authors say, that the feathers were light in life and were not preserved due to lack of melanin.

Or it could mean that they didn’t exist at all. If the animal had gases in its stomach when it died, that part of its body may have exploded and left behind a uncolored area in the fossil impression.

By contrast, Vinther is much more confident in his team’s conclusions: “Those color patterns that we see stand for themselves.

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Researchers Get Better At Tweaking The Genomes Of Human Embryos

It is risky to predict who and what will win a Nobel prize. But some discoveries are so big that their receipt of science’s glitziest gong seems only a matter of time.

One such is CRISPR-Cas9, a powerful gene-editing technique that is making the fraught and fiddly business of altering the genetic material of living organisms much easier.

Biologists have taken to CRISPR-Cas9 with gusto, first with animal experiments and now with tests on humans.

In March researchers in China made history when they reported its first successful application to a disease-causing genetic mutation in human embryos.

But their results were mixed. Although they achieved 100% success in correcting the faulty gene behind a type of anaemia called favism, they tested the technique in only two affected embryos.

Of four others, carrying a mutation that causes thalassaemia, another anaemia, only one was successfully edited.

Now, in a study just published in Nature, a group of researchers from America, China and South Korea have pulled off a similar trick, with striking consistency, among many more embryos, while avoiding or minimising several of the pitfalls of previous experiments.

Their work suggests that, with a bit of tweaking and plenty of elbow grease, CRISPR-Cas9 stands a good chance of graduating, sooner or later, from the laboratory to the clinic.

The researchers involved, Hong Ma of Oregon Health & Science University and her colleagues, obtained sperm donated by a man who carries a mutated version of a gene called MYBPC3 that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition in which the walls of the heart grow too thick.

As with the genes that cause thalassaemia and favism, inheriting even a single copy of the malformed version of this gene is enough to cause HCM.

These sperm, half of which would have been carrying the mutated version of MYBPC3, were then used to fertilise eggs containing a normal copy of the gene.

The resulting embryos thus had a 50:50 chance of containing a defective copy. In the absence of editing, and had they been allowed to develop, those with a faulty version would have grown into adults likely to suffer from the disease.

CRISPR-Cas9 editing has been developed from a bacterial defence system that shreds the DNA of invading viruses. CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.

These are short strings of RNA, a molecule similar to DNA, each designed to fix onto a particular segment of a virus’s DNA. Cas9 is an enzyme which, guided by CRISPRs, cuts the DNA at the specified point.

The hope was that, by being given such templates, embryos could be purged of nascent genetic disease.

That hope appeared fulfilled, at least in part. By the end of the experiment, 72% of the embryos were free of mutant versions of MYBPC3, an improvement on the 50% that would have escaped HCM had no editing taken place.

In achieving this, Dr Ma and her colleagues overcame two problems often encountered by practitioners of CRISPR-Cas9 editing.

One is that the guidance system may go awry, with the CRISPR molecules leading the enzyme to parts of the genome that are similar, but not quite identical, to the intended target.

Happily, they found no evidence of such off-target editing. A second problem is that, even if the edits happen in the right places, they might not reach every cell.

Many previous experiments, including some on embryos, have led to mosaicism, a condition in which the result of the editing process is an individual composed of a mixture of modified and unmodified cells.

If the aim of an edit is to fix a genetic disease, such mosaicism risks nullifying the effect.

Dr Ma and her colleagues conjectured that inserting the CRISPR-Cas9 molecules into the egg simultaneously with the sperm might help.

That way the process is given as much time as possible to complete its work before the fertilised egg undergoes its first round of cell division.

Sure enough, after three days, all but one of the 42 embryos in which the technique had worked showed the same modifications in every one of its cells.

So far, so good. But a third problem that has bedevilled experiments with CRISPR-Cas9 concerns the quality of the repair. There are at least two ways for cells to repair DNA damage.

One of them simply stitches the severed strands of DNA back together, deleting or adding genetic letters at random as it does so. Because it introduces mutations of its own, this process is not suitable for correcting DNA defects for medical purposes.

Fortunately, the other mechanism patches the break with guidance from a template, and thus without introducing any additional mistakes.

But cells seem to prefer the slapdash approach. In previous CRISPR-Cas9 research, the more precise method was involved only 2% to 25% of the time.

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The Solar System May Be Hosting A Visitor From The Stars

Yesterday, the Minor Planet Center has announced the discovery of a new comet, C/2017 U1, by the PanSTARRS survey.

It is quite faint and we would not talk about it, but it has something very unique. It is the first comet which, so far, likely comes from outside the Solar System.

“So far”, as this statement is based on a few tens of observations. Tenagra Observatories, now partner of the Virtual Telescope Project, observed it while it was waiting for confirmation.

On the discovery circular, Gareth V. Williams, Associate Director of the Minor Planet center, wrote: “Further observations of this object are very much desired.

Unless there are serious problems with much of the astrometry listed below, strongly hyperbolic orbits are the only viable solutions.

Although it is probably not too sensible to compute meaningful original and future barycentric orbits, given the very short arc of observations, the orbit below has e ~ 1.2 for both values.

If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet”. All this sounds quite exciting.

Its orbit is hyperbolic, so it is not a closed one.

Bill Gray, on the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML), mentioned that, assuming the available data, this comet should arrive from the Vega direction, but a connection with a given star is still not available.

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The Desperate Battle Against Killer Bat Plague

Man has long been intrigued by bats. They appear in popular culture in the forms of Dracula and Batman and are a staple of Halloween terror.

But now North American bats are achieving unfortunate notoriety as species in decline. The source of the bats’ devastating decline is White-nose Syndrome (WNS).

WNS affects hibernating bats, and because more than half of the 45 bat species in the United States hibernate, huge numbers of bats could eventually acquire the disease. Seven species are already endangered.

White-nose Syndrome is deadly – sometimes killing over 90% of a cave’s bat population. As of March of this year, the U.S. and Wildlife Service estimated that over 5.5 million bats have succumbed to the disease.

Bats affected by WNS acquire a characteristic white fungus that appears primarily on their muzzles, but also on their wings and other body parts, and they exhibit unusual behavior during the cold winter months.

They might wake during their normal period of hibernation and fly from their cave or they may cluster near the colder entrances of their hibernacula (the caves and mines in which bats hibernate for the winter).

Waking during a time when no insects are available, or requiring more energy to keep warm in a colder part of a cave, stretches the bat’s fat reserves and make it less likely the animal will survive the winter.

Bats were first identified with WNS New York state during the winter of 2006 – 2007.

Over the next four years, WNS spread through the northeastern states and into the Appalachians.

By the winter of 2010 – 2011, WNS had been identified in bats in 19 states and four Canadian provinces and a newly discovered fungus associated with the disease, Geomyces destructans, had been found in two additional states.

And the disease is expected to continue spreading.

Because bats are social creatures and hibernate in large, tightly packed groups in caves, the fungus is easily transmitted from bat to bat.

But researchers also suspect that WNS is being transmitted by humans who inadvertently carry the fungus from cave to cave on their clothing or gear.

Some states have restricted cave access in an attempt to limit the spread of WNS, others have established protocols for disinfecting clothing and equipment to avoid spreading the disease from a possibly infected cave to an unaffected cave.

Why is the decline of bats of concern? Bats play an important role in local ecosystems by reducing populations of some insect pests.

Seventy percent of bats worldwide are insectivores, and many consume sixty percent of their body weight in insects every night and pregnant females may consume more than one hundred percent of their body weight daily.

Bats are the main predator of beetles and moths during the nighttime hours.

Though scientists are still determining how to best protect bats from WNS, other human factors also have detrimental effects on bats.

Pollution, habitat loss due to land conversion, and disturbance at roosting sites, whether cave or abandoned building, all adversely affect bats.

Awareness of bats’ contributions to sustainable land care is a first step toward ensuring the continued presence of the creature’s swooping nighttime flights over yards and fields.

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A Bizarre Tentacled Moth Was Found in Indonesia

A video of a “devilish” insect with tentacles has gone viral as viewers puzzled over what kind of creature it is.

Footage filmed in Indonesia shows it moving around on a floor with four hairy tendrils sticking out from its mid-section at the end of its caterpillar body.

Social media users joked how it had been sent to Earth to “destroy us”, while others marvelled over how it was an example of the “evolution” of insects.

But experts were less shocked and pointed out that it was indeed a moth – specifically known as a Creatonotos Gangis – that is native to both Southeast Asia and parts of Northern Australia.

The video was posted by the Facebook user Gandik, who lives in Kebumen, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia.

It was shared almost 200,000 times on the social media site where it pulled in more than 10,000 likes and hundreds of comments.

What devilish creature sent to destroy us is this? I’m leaving Earth by the way… anyone coming?” joked one viewer.

Give him the keys and tell him the house is yours,” another posted.

Gail Becker wrote: “Now, this is what I call evolution! I have never seen a moth like this one! I hope this is outside on his patio and not inside with those bugs running around his floor! I hope he doesn’t have any kids!

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The Effects Of Concussions On The Brain

A blow or jolt to the head can disrupt the normal function of the brain. This is called a brain injury, or concussion.

Doctors may describe these injuries as “mild” because concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

After a concussion, some people lose consciousness or are “knocked out” for a short time, but not always — you can have a brain injury without losing consciousness.

Because the brain is very complex, every brain injury is different. Some symptoms may appear right away, while others may not show up for days or weeks after the concussion.

Sometimes the injury makes it hard for people to recognize or to admit that they are having problems.

The signs of concussion can be subtle. Early on, problems may be missed by patients, family members, and doctors. People may look fine even though they’re acting or feeling differently.

Because all brain injuries are different, so is concussion recovery. Most people with mild injuries recover fully, but it can take time. Some symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer.

In general, recovery is slower in older persons. Also, persons who have had a concussion in the past may find that it takes longer to recover from their current injury.

This article explains what can happen after a concussion, how to get better, and where to go for more information and help when needed.

Medical Help

People with a concussion need to be seen by a doctor. Most people with concussions are treated in an emergency department or a doctor’s office. Some people must stay in the hospital overnight for further treatment.

Sometimes the doctors may do a CT scan of the brain or do other tests to help diagnose your injuries. Even if the brain injury doesn’t show up on these tests, you may still have a concussion.

Your doctor will send you home with important instructions to follow. For example, your doctor may ask someone to wake you up every few hours during the first night and day after your injury.

Danger Signs — Adults

In rare cases, along with a concussion, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain and crowd the brain against the skull.

Contact your doctor or emergency department right away if, after a blow or jolt to the head, you have any of these danger signs:

  • Headaches that get worse
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting

The people checking on you should take you to an emergency department right away if you:

  • Cannot be awakened
  • Have one pupil — the black part in the middle of the eye — larger than the other
  • Have convulsions or seizures
  • Have slurred speech
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated

Danger Signs — Children

Take your child to the emergency department right away if the child has received a blow or jolt to the head and:

  • Has any of the danger signs for adults
  • Won’t stop crying
  • Can’t be consoled
  • Won’t nurse or eat Although you should contact your child’s doctor if your child vomits more than once or twice, vomiting is more common in younger children and is less likely to be an urgent sign of danger than it is in an adult.

The type of brain injury called a concussion has many symptoms. These symptoms are usually temporary, but may last for days, weeks, or even longer.

Generally, if you feel that “something is not quite right,” or if you’re “feeling foggy,” you should talk with your doctor.

Young Children

Although children can have the same symptoms of brain injury as adults, it is harder for young children to let others know how they are feeling.

Call your child’s doctor if your child seems to be getting worse or if you notice any of the following:

  • Listlessness, tiring easily
  • Irritability, crankiness
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Change in the way they play
  • Change in the way they perform or act at school
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking

How fast people recover from brain injury varies from person to person. Although most people have a good recovery, how quickly they improve depends on many factors.

These factors include how severe their concussion was, what part of the brain was injured, their age, and how healthy they were before the concussion.

Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. You’ll need to be patient because healing takes time.

Return to your daily activities, such as work or school, at your own pace. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.

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6 Crazy Facts You Didn’t Know About The Sun

We see it every day but how much do we actually know about?

So you probably know at least a few things. It’s big, orange…wait a minute. You’re already wrong.

The sun isn’t orange. And it’s not yellow either. Check out these 6 crazy facts you didn’t know about the sun and you might never look at it the same way again

Hint: you should never look at the sun anyway…it’s bad for your eyes

1. It’s not the brightest thing on Earth

That record belongs to the skybeam at the Luxor Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

2. Stars like the Sun will shine for 10 to 20 billion years

But the time a star like this spends on the so-called main sequence as a normal “adult” star — fusing hydrogen into helium at its core lasts for some 5 billion years.

In 1942, astronomers demonstrated that once a star transforms 12 percent of its hydrogen into helium it begins a new kind of stellar age.

3. Amazingly, the Sun’s average density is pretty close to water

As the dying star falls inward, the Sun is destined to become a red giant star, and its outer envelope inflates and is shed outward.

The Sun’s diameter will push outward as its temperature plummets.

During the red giant phase, the Sun‘s diameter will reach approximately where we are, at Earth’s orbital distance

4. The dying star isn’t completely dead yet, however

Within its interior, gravity pushes shells of hydrogen and helium to densities where nuclear fusion can begin, and they are ignited, albeit for a short time. When this happens with the Sun, it briefly will be 2,100 times brighter than we see it now.

5. When a star begins to run out of nuclear fuel, the star turns off

Almost like burning out. Because the heat is suddenly turned off, not to mention radiation pressure pushing outward, the star begins to contract.

6. As the Sun swells to a maximum red giant diameter

It may engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth, or at least push what is left of these planets outward. At this point, the Sun will span 150 times its present size.

The Sun is about halfway through its life, some 4.6 billion years old. In another 5 billion years, it will cease being a normal “adult” star.

Here’s the skinny on the upcoming demise of the star that you owe everything to light, warmth, energy, and life

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NASA Plans To Use Bacteria And Algae To Make Oxygen On Mars

If humans land on Mars in the 2030s as planned, one thing that will be essential to their survival will be self-sufficiency, as they won’t be able to take too much cargo with them.

With this in mind Nasa is testing whether oxygen can be created from Martian soil, without having to carry it all the way from Earth.

The innovative method would see bacteria or algae use the soil as fuel, pumping out usable oxygen in the process for astronauts on the surface.

Nasa has been working with Techshot Inc of Greenville, Indiana to develop this method in a so-called ‘Mars room’, which mimics the conditions on the red planet.

It is able to simulate the atmospheric pressure on the planet, in addition to the day-night temperature changes and the solar radiation that hits the surface.

In experiments, certain organisms were capable of producing oxygen from Martian soil – known as regolith – and they also removed nitrogen from it.

This is a possible way to support a human mission to Mars, producing oxygen without having to send heavy gas canisters,” said Eugene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot.

The research is part of the Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Programme.

It’s envisioned that biodomes could be scattered across the surface to produce the oxygen needed for humans to survive.

The oxygen produced could also be stored for later use.

But while experiments on Earth are all well and good, the scientists want to test their method actually on Mars in the near future.

To do so, an upcoming rover – such as the 2020 Mars rover – could carry small container-like devices with Earth organisms inside.

The containers would be buried a few inches underground in certain locations, to see how successful they are at producing oxygen.

Sensors inside the container would detect how much oxygen was made, and report the findings back to a satellite in Mars orbit.

The scientists note that the container would be sealed tightly, to prevent the organisms being exposed to – and possibly contaminating – the Martian surface.

But if proven successful, future explorers on Mars may use multiple biodomes like this to produce the oxygen they need to survive.

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You Really Can Die Of A Broken Heart

When you think of a broken heart, you probably picture something out of a romantic movie or a cartoon heart, cracked like a fragile piece of china.

Indeed, so-called “broken heart syndrome” has a certified place in popular culture, and has been eloquently used in films such as The Notebook.

But while we certainly feel “heartbreak” during periods of emotional upheaval, can you actually die of a broken heart?

The answer is never going to be simple, so first we should start with a bit of science.

In the last two decades, atrial fibrillation (AF), a form of irregular heartbeat, has become one of the most important public health problems and a significant cause of increasing healthcare costs in western countries.

Individuals with AF have a five-fold and two-fold increased risk of stroke and death, respectively. It is estimated that there will be 14-17m AF patients in Europe by 2030; with 120,000–215,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

In the United States, AF prevalence is projected to increase from 5.2m in 2010 to 12.1m cases in 2030.

The exact cause of AF is still unresolved and is likely to involve multiple components such as genetic and environmental factors.

Atrial fibrillation is a progressive condition, whereby the arrhythmia begins in a “sudden onset” form, progressing through “persistent” to so-called “permanent” AF.

These steps can take many years to develop, but an essential element in this progression are the so-called “triggers”, which can be anything from illness and fatigue, to alcohol, caffeine and emotional stress.

Bereavement and ‘Broken Hearts’

But what does this have to do with a broken heart? Well, it appears that the two are linked.

In a recent article published in the online journal Open Heart, a Danish research team based at Aarhus University reported findings showing that the death of a partner is linked to heightened risk of developing AF for up to a year after the bereavement.

This retrospective study examined hospital records of 88,612 people in Denmark (19.72% of whom had lost a partner) and identified persons that were diagnosed with AF for the first time between 1995 and 2014.

For comparison, the team also randomly selected a control group (without AF) of 886,120 people (19.07% of whom had lost a partner) which was matched with the AF group on age and gender.

Other factors that were controlled included civil status and education level, and whether the subjects had cardiovascular disease, diabetes or were taking medication for cardiovascular disease.

The study revealed that individuals whose cohabiting partner or spouse had died had an increased risk of getting AF within 30 days of the bereavement – a risk estimated to be 41% higher than average.

The origins of a broken heart

Scientific findings accumulated over the past 25 years seem to support the notion that a real-life broken heart can lead to subsequent heart problems.

Broken heart syndrome”, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, was first described in 1990 in Japan and has recently been globally recognised as a real medical condition.

It should be noted here that without echocardiography, blood markers and other evidence, we can’t say for sure whether those in the published Danish cohort had “broken heart syndrome” or not.

Nevertheless, roughly in keeping with the condition described in the Danish study, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy starts abruptly and unpredictably (even in healthy individuals).

Symptoms include chest pains, often with shortness of breath, and an abnormal electrocardiogram, which resembles a heart attack but is notable for the absence of blocked heart blood vessels.

Indeed, Takotsubo syndrome accounts for about 2-5% of heart attack cases seen by doctors, with a higher predilection for women over 50 years of age (only 10% in men).

The significance of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is reflected to the fact that there is an international registry for this disorder.

What is interesting is that Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is usually triggered by an emotionally or physically stressful event such as bereavement, major surgery or being involved in a disaster such as an earthquake.

The exact mechanisms leading to Takotsubo cardiomyopathy are unknown but some evidence suggests excessive release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, acts as a trigger during the initial onset which causes the weakening of the heart muscle.

In fact, the strong emotion doesn’t have to be negative “happy heart syndrome” is initiated by happy events, such as the birth of grandchildren or a birthday, and accounts for 1.1% of broken heart syndrome cases.

The long-term affects of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy are unclear, but it does appear to be temporary and reversible. Nevertheless, it is certain that we can have our hearts broken – and that, for some, this can be very dangerous indeed.

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5 Unexpectedly Gross Things About Living In Space

I’m going to come right out and say that I’m relieved that I will never be an astronaut, because there are a lot of unexpectedly gross things about living in space.

Don’t get me wrong, space exploration is awesome, and NASA is the coolest.

But while space is exciting and fascinating, actually going to space and living there seems like the most difficult, grossest thing ever.

I have a lot of respect for the astronauts who train tirelessly before strapping themselves into a rocket and hurtling out of our atmosphere. I could never do it.

But it’s not just the inherent danger or freakiness of never-ending space that puts me off the idea. I just know that if I had to live the daily life of an astronaut, I couldn’t cut it.

Now, I’m not talking about having to eat dehydrated food out of plastic containers for months on end. I’m talking about the truly gross, gag worthy things about space that I couldn’t handle.

Drinking Your Own Urine

In order to continuously have fresh water, the U.S. astronauts on the International Space Station have to be thrifty. And by thrifty I mean they go Bear Grylls on us and drink their own urine.

It’s completely purified first though. The water is collected from urine and condensate, which is breath and sweat, as well as shower run off.

Apparently the system works pretty well that they recycle 6,000 liters of water a year. When they run out of their own pee, the U.S. astronauts apparently sometimes steal pee from the Russians who don’t drink their own urine.

Chilling With Your Dead Skin

Astronauts are basically trapped in a big, expensive, highly efficient bubble, which means that things can’t exactly get out including dead skin.

On Earth, we barely think about it, because it all falls off because of gravity. But not in space. According to astronaut Don Pettit, taking off your sock is like watching a horror movie.

This cloud, this explosion of skin particles detritus floats out,” Pettit said. Excuse me while I dry heave.

Wearing Giant Diapers

Returning to Earth is sometimes compared to coming out of a womb, and I bet nothing makes astronauts feel like babies more than having to wear diapers.

Technically, the correct term is Disposable Absorption Containment Trunk, which astronauts wear during launch, or while out on space walks.

But despite the fancy name, it’s basically just a big, bulky diaper.

Living Life Like You’re Hungover

Space sickness? There’s a cure for that #WorseMoonLandingQuotes

— Eric Van Luven (@EricVanLuven) July 24, 2014

One of the scourges of space travel is space sickness, a phenomena that affects almost every astronaut in the early days of their voyage.

It’s like being motion sick and hungover all at once, but so much worse. Astronauts feel nauseated, have headaches, and have difficulty locating their limbs.

It sounds absolutely horrible, and it can last for up to a few days. I don’t want to have the mental image of what happens in an astronaut has to vomit from the space sickness.

Pooping Into A Literal Vacuum

The answer to the number one questions — how do astronauts poop in space? Carefully. Before going to space, astronauts actually train to learn how to use the toilet, which is basically a small vacuum.

They have to angle themselves over it perfectly, so that the waste goes into the vacuum, into a bag, and is stored. If it isn’t done correctly… well, you could be hanging out with poo, along with all your dead skin.

If the astronaut has to pee, they use a specialized tube (depending on gender), and the urine is whisked away, in order to be turned into tomorrow’s coffee.

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