Month: November, 2017

This Company Wants To Send You To Space Using A Balloon

Instead of rocket-powered sub-orbital flights like those of Virgin Galactic, could high-altitude ballooning become the most viable way of letting paying tourists experience space or at least something thrillingly close to it?

Ballooning is already tried and tested technology “It’s the origin of space travel,” explains Annelie Schoenmaker, external relations and legal officer for Zero2infinity, a Spanish company that plans to launch passengers to near space using balloons known as “Bloons” for €110,000 ($124,000) a time.

Zero2infinity is one of two organizations hoping to use pressurized capsules suspended beneath helium balloons as a way to take tourists into near space.




Flights using helium-filled balloons began in the early 1930s.

For me this time was what I call the first space race, as it was the first time we went into the stratosphere,” explains Dr Jonathan Clark, an associate professor in neurology and space medicine.

Dr Jonathan Clark has advised on both Red Bull Stratos and StratEx the project that saw Google executive Alan Eustace make a record-breaking space dive, assisted by ballooning company World View Enterprises.

Even the first spacesuits were tested using balloons,” adds Schoenmaker.

To this day ballooning is hugely important for space science; NASA and other commercial companies use balloons as an inexpensive means to test payloads in near-space environments.

Because balloons can spend a relatively large amount of time in the stratosphere, this “gives increased observation and experiment runs,” explains Jane Poynter, CEO of World View, which will offer near-space ballooning trips for $75,000.

High-altitude ballooning even has some high-profile fans within the space community, including veteran of four space shuttle missions, Mark Kelly, who works with World View as director of flight crew operations.

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Experts Explain Why People Are Disgusted By Mayonnaise

Barack Obama doesn’t care for it. Jimmy Fallon despises it. And chances are you have a friend in your life who can’t stand the stuff, or you yourself won’t countenance it.

We’re talking about mayonnaise, the simple egg-and-oil condiment that fires up complicated feelings in people.

It’s clear that mayonnaise has its share of haters, but as people who actually eat the stuff, we wanted to find out why.

We reached out to two experts on the topic of disgust to shine some light: William Ian Miller, professor of law at the University of Michigan and author of the 1997 book The Anatomy of Disgust, and Rachel Herz, an adjunct assistant professor at Brown University and author of 2012′s That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion.




Mayonnaise wiggles, jiggles and moves.

t’s possible some people find mayonnaise off-putting because it’s just a bit too… excitable.

Its texture is what makes it most repulsive,” Herz said. “It has the ability to wobble and does not sit inert, even though it is not animate

The inert taking on qualities of an animate object can create feelings of disgust. Its moving implies a living thing, and living things can contaminate you.

One of the main functions that disgust serves for us is to help us avoid contamination.

If something moves when you don’t expect it to, or in a way you don’t expect it to, your mind can generate a feeling of aversion as a way to protect you from whatever this weird thing is.

Even if you’re eating mayonnaise in a sandwich, where you won’t see it move, your mind might still associate mayo with unnatural behavior, which can render it inedible to you.

Mayonnaise reminds people of bodily fluids.

I suppose people are disgusted with mayo because it has the consistency of pus,” Miller said. “Some things are more likely to generate disgust than others, and bodily fluids and rot are two of those things.

Semen, pus, fat: Mayonnaise doesn’t not resemble these substances, and that might not be what you want to be thinking of at mealtime. Some people are disgusted by bodily fluids subconsciously as a result of the fear of contamination.

Mayonnaise is the wrong temperature.

As a general rule of thumb, Miller said, “unless [a substance is] ice cold or in flames… the potential for disgust is greater.

Vanilla ice cream, for example, is white and viscous, like mayonnaise. But it doesn’t provoke the same reaction, because it’s frozen.

Anything that’s close to room temperature is also close to the temperature of the human body, Miller explained. Sure, mayonnaise isn’t served at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but it isn’t served frozen or fried, either.

Anything non-human that reminds people of human life has the potential to induce disgust ― that’s why the uncanny valley is a thing. “Is there anything more revolting than the science of human life?” Miller said.

A hate for mayonnaise is learned.

There’s often a cultural component to disgust, which can help explain why mayo is regarded dubiously in some countries (like the U.S.) and beloved in others (like Belgium).

Our response to disgust is actually learned,” Herz said.

There’s no innate understanding that mayo is like a bodily fluid or that we should have an aversion to bodily fluids, but once we do have that association, it does really elicit a real emotion of disgust.

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British Antarctic Research Station To Shut For Second Winter As Cracks In Ice Grow

A British research station in Antarctica is being shut down for the second winter in a row following concerns over growing cracks in the 150-metre thick ice shelf on which it stands.

The Halley VI station, which is parked on the Brunt ice shelf, will be shut down between March and November 2018, with the 14-strong staff who had been gearing up for the winter stint redeployed elsewhere in Antarctica or brought home to the UK.

The director of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Dame Jane Francis, said the decision was down to the difficulties of rescuing researchers in the winter months, should there be a break in the ice shelf – an event known as calving.

The worries are based on two cracks. The first is an ice chasm that began to show movement northwards in 2012, after more than 30 years of dormancy, and has accelerated over the past seven months.




The second, north of the research station, has been dubbed the “Halloween crack” after it appeared in October 2016. It is now estimated to be about 50km in length and growing eastwards, crossing a resupply route for the station.

It has grown a couple of kilometres during the winter period,” said Professor David Vaughan, director of science at the British Antarctic Survey, adding that the crack had also widened.

The safety of our staff is our priority in these circumstances,” Francis said.

Because access to the station by ship or aircraft is extremely difficult during the winter months of 24-hour darkness, extremely low temperatures and the frozen sea, we will once again take the precaution of shutting down the station before the 2018 Antarctic winter begins.

The original Halley station was set up by British researchers in 1956, with the current incarnation, Halley VI, operational since 2012.

The station is used to gather data on a range of observations encompassing climate, space weather and ozone measurements.

The latest announcement is the second time the station has been closed over the Antarctic winter. Halley VI has been shut since March due to uncertainty over whether the ice shelve might calve.

Earlier this year, before the station’s shut down, the pods of Halley VI were towed 23km to prevent the station being cut off from the rest of the ice shelf should the cracks continue to grow.

The 2018 shut down is a precaution in case such an event occurs and triggers changes to the remaining part of the ice shelf, upon which the station now sits.

But the Halley VI isn’t expected to be moved again. “We are not going to move the station any further – we believe that the station is actually in the optimal place on the ice shelf now,” said Vaughan.

The situation, he added, is probably part of the normal calving processes that occur at the edges of ice shelves. “We don’t believe that this is related to climate change certainly not atmospheric change,” he said.

We don’t truly know enough about the oceans to exclude it, but it is not a strong line of reasoning at the moment.

But, Francis noted, while the station will be vacated from March 2018, there is an Antarctic summer of activity ahead.

Our Antarctic summer research operation will continue as planned, and we are confident of mounting a fast uplift of personnel should fracturing of the ice shelf occur,” she said.

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