Sex in Space (Victorianly), and Listed Cranks, and High-Tech Coffee-Sniffing

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has three segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • The Kármán sutra — … The paper is almost Victorian in its voluminous discussion of possible regulatory mechanisms, but nearly complete avoidance of mentioning fornication. The highest moment of titillation comes in the following passage: “The adult film industry has previously explored the possibility of video/film production in space environments. In 2000 a parabolic aircraft flight was used for filming a weightless scene…”
  • Love thy crank — Many scientists enjoy an unsteady supply of letters sent to them by eccentrics. Many scientists don’t enjoy it. People at the RationalWiki have been gathering and tending a list of what they regard as “cranks”. From a neuroscience action-potential perspective, and perhaps from other perspectives, too, here are some of the standout items….
  • To be sniffed at — The desire to “wake up and smell the coffee” drives many people. In the science community, that drive is notoriously and proudly strong. A Belgian/Italian/Argentinian collaboration is souping up the available technology for smelling coffee…