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 […]

The campaign to honor the first cat in outer space

A cat named Félicette gets ever-widening recognition as being the first cat intentionally (and probably otherwise, too) launched into outer space. Félicette has many admirers, and has admired research into the history of the thing, and inspired artists, too. (Thanks to Brent Freeze for bringing this to our attention.) NOTE: The saga of Félicette should […]

Skipping on the Moon – fun maybe, but is it efficient?

History has shown* that astronauts, or more accurately lunarnauts, often like to skip about when they’re on the Moon. But, fun though it might seem, is skipping (in reduced gravity situations) an efficient way to get around? Research teams from the Laboratory of Physiomechanics of Locomotion, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan, Italy, […]

He smells

One of NASA’s best noses got a good writeup in 2003, in an official bulletin called “NASA’s Nose: Avoiding smelly situations in space“: Thanks to George Aldrich and his team of NASA sniffers, astronauts can breathe a little bit easier. Aldrich is a chemical specialist or “chief sniffer” at the White Sands Test Facility’s Molecular Desorption […]

Playtime for Thick-toed Geckos in Space

An unplanned uncollaring led to an unexpected play session in space. This study tells what happened: “Object play in thick-toed geckos during a space experiment,” Valerij Barabanov, Victoria Gulimova, Rustam Berdiev, and Sergey Saveliev, Journal of Ethology, vol. 33, no. 2, May 2015, pp 109–115. The authors, at the Research Institute of Human Morphology, Moscow, […]

Empty Photographic Frames : Punctuating the Narrative

Nancy Pedri, who is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Literature at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a comparatist. And, as such, is one of the few scholars to have examined the implications of empty photographic frames in multimodal narratives. “In its capacity to open up the possibility for variance in meaning, […]

Can rodents conceive hyperbolic spaces?

This new study is an adventure in understanding understanding: “Can Rodents Conceive Hyperbolic Spaces?” Eugenio Urdapilleta, Francesca Troiani, Federico Stella, Alessandro Treves, arXiv1502.02435, February 9, 2015. Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at SISSA in Trieste, Italy, explain: “The grid cells discovered in the rodent medial entorhinal cortex have been […]

Forgotten Hardware: How to Urinate in a Spacesuit

Pretty much everyone asks, at one time or another, “How do astronauts pee?” Hunter Hollins [pictured here] exerted considerable scholarship to provide a good answer, which you can read in Hollins’s study: “Forgotten Hardware: How to Urinate in a Spacesuit,” Hunter Hollins, Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 37, 2013, pp. 123-128. The author, at the National Air […]

Holes in donuts – the philosophical implications (part 2)

In 2001, professor Achille C. Varzi, of Columbia University, New York, very probably became the first philosopher to author a paper focusing specifically on the ramifications of holes in donuts (that’s ‘doughnuts’ in the UK), as we reported. But the paper wasn’t, in the literal sense, the last word on donut holes. In 2012 the subject […]