Friday, January 30, 2009

Good Riddance!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ask Praise Science: The Vacuum of Space, the Human Body, and You!

This is the #3 Google image result for the search term 'total recall'. I was sure it would be the first.

1 trillion Internet years ago (Ed. note: in late November), the ever inquisitive Stuart sent Praise Science the following email:
Dear Science, Praise,

Recently I have re-watched the movie SUNSHINE. The concept of traveling to the sun in a spaceship still seems to ridiculous to me, but it's a very well-done sci-fi thriller with accurate Science in it. I suggest you see it.

However, there is one part that bugs me and I wish for everyone at Praise Science to clarify. In the movie there is a scene where two men are outside the ship for a brief moment without suits. Long story short, one doesn't make it back and his body freezes up like the T1000 (space being around -273 degrees Centigrade). Once he crosses the ship's sunshield threshold, his body incinerates within 1 second. I trust that is accurate.

However, I was always under the impression that the human body is shaped under constant atmospheric pressure on the outside, and once exposed to the vacuum of space, will immediately explode or inflate or something along those lines. Therefore, I find the plausibility of a human surviving in space without a suit for longer than .01 seconds highly unlikely.

Please do your best to clarify whether the exploding human body is just another Hollywood rumor or whether the Science of SUNSHINE is inaccurate. I'll sleep better.

Thank you,

Stu Haury
SORRY FOR MAKING YOU LOSE SLEEP STUART! Good question. What young Science-ling hasn't pondered this very scenario while lying awake at night? Indeed, this very question was asked of NASA in 1997, ten whole years before such modern and thoughtful Science-fiction films as Sunshine ever saw the light of day (lulz, was the Internet even real in 1997??). But don't read that FAQ yet, because here is our sexy PS answer:

No, Stu. Your body won't explode in a vacuum. If you really want to jump out the airlock without a suit, you probably have at least 30 seconds to a minute before any "serious" injury occurs. The human body (and its interior systems) has a certain equilibrium between porousness and airtight-ness that allows pressure to escape slowly enough to avoid violent decompression using the regular processes of respiration. Just make sure to breathe out slowly. However, things might get complicated after that short period of time because you can't hold your breath. Retention of oxygen in the lungs during rapid decompression (aka atmosphere to a vacuum, deep water to shallow water, high altitude to low altitude, etc), will lead to "the bends", or decompression sickness (then you die). Additionally, if exposed to the Sun, you will enjoy the pleasant sensation of massive sunburns while simultaneously experiencing rapid frostbite to any exposed skin. So basically, if you want to launch your body into space, do it just like they did it in Sunshine. Here is a clip of the exact scene in question. The movie gets it right on. But don't be that guy. You know, the one who fucked up and is now floating out into the void.

Hope that answers your question Stu. Sorry for lagging. Hopefully you haven't had blast out of an airlock or anything since you asked the question. Also, see Sunshine if you haven't already. It totally rules ass.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Science Forcast: Mostly Sunny

With a chance of "making it rain on bitches."

Good news science fans. Geron Corporation has just received FDA approval to start a clinical trial of stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury. All indications are that the next four years should be good for science.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Internets, I Haz Them!

It's very simple.

Dudes, I finally bit the bullet and got a good/real/non-pirated Internet connection at home. What does this mean for you, dear reader? It means that I no longer have an excuse to lag on bringing you the hot, sexy, steaming Science-related blogging that you crave (well after this weekend at least when I pick up a wireless router). I hope you are as excited as I am about this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scientific explanation please...

If anyone can shed some light on why this is so funny, it'd be greatly appreciated. My mind is completely bloggled.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


.... is dead. Ricardo Montalban, famous for playing the ever sound-biteable Kahn in Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn, passed away at the age of 88 on 1/14/09. R.I.P. dude, and may flights of mini William Shatners sing thee to thy rest. And by sing, I mean scream your name really loudly over and over again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 Science Grab-Bag!!! (i.e. a bunch of stuff from last year that I never got around to posting)

Mr. Grab Bag has something special for everybody...

Hello Dear Readers. As you may well know, if you frequent this fine weblog, last year was full of tons of rad Science-related stuff, such as the awesomeness known as the Large Hadron Collider (and its subsequent suckage), the discovery of water on Mars, Robert Ballard being a total badass, and of course, the founding of the most influential Science-Enthusiast blog EVAR, PRAISE SCIENCE!!!!! But sadly, due to laziness and booze events beyond our control, many PS-worthy stories fell through the cracks and we couldn't get to them before the year came to an end. So, without further ado, I present to you a prime selection from the Island of Misfit 2008 Science Stories:

  • Kinetic Fireball Incendiary Weapons: Basically, some sort of bouncy-rubber-fireball-nightmare-projectile straight out of the mouth of some alien in a Doom/Quake/Contra video game. The Pentagon designed this horrifying, bouncy, burninating weapon to eliminate WMDs without the risk of ejecting harmful materials into the atmosphere by ricocheting around inside reinforced bunkers and incinerating everything nearby at a temperature of 1000 degrees F. Frankly, this sort of thing just scares my shit out.

  • Single Person Rocket Pods: A Danish company is working towards "developing a series of suborbital space vehicles - designed to pave the way for manned space flight on a micro size spacecraft." Here is what the entire crew cabin of said spacecraft looks like:

    Hope you aren't claustrophobic. But seriously, manned space travel technology has been stagnating basically since it was first developed, and this sort of innovation is exactly what we need if we ever want to stop dicking around in Earth's orbit and get somewhere cool, like the Moon or Mars, again.

  • The KEO Time Capsule: I love it when people think about things on a larger timescale than just a human lifetime or subsequent generations. Science, technology, and knowledge are not bound by the time-constraints that we humans are used to thinking in. The KEO is a spacecraft/time capsule that will be launched in 2020/2011. It will carry a number of artifacts (hit the wiki link for a full list) representing our species and our various cultures as they currently are, including "the contemporary 'Library of Alexandria', an encyclopaedic compendium of current human knowledge". It will complete its long orbit and return to Earth in 50,000 years as a sort of combined introduction/epitaph from us to our descendants (or whoever may be in the neighborhood). Fucking Awesome.

  • Copernicus' Remains Found: If you know who Nicolaus Copernicus is, good. If not, here is a courtesy card and an explanation. He was the dude who figured out that the Earth orbited the Sun, not vice versa, and basically flipped the bird to all the authority figures of his era and a bunch of other assholes by doing so. His final resting place was a topic of speculation until scientists recently matched DNA from remains found in a Catholic cathedral in Poland to that found within hairs discovered inside manuscripts written by this Champion of Science. Additionally, reconstruction of the recovered skull closely matched portraits of Copernicus, painted when he was alive. I think he would have been stoked to know that such great Science was going to be used to figure out his final resting place. R.I.P. dude.

    ... and now for some videos

  • 10 Dimensions Explained in 11 Minutes: Theoretical physics is undoubtedly awesome, but due to its theoretical nature, its pretty hard for plain old Science Enthusiasts like you and me to understand. Here is a sweet YouTube that describes the 10 dimensions crucial to String Theory in a relatively easy-to-understand way:

  • Earth PWNED in HD by an Asteroid: If you haven't seen this already, it's a must watch. Hit the link here, and be sure to click the "watch in HD" button. I recommend you that you kick back, turn up the volume, and crack a beer. Sic transit mundus.

    ... and finally, a post-modern minimalist art critique of Star Wars

  • Star Wars, A New Heap; or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Death Star: This... is... just......... I don't even know what to say about this.

ANYWAYS, welcome once again to a New Year of Science. Thanks for reading, and we love you. COMING SOON, a special "Ask Praise Science!" feature, featuring a question from the ever inquisitive Stu H.!

Monday, January 5, 2009


... because God wants it that way, heathen scum!

Happy Year of the Brain, dudes! Welcome to Anno Domini 2009 (or perhaps we should say Anno Cerebrum 2009). We hope the various celebrations and festivities were awesome for everyone. Anyways, for this New Year, I resolve to be a better blogger and Science enthusiast, which means that I will try to not be so lazy and will attempt to post more often and be more informative/lulz-ful. So expect 2009 to be a fruitful and enlightening year for PS, because when Bulltrout makes a promise, he keeps it (at least until he becomes distracted by booze or video games or whatever and forgets).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009: Year of the Brain

I'm declaring it, mostly because it in all likelihood won't be the year of the higgs boson.