Astronaut Chris Hadfield Returns to Earth

Chris Hadfield

By Kate Lunau from

Hadfield saw space and Earth as if they were brand-new and shared his experience aboard the ISS with millions.

The wonder of Chris Hadfield

James Blair/NASA

On May 13, as the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was undocking from the International Space Station (ISS). Crammed inside like sardines were Chris Hadfield and his crewmates, American Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko, returning home after five months in space. Underneath his spacesuit, Hadfield was wearing a Leafs T-shirt to support his favourite team. The Soyuz sliced down into the atmosphere and began to slow, subjecting the astronauts to a punishing 4 Gs—four times Earth’s gravity—and making their limbs feel leaden, their breathing laboured: a harsh reintroduction to gravity after the weightlessness of space. As the Soyuz dropped to its landing site on a Kazakhstan plain, search-and-rescue helicopters were circling.

The capsule hit the ground with the force of a car crash, tipping over onto its side. “I was hanging from the ceiling,” Hadfield says. “Roman was in the middle, and Tom was lying on the floor.” Marshburn looked out the window, and saw “dirt and grass where space had been just moments before.” The search-and-rescue team pried open the hatch and Hadfield and his crew were greeted by the scent of springtime, mixed with the burnt smell of their charred spaceship.

Dr. Raffi Kuyumjian, Hadfield’s flight surgeon, was one of three Canadian Space Agency (CSA) people in Kazakhstan. (Hadfield’s wife, Helene, was watching from mission control in Houston.) After the astronauts had been lifted from the spacecraft and were seated, draped in blankets, Kuyumjian said, “The first thing I did was dial Helene on my cell and give it to Chris.” He and Helene assured each other they were fine, then Hadfield asked: “How’d the Leafs do?” She broke the news that his team had lost in overtime. With that, Canada’s first space commander was truly brought back to Earth.

Since blasting off to the ISS on Dec. 19, Hadfield has become the most celebrated astronaut alive, one destined for a spot alongside his hero, Neil Armstrong, whose 1969 moon landing inspired his own career. But while half a billion people watched Armstrong climb out of the lunar lander and set foot on the moon, this is a more cynical time—one less impressed by technological achievement. People have lived and worked aboard the ISS continuously since 2000, and visiting low-Earth orbit isn’t as exotic as walking on the moon, let alone Mars or beyond. It’s a wonder that a Canadian astronaut like Hadfield could catch anyone’s attention, let alone captivate millions around the world. Yet, however improbably, that’s what he did.

[Full article]

The International Space Station will get its own 3D printer next year

Made in Space team members with 3D printer
Made in Space team members with their 3D printer hang on during a zero-g test flight.
CREDIT: Made in Space

Two of my favorite things! Space and 3D printing!

By Mike Wall from

A 3D printer is slated to arrive at the International Space Station next year, where it will crank out the first parts ever manufactured off planet Earth.

The company Made in Space is partnering with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on the 3D Printing in Zero G Experiment (or 3D Print for short), which aims to jump-start an off-planet manufacturing capability that could aid humanity’s push out into the solar system.

“The 3D Print experiment with NASA is a step towards the future. The ability to 3D-print parts and tools on demand greatly increases the reliability and safety of space missions while also dropping the cost by orders of magnitude,” Made in Space CEO Aaron Kemmer said in a statement. [10 Amazing 3D-Printed Objects]

“The first printers will start by building test coupons, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment,” he added.

Sunlight glints off the International Space Station, with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop.
In this photo, taken in February 2010, sunlight glints off the International Space Station, with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop. Credit: NASA

The 3D printer is slated to blast off in August 2014, tagging along with a cargo mission private spaceflight company SpaceX is launching to the orbiting lab for NASA.

The device will build objects layer by layer out of polymers and other materials, using a technique called extrusion additive manufacturing. The blueprints for these objects will be pre-loaded onto a computer bound for the orbiting lab or uplinked from Earth, Made in Space officials said.

Advocates say 3D printing can help make living in space easier and cheaper. For example, more than 30 percent of the spare parts currently aboard the International Space Station can be manufactured by Made in Space’s machine, company co-founder and chief technologist Jason Dunn told NASA chief Charles Bolden and congressman Mike Honda (D-Calif.) during a presentation today (May 24) at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

“3D printing is an exciting technology,” Niki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager at NASA Marshall’s Technology Development and Transfer Office, said in a statement. “It will allow us to live and work in space with the same efficiency and productivity that we do on Earth, with the ultimate objective being to eliminate reliance on materials and parts launched from the ground.”

While off-Earth manufacturing will get its start at the International Space Station, NASA officials say the technology’s potential goes beyond low-Earth orbit. Werkheiser described 3D printing as “absolutely a critical enabler for NASA’s exploration missions.”

Indeed, NASA recently funded the development of a prototype 3D printer designed to make space food products out of cheap raw materials that have a long shelf life. This “3D pizza printer” could help feed astronauts on long space journeys, such as the 500-day trek to Mars, agency officials say.

California-based Made in Space was awarded a Phase 3 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from Marshall for this mission, and the two organizations will work together to make it happen.

3D Print won’t be Made in Space’s first foray into microgravity printing. The company tested out various 3D printing technologies in 2011 on parabolic airplane flights that produced short periods of weightlessness.

While 3D Print is primarily a demonstration mission, Made in Space is also developing a more permanent space-printing capability called the Additive Manufacturing Facility that’s expected to arrive at the orbiting lab in 2016.

The Additive Manufacturing Facility will likely be used to build components for ongoing off-Earth experiments, Made in Space officials said.

Brainpainting via computer frees expression for the paralyzed

Brainpainting image

By Nancy Owano from

Brainpainting via computer frees expression for the paralyzed

Credit: Pingo Ergo Sum project

Heide Pfutzner is getting favorable recognition as an artist who has produced skilled, accomplished abstract paintings with their colorful shapes in electric-like blues, reds, pinks, and yellows, Her admirers not only appreciate her art but her determination as a paralyzed woman who paints by way of thoughts. These thoughts are translated into pictures by a computer. She is able to express herself creatively through brainpainting, where a computer system can translate an artist’s thoughts into images. With use of a brain controlled computer system, the person’s brainwaves translate into instructions as to which colors, shapes and brushes will be put to use for the finished piece.

Pfutzner was a former teacher in Germany; she fell ill in 2007 and was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the U.S. The disease left her paralyzed, able only to move her eyes. Her daughter made some contacts, whereby her mother was eventually introduced to the University of Wurzburg’s program. “They developed a special brainpainting program for me,” she said, “and we’ve been a good team ever since.”

BCI stands for . BCIs translate into operational commands for technical devices. BCI approaches have been studied for some time; various (EEG) signals have been applied to control a BCI, including event-related potentials (ERP). Scientists at Wurzburg are are interested in how BCI may serve as an alternative for patients with impaired speech and .

ALS patients deprived of speech and movement may find that BCI provides an opportunity, in this otherwise locked state, to communicate, and that is a core focus area for research at the school.

Researchers have shown that users with impaired motor control such as patients with ALS are able to use something called “the P300-BCI” for communication. The P300 is a type of BCI that is based on ERPs, and It is mainly used for communication purposes.

Users are presented with a matrix consisting of letters and numbers flashed consecutively. By focusing on the intended letter or number, flashing will elicit a prominent positive deflection – the P300 – in the user’s EEG. By detecting the P300 from the event-related EEG, the system can identify which letter/number the user is intending to spell. Scientists have also adapted the P300 to a brainpainting application developed to paint pictures using brain activity only. A brainpainting application was designed by artist Adi Hösle in cooperation with the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen, based on a P300-spelling application. The cells of a 6 × 8 matrix contain symbols indicating color, objects, object size, transparency, and cursor movement.

Explore further: Two minds can be better than one: Thought-controlled virtual spacecraft

More information:
via Telegraph

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Macro Eye Photos Zoom in on Nature’s Complexity

Long-eared Owl eye

By Jakob Schiller from

Long-eared Owl

For years Suren Manvelyan has been making extreme macro photos of both human and animal eyes, and he’s just released a new batch of purely animal eyes that are equally stunning.

“I don’t think many people suspect there are so many interesting structures in the eye,” Manvelyan says. “It was a surprise for me too.”

Manvelyan, an Armenian photographer, first started the project by photographing the ocular orbs of people, but made the move to animals by shooting the bright blue eye of a Husky dog. Since then he’s photographed everything from snakes to hippos, and his first round of eye photos went viral. He won’t reveal his technique, but does say that dealing with reflections on the eye is the hardest part.

At first it was a challenge to track down some of the more exotic animals. On an early visit to the zoo in Yerevan, where he lives, a friendly hyena sauntered up to the fence and held still long enough for him to get his shot, but the majority of his photos from the first batch were taken at a private zoo where he was given access to several birds, reptiles and chimpanzees.

Today things are easier. Since his photos went viral, he’s developed a relationship with the staff at the zoo in Yerevan and is allowed into some of the cages. For this most recent group of photos he was able to approach the hippo, as well as a crane and camel.

Down the road Manvelyan says there are a couple species he’d really like to photograph — an octopus, for example, due to its sophisticated eye structures. For now, however, he’s still willing to shoot any animal that will sit still.

“It’s a huge field,” he says. “I would be happy to travel to any zoo and make shots if the animals [and zoo keepers] would allow it.”

Behance portfolio here.

Ghostly Ship Graveyards from Around the World

Ship graveyard
Where do boats go when they die? Sometimes they end up in vast ship graveyards, sometimes craggy, foggy places where ships have met their doom, and sometimes spots where ships are deliberately left to rust. There’s a quiet beauty to many of these graveyards and their resting inhabitants.

The port of Nouadhibou, Mauritania

More than 300 ships are resting in the world’s largest ship graveyard. The practice of abandoning ships here started in the 1980s after the country’s fishing industry was nationalized.

(via Geolocation/crodenas, Filippo Minelli/Flickr, j-b.d/Flickr – 1, 2, Sebastián Losada/Flickr and Crazytopics)

Mo’ynoq (Muynak/Moynaq), Western Uzbekistan

The former sea port city has lots of rusting ships, abandoned since the 1980s due to the recession of the Aral Sea, which is now at least 95 miles (150 km) away from the former harbor.

(via United Nations Development Programme/Flickr and Martijn Munneke/Flickr)

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

The area was named after the whale and seal bones that littered the shore because of the whaling industry, but there are more than a thousand ships caught by rocks and fog.

(via Wikimedia Commons, by Anagoria, Patrick Giraud, Bel Adone and Joachim Huber/Flickr)

Staten Island Boat Graveyard or the Witte Marine Scrap Yard, NY

A dumping ground for disused and decommissioned ships in New York.

(via Bob Jagendorf/Flickr)

Military graveyard near Landévennec, France

The graveyard for (mainly naval) vessels is a bend on the Aulne River, used by the French Navy.

(via Vincent Maurin/Flickr – 1 – 2)

Grytviken, South Georgia, South Atlantic

The settlement was established in 1904 by a Norwegian sea captain as a whaling station for his fishing company. It was closed in December 1966, but the church is still used occasionally for marriages, and the whaling ships are still in the harbour.

(via Wikimedia Commons, by Liam Quinn, Serge Ouachée and Aah-Yeah/Flickr)

Gadani ship-breaking yard, Gadani, Pakistan

The world’s third largest ship breaking yard has a capacity of 125 ships of all sizes, including supertankers. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, 107 ships were on the yard.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the ship breaking industry was on top, and Gadani was the largest breaking yard in the world.

(via Michael Foley/Flickr 12, Dawn and NGO Shipbreaking Platform/photos by Tomás Halda, 2010)

Bonus: Cemitério das Âncoras or The Anchor Graveyard, Tavira Island, Portugal

A portion of the beach is littered with hundreds of rusted anchors.

(via StartTheDay and Ricardo Santos)

Double bonus: Japanese Midget Submarines, 1945-1947

“At the end of World War II, Allied Occupation forces found hundreds of midget submarines built and building in Japan, including large numbers of the “Koryu” type. Many of these boats were in massed groups at shipyards and naval bases.”

(via Department of the Navy/Naval Historical Center)


Triple-nested Klein bottle made out of blown glass

Blown glass representation of a triple-nested Klein bottle

By from

Here’s glassblower Alan Bennett’s astounding triple-nested Klein bottle, a beautiful thing:

A single surface model made by Alan Bennett in Bedford, United Kingdom. It consists of three Klein bottles set inside each other to produce, when cut, three pairs of single-twist Mobius strips. A Klein bottle has no edges, no outside or inside and cannot be properly constructed in three dimensions.

[From user winkybb: Theoretically, with a Klein bottle the “tube” passes through the side of the bottle without there being an intersection in the surface. The tube passes from one side to the other in a fourth dimension. Not possible in three dimensions, so this is a representation only. Not a true Klein bottle.]

Klein bottle, 1995. (via Neatorama)

(Image: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Game Designer Creates Board Game Meant to Be Played Thousands of Years from Now

Hand with game pieces and board

By Spooky from

American Jason Roher has recently won a game design competition after creating a board game that no one is likely to play anytime in the near future, if ever. Called A Game for Someone, Roher’s game was made from titanium, to stand the test of time, and buried somewhere in the Nevada Desert, where it will probably be discovered by an advanced civilization, or zombies, thousands of years from now.

“I wanted to make a game that is not for right now, that I will never play,” Rohrer said, “and nobody now living would ever play.” Inspired by ancient board games like Mancala, as well as “the architects and builders who, over hundreds of years, constructed religious cathedrals that they themselves would never set foot in, never see completed in their lifetimes”, the designer set out to create a game that actually worked, without ever playing it himself. To do that, he first conceived it in computer form, by designing a set of rules that would be playtested not by a human, but by the computer. He told reporters he ended up plugging the game’s rules into a “black box”, and letting the artificial intelligence find imbalances, iterating new rules and repeating. Once the game was playable, he started manufacturing it. He couldn’t shape it from degradable materials like wood, glass or cardboard, so he ultimately decided on making the 18-inch by 18-inch game board and its pieces out of 30 pounds of titanium.


To make sure whoever found it understood how his futuristic game worked, Jason laid out the rules on three pieces of archival, acid-free paper, sealed them in a Pyrex glass tube which then went into a titanium cylinder and set out for the Nevada Desert to bury the thing. Not even Jason knows exactly where it is, as he chose a public plot of land far enough from roads and populated areas, dug a hole, placed the game in it, covered it up and walked away without looking back. He does have the exact GPS coordinated to the location of A Game for Someone, but he made sure it was almost impossible for him or anyone to find it in his or their lifetime.


Prior to his presentation at the Game Developers Conference, back in March, he placed envelopes with the message “”Please do not open yet” on the seats in the room. He showed everyone the video game version of his board game but blurred sections of the board so no would be able to reverse engineer its mechanics. He also didn’t talk about the rules, so no one knows exactly how it plays unless they find his titanium cache.  At the end of his presentation, he asked everyone to open their envelopes. Inside each one was a piece of paper with 900 different sets of GPS coordinates. In total, Rohrer gave the audience more than 1 million coordinates. According to his calculations, if one person visits a GPS location each day with a metal detector, the game will be unearthed sometime within the next million days — a little over 2,700 years.


Although he intended people to search for his game individually, the sheets of paper were collected by volunteer “treasure hunters” at the door upon exit, in an attempt to collate the data and hopefully find it earlier than intended. Still, it’s going to take a while, if it ever gets discovered. So if you’ve ever wondered what humanity’s last board game will be, you’re lucky to know thousands of years in advance.

Source: Polygon