NASA’s space research program has spawned a number of useful everyday objects over the years. These include the cordless drill, the swipe card and the handheld video camera. A full pictorial list of these inventions can be seen here.
Recently, the NASA scientists have been levitating mice using electromagnets:
The researchers first levitated a young mouse, just three-week-old and weighing 10 grams. It appeared agitated and disoriented, seemingly trying to hold on to something.
“It actually kicked around and started to spin, and without friction, it could spin faster and faster, and we think that made it even more disoriented,” said researcher Yuanming Liu, a physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. They decided to mildly sedate the next mouse they levitated, which seemed content with floating.
The good thing is that despite the powerful magnetic fields, there were no apparent side effects in any of the test subjects. Furthermore, after a short period of time, even non-sedated mice were eating and drinking normally in their weightless environment.
One wonders if this will find application in the domestic sphere. Weightless floating with a bit of mild sedation sounds like a sure winner to me.
And more NASA news, this time from deep space. There have been some pretty cool pictures coming in from space probe Cassini of the planet Saturn as it moves into equinox.
To explain Saturn’s equinox, here’s an informative animated demonstration set to an appropriate space-trance soundtrack:
Finally, the well-known and popular astronaut, Buzz Lightyear, returned to earth recently after 468 days on the International Space Station. Wired reports that Buzz broke “Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov’s record for time in space on one voyage. Polyakov spent 437 days on board Mir in 1994-5.”