Category:
Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

The taste of food in dark isolation

Beatrice Finkelstein, a nutrition researcher at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, conducted a series of "dark-isolation studies" during the 1950s. Subjects were placed for periods of 6 to 72 hours in a totally dark, sound proof chamber furnished with a bed, chair, refrigerator, and chemical toilet.



The purpose of this was to find out how astronauts might react to being confined in a small, dark space for a prolonged period of time. And in particular how their responses to food might change.

Some of her results:

Food has had varying degrees of significance. Some subjects have spent excessive amounts of time eating, nibbling, or counting food; others have become very angry with the food or very fond of it. Here again, evidence is strong that food in a situation of stress may be used as a tool to obtain personal satisfactions.


But the stranger result was how the lack of visual input completely changed the flavor of the food:

Palatability and acceptability of food in many instances are contrary to that on the ground or in the air; e.g., brownies have enjoyed only a fair degree of acceptability whereas ordinarily they are highly acceptable; canned orange juice usually rates low in acceptability; in isolation it has moderate to high acceptability. Data also indicate that the ability to discriminate one food from another within the same food group is impaired. All meats taste alike. Subjects are unable to distinguish one canned fruit from another. White, whole wheat, and rye breads used in sandwiches are similar in taste. Thus it is quite apparent that removal of the visual cues ordinarily associated with eating interferes with the taste and enjoyment of food and therefore the acceptability of food.

More info: "Feeding crews in air vehicles of the future"

Beatrice Finkelstein (source)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 30, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Food, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Experiments, Psychology

Using an atomic water cannon to change the earth’s orbit

Back in the early 1970s, engineer William Peterson proposed builing a gigantic, atomic-powered water cannon in the Mojave Desert and blasting ocean water out of it. He claimed this would not only create rain to water the desert, but would also change earth's orbit, in a beneficial way. Eventually, he said, we could even use the cannon to move the earth to a new solar system!

I've got two questions: 1) Would salt water shot up into the atmosphere come back down as fresh water? and 2) How big would you have to make something like this to actually move the earth?

Logan Herald-Journal - Nov 23, 1971



Text below from a Nov 1971 UPI article:

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER WANTS TO CHANGE EARTH'S ORBIT

By Robert E. Sweet

SEATTLE (UPI) — William E. Peterson wants to erect what amounts to a giant atomic water pistol in the Mojave Desert, shoot it off and change the orbit of the earth.

Or, as Peterson himself once put it in an edition of a local Rotary Club bulletin which he edits: "Some weirdo hereabouts is campaigning for a project to fly the earth."

Peterson is a 40-year-old structural engineer who works mainly on dams and bridges. He has a sense of humor and can understand why some people might think he's a crackpot. But he is dead serious about his "earth sailing" project," which he has tried to sell to everyone from President Nixon to the Sierra Club to private foundations.

PLAN DETAILED

Peterson's plan is to build a nuclear cannon, a mile in diameter at the base, tapering off to a narrow nozzle on top. With an atomic blast that he estimates would be equal to about one million tons of TNT he would force a piston mechanism to shoot sea water out the top of the cannon at terrific speed.

He figures about 10 per cent of the water vapor would escape earth's gravity and the spray would nudge the planet's orbit in the same way jets propel a spacecraft.

The water that remained in the atmosphere, Peterson said in an interview, would act like a "giant sprinkler system" and create rain to water the Mojave Desert.

CITES PREDICTIONS

A new orbit would improve the world's climate, ease pollution problems and "put some life into Death Valley," he said.

"Some reputable scientists say we're in for another ice age in the year 2000," Peterson said, in an interview, noting that others predict all sorts of ecological disasters on the horizon.

"So some day — and maybe not too far in the future — we're going to have to know how to control the orbit to maintain at least the quality of life we know now.

"If we can't do it this way sailing "Our Great Ship Earth," how are we going to do it?"

Peterson said other potential benefits of his proposal include: — Turning the globe into a giant spacecraft and flying it to another sun when our sun burns out, which scientists estimate will be in about 5 billion years.

— Applying the same technology to other planets to bring them closer to the sun for more living space for earthlings.

— Replacing dams with sea water cannons for the sake of electrical power.

— Desalinating sea water.

EASE NATIONALISM

— Easing the excesses of nationalism by fostering a sense of international cooperation in working on the project.

Peterson said the cannon would not necessarily have to be used to alter the earth's orbit. A smaller blast of water would be just a rainmaker and the water that did not leave the structure could drive power pistons to supply electric energy. Or, a nozzle at the top could be directed in such a way as to squelch forest fires.

His plan has been a personal project with Peterson for 13 years, but only in the last few years has he begun promoting it. Among those to whom he has divulged his plan are: President Nixon, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Sierra Club, Sen. Henry Jackson, D-Wash., Washington Gov. Dan Evans, and a few private foundations.

REJECTED BY NASA

NASA rejected the plan because its political and ecological implications were beyond the scope of the agency. H. Dale Grubb, NASA's assistant administator for legislative affairs, wrote Peterson:

"It would be presumptuous and inappropriate for one nation or an agency of one nation to speculate on the accomplishment of such a project."

Brock Evans, a spokesman for the conservation-dedicated Sierra Club, replied: "Death Valley, as you know, is a national monument at the present time. Our viewpoint is that we don't always need to make the desert bloom."

Donald F. Moore, an assistant administrator of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Environmental and Science Services Administration, wrote Peterson:

"The President has asked me to review the proposal ... and give you my comments.

"Your idea of changing the orbit of the earth as a means of controlling climate and distribution of rainfall is most intriguing and certainly represents highly creative thinking on your part.

ELASTIC MEDIUM

"Experience has shown, however, that the atmosphere is a very elastic medium, and thus instead of blowing out into space like the exhaust from a rocket, it absorbs the energy and momentum from a nuclear blast and eventually returns it to the earth so that no actual motion of the earth takes place."

Peterson answered these doubts saying: "actually it would be impossible to draw this conclusion since no one has thought of the type of device I have proposed."

He believes his proposal "warrants a feasibility study," even if admittedly it is a "real futuristic idea."

"I don't feel the (federal officials) gave it a fair shake. They just discounted the ideas and did not by any means prove they wouldn't work."

Peterson said he is gaining support locally and would attempt to win voter approval by going from state to state, campaigning.

And, he added, at least his children are convinced the plan would work — they call him "Earth Pilot No. 1."

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 09, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Really Bad Ideas, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Environmentalism and Ecology, 1970s

Space Boots

Released by Ideal Toy Corp. in 1969:

"space boots of adjustable molded air cushions so that the child can experience the floating feeling of walking on the moon."

source: awmok.com

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 09, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Toys, Shoes

A Brief History of the Extraterrestrial Real Estate Market

Note: I originally wrote this article for about.com, which has since ceased to exist. I recently came across it while going through my files. So I decided to repost it here.

In 2013, Maria Angeles Duran began selling plots of land on eBay. That, in itself, wasn't unusual. However, the land she was selling was located on the sun. She offered square-meter plots for the price of 1 euro each. By 2015, she had over 600 buyers, but then eBay pulled the plug on her, saying her auctions violated its "intangible goods" policy.

Further complicating Duran's business plan was the fact that she was in no way a pioneer of solar real estate sales. Long before she came along, numerous other people had already staked a claim to the sun. In fact, for over 75 years there's been a booming market in real estate located throughout the entire universe, with the result that by now every corner of the cosmos has been claimed by multiple would-be owners.

Hot Property: Maria Angeles Duran wants to sell you land on the sun



The First Owner

If priority in this matter means anything (and it probably doesn't) then the entire universe, except for the Earth, is owned by Arthur Dean Lindsay and his descendants, since Lindsay appears to be the first guy who had the idea of laying claim to outer space. In 1937, he filed a deed at the Irwin County Courthouse in Ocilla, Georgia, declaring his ownership of "all of the property known as planets, islands-of-space or other matter." When he informed the press of this, he became widely known as the "man who owns the universe." However, these vast holdings didn't help his finances much. In 1937, it was reported that he was bankrupt.

Arthur Dean Lindsay — the man who owned the universe



Homesteading the Moon

In 1948, William Honhold and Robert Eaton of Sewickley, Pennsylvania got the idea of writing to the Bureau of Land Management to request "all rights and privileges to the moon" under the federal homestead act. Interior Secretary Krug actually took the time to respond, saying, "Sovereignty of the United States has never been established over the moon; consequently, land areas, if any, of that planet cannot at this time be regarded as subject to claims or applications under the federal public land laws." Honhold and Eaton planned an appeal to the United Nations.

Idaho Falls Post-Register - Apr 21, 1948



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 02, 2022 - Comments (6)
Category: Real Estate, Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

Moving the Solar System

In the late 1960s, Caltech astronomer Fritz Zwicky proposed a novel method of space travel. Instead of using spaceships to go to neighboring stars, he imagined moving the entire solar system.

His idea was that if we could make one side of the sun release more energy than the other, then we could direct the course of its motion. We could steer it towards whatever destination we wanted, with the Earth in tow. He calculated that we could reach Alpha Centauri in 2500 years.

Details can be found in his 1969 book Discovery, Invention, Research Through the Morphological Approach:

Journeys to the Nearest Stars In the Tow of the Sun

For the purpose of traveling to the nearest stars, Alpha Centauri for instance, at a distance of four light years, rockets do not suffice. A very much more exciting possibility offers itself, however: We remain on the Earth and travel with it as the space vehicle, either alone or with the whole solar system towards our goal. During this journey we may enjoy and use the light from the Sun as always, or if we wish to leave it behind, we can keep warm and provide all of the necessary small and large-scale illumination through the proper use of nuclear fusion energy. Traveling at a speed of 500 km/sec through space, relative to the surrounding stars, we might reach the neighborhood of Alpha Centauri in about 2,500 years.

All of this will become possible once we have mastered nuclear fusion ignition of common materials on the Earth and on the Sun. Physicists in many countries have been attempting during the past fifteen years to induce nuclear fusion reactions in extremely concentrated and high-energy ionic plasmas, without making any use of the release of nuclear fission energy from uranium as it is being used in H-bombs.

Even if these efforts should be successful they would not provide us with any readily usable means for the acceleration of the Sun or of the Earth to velocities of the order of 500 km/sec. I have therefore suggested another approach striving to produce small solid particles with velocities of up to 1,000 km/sec. It is not possible here to go into any details of how this is going to be done. I emphasize only that no fundamental difficulties stand in the way. Particles impacting on dense matter with velocities of the order of 1,000 km/sec will generate the desired temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees, at which all light elements will be ignited to nuclear fusion reactions.

Launching ultrafast particles against the Sun, local regions on it could be ignited to nuclear fusion. As a consequence of the tremendous release of energy by such reactions, matter would be ejected with velocities of the order of 50,000 km/sec, while the resulting forces of reaction would propel the Sun in the opposite direction. If such processes were applied for a long time, the Sun could eventually be accelerated to the desired velocity with a sacrifice of only a small per cent of its total mass.

Since the planets are held in rein by the Sun's gravitational field, they and the Earth would be carried along on the distant journey. In principle the process and propulsion described could be applied to the Earth alone, which then would detach itself from the solar system and start out on its solitary voyage to the nearest stars.

One of the few analyses of Zwicky's idea that I could find online is at dynamical-systems.org. The author, Oliver Knill, quickly concludes that the idea is completely nuts:

Even if it would be possible to redirect the entire solar wind which ejects 1017 kilogram per year into one direction, this would displace the Sun only 1 meter in one year. On the other hand, the radiation energy produced by the Sun is 4 1033 erg/sec and could in principle be used to accelerate the Sun to a velocity of 100 m/sec in one year, when considering the energy only. By heating and cooling different parts of the Sun and redirect the radiation asymmetrically, a fraction of this energy could in principle be available. But even if the entire radiation could be redirected into one direction, the force would accelerate in one year the Sun only to a speed of 10-3 cm/sec. The reason for this low value is that photons do not carry a lot of momentum.


But even if Zwicky's idea could be made to work, what would happen once our solar system reached the vicinity of Alpha Centauri? How close could our sun approach Alpha Centauri before the two systems became gravitationally bound to each other? What kind of chaos would that wreak on the planets and asteroids within our solar system?

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 30, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

Astrochickens

Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson envisioned our Solar System being explored by "Astrochickens." As described in his 1992 book From Eros to Gaia:

Probably both nanotechnology and genetic engineering will have an important role to play in space science. The two technologies are likely to grow together and ultimately merge, so that it will be difficult to tell which is which. In the end, nanotechnology will give us scientific instruments having the alertness and agility of living creatures, while genetic engineering will give us living creatures having the sensitivity and precision of scientific instruments. The spacecraft of 2018 may well be a hybrid, making use of nanotechnology for its sensors and communications, genetic engineering for its legs, wings, and brain.

Here is a rough sketch of one possible shape that the 2018 spacecraft might take. I call this model the Astrochicken because it is about as big as a chicken and about as smart. It is a product of genetic engineering. It does not look like a chicken. It looks more like a butterfly. It has wide and thin solar sails instead of wings, and a high-resolution spectroscopic imaging system instead of eyes. With its solar sails it flies around the inner solar system as far as the main belt of asteroids. At any one time there will be hundreds of such birds flying, programmed to make specialized observations of Earth, Moon, Sun, planets, and asteroids as well as of the heavens beyond. Other cousins of the Astrochicken will have legs for landing and hopping around on asteroids, or solar-powered ion-jet engines for exploring the outer solar system as far as Pluto.

Wikipedia notes: "As a noted author of essays on the possibilities of science in the future, Dyson's theories, such as the Dyson sphere and the Dyson tree, have become popular in the scientific and science fiction communities. The more whimsically named 'Astrochicken' has not achieved this same level of fame."

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 27, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Kings Dethroned

Did you know our Sun was only 13,000 miles distant?

Read it here.





Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 25, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Eccentrics, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Books

Can you speak Venusian?

In his 1972 documentary, Can You Speak Venusian?, the British astronomer Patrick Moore examined the astronomical theories of various "independent thinkers" — otherwise known as kooks. It's probably now the only footage of most of these odd folks, talking about their odd ideas. Moore released an accompanying book of the same name.

My favorite of his independent thinkers is John Bradbury and his 15-lens telescope, viewable at around the 15:30 mark. His basic idea was that if two lenses are good, then fifteen must be even better. Bradbury claimed his telescope was so powerful that it could show "the actual background casing of the universe."



source: Can you speak Venusian?

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 13, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Science, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, 1970s

Page 1 of 7 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›




weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
February 2023 •  January 2023

December 2022 •  November 2022 •  October 2022 •  September 2022 •  August 2022 •  July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •