Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unintentional Humor: NASA Edition

     This brief article was in the December 2009 issue of Popular Mechanics, and regards JPL researcher's attempts to study the weightless state, with the overall goal of preventing bone deterioration in astronauts.

     The scientists "...have succeeded in levitating small mice using a 17-tesla magnet. The magnetic field is so strong that it affects the water in the animal's tissues, prompting a repulsive magnetic forse that suspends the rodent in the air. It takes a superconducting magnet operating at minus 456 F to float a 10-gram mouse within a 2.6-inch bore, which is kept at room temperature."
     "The magnetic field is applied evenly to keep the mice hovering in place..."

(and here's the part that sends me into totally unreasonable giggle-fits every time I read it),

 "...and scientists say rodents acclimate to the test in about 4 hours."

     Yeah, but for those four hours...

     I mean, for their little brains to be overwhelmed with little mousey, "WTF!WTF!WTF!" thoughts for four solid hours?
     And then, how do you know that they're "acclimated"? Do they just suddenly realize, "OK, I'm floating. It's cool".
     And is someone observing them to see when the "Oh, $#*t!" look leaves their little beady black eyes?

     I'm sorry, but every time I read into the implications of that single dry statement, the old ethologist in me gets the giggles. Poor little mouseys.


  1. My guess is that they keep watching to see when the little furballs stop flailing around helplessly. Of course, it would be amusing to put a cat in next to one to see the cat try and get at the mouse and the mouse try and get away. Hey, it's all in the name of science.

  2. "Tom and Jerry in Space".

    I like it.

  3. That gravity thing is why we aren't going to have manned space travel beyond our own moon unless somebody can figure out a way to create artificial gravity, but based on everything we know about it so far, it isn't likely.

    Moshe Ben-David

  4. I'm no engineer, but I'm guessing that the whole centrifugal force (ala "2001") solution is too energy costly.

    I'll remain optimistic. We've got some damn smart people in the public and private sectors who want to get into space very badly.

  5. I would like to know how they decided that little Mickey was acclaimed to the situation. That is quite a comment without some backup.
    Just think - we are paying for this "research."


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