Outer Space Without a Helmet #newsfornerds

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 8/15/2014 |
  • 10:00 am
Outer Space Without a Helmet  #newsfornerds

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll explore the future of vibrating shoes and the possible utility of cat poop in cancer treatment. But first, here are your headlines.

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Ever wondered what would happen to your body if you wound up in space without a spacesuit? Scenes like this have been depicted in movies and comic books for decades, but it may not surprise you to learn that reality looks a little different than the Hollywood version.

First, the good news: you won't suffer long. The lack of oxygen will cause you to blackout within 10 or 15 seconds. You see, holding your breath in space isn't the same as holding your breath in your backyard, or even underwater. The lack of atmospheric pressure means that the air in your lungs will expand pretty quickly, rupturing your lungs. I'm not a doctor, but that can't be good.

If someone can rescue you within the first minute, your chances of survival are so-so. Beyond that, you're outta luck. Radiation and extreme cold are right around the corner, but you'll most likely expire due to lack of oxygen before any of that comes into play.

The lesson here? Make sure to pack a backup spacesuit on your next space vacation. (Now there's a travel tip you won't find on The Today Show.)

- story from NPR, Buzz Aldrin photo from NASA (and Neil Armstrong, obviously)

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Sharks (in their modern form) have been prowling the oceans for about 100 million years. They’re pretty much the tough guys of the neighborhood, with few creatures able to cause them even a ripple of concern - namely humans, dolphins, and some parasites. (Sharks must not wash their hands.)

Ever since they burst upon the pop culture scene with Stephen Spielberg’s movie Jaws, we’ve been fascinated by them. Terrified and fascinated, actually. The television ratings for the annual showcase known as Shark Week testify that we can’t seem to get enough of these deep-sea killers.

But they’re not as threatening to humans as you think. The United States might see 15-20 people injured by sharks each year, while toilets account for 43,000 injuries. In the United States, an average of one person will die each year from a shark attack, which, although of great importance to that guy, is a drop in the ocean. (Sorry - had to.) For perspective, almost 60 people will die from bee stings.

So curl up and enjoy Shark Week from the safety of your couch, but fear not. In fact, the fun folks at Discovery News put together a terrific little clip that reveals several things in the ocean that are way deadlier than our steely-eyed friends. You should watch it; you’ll be surprised to see how many people succumb to snails. Yeah, snails.

- story/video from Discovery News, photo from Illustrations of Zoology of South Africa via Wikimedia Commons

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Here are a couple other cool science stories you might enjoy:

  • A team of scientists from Dartmouth College believe that cats may be good for more than cute internet videos. It seems that a tiny organism that lives in cat poop may help fight cancer. The irony? Early treatments have helped this cat-based organism fight cancer and increase the life spans . . . of mice. Ha!
  • And finally, I give you vibrating shoes. That's right, vibrating shoes. An Indian startup has developed Bluetooth-enabled footwear that syncs up with your phone's Google Maps. As you walk down the street and approach a turn, either your left or right shoe will vibrate, telling you which way to go. Why didn't I think of that?

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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