Space Fantasies Meet Biological Realities

At NASA the waste management engineers are incredibly important to the entire mission, says Mary Roach.

As we consider the prospect of space vacations (the 600th ticket was recently sold for Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo), luxury space hotelsspace colonies, and other commercial enterprises that will bring humans to space in the near future, we need to recognize that the biologists are as important as the engineers.

Not only do we need to physically get humans to space, we also need to keep them alive, or at the very least ensure that their lives aren't completely miserable. 

After all, human space travel today is a luxury experience. Supercouples like Brangelina and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher are paying big bucks. The idea of traveling to space may seem like fun right now, but few people will want to lay out $200,000 in the future if SpaceshipTwo's maiden voyage becomes the sub-orbital equivalent of the Carnival Cruise "poop cruise."

That's why at NASA "the waste management engineers are incredibly important to the entire mission," says Mary Roach. Roach is the author of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, a fascinating and humorous look at what happens to the human body in space.

In the video below, Roach describes how space explorers are basically sent back to kindergarten, having to re-learn how to go to the bathroom and how to eat.

Watch here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less