Getting to close to a black hole is a nightmare waiting to happen.
- Like ocean tides caused by gravity, a nearby black hole would create a 'tide' inside your body, which is mostly water.
- As your body drew nearer to the black hole, your head would be stretched away from your feet.
- Scientists call this streching "spaghettification", from the word of spaghetti.
A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
If a doomsday asteroid is set to collide with Earth, you're going to know about it – whether you want to or not.
- NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller fields one question with a heavy heart: If scientists knew there was a catastrophic asteroid heading towards Earth, would they tell us?
- What about aliens? Is NASA hiding aliens from the public? Are they "in" on conspiracy theories? Scientists are, on the contrary, eager to communicate their findings to the media and the public, says Thaller.
- "To me it speaks to the separation that somehow scientists are this monolithic inhuman group; that we could hide things, that we would want to," says Thaller. No single telescope owns the sky. If there's a doomsday asteroid coming, scientists all over the world are going to let the world know about it.
NASA's Michelle Thaller explains how an accidental discovery led to the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics.
- In 1964, two American radio astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background by accident. Their resulting work earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978.
- They had long been trying to get rid of the annoying "noise" in their data (even thinking it was all the pigeon poop in their telescope) only to realize the noise was the treasure. They had stumbled upon the oldest light in the universe, and some of the strongest evidence to support the Big Bang theory. (What is the Cosmic Microwave Background?)
- That's why space and science are never boring, explains NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller. One scientist's junk data can be another's Nobel Prize.
Dr. Michelle Thaller is an astronomer who studies binary stars and the life cycles of stars. She is Assistant Director of Science Communication at NASA. She went to college at Harvard University, completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif. then started working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Spitzer Space Telescope. After a hugely successful mission, she moved on to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), in the Washington D.C. area. In her off-hours often puts on about 30lbs of Elizabethan garb and performs intricate Renaissance dances. For more information, visit NASA.