Humans Have Lived in Space for a Decade (And Counting)!

Imagine just for a moment; a floating, orbiting and operational laboratory holding several crew members at any given time, weighing over 900,000 lbs.  It's over 350 feet wide, with solar panels spanning more than half an acre—as long as a football field (with the end-zones)—and it's screaming through the Earth's orbit at over 17,000 mph, circling the globe every 90 minutes for a decade.

Yesterday marked the ten-year milestone for the human habitation of space; thanks to the International Space Station. Over the years, billions of dollars in equipment and material have been flown to the station; expanding its size, efficiency, living quarters and ability to conduct various scientifc experiments. The United States' participation alone has been estimated to have cost almost $100 billion; Russia has sent up various modules and equipment of its own; and other countries like Canada have built the commonly seen mobile robot arm extension.

The past decade has allowed the orbiting research laboratory to conduct experiments in a wide range of fields including and exploration of the long-term effects of space on the human system, medicine, biology, chemistry, physics and even astronomical observations. Since it's inception, the space station has been expanding and it will continue to grow as long as there is funding.  

Yet another addition to the station will come in the first months of 2011, with the installation of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (image below) which is designed to research and detect dark matter. After that; who knows? Once fully completed, the International Space Station is expected to be visible by it least 90% of the world's population. I guess we can only hope that as 2011 rolls into 2020, we really start to see some interesting advancements and/or discoveries rain out of the ISS; allowing us to further our reach into space.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

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New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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