Proof That Life Finds a Way. Even in the Most Adverse Conditions.

Astronaut Scott Kelly channeled his inner Mark Watney.


“Yes, there are other life forms in space!” astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted over the weekend. For the first time in our history, a flower has bloomed in space.

The zinnias have been in Kelly's care for the past month. But for the past year, scientists up in the International Space Station (ISS) have tried to make this plant bloom with no success. Growing plants in microgravity isn't easy, and past failures have helped pave the way to this recent success.

“The zinnia plant is very different from lettuce,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager. “It is more sensitive to environmental parameters and light characteristics. It has a longer growth duration between 60 and 80 days. Thus, it is a more difficult plant to grow, and allowing it to flower, along with the longer growth duration, makes it a good precursor to a tomato plant.”

In the early weeks of its growth, the high humidity and low airflow were causing mold to grow on the zinnias.

When Kelly stepped in to take charge of the project, he knew he'd have to channel his inner Mark Watney (from The Martian) and “science the sh*t out this."

Our plants aren't looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars. I'm going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney. pic.twitter.com/m30bwCKA3w

— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) December 27, 2015

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less