How to minimize stress, astronaut style

Here are some stress-management tips from an astronaut that are truly out of this world 🥁💥

Chris Hadfield: I mean I know what stresses me out, and that is when something is going to happen that I'm not ready for, when I don't know what's happening, I don't have the skills necessary. When I think I'm at risk of something but I don't know what to do, that makes me feel awful, and you feel nervous and you feel a little bit sick, and your body is giving you all sorts of clues that you're not ready for this thing to happen. But that's not how everybody pictures an astronaut. You don't picture and astronaut sitting there all nervous and jittery with their fingers crossed and crying just before launch—and we're not. Because even though it's dangerous, we are ready. We have practiced. We have trained. We have worked for years to actually look at: what are the risks? What are the dangers? What are they going to look like? How can we minimize them, and how are we going to respond to them? And then we've practiced them over and over and over again so that instead of just being nervous or stressed we are ready. And the best antidote for stress is competence, becoming competent. If you're good at this thing then you no longer just have to be worried and afraid of it.

Don't allow yourself – because I think stress is an awful way to go through life. It gives you an ulcer; you feel bad; you're dreading something happening in your own life.
Instead if you possibly can, try and figure out: Why is my body giving me all these clues? Why is it saying I dread this thing? Why am I not ready for this thing that's about to happen? And then instead of just sitting there feeling sick, say "Okay, I've got six hours till this thing happens, let's use these six hours to change my capability, to improve my readiness, to deal with this."
If I knew that the person next to me was going to have a heart attack in 20 minutes, I could use 20 minutes to become way more prepared for that heart attack. If I knew my car was going to blow its front right tire coming over the overpass today on the way into town, I could spend an hour before I got in the car this morning reading about what do you do when a front right tire blows? Do you de-cel? Do I break? Is it four wheel drive, two wheel drive, front wheel, rear wheel? Is there a margin over there? Do I have a jack in the trunk? Do I have a spare tire with air in it? If you did all that before then the blowing of the tire doesn't change, but your reaction is completely different. And so I think stress is just your body telling you "you're not ready, and so change your readiness." Use the time available to prepare yourself better for the things that you are going to have to do in your life. I think you enjoy life more if you just deliberately do that.

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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