Science Friday: Real Quadrotriticale, Space Junk, Magic Polymer, Electric Water + more

Welcome to another Friday the 13th edition of Science Friday! This week, learn how tribbles go green, dodge space junk on the Soyuz, enjoy wolverine-inspired gadgetry, feel safer in that red shirt after all, and make energy from a mysterious fluid. All this and much more, plus our gadget of the week: TH!NK FROST — the arctic vehicle worthy of a starship captain.

Quadrotriticale is Real and Renewable
Every tribble’s favorite grain is now being looked upon as a new sustainable and renewable resource. The Canadian-grown crop Triticale, a combination of wheat and rye together, can grow in areas where there is little water and land nutrients. Alberta researchers are saying the crop can be used for everything from biofuels to fabrics. The best part? Scientists are playing up the Star Trek connection and have taken some great photos for the press release.

This is my chicken sandwich and coffee

ISS Crew Board Soyuz to Dodge Debris
The three-member crew of the International Space Station were forced to board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for 11 minutes yesterday to dodge a small but potentially lethal piece of space junk that came whizzing by. The old rocket motor is about 5 inches wide, and the risk of collision was small. However, the crew played the better safe than sorry game and took the precaution. Usually, the crew can nudge the space station’s orbit out of the way of oncoming debris, but NASA received notice of the latest object late Wednesday night after the crew had already gone to sleep. Instead, the crew members were instructed to evacuate the station and climb into the attached Soyuz module, which acted as their lifeboat. They emerged safe and sound six minutes after the near miss.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS

Self-Healing Polymer Makes Gadgets Into Wolverine
When we humans get scratched, our skin can repair itself. Researchers want to make gadgets that can do the same thing, with the help of some sunshine. The trick is in the three chemical components that make up the self-repairing layer: scratch-resistant polyurethane, and components OXE and CHI. When the polyurethane gets nicked, the unstable structure of OXE causes it to bleed out, and UV light will cause the CHI and OXE to form bonds and fill the gap — just like human skin. The promising tech isn’t quite ready for the consumer circuit just yet. But, who knows, maybe when you one day drop your iPhone 5G, you will be able to set it on the table and watch it repair itself.

The self healing gadgets of the future

Coloring Our Perception: Red for Safety?
Colors can have a profound effect on our behavior and cognitive performance. This much has been known for a while, but there has always been disagreement among scientists as to just what effect different colors have on the human mind. Now a paper in Science adds some new data to the debate, with findings that suggest blue increases creativity, whereas red enhances attention to detail and reduces risk-taking. The latter finding will come as cold comfort to the legions of (ex-)Starfleet redshirts who found out the hard way that being an unknown actor on an away mission usually meant a one-way trip. Full article in Science.

Science suggests he may have died sooner wearing blue

NASA Mystery Fluid Can Create Electricity
NASA is looking into a promising high-pressure fluid that emerged as a result of studies on how the agency’s underwater robots could power themselves far below the surface. Known as a phase-change substance, a system developed by NASA uses water temperature and motion to pressurize the fluid, which could then be transported to land and converted into energy. “When the material melts, it expands, compressing a central tube in which another liquid is stored. This liquid, now under high pressure, is used to generate electricity,” said the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL thinks the system shows promise, as various bodies of water including lakes and rivers could be mapped by computers for the potential energy the system could produce.

A new way to harness energy from water systems

Pic of the Week: Kepler’s Streak
Pictured below is the Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Kepler spacecraft skyward as seen from the crowded pier about 3 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch site. Kepler’s mission is to search for Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zone of other stars. A planet orbiting within a star’s habitable zone would have a surface temperature capable of supporting liquid water, an essential ingredient for life as we know it. This amazing photo was captured by launch photographer Ben Cooper.

Video of the Week: Real Transformers
Transformers are real! And, they’re from Japan! Check it out.

Gadget of the Week: TH!NK FROST is what Kirk needs on the ice planet
If Captain Kirk wants to travel on ST09’s ice planet in style, he needs to pick up one of these babies. TH!NK FROST, the oddly named super-snow mobile for two, was created by a Norwegian designer to mimic the look and feel of the arctic it would travel through. It’s got treads instead of wheels, bunch of fans to keep things warm, and a dorsal, sensitive hose reads the environment and relays that information to the driver. If you ask me, this design is worthy of a starship captain.

Check out more images at Auto Motto


Science Quickies
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.

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I need a Triticale sandwich!

i love that kepler streak image……… fascinating….

This is my chicken sandwich and coffee.
Best photo caption EVER!

Oh my goodness, this is so nerdy and cool. I love being a geek, what a killer website you have here!

Thanks by the way.
Quadrotritcale, it’s such a cool word.

I need a Chicken Sandwich and Coffee.

by the way the transformer video is really cool, as are the links at the bottom, the Mars moon thing is way cool looking.

Boing! I need Triticale!

As long this new strain of Triticale wasn’t developed in Riverside Iowa…

A car like that in ST : TFB would of been neat!

beats walking back to the ship any day!


Umm… there’s one thing wrong about the grain article’s title.

The article is NOT about QUADROtriticale. It’s about the root grain, Triticale.

There’s nothing in the article about a four-lobed version being developed.

Other than that, it’s really cool. I wouldn’t mind a few triticale rolls…

I think the Transformer needs to lay off the sauce…. when the whale probe arrives, we can be going…

“We’re suffering a huge energy surplus!”

It’s not from Russia? I’m so disappointed.

I wonder what triticale would be like rolled into a joint…probably will make me think I am Checkov with all the colours and sounds I would be experiencing lol

Hmm… An article about a real life Transformer and self-healing electrical devices… Do I have to connect the dots?

Ah, quadrotriticale is so old-fashioned. Quintotriticale is the wheat of the future!

#15 – No you do not have to connect the dots, apparently they will learn to connect themselves…oh and about the mystery fluid, sounds like you could use for power distribution in confined spaces, let’s say a starship…just some conjecture. Seems to me an unscrupulous businessman who got hold of tech from the future has let it out…

Bob.0 take note!

He was auditioning for Transfarmers 3

@ 16. Fred
lol :-)

Kayla Iacovino good work!

Cool Ice Car, Does it come in Black?

21. Never fails to be fascinating…I really enjoyed the transformer!!!

Keep up the good work!

#12…LOL yup…and in the Star Trek IV remake Zach Quinto’s Heroes costar Hayden Panettiere, who’s an avid whale activist, can play Dr. Gillian Taylor ROFL

I LOVE that. The whole “red keeps you safer” was genius. xD But I’ll continue to wear my blue; I’m a musician/artist/writer. ;)

And that photo of Kepler’s Streak is stunning! What a talented photographer.

#22 :: LOOOOL!!!! Haha, I’d like to see that. Quinto with the band around his head, Hayden slapping that guy and calling him an “SOB”, and Pine on a date with Miss Crazy Whale lady. Oooo, the THINGS we could see. x3

(Gosh, this site is turning me into a science nerd.)

Love the tribble pic. Very perceptive!

That fancy Snowmobile looks cool, but we all know that Jupiter 8’s are much cooler cars. ;)

Wheat. So what?

The what The what. Storiage compartments! Storiage compartments!

That Mr. Leslie was a tough guy. He appeared in later episodes, even after being killed as a red-shirt!

“The what, the what?”

“Does everyone else know about this wheat but me?”

I’ve lived in Florida my entire life, but I’ve only made it to that very same pier (it’s the Cocoa Beach Pier) for a launch once. I’d recommend a night launch though. It was spectacular. So bright it literally seemed like it was daytime again for a second or two.

#28.That Mr. Leslie was a tough guy. He appeared in later episodes, even after being killed as a red-shirt! ( Yeah he was sure pretty tough. he gets Killed and then comes back. Or maybe he had a Twin or was a Triplett.

Kepler’s mission sounds a lot like another one ive heard of ….NOMAD

– ..Red for safety..?!?….IMHO color is good only to improve the quality of the sex colour and.. maybe …mauve color are somehow related to safety..

#29—Not everyone, Keptin.

It vas inwented in Russia!

#34–Triticale vasn’t inwented in Russia, just quadrotriticale!

Hmm.. red and blue: what does that mean for the Superman franchise?

Once again a spectacular report of my favorite feature of this website. I’m heading down to KSC in a few hours to catch yet another Shuttle launch. The Delta 2 rocket featured in the article was a great launch and I enjoy the Twitter feed. Just as interesting to me is the NASA audio of the Space Station evacuation order. It was almost comic how calm the Russian controllers were, filled with greetings, platitudes, small talk, and “the the way” a schedule change because a 5″ speeding bullet that would go through the station easier than a knife thru butter was headed for them. The Astronauts took it all in stride and stayed calm, even though Astronaut Mike Finke had concerns that the schedule change would make it harder to complete the day’s task of communiating with schoolchildren on the ground.

I should have photos of Discovery’s launch up by Monday and an edited YouTube up within days (I’m taking multiple cameras). This particular launch has a rare feature in the 124 flights of Shuttle history, and it might be the last time in the 9 flights left.

It will happen about 10 minutes after sunset. Against the twilight backdrop the Shuttle will lift off and rise right back into the sun’s rays even while the SRB’s are still attached. The shadow of the plume will the appear and yet the backdrop of the sky will be dark enough that after SRB Separation the SSME’s should be seen for the next 6 minutes of powered flight, as the Shuttle goes 800 miles away and accelerates to orbital speeds. These Main Engines should be seen as a blueish point of light – like a bright moving star that will seem to go down the horizon – an illusion caused by the curve of the Earth.

Thanks again for the great feature of this site – by far my favorite.

The funny thing is, I don’t know if we’ll be eating a sandwich CONTAINING triticale, but soon enough the BREAD could be made from it.

Edible life imitating art? Sign me up!

My chicken sandwich and coffee.
This is my chicken sandwich and coffee.
I want these off the ship.
I don’t care if it takes every man we’ve got.
They’re into the machinery, all right.
They’re probably in all the other food processors, too.
Probably through one of the air vents.
Captain, there are vents of that type
on the space station.

Well, it was Mr. Scott
who performed the actual engineering.
Mr. Scott.
Where are the tribbles?
I used the transporter, Captain.
You used the transporter?
Where did you transport them?
Scott, you didn’t transport them into space, did you?
Captain Kirk, that would be inhuman.
Where are they?
I gave them a good home.
I gave them to the Klingons.
You gave them to the Klingons?
Aye. Before they went into warp,
I transported the whole kit and caboodle into their engine room,
where they’ll be no “tribble” at all.