Science Saturday: Discovery’s Final Flight (w/ Star Trek Music) + Soviet Space Sale + Head In Particle Accelerator + Anti-Shark Suit

Welcome once again to Science Saturday! This week: Space Shuttle Discovery blasts off for the last time (plus, Star Trek theme will play on board!), buy a 1961 Soviet space capsule, the man who survived a particle accelerator to the head, and how atomic oxygen can restore works of art. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: Neptunic’s super shark suit.


Space Shuttle Discovery Blasts Off for the Last Time + Star Trek Theme Played On Board
Last Thursday, Feb 24th, Space Shuttle Discovery and her crew, STS-133, blasted off into space for the last time. This will be the second to last flight of any NASA space shuttle. Discovery has been the first shuttle to venture into new territories several times in the past throughout her 352 days in space so far, and now she’ll be the first shuttle to retire. “We’re wrapping up the Space Shuttle Program,” said STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey. “Besides the excitement of completing the International Space Station and all the things we do, I hope people get a sense of the history of what the shuttle is and what we’ve done and what’s ending. Because they’ll probably never see anything like it flying again.”

Thanks to all of your voting, the Star Trek theme song will be played aboard Discovery for one of the crew’s wake-up calls! A great way to finish off the fleet. Over 2.4 million votes were cast in NASA’s Space Rock competition (although I alone probably contributed 100s!), and 671,134 of those votes were for Star Trek. More at NASA’s Space Rock webpage.

Also joining the STS-133 crew is Robonaut 2, the dextrous humanoid robot. More on STS-133 at NASA.

The crew of STS-133: Steve Lindsey (center right) and Eric Boe (center left), commander and pilot, respectively; along with astronauts (from the left) Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt and Steve Bowen, all mission specialists. Photo credit: NASA

1961 Soviet Space Capsule Up for Auction
Ever wanted to own a real piece of human spaceflight history? Got a couple million dollars lying around? Well, get your pocketbooks ready, because here’s your chance! A test capsule, which sent a cosmonaut mannequin and a dog named Zvezdochka into space just weeks before Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight, is up for auction. The tiny test capsule, Vostok 3KA-2, still scorched from re-entry will be sold at Sotheby’s in New York on April 12th, the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic flight. Sotheby’s estimates that the piece will brin $2 million to $10 million at auction. It is currently privately owned by an anonymous millionaire who bought the capsule from Russia years ago. The capsule is spherical, made out of an aluminum alloy, and only about 2.5 meters (8 feet) in diameter. The identical Vostok 1 model that carried Gagarin is on permanent display in Russian rocket maker Rkk Energia’s Museum near Moscow.

Capsule Vostok 3KA-2

What Happens When You Stick Your Head Into a Particle Accelerator?
TodayIFoundOut recalls the amazing story of Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski, a Russian scientist who has the distinction of being the only person to ever stick their head in a running particle accelerator. Shockingly, he even survived the ordeal! On July 13, 1978, Bugorski was checking a malfunctioning piece of equipment at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino. As he was leaning over the piece of equipment he stuck his head through the part of the accelerator that the proton beam was running through. Supposedly, he saw a flash that was Òbrighter than a thousand sunsÓ at this point. Interestingly, he did not feel any pain when this happened. The laser, which went clear through Bugorski’s brain, has paralyzed one half of his face. Looking at Bugorski now, youÕd see the right half of his face looks like a normal wrinkled old man, but the left half of his face looks as if it was frozen in time 19 years ago.

Read the entire fascinating story at Today I Found

Anatoli Bugorski takes a laser through the head

NASA Uses Atomic Oxygen to Restore Old Paintings
Over time, after paintings have been exposed to the air for too long they being to fade, sometimes to the point where they become unrecognizable. NASA has discovered a way to bring these old paintings back to life using a technique that utilizes atomic oxygen. NASA has noted degredation of space craft caused by the bombardment of atomic oxygen with their hulls. The high energy oxygen atoms hitting the surface of an object react to form oxide compounds leading to erosion of a spacecraft’s surface. Atomic oxygen seems to have the opposite effect on paintings. Because paint on old paintings is already oxidized, the atomic oxygen serves to remove everything else, leaving behind just the original, oxidized paint. The image below shows just how successful this oxygen treatment is. On the left is a painting after it had already been restored using acetone and alcohol. On the right is the painting after NASA’s atomic oxygen treatment. Not too shabby!

More on the effects of atomic oxygen on spacecraft at ESA.

Left: After acetone & alcohol treatment. Right: After NASA’s atomic oxygen treatment

Gadget of the Week: New Supermaterial Can Stop a Shark Bite
Jeremiah Sullivan of Naptunic Technologies has been designing materials to create super light-weight shark suits that can sustain an attack by a great white. Currently, shark suits are usually made from chain mail, which is heavy and cumbersome. Sullivan’s new top secret technology is a super strong and surprisingly thin cloth that does the same trick as that chain mail. This new fabric has applications to military, law enforcement, and extreme sports. Watch a demo below.

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth your time.


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I’m impressed with the atomic oxygen restoration, looks like there is hope for at risk paintings now.

yeh tell me about it that painting looks just like new now

Anatoli Bugorski took a beam of protons through the head, not a laser. This has got to be one of the most unique injuries ever suffered.

(Since it was a particle beam was it closer to a phaser than a laser?)


A phaser to the head? He’s lucky he didn’t end up like that admiral in “Conspiracy” :P

Ok. The Voting for the music was a bit rigged. But since Trek won. Who cares. Wow. A Particle beam. Maybe a start to a Phaser Beam. Atomic oxyegen restotation looks to be a good way to save paintings. But. Could care less about that.

Hooray for the Star Trek theme being named one of the wake up calls. And the painting restoration is just amazing. Science saves art. Fantasitc stuff. Great work Kayla.

As much as i love all the music to Star Trek, it would drive me mad been woken by the theme tune.

That footage of the shuttle launch was AMAZING

Anatoli Bugorski sounds like he was a real numbskull. Shouldn’t he have just turned off the accelerator first before fixing the piece of equipment?

Using atomic oxygen to restore paintings is a neat idea.

The space shuttle footage was really cool as well. And if NASA had begun work on new shuttles about fifteen years ago, it wouldn’t have to rely on Russia and China to get its astronauts up into space.

I read somewhere recently that Van Gogh’s paintings were starting to deteriorate. I hope they can use the atomic oxygen method to restore ’em!

Painting of St. Mary Magdalene, it looks like. Acetone and alcohol? Lucky they didn’t strip all the paint off.

I built a model of a Vostok when I was a kid. It look cramped even then. Amazing we humans put ourselves through this.

YES! Trek theme!!

Gin n Tonic laser? Thought you just had to dig two rubindian crystals outta your wrists and hold them up to a Nazi’s light bulb while standing on your buddy’s nazi-whipped back. Hmm. Go figure.

Thanks, Kayla.

Shouldn’t the particle beam lose some Grays instead of gaining them?

> Looking at Bugorski now, youÕd see the right half of his face looks like a normal wrinkled old man, but the left half of his face looks as if it was frozen in time 19 years ago.

Don’t tell Joan Rivers… 0.0

# 14 Symar- Ouch!! LOL