Isolation for long space missions

Hi,
so I was watching Michael Stevens’s first and only free episode of Mind Field where he was talking about isolation. He mentioned that there were experiments of people in closed systems to test how body and mind reacts to long term isolation.


In 1989 Stefania Follini was for 130 days in a cave without any visitors, she could only communicate via “internet”. She also had books to read and some small animals like mice. Her menstruation stopped at some point, she slept for about 10 hours and was awake for 20-25! Also during the visit she lost 7.7 kilograms. This is not the longest isolation at all.

NASA also did in the last few years isolation of 6 people for 8 and later 12 months. This was to test the team work of the people since they were closed together cabin fever showed up, but they did not have to cancel the mission. In 2007 Russians did experiment called Mars 500 where six males stayed together for even longet rime, 520 days, only artificial light as before, they brought with them books and games or dvds but they had limited connection with outside world.

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/hiseasgroup-uhi.jpg

Eight months in “cabin” (project HI-SEAS)

Michael Stevens on the other hand spent “only” 3 days in isolation, but it was a bit different. He was in soundproof small room with white walls, white and black bottles with food and water, sink and toilet. This had dramatically different effects. He had halucinations and could not really tell apart dream from reality, also at one point he was counting bottles and counted 6 instead of 9 😀

What are such experiments for? You want to know what happens to body if it is thrown out of its rhytm and mind too. When we are finally able to get to Mars we need people that are capable of staying in small spaceship for months and months.

Dragallur

Eating the spiciest natural chilli

Hi,
last Sunday I was at neighbors with my host family for dinner. We ate some pumpkin soup and then I noticed these nice small peppers piled up in the bowl. Already I heard that it is not good to put them in your food so I decided to take it as challenge and take one. People at the table noticed and warned me that I probably do not want to eat it. I was soon persuaded not to take it and rather wanted my host brother to try it and see how it goes.

Yup, this is what it looks like.

“These peppers are the spiciest natural growing peppers.”
“Oh, ok then.”

He said that he is going to split with me. I finally agreed and stuffed half of the pepper into my mouth with some milk next to me and bread with thick layer of “Philadelphia”

https://i2.wp.com/groceries.iceland.co.uk/medias/sys_master/root/h8e/h01/8830465802270.jpg

This is called lifesaver.

After few bites it started to burn a lot. It is quite nasty but the real pain came when I swallowed for the first time. When it hurts in the mouth you can just calm it with bread as it touches the sides of your mouth but when you throat starts to burn it is way more difficult. In something like 15 minutes it was over. Not so much because of pain but simply the pepper, I cried a lot but hey it was quite interesting.

If you decide to try it out, there is one thing to keep in mind. The pepper is going to burn more than one time, actually it might burn three times.. you will know what I mean after you eat it 😉


Anyway there is a chart called Scoville scale, I thought I already wrote about it but then could not find it so here you go.

Spicy peppers have inside neurotransmitter called capsaicin. It fakes your feeling as it bounds on the nerves that are responsible for you to experience heat. Capsaicin is not solluable in water which explains why it wont help you to drink it when you eat something spicy. Milk is better and dairy products generally help. HCl of course helps too.

Capsaicin itself has 16 million points on Scoville scale which is about 8 times as much as the spiciest pepper which is right now Carolina Reaper with individuals well over 2 million. The pepper that I was eating is 1.5 million almost (which is average) and it is called Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper.

Dragallur

My favorite scientists and astronomers

Hi,
so I came up with this idea of list of people that I admire in science. Those are not usually scientists most like ex-scientists who are writing, blogging, learning students and so on.


I want to start with Phil Plait also known as Bad Astronomer. Why? Because he is famous

skeptic in the science community who is leading the league against Moon hoax. When I was writing about moon landing I cited his work quite a few times. He also wrote the book Death form the skies and he was featured in Crash Course Astronomy which was pretty cool, here are some links:

His blog.

His first blog (mostly bad astronomy).

Crash Course Astronomy

Second person in my list is Neil deGrass Tyson. He is astrophysicist, also sceptic and agnostic. He makes quite often fun of Flat Earth and is pretty cool.

Video

Demonstrating the power of gravity in the response to rapper singing about Flat Earth.

Another of my favorite scientists is Bill Nye. I am pretty sure that you know this one.

Science BOSS.

I actually saw him for the first time in USA in science class but actually listened to some of his talks few months ago for the first time. While he is very popular generally I kind of liked his debate with Ken Ham.. watch it, it is worth the 3 hours when you will witness the worst kind of argumentation in all history of creationism 😉 [1]

I would add Michio Kaku but I did not see so much stuff from him so I will just leave it here.

Dragallur

[1] Check out Ken Ham memes, those are best!

My thoughts on mission Voyager

Hi,
as the title suggests I will be talking about the mission Voyager 1 and 2. I never mentioned them in separate post until today. It is also connected with my presentation I had on the contest.


What are those missions anyway?

Those are two space missions that had quests to check out furthest planets of our Solar System. Because of rare occasion, Voyager 2 was able to check out 4 planets (+ Earth).

Right now both Voyager 1 and 2 are still capable of transmitting signal because their battery working on radioactive materials is still ok, it is not much though, not pictures or something like that.

Sonda na fotografii NASA

Voyagers are twins.

Both were launched in the year of 1977 and are about 19 billion kilometers away from they Earth.


The thing is that both missions are very cool and they collected lot of data but they also have this “Voyager golden record”. It is record of “The sounds of Earth” which are voices  from various languages and also the plate contains some information on how to play it and where in Universe it was launched from.

I know that this was not the main reason for the mission to be launched but at the same time it was not really well made up.

Above you can see the information on how to play the record. How could anyone in the hell know what is this supposed to do? I mean, how can we know that aliens have similar technology like us and that five pictograms can explain how to use it!

There are also images on this thing! There is image of woman in supermarket, photo of Jupites and so on (you can check it out here).

The left circle explains in binary how fast it should be playing. Than the wave is typical frequency of the sound that should come out and under it is something called “scan triggering” (wut?). The boxes under it represent how the image is made and the circle is the first picture that should appear. The lines represent the position of Sun compared to 14 brightest pulsars out there and the two circles represent two hydrogen atoms.

Though this whole thing seems a bit dumb to me, I at least like that they included piece of uranium so that “alien” can know how long it is flying (via radioactive decay).

Dragallur

Your phone is NOT killing you

Hi,
today I want to write about ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and also mobile phones as serial killers.


When somebody says radiation they mean electromagnetic radiation. Light is of course an electromagnetic radiation but only small part that we can see.

Visible light makes only very small part of whole spectrum.

The energy of light is connected with its frequence, as it rises (to left) energy increases as well. Gamma rays are the most energetic part of spectrum, they appear in radioactive decay and the are also created in Sun. Radiowaves on the other hand have enormous wavelength and very small energies, this is very good because it means that they are easy to create and also not harmful to human.

When we talk about radiation we can say that it is either ionizing or non-ionizing. If it is ionizing it means that it can create ions. Ions are either positively or negatively charged atoms, ions are created when they get or lose an electron which happens when photon hits the electron, but not always. If the energy of the photon is high enough then it will happen (ionizing) but if it is not the nothing will happen (non-ionizing).


How does this corresponds to your phone?

Well there have been some studies that showed that frequent phone users had higher chance of getting brain tumor. This would be caused by the photons that are transmitted from your phone. They should apparently hit DNA and other stuff in your cells and by ionizing these atoms, make change and possibly develop cancer.[0]

The radiation that is used in your phone is with the wavelength of tens of centimeters which means something like low radiowaves. Photons in this part of spectrum would not be able to knock electrons from atoms at all [1].

While for example study from Sweden showed that brain tumors and phone usage correlates, the study was not so well made. The problem is that you need gigantic sample since brain tumors are very rare (3/100,000 people). In short, the best thing you can do is to look on the number of brain tumors before “everyone” started to use cell phone and compare it to the number brain tumors right now…

SPOILER AHEAD

There is no correlation whatsoever!

Dragallur

If you want more detail about the studies and so on, check out these two videos:

[0] I was just thinking that if radiowaves cause cancer than we should probably be much more conserned about ultra violet that is roughly million times stronger!

[1] Einstein got Nobel prize for finding the photoelectric effect which is basicly the knocking of electrons by photons. He found out that under certain frequency the atoms will not be ionized because the energy is not high enough (this critical point is different of course for different elements).

 

 

Altruism does not exist

Hi,
the title is pretty self-explanatory but I can expand it. What I want to write about today is the theory of selfish gene and how it interacts with selfishness and altruism. (Btw. do not forget to check out my second blog!)


So altruistic act is the act that helps others while giving you to worse position, by this I mean that it costs you some energy for example.

What I want to say that there is apparently altruistic behavior towards those who are similar to you. Who is that? Your family.

Over all you share 1/2 of genes with your siblings and with your parents and also children, nobody can get closer to you if you wont make a copy of yourself or you have twin.

From the point of the selfish gene which is in you, it is important to stay in population and not die out [1]. This means that the gene is trying to safe other genes which may be riding in different bodies.


How does he know that there is his identical gene twin in other individual? Dawkins says for example in his book The Selfish Gene, that when there is gene for altruism in your body you will know that this same gene appears in somebody else who is also behaving altruisticly. While it is always from evolutionary point of view best to safe yourself, it is also good to safe others because they may contain the same stuff as you and that is what is important, not the outer shell which is anyway just a vehicle which will disappear after few years.

To enhance this argument I will just add: if gene is able to recognise himself in other “survival machines” then it will be more often present in future generations which is basicly natural selection.


 

You can not apply this for human behaviour because we are no longer bound only by instincts and this surely is not a way to live a life. At the same time, think over your past days about you and also people around. Do you behave altruisticly or are you hiding your selfishness behind altruism? What I see often is that people do “good” things just because they want to look like doing good things over all being selfish, what do you guys think about this?

Dragallur

[1] It is of course not important for the gene. Genes are not thinking. If the gene would not be good at staying in population it would not be there.

 

 

 

Book review 4) The Selfish Gene

Hi,
last week I finished the book Selfish Gene, here is the review.

Book: The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

Genre: Science

Pages: 224 (the edition above has more)

Rating: 9.5/10


When I wrote about the Origin of Species, Gaurish wrote that I will surely like Dawkins too, and I did indeed!

The main thought of this book is the importance of gene in evolution rather than the organism. Why? Because organisms die after certain time but genes are passed on if the organisms were succesful. I like how Dawkins calls these organisms like us, plants or insects or anything that carries DNA, “Survival machines”.

We are nothing more than a survival machines that was designed by the genes inside. We are just vehicles to help the genes to be passed on. If the genes are unsuccesful in designing good machine that will reproduce, they will die, but the important difference is that Darwin thought only about organisms whole, but here the main characters are strictly genes.

The book is really phenomenal, I love how there are lot of examples to various organisms and I have not been lost through whole story, and it really is a good story.

The reason why I did not give it full rating is that there could be more pictures while I understand that the edition I had was released in 1989.

In this book Dawkins also explains altruism and selfishness. As he says, altruism does not really exist, genes are always selfish and are trying to spread as much as possible. Your body can “know” that some one else has the same gene as you, then it is important for the gene to protect also the other person and this can look like altruism.[1]

I really recommend this one, right now I am reading The Blind Watchmaker again by Dawkins and as I write this The Extended Phenotype lies on my desk so I will continue with them.

Dragallur

PS: I decided to try to write post every other day so look for another one on Wednesday.

[1]This was quite simplified, read the book if you want to get the detail or wait for some post where I will explain it!

Go, ultimate strategic game

Hi,
I bet that the name of the game is not read as “go (walk)” since it is from Japanese. Yesterday my brother linked me to article about a computer program that was for the first time able to beat the best Go player in the world.

Not this Go.


The name of the program is AlphaGo created by Google. There were four separate matched and four of them Alpha won. The one won by Mr. Lee lasted 5 hours!

In the game you have got an area 19×19. There are two players, white and black. Your goal is to surround the other player and wipe out his tokens. The player with biggest territory wins.

This game is from Japan and its history goes more than 3,000 years back.

{it is} something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.
– Emanuel Lasker, chess world champion

The game is pretty fun to play, though it may take a longer time to finish when playing on the standard 19×19 board. On this online site you can join for free to the playing community. There is huge rank system so when you are good, you can fight against strong players.

Dragallur

 

There is REAL blood in your hands

Hi,
so yeah, there is hopefully some blood in your hands. Maybe.

Or maybe not?

Today I was out for two hours and it was kinda cold. So when I got back to home my hands hurt a lot. Why?


Well you could say that there is blood in your hands, and well it would be true.

The reason for it is similar to why you need to go to toilet when your legs get cold. Body is trying to save some heat by keeping it close to other heat and also save the important parts of body (your organs). To do it, it must make all your veins and various tubes in limbs thinner. At the same time some of those liquids have to go somewhere, so they go up to your important body parts and eventually you also need to pee.

When you get back from outside, your body feels that there is much more heat so the tubes can be expanded again. This also triggers pain receptors. So rapid heating of your body causes the pain that you can feel in winter.

When you dring alcohol, the body thinks that it is warm around so the tubes are expanded even when it is freezing. Now the blood runs down to your limbs which are feeling pretty good but they lose heat very quickly since when you pull something on bigger area it cools faster. This may even kill you when it is very cold outside.

Dragallur