Why astronauts fall


I’ve always heard people say on the internet things like “you owe me a new monitor” and such, but this video finally brought it home un-metaphorically. The last astronaut caused my wife spit out a prodigious amount of coffee, completely soaking my lappy, both keyboard and screen.

In other news, Macbook Pros can apparently get pretty wet and still work fine. And it turns out coffee is a pretty good screen cleaner.

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Of course a centrifuge can only simulate more gravity, not less,. To experiment with less than 1 g they have to use devices like the “vomit comet”: a plane that flies a parabolic course and can for a very short time simulate gravity of less than 1 g. (indeed most of the footage of people on it show them simulating zero g.)

As someone who went to Space Camp and got to walk in a moonwalk simulator, I can say that walking in 1/6 G is a LOT harder than you’d imagine. You have hardly any traction and the instinct to push against the ground to gain more just sends you flying upwards at a precipitous pace.

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I think it’s pretty clear you’d end up scooting forward on your toes in a skipping motion. Legs kind of apart to the front and behind, paranoid as hell that you’d fall and break something in the massive backpack that keeps you alive. Just like the astronauts did!

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The experimental set-up in this case had subjects lie on their backs so that earth’s gravity was evenly distributed along that body axis. Spinning of the centrifuge emulated a gravitational force on the feet. So, they could and did investigate force of <1 g. It’s not perfect, but controls showed that the emulated gravity did have an effect similar to that of natural gravitational force on perceived orientation.

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