Thursday, December 05, 2013

Didgeridoos, Yo-Yoes and ZZ Top Tunes in Space

Add “in space” to the end of any sentence and you create a completely different picture full of possibilities. For example, “drinking a glass of water” in space does not require the glass since you can simply suck a floating water blob out of the air.

Astronaut and chemical engineer Don Pettit has conducted a number of engaging experiments in space during his off-duty time aboard the International Space Station, which the American Physical Society has captured in our 14-video series Science off the Sphere.

Fans of Science off the Sphere are in luck. Today, APS released a bonus clip that includes never-before-shown footage of some of Pettit’s experiments, which show what everyday-life activities are like in space. From toying with a yo-yo to watching water dance to the bass vibrations of ZZ top tunes, Pettit offers an entertaining look at his spacey science hobbies that capture and inspire the imagination.

Over the course of his career, Pettit has spent a total of 370 days in space. During his latest mission, from December 21, 2011 to July 1, 2012, Pettit dedicated most of his off-duty time to recording a myriad of experiments, showing how liquids and objects behave differently in microgravity compared to on Earth.

“These investigations tickle my imagination and enrich my mind and I’m hoping that they do the same for you,” Pettit said in Episode 3 of Science off the Sphere, which serves as a useful tool for science education outreach efforts.

The video series include physics explanations such as why water can create thin films in space and why water balloons, when popped, release one big blob that oscillates between potato and pancake shapes before adopting a spherical form.

For more information about Pettit, check out the interview between him and the Physics Central Team we released earlier this year.

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