From the Vault: Artificial Gravity

Humans are creatures of gravity. We’re born into it. Life as we know it evolved to thrive in it. So what’s a gravitational organism to do in the low-gravity and zero-gravity expanses beyond Earth? You can’t bring it with you, but scientists have cooked up a few different schemes to replicate its effects. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a full exploration in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast. (Originally published July 13, 2017) 

The Science of Hell

The Science of Hell: Artists aren't alone in their fascination with Hell. Scientists two have long sought to breach the fiery gates and figure out just how it works. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie explore scientific ponderings over the Dante's "Inferno" and Milton's "Paradise Lost" from modern mathematicians, meteorologists and even Galileo. Robert sketched THIS MAP to help you out with the weather stuff.

Blow Your Mind: Cosmic Internet and Life in the Void

What topics did Stuff to Blow Your Mind cover this week? Well, it was quite a space-themed couple of episodes as we contemplated life's continued evolution in micro gravity as well as the sort of Internet connection those organisms might enjoy.

Artistic Rendering of a Cubed Planet Earth

The Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast has some pretty awesome fans, including graphic artist Robert McLaren, who took it on himself to create this amazing interpretation of a cubical planet Earth after listening to our episode on the topic (which you can grab off iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed).

What if Earth were a cube?

Back in 1884, a Swiss astronomer by the name of Arndt made headlines when he claimed to have discovered a very curious planet in an orbit beyond Neptune -- a surprisingly cubical planet. You know, like Bizarro World from the Super Man comics. Of course even in 1884, everyone knew this was bunk. The New York Times even ran a piece titled "The Cubical Planet" in their Nov. 16 edition. As informative as it is stuffy, the Gilded Age article interviews physicist Dr. Theodore Vankirk, who first dismisses the prospect of a square planet as pure hooey, and then proceeds to wax scientific about just what a cube world would be like.

I know, this sounds like an April Fools joke but seriously, we finally know the "shape" of the Earth and it looks like a partially-deflated kickball or a late-November jack-o-lantern collapsing with rot. What's the catch? This video (obtained via The Daily Galaxy) shows the results of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE)'s two-year mission to map the Earth's geoid. The geoid is the surface of an ideal global ocean without tides and currents. It's shaped only by gravity.

Science Goes to Hell: Dante's Gravity and Lucifer's Math

There are so many reasons to love Dante's "The Divine Comedy." It's a crash course in medieval Christian theology, a 14th century dirt sheet, a smorgasbord of history and a journey into an amazing mind. Plus you get fearsome monsters, bawdy demons and -- yes -- medieval science! Dante wrote "The Divine Comedy" in the common language of Italian rather than the Latin of the upper class. This way it reached the masses and did so without the aid of someone else's inept translation. To quote Alison Cornish in "The Vulgarization of Science," Dante made it his business to "integrate learning into the vernacular forms, and to make it accessible even to the unschooled."

What can gravity do for you?

Gravity is a pervasive and ambiguous force -- we still don't understand everything about it. Yet every physical act on our planet involves gravity. Join Allison and Robert as they explore exactly how gravity affects the average person in this podcast.

NASA Continues Fight Against Bone Mass Loss

As you probably know, one of the problems with humans entering into weightless environments is that we've spent a heck of a lot of time evolving to do just fine WITH the force of gravity holding us down. Take that away from us and a host of things start to go haywire in our gravity-based bodies. Chief among these is bone mass loss. Quite simply, if you don't use it, you lose it -- and at an incredible pace. In fact, visitors to the International Space Station lose up to 10 times more bone mass each month than most postmenopausal women do on Earth do in the same time frame.* NASA has tried to address this issue in the past by having astronauts use treadmills, but according to a recent Science Daily article, the agency figured out a promising way to improve on the measure.