Where is the International Space Station RIGHT now?!

This is beyond cool.

We all like HD… but the ISS is taking it to a new level with their HDEV: High Defenition Earth Viewing experiment.  You can keep up with the International Space Station through their online “Live View” Camera, and can see, in real time, where the ISS is and their view of the earth through the HDEV cameras.  Just a note, if the video is black, it means the ISS is over the “Night time” portion of the earth.

Enjoy!

Ramadan and the World Cup: No problemo or a death wish?

Have you ever been to the gym? Or for a run? Or a bike ride? Or played soccer? Football? Basketball? You get hot, sweaty, and thirsty…  Now imagine doing that strenuous physical activity in tropical, humid brazil right now with average temperatures above 80F.

Now imagine you can’t have any water during that time. None.

With the onset of Ramadan, the holy month for Islam, a lot of people have been questioning the effects of this holiday on the muslim soccer players.  During Ramadan, followers are not permitted to eat OR DRINK during day light hours.  That means no water during the soccer games for athletes observing Ramadan.

Due to hot and humid conditions, this world cup has issued athletes take required water breaks in the middle of the games.  Yet, some of the most fantastic athletes, during one of the biggest most prestigious tournaments in the world, when they are expected to be at the height of their performance, will not be drinking water at all… due to religious reasons.  No water?! Surely that is insane?

But according to an article in the NYTimes, apparently fasting and not drinking water will have minuscule effect on the players.  Ron Maughan, a professor of sports nutrition at Loughborough University in England, conducted a study to examine the effects of fasting on athletes (prior to the 2012 London Olympics), and concluded that, “It might be fair to say there is no large effect.”  Apparently FIFA has also commissioned some studies to determine the effects of fasting:

“We made an important study with the doctor of the Algerian Football Federation, and it was very positive,” said Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, the chairman of FIFA’s medical committee and a member of its executive committee. “If you do it intelligently, then you can adapt perfectly. Before the sun comes up, they have enough hydration to go on through the whole day.”

Really?! So it is totally OK not to stay hydrated THROUGHOUT the games?! This all seems a little fishy to me.  Especially with the overwhelming evidence supporting the importance of hydration during athletic activity, ESPECIALLY in the heat (A simple google search, another simple google search).  Furthermore, irregular hydration and fasting has consequences for proper sleep habits as well… and of course, proper sleep and rest is incredibly important for athletic performance (WebMD).   In an article in the Huffington PostAli Zogbhi, vice president of the Federation of Muslim Associations in Brazil, said on Brazilian TV: “Science has already proved that if you do physical exercise without eating you experience serious problems. Therefore, it is more sensible to allow players to not fast during this period.”

The good news is that oftentimes, for special circumstances, exemptions can be made for followers of Ramadan.  Other times, followers can essentially “take a rain check,” and skip a few days of fasting, and make up those days at a later time.

The World Cup is a big deal, and for some of these players, this is there one and only moment to shine.  Hydration and nourishment are essential for peak performance ability.  A lot of athletes take their religion seriously… but for the sake of their health and career, I hope they make an exception during this World Cup and continue drinking water!!!

Watch the NASA flying saucer (LDSD) test live today!

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Watch the test of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator here! More info here.

The Saturday balloon launch window extends from approximately 8:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. HST (11:15 a.m. to 12-noon PDT). The balloon will take approximately 2-3 hours to achieve float conditions. Shortly thereafter, the test vehicle will be released from the balloon and the test will begin.

Check back here and on our Twitter sites: @NASA_Technology, @NASA, @NASAJPL and @NASA_Marshall to get the latest updates on the mission.

My previous post about the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator here.

This is so awesome! NASA is testing its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which is essentially the coolest REAL flying saucer contraption ever! This is the kind of thing you see in movies that doesn’t exist yet (for example, rocket motors that gyroscopically stabilize the saucer). The LDSD is in testing with the idea that it will be used to deliver large payloads to Mars… that’s right… to Mars!

“”We use a helium balloon—that, when fully inflated, would fit snugly into Pasadena’s Rose Bowl—to lift our vehicle to 120,000 feet,” said Mark Adler, project manager for the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “From there we drop it for about one and a half seconds. After that, it’s all about going higher and faster—and then it’s about putting on the brakes.”

A fraction of a second after dropping from the balloon, and a few feet below it, four small rocket motors will fire to spin up and gyroscopically stabilize the saucer. A half second later, a Star 48B long-nozzle, solid-fueled rocket engine will kick in with 17,500 pounds of thrust, sending the test vehicle to the edge of the stratosphere.”

New mammals reported this week!! Why we need more #science

This week scientists reported discovering 4 new mammalian species. How exciting is that? I always think it is crazy that there are so many animals, plants, and insects that we don’t know exist.

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The first new mammal this week was published in the Journal of Mammology, and is a new round-eared sengi, or elephant shrew. This species is smaller than the other members in the genus, and was shown to be genetically different as well. Very cool!

“Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it’s exciting to think that there are still areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored,” said Jack Dumbacher from California Academy of Sciences in the US.

Sengis are restricted to Africa and, despite their small size, are more closely related to elephants, sea cows, and aardvarks than they are to true shrews.

The rest of the new species reported this week come from a partnership between the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (headed by Australians Jim and Jean Thomas) and Euan Ritchie. These species are all from Papua New Guinea and were discovered using camera traps. The group plans to return for specimen collection and genetic testing for further proof that these are unknown mammals. Can’t wait to see the findings published!

The Docopsulus wallaby, a small marsupial, was captured on camera, as well as a “Dumbo” mouse with giant ears, and an antechinus, a sort of shrew-like marsupial.

“It’s exciting, but at the same time we have a massive biodiversity extinction crisis at the moment and the sad thing is that we lose many species before we even know they exist.”

It is great to see that both groups reporting the new mammals mention that the discoveries highlight the need for environmental protection and conservation. Check the linked articles and websites for more pictures of the new species and more info!