Best of BBtv in 2008: Xeni Flies in Zero Gravity

(Flash embed above, here's a downloadable MP4 link)

Continuing in our retrospective of favorite Boing Boing tv episodes from 2008, we return to zero gravity today.

With me on the Zero-G weightless flight featured in this episode are Intel Chairman Craig Barrett; my friend Sean Bonner from metblogs; and a bunch of science teachers from grade schools and high schools throughout the United States who were on board to conduct microgravity experiments for the kids back home.

As you watch, keep an eye out for the floating lego robot, a flying pig, and the barfing guy who is totally barfing for reals -- the rest of us did not, btw, I don't get sick in space.

What you see in this episode is what it really feels like, and it feels awesome.

(Special thanks to Peter Diamandis, and George and Loretta Whitesides)


  1. Xeni-did that make you sick? I always had the impression it’d be like going over a really steep hill and “losing my stomach”, like in a car…but times a million.

  2. you must have had flying dreams before going. I’ve always assumed we get the proprioceptic neural memory sense for “flying” from floating in water.
    Now, with “real”, “flying” sense memory, have you dreams changed in quality?

  3. @JDAVID, it’s a little like that. The astronauts and former space station captains and stuff who were on the flights I’ve taken gave me (and others) advice on how to avoid the sickness, which is basically your inner ear and brain freaking out over conflicting data input. The biological story is basically your primordial, ancestral lizard-brain going, “WHOAH, everything’s moving in ways it shouldn’t be, i must have eaten a bad mushroom, I better barf it up fast!”

    The trick to avoid the physical sickness is to reduce the confusing input *during the heavy gravity parts*. It’s not the zero g that makes you sick, its’ what happens during the heavy-g pullups.

    And you do that by sitting still, or lying on your back staring at the roof of the plane, not moving your head or your eyes at all.

    @Takuan, I sure did have some wild dreams, before and after. Particularly the first time. It was a life-changing experience. But it was not unfamiliar. If you’ve dreamed of flying, you know what it feels like to float in zero gravity. That to me was the most amazing thing — the fact that it did not feel foreign, but that I was the first in my biological lineage to ever have experienced this physical sensation in real life.

    That totally blew my mind.

  4. @Xeni-
    Thanks for the info. I’ve long been afraid of flying, but am considering skydiving as of late.

    Yeah. I’ll puke. But I’ll take your advice and give the focus thing a shot.

  5. Xeni and BoingBoing crew,

    Thanks so much for this. I just watched it with my nieces and nephew. Now they are walking around saying: “Science rocks”.


  6. …Xeni.The only person ever to experience Zero-G besides Storey Musgrave and not have her hair get out of place :-) :-)

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