Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture, that he hopes you'll want to buy. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.
As I'm sure you're all aware, today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I adore pretty much everything about manned space exploration, so to commemorate this hallowed date I'd like to share a fascinating piece of Apollo-era NASA history: the Bioastronautics Data Book
The Bioastronautics Data Book is a reference for people who design manned spacecraft. It's essentially an amazingly detailed description of the peculiarities of the particular cargo they're designing for: people. You see, as contents of a spaceship, people are probably some of the messiest, drippiest, most fragile, and out-gassingest things you can possibly imagine. Luckily, you don't have to imagine, as the researchers of this book break down every single thing a person can possibly ooze, excrete, pass, spit, fart, hack up, you name it.
It's absolutely fascinating. Ever wonder what's in a fart? It's all here. How about the tolerances of people to g-forces, or temperature, or vacuum?
Many of the charts are quite funny in their scientific detachment. The chart that basically describes all the ways you can be broken and crushed by large falls or crashes is called "Impact Experience." There's a chart labeled "Radiation Damage to Male Gonads."
It's easy to picture some harried, nervous, dead-eyed young intern that they've been using for these tests. There's cold exposure charts with "pain zone" clearly delineated, a carbon dioxide effects chart with 4 zones: No effect, minor perceptive changes, distracting discomfort, and dizziness, stupor, unconsciousness. Even seemingly simple tests like saliva generation have the faint hint of a sadist at the helm: to get more saliva, they mention using "Paraffin-activated" collection. It would have killed them to give out gum?
This book is fascinating from both a perspective of appreciating how truly daunting the task of making workable spaceships really was, and as an owner and operator of a human body, it's like finally finding the factory shop manual. Special thanks also goes out to T.Mike, who is my man in the field for finding good crap.
On Thursday May 26, Red Nose Day will return for the second year. It’s all about giving to children to fight hunger, sickness, and homelessness. In the video above, the most famous magician in the world, David Copperfield, has his own magical way of asking you to get involved. There’s going to be a two-hour TV show on […]
Facebook gets a bad rap, but where I live, it has brought neighbors together, and it started because of the things I didn’t want to share.
When the Congressional Science committee wants to talk about the cold weather, and when NASA has to defend their budget by explaining why NASA is important, it can make people who believe in facts… a bit tense.
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]