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Five questions with astronaut Rex Walheim

Rex Walheim is an astronaut. He’s gone to space three times, including on the last flight of the space shuttle. He has spent an accumulated 36 hours outside the ISS on spacewalks.

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Contest: Ask Astronaut Rex Walheim a Question

On Friday morning, I'll get 10 minutes to talk to astronaut Rex Walheim about the astronaut recruiting process—how candidates are chosen, who should apply, what happens to you at different levels of the process ... all that good stuff.

Ten minutes ain't much. I'm normally tearing through an interview if I can get it done in 20 minutes. I'll probably have time to get through two questions with Walheim before he's on to the next reporter. So I wanted to do something fun. I'm going to ask him your questions. What do you want to know about how astronauts are recruited and chosen? Now's your chance to find out.

Here's how this will work: You've got until Thursday at 2:00 Central to submit your questions in the comment section of this post. Thursday night, I'll pick the two best questions—via wholly subjective methods. Those will be the ones I take to Walheim, and I'll post his answers here on BoingBoing.

Chances are, there will be lots of good questions and I'll have a hard time choosing. Luckily, I've got a stockpile of awesome BoingBoing stickers and Jackhammer Jill pins. So the two winners, and four runners-up, will all receive a sticker and a pin.

Sound good?

Teenagers: Enter YouTube Space Lab competition by December 14

Scientific American and YouTube are offering teenagers a chance to participate in real science. It works like this: Think up a question that can only be tested via an experiment performed in space. Make a video about your idea and submit it to the contest by December 14.

The two best ideas will actually be tested in space. That's right. If you win this, an experiment you designed will be performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. And you'll get some cool stuff—like a zero-G flight on board the "Vomit Comet" now, and, when you turn 18, actual cosmonaut training in Russia. Yeah. For real.

Oh, and Stephen-freaking-Hawking will be one of the judges.

This whole thing is a little insane.

If you're between the ages of 14 and 18, and you live on Earth, you can enter. Do it. Seriously. There are grown-ups who want to live vicariously through you.

For inspiration, here are some sample entries.

A vote for Shiffman is a vote for sharks (in a good way)

College student bloggers from across the United States are currently competing to win a $10,000 scholarship. You can vote for the winner. And you should consider voting for David Shiffman, one of the ocean science bloggers who writes for Southern Fried Science. If he wins, he has pledged to adopt a satellite-tagged shark in the name of his blog's readers, hold a contest to name said shark, and provide regular blog updates about what the shark is up to. My suggestion: Vote Shiffman, because sharks are awesome.

Contest: open 3D print designs for sustainable development

Ivana sez,

You are invited to participate in a design competition for development of sustainable technologies and their components for printing on open source 3-D printers!

The goal of the contest (organized by Queen's University Applied Sustainability Lab and Michigan Technological University) is to facilitate an open exchange of 3-D sustainable technology designs that can be printed to meet various needs in the context of sustainable and self directed development.

3-D printers such as RepRap and open sourced innovation hold great promise for development of technologies to help millions of world's poorest communities reach a better standard of living. Designs will be judged on the technical printing viability, feasibility and functionality of the innovation, as well as ecological, economic and social sustainability.

Anyone can enter the competition however the contestants must post their digital designs on Thingiverse under an open license (e.g. CC-BY-SA). The contest is funded by the Queen's Applied Sustainability Group and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Competition closes February 1st 2012.

Top prize is CAD1,000, second is CAD500, and there will be three runners up who get a satisfied glow. All winners also get a copy of my novel Makers, which is pretty flattering, if I do say so myself!

Open source sustainability 3-D printing design competition (Thanks, Ivana!)

Physics contest winners

Yesterday, I asked you to submit your physics questions for a chance to win either VIP tickets to see Brian Greene tonight in New York City, or a DVD set of Greene's new NOVA series. I did the drawing this morning and the winners are:

Kevin Harrelson — Proud new owner of a DVD set of Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos!

r matt — You're going to see Brian Greene live tonight in New York!

Both of you need to contact me to claim your prizes. You can reach me by email at maggie (dot) koerth (at) gmail (dot) com.

Remember: Not being chosen as the winner of the drawing doesn't mean your question won't make it into Brian Greene's hand. I'm sending on all the great questions from yesterday's thread to the fine folks at the World Science Festival. Watch the live stream tonight, starting at 10:00 pm Eastern, to see if your question made it!

Image: Dark and ordinary matter in the Universe, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from argonne's photostream

Submit your physics questions, win cool prizes

Tomorrow night at 9:00 pm Eastern, physicist Brian Greene will be speaking in New York City about ... well ... life, the Universe, and everything. He'll be joined via live link by theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind, and 2011 Nobel Prize winner Saul Perlmutter. It's part of the launch of Greene's new PBS series: NOVA: Fabric of the Cosmos. You can watch the NOVA episode anywhere. The live event will be streamed online starting at 10:00 pm Eastern.

Want to see the live event in person? You can't. It's sold out already. EXCEPT, here's the thing. The World Science Festival, which is cohosting the event, has a pair of confirmed VIP tickets set aside for a special BoingBoing reader.

How do you become special? It's easy. As part of the live event, Brian Greene, Leonard Susskind, and Saul Pearlmutter will be answering questions about all the weird and wiggly concepts that make physics so much fun, from dark matter, to the multiverse, to time travel. To get a crack at the VIP tickets, all you have to do is submit your question. Just post it here, in the comments, along with a mention of whether or not you live in the New York City area. I'll get the questions to the folks at the World Science Festival, and I'll pick one commenter (at random) to receive the free VIP tickets.

Don't live in New York City? Me, neither. That's why I'll also be drawing a second winner who'll receive a Fabric of the Cosmos DVD set.

You'll have until 10:00 pm central tonight to submit your questions.

Winners will be announced tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Image: Dark and ordinary matter in the Universe, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from argonne's photostream

Suggest a new name for the Very Large Array

The Very Large Array is a spectacular piece of a scientific equipment with a less-than-compelling name. Located in New Mexico, you've seen this radio observatory pop up in the background of movies, album covers, and on Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

This year, the Very Large Array, which has been around since the 1970s, got some much-needed electronic upgrades and now the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which runs the Array, would like to rename it. Ideally, the new name should sound less like a Best Choice product and/or something produced by the Dharma Corporation. (We've got your "Canned Peas", your "Potato Chips" and your "Very Large Array".)

Entries will be accepted through December 1. The new name will be announced in January. The comment section will be full of sarcastic jokes.

Via Sarah Kavassalis

Image: Wikipedia user Hajor, used via CC

Copepod up close

This image of a tiny crustacean called a copepod is one of the winners of this year's Nikon Small World photography competition. At Deep Sea News, blogger ParaSight explains how the photographer, scientist Jan Michels, got the shot:

That right there is one gorgeous copepod, one of the bigger and more important groups of planktonic crustaceans. It looks huge but is actually tiny; probably 1-2mm. You can see how much richer and more detailed the image is (although the colour is stained flouresence, not natural). That particular image uses a technique called confocal microscopy, which uses lasers and clever optics to achieve great depth of field (where everything is in focus).

Vote for Dave Mosher to live in the Museum of Science and Industry

Remember last fall, when Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry hosted one lucky lady to live in the museum for a month? (She got to sleep in the U-Boat, you guys.) The Museum is doing the same thing this year, and it's time to vote on the finalists. And one of the finalists just happens to be Dave Mosher, known better to you as "That science journalist who proposed to his girlfriend in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider." Go cast your vote today!