Randall Munroe's "Good Question" column in the New York Times is in the vein of his How To and What If books, in which he answers weird science questions with equally weird thoroughness.
In his inaugural column, Munroe answers: "If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like?"
Touching lunar rocks inside a spacecraft, or in a museum, is one thing; removing a glove and exposing yourself to the vacuum of space is another. In science fiction, terrible things befall such astronauts: their blood boils away, their insides get sucked out.
But removing a glove wouldn’t necessarily be instantly fatal. For the most part, human skin is tough enough to handle brief exposure to a vacuum. If you had a custom spacesuit with a seal around your forearm, you could probably remove your glove during a moonwalk without suffering permanent damage.
It definitely wouldn’t be comfortable. In 1960, during a high-altitude balloon test, Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger’s pressure glove sprang a leak, exposing his right hand to near-vacuum conditions for several hours. His hand swelled up and went numb, but he suffered no permanent damage.
If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like? [Randall Munroe/New York Times]
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