Cyrus Calculus Divecha

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General knowledge

Here's a look at what scientists have learned about Comet ISON since its discovery last year, and what to expect in the months and days ahead. http://oak.ctx.ly/r/7qkp The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON on May 8, 2013 as it streaked between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars at 48,000 mph.

Space History Photo: A test subject is suited up for studies on the Reduced Gravity Walking Simulator on Dec. 11, 1963. http://oak.ctx.ly/r/7qkd This position meant that a person's legs experienced only one sixth of their weight, which was the equivalent of being on the lunar surface.

Love Flowers

The final frontier smells a lot like a Nascar race—a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes and barbecue. The source? Dying stars, mostly. The by-products of all this rampant combustion are smelly compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These molecules “seem to be all over the universe,” says Louis Allamandola, the founder and director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA Ames Research Center. “And they float around forever,” appearing in comets, meteors and space dust. These hydrocarbons have even been shortlisted for the basis of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Not surprisingly, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can be found in coal, oil and even food. Though a pure, unadulterated whiff of outer space is impossible for humans (it’s a vacuum after all; we would die if we tried), when astronauts are outside the ISS, space-borne compounds adhere to their suits and hitch a ride back into the station. Astronauts have reported smelling “burned” or “fried” steak after a space walk, and they aren’t just dreaming of a home-cooked meal. The smell of space is so distinct that, three years ago, NASA reached out to Steven Pearce of the fragrance maker Omega Ingredients to re-create the odor for its training simulations. “Recently we did the smell of the moon,” Pearce says. “Astronauts compared it to spent gunpowder.” Allamandola explains that our solar system is particularly pungent because it is rich in carbon and low in oxygen, and “just like a car, if you starve it of oxygen you start to see black soot and get a foul smell.” Oxygen-rich stars, however, have aromas reminiscent of a charcoal grill. Once you leave our galaxy, the smells can get really interesting. In dark pockets of the universe, molecular clouds full of tiny dust particles host a veritable smorgasbord of odors, from wafts of sweet sugar to the rotten-egg stench of sulfur. http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/what-does-space-smell

The Idealist

The Surprising Origin Of Earth's Gold

New observations suggest your jewelry may have originated from colliding stars. Twinkle, twinkle!<p>Pirates have hunted it. Monarchs have exploited it. Jewelers have sold it. But where did gold come from?<p>Research by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) suggests that the Earth's supply …

The Private Plan to Put a Telescope on the Moon

Two private companies are teaming up to attempt the first-ever mission to the moon’s south pole in order to place a telescope atop a lunar …

"Invisibility Wetsuits" Hide You From Sharks While You Swim

Surf's up, dude.<p>The coast of Western Australia has been particularly dangerous place for shark attacks recent years, earning it the distinction of becoming "shark attack capital of the world." Between October 2011 and July 2012, great white sharks killed five people in attacks in the area.<p>In …

Curiosity rover finds evidence Mars lost its atmosphere 4bn years ago

A mysterious, catastrophic event tore away the atmosphere of Mars, according to the first detailed analysis of the make-up of the air on the Red …

Your Brain at Work

When Apple fanatics lined up to get the new iPhone in 2011, the New York Times published an op-ed titled “You Love Your iPhone. Literally.” It described an unpublished experiment in which the author scanned the brains of 16 people as they heard and watched audio and video of ringing or vibrating …

Say hello to Saturn, NASA urges North Americans

Want to pose for a photo? Don't worry if you don't look your best, since the camera is more than one billion kilometres away.<p>Late Friday afternoon, …