TIME A Year In Space

Here’s How Coffee Cups in Space Could Help Save Lives on Earth

Six Space Cups as delivered to NASA January, 2015 for the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) investigation.
Image courtesy of Andrew Wollman/NASA Six Space Cups as delivered to NASA January, 2015 for the Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment (Capillary Beverage) investigation.

The so-called Space Cups can reveal much about fluid physics

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station can now enjoy a much-needed hot cup of joe with their very own espresso machine and six specially designed microgravity coffee cups.

But NASA says these Space Cups will do a lot more than lift espresso to an astronaut’s lips. They will also provide scientists with data on how complex fluids (such as coffee or tea with sugar) move in zero gravity, writes Mark Weislogel, professor at Portland State University and former senior aerospace engineer for NASA working on microgravity fluid physics.

MORE: See the Trailer for TIME’s Unprecedented New Series: A Year in Space

Before the invention of the Space Cup, astronauts would have a drink by sucking liquid out of a bag. The new coffee cups (which are transparent 3-D-printed jugs) have a sharp inner corner that allows the liquid to be pushed along the inside of the cup — a process called capillary flow — towards the drinker’s lips.

By experimenting with capillary fluid physics in small containers like cups, scientists believe it will help them build better and safer advanced fluid systems that are relied on in space, including oxygen supply, water coolants, air conditioners, toilets and fuel and recycling systems.

But NASA says the data collected in the study can also be applied to fluid systems on earth, like improving portable medical diagnostic devices used to quickly test blood for infectious diseases in remote areas of the world.

TIME Sports

Pacquiao, Mayweather, and the Physics of Getting Punched in the Head

Enjoy it now, guys: Mayweather (left) and Pacquiao are heading for a brain pounding
JOHN GURZINSKI; AFP/Getty Images Enjoy it now, guys: Mayweather (left) and Pacquiao are heading for a pounding

A prize fight might be thrilling but it's murder on the brain

In a perfect world, a highly trained, heavily muscled man would not punch you in the head.

Fortunately for most of us, the world is indeed perfect in that one small way. But most of us aren’t boxers. For those who are–say, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, who square off this weekend in a matchup dubbed “the fight of the century“—getting punched in the head by highly trained men is an occupational hazard. The payday can be huge, but the price—in terms of traumatic brain injury—can be very high.

Plenty of sports are hard on the brain. Organized football, from Pop Warner up through the pros, has been rightly pilloried for the devastating toll it takes on players, who suffer from repeated concussions that may lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative condition that has claimed so many NFL veterans.

But while football might be the most concussive team sport, it’s followed closely by ice hockey, and then by soccer, lacrosse, basketball, field hockey, gymnastics and baseball, generally in that order, depending on age, gender and the level of professionalism of the players.

Even in football, however, blows to the head are incidental if unavoidable parts of the contest. In boxing, they are the contest—and that means trouble.

“[Boxing] is not really tracked the way school sports are tracked,” says Robert Cantu, clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Boston University school of medicine. “Concussions in boxing are a poorly reported sample, but at B.U. we’ve had a 100% incidence of CTE in the boxers we’ve studied.”

With good reason. Various studies have put the force delivered by a blow from a trained boxer at anywhere from 450 lbs. (204 kg) to over 1,400 lbs. (635 kg), enough to accelerate the head to 53 g’s. Those forces hit in one of two ways—linear and rotational—and neither of them is good.

“Acceleration from a straight-on punch is linear, while a roundhouse is more rotational,” says Dr. Christopher Giza, professor of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, and a former commissioner of the California State Athletic Association. “We think rotational forces are more important in getting knocked out, but most punches have components of both.”

Within the brain, it’s the white matter—or the fatty sheathing on nerve cells that serves as insulation and connective tissue—that suffers the most. “The brain has the consistency of firm Jell-O,” says Giza. “If you shake or twist it you put strain on the connections, leading to stretching or tearing.” That causes both immediate and long-term harm, with the damaged connective tissue leaking what are known as tau proteins, which build up over time to form the signature deposits that signal CTE.

The brain’s slightly loose fit in the skull causes other problems. A thin layer of fluid surrounding the brain is supposed to provides shock absorption in the case of minor blows, but when you get hit hard enough, that little bit of wiggle room allows the brain to rattle around, with soft tissue colliding with unyielding bone. That can cause shock, bruising and even bleeding and death.

In boxing, it’s often easy to see when either kind of damage has caused trauma. The knockout, or the dazed and disoriented condition known as a technical knockout, is practically the very definition of a severe concussion. But most concussive injuries produce subtler symptoms, and while sports like football and hockey are increasingly taking the time to examine players during games and sit them out if there are signs of trouble, that’s not an option in boxing.

“From the ringside, trainers have to examine players very briefly between rounds to determine if they should stop the fight,” says Giza. “They need a very specific set of skills to diagnose a problem so quickly.” With other things going on at the same time—cuts treated, strategy planned—that diagnosis becomes even harder. And since the sport hardly rewards a boxer whose trainer pulls him preemptively, there is a competitive and financial incentive in simply slugging on.

None of this means that all boxers will sustain traumatic brain injury. The 100% figure Cantu cites is derived, he readily acknowledges, from a self-selected population of fighters who come to his clinic seeking help for neurological symptoms. At least some of the larger population of boxers who don’t show up may be fine. What’s more, smart boxers—at least at the championship level—are increasingly taking steps to protect themselves, sparring less, engaging in safe aerobic training more and fighting perhaps only two bouts a year.

But limiting things to two well-compensated fights is a luxury not every boxer can afford. For too many of them—as well as too many athletes in other sports—the payday comes first and health comes second. It’s a way of doing business that growing numbers of athletes live to regret.

TIME Science

Here’s What Happens When You Pour Molten Aluminum Into a Watermelon

The results are surprisingly beautiful

You’ve probably never wondered what it’s like to pour liquid metal into a piece of fruit, but why not find out?

The YouTuber known as The Backyard Scientist, who performs strange and potentially dangerous experiments in the name of science, decided to pour molten aluminum directly into a hollowed-out watermelon. Just to see what happened.

Turns out the results were much cooler than he expected. He thought the watermelon would just explode — which would be cool too, because explosions — but the aluminum ended up creating a cast of the inside of the watermelon.

Even though this experiment produced some interesting science-art, we really don’t recommend trying this on your own.

TIME Science

One Direction Fans Don’t Worry! Stephen Hawking Says Zayn Is Still with the Band

Stephen Hawking attends "Interstellar Live" at Royal Albert Hall on March 30, 2015 in London, England.
Dave J Hogan—Getty Images Stephen Hawking attends "Interstellar Live" at Royal Albert Hall on March 30, 2015 in London, England.

Unfortunately for the distraught masses, it's in another universe

To the relief of millions of teenage girls, Stephen Hawking has weighed in on Zayn Malik leaving One Direction.

A 3D hologram of the Cambridge University physicist and professor was beamed into the Sydney Opera House Saturday for a talk on the mysteries of the universe, his diagnosis with A.L.S., and the future of our planet, reports Buzzfeed.

After the lecture, one audience member asked, “What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls across the world?”

And Hawking’s response was genius.

“Finally, a question about something important,” he said. “My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes.”

“It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe — and in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”

Hawking went on to say that, “this girl may like to know that in another possible universe, she and Zayn are happily married.”

Stephen Hawking just became the most unlikely mender of broken hearts.

[Buzzfeed]

TIME Science

What Happened to the First Cloned Puppy

Scientists Announce World's First Cloned Dog
Getty Images Snuppy, (R) the first successfully cloned Afghan hound, sits with his genetic father at the Seoul National University on Aug. 3, 2005 in Seoul

April 24, 2005: The world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, is born in South Korea

It’s fair to say that Snuppy the dog received more praise in his first year than most dogs do in a lifetime. No other pup, after all, has ever been named TIME’s “Invention of the Year.”

Snuppy wasn’t any better behaved than the average puppy, by TIME’s account, which noted that the sight of lamb-flavored treats or a visitor’s arrival sent him “into a frenzy of excited jumping.” But his birth — on this day, April 24, a decade ago — was a miracle of science in itself.

Snuppy was a clone, the first successful one of his species, produced by a team of South Korean researchers from a single cell culled from an Afghan hound’s ear. (His name was an amalgam of S.N.U. — Seoul National University, where the research team was based — and “puppy.”)

Other mammals had already been successfully cloned, from Dolly the sheep in 1996 to CC the cat (short for Copy Cat) in 2001, along with mice, rabbits, pigs, cows and horses. But dogs turned out to be exasperatingly difficult to duplicate, partly because their breeding period was more limited than other species’, and partly because their eggs were not as easy to extract as eggs were from other animals like cows or pigs.

It was thanks to dogged persistence that the Korean team, led by the scientist Woo Suk Hwang, succeeded where others had failed — including an American company that had hoped to win the cloned-dog race. Of 1,095 extracted eggs that Hwang’s team implanted in 123 surrogates, two made it to term and one died a few weeks after birth. Snuppy was the lone cloned survivor.

Hwang, meanwhile, had already made a name for himself as one of the world’s greatest innovators; he’d been listed among TIME’s most influential people the year before Snuppy’s debut. But his reputation began to unravel when he was accused of ethics violations related to his earlier work with a different species: humans.

In 2004, he’d appeared to produce viable stem cell lines from a cloned human embryo, but other scientists questioned his data, and an S.N.U. committee ultimately determined that it had been fabricated. That deception, coupled with the revelation that some of the women who had donated eggs for stem-cell research were Hwang’s own graduate students — an egregious ethical breach — led to his dismissal from the university. Snuppy stayed, however, and remained a beloved campus mascot. In 2008, he fathered puppies of his own, no cloning required.

And while a cloud of suspicion descended over everything Hwang had done, another investigation upheld his canine cloning claim, concluding that Snuppy was, in fact, the real deal — a genuine copy.

Read more about how Snuppy was created, here in the TIME archives: Dogged Pursuit

TIME Natural Disasters

143 Million Americans Are Now Living in Earthquake Zones, Scientists Say

A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014
Robert Galbraith—Reuters A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014

Nearly 20,000 schools may be exposed to ground shaking

Some 143 million Americans in the Lower 48 states are at risk of experiencing an earthquake — with 28 million being in danger of “strong shaking,” scientists claimed on Wednesday.

In a press release, researchers attributed the record numbers to both population migration, with ever more people moving to earthquake hot-zones on the West Coast, and a “change in hazard assessments.”

The data nearly doubles the 1994 FEMA estimation of 75 million Americans who could potentially experience tremors during their lifetime, according to a collaborative study from researchers at the United States Geological Survey, FEMA and the California Geological Survey.

The new report also calculated the potential financial loss from damages to buildings like schools, hospitals and fire stations. They said the average long-term cost is $4.5 billion per year with 80% of total being concentrated in California, Oregon and Washington.

“While the West Coast may carry the larger burden of potential losses and the greatest threat from the strongest shaking, this report shows that the threat from earthquakes is widespread,” said Kishor Jaiswal, the researcher who presented the findings.

Researchers identified 6,000 fire stations, 800 hospitals and nearly 20,000 schools throughout the Lower 48 they deemed “may be exposed to strong ground motion from earthquakes.”

TIME Environment

How Earth Day Began: With Somber Reflection, and a Few Dump-Ins

Save Your Earth
Lambert / Getty Images An Earth day button, circa 1970

April 22, 1970: The first Earth Day is observed

Born from what TIME described in 1970 as a casual suggestion by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was meant as neither protest nor celebration, but rather as “a day for serious discussion of environmental problems.”

What surprised Nelson — and others — was how much enthusiasm the idea engendered. On this day, April 22, 45 years ago, nearly 20 million Americans took Nelson up on his suggestion and turned out for the inaugural Earth Day events. These cropped up all over the country, on college campuses and in public places — including Central Park and New York’s Fifth Avenue, which was closed to traffic for two hours while 100,000 people staged a quiet, contemplative parade.

A dissonant combination of festivity and somber reflection pervaded the holiday. Environmentalists found themselves transformed into celebrities for a day, suddenly overrun with invitations to share their grim prognoses for the planet. As TIME wrote in 1970:

Ecologist Barry Commoner’s schedule was the busiest, calling for him to rush from Harvard and M.I.T. to Rhode Island College and finally to Brown University. Population Biologist Paul Ehrlich was lined up for speeches at Iowa State, Biologist René Dubos at U.C.L.A., Ralph Nader at State University of New York in Buffalo. In addition, such heroes of the young as Dr. Benjamin Spock, Poet Allen Ginsberg and various rock stars planned to have their say, if not precisely about ecology, then about the joys of the natural life.

Along with educational lectures and nature walks, however, there were livelier, more dramatic demonstrations meant to draw attention to the need for environmental reform. According to the New York Times, some activists held “mock funerals of ‘polluting’ objects, from automobiles to toilets.” Per TIME, students at several schools collected piles of litter and then staged “dump-ins” on the steps of city halls and manufacturing facilities.

At San Fernando State College, a group of students offered rice and tea to passersby as a sample of the “hunger diet” they could expect in the future, when overpopulation led to worldwide famine.

Meanwhile, at Florida Technological University, some students held a mock trial for a Chevrolet charged with poisoning the air. Finding it guilty, they set about executing it with a sledgehammer — but according to TIME, “the car resisted so sturdily that the students finally shrugged and offered it to an art class for a sculpture project.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — their heavy-handed theatrics, these grassroots protests paid off. By the end of the year, Congress had authorized the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By the following year, Earth Day had grown into Earth Week, and this time it was officially sanctioned by President Nixon. But the festivities were “cooler and saner” the second year, per TIME, which noted, “Instead of noisy confrontations, the 1971 ‘week’ that ended April 25 ran to practical matters, like arranging bottle pickups.”

Read more about the importance of the environment in 1970, here in the TIME Vault: Issue of the Year

TIME space

See the 50 Best Images Taken by Hubble

After a quarter of a century on the job, the Hubble Space Telescope has returned some of the most extraordinary cosmic images ever captured

The best space machines reveal their purpose with a single glance. The gangly, leggy lunar module could only have been a crude contraption designed to land on another world. A rocket, any rocket, could only be a machine designed to fly—fast, high and violently.

And so it is with the Hubble Space Telescope—a bright silver, 43 ft. (13 m) long, 14 ft. (4.2 m) diameter cylinder, with a wide open eye at one end and a flap-like eyelid that, for practical purposes never, ever closes. Since shortly after its launch on April 24, 1990, that eye has stared and stared and stared into the deep, and in the 25 years it’s been on watch, it has revealed that deep to be richer, lovelier and more complex than science ever imagined.

Hubble started off sickly, a long-awaited, breathlessly touted, $1.5 billion machine that was supposed to change astronomy forever from almost the moment it went into space, and might have too if its celebrated 94.5 in. (2.4 m) primary mirror that had been polished to tolerances of just 10 nanometers—or 10 one-billionths of a meter—hadn’t turned out to be nearsighted, warped by the equivalent of 1/50th the thickness of a sheet of paper. It would be three and a half years before a fix could be devised and built and flown to orbit and shuttle astronauts could set the myopic mirror right. And then, on January 13, 1994, the newly sharpened eye blinked open, the cosmos appeared before it and the first of one million observations the telescope has made since then began pouring back to Earth.

Some of Hubble’s images have become cultural icons—Pillars of Creation, the Horsehead Nebula. Some have thrilled only scientists. All have been mile-markers in the always-maturing field of astronomy. The fifty images that follow are just a sampling of the telescope’s vast body of work. Hubble still has close to a decade of life left to it. That means a great deal more work and a great many more images—before the metal eyelid closes forever.

MONEY College

Here’s What the Average Grad Makes Right Out of College

new grad in front of height chart that measures salary
Kutay Tanir—Getty Images

Income for new bachelor's degree holders varies widely depending on college major.

Students who graduated college in the class of 2014 earned median starting salaries of $45,478, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The survey, which looked at the first-year income of more than 45,000 graduates, found big differences in pay depending on the new hires’ college majors.

Here’s the breakdown:

Bachelor’s Degree Major Median Starting Salary
Business $49,035
Engineering $64,367
Liberal arts and Humanities $36,237
All $45,478

Final numbers are not yet out for what starting salaries 2015 graduates can expect, but initial NACE projections earlier this year were in the low- to mid-$60,000s for engineers and the mid-$40,000s for humanities majors.

On the highest end are the class of 2015’s petroleum engineers, projected to earn an average of $80,600 in their first year out of college.

For a look at the college majors that pay you back the most, check out PayScale’s 2014-2015 College Salary Report, with information on more than 200 majors.

Read Next: How to Write E-mails That Will Land You a Job

TIME Science

Scientists Claim They Found a New Species of Frog, and It Looks Like Kermit

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - March 18, 2014
Cindy Ord—Getty Images

Found in Costa Rica's Talamanca Mountains

Photos of a “newly discovered and described” translucent species of frog are going viral because media outlets say the creature looks like Kermit the Frog.

Brian Kubicki, founder of the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center, claims his team has found six specimens of a type of glass frog that has been called Hyalinobatrachium dianae in the Talamanca Mountains.

“With the addition of this newly described species, Costa Rica is known to have 14 glassfrogs inhabiting its tiny national territory,” according to a statement on the center’s Facebook page.

The findings are detailed in a piece recently published in the journal Zootaxa by Kubicki, with co-authors Stanley Salazar and Robert Puschendorf.

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