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What Space Smells Like

According to many astronauts, space smells like metal and fuel. Other say they’ve picked up notes of grilled meats. When wondering about the smell of space, who better to consult than an astronaut?

Not that they’ve experienced it first hand, either — space is a vacuum, so they would be dead — but they have taken more than a whiff or two of the residue on their space suits.

It’s generally agreed that the aroma is slightly acrid, but not unpleasant. One space traveler even said the scent took him back to the summers of his youth when he worked as an arc welder.

The smell is mostly attributed to dying stars, traces of which are reportedly everywhere — comets, meteors, space dust — you name it. Not only does the aromatic byproduct of the explosions spread, it tends to linger.

The hydrocarbons responsible for the intensity and breadth of space’s olfactory signature are also found in terrestrial products like oil, coal, and some foods.

NASA has commissioned the replication of the smell, so someday we may all get a chance to breathe in some space splendor.

Physics [BBC Science Club]

Physics - Short animation, which was part of the Science Club series on BBC2 hosted by Dara O Briain

Directed by: Åsa Lucander
Art&Design: Åsa Lucander
Additional Art: Marc Moynihan
Stop Motion & Compositing: Julia Bartl
Animation: Kim Alexander, Marc Moynihan, Anna Fyda, Barry Evans, Lucy Izzard, Simon Testro, Phoebe Halstead, Michael Towers
Sound: Laura Coates
Produced by: 12foot6

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn’t always the same.

This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum — one that doesn’t necessarily fit with labels like “normal” and “defective.” Kelli Sandman-Hurley urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain.

Lesson by Kelli Sandman-Hurley, animation by Marc Christoforidis.

The Original Double Slit Experiment: Defining What Light Is

Light is so common that we rarely think about what it really is. But just over two hundred years ago, a groundbreaking experiment answered the question that had occupied physicists for centuries. Is light made up of waves or particles?

The experiment was conducted by Thomas Young and is known as Young’s Double Slit Experiment. This famous experiment is actually a simplification of a series of experiments on light conducted by Young.

In a completely darkened room, Young allowed a thin beam of sunlight to pass through an aperture on his window and onto two narrow, closely spaced openings (the double slit). This sunlight then cast a shadow onto the wall behind the apparatus. Young found that the light diffracted as it passed through the slits, and then interfered with itself, created a series of light and dark spots.

Since the sunlight consists of all colours of the rainbow, these colours were also visible in the projected spots. Young concluded that light consist of waves and not particles since only waves were known to diffract and interfere in exactly the manner that light did in his experiment.