The cramped micro-gravitational confines of the International Space Station are great if you're the kind of person who loves spicy food or wants a longer lifespan. But the ISS is also fertile testing ground for all sorts of strange and compelling experimentation. In the video above, part of a live taping for high school students watching from Nova Scotia, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates what it's like to wring out a soaking-wet washcloth when the familiar properties of gravity are removed from the equation.
You can't just dip a towel in a sink or bucket to get it wet; the water molecules would just float up into the air. (Think of the I.S.S. as in a perpetual state of free fall — that's why everything flies around.) So, after simultaneously juggling a water bag, washcloth, and microphone, Hadfield shows the class what happens when he clenches his fingers and forcibly squeezes H2O out of a cloth. The result is hypnotizing.
"The water squeezes out of the cloth, then because of the surface tension of the water, it runs along the surface of the cloth and up into my hand," he says. "It's almost as if you had Jell-o on your hand."
Hadfield's towel-wringing experiment is just the latest broadcast from the I.S.S. Previously, he showed us why shedding tears in outer space might not be such a good idea after all:
Lucky for the the crew aboard the space station, taking a sponge bath is just one of two showering options: The other and admittedly more fun-sounding method involves using a nozzle to spray themselves before using a vacuum hose to suck all the water droplets off their bodies. (Via NPR)
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
Subscribe to the Week