At Home: Shoot for the Moon
Sports and space travel: It’s a bit of an odd coupling. After all, the weightlessness of space and the lack of gravity on, say, the moon, make playing extra-terrestrial sports a little difficult. But hockey and space flight may be someday intimately connected if a team of Vancouver-based entrepreneurs has its way.
As the CBC reports, the group not only plans to send hockey pucks to the moon, but the round rubber discs are an important part of their spacecraft’s design. The team’s competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition that is offering prizes to teams that can successfully land and navigate a craft on the moon. The purpose of the contest is ?to encourage commercial space development.?
Entrants vary from ?global heavyweights like aerospace firms? to ?upstart outfits working to scrape together enough funds to compete??like the BC team.
Still, they’re hoping for a shot. But why hockey pucks? Besides the obvious symbolism, there’s a practical element. According to the team’s design, ?three pucks would be mounted on the vehicle’s motors and would help provide stability, to keep it from tipping over.?
According to team leader Alex Dobrianski, deciding to include the puck was pure chance. As he told reporters, ?When I looked at what weight would be suitable I just picked up my son’s hockey puck . . . and found that . . . it will be absolutely perfect for this job.?
Around the World: Feet of the Ancestors
Sometimes, modern medicine doesn’t seem so modern after all. we’re often surprised how advances we consider our own creations were actually dreamed of and even used by people in some of the more ancient civilizations. Take, for example, the use of prosthetic limbs, which experts previously believed had been around since the time of the Romans?a surprising enough idea. But recent research has led to the belief that the medical aid dates from at least several hundred years earlier.
As Discover Magazine‘s news blog reports, a University of Manchester Egyptologist, Jacky Finch, has determined that ?the artificial toes found on two ancient Egyptian mummies may actually be the earliest known prosthetic limbs.?
Although previously they’d been viewed as ?ornamentation,? the artificial toes (dating from 600 BC and as early as 710 BC) are anatomically correct and show ?signs of wear and tear??indicating they may have actually been used.
Using models based on the fake toes, researchers tested out the digits on volunteers?with results that were ?extremely surprising,? Finch told reporters. In fact, she added, one of the toes ?worked amazingly well and produced an amazing amount of movement.?