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Cosmology February 8, 2008

Posted by gregquill in Uncategorized.
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I’m reading Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, and it is fascinating. Isaacson paints a nice human portrait of the theoretical physicist, and his remarkable scientific genius.

In this context, I found these two recent articles about Japanese astronauts interesting:

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Japanese astronaut to fly paper airplane in space

“The University of Tokyo has developed a paper airplane that can be thrown out of a space station.
 


“The plane was designed by the Japan Folded Paper Plane Society and will be tossed from the International Space Station, where it will eventually enter Earth’s atmosphere at roughly mach 20 before slowing down to mach 7 some 50 miles up in the air.

“We’re gaining confidence (from the successful test),” Suzuki said. “We want to have astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is due to start work on the International Space Station this year, take it with him. The technology from paper planes could be applied in the development of new transport craft.”

I guess it won’t really be splash down; more like “ash down”.

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Japanese astronaut to test whether boomerang comes back in space


“Japanese astronaut Takao Doi is going to throw a boomerang inside the International Space Station in March to test how it flies, after receiving training from a world boomerang champion. It is thought that gravity is necessary for a boomerang to return to the throwing spot, but it remains unknown how boomerangs fly in space. Doi plans to throw a paper boomerang during a break in construction and other work at Japan’s Kibo testing room at the International Space Station in March.

“The 53-year-old astronaut decided to test the boomerang after receiving a request from Yasuhiro Togai, 36, a world boomerang champion from Osaka Prefecture who later gave Doi some training.

“It’s really overwhelming that a boomerang will go to space instead of me. I wonder whether it will come back or float upwards or go somewhere else. I’m really excited,” Togai said.

Please note that the boomerangs on earth only return to the thrower if they didn’t hit (and presumably kill) their target, usually a bird. If the Japanese boomerangs work as they should, Takao Doi may not prove the boomerang in space theory, but he could take over suddenly as space station commander if the present one doesn’t duck fast enough.

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