7 Interesting Facts About Astronauts and Space

While the expanse of space continues to captivate our imagination, the everyday life of those who traverse its depths – the astronauts – often remain shrouded in mystery. Here, we delve into some unexpected and captivating facts about astronauts and their extraterrestrial experiences.

  1. To kick off, did you know that burritos are a preferred delicacy among astronauts? In the weightlessness of space, food crumbs can pose a potential threat to equipment. Thus, burritos, which are easy to eat and crumb-free, have become a popular meal choice.
  2. Gender biases didn’t escape even the final frontier. In an attempt to cater to female astronauts, NASA engineers went to the extent of designing a space-friendly makeup kit. They presumed that these pioneering women would crave the normalcy of their makeup routine amidst the stars.

    NASA engineers designed this makeup kit in 1978 for women astronauts. The kit was never flown. (Image credit: NASA)
    NASA engineers designed this makeup kit in 1978 for women astronauts. The kit was never flown. (Image credit: NASA)
  3. Food choices before a space flight are also meticulously planned. Traditionally, astronauts consume a hearty meal of steak and eggs before their missions. This meal is not only filling but also low in dietary fiber, reducing the need for astronauts to use the bathroom during their mission.
  4. The simple pleasure of coffee is not forsaken in space. Thanks to Lavazza, the Italian coffee maker, the International Space Station had its own espresso machine – the ISSpresso – between 2015 and 2017. Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut, had the honor of becoming the first person to enjoy a fresh espresso in space, made all the more special with a zero-gravity espresso cup.
  5. Some physical changes can occur due to the microgravity environment of space. Scott Kelly, an astronaut, experienced this first-hand when he returned from a space mission standing two inches taller than his identical twin brother.
  6. Racial bias in space wasn’t left behind on Earth, and it made its way into the realm of comic books. In 1956, the Comics Code Authority (CCA) tried to ban a story featuring a black astronaut. This move was not in violation of any existing Code, but the publishers stood their ground and challenged the CCA, even threatening to take the matter to court.
  7. Lastly, comfort upgrades have also made their way to space missions. For instance, the Apollo 11 astronauts had no choice but to sleep on the cold lunar module floor. However, subsequent missions, starting from Apollo 12, were equipped with adjustable hammocks. This innovation significantly reduced the chilling effects from contact with the cabin floor, making space sleeps a tad more comfortable.

Through these curious snippets, we get a glimpse of the extraordinary, yet very human experiences of astronauts in space. Their stories continue to inspire, captivate, and remind us of our collective strive to push boundaries and explore the unknown.

Hormel Foods’ Unique Terminology: Unwanted Emails over Spam

Employees at Hormel Foods, the company known for producing canned SPAM, are encouraged to call spam emails “unwanted emails.”

Back in the 1930s, who would’ve thought that the name of a canned meat product could stir up such a fuss in the realm of the internet? Hormel Foods, famous for creating SPAM, got a raw deal during the internet surge of the 90s. The term “spam” unfortunately took on a whole new meaning – spam emails.

But, get this: the naming of these annoying, unsolicited emails didn’t emerge from the internet era. It actually comes from a 1970 Monty Python sketch. Yes, you heard it right! This sketch, which features a couple struggling to order a SPAM-free breakfast from a SPAM-saturated menu, unwittingly gave birth to the term. The relentless repetition of the word in the sketch echoed the irritating repetition of unwanted messages online.

It’s totally understandable, then, that Hormel Foods isn’t thrilled about their product’s name being synonymous with the aggravating emails that flood our inboxes. Not exactly the best kind of publicity, right?

Unmasking the Monster: Five Facts About Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster

The Cookie Monster, a beloved figure of the popular children’s program Sesame Street, is much more than just a blue furry Muppet with a sweet tooth. Here are five intriguing facts about this iconic character that might surprise even the most dedicated fans.

1. A Sweet Illusion

Believe it or not, the cookies you see Cookie Monster indulging in aren’t cookies at all – they’re painted rice cakes. Real cookies contain grease that would damage the puppet, necessitating this clever, albeit less decadent, substitution.

2. From Munchos to Cookies

Before he found fame on Sesame Street, Cookie Monster made his debut in a different role. He appeared in three commercials for Lay’s Munchos Potato Crisps in 1969 under the name “Arnold, the Munching Monster”. Little did we know then, his munching days were far from over!

3. A Blast from the Past

Cookie Monster’s voracious appetite for cookies didn’t define him from the beginning. In a 2004 Sesame Street episode, he revealed that his original name was Sid, before he developed his infamous cookie obsession.

4. Meet Zobi, Nigeria’s Yam Monster

Sesame Street’s global influence has led to unique adaptations around the world. In Nigeria, they have their version of Cookie Monster named Zobi the Yam Monster. Since many Nigerian children don’t have access to cookies, producers gave Zobi a taste for a local staple: yams. His catchphrase? “Me eat yam!”

5. From Screen to Cyberspace

Cookie Monster’s influence extended beyond television and into the realm of cyber security. In the 1995 film Hackers, a virus named “Cookie Monster” made an appearance. This was a nod to a real-life malware program that would only halt its activities when the user typed “Oreo”.

Memorial Day Remembered: Six Facts About This Honorable Day

Memorial Day, an American holiday dedicated to honoring the country’s fallen military personnel, carries with it a rich and poignant history. The following fascinating facts shed light on the depth and significance of this solemn day.

1. Waterloo: The Birthplace of Memorial Day

The tranquil town of Waterloo, New York is acknowledged as the origin of the Memorial Day tradition. On May 5, 1866, local businesses shuttered their doors and townsfolk gathered to adorn the resting places of soldiers with decorations. This marked the first formal observance of what would become an enduring national tradition.

2. Manila American Cemetery: The Largest Collection of American World War II Graves

The Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines holds the record for containing the greatest number of graves for U.S. personnel who lost their lives during World War II. The cemetery is the final resting place of 17,206 individuals, with 16,636 of these belonging to U.S. personnel.

3. The Dutch Tradition at the Margraten American Cemetery

Memorial Day in the Netherlands carries its own unique tradition at the American military cemetery in Margraten. Every Memorial Day, Dutch families participate in a solemn “adoption” ritual, with each family choosing a grave to honor with flowers. This touching tribute ensures that every grave in the cemetery receives a personal commemoration.

4. The Inception of Memorial Day and its Deep Roots in Civil War History

The very first Memorial Day was conceived in the wake of the American Civil War. Freed slaves, in an act of gratitude and respect, held a commemorative funeral for the Union soldiers who had fought for their liberation in 1865.

5. The Unchanging Symbol at the Vietnam Memorial Wall

The Vietnam Memorial Wall holds an indelible symbol of soldiers still missing in action (M.I.A.). Each M.I.A. soldier’s name is etched with a cross, a poignant promise that their loss is not forgotten. However, should a soldier be found, a circle is drawn around the existing cross. To this day, the memorial has no circles, a stark reminder of those yet to return.

6. A Sobering Fact about Vietnam War Casualties

During the Vietnam War, a staggering 61% of U.S troops who were killed were under 21 years of age. Many of these young men had been drafted, their lives abruptly transitioning from adolescence to the harsh realities of war.

These six facts offer just a glimpse into the depth and breadth of the history and significance of Memorial Day. As we remember those who have given their lives for our freedom, let these stories serve as a reminder of the courage, sacrifice, and youth of those we honor.

Wealth, Education, and Federal Employment: A Snapshot of Washington D.C. and Its Suburbs

Five out of the ten richest counties in the United States are located in the suburbs of Washington D.C., within Maryland and Virginia. These counties boast a median income of approximately $134,000. Furthermore, when considering Washington D.C. alongside the fifty states, it holds the highest proportion of individuals with a college degree. Moreover, D.C. is a hub for a vast array of federal government and agency roles, inclusive of contractors. The jobs generally tend to pay well.

The Man in Black: 10 Intriguing Facts about Johnny Cash

Unraveling the enigmatic persona of Johnny Cash, the legendary ‘Man in Black,’ takes more than just a deep dive into his discography. This article aims to paint a fuller picture of Cash by shedding light on ten intriguing facts of his life, from his early days as a code breaker for the U.S. Air Force to his unique connection with a species of tarantula.

1. From J.R. to Johnny Cash

J.R. Cash, the name that Johnny Cash was given at birth, faced an unexpected change when he enlisted in the United States Air Force. The military didn’t allow initials as a first name, so J.R. Cash morphed into John R. Cash. His transition to the now-famous moniker, Johnny Cash, didn’t happen until 1955 when he inked a deal with Sun Records.

2. Faith Manifested in Audio

A staunch Christian, Johnny Cash took an extraordinary step in 1990 to showcase his devotion. He recorded himself reading the entire New Testament Bible (NKJ Version). Remarkably, the entire recording spanned over 19 hours.

3. The ‘Johnny Cash Machines’

Banks typically use the acronym ATM, but in an unusual twist, a bank for which Johnny Cash served as spokesperson renamed their ATMs as ‘Johnny Cash Machines’ during his promotional stint.

4. A Tribute with Eight Legs

The Aphonopelma Johnnycashi, a tarantula species found near Folsom Prison, was named in honor of Johnny Cash. This was in recognition of his iconic hit, “Folsom Prison Blues.”

5. Champion of Native Americans

Demonstrating his commitment to social justice, Johnny Cash fervently advocated for the rights of Native Americans, dedicating an entire album to their cause. Despite radio stations’ refusal to broadcast any of the album’s tracks, Cash’s resolve remained unwavering. He responded by purchasing a Billboard ad, challenging the stations with the question: “Where are your guts?”

6. The Iconic ‘Man in Black’

Straying from the conventional attire of rhinestone suits and cowboy boots prevalent among major country acts of his era, Johnny Cash adopted a signature all-black ensemble. He explained his fashion choice in the song “Man in Black,” stating that he wore black as a symbol of solidarity with the poor, the hungry, and those betrayed by age or drugs.

7. Cracking Codes before Cracking the Charts

Before his rise to stardom as a musician, Johnny Cash served as a Morse Intercept Operator for the US Air Force, specializing in deciphering coded transmissions and intercepting Russian intelligence. Notably, he transcribed the first news of Stalin’s death.

8. The Heartbeat behind ‘I Walk the Line’

Johnny Cash attributed the tempo of “I Walk the Line” to his heartbeat at the time he wrote the song. The accelerated rhythm of his pulse that day provided the beat that would become the backbone of this classic tune.

9. The Ostrich Incident

An odd confrontation with an ostrich at his exotic animal refuge near his Tennessee home left Johnny Cash with five broken ribs and a significant stomach wound. The injuries led to his prescription for pain killers, triggering a two-year relapse into his former alcohol and amphetamine addiction.

10. Inspiring a Future Country Star

Merle Haggard, a 20-year-old inmate at San Quentin, witnessed Johnny Cash’s first prison concert in 1958. This transformative experience inspired Haggard to pursue a career as a country artist. Cash, recognizing Haggard’s talent and authenticity, would often say, “You’re everything that people think I am.”

Human Adaptation: Designed for the Tropics, Surviving the Cold

Humans, by nature, are a species designed for tropical climates. Our evolutionary journey has shaped our bodies to thrive in warm and humid environments. Considering the span of our species’ evolution, we are relatively new to adapting to cold climates, and from a physiological standpoint, our bodies aren’t inherently equipped to endure such conditions.

7 Fascinating Facts about the Black Death

The Black Death, one of history’s deadliest pandemics, left a profound impact on societies, cultures, and even our genetic makeup. From influencing pub culture in Britain to shaping human immunity genes, the reach of this 14th-century plague has been far more extensive than commonly acknowledged, as this article explores.

1. The British Pub culture can trace its roots back to the Black Death. The pub’s emergence was a by-product of the labor shortage that improved peasants’ living standards, leading to increased beer consumption with their additional income.

2. It’s fascinating to know that the genetic characteristics that enabled people to survive the 14th-century Black Death are related to autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease today. This connection highlights how an ancient pandemic influenced the evolution of human immunity genes.

3. Post-Black Death, the labor shortage allowed English peasants to negotiate higher wages. The Parliament’s reaction was the Statute of Labourers 1351, restricting wages to pre-plague levels, ultimately contributing to the English Peasant’s Revolt of 1381.

4. European Feudalism/Manoralism began its decline in response to the Black Death. As the labor force dwindled, lords had to increase wages, leading to less travel restriction and the eventual birth of the trading or middle class.

5. A dark side of the Black Death’s history is the blame that fell upon the Jewish community for the pandemic.

6. An intriguing character from the era was the Papal physician who acknowledged that bloodletting was ineffective. However, he continued prescribing it for the Roman Curia members he disliked. He held the belief that all legitimate plague cases were astrologically influenced and, thus, incurable.

7. The Bubonic plague, which was responsible for the Black Death, continues to persist today. Annually, a number of cases are reported in countries such as Congo, Madagascar, and Peru. Even the United States and China experience occasional isolated incidents.

As we reflect on these varied impacts of the Black Death, we’re reminded that historical events often have complex and far-reaching influences that continue to echo into our present, shaping societies, cultures, and our very biology in ways we are still discovering.