Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Floating through the abyss

On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov stepped out of the Voskhod 2 spacecraft and into the unknown.

Leonov floats through space at the end of a lifeline during the first spacewalk. (AP Photo)

The Soviets had practiced the entire operation countless times on Earth. But actually opening the hatch hundreds of miles above our planet's surface must have been unimaginably nerve-wracking for Leonov. The astronaut told TIME photographer Marco Grob that one facet of the first spacewalk still stands out sharply in his memory.

"I remember the sound, this remarkable silence," he said. "You can hear your heart beat and you can hear yourself breathe. Nothing else can accurately represent what it sounds like when a human being is in the middle of this abyss."

Below, stunning images of other astronauts who, in the five decades since Leonov opened the Voskhod hatch, have ventured into that same silent chasm in the name of science.

June 3, 1965: Edward H. White completes the first U.S. spacewalk during the Gemini 4 mission. | (NASA/Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS)

August 6, 1973: Jack Lousma, Skylab 3 pilot, deploys the twin-pole solar shield to help shade the Orbital Workshop. | (NASA)

February 9, 1984: Bruce McCandless fires the nitrogen-gas jets from his Manned Maneuvering Unit to venture some 300 feet from the Challenger shuttle without a tether. | (AP Photo/NASA)

September 3, 2009: John "Danny" Olivas smiles for the camera while he works on construction and maintenance of the International Space Station. | (NASA/Reuters/Corbis)

April 6, 1984: Two astronauts work on a satellite in the cargo bay of the Challenger space shuttle. | (NASA/Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS)

October 22, 1993: Kathryn Thornton hovers over equipment on the Hubble Space Telescope, guided by the Remote Manipulator System. | (CORBIS)

December 2006: Astronauts Robert L. Curbeam and Christer Fugelsang work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and upgrade the power grid. | (STS-116 Shuttle Crew/

November 2007: Scott Parazynski assesses his repair work during a 7-hour, 19-minute spacewalk. | (NASA)

November 15, 2010: Oleg Skripochka helps install a multipurpose workstation on the ISS. | (NASA)

November 9, 2013: Oleg Kotov smiles while working on the ISS. | (NASA)

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An unpowered exoskeleton decreases the energy required for walking

The ability to walk upright is a defining characteristic of humans, one that emerged through a long evolutionary history. It's not just a matter of the right bones; our muscular, skeletal, and neural systems have evolved to enable our coordinated movements. The nerves allow us to develop a gait that is optimized to minimize the amount of energy necessary by modulating aspects of our movement such as our step length or arm motions.

Even with all that optimization, walking can be tiring; in fact, people expend more energy walking than any other daily activity. As we age, walking often becomes even more difficult. For decades researchers have explored ways to mitigate the energy cost associated with walking—studies that are typically aimed at helping those who are weaker or disabled.

Recently, scientists and engineers started to look at this issue from a new perspective; they questioned whether the human gait is as efficient as it can be. This interdisciplinary research team developed a device that behaves as an unpowered exoskeleton.

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Branching & Looping Wooden Tables by Michael Beitz


Artist Michael Beitz (previously) designed two more of his amazing sculptural tables in the last year. The first is called Tree Picnic, a functional 50-foot-long picnic table that branches like a tree at the Michigan Riley Farm in Buffalo, NY. The other piece is a 18-foot-long tangle of looping wood titled Not Now, referring to the table’s anti-social design. The sculpture was on view last year as part of his solo show called Maybe Later at the Roswell Museum and Art Center. You can see more of his strange interpretations of everyday furniture in this online gallery. (via Contemporist)







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Pick a color, any color: case of efficient light absorption

A small team of scientists can synthesize molecules that will absorb any color of sunlight, from the oranges

The post Pick a color, any color: case of efficient light absorption has been published on Technology Org.

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Custo Barcelona Fall 2015

We all know fringe is one of the biggest trends by far this season. Custo Barcelona's fall 2015 collection played around with what that meant. Instead of the wimpy, stringy fringe every other designer used in their collections, Custo Dalmau and his design team decided to beef it up a little.

Dalmau envisioned the wide heavy fabric strips that slap against your automobile during a car wash. (That brings to mind the musical number "Sugar Daddy" from Hedwig & the Angry Inch). That resulted in wide, embellished strips on the hems of those fabulous short dresses you see in the second photo. In person, those hems had great movement, perfect for dancing.

photos by David TW Leung
Of course, the signature look of Custo Barcelona is the rich mix of textures and patterns. Plaid was mixed with woolly tweed. Brightly colored woven patterns with a black ground echoed the textiles I often see in South America. Some of the prints I saw looked like inkblots from a Rorschach test. There were big furry collars for both and women.

Accessories were designed to coordinate with the clothing. rounded messenger bag type shapes and carry-all handbags were blocked with matching patterns and textures as the outfits. If your legs are cold in the fall/winter season, the brand is offering up a sort of legwarmer or shoe/boot extender in fabrics that match the clothing as well. It is an interesting item that doesn't quite fit into any specific accessory category.

Custo Barcelona's fall 2015 does loud and busy in a way that looks sophisticated and Euro-chic. Also, I bet you'll never look at a car wash the same way again.
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Researchers improve efficiency of human walking

Humans have evolved to be incredibly efficient at walking. In fact, simulations of human locomotion show that walking

The post Researchers improve efficiency of human walking has been published on Technology Org.

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