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AAAS by the numbers

By Margaret Harris

As a physicist, I’m a big fan of numbers, so here are a few outstanding ones I collected from today’s sessions at the AAAS meeting:

NASA’s Space Shuttle can carry up to 16,000 tonnes of cargo back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS). After the shuttle is retired later this year, any cargo that needs to be shipped from the ISS will have to fit inside a Russian Soyuz capsule, which has a cargo capacity of 50 kg. (Source: NASA astronaut Sunita Williams)

Of the estimated 60 million tonnes of krill in the ocean around Antarctica, up to 5 million tonnes can be harvested each year without harming the long-term sustainability of the population. (Source: George Watters, US Antarctic and Marine Living Resources Program)

2.1% of the 2900 employees of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have a disability – one of the highest percentages of any US government employer. (Source: Dan Krieger, program manager, NASA/Goddard)

Once it’s up and running in the early 2020s, the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope will produce 400 terabytes of compressed data every second. Without compression, it is estimated that the amount of data generated by SKA would exceed the current traffic of the entire World Wide Web. (Source: Bernie Fanaroff, project director, SKA South Africa)

And finally…

A 10 stone person would have to expel bodily gases at a rate of 17 million m/s in order to achieve lift-off by farting. (Source: Chris Smith of The Naked Scientists)

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