By Tushna Commissariat
This week, South Korea’s one and only astronaut, 36-year-old Yi So-yeon, has quit her job, thereby signalling the end of the country’s manned space programme for the time being. In 2008 Yi became the first Korean to go into space, when for 11 days she travelled on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, after being chosen through the government-run Korean Astronaut Program. Yi cited personal reasons for quitting, but has been studying for an MBA in the US since 2012. You can read more about her work and reasons for leaving in articles from Australia Network News and abc News.
This week also saw Japanese government launch the nation’s beloved Hello Kitty into space. The project, to launch the cute white cat with a pink bow into orbit, is aimed at promoting Japan’s hi-tech industry and engineering economic growth. The toy is aboard the Hodoyoshi-3 satellite, peering through a window at Earth. You can read more about it and take a look at kitty here in an article on the Reuters website.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films will undoubtedly remember the epic battle scenes between wizard and all-around-good-guy Gandalf and the fearsome and dark creature known as the Balrog. In a crucial scene in the films, the creature apparently defeats Gandalf with a quick flick of his fiery whip, dragging our hero down into the depths of darkness with him. Now Rhett Allain, writing on the Wired Science Blogs, set a bit of physics homework for LOTR fans – how long is the Balrog’s whip? You can see the answer in his blog and get some more LOTR homework questions while you are at it.
And in other news, take a look at the newly launched Royal Society Print Shop, where you can buy a copy of your favourite historical sketch or painting, look at the world’s fastest camera, find out how to rebuild parts of the Large Hadron Collider with Lego and spend countless hours playing the Particle Clicker game.