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Whisky in space, methane-capturing coffee, conference disasters and more


By Hamish Johnston

Fancy a wee dram while you are orbiting the Earth? With the growing interest in space tourism, travellers could soon be enjoying a sip or two of whisky in space. To make such tipples as enjoyable as possible, the Scotch whisky maker Ballantine’s has developed a special “space glass” that works in the free-fall conditions of Earth orbit. The firm is also developing a special blend of whisky to be enjoyed in space.

Created by Ballantine’s master whisky blender Sandy Hyslop and James Parr from the Open Space Agency, the new glass was filled with Scotch and tested in free-fall at the ZARM drop tower in Bremen, Germany. You can find out more about how one’s palate changes in space and the challenges facing the glass designers in the above video. And if you want to know if the glass passed the free-fall test, there is a second video called “Space Glass Project: the microgravity test”.

While Russian cosmonauts have been known to enjoy the occasional tipple, booze is banned by NASA and coffee is the strongest drink enjoyed by American astronauts. Over on our sister site, Anna Demming explains how waste coffee grounds can be used to capture methane from the atmosphere. Methane is the principle component of the natural gas that we use for heating and is also a much more effective greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that is produced when it is burned. Therefore capturing methane and then using it for fuel would have a net environmental benefit. Coffee grounds also could offer a much safer way of storing methane than pressurized gas cylinders. The work was done by researchers in Korea and you can read all about it in “Coffee grounds capture carbon”.

Coffee and alcohol are consumed in equal measure at many scientific conferences, often to the detriment – and embarrassment – of some delegates. Over on the Guardian’s Occam’s Corner blog, the physicist Athene Donald lists several more pitfalls in “Eight common conference disasters: why you might be better off down the bar”.

Donald was also in the news today regarding a preview of a speech that she will give next week at the British Science Festival in Bradford. Speaking in her capacity as president of the British Science Association, she will say that toys often given to girls – such as dolls – reinforce the attitude that science is for boys and not for girls. Conversely, she believes that traditional toys for boys – such as Lego – foster an interest in science. Donald is quoted in the Independent as saying “We need to change the way we think about boys and girls and what’s appropriate for them from a very early age. Does the choice of toys matter? I believe it does.” You can read the entire article here: “Sexist toys stop girls choosing to study sciences at school, says top academic”.

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One comment to Whisky in space, methane-capturing coffee, conference disasters and more

  1. M. asghar

    The “space glass” should be good for any type of drink in space, and pushing it for only whisky is quite a bit off the mark, when you are orbiting around the Earth of hundreds of tastes and cultures.


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