Tag Archives: Gadget Features

The astronaut’s guide to getting your period in space

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NASA/Bobo11

If you’re a human being in space, you’re going to encounter logistical problems associated with the basic upkeep of your body. For men, shaving poses a bit of a challenge. It can be done, but you don’t want stray whiskers floating around and potentially getting into delicate equipment.

For women, historically, menstruation has posed something of a challenge. In fact, the Lovelace Women in Space program of the 1960s was closed down partially on the advice of physicians Johnnie Betson and Robert Secrest, who believed that menstruation would make women unfit for performing astronaut duties in space.

“The intricacies of matching a temperamental psychophysiologic human and the complicated machine are many and, obviously, both need to be ready at the same time,” they wrote in a paper. “It seems doubtful that women will be in demand for space roles in the very near future.”

A pin was put in sending women to space, at least in America (even though Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth for three days in 1963). The idea wasn’t seriously revisited until the 1970s. The big concern then was that microgravity would halt or reverse the blood flow, causing all sorts of unnameable abdominal horrors in female astronauts.

As NASA astronaut Margaret Rhea Seddon recalls, “We were asked, ‘What do we do about this?’ We said, ‘How about we just consider it a nonproblem until it becomes a problem? If anybody gets sick in space you can bring us home. Then we’ll deal with it as a problem, but let’s consider it a nonproblem.’ They did. I’m not totally sure who had the first period in space, but they came back and said, ‘Period in space, just like period on the ground. Don’t worry about it.’ I think the big controversy was about — and a lot of the women disagreed — how many feminine hygiene products do you put [onboard].”

It wasn’t until 1983 that the first American woman got to go to space. That was, of course, Sally Ride, and she noted in a 2002 interview that the men equipping the missions had difficulty with that very concept. “I remember the engineers trying to decide how many tampons should fly on a one-week flight; they asked, ‘Is 100 the right number?'” she said.

Female astronauts are a lot more common now, and everyone is a lot more sanguine about spacestruation. As European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti explained, female astronauts are able to choose whichever period management method suits them best. Overall, period suppression using oral contraceptives seems to work best. Each month of pills has three weeks of hormone pills and one week of inactive pills, which triggers a period-like withdrawal bleed. By simply skipping over these inactive pills, women can forego having periods entirely for a time.

For the standard six-month International Space Station stint, this isn’t a problem. But for a three-year return trip to Mars, it’s a little more problematic. The contraceptive pill needs to be taken daily; for three years, that’s around 1,100 pills, the packaging of which adds to the spacecraft’s payload (every bit counts) and will require disposal.

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Astronaut Sally Ride, first American woman in space, who gamely helped educate NASA on menstrual requirements.


National Archives and Records Administration

According to space gynaecologists Varsha Jain of King’s College London and Virginia Wotring of Baylor College of Medicine, with a paper published today in the journal Microgravity, long-acting reversible contraceptives such as hormonal IUDs and subdermal implants such as Implanon could solve these problems. But they’re not without their own issues that need to be considered. Both Implanon and oral contraceptives increase the risk of blood clots, for instance.

Another potential problem is loss of bone mineral density, which can occur with treatments such as the progestin shot. On Earth, where gravity will restore the bone, this isn’t a problem. In space, where astronauts lose bone density daily in the microgravity environment, it could be.

“For any woman, choice of a contraceptive requires careful consideration of benefits and risks with respect to her lifestyle and needs. The spaceflight environment adds some extra complexity to the overall equation, and we want female crewmembers to be able to make well-informed choices for their missions,” Wotring said.

“Because loss of bone mineral density is known to occur on spaceflight missions, we need more data regarding health effects, including bone health, with long-term use of hormone treatments not just for contraception (as most women use them), but also for the less-common use to suppress menses.”

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/the-astronauts-guide-to-getting-your-period-in-space/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Get to da Falcon! ‘Schwarzenegger’ does commentary for ‘Force Awakens’

Comedian Will Sasso will make you wish the real Arnold Schwarzenegger recorded a commentary for “The Force Awakens” Blu-ray with his hilarious Instagram video.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/schwarzenegger-records-dvd-commentary-for-star-wars-the-force-awakens/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Virtual reality heading to The Huffington Post thanks to AOL’s latest acquisition

AOL Inc. announced today its acquisition of RYOT Corp., an immersive media company and virtual reality studio that will team up with The Huffington Post for content.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/aol-buys-virtual-reality-company-to-pair-with-the-huffington-post/#ftag=CAD590a51e

ISIS-destroyed monument rebuilt with 3D technology

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Artistic render of the Monumental Arch standing in London’s Trafalgar Square.


Institute of Digital Archaeology

It lasted nearly 2,000 years. Erected sometime in the late second to early third century AD, the Monumental Arch of Palmyra in Syria is thought to have been built to commemorate Roman victories in Parthia (now Iran).

This ancient monument stood until 2015, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as Daesh and ISIS, captured Palmyra and blew the arch up with dynamite. All that history, all those years, gone in a moment.

But all is not lost. It’s not the original monument, but thanks to 3D technology, the arch stands again. Today in Trafalgar Square in London, the Institute of Digital Archaeology unveiled a two-thirds scale model of the Monumental Arch carved from Egyptian marble.

When Palmyra was attacked, the Institute’s director, Roger Michel, reached out through its Million Images Database, which distributes 3D cameras to volunteers for the purposes of recording important artefacts, to get photographs of important monuments in the area. The Institute used the resulting 3D photographs of the arch to construct an accurate digital 3D model of the arch.

This model was used by a robotic arm to painstakingly carve the arch, which stands 5.5 metres high (18 feet) out of stone. In all, the project cost about $145,000.

“These monuments represent the shared history of humanity and stand for a rich and complex past that unites all people,” Michel said in a statement. ” By rebuilding these structures, we rebuild not only our own national histories, but our connections to each other, as well.”

The arch will remain in London for three days before travelling to other cities around the world, the BBC reports. It will be permanently installed at Palmyra next year, near where the original arch stood, both as historical record and an act of defiance against the destruction wreaked by violence.

“There is actually a message within the Million Image Database initiative for those who think you can wipe out our human heritage with acts of destruction,” said Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Dubai Minister of Cabinet Affiars and managing director of the Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation, on the Institute of Digital Archaeology website.

“What you destroy, we can create again. Our desire to live together, to work together for our humanity is a positive force that can rebuild everything you break. Ultimately, we are stronger because we build.”

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/isis-destroyed-monument-rebuilt-with-3d-technology/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Even if Yahoo dissolves, CEO Marissa Mayer will still make bank

Yahoo may be deeper in trouble than ever, but its CEO Marissa Mayer will cash in no matter what happens.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-could-get-59m-payout-for-failing-to-save-company/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Watching a baby choose her first Pokemon looks like one tough, adorable choice

Some parents film their baby daughter as she chooses her first Pokemon to be her best friend in a world they must defend.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/news/watching-a-baby-choose-her-first-pokemon-looks-like-one-tough-adorable-choice/#ftag=CAD590a51e