Pick Of The Week: Space Favorites

Do yo-yos work in zero gravity? What science principle can a ball of wet candy corn demonstrate in space? Science Friday celebrates the shuttle with some of our favorite space videos, including a voyage in space shuttle Discovery with astronaut Jeff Hoffman.

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IRA FLATOW, host:

Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with our Video Pick of the Week. And is it shuttle-related?

FLORA LICHTMAN: It is. We're celebrating space travel with the video pick this week. It's actually three picks. It's a triple-header, like in a...

FLATOW: It's a film festival.

LICHTMAN: Yes, it's a space film festival, basically. Let me run down what we have on the ticket.

FLATOW: OK.

LICHTMAN: OK. So we have some golden oldies, including fan favorites: water balloons in space, which is...

FLATOW: Oh, that's the most viewed one, isn't it?

LICHTMAN: It's the most viewed, and it's because these two scientists, these two engineers just had - seemed like they were having a great time popping water balloons in NASA's low-gravity aircraft. So...

FLATOW: Getting very wet, yes.

LICHTMAN: It's pretty self-explanatory.

FLATOW: And?

LICHTMAN: The next one is candy corn is space.

FLATOW: Love it. Love it.

LICHTMAN: Apparently, you can use a bald, wet candy corn to demonstrate some science if you are as innovative as Don Pettit, an astronaut who we've talked to on the show.

And our newest edition to our space lineup is one that features one of our last guests, Jeff Hoffman, the astronaut who was just on. And that this is an astronaut in space. And he went on a spacewalk in his first mission up and really had some moving words, I thought, about what that experience was like. So you can actually see him fixing a satellite.

FLATOW: He's very - as you can hear, he's very articulate, but also he liked to play games in space too, didn't he?

LICHTMAN: That's true. And since he - you brought up a Slinky and a little toy car. And I think that his favorite, he said, was the yo-yo. So can you guess what a yo-yo does in zero G? I couldn't, but you can see the answer.

FLATOW: Wow.

LICHTMAN: You said some physicists were sort of - had vigorous debate about this until he actually did the experiment.

FLATOW: How would a yo-yo work in space?

LICHTMAN: Yeah. So you can find out. I mean, I was just like, what - you started the hour talking about the right stuff, and it seems from these videos anyway that the sort of intense curiosity must be part of being an astronaut because...

FLATOW: Yeah. Exactly, you know? And the video, it's out - it's over there on our website and our Video Pick of the Week. It's a trifecta. It's a film festival of space science, so to speak.

LICHTMAN: Yes, it is. And we have one more announcement. Speaking of NASA video, NASA, in honor of Earth Day, has a video contest that they've launched today. And I think it's open until May 27. You can get all the details about this video contest. They're looking for your videos, two minutes about why the Earth is inspiring. And you can get the details through a link on our website or go to nasa.gov.

FLATOW: A NASA video contest.

LICHTMAN: Yeah.

FLATOW: Wow. Wow.

LICHTMAN: So maybe that's a good way to celebrate Earth Day today.

FLATOW: Earth Day today, yeah. And so you go to our - you go to our website, our Video Pick of the Week. You can see the trifecta videos. And what happens - we're not going to tell you. What happened to a yo-yo in space when you use it? You also get to relive the water balloon, which is fantastic.

LICHTMAN: And candy corn.

FLATOW: Is the water balloon pouring...

LICHTMAN: I mean...

FLATOW: And candy corn - how do you lock candy corns together into the -candy corn fits so magically together into a cute little ball.

LICHTMAN: It's like a Roman art, apparently.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: And it mimics a water and soap molecule, right?

LICHTMAN: That's it. That's what Don said he used it for, to show how soap works.

FLATOW: So this weekend and tonight - and you're going to get some great video movie, Friday night video movie pleasure.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. I think that adds up to, like, nine minutes of your evening, but you could just watch them over and over again.

FLATOW: And then you get the NASA contest, the video contest — knock yourself out.

LICHTMAN: That's right.

FLATOW: Thanks. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: That's our Video Pick of the Week. It's up on our website at sciencefriday.com, up there in the left-hand corner. And it'll also be available on iTunes, up there on our - if you want to podcast it, then you can go in our website and podcast all that kind of good stuff there also and become a member and subscribe and you'll get them downloaded for you without having to worry about it.

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