Beer in space – hard to beat

The Age

A group of Brisbane researchers are leading a new space race, as they help develop a special beer for intergalactic travellers.

Researchers at Queensland University of Technology’s microgravity ‘drop tower’ are testing the first Australian space beer, which will cater to the soon-to-launch space tourism industry.

QUT’s research facility director, Ted Steinberg, says the microgravity tower simulated the low-gravity level present in space, allowing the companies behind the beer to determine how it would be affected by space travel.

“The tower is about 30 metres high and it gives us about two seconds of zero gravity,” Professor Steinberg says.

“Essentially they’re looking at the correct carbonation level so it can be consumed in zero gravity. They’re really trying to perfect the carbonation level and behaviour.

“If it was too carbonated it would not sit well, if it was not carbonated enough you wouldn’t get the flavour.”

Professor Steinberg says researchers achieved two seconds of zero gravity by loading the beer into a 400 kilogram metal capsule and pulling it to the top of the microgravity tower, before letting it freefall.

“Two seconds may seem like a little time, but it is a lot for studying a very large variety of phenomena in reduced gravity such as combustion of metals, fire safety, certain biological processes and fluid dynamics,” he said. Weekender thinks this is the best ever use of science, ever. Ever.

Cannabis painkiller developed

Scientists have announced that they’d discovered a way to harness the painkilling powers of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, while eliminating the high. What this means is that a special, non-hallucinatory version of THC could become the new aspirin.

Physiologist Li Zhang and colleagues discovered that THC targets several parts of the nervous system, some of which are called inhibitory glycine receptors. These receptors, according to Zhang, help regulate “neuromotor activity, pain sensation, muscle relaxation and anxiety.” He and his fellow researchers speculate that a synthetic THC could be made that targets just inhibitory glycine receptors – hence, a form of cannabis that works as a painkiller but doesn’t get you high.