The astronauts inhabiting the International Space Station at any given time are working on all manner of scientific experiments that simply can’t be performed on Earth. But how do they spend their free time? In the case of NASA astronaut Don Pettit, he plays around with water to see how it reacts in zero gravity. Why? In his words: because he’s in space and because he can. Take a look at the video.
Yes, this is Pettit in his off-time. I don’t think it would have occurred to me that astronauts would want to spend their leisure hours playing around with a sphere of water and a syringe of air, but after watching that video I totally get it. It’s such a simple little action, but the results are beautiful and the physics involved are fascinating.
I love the excitement and happiness in Pettit’s voice as he watches the liquid flow and distort. It’s the pure joy of someone who loves learning for its own sake and trying things simply to see what happens. If that isn’t a perfect description of the joy of science, I don’t know what is.