Girl of the 21st Century

Where You and the Future Collide

the space runway

I know you all have just been aching for another post to bring you up to speed — and funnily enough, the story I’m about to bring you is one that originally hit the internet a little over a year ago.  Still, it’s the perfect mix of sleek style and space age savvy, and so here it is on G21C!

Surely, even if not all of us are self-described space cadets, we’ve all seen pictures of the spacesuit that NASA is currently using for EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activities) aboard the Space Shuttle and when repairing the International Space Station.  It’s a bulky white thing that sort of makes you look like a marshmallow with legs, right?  The argument is that its weight and cumbersome size wouldn’t be a big deal in space, where there’s no gravity and the weight of the suit means nothing.  But what if we decided to send missions to the moon or to Mars?  What happens then, when we’re trying to coordinate research or construction on planetary surfaces that have enough atmosphere to make the old suit a nuisance?  It’s gone through many different incarnations over the years and throughout various missions, but the current version looks something like this:

Old Spacesuit

The old spacesuit -- so last milennium.

Well, the Space Shuttle is on its way out, and something’s telling me that this old spacesuit design is probably out the door, too.  Why?  Because it inhibits motion, and it must be pressurized in order for an astronaut to operate safely outside the comfy-cozy walls of the vehicle.  We’ve had it for so long that it’s hard to imagine having anything else…but then, MIT professor Dava Newman came up with a brilliant new design that was more efficient and easier to move.  Utilizing some innovative “second-skin” technology and a “mechanical pressure and counter-pressure” system that would eliminate the need for pressurized suits, she brought us what will hopefully be the next generation of EVA suits.  Not only is it more practical for space-farers — it looks infinitely cooler than its predecessor.  Some quick shots of the fabulosity that is MIT’s BioSuit:

BioSuit lounges ever so serenely.

BioSuit lounges ever so serenely.

BioSuit poses for the camera.

BioSuit poses for the camera.

BioSuit compared to its ancestor EVA suit.

BioSuit compared to its ancestor EVA suit.

This new spacesuit obviously shows a lot of potential.  There are a lot of little technical details about it on the web.  If you want more than just the pretty photographs (there’s definitely more out there than just the ones posted here), you can check out Space.com’s article or Prof. Dava Newman’s MIT site which has even more images and videos in its gallery of what the BioSuit will look like when it’s actually put to use.  One of the pictures shows an astronaut gearing up with a window behind him that looks out over a Martian landscape.  Not hard to tell what Dava’s hoping for, is it?

Hopefully one day, one of us spacesters will be up on Luna or Mars rocking that slimmer, trimmer, awesomer suit.  Until then, and until we start seeing some real action out of NASA’s Orion program, we’ll just have to drool over the pictures for now.  So, happy drooling, everyone!

See you again soon (tomorrow’s the Weekend Astronomy Alert!)

— G21C

P.S. — Sorry for the horrible formatting!  For whatever reason, WordPress feels grumpy this evening, and it’s not letting me line up the words like I want to.  Sorry if it’s confusing and if this happens again in the future — I’ll do my best to give all readers a fluid blog post whenever possible.  Thanks for your understanding, guys, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

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November 15, 2008 Posted by | Astronautics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

weekend astronomy alert!

I know that not all of you are the literal space geek that I am…some of us just like the space-and-star style.  Others of us make it their lives and are willing to brave the cold, grab some binoculars, find a red-bulb flashlight, and go looking for the universe.  I’m of both the former and the latter.  :-3

So if any of you space cadets out there are interested in taking a peek at what our universe has to offer tonight, you’re in for a treat!

Jupiter is easily visible to the south.  It looks like a star, but don’t let that fool you!  If you take a look through a telescope, you can easily see Jupiter’s cloud bands (it’s Big Red Spot isn’t visible right now, sorry!) and all four of its Galilean moons.  There are about 59 others you can’t see, but the biggest four (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) are just as bright and beautiful as ever!  Be sure to go looking for it early — it’s bright enough to see before total darkness, but it won’t be above the horizon for much longer, so get a peek in while you can.

Jupiter in Pastels + Moon Shadows

Jupiter in Pastels + Moon Shadows

Venus has recently come into the spotlight and is at a diagonal with Jupiter, farther up and to its left.  Soon, it will be the brightest object in the night sky, but for right now, Jupiter still reigns supreme.  The two planets will get closer and closer to each other as the night’s progress, but as of right now, they’re about a hand’s breadth apart.
Saturn is visible, but only right before dawn.  Soon, it’ll be one of the main attractions in the night sky…if you catch a glimpse of it, notice how the rings will be virtually edge-on with the telescope and nearly invisible.  For many people, seeing this object through backyard telescopes is what first got them into astronomy.  See if you fall under its spell, too!
— See if you can find the brightest star in our night sky right now, Vega.  Once night falls, it should be a little to the west but almost directly overhead.  Vega, as evidenced by the picture in the previous link, is part of the Summer Triangle together with stars Deneb and Altair.  See if you can point out the triangle to your friends and impress them all with your astro-prowess.
Taurid meteors will be shooting around all over the place for at least the next week.  Make sure you wish on the “shooting stars” if you’re lucky enough to find one!
— Go to your local public observatory and see what they’re showing through their professional ‘scopes.  Since the moon‘s pretty bright right now, you’ll most likely get a good look at its craters, mountains and maria (the dark spots on the moon’s surface made by lava seepage during the moon’s formation, which are very clearly visible in the linked photo).  See if they’ll swing the scope around to Uranus, Neptune (when it’s not too close to the moon), and maybe the bright double-binary star systems found in Epsilon Lyrae.
— The brightest asteroid that passes through our neighborhood, Vesta, is making its way across the sky during November.  It’ll be close to the head of the constellation Cetus, moving a little more each night in a half-oval pattern until it fades into the distance and is no longer visible.  Its peak has already passed, but if you look close each night, you’ll see a tiny white dot moving slowly across the background of stars.

Get out there and enjoy the night sky while it’s nice and cool, too!  The colder the weather is where you live, the clearer the sky tends to be.  Also, it minimizes heat radiating from the earth that would normally inhibit telescope-viewing.  Even if you don’t have the big guns like a 12″ reflector telescope (I’m in the same boat!), go out with some decent binoculars and see what you see.  Here’s wishing you plenty of cloudless nights and cups of hot coffee to keep you warm.  Happy star-hunting, and you can expect another Weekend Astronomy Alert next Sunday!

— G21C

(Used for reference in this post was the “This Week’s Sky at a Glance” article over at SkyandTelescope.com, the website that corresponds to one of the best astronomy magazines on the market.  If you don’t get the magazine, can’t afford the subscription, or would just like a handy and convenient online source to get your astronomy fix, this is site that will cure all your ills.  Give it a peek!  And nearly all the image links were taken from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website hosted by NASA.gov.  Flip through the archives…there’s sure to be plenty of fascinating material, and it changes every day, so keep going back for more fun each morning.)

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | , | Leave a comment

not just starry-eyed…starry-nailed

We all know the space girl fashion equation:  color + texture (sparkles?) = awesome.  But this equation has to be applied with moderation, because a lot of color is not always a good thing.  For instance, it’s bad enough when you’re walking down the street and notice an overly make-upped woman who is oblivious to the obvious fact that she’s trying too hard to look pretty.  Then you look down at her fingernails and see a nauseating shade of neon pink coating her 5″-long claws…and at that moment, you realize she’s got NO chance of looking attractive to anyone anymore.  She’s successfully plummeted to the lower levels of “people often ask me if I ‘work nights'” attractiveness.

To keep you protected from this kind of unwanted color combustion, I’ve done some research on how you can keep your nails space-age without them looking obnoxious.  As an added bonus, I’ve also kept my price range to $2 or less per nail color, so you can look stellar without breaking the bank.

First things first:  Keep your nails at a moderate length.  Not only are long nails more of a hassle (they take more effort to groom and get in the way more often), but they start to look more and more like self-defense weapons the longer you let them grow.  Space age fashion is glamour meeting practicality — you’ve got better things to do than attend to your nails 24/7, so make sure you keep them at a manageable length.

And if you’re a habitual biter — STOP THAT!  I know it’s hard habit to break, as I used to be a biter myself, but remember that the more you bite them, the more you’re feeding into a habit that is unhealthy for you and could lead to infections in your digestive tract.  It’s not a pleasant experience to have to go to the doctor for a throat infection and be told you’ve got jagged nail slivers sticking out of that sensitive larynx skin.  Yuck!  If you’re like I was and bite your nails because it bugs you when they grow in at different lengths or get too jagged, throw a 99-cent nail file in your back pocket before heading out the door.  Add a nail clipper to the list, if necessary.  Whenever you get the urge to go in for the kill, pull out the file instead.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that biting them is the only problem — saliva is just as destructive to growth.  It weakens the nail and makes them too soft and flexible to grow properly.  Even if you’re not biting them, try to be conscious of when you unknowingly put your fingertips in your mouth or near your lips, and pull them away as soon as you realize it.  It’s not as hard as you think, once you become conscious of your bad habits.

In the interests of keeping everything simple while still glamorous, the first step is to find a base color

A must-have for every space-age fashionista.

Pure Ice's "First Love"

that’s relatively neutral.  Beiges and light tans are fine and easy to come by, but they’re just a tad bit on the boring side of life.  Instead, I opt for light pink tones with a light shimmer.  The best colors I’ve found for this are Pure Ice in “First Love” and the “Sheer Shimmer” paint that comes with the Sally Hansen Sheer Shimmer French Manicure Kit.  The Pure Ice color is a bit holographic, yielding a phosphorescent effect under direct light that makes the color more interesting and fun.  Sheer Shimmer is whiter and has a barely-there shimmer that might speak to the more cautious among us.  They both require two coats for really good coverage, but both also dry pretty quickly.  The only problem with the Sheer Shimmer is that it’s apparently not sold separately from its kit.  You can buy the French manicure kit if you think you’ll use it when aching for the more natural nail look.  If you don’t want it, look nearby for Sally Hansen polishes that match color.  “Bamboo Shoot” is a good pick that appears to have less shimmer, although I can’t account for price — it may very well be above my typical $2 limit.  Check your local Wal-Mart for exact prices, and don’t be afraid to look at other nail polish brands that might be cheaper.  Make sure it’s fairly thick, whatever it is, or you’ll be applying dozens of coats before it’s thick enough to get the desired effect.

After picking your base color, move on to the fun part — the shimmery finishes.  There are metric tons of mega-fun shades in the Petites line of polishes, although most of the ones I’m about to mention don’t

Truly Stellar Nails

Truly Stellar Nails

appear on the Wal-Mart website that I’m using as a reference.  They should show up in the actual store, however, and if they don’t, try the nearest pharmaceutical store like CVS or Walgreens who might have a wider selection (and different sizes of bottles, too, meaning you could get eensy-weensy micro-bottles for much less than a dollar).  My faves from Petites are “Jewel” and the appropriately spacey “Venus.”  The first gives you a pink glow that works well on natural nails or whiter base colors.  The second offers a yellowish color that does wonders on top of the aforementioned “First Love” tint, muting some of the pink tone while adding a dimension of light amber shimmer.  “Gold Star” is also a good choice if you want a warm, orangey glitter effect.  The glitter flakes are not large, but they’re more noticeable than either of the first two shimmer paints, so you should test out how many coats you can handle before it starts to become too mirror-looking.  Too much flash on the nail might actually make it look more dirty and “middle school” than most of us would like.

There are multiple other glitter effects with the Petites line that look amazing when paired with the right base coat.  There are some purple- and aquamarine-colored glitter paints that aren’t in any way obnoxious, and when used over a mostly colorless base coat like the Sheer Shimmer, give a nicely understated “star cluster” effect.  It’s harder to match these colors with all outfits, so if you want to use the more colorful paint effects, be prepared to do some scrubbing when you decide to remove it (yes, the glitter does stick rather stubbornly to the sides of the nail that dip downward and tuck under the skin — you have been warned).  The more “all-purpose” color choices talked about in the previous paragraph are usually more pleasing because they require so little upkeep.  You don’t have to change your nail color to coordinate with every day’s outfit…you can just paint it once and wear it for the rest of the week with little to no chipping.  After all, low-maintenance and stress-free cosmetics are the key to a naturally glamorous look.

These brands are available virtually everywhere.  I found mine at a local Wal-Mart, but you could just as

Hard as Nails Natural Tint

"Hard as Nails" Natural Tint

easily pick them up at a Walgreens, Kroger-Dillons, or any other pharmaceuticals or grocery store.  Just remember that you shouldn’t feel like spending less money is getting you a worse deal.  In my experience and the experiences of others, the Petites and Pure Ice lines are not only cheap but also more chip-resistant than some of the more expensive alternatives.  However, it might not hurt to invest in one really good bottle of nail hardener to put on top of the finished product so your nails stay strong and don’t flake on the ends.  Sally Hansen’s product line is known for not only growing short and flaked-out nails but also for keeping the already-grown nail nice and strong.  I swear by the natural tint in the “Hard as Nails” line…totally worth the extra coin.

Now, you’re equipped to rock those nails star style without overdoing it.  Whatever color combos you choose, make sure you pick the ones that express your personality the best — and you’ll know if you do it right by how often you admire your newly-beautified nails when no one’s looking.  Good luck!  😉

— G21C

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Health & Beauty | , , , | Leave a comment

welcome to the space station

I know there’s gotta be at least one other girl out there like me.  Someone who enjoys expressing herself through everything from clothing to home decoration to musical styles and everything in between…the trick is, we like all these things to be spacey as well as stylish.  Star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, supernovae.  Bright colors.  Star sparkles.  Cute, futuristic cuts and hems.  A style that evokes images of the 21st century vision of space exploration.  Somewhere out there is a girl like me, with a penchant for all things bright and bold and straight from the stars.

So, are you that girl?

Well, look no further.  You’ve found the blog that’s going to bring all those things to your doorstep.  Together, we’ll rake through clothing, make-up, accessories, furniture, room decorations, music, movies, and anything else I (or you) can get my hands on in an attempt to pull a little bit of the future into the now.  We’ll talk about scientific breakthroughs and space missions, clothing and space station style.  We’ll discuss what it means, in this day and age, to be a girl of the 21st century.  Are you ready to dive headfirst into all things unique, fun, exciting, and never-done-before?  That’s exactly what the space girl lifestyle is all about, and once we get started, there will surely be no stopping us.

You have permission to come aboard.  Welcome to the space station.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Introductions | | Leave a comment