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Beer in Zero Gravity

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Last Friday, NASA released a report on astronaut health care that revealed two incidents of on-the-job alcohol abuse. Even though NASA rules forbid drinking alcohol while in orbit, a New Scientist article published online on Tuesday suggests that a few astronauts have done it (including Buzz Aldrin, who sipped communion wine from a chalice after landing on the Moon).

But in a zero-gravity environment, could an astronaut (or a space tourist) really enjoy beer’s frothy bubbles?

Yes, explains the New Scientist article:

The answer, Dutch researchers suggested in 2000, is to store beer in a flexible membrane inside a barrel. Air can be pumped between the barrel and the membrane, forcing the beer out of a tap. Astronauts could then use straws to suck up blobs of beer.

Even if it could be stored, drinking beer in space might not be pleasant. Turns out that without gravity, the bubbles stay at the top of the stomach and lead to uncomfortable “wet burps!”

If you find yourself drinking on Earth this week, make sure to toast NASA’s 49th birthday, which it celebrated July 29.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.