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The Taste Of Space 81

It turns out that space tastes like raspberries and not Tang or freeze-dried ice cream as one might suspect. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy were searching for evidence of amino acids in space when they found ethyl formate, the chemical used in to make raspberry flavoring. The astronomers used the IRAM telescope in Spain to analyze electromagnetic radiation emitted by a hot and dense region of Sagittarius B2 that surrounds a newborn star. Astronomer Arnaud Belloche said, "It [ethyl formate] does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries."


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The Taste Of Space

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  • I beg to differ (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:27PM (#27664339) Journal

    Space does not have a taste. Sagittarius B2, however, tastes like raspberries.

    • I seem to remember a recent article describing the smell of space ( The senses are completely bombarded with input which our brain ignores, for example the feel of your tongue on your teeth right now, or the weight of your shirt. Remove the background input, and the brain will interpret what is left and reported.

      If space can have a smell, it can most certainly have a taste. It just might not be raspberry-flavored in our neck of the Milky W

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Can vacuum have a smell? Might the lack of any matter provide a certain stimulus to our olfactory receptors? Similarly, might a vacuum have a taste?

        • My point exactly, but your delivery was all the more poetic than mine.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rei ( 128717 )

          Can vacuum have a smell?

          I don't know... what does near-instant frostbite of your olfactory epithelium smell like?

        • Re:I beg to differ (Score:4, Informative)

          by Taibhsear ( 1286214 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:45PM (#27664743)

          Can vacuum have a smell? Might the lack of any matter provide a certain stimulus to our olfactory receptors? Similarly, might a vacuum have a taste?

          Yes. Blood. More specifically, your own.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rei ( 128717 )

            Why would you smell your blood in a vacuum?

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                It would probably be the only thing you *could* smell (and taste, likely), as the air rushes out of your sinuses and lungs, past the rupturing blood vessels.



              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Rei ( 128717 )

                Morbo voice: Decompression does not work that way! []

                If you don't exhale, your lungs burst and rather than blood rushing *out* of your circulatory system, air rushes *in*. Which kills you, of course. If you do exhale, you get to die through a combination of dehydration, freezing, and asphyxiation. Water sublimates in a vacuum. Moisture in your skin, eyes, and mouth goes straight to vapor. The capillaries are permeable, so moisture leaves them too (especially in your lungs), thickening your blood and causi

            • by dissy ( 172727 )

              Why would you smell your blood in a vacuum?

              It would really depend on the pressure your body was in just before being exposed to the vacuum.

              Just being in a vacuum by itself would smell like nothing, as there are not enough particles to collect together to signal enough smell receptors at once to trigger a scent.

              However rapidly changing pressure is likely to cause blood vessels to rupture, thus tasting your own blood, since among everywhere else too, you will be bleeding into your mouth and sinus cavities.

              A lot of people mistakenly think (probably due

              • In fact if you were in your space ship at the same pressure as space outside is, you could technically hold your breath and go outside and be OK, at least until the extreme cold causes other bodily functions to fail. The holding your breath part would suck too of course.

                Yeah, the holding your breath part might be problematic. If you find a pressure gauge, though, and blow into it, if you can hit ~14psi, you could definitely hold your breath in space.

                As for the extreme cold, it's misleading. You're in a vacuum, which is nominally very cold but has incredibly low thermal mass. It's not going to instantly freeze you, and in fact I'm not sure if it could even drain enough heat to stop a human from overheating. Your main concern (assuming that you get oxygen soon enough) will

                • by Rei ( 128717 )

                  As for the extreme cold, it's misleading. You're in a vacuum, which is nominally very cold but has incredibly low thermal mass. It's not going to instantly freeze you, and in fact I'm not sure if it could even drain enough heat to stop a human from overheating.

                  There are three primary methods through which living things lose heat: conduction (you touch something cold, including a cold atmosphere); evaporation (losing moisture to evaporation cools the body down); and radiation (objects around the temperature

                  • True, but that's a transient, superficial effect. Water external to your body boils (I'd think the worst place would be inside your lungs, as I understand it they're somewhat moist) but once it's all gone the effect stops unless you're continually leaking (eyes might be a bit of a problem). Remember we're talking about a very brief exposure here, 90 seconds at the absolute tops. So if you're starting to pick up a little hoar frost by then it's still OK, you're not instantly a human corpsicle. :)
                    • by Rei ( 128717 )

                      The eyes get damaged enough by the frostbite that you can't see for hours. The tongue, damaged enough that you can't taste for days. You lose so much water from your blood that it thickens and becomes acidic -- which, combined with bubbles forming in the blood, cuts off your circulation at about t+100 seconds (death is at about 3-4 minutes).

                      Water boils out of your body very fast when there's no pressure. Literally, liquid water will go to an instant rolling boil when placed in a vacuum.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by j-turkey ( 187775 )

          Can vacuum have a smell?...

          Yeah, and it sucks.

          ...badum ching!

      • by Chabo ( 880571 )

        The senses are completely bombarded with input which our brain ignores, for example the feel of your tongue on your teeth right now, or the weight of your shirt.

        This is off-topic, but from what I remember, isn't autism essentially caused by the inability to tune out these sensory signals (or at least this is one symptom)?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nine-times ( 778537 )
        I remember seeing a TV show [] that described the smell of space. Highly interesting stuff.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by nitehawk214 ( 222219 )

        The senses are completely bombarded with input which our brain ignores, for example the feel of your tongue on your teeth right now, or the weight of your shirt.

        Thanks for making me notice these, asshole.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward


          Yes that's right, THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING. Why you might ask? Well it's simple!

          Your brain usually takes care of breathing FOR you, but whenever you
          remember this, YOU MUST MANUALLY BREATH! If you don't you will DIE.

          There are also MANY variations of this. For example, think about:




          In conclusion, the THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING troll is simply unbeatable.
          These 4 words can be thrown randomly into article text troll

      • While I have absolutely no proof, the guy describes the smell as metallic, reminding him of an arc welder. Not only does an arc welder make ozone (UV emission, they'll sunburn and blind you), so would the gasses trapped and frozen in the fabric of his spacesuit being hit by UV. The guy is smelling it as it thaws and is collected in the air lock. It's exactly as he describes it, kind of metallic almost a fresh air smell.

    • by Chabo ( 880571 )

      Space does not have a taste.

      Sure it has taste! Sci-fi is known for usually having great music, and most sci-fi takes place in space!

      Just look at the "space station docking" scene from "2001"; "Blue Danube" was a powerfully apt choice for that scene! And don't even get me started on Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and Serenity!

      Oh, a taste. Excuse me.

    • Re:I beg to differ (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:40PM (#27664627) Homepage

      And the moon smells like burnt gunpowder [].

  • Smelloscope (Score:5, Funny)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:27PM (#27664355)
    And to think, they laughed at Professor Farnsworth and his Smelloscope.
  • unfortunately PTA, it also contains propyl cyanide, so while you might be able to taste the raspberry, you won't enjoy it for long
    • I wonder if that would taint the raspberry with bitter almonds...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BlitzTech ( 1386589 )
      Luckily, propyl cyanide is only a health rating of 2 and has an LD50 of 50-100mg/kg. By contrast, potassium cyanide has an LD50 of 6mg/kg, and it is likely that sodium cyanide is close to that value.

      Just like you shouldn't think that wood alcohol is a viable substitute for grain alcohol. It sounds like it'd be similar, but 10mL's will make you blind and 30 will kill you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:29PM (#27664397)
    ...would dare give me the raspberry!

  • Perhaps we've finally stumbled upon a use for the ISS - the commercial production of space raspberries for the earth market.

    Not only would they be space-agedly tasty, they could be exported fresh, even in winter

  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:35PM (#27664519)
    First they had telescopes, which they used to get the sights of space, then they came up with the smell of space, [] now the taste, so what's next? The sound of space?

    In space, nobody can hear the sound of Wooosh!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EdZ ( 755139 )
      What, you've never listened to the RF from the surface of the Sun, or a distant pulsar, or Jupiter's electromagnetic field? Or if you want to listen to space Right This Instant, turn your radio (or a TV without channel blanking) to a channel with no broadcast. Behold the CMB.
      • True, and I'm familiar with that, but it feels like there's so much processing involved to get audible sound out that you should try to listen to the Mona Lisa by taking a high resolution scan, and applying appropriate filters to the data until you find something that suits your ears. Unless they've found out from the phase shifting of the RF that the surface of the sun vibrates like a drum head or a tympani and we can't hear it because of the vacuum and distance, or the electromagnetic field of Jupiter wob
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slimjim8094 ( 941042 )

      The sound of space?

      "Hello darkness, my old friend"

  • LoneStar!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by asicsolutions ( 1481269 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:38PM (#27664561) Journal
    There is only one person who would DARE give me the raspberry....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:41PM (#27664629)

    Scientists report Uranus tastes like crap.

    • by ricklg ( 162560 )

      Have they found anything that tastes like chicken? Rattle snakes supposedly do and they're sorta like dragons. We should be looking at Draco!

      • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @05:30PM (#27667305) Journal

        No, rattlesnake does NOT taste like chicken!

        It tastes like snake. Most snakes taste similar, but not really like chicken. It tastes more like turtle/tortoise than chicken.

        I think that idea comes from confusing texture and appearance with taste. Cooked snake is very much like cooked chicken breast in texture and appearance, but not in taste.

        If you ever want to try snake for yourself, after 'dressing'* the snake, you need to parboil it. A layer of oil will form in the pot. Yes, this is truly 'snake oil'! Discard the water/snake oil batch, rinse the parboiled snake with fresh water. You do not want any of the snake oil! It is very bitter and strong tasting! Not pleasant at all.**

        Now cook the snake in your favorite manner.
        One of my favorites is to make a marinade by simmering some diced celery and onions in orange juice for about 10 minutes, let that cool, pour into a roasting pan/dish, add parboiled snake, cover the pan/dish, and roast at 300 F until done.(judge 'doneness' exactly like you would chicken breast) Enjoy!

        Here is where the 'tastes like chicken' part comes in...It will look and feel just like cooked chicken breast. It will feel the same while chewing on it. The 'palatability' will make your mind try to convince you it is chicken, but your taste buds will insist that it is different from chicken.
        It is a pretty safe bet that if you like chicken breast, you have a better than 50% chance of liking snake.

        That recipe also works great for chicken and pork chops!

        *dressing means skinning, gutting, and butchering the carcass, no matter which animal you are 'processing'

        **this seems to be a characteristic aspect to eating reptiles in general...lizards, you get the picture. Parboil is your friend when preparing reptiles for eating!
        There is a reason Special Forces troops are nicknamed "Snake"'s shortened from "Snake-eater"...for good reason! We've recipes for stuff most USA citizens would never think to eat on their own!
        If it's not trying to eat you, it's probably food.
        If it is trying to eat you, then not only is it food, but that food comes with it's own delivery service!
        Yes, make it through 'SpecWar***' training, and you are the top of the food chain. Period.
        Cats are prime eating, BTW...all species from domestic 'kitty' to the big cats...lions, tigers, jaguars, ocelots....
        Dog is an 'acquired' taste, but always avoid dog liver- toxic to humans!

        ***'Special Warfare units'== Green Beanies, Black Beanies, SEALs, Force Recon, our U.K. and Aussie**** counterparts, Russia's Spetsnaz, doesn't matter...same-same...pinnacle of the food chain.

        **** For the very best experience for partying while on 'stand down'/leave, find a receptive Australian 'SpecWar' party. Those blokes know how to party! Most 'fun' I ever had with my pants on, was partying with Aussie SpecWarriors...EVER!
        I regret that I have never had the opportunity to stand beside them in battle...I feel certain it would parallel my partying experience with them! Strike Swiftly , and Who Dares Wins ...I remember you, my friends.

        • I've had many an opportunity to eat rattlesnake - rather common out here.

          You are right in that the texture and look are like chicken, if cooked similar.

          I've had a different experience with the taste, tho.

          Rattlesnake meat doesn't taste like *store-bought* chicken (which doesn't have much taste, anyway). But it does taste a lot like fresh free-range chicken. Not surprising, closer food chain association.

          As to the snake oil problem - try barbecue over an open fire on a wood ske

          • by rts008 ( 812749 )

            ...I first tasted free-range chicken a few years ago and will never go back to that store bought crap...

            Yeah, and their eggs are as good a comparison as the meat!

            And, yeah, you are correct about the open fire/spit method.
            Addressing this audience, the outdoors option never got out of Mom's basement! My bad!

            My first thought on tasting free-range chicken was "hey, this tastes just like fire roasted rattlesnake!"

            *chuckles out loud*

            Thanks for sharing that, it brightened my day!

            Those poor kids I went to college with never knew what to expect at one of my cookouts! But I'll have to give them credit, most tried stuff, and even became 'repeat offenders' at those events! (In Oklahoma, so I have eaten and served many a ra

        • Cats are prime eating, BTW...all species from domestic 'kitty' to the big cats...lions, tigers, jaguars, ocelots....

          Interesting. I'd always heard that predators in general tasted bad; I'd have expected that to go double for obligate carnivores.

          (cue up cat's in the kettle []....)

          • by rts008 ( 812749 )

            I'd always heard that predators in general tasted bad...

            Not in my experience.
            I wish I could find the links, or remember the sources right now...

            I have a buddy that is a History major-Early American. He has shown me diaries/journals from some of our early explorers/settlers, and it seemed a lot of trappers ('Mountain Men') developed a reputation for preferring Mountain Lion/Cougar meat over all others when given a choice.

            Eating cat always reminded me of eating pork. I don't think I would ever confuse them, but I imagine a lot of people could be fooled.

    • We need to change the name to Urectum to end that joke once and for all.
  • Didn't Professor Farnsworth invent the smelloscope for just this type of research?
  • From wikipedia: " Ethyl formate has the characteristic smell of rum."

    Somalia, Brazil, Turnitin... they seem to be everywhere these days.
  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @02:56PM (#27664931) Homepage Journal
    ..where Red Dwarf has been when Lister has finished another curry
  • Pttttttttttttttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Set that to Strauss' Blue Danube and suck on it!
  • LONE STAR! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Grendol ( 583881 )
    Darkhelmet: "There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry: Lone Star!"
  • When you eat a raspberry you are actually smelling ethyl formate, not tasting it. Therefore, this is the smell, not the taste of space. The only things you can taste are sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (and possibly fatty, according to recent research).
  • Therefore, raspberries taste like space.

    In other news, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!

  • Space is cold. Your tongue will get stuck to it.

  • Obviously, the universe is only 6,000 years old and this "evidence" was cleverly planted by God. You can tell by the way he's giving scientists the raspberry!

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.