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Science Wrap: Paralympic medallist turns astronaut, ISRO's PSLV launch, how Bruce Lee died

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaNov 26, 2022 | 08:00

Science Wrap: Paralympic medallist turns astronaut, ISRO's PSLV launch, how Bruce Lee died

(GIF-DailyO)

Now that Artemis has been successfully launched, we can thankfully move on to our weekly science wraps without the spotlight on NASA’s lunar mission. In other news of the cosmos, British Paralympic sprinter John McFall is set to become the world’s first “parastronaut” while the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Saturday (November 26). 

Currently, the United States is in Thanksgiving mood but that’s not the only reason why turkeys and chickens are constantly dying as a deadly avian flu outbreak is wreaking havoc in the country. Oh, and also a new study suggests that martial arts legend Bruce Lee might have died of consuming too much water!

1- Britain’s John McFall becomes the world’s first parastronaut 

Ever since he lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, Briton John McFall (then a field hockey player) resurged as a sprinter in several Paralympic tournaments. He even bagged a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China. 

Now, the 43-year-old is all set to go to space, being touted as the world’s first parastronaut. He has been announced as a member of the latest lineup of astronauts announced by the European Space Agency (ESA). However, it will be at least five years for him to actually go to space and given that this will be a first for a person with disabilities traveling in space, several safeguards will naturally be looked into. 

“I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I lost my leg about twenty-plus years ago, and I’ve had the opportunity to be a paralympic athlete and really explored myself emotionally ... All those factors and hardships in life have given me confidence and strength -- the ability to believe in myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.”
- John McFall at the ESA announcement

2- 50 million birds dead in US with avian flu outbreak 

Prices of eggs and turkey meat are on a record high this Thanksgiving season given the spread of the avian flu outbreak that is severely affecting poultry populations. According to US Department of Agriculture data, the US has lost 50.54 million birds in 2022 making this year’s bird flu the worst American animal-health disaster to date. 

(meme-Shaurya Thapa for DailyO)
(meme-Shaurya Thapa for DailyO)

The bird flu situation in Europe is also bleak if not worse with egg supplies being limited in Britain and other European countries. The USDA’s chief veterinary officer Rosemary Sifford advises that domestic folks must prevent contact with wild birds (such as ducks) given how the latter can migrate and spread the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The virus can be transmitted through birds’ feces, feathers or direct contact with poultry.

3-ISRO to launch a PSLV

The medium-lift launch vehicle PSLV has been relied on by ISRO for delivering several crucial payloads such as India's first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India's first interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and India's first space observatory, Astrosat.

This time, the PSLV-C54 mission (56th PSLV flight overall and fifth of this year) will lift off from the launch pad at the Sriharikota’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre carrying a payload of nine satellites, which includes eight nanosatellites. The flight is scheduled for 11:56 am on Saturday and can be viewed on ISRO’s livestream on YouTube and Twitter. 

4- Did Bruce Lee really die from drinking too much water?

Martial arts legend and filmstar Bruce Lee met an untimely demise at the age of 32 with the official cause of death ruled as cerebral edema (swelling of the brain in simpler terms). However, according to a study published in the December edition of the Clinical Kidney Journal

“...we propose that the kidney's inability to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee.”

The researchers behind the study arrived at the conclusion that Lee’s cerebral edema was a direct result of hyponatremia (insufficient concentration of sodium in the blood). The reasons that led to this hyponatremia might be Lee’s unnaturally extreme consumption of high quantities of liquids like water, juices, and protein drinks. This ultimately might have impaired his kidneys’ ability to excrete excess fluids. 

If this theory is indeed true, it is only ironic that one of Lee’s most profound and iconic quotes was, 

 

Last updated: November 26, 2022 | 08:00
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