A version of this article originally appeared on At the Watercooler, a daily pop culture and entertainment newsletter.
Mark Zuckerberg: Elon Musk is a genius and brainy as a corgi
The incredible wingsuit adventure of an American skydiver and Russian cosmonaut has inspired “The Jetsons” to rethink space travel, but it may also have led to a worrying piece of news from the International Space Station: A Russian flight controller apparently accidentally veered the spacecraft during an earlier space walk, and tilted the Earth-orbiting lab 7.5 degrees to the side. To put that in perspective, Earth only tilts about 8.5 degrees to the side at its most hospitable angle. That’s the equivalent of the Rockies climbing half a mile; the pattern of curvature of our planet, while rarely seen, is still strikingly dramatic. It’s also known as an “alfa” — think a milkshake topped with thick cream. Apparently, an alfalfa is caused by an axial force generating centrifugal force. Upon impact, the gravitational force at the surface of the Earth is attenuated, but the centrifugal force at the tip of the mantle remains. As a result, if you’re standing on the ground and looking down, the column of water pouring onto your head at the tip of the mantle points straight down, even when you’re standing on solid ground. Another line of research into gravity-bending is from the ocean, where “dolphin tails” form when a boat is rocked by a rocking earth.
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