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back to article Volunteers sought to see if anyone actually can hear you scream in space

Those of you who've ever wondered if the Alien assertion that "in space, nobody can hear you scream" has any scientific basis can now put it to the test, thanks to Cambridge University Spaceflight (CUSF). In December, CUSF will be blasting a Google Android phone into orbit as part of the STRaND-1 nanosatellite payload. The plan …

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Anonymous Coward

Screaming?

I think I should just record the next door neighbour's kids. I'm fairly sure you can hear them from space anyway.

Fairly sure they're not being murdered, as they seem to have done it since the day they were born.

(anon, in case they google me, and then hunt me down in my sleep.)

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Re: Screaming?

Sleep? They can't be that bad then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Screaming?

I sleep at work and even if I do say so myself I'm pretty good at it, might even be the possibility of a promotion so I can sleep in my own office.

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Headmaster

Two phones or a flawed experiment surely

I'm no physicist but surely the screaming being played through the phone's speaker will cause the phone itself to vibrate and thus make the microphone vibrate as well. Granted you don't get that kind of feedback during calls but I'm rather assuming you don't because of a bit of clever filtering. Does anyone with more knowledge of physics know better?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two phones or a flawed experiment surely

I thought the same thing. It's just a publicity stunt if you ask me, it's certainly not very scientific like the bell in a vacuum. I guess it comes down to the material surrounding the speaker (will it pass the vibration into the case of the phone,) what kind of material the phone is made of and the material surrounding the microphone itself.

Another consideration is inertia, I could be totally wrong here, but if the speaker is moving the phone, the microphone moves with the phone so relative to the body of the phone it is stationary and because there is no atmosphere putting resistance onto the surface of the microphone, no sound ... I'm equating that to the inverse of the noise wind makes on a microphone.

I'd also bring into question the pressure of the battery surviving the void of space although I can't say I'm up to date with the whole mobiles in space scene.

Where's Professor Cox when you need him?

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Silver badge

@Cronus (was: Re: Two phones or a flawed experiment surely)

Look up "echo canceller".

And thanks ... Now I'll have nightmares about setting dB level dip switches and testing relay rack after relay rack of 4-wire E&M cards, 2-wire cards, and their attendant echo cancellers & ring generators for the next couple weeks ... Granted, that was for hybrid echo, not acoustic echo, but it's all telephony. I suspect Wiki has a fairly decent overview on the subject, but I can't be arsed to look.

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Facepalm

But if the microphone's on the same board as the speaker surely the vibrations will travel anyway so you *will* pick up something. If they had it recording on a nearby unconnected satellite then I'd be more impressed but I think this is just likely to confuse kids with the actual outcome

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Bronze badge

Moonwalkers touch helmets to talk

No, not that moonwalker, astronauts discovered that they could communicate without radios by touching their helmets to allow the sound vibrations to travel to the other person.

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Bronze badge

Re: Moonwalkers touch helmets to talk

You can also do that with hard-hats in a noisy steelworks.

Although you do have to use careful phrasing when asking a steelworker if you can touch his hard-hat.

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I may be missing something here....

... but are they planning on having the phone do the recording and the broadcasting? Surely there will be some stray vibrations picked up through the casing? I know I'm probably being thunderously stupid, but if the speaker and the mic are in the same box, connected to the same board and all that sort of stuff, won't the case/board also transmit the vibrations from a wobbling speaker? I guess it'll be minor, but even so....

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Silver badge
Facepalm

WTF?

here's another experiment-

Give me a £20 note, and see if I can make it disappear.

Look! It's gone.

Let's see if I can do it again- give me another twenty...

heh heh heh

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

That's nothing - my wife can do it with entire pay cheques...

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Silver badge

Re: WTF?

>my wife can do it with entire pay cheques

That's nothing. Wait until you're divorced and she'll do it with money you didn't even know you had.

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Pirate

Re: WTF?

That's nothing. My wife can do it with pay cheques I haven't even earned yet.

Pirate Dave's credit rating...Priceless

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Silver badge

They really shouldn't be holding their breath

I understand that having a lung full of air will cause more damage in a vaccuum than if you've exhaled completely.

Can't remember whether it was Event Horizon or Sunshine that put that theory forward.

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Boffin

Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

Absolutely correct. There would be 14 pounds per square inch (100 kPa) in your lungs trying to make you explode. It may escape through the windpipe, or it may succeed in doing the alien thing. Liquid nitrogen in the stomach tends to be dangerous because the esophagus spasms closed due to the cold, IIUC. So the windpipe being different and the air not being cold, it may be perfectly safe. Do you feel lucky, punk?

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Bronze badge

Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

It depends.

Though, indeed, the advice is to breath out, that's not necessarily going to do much to save you. The body is inherently containing all sorts of pressures all the time, in an air-tight manner, just while you sit there. You will no doubt burst vessels and other pressure-carrying parts of the body quite quickly no matter what you do if you are exposed to a vacuum but it's nowhere close to instantaneous exploding death.

The air in your lungs will actually probably find its own way out, whatever you do to your voluntary muscles that retain it in there (and only ever temporarily anyway). The air in your blood is really the problem because it will bubble quite quickly without atmospheric pressure on your skin, which means you'll get clotting and the bends almost instantly - and that's what's likely to actually kill you. You won't actually die from lack of oxygen, as such, or exploding - like drowning, you'd just have no oxygen in your lungs to push into your bloodstream and it would take a few minutes to exhaust the blood's dwindling supply.

But, probably, you're ears, eyes and other parts will give you lots of injury very quickly that probably won't be that easy to repair. Then you're likely to enter shock anyway. Then you're likely to die of a clot reaching a critical size. Then you're likely to die of actually asphyxiation. Exhaling won't actually buy you time on any of those, except possibly reducing injury to whatever barrier the air chooses to escape through (which is almost certainly going to be up through your throat anyway - path of least resistance and all that).

And people have been exposed to vacuum. You can go google their fate. Pretty much you sustain the injuries I posit above or die, depending on how long you are there. There's not enough data to suggest whether exhaling is even possible, let alone wouldn't happen physically anyway, let alone would reduce any particular injury, let alone would stop you dying.

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Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

I remember in my first year at University coming across some NASA papers in the library. Some researchers basically exposed a number of monkeys* to a vacuum to see what happened. They didn't look too impressed, the monkeys there weren't any pictures of the researchers, but they were alive enough to look unimpressed.

The time of useful consciousness is ~10 seconds at 40,000' and there's still an atmosphere there so without one it can't be long. Note holding your breath doesn't help as there's not enough pressure to keep what little oxygen there is at 40,000' in your blood.

*Could have been chimps, it's been a while.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Lee Dowling

Lee, I often appreciate the salient and interesting points you put forward, but it is a shame you can't put them into properly-formed English sentences.

At the very least, will you please look up the very straightforward rules regarding use of the apostrophe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

It tends to be pretty cold out there in space too.

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Mushroom

Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

" but it's nowhere close to instantaneous exploding death."

But wouldn't it be awesome if it was?

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Boffin

Re: They really shouldn't be holding their breath

Yeah, but its a dry kinda cold, inna it?

Reading up on this issue, apparently cold is least of your problems as although the liquids around your body will boil off, vacuums are a pretty good insulator so you won't freeze immediately.

You will however be unconscious in seconds (10 - 15) and dead within a minute. Unless by astronomical odds, a passing spaceship....

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xyz
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Facepalm

I have some old rope I want to test in space...

...can I have a grant please? Forget Sunshine or Event Horizon...this is pure Muppets in Space

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Devil

Er-

How many cell towers will this phone confuse?

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Re: Er-

"Hey, we found a wifi hotspot - I'm sure FREE_WIFI_ISS is perfectly safe!"

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Er- (ArmanX)

I'm sure it will, but expect to be firewalled.

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Anonymous Coward

See also the CUSF's drinks list: http://www.srcf.ucam.org/cusfs/drinks.html

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Pint

Next year research will discover...

If in space you can get long, expository introductions appear in large yellow letters that slowly disappear into the distance. (Or at least prove the existence of nubile green-skinned space vixens)

Here's to he Cambridge University Spaceflight, for the Farce is their ally!!

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Anonymous Coward

oh FFS you cynical morons!

It's in the frikken article:

Physics undergraduate Edward Cunningham said: "Obviously, we’re not expecting to get much back, there may be some buzzing, but this is more about getting young people interested in satellites and acoustics, perhaps encouraging them to consider future study in science or engineering."

Yes, the experiment may well be flawed, but that's not the goal here, is it?

Won't somebody geeks please think of the children??

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Bronze badge

Re: oh FFS you cynical morons!

Come to that, wasn't there a study a few years ago about what zero gravity did to carbonated beverages, paid for by Coca Cola?

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i think this should be the first scream in space

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPLWT3IEZDU&feature=related

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Silver badge

we should start flinging shit into space. as in flinging biological matter towards nearby stars, maybe it'll take hold somewhere. Might piss off any zookeepers enough to make them reveal themselves.

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Bronze badge

Obvious troll is obvious.

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Anonymous Coward

The UK launches very few spacecraft of their own, when they do, why waste the resources on this.

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