The vacuum of space would kill any human that is exposed to it for more than a few seconds. Couldn't you just hold your breath? Spacesuits are incredibly advanced pieces of technology. They include every tool and instrument that an astronaut would need to walk on the air-less surface of the moon. They're molded to each astronaut's body size, they store oxygen just like a scuba tank, they even have bathrooms.
Although the Moon Men live on South Street, they have been testing an all-new method for travelling through space and time. Our telescope weighs about 30 pounds. This weekend, the Moon Men attempted their first space walk. Landing site, Washington Square.
We put on our spacesuits, buckles, blazers, and all. The first steps were awkward as the bag swayed side to side, towering above my head. Where's a good spot to bring a telescope? Since Philadelphia's on the Northern hemisphere, the moon is always in the southern sky. Bright lights make the view look blurry and dim. We need spots where there are large fields to see lower on the horizon. We want to explore new worlds.
But first we needed to make sure that we had our batteries charged. We stopped into Cohen and Co. for just the thing. Did you know that just 57% of batteries are rechargeable? Living on South Street is a little like landing on another planet. No surprise that as we walked about during the day, we were turning heads. It wasn't easy to fit a two-foot long telescope into a backpack. After making our way on foot, the telescope had been safely transported to a remote location. We deployed it skillfully: unfolding the tripod, lining up the scope, adjusting the primary mirror. Every aspect of the mission was successful. The motor gears gently churned as we raised it to the sky. All of this, to see....
Our atmosphere is usually transparent, but you can't always rely on that. Astronomers are patient, humble people. They may stay outside an entire night, even in the cold, numb gloved fingers and foggy breathed, just in case the sky will clear up for an hour to reveal the universe. So I pace around waiting for a moon that may not come. A few people stop to ask what I'm looking at.
Eventually I point the telescope at George Washington's head, and stare him right in the eye. Why's he upside down? It's because of the way the mirrors are arranged inside the telescope. Our Newtonian reflector is powerful enough to make George look like this, from across the other side of the park!
A man approaches me who knows the history of the entire park. He asks, "Did you know that David Rittenhouse discovered the atmosphere of Venus?" His telescope is kept across the street at the American Philosophical Society. The Moon Men identified their next mission, a visit to see the telescope.
Science is not always about bringing home a prize. Sometimes it is just about showing up. Returning to their homes, the Moon Men walk by a small kid she stops and looks. she asks her dad "is that a real space man?"
Her father smiles and says, short, loud, and sweet, "Nope!"
Have you ever seen a sign that says "Reduce Reuse Recycle"?
Did you know that they're in order?
You can recycle something like a water bottle or a cardboard box usually by placing it in a blue bin and getting the city to pick it up. But a lot of things can't be recycled, say styrofoam, and most of the time it's difficult (or not worthwhile) to sort the trash out from what can be reclaimed. Did you know that a pizza box with grease on it can't be recycled? The paper fibers break down and lose all their strength.
It can take a lot of energy to melt things down back into their raw materials.
You can reuse something by using it again. Maybe you filled up that cup a few more times before throwing it away, or perhaps someone else was able to use your coat after it didn't fit you anymore. Anything that prolongs the useful life of an item, usually means you don't need to get a new one.
You might be able to make a water bottle out of 50% recycled material, but reusing that cup could mean you only need a quarter as many!
We all live on a planet. We all share an atmosphere and a water supply. We know that for most of Earth's history, the environment was different - much hotter, or much colder, filled with poisonous gasses - less inviting to things like humans, plants, and animals. Reducing our impact on the environment ultimately means reducing the amount of resources we use.
But there will always be more people than the last generation, all working toward a better future, resources become scarcer and scarcer.
That's why Thrift could help save the world.
Philly AIDS Thrift, behind the quirky decor and oddball items, is a massive operation. Above it's showrooms, a full team of men and women (loaded with volunteers) sort through donated clothes. Every single week, they process 10,000 pounds of donated clothing. Some items cannot be sold as is - these are bagged into "weight" and sold by the pound to be used as rags, or even to be exported to developing nations. Everything can be reused in one form or another.
To me, that is the true beauty of thrift. Giving things a second life. When I look up at Mars, red and barren, I wonder why people want to terraform it so badly. To go through all that trouble to create an entirely new Earth, meanwhile we have one right here that works perfectly fine.