Why Astronaut Urine Is a National Treasure

Astronauts in space are kind of like royalty: They’re never alone, and someone is always watching. This is, in part, because doing stuff in space is inherently fascinating. It’s also because nearly everything they do is scientifically relevant. Simply existing in a spacecraft is an experiment in itself, and Mission Control is always collecting data. Some of that data comes from monitors aboard the space craft. Some is recorded by the astronauts themselves. And some of that data is pee. 

Space travel takes a toll on the human body. Astronauts have to contend with shrinking hearts, squashed eyeballs, stretched spines, and a loss of bone density. It’s that last one that concerns a team of chemists at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The space program hopes to eventually send human beings to Mars, but we certainly can’t do it if the trip will wreck our skeletons.

As Smarter Every Day host Destin Sandlin demonstrates in the video above, travelers aboard the International Space Station follow a rigorous exercise program to keep their bones strong. It’s difficult to get in a good workout without gravity, so the space program is working to fine-tune the exercise machines. To do that, they need to know how well the existing machines help preserve bone density. And to do that, they need urine.

Our pee is a pretty good indicator of what’s going on in our bodies. It serves as a repository for all the excess chemicals, nutrients, and minerals we don’t need. Astronauts losing bone mass will have high levels of calcium in their urine. Or, as Destin puts it, “they pee out their bones.”

The urine is collected in space and comes back down with the astronauts. By the time it reaches the laboratory, it’s come a long, long way. The government goes to great lengths to keep the urine safe. As NASA biochemist Scott Smith explains in the video: “It is considered a national treasure.”

Header image via YouTube // SmarterEveryDay

[h/t The Nerdist]

Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


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