How to Eat an Apple in Space

BY Jenny Marder  March 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM EST

Oh to be Chris Hadfield, eating maple syrup from a tube and casually gazing down at a smoke plume streaming from Italy’s Mount Etna volcano while performing experiments to improve the metal in turbine blades and dental fillings.

The good news is that the Canadian astronaut, who assumes the reins this week as commander of the International Space Station, is giving his 500,000-plus Twitter followers a virtual glimpse into his life in orbit. And that makes it splendid timing for a shoutout to his unparalleled social media acumen.

In the past week alone, he’s written about weightlessness, the Pearl River delta and the Comet Pan-STARRS. He’s posted stunning pictures of Mount Fuji, Canada’s South Saskatchewan River and Minsk, Belarus, hometown of his “happy crewmate Oleg Novitsky.” He filmed a video on what he eats: cranberry-flavored buffalo jerky, Canadian maple candy and smoked salmon pate. (Video posted above.)

He sees faces in the thunderstorms and “wicked geology laid bare in Northeast Africa.”

He even crowdsourced his next vacation spot.

Among the suggestions from followers: the glowworms in New Zealand’s underground caves, the penguins in Cape Town and the red rock formations in Utah’s Moab. A man named Dave even offered up his Bristol shed, complete with whiskey, a window and a weasel under the floorboards.

And every night, before bed, he posts a finale:

But my favorite is this. Ever wondered how you put an apple down between bites in space? You Velcro it, naturally. To the “ceiling.”

QUICK BITES

  • This week’s New York Times Magazine has a fascinating and wonderfully written story on new treatments for children with severe food allergies. I dare you to read the story of these kids and not get a little choked up.

  • From USA Today: “The Environmental Protection Agency has no current plans to revise key hazard standards that protect children from lead poisoning, despite calls for action from the agency’s scientific advisers.”

  • On de-extinction, and the case for bringing the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth back to life. National Geographic reports.

  • How to cook an egg (and a penny and a hot dog) with the sun.

  • From ScienceNews: “Liking rapper Nicki Minaj and enjoying cuddling … hint at leftward political leanings.” Things a person “likes” on Facebook can predict political leaning, age, gender and sexual orientation, a new study finds.

    NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH

  • In Shanghai, nearly 3,000 dead pigs were dumped into a river that constitutes a main drinking water source for area residents. Financial Times reports.

-Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson, David Pelcyger and Colleen Shalby contributed to this report.