Space is a weird and wonderful place that never fails to astound us—especially this discovery from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. In 2013, while on a mission to the International Space Station, Hadfield performed a series of experiments and filmed them for the Canadian Space Agency. These experiments were very simple everyday tasks, but in space, they produced very different results.
One particular experiment, designed by high school students from Nova Scotia, sought to discover what happens when you wring out a wet towel. Hadfield tried it and the results are astounding.
Introducing the experiment, he says:
We may have the coolest washcloths ever, here on the space station. I’m going to show you.
He gets out a hockey puck shaped container and pulls out a very dry piece of cloth. “Okay, so here’s my wash cloth,” he continues, “like a magic trick and now, I’m going to get this soaking wet and then we’re going to see what will happen when we wring it out.”
After squirting the water from a bag on to the cloth, the astronaut begins to wring it out. Describing the feel of the water, he says:
[It’s] all over my hands. In fact, it wrings out of the cloth into my hands and if I let go of the cloth carefully, the water sort of sticks to my hand.
The water appears to take on a gel like consistency, which he explains is because of its surface tension. He adds:
It actually runs along the surface of the cloth and then up into my hand, almost like you had jell-o on your hand or gel on your hand and it will just stay there…and the cloth doesn’t really unravel itself. It just stays there floating, like a dog’s chew toy, soaking wet.
The experiment has wowed people across the world and has since been watched over 12 million times. Not only this but the students who actually posed the experiement—Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner from Lockview High School—won the Canadian Space Agency’s international science competition because of it.
See more of Hadfield’s experiments here.