Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Americans eat 12 pounds of chocolate each year, and as Halloween approaches, I think I’m already into my 13th pound of the stuff. I love chocolate in all its candy forms — Reese’s peanut butter cups, M&M’s, Hershey’s miniatures — these go into the “approved for mommy” stack as I sort through my daughter’s Halloween candy haul.
While I’m familiar with the sight and smell of chocolate in its processed form, the botanical form was a mystery until a recent visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s exhibit “Chocolate: From Seed to Sweet.” Through a series of interactive outdoor exhibits, my girls and I learned the process from the bloom on the cacao tree to the chocolate bars in the girls’ plastic orange pumpkins.
Walking through the outdoor exhibition, we learned about the mustard yellow seed pods of the cacao trees. The farmers harvest the seed pods, then grind them into chocolate liquor, which is then separated into cacao butter and powder. The exhibit stations are designed for children to roast, winnow, grind, mix and mold the cacao beans. And I learned this interesting fact: Cacao (ca-COW) refers to the tree and beans inside the seed pods; cocoa refers to the byproducts of the cocoa bean, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. And here’s another factoid – each cacao pod is about the size of a pineapple and holds enough seeds to make about seven milk chocolate or two dark chocolate bars.
That concentrated dark chocolate appears at my house each Halloween in the form of Hershey’s Miniatures. When I was young, I gave away the Special Darks and gobbled up all the milk chocolate. These days, while I still have a taste for the milder milk chocolate, I have a hankering for dark chocolate, and Special Dark is the way to go.
When I weary of eating the chocolate straight, I make a luscious sauce that can be used in many ways — on ice cream, on spoons, on fingers — but is delightful on a perfectly poached pear. This is the very essence of a simple, elegant, seasonal dessert. A ripe pear, poached in a flavored syrup, caressed with chocolate. It’s divine.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.