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    Thanks to This 11-Year-Old, We'll Be Able to Drink Beer in the Space Colonies of the Future

    Written by

    Meghan Neal

    contributing editor

    NASA's 1970s vision for space colonization, via Wikimedia

    Kids these days. The clearest memory that I have of sixth grade is rollerskating at Happy Wheels on couples night, willing Ben Hobson to ask me to skate with him when All-4-One's "I Swear" started playing. (Ben, if you're reading this, now you know.) Eleven-year-old Michal Bodzianowski on the other hand, will get to remember that time he invented a way to brew beer in the outer orbits of the universe, possibly singlehandedly assuring the future of humanity has a good time once we colonize space.

    The cosmic microbrew started out as a class experiment to see how the fermentation process works in microgravity, the Denver Post reported. Then Bodzianowski’s class at Colorado's STEM School and Academy took the idea to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education competition, where it beat out nearly 4,000 other students for the winning prize: a chance to work with NASA to put the experiment to test.

    Adorably, the sixth-grader’s idea had nothing to do with an interest in homebrewing or partying, but rather a curiosity about beer’s medical and survival properties. The idea was sparked by a book he read that described how in the Middle Ages people drank beer instead of water for hydration. The water in those days was often contaminated and dangerous to drink, but the fermentation process used to make alcohol killed off the bacteria.

    The student figured, if it worked for the dark ages, why not the coming space age? According to the project proposal, the objective of the experiment was to prepare an "emergency backup hydration and medical source" for the astronauts and humans of “future civilization." In the event of a disaster, the proposal explains, "the fermentation process could be used to make beer, which can then be used as a disinfectant and a clean drinking source.”

    So can it work? We’ll find out soon. NASA is going to give Bodzianowski his own research mini-lab, and is going to launch silicon tubes filled with hops, malted barley, yeast, and water to the International Space Station in December. Once in orbit, an astronaut will conduct the experiment following the student’s instructions to see if the ingredients can be successfully combined to make beer in zero gravity.

    Meanwhile, Bodzianowski will conduct the same experiment it here on Earth. Then the two compare notes. "We're just trying to get the yeast to react with the ingredients of beer," the middle-schooler told a local news station. "If it doesn't react at all, this tells you it won't work."

    If it does work, it will be a welcome addition to the extra-planetary civilization NASA's envisioned since the 1970s. Emergency preparedness aside, NASA imagined the futurist colonies would be funded by space tourism—and what's a vacation without a cold brewski?