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Bees on space shuttle floating along in bliss

Fourteen honeybees traveling on the space shuttle Columbia are apparently enjoying their gravity-free ride. Surprisingly, they stopped flapping their wings and are floating lazily around their small container. Forty-eight velvet-bean moths in the adjoining chamber were not nearly so nonchalant, spiraling crazily in the compartment. Twelve house flies clung to the walls.

Todd Nelson, a Rose Creek, Minn., high school student who designed the experiment, had no idea why the bees seemed so calm in space. But Astronaut Jack Lousma said they were simply ''taking the easy way out.''

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