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Spaceworms To Help Study Astronaut Muscle Loss

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the spacefish-ate-my-homework dept.

Biotech 73

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that 4,000 microscopic worms were onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis when it launched today. Their mission: to help experts in human physiology understand more about what triggers the body to build and lose muscle. The worms are bound for the Japanese Experiment Module 'Kibo' on the International Space Station, where they will experience the same weightless conditions which can cause dramatic muscle loss, one of the major health concerns for astronauts. 'If we can identify what causes the body to react in certain ways in space we establish new pathways for research back on earth,' says Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk."

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First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154242)

First squiggle.

Re:First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154460)

Erzähler: Im Jahr 1939, Lebensraum beginnen gewesen.
        Herr Kapitän: Was ist los?
        Mechaniker: Jemand der Bomb zu uns prepariren hatten.
        Operator: Wir erhalten Signal.
        Herr Kapitän: Was!
        Operator: Hauptmonitor an.
        Herr Kapitän: Sie!
        Hitler: Wie geht es euch meine Herren!!
        Hitler: Alle eure Länder sind zu uns gehören.
        Hitler: Ihr seid auf dem Weg zur Zerstörung.
        Herr Kapitän: Was Sie sagen!!
        Hitler: Ihr habt keine Wahrscheinlichkeit zu überleben bilden Sie Ihre Zeit.
        Herr Kapitän: Was meinen Sie! Ich verstehe nicht!!
        Hitler: Der Übersetzer ist ein Arschloch. Er kann kein Deutsch!!
        Hitler: HA HA HA HA HEIL!
        Herr Kapitän: Nahm weg jede ”Zig”!
        Herr Kapitän: Du weißt was du machst.
        Herr Kapitän: Nahm weg “Zig”.
        Herr Kapitän: Für grosse Gerechtigkeit. Scheiße!!

muscle loss (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154254)

Why don't we just give steroids to the astronauts, that should help them a bit with the muscle loss problem.

re: muscle loss (4, Insightful)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154376)

Hyper-competitive former fighter jocks + confined space + roids. Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

Re: muscle loss (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154660)

Hyper-competitive former fighter jocks + confined space + roids. Whatcouldpossiblygowrong

The most possible option for that to go wrong is:

Hyper-competitive fighter jocks on roids whose minds are being controlled by intellectually superior microworms - confined space.

Loss of peace (3, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154952)

Hyper-competitive former fighter jocks + confined space + roids. Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

Make sure there's only one female in the crew, and the problems will be clear enough.

She's often a fighter jock too. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155244)

Make sure there's only one female in the crew, and the problems will be clear enough.

She's a ruthless fighter jock too. If Eileen Collins was up there, she'd have all the men quacking in their boots before too long and install herself as queen bee.

Re:She's often a fighter jock too. (2, Funny)

thebheffect (1409105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30156488)

She'll have them acting like ducks?

Re:She's often a fighter jock too. (2, Funny)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30157482)

Like you don't have any unusual fetishes.

gnaa (-1, Offtopic)

afed125 (1681340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154256)

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About President timecop

DEAD.

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Bad idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154276)

Am I the only one who feels like this is a bad idea? We all remember what happened to the ants...

I for one welcome our new medium sized giant spaceworm overlords!

Re:Bad idea (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154860)

Hey, nothing's wrong with worms. You want some worms? Have worms. Glory to the many! I mean, we can feel your fear! I mean, what is a voice, to the choir?!!? Worms! Worms do a body good!

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30161592)

As long as you get your space worms at Greasy Sues Greasy Truck Stop, things tend to work out fairly well from what I understand.

Re:Bad idea (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154866)

I think you're making a mistake there. These things [zgeek.com] aren't exactly medium-sized.

that was homer simpsons fault. Now he works for Br (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155408)

that was homer simpsons fault. Now he works for Brazil's power system.

Inspired by Hollywood? (3, Funny)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154290)

Rather than having proper Snakes On A Plane, NASA investigated the concept, did a risk assessment, ran some simulations, modeled it, tested it in a swimming pool, and then decided that it was better to have Microscopic Worms On A Space Station.

I was going to make more jokes about Worms Armageddon, but I think I'm done. Hope they left their banana bombs in Florida.

Re:Inspired by Hollywood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154596)

sneaky way you added the banana bomb

Spaceworms (-1, Redundant)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154308)

I for one welcome our new Mutated Spaceworm overlords!

Re:Spaceworms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154352)

Ladies and gentlemen, we've just seen speaks for itself. The spacecraft has been take over, conquered if you will, by a master race of giant space worms. It is difficult to tell from this vantage point if the worms will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, the worms will soon be here. And, I for one welcome our worm overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality I can help round up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Surprisingly fast (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154320)

I broke my right arm in a cycling accident on the 30th of july. The arm was pretty much immobilised for two months. To this day I still can't lift my right elbow above the level of my shoulder. The muscles in that arm are gone. Hard to think what shape I would be in if I spent six months on the ISS.

Re:Surprisingly fast (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154344)

That doesn't sound like quite the same thing, a lack of range of motion is not the same as a weak muscle. Can you raise the arm fully while submerged? When upside down? If that isn't the case then it's more likely physiological damage to muscle/joint etc. than muscle degradation.

Re:Surprisingly fast (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154364)

Yeah lying down I can swing that arm to the vertical then back above my head. But working against gravity it can't go nearly as far. The joint seems okay and I have had to stretch the muscles on the bottom of the shoulder joint to get that amount of movement.

I have had about a month of physiotherapy now and the advice I have is that the limiting factor is the strength of the muscles which lift the arm.

Give it time (2, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154560)

> I have had about a month of physiotherapy now

I don't think you should lose hope for at least another 11 months and probably more. I broke my wrist and its functionality improved for many months after I was free of the immobilization framework. Of course, it probably would be best if you continue doing physiotheraputic exercises even after the period which is usually believed to be the window of opportunity by conventional medicine (if your physiotherapy is anything like the one I got for my wrist, you have been given exercises to do by yourself). I don't have any problem with that, because I study aikido, so I get free "physiotherapy" for my wrist with every practice session.

I understand that my case is a bit different in that my problem was more joint flexibility rather than muscle strength, but I still think you are being premature. And of course, I wish you the best of luck with your recovery!

Re:Give it time (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154702)

I got electrocuted (ok ok, shocked... but it was several hundred volts with the potential to push a couple amps, resistance allowing) in a way that the electricity passed through my shoulder. I wasn't able to lift it up against gravity either.

Eventually, this got better... months later. It's still a bit creaky sometimes, occasionally it 'snags' and feels quite "interesting" if I push it without dropping it again.

So, what you are seeing may not necessarily be atrophy from the immobilization, but actual damage caused by/during the accident that required the immobilization.

Re:Give it time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154868)

I broke my wrist

Even common male hobbies can be dangerous :-(

Re:Surprisingly fast (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155712)

That seems like a rotator cuff injury, when you can't raise your arm above your head. The fall that broke your arm, or the immobilization of the arm after the injury, may have resulted in your rotator cuff being damaged or atrophied. Go to an orthopedic specialist to check out your shoulder. You may need surgery and/or several months of physiotherapy to repair the damaged rotator cuff muscles/tendons.

Re:Surprisingly fast (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163790)

The doctors and physiotherapists both checked for a rotator cuff injury. They didn't find anything wrong there. I just have to work on these muscles In think. It has only been three weeks since I took the brace off the arm.

Re:Surprisingly fast (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30160712)

There is "perhaps" a chance you can either a) increase the size of the muscle cells, or b) increase the number of muscle cells in the proper conditions. Check out : http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/hst_index.html [hypertrophy-specific.com] for some basics. the forums are filled with interesting discussion which might help you out.

Re:Surprisingly fast (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154346)

1. The muscles are not gone, you simply did not perform any physical rehabilitation, nor try hard enough after the cast was off, I presume because of the fact that you are a lazy nerd. If that is not the case, then it was either ripped, or the bone did not mend properly, there is really no other reason.
2. They are not immobile on the ISS, they can exercise, and unlike you, they are not lazy.
3. I really don't see any benefit in this particular experiment, muscle atrophy is very well known, if you don't use it, you lose it. It's as simple as that, sure exercise on the ISS helps a bit, but without the constant gravity tugging on everything and straining the muscles 24/7, you're bound to begin to lose muscle density in 0 G.

Re:Surprisingly fast (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154374)

(see my other reply)

I am working with a physiotherapist to get full movement back but it takes a lot of effort working on the joints, muscles which needed to be stretched, and the muscles which need to get their strength back. Around the office I have made a concious effort to use my right arm again (opening doors, etc) and in the last two weeks it has improved significantly.

Two type of muscle (4, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154700)

2. They are not immobile on the ISS, they can exercise, and unlike you, they are not lazy.

That's (almost) no help. You have 2 types of skeletal muscles fibers.

One, Type II fibers (what's commonly named "red meat") is able to contract fast with great strength over short period of time.
That's what you use when you exercice or do efforts. It's used for impulse-type efforts.

The other Type I fibers (what's commonly named "white meat") is slower, less powerful, but can contract over long period of time.
You are continuously using them whole day long just to stay upright, against gravity.

By doing sport, you (preferably) build up type II fibers.
What melts in zero-G and what you need to recreate once back on the ground are type I fibers.

In short, to give an exaggerated image :
By making sports on the ISS you create astronautes who have the muscle mass of a Terminator-era Arnold Schwartzeneger, who could lift half a ton.
But can't stand upright more than 20 minutes.
Of course, I'm exaggerating. Endurance training (running on a fitness machine) has better effect on the gravity-dependent muscle mass. Nonetheless the current situation is not the most efficient.

3. I really don't see any benefit in this particular experiment, muscle atrophy is very well known, if you don't use it, you lose it. It's as simple as that, sure exercise on the ISS helps a bit, but without the constant gravity tugging on everything and straining the muscles 24/7, you're bound to begin to lose muscle density in 0 G.

First, it's not "as simple as that". See above.

In addition, in Science there's a certain difference between "We know it exists" and "Here is an exhaustive map of absolutely all chemicals involved in the whole process from begin to end".
(and then further difference with "here are a couple of drugs which can influence it and slow down the muscle melting").
From an ethical point of view, the advantage of the space-worms is that you can sacrifice them, and dissect-them and analyse all the proteins and other chemical they contain. (Whereas with human astronaut, you're ethically limited to blood samples).

The benefit is to have a better understanding of the minute details involved in muscle loss (as opposed to just know that it exist).

The hope is that, on the long term, such knowledge could bring benefits :
- Space Medecine : better treatments to help astronauts avoid losing muscle mass (current hGH is the only used one, according to a quick look-up in wikipedia).
- Surgery : better handling of patients with muscle atrophy due to long immobilising
- Degenerative disease : New clues for treating muscles degenerative disease
- Cosmetics : Instant budy building in a pill for Arnold "Terminator" Schwartzeneger wannabes.
- Military : Instant super soldier-in-a-pill
- (Illegal) sports : Even more doping.

Well, in short having more data about a problem is always useful.

Re:Two type of muscle (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30159948)

> Whereas with human astronaut, you're ethically limited to blood samples

I can't for the life of me see why it would be unethical to let the astronaut agree to have a muscle tissue biopsy. Or at least why it would be less ethical than blood sampling. Do you know something I don't?

More mass needed (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170610)

Or at least why it would be less ethical than blood sampling. Do you know something I don't?

Given the fact that the scientist are growing 4'000 worms, they might be interesting in having big quantity of material :

They are not interested in analysing what the bulk of muscle is made of (we already know : it's mostly actin & myosin). They are probably more likely investigate the sublte change in chemical pathway / messenger / hormones, etc. - Perhaps a massive proteomics study ?
These molecular intermediates happen to be in much lower concentration. Our biological systems are really good at detecting and reacting to minute amount of target substance.
Therefore the scientist will be trying to detect tiny trace amounts of (yet) unknown chemicals, whereas modern spectrometers feature dynamic ranges "only" on the order of 1:1*10^6.
(i.e.: You can still spot one rare protein hidden among a mass of one million albumin copies. But something less concentrated could get hidden in the noise)

As such, to increase chance of detection, scientist use method as depletion of over abundant proteins (like albumin), concentration of sample, pooling of several samples, etc.
All this requires more raw material. And a whole box full of 4000 worms is much more handy than the minuscule amount you could get in the tip of a biopsy needle. (I doubt any scientist will ethically accept amputating a whole muscle out of some crazy-volunteer's leg)

Also, it is much easier to grow worms on some labelled food, that will be incorporated into their muscle, whereas their cousins who remained on earth could be fed differently labelled food. This enables the scientist to be able to compare the two pools to detect changes of concentration of various chemicals.
This would be much more difficult with adult human being (we're bigger and have a slower turnover of our proteins). And I don't know if there are long-term-safe markers which could be used with humans (non-radioactive isotopes, maybe ?). With worm which are going to be sacrificed anyway, you can go crazy (radio active labelling, long-term toxic labels, etc.)

In addition, for such experiment to work, the scientist will need atrophied muscle. As GP pointed out, current astronauts do sport, even if it isn't efficient, just to keep them in shape (within what's currently possible). It would be ethical to order them to stay immobile until they transform into a big puddle of meat unable to stand upright.

Well of course, all this is opposing the well-being of creatures who are able to understand what's going on and who might consciously accept risks and volunteer, versus the well-being of poor mute worms who were never asked if they agree with the whole experiment.

In addition of the ethical reasons there's a plain stupid logistic one : You would need a negative control.
And it's way more easy to just grow 2 boxes of worms : 4000 in microgravity aboard the ISS and 4000 in another box left under an effective influence of the gravitational field.
Whereas with human you would need identical twins - and I don't know how much astronauts have twins, Einstein's thought experiment not-withstanding - and/or big cohorts to average inter-individual variation - and it's expensive already to send a small team of astronauts to the ISS.

Re:Two type of muscle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30161482)

One, Type II fibers (what's commonly named "red meat") is able to contract fast with great strength over short period of time.
That's what you use when you exercice or do efforts. It's used for impulse-type efforts.

The other Type I fibers (what's commonly named "white meat") is slower, less powerful, but can contract over long period of time.
You are continuously using them whole day long just to stay upright, against gravity.

Good analysis but you mixed up your colors.

- Type I, slow oxidative, slow twitch, or "red" muscle is dense with capillaries and is rich in mitochondria and myoglobin, giving the muscle tissue its characteristic red color. It can carry more oxygen and sustain aerobic activity.

- Type II, fast twitch muscle, has three major kinds that are, in order of increasing contractile speed

Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle#Types

That's very interesting. (1)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155796)

Re:That's very interesting. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163704)

Whats your point?

White hat worms (1)

somecoffeemug (1680420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154430)

Nice seeing worms doing some good for a change.

Re:White hat worms (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170176)

Nice seeing worms doing some good for a change

Eh? The worms in my garden do a lot of good.

An Experiment for a Known Cause and Effect? (1, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154442)

Why do we need to conduct an experiement to determine whether space travel can muscles to atrophy? Common sense tells us that muscles in space will certainly atrophy.

We see this atrophy in hospital patients who are confined to bed for years in a coma. These patients never exercise their muscles, and they simply atrophy. Being in space is worse than being in bed. Lack of gravity means that your muscles are not constantly being exercised. Your muscles will waste away.

The fix for this problem is to use only astronauts who have a natural genetic mutation [msn.com] that causes muscles to be large, durable, and strong. A few Europeans do have this mutation.

Perhaps, Khan -- the character in Star Trek -- was right. A race of genetic supermen is best suited for space travel.

Duh (2, Insightful)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154552)

It seems likely to me that the worms will be subjected to various treatments ("test groups") to see if there is a way to reduce this muscle atrophy.

You seem confident that you know what the "fix" is, but without experimentation your suggestion is merely a hypothesis.

Re:Duh (1)

Asclepius99 (1527727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154884)

The man is basing some of his science off of Star Trek, how could he be wrong?

Re:An Experiment for a Known Cause and Effect? (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154876)

Common sense != Science.

Also, it doesn't explain why or how atrophy happens or how to prevent it.

Re:An Experiment for a Known Cause and Effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30156588)

You mean, the reduced use or non-use of muscles doesn't cause muscle loss? I guess I don't have to keep exercising to keep my body from going out of shape.

Re:An Experiment for a Known Cause and Effect? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154930)

From the summary (not even the article!) they want to "understand more about what triggers the body to build and lose muscle". Funnily enough, they're trying to understand processes critical to space travel. Those crazy NASA bastards.

Re:An Experiment for a Known Cause and Effect? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170802)

Why do we need to conduct an experiement to determine whether space travel can muscles to atrophy? Common sense tells us that muscles in space will certainly atrophy.

We see this atrophy in hospital patients who are confined to bed for years in a coma. These patients never exercise their muscles, and they simply atrophy. Being in space is worse than being in bed. Lack of gravity means that your muscles are not constantly being exercised. Your muscles will waste away.

You are absolutely correct, because all astronauts will simply spend two or three years lying around in bed.

It needs to be said (-1, Redundant)

marqs (774373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154448)

I for one, welcome our new space worm overlords.

there will be space suits involved? (1)

Z80a (971949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154462)

you know, worms and space suits do work in some weird ways, like shooting houses and carring pigs around.

Worms for experiments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154476)

"No they are not for experiments... a guy just gets hungry out there"

mod dowN (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154510)

were nnulified by For it. I don't

Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? (1, Funny)

scjohnno (1370701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154614)

The astronauts should just lift weights.

Re:Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154634)

It was actually pretty funny, but without seeing that sly smile people might miss the joke.

Re:Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? (1)

Mavrick3020 (1174511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154652)

/facepalm

Re:Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30156718)

I lol'd. (Note to self: buy a waterproof keyboard)

And what about girls? (0, Redundant)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30154620)

And what about girls?

Space + Worms + Japan = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154622)

DOOM! Doom I tell you! Have we learned nothing from watching Japanese television/movies? At least we know who to blame when Tokyo is in ruins!

Coming soon: Space SpiderWorm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154708)

What if the worms escape and find the spider that NASA lost on the ISS last year? What if they mate behind the space-sofa? WHAT THEN?????

Asstronaut worms (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154740)

The astronaut goes to see the flight surgeon, who tells him he has worms, but not to worry. There is a 100% effective treatment.

Visit One: The surgeon shoves an apple, a pear, and a banana up the astronaut's ass.

Visit Two:The surgeon shoves an apple, a pear, and a banana up the astronaut's ass.

Visit Three: The surgeon shoves an apple and a pear up the astronaut's ass, then stands there holding the banana like a weapon. The worm sticks its head out of the astronaut's ass and says "Hey! Where's my banana?"

Whap! The surgeon knocks out the worm and pulls it out.

Re:Asstronaut worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30161710)

You said ass 4 times.

Spice worms? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154838)

The Spacing Guild will be pleased.

Worms? Eewwwww! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30154886)

These microscopic worms aren't travelling to the ISS on board the astronauts by any chance?

earthworms (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155090)

I believe "spaceworms" is inaccurate. They are earth worms... "In spppaccee!!"

Sailors.. (1)

Kleppy (1671116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155114)

..used to keep jars of worms for "relief" when spending months on ships. This however may not have the same effect. Bleh.

This is all very well but... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155298)

Whatever the pathways involved, say we discover some incredibly complex mechanism that regulates muscle mass; it still won't solve the basic problem. Being in free-fall or "zero g" for long enough causes involution of muscle and deteriorates bone strength. Now perhaps some pharmaceutical company can be persuaded to invest billions of dollars, one this pathway is discovered, to invent a drug that blocks it and thus lets astronaut keep their muscles. Then they will sell the pills to NASA and other space programs, at $1 million per pill.

      Frankly wouldn't it be better to understand the relationship between gravity and muscle mass/bone density, and work on ways to simulate gravity instead? Methinks it would be far cheaper, AND resolve the situation.

Re:This is all very well but... (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30159208)

Whatever the pathways involved, say we discover some incredibly complex mechanism that regulates muscle mass; it still won't solve the basic problem. Being in free-fall or "zero g" for long enough causes involution of muscle and deteriorates bone strength. Now perhaps some pharmaceutical company can be persuaded to invest billions of dollars, one this pathway is discovered, to invent a drug that blocks it and thus lets astronaut keep their muscles. Then they will sell the pills to NASA and other space programs, at $1 million per pill.

      Frankly wouldn't it be better to understand the relationship between gravity and muscle mass/bone density, and work on ways to simulate gravity instead? Methinks it would be far cheaper, AND resolve the situation.

As with most space-related stuff, there are applications beyond the realm of 0 G environments.

Muscles atrophy here on Earth as well. Folks who are immobilized due to injuries or illness suffer muscle loss. In some cases it requires an awful lot of physical therapy to get that muscle back. In other cases it just isn't possible to fix.

Assuming we're able to discover "some incredibly complex mechanism that regulates muscle mass" - that information can be applied down here on Earth as well.

And if a pharmaceutical company does invest billions of dollars into inventing a drug that blocks it, they won't just be selling it to NASA.

Seriously? (2, Funny)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155414)

Is everyone really going to let it slide that there's an ISS module called 'Kibo'?

1960's pop sci (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30155472)

The Nostradamus' of the 60's had already figured out the solution:

circular-shaped spacecrafts that rotates (for small crafts this might have to be 2,000,000 RPM but we're talking juiced up top guns here).

Re:1960's pop sci (1)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155868)

Sounds good in theory, but if you're rotating a small ship wouldn't the differences in "gravity" be awfully disorienting? Beyond that, small enough (i.e. around the sizes that we can currently construct) and you may find that the gravity affecting your feet is significantly different than that affecting your head. I don't know if anyone has studied the affects of something like that, but it could very well be more damaging then having the entire body at a lower gravity.

Wait. What? (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30155822)

The Japanese are sending worms to Kibo in space? How long has Kibo been in space? When did that happen? And what the hell does he want with worms??

I swear, you miss one day around here - ONE DAY - and you're completely lost.

Worms in space? Evolution is amazing... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30156346)

Remember when you had to go to Earth and eat brownies out of the sandbox to get worms?

Long years of pointless study (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167388)

I wonder how many 10's of billions of dollars have been spent studying muscle and bone atrophy in microgravity? Enough, I think, to launch a 1G rotating section on the space station so we never have to endure this silly discussion again.

What radius is needed to simulate gravity? (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167854)

The normally stated reason why it is tricky to simulate gravity using a rotating space station is that the curvature causes the generated gravitational field to be inhomogeneous and that this generally results in nausea. Thus I'm wondering a few things:

a) Is it known what radius of circulation is needed to avoid this?

b) Is the primary problem that the artificial gravity points in different directions in points separated by a small distance, or is it that the magnitude of the field changes with distance from the center of rotation that makes it tricky?

I guess from a practical point of view you also have to deal with the problem of docking a shuttle with a rotating space station unless you want to start and stop the rotation before every docking. Stabilizing the motion may also be an issue, especially if the station itself is light as compared to the equipment and inhabitants that will be housed inside it.

Cue PETA in 5...4...3...2...1..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30167954)

OMG!! We've been bitchin' 'bout exposing Squirrel Monkeys to radiation.....now the Japanese want to send WORMS into space????

Please, will somebody think of the worms!!!! Never mind the children......

Worms are animals, aren't they?

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