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How Tiny Worms Could Help Humans Colonize Mars

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the send-in-the-worms dept.

Mars 101

Pierre Bezukhov writes "The roundworm has about 20,000 protein-coding genes — nearly as many as humans, who have about 23,000. Furthermore, there is a lot of overlap between our genome and theirs, with many genes performing roughly the same functions in both species. Launching C. elegans roundworms to Mars would allow scientists to see just how dangerous the high radiation levels found in deep space — and on the Red Planet's surface — are to animal life. 'Worms allow us to detect changes in growth, development, reproduction and behavior in response to environmental conditions such as toxins or in response to deep space missions,' said Nathaniel Szewczyk of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. 'Given the high failure rate of Mars missions, use of worms allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test spacecraft systems prior to manned missions,' he adds."

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What can go wrong with this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219688)

Wait in welcome to our Martian roundworm overlords.

Re:What can go wrong with this? (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219798)

Wait in welcome to our Martian roundworm overlords.

In Soviet Russia worms colonize YOU!

Re:What can go wrong with this? (3, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220176)

In Soviet Russia worms colonize YOU!

I think you meant to say In the Amazon Basin worms colonize YOU!

Are you saying Futurama == Soviet Russia? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220208)

Futurama: Parasites Lost [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What can go wrong with this? (4, Funny)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220196)

The Spice Must Flow

Re:What can go wrong with this? (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38224174)

Sadly, the only time spice flows for me is when the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices are flowing out my thermal exhaust port.

Re:What can go wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38234836)

You taste them twice: on the way in and on the way out!

Re:What can go wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226108)

So... does that mean that NASA (and by extension the US govt) controls the spice worms, therefore controlling the spice, therefore controlling the universe?

God help us all

Re:What can go wrong with this? (1)

loustic (1577303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38224170)

use of worms allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test

Tell that to the worms !

Yeah, we could do that, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219692)

Can't we just... you know... measure the radiation levels and then use what we already know about the effects of radiation?

Re:Yeah, we could do that, or... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220776)

Can't we just... you know... measure the radiation levels and then use what we already know about the effects of radiation?

What do we know about long-term effects of interplanetary radiation on humans?

Re:Yeah, we could do that, or... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38222252)

In my opinion, their proteins are irrelevant to the experiment. C. Elegans lives two to three weeks. Even under perfect circumstances, the trip to Mars is going to take longer than the average lifespan of these worms. That means the worms have to reproduce in order for any to reach Mars alive. The radiation might not kill them by damaging their proteins in that short time, but it could sterilize them (they're hermaphrodites, each worm can impregnate itself, but must have working reproductive organs).

What do we know about long-term effects of interplanetary radiation on humans?

Chronic and acute radiation exposure have been studied. Most animals have cell repair mechanisms that make chronic exposure much less hazardous, up to a point. Interplanetary radiation between Earth and Mars orbit is probably closer to acute levels, except that blocking Alpha radiation and some Beta is possible with just a sheet of aluminum.

I bet the worms will survive for at least two generations (4-6 weeks approx.) but die out before food and oxygen are exhausted.
More importantly, I think people would survive the trip, but suffer from being sterile long before cancer becomes an issue. That means any people living on Mars would only be visiting, unless they spent their lives below the surface and each generation became parents as young as possible.

Worms are also messy. The cabin in a shuttle, rocket or space station are kept pristine by comparison. People dispose of their waste. The decay of the worm soil might raise the pressure in their small container. That might be a problem if it's a sophisticated design with an O2 inlet and CO2 outlet/scrubber. Higher air pressure could prevent oxygen from being fed in, and the worms then suffocate.

Re:Yeah, we could do that, or... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227214)

More importantly, I think people would survive the trip, but suffer from being sterile long before cancer becomes an issue.

Maybe they could just wear lead-lined underwear.

Re:Yeah, we could do that, or... (2)

Scaba (183684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227780)

I'm always amazed when Anonymous Coward is able to solve, by thought alone, problems that all of NASA is only able to solve by tedious experimentation, and the collection and analysis of empirical data.

Re:Yeah, we could do that, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38223046)

Can't we just... you know... measure the radiation levels and then use what we already know about the effects of radiation?

Science isn't about why, it's about why not. You ask: Why is so much of our science dangerous? I say: Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired!

Arrakis Desert Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219696)

Shai-hulud started as Roundworms.

Re:Arrakis Desert Planet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220154)

Took until third post, but at least someone made the Dune connection. Slashdot, you do not disappoint.

Re:Arrakis Desert Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38224574)

Yeah... now we know how the giant worms on Dune were created.

Re:Arrakis Desert Planet (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220326)

FATHER !!! The AC has awakened!

Not the best model for radiation (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219708)

There's a reason C. elegans isn't used in basic cell cycle research as much as yeast. It doesn't continually replace its cells at maturity. Consequentially, DNA-damaging environmental conditions have a much lower chance of affecting them at maturity than humans.

But that isn't the COOL part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219818)

The cool part is when the radiation makes them mutate.....

And then the spice they produce gives us enough precience to navigate the galaxy at superluminal speeds without crashing into anything!

WOOHOO!

Re:But that isn't the COOL part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220516)

And then the spice they produce gives us enough precience to navigate the galaxy at superluminal speeds without crashing into anything!

WOOHOO!

Wrong. The spice does not allow FTL-speed. It only allows you to fold space, to travel without moving.

And now I have to watch the intoduction monologue from that movie with Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Ming the Merciless.

Re:But that isn't the COOL part (1)

Warwick Allison (209388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38224508)

How do you know that's not what all so-called "moving" entails? Displacement over time.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (3, Informative)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219908)

Perhaps the choice of test subject had more to do with the ease of tending to them automatically over such a long time frame; using larger organisms like lab mice would likely be impractical. Methinks the similarity in the size of the genome is a happy coincidence.

What puzzles me is why it's necessary to send animals to Mars at all. Are there really that many more cosmic rays en route to Mars than there are where the ISS is?

Re:Not the best model for radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220094)

Because you're sending other experiments to Mars, too.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (5, Informative)

crakbone (860662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220186)

The ISS is behind the Van Allen Belt and protected from a large amount of cosmic radiation by it.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (2)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221796)

Well that explains why none of the astronauts and cosmonauts who have stayed on the ISS for months at a time have come back with super powers.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38233512)

That's what 'they' WANT you to think!

Re:Not the best model for radiation (4, Interesting)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220232)

GP in first sentence says yeast is better than C.elegans. So I say send a beer to Mars, say a nice Belgian Trappist Ale.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220296)

GP in first sentence says yeast is better than C.elegans. So I say send a beer to Mars, say a nice Belgian Trappist Ale.

And you can send a few cans of Bud Light to see how the trip would affect water.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226426)

Throw in some rabbits for zero-g sex, and you'd see the effects of the trip on fucking close to water.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221232)

GP in first sentence says yeast is better than C.elegans. So I say send a beer to Mars, say a nice Belgian Trappist Ale.

Having beer there would help. I know of quite a few people who wouldn't even think about a trip to mars unless they were sure they could get a beer there.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38225746)

I never thought this comic [itzoe.net] would be oblig.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229372)

Which would return to earth as 'Olympus Mons Pale Ale'. With catchy slogans like "A mountain of a beer" and "the beer that won't leave you flat", it is sure to be a hit.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220272)

What puzzles me is why it's necessary to send animals to Mars at all. Are there really that many more cosmic rays en route to Mars than there are where the ISS is?

Courtesy of the Magnetosphere [wikipedia.org] , yes. The ISS is only about 300km up, while the magnetosphere extends over a dozen Earth radii (tens of thousands of km), blocking most radiation. There is far more in space than in Earth orbit.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Warwick Allison (209388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38224548)

It actually blocks charged particles. You'll notice radiation (like, say, visible light) penetrates quite readily. Ironically, the ISS is in the Earth's radiation belt [wikipedia.org] .

So you're all wrong, just not in the ways your wrong opponents think.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220282)

Are there really that many more cosmic rays en route to Mars than there are where the ISS is?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphere [wikipedia.org] -- see some of the graphics for scale - ISS is at a few hundred miles.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220444)

Are there really that many more cosmic rays en route to Mars than there are where the ISS is?

Actually, yes.

You see the ISS orbits in Low Earth Orbit [wikipedia.org] due to the altitude of between 300 and 460 kilometers. This is well inside the magnetosphere [wikipedia.org] which extends for tens of thousands of kilometers into space. It is this Magnetosphere that protects both us here on earth and the astronauts up in the ISS from the same levels of radiation found in open space - even within our solar system.

There are concepts to build a small magnetic field (similar to the Earth's Magnetic Field [wikipedia.org] ) around spacecraft to protect the crew [nextworldweb.co.uk] which are quite intriguing - the link is a PDF sorry but well worth a read.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221056)

tl;dr

Yes, because Earth has fucking magnets all over it.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221116)

Yes, because Earth has fucking magnets all over it.

No, because the molten iron in the outer core of the earth produces immense amounts of electricity as it flows around making it basically a huge electromagnet with the magnetosphere as the electromagnetic field around it.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221616)

That's what I fucking said.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38222042)

That's what I fucking said.

Duty called. [xkcd.com] .

Re:Not the best model for radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38225632)

Missing the "joke" (crude internet meme humour) are we?

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221474)

The genome size similarity is constant for most eukaryotes, with plants being an exception. Even yeast has around 20,000 genes, and it's not even an animal.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221522)

That being said, yeah. A single nematode lives for about 15 days and can have up to 400 offspring during that timeframe. They get lots of opportunity for cell division during the first week or so, but that younger tissue isn't necessarily representative of the whole organism. Another problem with using such a tiny worm is that the chance of a germline mutation (in the reproductive cells, therefore being carried on to all children) is much higher when the organism only has a few cells protecting it from space rather than all the flesh we have. Et cetera.

Re:Not the best model for radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220478)

That's a very pertinent concern. Yeast would be better for that. How about Drosophila?

Re:Not the best model for radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220592)

Perfect we'll just send the worms INSTEAD of the astronauts!!

Hail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219732)

All hail our radiation mutated roundworms from Mars overlords.

all we need to send (4, Funny)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219760)

is a single kudzu seed

Re:all we need to send (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219912)

is a single kudzu seed

Mars is mostly sandy - African Ice Plant

Re:all we need to send (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221370)

How about one of these? [thinkgeek.com]

Arrakis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219768)

Who knows? Maybe they'll mutate and start producing melange?

God (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219772)

God is being killed by gender neutral pronouns.

Re:God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38223590)

God is being killed by gender neutral pronouns.

About time. We need to do away with bronze-age superstition

Mutant worms and sand (3, Funny)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219782)

I'm seeing a Kevin Bacon movie in the making here.

Re:Mutant worms and sand (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220168)

Graboids! Sweeeeet:)

How are they going (2)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219792)

How are they going to survive the sub freezing weather on Mars? And I'm guessing the frost line is pretty deep as well.

Re:How are they going (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219838)

How are they going to survive the sub freezing weather on Mars? And I'm guessing the frost line is pretty deep as well.

By eating warm-blooded, human settlers of course!

Re:How are they going (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38222304)

They're running a life support check for manned capsules, not releasing the worms on the surface. They would send a chimp, but it would be more expensive to build a test capsule that big.

Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219820)

It's about time we launched terraforming bacteria at all the planets and moons in the solar system.

Re:Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (1, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219954)

It's about time we launched terraforming bacteria at all the planets and moons in the solar system.

Where, if the bacteria didn't outright die, it would proceed at a pace which would make glaciers appear as a blur.

Re:Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220132)

It's about time we launched terraforming bacteria at all the planets and moons in the solar system.

Where, if the bacteria didn't outright die, it would proceed at a pace which would make glaciers appear as a blur.

That's why we send a shit-ton of them.

I believe the military refers to this practice as "Accuracy by Volume."

Re:Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221028)

Depends...

I have an interesting idea for venus:

There exists a kind of high temp plastic called aramid.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramid [wikipedia.org]

This plastic is soluble in strong acids, like sulfuric acid found in the lower venusian atmoshere, and is thermally stable to 500c. (The surface of venus is slightly hotter, but venus does have mountains.)

The idea is to create an atmospheric extremophile that makes use of the sulfur/hydrogen respiration cycle, which produces thin threads of aramid to help keep small colonies of these organisms "afloat" in the thick venusian atmosphere. When the mats get too heavy, they fall like snow, and accumulate under the cloud layer, which thins the atmosphere, reduces greenhouse effect, and cools the planet by trapping greenhouse gas as "biomass".

The only problem is aramid requires excess nitrogen, which the venusian atmosphere appears to lack.

However, if a nitrogen free analog of aramid can be produced with the same or greater thermal stability, it would be "game on".

Re:Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221220)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but the nitrogen issue was mistaken. Venus's atmosphere is 3.5% nitrogen gas. While this seems like a small amount, the thickness of the atmposhere should be taken into consideration. If looked at in total molar weight, it is about 4x the nitrogen found on earth. That makes it plenty.

The problem is the tiny quantity of hydrogen. A terraformed venus would be even more desert like than mars.

Re:Extremophile Bacteria for Terraforming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38222354)

It's about time we launched terraforming bacteria at all the planets and moons in the solar system.

Didn't know bacteria could generate magnetic fields on a planetary scale...
Without a magnetosphere any terraformed atmosphere on Mars would be faster blown away by solar winds than it'd take to terraform it in the first place.
There is the hypothesis that mankind could somehow place insanely large objects (moved asteroids or whatever) in Mars' orbit and then let tidal heating ( https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Tidal_heating [wikimedia.org] ) melt the core of Mars, so the core can generate a magnetosphere and shield the planet against solar wind.
That said, in the highly unlikely case that model could even work, melting Mars' core would take forever and cause countless earthquakes.

Terraforming is bullshit. Nice for science fiction movies but so impractical in real life. If actual Mars colonization ever happens, it'd be so much easier to just move underground. Let the surface shield everything against solar radiation.

Mutant Marsworms (2)

Xaduurv (1685700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219944)

use of worms allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test spacecraft systems prior to manned missions

That is until the worms get to Mars, mutate, form an advanced society, build spacecraft and colonise Earth.

Re:Mutant Marsworms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220098)

by the time that happens, we'd have killed ourselves off anyway (by war, by pollution, science experiment gone bad, whatever)..

Carkoon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38219952)

So then Mars... is.... ACTUALLY TATOOINE!!! How the Pit of Carkoon was REALLY created!

Bullshit (0)

g253 (855070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38219990)

There are surely plenty of people willing to take the chance and go _now_, regardless of those comparatively small risks.

Re:Bullshit (2)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220578)

But I'm not sure there are plenty of agencies or companies willing to spend billions of dollars on the necessary equipment to sustain a human en route to Mars only to have the experiment conclude with, "yep, it does seem that the conditions on Mars kill humans."

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221216)

There are surely plenty of people willing to take the chance and go _now_, regardless of those comparatively small risks.

Unfortunately there weren't... until someone revealed that Mars does not have any copyright and other IP laws...

Ethics? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220156)

Hmm, it seems to me that although the idea of sending some biological system to mars might be fruitful in the near term it misses some pretty important ethical questions. Specifically contamination, what if there is some life form on mars? How would the process of decay of the worms effect such a ecology by propagating organic earth native compounds onto martian soil? It seems quiet obvious to me that radiation results in mutation and destruction of organic life especially if exposed for long durations. I am assuming they might even be genetically modified to hold up to such harsh conditions and see how such manipulation aids in reducing the environmental impact on the biological systems.

Overall, the missing component is realizing that mars has its own history, its own progress and adding earth forms like these into the system might perturb or even destroy any evidence living life on mars.

Re:Ethics? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220470)

Overall, the missing component is realizing that mars has its own history, its own progress and adding earth forms like these into the system might perturb or even destroy any evidence living life on mars.

And you think most people (other than Star Trek fans) would care about this why, exactly?

Re:Ethics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220532)

Because it is a matter of scientific investigation, why destroy a system that one could model, investigate and explore by adding our own perturbations potentially ruining it before we got there?

Re:Ethics? roxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220750)

Sometimes the only way to save a planet is to destroy it.

Re:Ethics? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220950)

Whyever would you think that these worms would be "released" into the Martian environment?

Currently, I would offer that such worms would have a lifespan of about 30 seconds in the naked Martian environment, although that does led the potential pollution of the native environment, it doesn't say much about the worms. There would be no utility in doing this.

I suppose you might consider an end-of-experiment strategy of simply dumping the container of worms on the Martian ground, but this would seem to be a highly irresponsible thing to do. I would think that after some period of observation the nutrient supply for the worms would be exhausted and their sealed environment would simply become their nice compact worm-tomb. In theory, this would leave the lander sitting there on the Martian surface waiting for some random Martian lifeform to come along and pry open the container releasing the dead worms. I would offer that if we haven't seen any signs of large Martian lifeforms that would be capable of this action we are probably pretty safe.

I suppose a random meteor could impact the lander opening the worm habitat, but I'd guess the chances of that happening are about equal before or after the worms expired. Similarly, such a meteor could be carrying unknown biological materials and cause as much, if not greater environmental pollution. Because of the much thinner atmosphere, meteors impacting Mars are not going to be subjected to as friction heating as it would impacting Earth, thus preserving whatever might have made the trip through deep space.

So, OK, a complete idiot designing this experiment would probably vote for dumping the worms out into the Martian environment at the end of the experiment. Anything above the level of complete idiot would not consider such an option.

And... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220352)

...this assumes the Worms will Reproduce/Survive the Trip to Mars....

Re:And... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220416)

No.

The idea is to see if they do. And if they do to see what bad things happen that don't outright kill them.

Both things we'd rather try out on worms before we try it on people.

Am I the only one... (0)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220412)

Who mis-read "worms" as "women"?

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220660)

yes

Shades of Earthworm Jim... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220428)

Worms in space.. who'd a thunk it?

so, a low cost alternatve.. (4, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220670)

If they are going to send parasitic worms with complex dna into space, I still think they should send politicians and *IAA lawyers instead. By most prevailing opinions, these subhuman creatures would service mankind far more as biological radio dosemeters than in their natural political niches here on earth. Yes, the expense of sending them would be much greater than sending the genetically and biologically similar roundworms, but this is FOR SCIENCE!

Re:so, a low cost alternatve.. (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221150)

Wouldn't that be sort of like the B-Ark [wikipedia.org] ? Oh, wait, no that would be an insult to management consultants and telephone sanitizers everywhere.

Re:so, a low cost alternatve.. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38223542)

Yeah, but what happens if we all catch a disease from an unsanitised phone???

Re:so, a low cost alternatve.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38221594)

>>but this is FOR SCIENCE!

Nope. Not good enough. It must be FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

Tiny worms have colonized... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38220832)

Uranus!

Graboids (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220856)

I knew they were from space!

Worms Armageddon? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38220862)

These scientists have obviously never played Worms Armageddon [wikipedia.org] ... just imagine the destruction if they control an entire planet!

Should we establish this precedent? (2)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221002)

"The miserable human has about 23,000 protein-coding genes — nearly as many as imperialist cyborg space monkeys, who have about 26,000. Furthermore, there is a lot of overlap between our genome and theirs, with many genes performing roughly the same functions in both species, despite the clear inferiority of human garbage. Launching imprisoned humans to Alpha Centauri would allow cyborg monkey scientists to see just how dangerous the high radiation levels found in deep space are to animal life. 'Incarcerated humans allow us to detect changes in growth, development, reproduction and behavior in response to environmental conditions such as toxins or in response to deep space missions,' said Oohoohahah Pooflinger of the University of Bananaland in Cyborgia. 'Given the high failure rate of Alpha Centauri missions, use of sniveling, pathetic humans allows us to safely and relatively cheaply test spacecraft systems prior to monkeyed missions,' he adds."

Re:Should we establish this precedent? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38222268)

Speaking of Alpha Centauri, anyone who is missing it and has Civ IV BTS and somehow hasn't yet discovered Planetfall (not the game, the Civ IV BTS mod) is missing out on something. It's way way different from Alpha C of course, but it's keen.

Re:Should we establish this precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38225666)

Makes sense to me. There's not much to argue with on the effectiveness of such a study given the biological similarities between Cyborg Monkeys and Humans. Furthermore, the comparatively low cost of Humans on their world would probably yield a much better cost-benefit ratio for a project with such high risks.

All is good until (1)

byteherder (722785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221240)

Untiil the worms mutate in to giant man-eating creatures that live and travel underground.

Where are you when we need you, Paul Atreides?

Re:All is good until (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38225460)

Sounds like the start of the DUNE world to me......I never knew how to bridge that one,....until now.
It all makes sense now....I just got to wait until we spawn a flying fat man and Sting...and we are good to go....

"from the send-in-the-worms dept." (1)

silverspell (1556765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38221860)

Isn't it strange?
Way over there?
Me here inside the soil-bed,
You with no air.
Send in the worms.

Isn't it cold?
Don't you get blue?
One who's by oxygen fed,
One CO2.
Where are the worms?
Send in the worms.

Just when I'd stopped
Chewing through gore,
Finally knowing
The spicule I wanted was yours,
Making my wormhole again
In my usual place,
Ready for eggs...
You're off in space.

Don't you love Mars?
It's your abode.
I thought that you'd want what I want --
Alas, nematode.
But where are the worms?
There ought to be worms.
Quick, send in the worms.

What a surprise.
Who could foresee
I'd yearn for dioecious love
When you're in zero-g?
Why only now when you're off
To see Olympus Mons?
What a surprise.
How...elegans.

Isn't it sad?
Quite a heartbreaker?
You're off in space -- like the space
In my cloaca?
And where are the worms?
Quick, send in the worms.
Don't bother - they're here.

Animal rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38223024)

Is this the only politically-correct animal they found to suggest to public now instead of rats?

two birds with one stone? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38223168)

I wonder if the worms are any good at terra-forming?

Obligatory Simpsons Reference (1)

Niophant (1121801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38223724)

I, for one, welcome our new worm overlords!

I can see the Martians now (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38224982)

I can see us sending round worms to a planet with life. The native life trying to figure out how this space ship with the only life form on it being little worms. How did they fly the spaceship? How to communicate with them? :)

ummmmm..... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38225456)

Ok, so we send tiny little spaceships filled with worms to see if they die once introduced to the atmosphere, and to see how long they would survive if not....?

On our way to a delicious drink! (1)

static0verdrive (776495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226016)

Aside from the obvious Dune implications here, I pictured that slug in Futurama spurting out Slurm...
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