Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting Around Gravity: Nanotubes and Astronaut Brains

Is this the new face of the Astronaut Corps? An article in EETimes reveals that scientists at NASA Ames have been working on carbon nanotube brain implants to trick the astronaut brain into believing it's still in a gravity field (as on Earth). This supposedly will help combat muscular atrophy during the 30 month trip to Mars and back. *Ack!!* I wonder how the human astronauts feel about getting wired up? On the other hand, while they're at it they might as well add implants to avoid jealous rages, antisocial behavior, depression, love trianges, etc.

But seriously, doesn't it seem a bit much to tinker with astronaut's brains, which are typically some of the brightest and most ambitious brains our country has to offer? Isn't now the time to figure out that long-term zero-g kind of s@cks and should be taken off the table in any Earth-Mars-Earth transportation design? Back in June of last year, I proposed such a system [See Riding Dog Bones and Doughnuts to Mars..]. It's about time for NASA to come up with a similar, politically palatable system and run with it.

PLEASE NOTE: The wired rat picture, above, was borrowed from a blog discussing an entirely different issue here. I just wanted a picture of a rat with wires sticking out of its head. As far as I know, the rat above has nothing to do with the NASA Ames research discussed.


Anonymous James F McEnanly said...

It looks like a solution only the Borg could love. Why is it that it seems that there are more solutions that alter the traveller to the craft than alter the craft to the traveller?

September 20, 2007 2:27 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Just so. The better research avenue, in my mind, would be to figure out a relatively inexpensive way to generate a 'gravity field', such as by swinging the Mars-Earth-Mars ship's living quarters on the end of a tether -- sort of along the lines of Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct tether idea.

But after some thought, I think the Ames researchers may have presented their results in the context of an enabling technology for a manned mission to Mars in order to improve their chances of funding, given the current Moon Mars & Beyond emphasis.

September 21, 2007 2:49 PM  
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November 11, 2008 11:56 PM  

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