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Mars NASA Space Science

Infertility Could Impede Human Space Colonization 360

Posted by timothy
from the happy-valentine's-day dept.
intellitech writes "The prospect of long-term space travel has led scientists to consider, increasingly seriously, the following conundrum: if travelling to a new home might take thousands of years, would humans be able to successfully procreate along the way? The early indications from NASA are not encouraging. Space, it seems, is simply not a good place to have sex."
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Infertility Could Impede Human Space Colonization

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:17AM (#35197028) Journal

    It's cold out there, and dark. Lots of miles between gas stations. It's full of risks and danger. We haven't got what it takes to do this any more. You go.

    We'll wait here by the fire where it's warm. You go: to Mars, the Asteroids, the stars. If you make it back tell us your traveller's tales of petroleum seas, of fields of diamonds, of the strangeness men have become Out There. Write if you find life.

    One day the Rock will come, or the Flare, or some other thing. In our final moments it will comfort us that Out There are Men, continuing our journey.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:20AM (#35197038)

    Space is a great place to have sex. It may not be a great place to reproduce, but that is a different matter.

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:23AM (#35197050)

    The article presupposes that we'll be limited to our present thin-walled spacecraft propelled by chemical rockets. There are other options: we don't even need new technology per se. Something like Project Orion [wikipedia.org] would permit the construction of a craft heavy enough to have effective shielding.

    I'm reminded of this famous quip from Napoleon:

    "You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? Excuse me, I have no time to listen to such nonsense."

  • Laughable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:25AM (#35197060) Homepage

    We can't seem to get our own affairs in order here on planet Earth. What makes you think we won't have infighting and mutiny in a space ship? Within a thousand year trek to the final destination, there might not be anyone left alive by that time!

    We're the most innovative of all live as we know it. But, in one form or another we still fling poo. Some things never change regardless of where events take place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:37AM (#35197354)

    What kind of crack are you smoking?

    A: We have no mechanical womb. A single pair of humans is limited to producing in the low double digits of children assuming it is the mother dedicates her entire life to being pregnant.

    B: one woman does not have billions of eggs, unless you have magically solved the telomer problem cloning won't help either for the long term.

    C: the problem as the article suggests is that the eggs of a female fetus will be sterilized in the later half of pregnancy. That is to late to abort by most peoples standards and can have medical complications for the mother.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:00AM (#35197426) Homepage Journal
    Goddamnit, why do you people keep dragging the old carcass that has been buried long ago? The same lesson once again: Every deep-space ship in any self-respecting sci-fi movie seems to have a rotating part. Not because it looks cool. But because centripetal force is a very accurate and perfectly sufficient for all practical purposes simulation of earth gravity. 50m radius from axis of rotation, 2.25s per rotation, and you have a neat 1g. And due to 1st Newton's Law and no air friction, it needs only to be started once and requires no power to keep turning. Now go and bury that stinky thing where it belongs.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday February 14, 2011 @07:48AM (#35198004) Journal

    Actually, no - if you RTFA, it IS fear mongering.
    It's not saying that cosmic rays make reproduction difficult or impossible without better shielding...the title of the article is "Why infertility will stop humans colonising space". ...you'd think by now people might be a little leery of pronouncing the impossibility of something as far as humanity is concerned. Using the same source logic behind their title, one might have stated unequivocally in 1700 "Why humans will never fly", because, barring technological advance, we couldn't do it then.

    Making such a categorical statement is idiotic. Or an exercise in sensationalist headline-writing.

  • by Third Position (1725934) on Monday February 14, 2011 @09:56AM (#35198604)

    A lovely speech. But it's sobering to remember that when it was given, putting a man on the moon was 7 years in the future. Now it's nearly 40 years in the past. At least as far as human space travel is concerned, that breathtaking pace has come to a grinding halt.

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