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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 MichaelKristopeit331 (1966802) on Monday February 14, 2011 @03:44AM (#35197148)
    hypocritically ignorant story.

    slashdot = stagnated

  • by sjwt (161428) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:04AM (#35197228)

    My thoughts on how far we have come is this, my Grandfather was beaten by his dad for suggesting that man would go to the moon after reading some books, and those books where of course thrown out.

  • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:27AM (#35197304) Journal

    I'd suggest breaking the problem into two parts:

    1) That human kind may someday soon disappear.

    2) That all life on Earth will eventually disappear.

    Getting humans out of our solar system will take ages. Colonize the moon first. Create factories so more can be done in space (less requirements for launching from Earth).

    But first, get _life_ off of this planet. Send some organisms, plants, rats, stuff that is hardy off to Titan or Mars and get something going. That way even if Earth is destroyed, at least there is life somewhere else that can evolve or at least live.

    Tired, random thoughts... hope you get the gist of it.

  • by LordNacho (1909280) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:37AM (#35197356)

    Interesting medical issue with radiation, but there are other issues with reproduction in space:

    1) How do you get people to WANT to shag? The spaceship ain't gonna be big, and there's something called the Westermarck Effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermarck_effect#Westermarck_effect [wikipedia.org] (Hey how do I put in a link with with just "Westermarck Effect" highlighted as the link?)

    2) What's a fair way to divide up the shagging opportunities? On Earth, we seem fine with letting unattractive people go unpaired, but on a spaceship, presumably everyone is needed for something. It might be hard to get motivated if you're not getting any.

  • Don't dismiss FTL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mangu (126918) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:38AM (#35197358)

    There's an embarrassing set of experiments [wikipedia.org] that simply won't go away that imply physics isn't as local as relativity would suggest.

    Before someone tells me that "absolute simultaneity does not exist", let me point out that there's nothing in our current knowledge of physics against the existence of *one* specially privileged inertial frame having absolute simultaneity, provided that all other inertial frames are relative.

    At least for me, it's easier to believe in one inertial frame that allows FTL transportation or communication than to believe in something that makes the universe suddenly grow by 78 orders of magnitude [wikipedia.org].

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:40AM (#35197366) Homepage Journal
    There's still one simple option: frozen embryos. They could be sent along with the crew, but due to small space required for storage, and minimal requirements, they could be shielded way better than the crew, who requires a lot of room. Infertility doesn't mean inability to give birth to a child. The crew gets to a remote planet, builds a good shelter, women get the embryos (may be just perfectly well their own children, just conceived before start) and give birth to a new generation, preparing for another launch and another "leap". This still limits the range of a single "leap" - between launch and landing - but removes the limitation of "human lifespan distance from Earth".
  • by Supurcell (834022) on Monday February 14, 2011 @04:43AM (#35197370)
    Any generation of humans that was born and raised in a zero-g environment would not be suited to live on any sort of planet that had gravity. Besides their weakened bones, they wouldn't know how to walk, let alone have the musculature for it. They would be completely reliant on living in an extremely complicated space vessel, perhaps they would be better at it than terrestrial humanoid, but they would never know a forest, or a sunrise, or lake, or even a sky scraper.
  • Home on LaGrange (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dadoo (899435) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:34AM (#35197530) Journal

    Reminds me of something I read a *long* time ago:

    Oh, give me a locus
    Where the gravitons focus
    Where the three body problem is solved
    Where microwaves play, down at 3 degrees K
    And the cold virus never evolved.

    Home, home on LaGrange,
    Where the space debris always collects
    We possess, so it seems
    Two of man's greatest dreams
    Solar power and zero-gee sex.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:45AM (#35197574)

    That's zero-g, what about partial gravity?

    I'd rather take the partial gravity of 1G than the FULL gravity of a singularity. But that's just my personal preference, YMMV.

    Exercise doesn't help - based on spiral CT (so-called QCT) studies which measure bone loss in trabecular bone as well as cortical bone, the problem of bone loss is twice as bad as was once suspected.

    Nah, that's not true- you're vastly oversimplifying things. Aerobic exercise doesn't help much, and we already know that from studying people on Earth who have low bone density problems. The critical factor is stress on the bones- stress builds density. In space, no gravity means no stress, so it's not directly the lack of gravity which is the issue, but the lack of stress.
    Simulating gravity by spinning would be fine for bone density purposes, or even high-impact exercise. But it's really hard to do much impact training in zero G on such a tiny space station as we have, so until we can get better facilities we won't know for sure if regular exercise should be ruled out or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:12AM (#35197648)

    The coriolis effect on the inner ear would make any astronauts in such a centrifuge permanently nauseous and disoriented. You need a _much_ large diameter to get a good enough approximation of linear gravity..

  • No sex in space? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:38AM (#35197758)

    In fairness, TFA says only space isn't necessarily the greatest place to make babies. Inhabitants of the United States may be surprised to learn that some people have determined sex has a rather significant recreational component.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

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