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Space Science

Space Worms Live Long and Prosper 78

astroengine writes "A microscopic worm used in experiments on the space station not only seems to enjoy living in a microgravity environment, it also appears to get a lifespan boost. This intriguing discovery was made by University of Nottingham scientists who have flown experiments carrying thousands of tiny Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to low-Earth orbit over the years. It turns out that this little worm has genes that resemble human genes and of particular interest are the ones that govern muscle aging. Seven C. elegans genes usually associated with muscle aging were suppressed when the worms were exposed to a microgravity environment. Also, it appears spaceflight suppresses the accumulation of toxic proteins that normally gets stored inside aging muscle. Could this have implications for understanding how human physiology adapts to space?"
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Space Worms Live Long and Prosper

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  • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nexion ( 1064 ) on Monday July 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#40597185)

    It makes me wonder if I should be eating younger animals to avoid these toxins.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nationless ( 2123580 ) on Monday July 09, 2012 @06:48PM (#40597333)

    I always wondered what kind of effect zero gravity would have on animals with certain traits;

    Will spiderwebs look the same?
    Does a fish swim differently in a floating body of water?
    Will a bird adapt to floating without wind?
    Will ants be able to place scent trails in mid air?

    The list goes on.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Monday July 09, 2012 @06:49PM (#40597343)

    Since these critters also happen to be invertebrates, they also don't suffer from bone loss in that same weightless environment. It was my understanding that muscle atrophy in astronauts was a secondary worry when compared to the severity of bone loss during extended missions without gravity.

    I guess we need to engineer some "spacer" humans who have cartilage in place of bones? Spineless they might be, but I wouldn't wanna wrestle with one.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:26PM (#40597651)

    This is the difference between the word "bemute", which means to drop poo upon from a great height, and the word "bescumber", which means to spray with poo.

    One of these works in space, and one will not.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday July 09, 2012 @07:56PM (#40597889)

    In space, you don't need lift and drag (since these two factors depend on gravity), you're left with thrust.

    LIft is not a function of gravity, but a function of the shape and motion of the wing.

    Drag is a function of air pressure, surface area, shape and material. None of these are functions of gravity.

    Biggest problems birds should have flying in zero-G is that they're trained to fly in a 1G field just like we are, and would have to learn to do it all over in zero G.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.