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Top 10 Sickening Facts About Space Travel

OLIVER TAYLOR

http://listverse.com/2017/12/06/top-10-sickening-facts-about-space-travel/

The idea of traveling into space seems cool. Many of us have imagined becoming astronauts—or possibly the first person on Mars—at some point in our lives. Who hasn’t wanted to touch the stars?

However, there are some facts that might have made us reconsider if our dreams hadn’t died off, anyway. From the unfortunate consequences of venturing into a decidedly human-unfriendly environment to the inability of Earth-made products to properly adjust to space, there are many attributes of space travel that you may not have anticipated. Here are ten sickening facts about space travel.

10NASA Doesn’t Know What To Do With Astronauts Who Die In Space


NASA has no concrete plans regarding what to do with the bodies of astronauts who die in space. In fact, NASA doesn’t even expect astronauts to die in space, so it doesn’t train them on what to do in the event of the death of a colleague. But what would happen if an astronaut dies in space? The possibility of this is higher than ever as NASA plans for long-term missions like a trip to Mars.

One option is to release the body into space. However, this isn’t really an option since the United Nations prohibits the dumping of litter, which includes bodies, in space over fears that they might collide with spaceships or contaminate other planets. Another option is to store the body inside the spaceship and bury it upon returning to Earth. Again, this is not an option since it would put the lives of other astronauts at risk. A last option, if man ever gets to colonize Mars, is to use the body as fertilizer. However, it remains in doubt whether humans make good fertilizer.

NASA is currently working with Promessa, a burial company, to develop what it calls “Body Back.” With Body Back, a corpse is sealed inside an airtight sleeping bag and attached to the outside of the spaceship, where it is exposed to the extremely cold temperatures of space. The body freezes, vibrates, and finally shatters into small, fine particles as the spacecraft travels through space. By the time the spaceship returns to Earth, all that that’s left of the dead astronaut would be small, fine, dust-sized particles.

9Astronauts Drink Recycled Urine

Photo credit: NASA

Access to fresh water can be a problem in space. American astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) get most of their water by recycling and recovering it using the Water Recovery System, which NASA introduced in 2009. Just as the name implies, the Water Recovery System allows astronauts to recover most of the water they lose through sweat and urine or while brushing or making coffee.

American astronauts aren’t just recycling their own urine. They’re also recycling the urine of cosmonauts, since the Russians have refused to recycle their own pee. According to Layne Carter, NASA’s water subsystem manager for the ISS, the recycled water tastes just like bottled water.

8Astronauts Lose Muscle And Bone Mass And Suffer From Premature Aging

Photo credit: NASA

The microgravity environment of space causes premature aging in astronauts. Their skin ages faster, becomes drier and thinner, and is prone to itching. As if that isn’t enough, their bones and muscles become weaker. Astronauts lose one percent of their muscle mass and as much as two percent of their bone mass with every month that they spend in space. A four- to six-month trip to the International Space Station would lead to the loss of about 11 percent of the mass of the hip bone.

Even astronauts’ arteries aren’t spared. They become stiffer, as would be expected in people 20 or 30 years older. This makes astronauts susceptible to heart problems and stroke. Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk suffered weakness, fragile bones, and lack of balance after spending six months in space. He said he felt like a senior citizen by the time he returned to Earth. Premature aging is now recognized as one of the side effects of space travel. It remains unpreventable, although astronauts can reduce its effect by exercising for two hours each day.

7Space Travel Might Be Making Astronauts Infertile


There are speculations that long-term space missions are makingastronauts infertile. In one experiment, male rats suspended above the floor during a six-week-long experiment, mimicking the weightlessness of outer space, suffered shrunken testes and severely low sperm count, which made them as good as being infertile. Female rats suffered a similar or even worse fate when they were sent into space. Their ovaries ceased working after just 15 days. By the time they returned to Earth, the gene responsible for producing estrogen (the female hormone) had become redundant, while the cells that produced eggs were dying.

Space travel has also been linked to loss of libido. In one experiment, two male and five female mice sent into space refused to mate. However, some researchers insist that space travel has nothing to do with libido or infertility. Fish and frog eggs sent into space have fertilized, though the frog offspring never developed past tadpoles. Male astronauts have also impregnated their wives days after returning to Earth.

Female astronauts aren’t left out. They have also gotten pregnant soon after returning from space missions, although they have a higher rate of miscarriage. The effects of space travel on reproduction remain debatable, and from the look of things, we’re not finding out soon. NASA has turned down attempts to get the sperm count of its male astronauts returning from space for privacy reasons.

6Most Astronauts Get Space Sick


Despite advancements in space technology, space sickness remains one ofNASA’s biggest headaches.More than half of all astronauts sent into space experience nausea, headache, vomiting, and general discomfort, which are all symptoms of space sickness, also called space adaptation syndrome. One notable astronaut who experienced space sickness is ex-senator Jake Garn, who started showing symptoms even before leaving Earth. By the time he returned, he couldn’t even walk properly.

Garn’s bout of space sickness was so terrible that his name became an informal measurement for the illness. Astronauts can rate their symptoms with phrases like like “one garn,” “two garns,” “three garns,” and so on. While NASA has yet to find a solution for space sickness, it has created an early warning device that lets astronauts know that they’re about to get space sick.

5All Astronauts Wear Diapers


NASA had an oversight in designing the first space suit. Apparently, its scientists forgot that astronauts might need to pee while in their suits. This oversight caused astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space, to pee right inside his space suit. This only happened after series of deliberations because NASA scientists feared that the urine might short-circuit the electrical components of the suit.

To prevent similar scenarios during future missions, NASA came up with a condom-like device that astronauts wore while in their space suits. For obvious reasons, this device became a problem by the time women joined the space party in the 1970s, so NASA came up with a urine and fecal management system called the Disposable Absorption Containment Trunk (DACT). DACT was used by both sexes even though it was specifically made for women.

In 1988, NASA replaced DACT with the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG), which is basically an adult diaper, except that it has been modified to look like shorts. Each astronaut is given three MAGs for every mission. They wear one when going into space and one when returning and keep the third as an extra.

4It Might Be A Good Idea To Masturbate In Space


Astronauts are always at risk of contracting genitourinary illnesses while in space. Males are likely to go down with prostatitis, while females are at risk of urinary tract infections. Between 1981 and 1998, 23 of the 508 astronauts NASA sent into space suffered from genitourinary problems. While this statistic proves that genitourinary illnesses only affect a small percentage of astronauts, they aren’t minor issues and could lead to the termination of space missions.

The Soviet Union found this out the hard way in 1985, when cosmonaut Vladimir Vasyutin was forced to return to Earth after spending only two months out of a planned six-month stay at the Salyut-7 space station. Vladimir had suffered severe prostatitis, which caused fever, nausea, and serious pains whenever he urinated.

Marjorie Jenkins, NASA’s medical advisor, clarified that prostatitis could be one of the effects of decreased ejaculation. When men do not ejaculate enough, bacteria can accumulate in the prostate and cause an infection.

It is unknown whether astronauts are required to masturbate during space missions, but this doesn’t mean they haven’t been doing it. A Russian cosmonaut once admitted that he “makes sex by hand” while in space. In 2012, astronaut Ron Garan also clarified during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit that astronauts do get some “free time” at the International Space Station. When asked for further clarification, he said, “I can only speak for myself, but we’re professionals.”

3Emergency Medical Services Are Nonexistent In Space

Photo credit: NASA/Randy Bresnik

NASA has no sophisticated medical equipment on board its spacecraft or even the ISS. All it has are drugs and basic equipment that qualify as first aid. This means astronauts cannot be treated for anything other than basic ailments. So, what happens when an astronaut becomes severely sick or even requires surgery?

When such happens, NASA demands that the astronaut is sent back toEarth. NASA has an agreement with the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, to launch emergency Soyuz rockets to recover sick astronauts from the ISS. Besides the sick astronaut, the rocket would return with two extra astronauts since it requires a three-man crew. Such a trip would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and a severely ill astronaut might not even survive the journey.

If NASA goes through all this just to recover a sick astronaut from the “nearby” ISS, what happens when it wants to recover an astronaut fromMars? NASA, through one of its subsidiaries, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) has been funding several agencies to create unique medical equipment that can handle complicated ailments like heart attacks and appendicitis in space.

2Drugs Are Less Effective In Space

Photo credit: NASA

We just mentioned that only medical care immediately available to astronauts in space qualifies as first aid. Even at that, most of the drugs available aren’t as effective as they would be if they were administered here on Earth. During one study, researchers assembled eight first aid kits with 35 different drugs, including sleeping aids and antibiotics. Four of the kits were sent to the International Space Station, while the remaining four were kept in a special chamber at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After 28 months, the drugs sent to the ISS were found to be less effective than those kept at the space center. Six of the drugs were also found to have either liquefied or changed in color compared to only two kept at the space center undergoing those changes. Researchers believe the loss of effectiveness is caused by the excessive vibration and radiation the drugs receive in the outer space. For now, NASA reduces the severity of this problem by replacing the drugs at the ISS every six months. In the future, it plans to improve the packaging and ingredients used in making drugs sent into space.

1Carbon Dioxide Poisoning Is A Problem

Photo credit: NASA

The ISS has a higher-than-average concentration of carbon dioxide. On Earth, the concentration of CO2 is about 0.3 mm Hg, but it can reach up to 6 mm Hg at the ISS. Unfavorable side effects like headaches, irritation, and sleeping difficulties, which have become a norm among astronauts, are few of the consequences of this higher-than-normal concentration of carbon dioxide. In fact, most astronauts complain of headaches early into their missions.

Unlike on Earth, where carbon dioxide leaving the body disperses into the air, CO2 exhaled by astronauts forms a cloud above their heads. The ISS has special fans on board to blow these clouds away from the heads of the astronauts and disperse it around the facility. NASA has also mandated that the concentration of CO2 in the ISS be reduced to 4 mm Hg. However, this is still higher than the recommended 2.5 mm HG. NASA could reduce it to this level, except that it would wear the fans out faster. Hopefully, NASA will find a solution to this problem before we start traveling to Mars.

Even New Birth Control Pills May Raise Women’s Breast Cancer Risk


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Even New Birth Control Pills May Raise Women’s Breast Cancer Risk

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Even New Birth Control Pills May Raise Women's Breast Cancer Risk

Credit: Tomas Daliman/Shutterstock

Using hormonal birth control methods — including newer types of birth control pills, as well as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants — may slightly increase women’s risk of breast cancer, according to a new study from Denmark.

The study builds on earlier findings linking hormonal birth control and breast cancer, but the new study focused on newer forms of birth control.

The study, which included about 1.8 million women in Denmark, found that those who used hormonal birth control methods were 20 percent more likely to develop breast cancer over an 11-year period, compared with those who never used hormonal birth control.

Still, a woman’s overall chance of developing breast cancer linked to hormonal birth control use was quite small: The researchers estimate that there would be 1 extra case of breast cancer for every 7,690 women who took hormonal contraception (or 13 extra cases of breast cancer for every 100,000 women who used hormonal contraception). [10 Do’s and Don’ts to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer]

When the researchers examined a number of different hormonal formulations used in birth control, they found that all of the formulations raised the risk of breast cancer by about the same amount. (Hormonal birth control methods typically use either a combination of the hormonesestrogen and progestin, or progestin by itself.)

The study is published today (Dec. 6) in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Not a “new” link

The findings of alink between hormonal contraception and breast cancer is not new; studies going back decades have suggested that the hormones in birth control could raise the risk of breast cancer. But these earlier studies looked mainly at older types of birth control pills, which had a higher dose of estrogen than today’s pills. Therefore, it wasn’t clear if this risk applied to newer formulations of birth control pills or to other birth control methods, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants that contain only the hormone progestin.

The new study “confirms that the increased breast cancer risk … that was initially reported with the use of older, often higher-dose formulations also applies to contemporary formulations” of birth control, David Hunter, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Population Health in the United Kingdom, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study. “These results do not suggest that any particular preparation is free of risk,” Hunter added.

But this risk should be weighed against the important benefits of hormonal contraception, which is an effective method of birth control, the researchers, from the University of Copenhagen, wrote in their study. What’s more, other studies have found that taking hormonal birth control may actually reduce the risk of other cancers, including ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer, they said.

Risk with longer use

The new study involved women in Denmark ages 15 to 49 who had not previously been diagnosed with cancer. The researchers used nationwide registries to collect information about prescriptions that were filled for hormonal contraception, as well as diagnoses of breast cancer.

The longer women used hormonal contraception, the greater their risk of breast cancer, the researchers found. Using hormonal contraception for less than one year did not increase women’s risk of breast cancer. However, using hormonal contraception for 10 years was linked with a 40 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer, compared with those who had never used hormonal contraception.

Once women stopped using these forms of birth control, the increased risk of breast cancer disappeared if the women had used hormonal contraception for less than five years. But if they had taken hormonal contraception for more than five years, the higher risk of breast cancer persisted for at least five years after their discontinuation of hormonal birth control, the study found. [Beyond Birth Control: 5 Conditions ‘The Pill’ Can Help Treat]

The findings held even after the researchers took into account some factors that can affect the risk of breast cancer, such as becoming pregnant or having a family history of the disease.

But the study did not account for some other things that affect breast cancer risk, including physical activity levels and alcohol consumption.

Still, the researchers noted that any unaccounted factors would need to have a large effect on the risk of breast cancer and be very common in the population to explain the results.

The study was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, a commercial foundation in Denmark that funds research to support its business interests, which include the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It had no role in the design, analysis or interpretation of the study, or in writing the paper.

Original article on Live Science.

Humans Would Be Cool with Finding Aliens


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Humans Would Be Cool with Finding Aliens

 Humans Would Be Cool with Finding Aliens
A new study finds that people may greet the discovery of microbial E.T. in a positive way.

Credit: Ana Aguirre Perez/Shutterstock

If extraterrestrial life is ever discovered, humanity would probably be pretty cool with it.

A new study, one of very few of its kind, finds that people typically respond quite positively to the notion of life on other planets. The study investigated the possibility of finding microbial extraterrestrials, not intelligent E.T.s, so people’s responses might be a little different if they were told an armada of aliens were headed toward Earth, cautioned study author Michael Varnum, a psychologist at Arizona State University. Nevertheless, he noted, large portions of people believe that intelligent aliens do exist and that they’ve visited Earth; so even a more dramatic announcement might not ruffle feathers.

“What this suggests is, there’s no reason to be afraid” of sharing news of astrobiology with the public, Varnum told Live Science. “We won’t collapse. We’re not going to have chaos in the streets.” [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]

How people would respond to finding they’re not alone in the universe is a perennial question, but one that has been the subject of far more speculation than study, Varnum said. He could find only one study that asked people how they thought they’d react to the announcement of extraterrestrial life, and it was a decade old.

Varnum wanted to tackle the question a bit more realistically. So he turned to the real-world news, analyzing articles dating back to 1967 that looked at discoveries that could potentially have hinted at alien life (including — full disclosure — articles by Live Science’s sister site Space.com on a star with irregular brightness cycles that might have signaled extraterrestrial activity, but the irregular cycles more likely result from orbiting dust).

Most of the language in these pieces skewed positive, software analyses revealed, and writers tended to emphasize the potential rewards of discovery over potential risks. Armed with that knowledge, Varnum turned to real people. He first recruited 501 subjects on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowd-sourcing website, paying them a small fee to write responses to two questions. One was how they would feel if scientists announced the discovery of alien microbial life. The other was how they thought the public at large would respond to such an announcement.

“It’s really much more likely that we’re going to encounter strange germs rather than E.T.,” Varnum said. And no one has previously studied people’s attitudes toward the discovery of alien microbes.

In a second study, Varnum recruited Mechanical Turk participants again. This time, they read a real-life article about the possibility of alien microbes. In 1996, scientists announced that they’d found what might be fossilized microbes in a Martian meteorite, known as Allan Hills 84001. Today, the researchers behind that discovery still think they may have found telltale signs of ancient alien life, though people in the field as a whole are far from convinced. At any rate, contemporary news articles about the discovery were very positive, Varnum said. He lifted one from The New York Times, stripped it of information about the date, and presented it to 256 participants as a new article. As a control group, he asked 249 other participants to read a real article about the creation of synthetic life in the laboratory.

In both studies, people reacted to the idea of alien life with more positivity than negativity, Varnum found. They tended to focus on the rewards over the risks. Individuals in the first study felt they, personally, would respond to the announcement of microbial E.T.s with a little more positivity than the public at large, but they still thought humanity as a whole would be enthused.

In the case of the realistic announcement about Martian microbes, people still remained overwhelmingly positive. They were pretty gung-ho about synthetic life, too, Varnum said, but Mars life got people even more jazzed. That finding suggests the enthusiasm isn’t just about science or discovery or even just new life, he said, but specifically about alien life. [7 Theories on the Origins of Life]

“I think there might be something sort of comforting about knowing that life wasn’t an accident that happened once here,” he said. “Maybe it makes us feel a little less fragile or a little less lonely in the expanse of space.”

A paper describing the findings is available as a preprint and is under review at a peer-reviewed journal. Varnum would like to replicate his findings in other countries to see if culture or other factors influence people’s attitudes toward aliens. He’d also like to study people’s responses to intelligent life, but it would be harder to fool participants into believing, even briefly, that humanity had made contact with an alien civilization.

“I’ve got to think the subject pool might think, ‘Why am I hearing about this in a psychology experiment?'” he said.

Reactions to the discovery of intelligent life-forms outside of planet Earth might be a bit more complex, Varnum said, but it’s hard to tell. Already, he noted, polls show that more than half of Americans, British and Germansbelieve extraterrestrial intelligence exists. Thirty percent believe that intelligent aliens have contacted Earth, but that the government has covered it up.

“That raises another question,” Varnum said. “If I did the kind of study where I did a real-worldish, fake announcement, maybe some good chunk of participants would go, ‘Well, I already knew.'”

Original article on Live Science

Lava Gulps Down GoPro Camera, Which Records the Entire, Fiery Affair


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Lava Gulps Down GoPro Camera, Which Records the Entire, Fiery Affair

 https://www.livescience.com/61085-lava-engulfs-gopro-camera.html

The internet is awash with extreme videos, but footage of lava barreling toward and then melting the lens of a GoPro camera may be one of the hottest (literally) recordings online.

The fiery affair happened on Aug. 10, 2016, when Kilauea EcoGuides tours owner and lead guide Erik Storm took a group of tourists from San Francisco to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, according to National Geographic. The video resurfaced this month after Erez Marom, an Israeli photographer, accidently melted a drone camera when he flew it too close to lava flows in Hawaii, renewing interest in flaming-hot lava footage.

Storm captured the recording when he showed the tour group a fast-moving lava flow in the park that day. Storm put his GoPro Hero4 Black camera into a crevice to capture a recording of the molten rock, but he made what he now calls “a $400 mistake” — he didn’t pull out the camera in time, National Geographic reported. [50 Amazing Volcano Facts]

At least Storm has a good excuse for losing his GoPro to a molten blob. He was busy telling the tourists a story about Pele, the Polynesian fire goddess, he told National Geographic. After the scorching incident, he set to work retrieving the camera.

Don't drop your GoPro in the searing lava.
Don’t drop your GoPro in the searing lava.

Credit: Shutterstock

“I had a geologist rock hammer with me, and that is how I was able to get it out of the now cooling rock,” Storm wrote on Storyful, a video site. “When I got home, I hammered all the hardened rock off of the camera and was amazed to see the blue Wi-Fi light still blinking!”

Amazingly, the camera could still turn on, although the lens had melted, rendering it unusable. “The SD [secure digital] card popped right out and the footage was intact,” he told Storyful. “At the end of the video, you can see me with the rock hammer.”

It’s no wonder the lava melted Storm’s camera. Crawling, dark-red lava on Hawaii can reach temperatures of 895 degrees Fahrenheit (479 degrees Celsius), according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Live Science previously reported.

Bright-red lava flows are even hotter, reaching upward of 1,165 degrees F (629 degrees C), and glowing, orange lava indicates the molten rock is a steaming 1,600 degrees F (871 degrees C) or so, Live Science reported.

Despite the great footage, Storm doesn’t recommend that other people mess with lava: Many native Hawaiians consider lava to be sacred.

“No one should ever poke the lava with anything, cook with the lava orthrow anything into or in front of the flowing lava to ‘see what happens,'” Storm told Storyful. “I respect the place where I work to the fullest and work hard to make sure people understand that this is a very sacred place that commands respect.”

Original article on Live Science.

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