Broadcast 1645 (Special Edition)

30 Oct 2011 Dr. Joan Vernikos
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Guest: Dr. Joan Vernikos. Topics: Microgravity and its impact on humans in space, extrapolating back here to Earth for a healthier life for everyone. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Dr. Joan Vernikos back to the program. Dr. Vernikos was the former Director of NASA's Life Sciences Division and she has a new book out which takes what she and others have learned about microgravity in space with astronauts and applied it to those of us on Earth to enable us all to use gravity to have a healthier life. Visit her website for more information, I do recommend you subscribe to her free newsletter. In our first segment, Dr. Vernikos introduced us to the subject of microgravity in space, providing us with both new information and a different perspective on the subject. She talked about some of the basic assumptions in play and noted where they go wrong. For example, one such assumption is that after a six month stay, the astronauts return and they always return to normal. This is not always so. We also learned that from age 20 on, we as humans are on a downward slope, relating this to being in space as we experience similar problems as we get older, albeit at a slower pace. Dr. Vernikos talked about mitigation techniques, including pharmaceuticals taken before the flight but they are limited in their benefits & have risky side effects. Also, we are talking about LEO short duration spaceflight, maybe six months at the most. This is vastly different from deep space long duration spaceflight. Our guest talked about lessons learned from bed rest studies and why we need to stand up and move around, not just sit. The first segment was information packed. In the second segment, Dr. Vernikos talked about microgravity effects on the brain & our coordination, including our balance. John called to inquire about artificial gravity & partial gravity. Much was said on this subject with the bottom line being artificial gravity is probably OK, the amount is unknown, and maybe using an onboard 2 meter centrifuge multiple times a day at 1.5 or at 2 G's would be sufficient but again, this is not known for sure. We spent more time applying lessons learned to all of us here on Earth & her book. We then talked about the research needed for microgravity issues and she said it was a long lead time , maybe 20 years, and money was not what was required. We also talked about not going anywhere in deep space or on a long duration flight without resolving microgravity issues despite what people say & propose. Dr. Vernikos was confident that remedies or solutions would be found but the challenges are real, closed loop life support is needed, radiation shielding is needed, and more. Post your comments & questions on the blog URL above. You can email Dr. Vernikos through her website.



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