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A lack of gravity could prevent interstellar travelers from reproducing, which is vital to successfully making it to their destination 4 light-years away

Traveling to another star introduces a list of potential problems. One major issue is that the closest star is 4 light-years away, where one light-year is equal to 6 trillion miles. Such a journey could take decades to centuries to complete, meaning the humans aboard would have to procreate, but experts say space sex is just another bullet point on the list of possible hindrances associated with the voyage to the stars.

The problem with space sex is the lack of gravity, according to Athena Andreadis, biologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls," said Andreadis. "Think about it: You have no friction, you have no resistance."

After sex, there's the birthing process to think about. According to Andreadis, giving birth in zero gravity would be "hell" because gravity and the weight of the baby help the process along.

Microgravity has been known to have negative effects on the human body over time, such as impaired vision, atrophying muscles, reduced blood volume and diminished bone mineral. If microgravity can have such effects on the human body, it could likely harm a fetus or cause birth defects.

Dan Buckland, an MIT researcher who spoke on the topic of space sex and traveling to the stars at the 100-Year Starship Symposium, said that it is currently unknown what gravity has to do with successful reproduction and birth in space, but large starships with the ability to simulate gravity onboard that is also self-sustainable for such a long journey would be required.

While we are far from even that sort of technological development, there is yet another challenge even further ahead in the future if humans were to travel to a star: finding a habitable planet to settle.

Experts say other habitable planets will unlikely mimic Earth, hence, the human settlers would need to live in a dome with an Earth-like biosphere or terraforming the planet as a whole, which is terribly difficult. Terraforming is the process of modifying a planet's atmosphere, temperature, ecology or surface topography in order to make it more similar to Earth.

"Not only are we bad at terraforming, but we don't have the life span or the attention span to carry it through," said Andreadis. "Terraforming is a failure of the imagination. It's like people who take those expensive trips to Paris and eat at McDonald's."

Andreadis even mentioned genetically engineering humans to make it so they can journey to a star and live on another planet without complications, but this raises ethical issues of creating an entirely different second species of human.

Source: Space.com



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RE: Centripetal Force?
By MozeeToby on 10/3/2011 12:16:01 PM , Rating: 3
I think the potential for injury is higher than you're probably imagining. Strapping your feet in might sound like a good idea, but if your body starts twisting you have all the inertia of your full weight and very few points of contact to stop the motion. I imagine it would be very easy to injure a knee or ankle that kind of situation, not to mention more... *ahem*... delicate bits of anatomy.

On the other hand, spin up the space station to a quarter G and I would imagine you could have a very nice time.


RE: Centripetal Force?
By eldakka on 10/3/2011 8:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
You'd have the inertia of your full MASS, not weight.

If you WEIGH 160lbs on earth, your mass (in kilograms) is (160lbs/2.2)/9.81=72.7kg/9.81=7.41kg.

Therefore while doing the dirty in space you'd have to be able to counteract inertia created by moving 7.41kg of mass (plus that of your partner depending on position), not your 72.7kg of WEIGHT on earth.


RE: Centripetal Force?
By Laitainion on 10/4/2011 1:41:49 AM , Rating: 2
Kg are mass. Weight is measured in Newtons, which is Kg * local gravity (on Earth 9.81 blah blah blah).


RE: Centripetal Force?
By JediJeb on 10/4/2011 2:53:54 PM , Rating: 2
Your mass remains the same whether you are on earth or in space. Weight depends on gravity, mass is constant(for this situation at least).


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