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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Feeling spacey? This could be why

Cosmic Microwave Background   (NASA/WMAP Image)
The Oxford Dictionary defines “spacey” in this manner:  “out of touch with reality, as though high on drugs.”

Feeling this way on Planet Earth may indeed indicate drug use.  Feeling this way while whizzing toward Mars may instead be a case of “space brain.”

Before breathing a sigh of relief (assuming oxygen is available), consider this:  space brain may be worse than heroin addiction.  At least some have kicked heroin; we don’t yet know if it’s possible to overcome space brain.

Caused by “exposure to galactic cosmic rays,” space brain could result in “severe and progressive cognitive deficits.”  According to a UC Irvine study, rodents that were exposed to comparable levels of radiation suffered long-term “brain inflammation and neural damage.”

This could certainly put a damper on journeys to Mars.  Researchers are therefore working to develop highly-shielded spacecraft, as well as to develop medications that bolster immunity against radiation.


Copyright October 15, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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