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The hearts of astronauts become more spherical when they spend long stretches of time in space, and this change might lead to heart problems, a new study indicates.
According to neuroscientist Joe McIntyre of the College de France, the brain is so accurate because it contains an internal model of gravity. The brain, he says, seems able to anticipate, calculate and compensate for gravitational acceleration -- naturally. For instance, says McIntyre, if you place an infant safely on a glass table where he or she can see the floor below, the baby will become fearful. He's not falling, yet he expects to fall -- without any prior experience of falling. "It doesn't take much to elicit this response," he added. "It seems like a very robust, common effect that we expect a downward acceleration."
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a team of scientists examined the eyes and brains of 27 astronauts who have spent prolonged periods of time in space. They found optical abnormalities rather like those seen in a potentially serious condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, in which pressure builds inside the skull due to an unknown cause. Of the subjects who had spent more than 30 days total in zero gravity, various optical abnormalities were seen, including expansion of the cerebral spinal fluid space around the optic nerve in nine astronauts (33 percent), and flattening of the rear of the eyeball in six of them (22 percent). Three (11 percent) also showed changes in the pituitary gland, which produces hormones that regulate a variety of important body functions.
Gravitational biology is the study of the effects gravity has on living organisms. Throughout the history of the Earth life has evolved to survive changing conditions, such as changes in the climate and habitat. However, one constant factor in evolution since life first began on Earth is the force of gravity. As a consequence, all biological processes are accustomed to the ever-present force of gravity and even small variations in this force can have significant impact on the health and function of organisms
When in space, astronauts have repeatedly reported inexplicable euphoria, a “cosmic connection” or an increased sensitivity to their place in the Universe. The experience sounds like the ultimate high, or the ultimate enlightening; it would appear that without trying, astronauts are able to attain a similar mental state as meditating Buddhist monks. So what is happening when the human body is in space? Does zero-gravity create new connections in the brain? Or is it a natural human response to the vastness of space and realizing just how small we are in comparison? What ever the reason, it looks like even when astronauts are back on solid ground, they have changed profoundly…
On March 6th, 1969, Rusty Schweikart experienced a feeling that the whole universe was profoundly connected. At the time, he was on a postponed space walk outside his Apollo 9 Lunar Module, carrying out tests for the forthcoming Moon landings. Already having suffered from space sickness (hence delaying the EVA) he felt a euphoric sensation: “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change… it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” – Russell “Rusty” Schweikart.
Two years later, Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell (joint record holder with Alan Shepard for longest ever Moon walk of 9 hours and 17 minutes) reported experiencing an “Overview Effect”. He described the sensation gave him a profound sense of connectedness, with a feeling of bliss and timelessness. He was overwhelmed by the experience. He became profoundly aware that each and every atom in the Universe was connected in some way, and on seeing Earth from space he had an understanding that all the humans, animals and systems were a part of the same thing, a synergistic whole. It was an interconnected euphoria.
Schweikart and Mitchell’s experiences are not isolated anomalies, many other astronauts since the 1970′s have reported this Overview Effect. Andy Newberg, a neuroscientist/physician with experience in space medicine, hopes to find out whether this is an actual psychological phenomenon. Perhaps there is a medical reason for an actual change in an astronaut’s brain function when in space. What’s more, he’s noticed a psychological change in the men and women that have come back from space: “You can often tell when you're with someone who has flown in space, its palpable.” – Andy Newberg
What if for example the absence of gravity has an effect on the brain functions that produce what we call the ego ? What if there is some kind of energy field around the earth that prevents us from feeling "connected" ? What would happen to mankind if we were forced for reason x or y to live for generations without artificial gravity in space ?
What if for example the absence of gravity has an effect on the brain functions that produce what we call the ego ?
What if there is some kind of energy field around the earth that prevents us from feeling "connected" ?
What would happen to mankind if we were forced for reason x or y to live for generations without artificial gravity in space ?