Daily Orbit – NASA Wants You on Bed Rest

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,090
    9-23-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, NASA is studying the effects of space travel on astronauts, phobias could be cured while you sleep, and what Facebook is doing to your brain.


    Who wants to pay you to sleep?


    Fighting fear in your sleep…


    Logging out of the mind…


    And downloading your brain on the Daily Orbit!


    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit.  I’m Emerald Robinson.


    NASA wants YOU to go to sleep!  This might sound crazy, but the space agency is looking for volunteers to stay in bed for 70 days.   


    NASA is preparing for a bed-rest study designed monitor the changes to the human body from the conditions astronauts experience in extended space travel…and you could earn $18,000.  The subjects will lie in bed for 70 days at a 6-degree angle to simulate conditions in microgravity where astronauts have to exert little force to complete a task—resulting in muscle atrophy.  Scientists will monitor the participants’ vitals and ability to fight off infections. 


     Though it might sound initially appealing, I’m pretty sure after day 3 day I would be ready to jump up out of bed.  Wait do you get to watch TV?


    While the NASA subjects are getting all that sleep, perhaps they could work out some phobias.  


    A study from Northwestern University suggests that fear memory can be reduced during sleep.  Researchers successfully lowered levels of fear in people by using certain odors to trigger and re-channel frightening memories into harmless ones during sleep.  They say that this potentially offers a way to enhance daytime treatments of phobia with a nighttime component.  This is the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep and researchers say this has important implications for exposure therapy, which is used to treat phobias, by exposing people gradually to the feared object or situation until the fear is extinguished.


    “Information overload, cannot compute”…I don’t know about you but my brain feels fried and new research says it really could be.   


    Researcher Erik Fransen from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology says that we need to take our brain “offline” –aka off Facebook, to help our memory.  He explained that working, or short-term memory, is what we use when we work online, but it has limited storage.  Research shows we can hold up to 3 or 4 items in our working memory at any given time.  But fill up your brain with Facebook and you our ability to process information begins to fail—not saying that some people’s posts aren’t really, really important.  Fransen says that the brain is designed for both activity and relaxation, and if we keep it maxed out with technology, it can’t work properly.  


    So log out for your brain every now and then.


    But one scientist says that you could possibly keep your brain computing long after you log-out for the last and final time.  


    Professor Stephen Hawking, known for his “unconventional” view of the afterlife, said at UK’s Cambridge Film Festival last week that he believes your consciousness could theoretically be kept operational outside of your head…by downloading your brain to a computer.  While this sounds like a way to live on after death, he admits current technology isn’t there yet.  He referred to the afterlife as a “fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.”  


    Hawking I think likes a little shock value. 


    Students at Princeton are joining the fight against bacterial meningitis.  An outbreak on the Princeton University campus last spring has the institution passing out plastic cups to persuade students not to share drinks with one another.   One way that meningitis is spread is through sharing drinks. They are providing students with 5,000 red cups that say “Mine.NotYours.”  The cups also include markings of the standard size for beer, wine, and cocktails along with the phone number to the university’s department of public safety.  They’re telling students to write their name on the cup so no one else uses it.   


    The disease can also be spread via kissing.  So kids, keep your lips and your cups to yourself!


    And that’s your Daily Orbit!