Sex in Space: Certainly Possible, But Not Recommended

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NASA TV / Reuters

Astronauts planning to have an out-of-this-world reproductive experience, take note! Experiments conducted on zebrafish suggest that space travel could harm your unborn child. (via The New Scientist)

Tamara Franz-Odenaal and her team of biologists at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada placed fertilized zebrafish eggs inside a bioreactor. It mimicked microgravity—the state of very low gravity found in interstellar space—by spinning ridiculously fast. They placed eggs inside the machine 10 to 14 hours after they had been fertilized to coincide with the development of bone and cartilage in the skull.

(Read, “First Earth-Like Planet Found in Space.”)

Once the eggs hatched, the team dyed the baby fish blue, and compared them to fish that hadn’t spent time in simulated microgravity. The experimental group of zebra fishies had altered branchial arches—segments of cartilage that support the gills and correspond to portions of the human jaw. Deficits appeared later in the fishes’ life cycles, too. Within several months, the bone at the base of their skulls buckled.

Taken with previous research, it doesn’t bode well for sex in space. Other research has found that zebrafish in bioreactors have deficits in their vestibular systems, which control balance, causing fish to die prematurely. And after traveling aboard NASA’s STS-131 mission in 2010, 16 mice demonstrated shrunken ovaries, leading one scientist to say their reproductive systems “had shut down.”

Looks like the wild thing is best done in the safety of Earth’s atmosphere.

(See pictures of Earth from space.)


A thought: umbrage and umbrella come from the same root. So when you need a little umbrage, you just pull it out and unfurl it.


As the author of the piece in question, I wonder whether Mr. Kluger read the article at all. I have only one problem with the Maryland state motto: the accuracy of the translation. I know that questions of languages—such as the difference between a dead language like Latin and a very much alive language like Italian—are beneath the notice of a man with a point to make. But it's Italian, not Latin, and there is no phonus balonus outrage (there, now THAT's Latin). I just think that an accurate translation is the least a government could give its people. A detail? Certainly. Not worth troubling one's head about. Not when there's a windmill to joust against. (and that would be Spanish, specifically Don Quixote). It's amazing how a piece about accuracy in language is commandeered into the ideological kerfuffles of choice. At long last, sir, do you not see that you are calling the kettle black?