Couch Potatoes Wanted

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    Couch Potatoes Weightlessness

    Do you need a job for the next 60 days?

    Are you willing to lay around?

    NASA and the European Space Agency may have your dream job.

    Scientists are looking for the ultimate loafer.  They want to hire people who are willing to stay in bed for 60 days.

    This is part of a research project to study the effect of weightlessness with bed rest.  The scientists hope to develop methods to counteract the effect of weightlessness.

    Currently, astronauts have to spend vast parts of their days on the International Space Station exercising.

    While weightlessness may seem like a fun thing, it quickly damages a body.

    Because the space station is in a constant state of “free fall”, the gravitational pull of the earth has no effect on the astronauts, so as a result, they float everywhere.

    The feeling is like when you suddenly go downhill on a rollercoaster or airplane.

    Even a few weeks in weightlessness can seriously weaken the muscles.  Just five days of weightlessness can reduce muscle mass by 20%.

    Key systems of the body start to relax when gravity isn’t pulling us down.

    Astronauts report they quickly lose their sense of up and down, and they can’t figure out where the floor or ceiling is.

    But long term, the effects of weightlessness can be catastrophic.

    Calcium goes out of the bones via urine quickly.  The bones weaken, and their bodies start to develop osteoporosis.

    They also quickly start to lose muscle mass which is why the astronauts need to exercise constantly, usually two hours a day.

    NASA has developed “weightlifting exercises” and cardio work to make it possible to come back to earth.  Without cardio, the body has a tough time breathing when the effect of gravity returns.

    But even after all that work, it still takes months of rehabilitation for astronauts who spend six months aboard the space station.

    The effects are so profound, it even alters the vision and the structure of the eye.

    Some effects, though, are really unique.  Bodily fluids start to get redistributed to the top of the body.  That is why the faces of astronauts seem to be swollen.

    This change tends to affect vision and take away the sense of smell and taste.

    But the biggest effect is when they return to earth and find they cannot stand for more than ten minutes without passing out.

    This is because astronauts lose around 20% of their blood volume because the lack of gravity tends to reduce blood pressure.

    If you want to help future astronauts by being a couch potato for two months (and earn $18,500) be prepared to do everything in bed for 60 days, including going to the bathroom.

    The point of the experiment is hoping to learn more about the effect of rest on human physiology.

    But everything will be done lying down in bed:  eating, showering, watching TV and playing video games.

    If chosen, all your meals will be designed to make sure you do not gain weight during the study, but the website does say that the meals will not be “extra-healthy.”  And they promise occasional pancakes and sweets.

    The agency needs 24 participants now and will put out a call for 24 more in September.

    One other key skill is the ability to speak German.

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