NASA is calling for test subjects in an experiment that could pave the way to sending humans to Mars or beyond. It’s called the bed-rest study, and it is as extreme as it sounds.
If chosen, participants will have to lay on a bed for 70 days, with their feet elevated slightly higher than their heads. This simulates the long-term effects of microgravity on the human body. The researchers will be able to see how bone density, muscle atrophy, and other bodily factors change as people stay off their feet for months at a time, just like they would on an interplanetary mission. But don’t worry, you can go about your normal daily routine, just as long as it is confined to the bed — there’s a special shower, and you can use consumer electronics (Netflix must have enough decent content for 70 days of constant streaming, right?) Some subjects will even get to use in-bed exercise equipment.
Participants get $18,000 for their time.
So what does it take to endure such hard-core rest? Actually, a lot. Subjects need to be in very good physical condition and undergo psychological evaluation. The application states that participants must pass a modified Air Force Class III medical standard. The senior scientist on the study told Forbes, “We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut,” albeit a bedridden one.
The insights to be gained here can be crucial for the future of spaceflight. Currently, researchers suggest that a 10-month trip to Mars would cause an astronaut to lose 40 percent of his or her muscle mass. “On a long voyage,” Space.com reports, “a healthy 30- to 50-year-old astronaut could end up with the strength of an 80-year-old.” Something that would be a hindrance when it comes to actually landing on the planet.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."