Sunday, July 15, 2007

Freefall

One of the roadblocks to human exploration of space is the effect of freefall on our muscles. We can only stand about six months in zero-G before our muscles start to irreversibly jellify. Since Mars and other popular destinations are considerably farther than we can travel in that short a time, NASA is working on the problem with carbon nanotube neural implants. Yep. You read the right.

Now this is a positively delicious idea for even the most casual sci-fi fan. Brain implants to facilitate space travel! It could pioneer all sorts of new technologies. This particular research is directed at transmitting impulses to the brain. But if that research could lead to receiving impulses, then the possibilities really open up. Imagine what a pilot could do if they didn’t have to rely on their physical reflexes to fly an air or space craft? OK, I know, I’ve seen too many movies.

There is another interesting question that rises out of this line of research. Exploring implant technology indicates that we’re willing to use them to achieve several months, or years in space. It’s not a stretch to assume that some might also endure other enhancements, from the cybernetic to the genetic, in order to travel to other worlds. If we adapt ourselves to space to travel to other planets, will we ultimately find ourselves more at home in the space between them?

1 comment:

Wolfger said...

...and if they can't be used as neural implants to prevent muscle degeneration, then perhaps a flexible nanotube muscle is in order. We are "one small step" from cyborg astronauts.