Thursday, August 27, 2009

Space Babies May Not Work

Space. An awesome expanse of light and fury. A window into a world of infinite complexity and beauty. And, of course, a place where we'd like to fuck. But while the weightlessness of space may not be that big a hindrance to getting it on (as long as there are plenty of handles and/or Velcro around), it might not be so good for the product of unsafe sex. No, not gonorrhea. Worse. I'm talking about kids. Scientists have tried fertilizing various animals in space to a lot of success. But when it comes to embryonic development after fertilization, the bag becomes a little more mixed. To study the effects of weightlessness on mammalian embryos, scientists placed embryonic mice in a three-dimensional clinostat, a machine that mimics weightlessness by spinning around like a motherfucker. Turns out these embryos had a harder time developing that the non-spinning control group. This may be because animals are genetically adapted to cellular development in a gravity well, or the scientists could have just screwed something up when twirling around embryos and subsequently jamming them into an empty uterus. While the first possibility is probably more likely, the second is infinitely more hilarious. More details here.