back to article Zero-G vanishing bone issue solved, says prof

American brainboxes funded by NASA say they have found a way to deal with one of the most severe problems of space flight - that is, the way one's bones gradually become as flimsy as dry twigs after long exposure to microgravity. According to researchers at the University of Washington, the problem of bone loss in microgravity …


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  1. Mike

    Nice work if you can get it

    "volunteers on Earth undergoing constant bed rest" - where do I sign up?

  2. myxiplx

    Elastic suit?

    Would it not seem simpler to modify the suits they wear to provide a certain amount of resistance to movement? Either with elastic around the joints, or with some mechanism to stiffen joints? That way they can be exercising muscles all day long, with every action they take, instead of just for a short period on the treadmill.

    Wouldn't an elastic strap running from your hips / shoulders down to your feet do a decent job of simulating the forces you would feel on your legs when standing up?

  3. Cody

    weight training?

    Is it possible that weight training could have the same effect? For almost all men, there is some woman in their lives on whom osteoporosis may potentially have devastating effects -- if you ever see what it can do to someone, you'd know all too well how true this is -- and if its a simple as this, lets give them some 10 or 20 lb dumbells and have them do stepping exercises. You have to be careful about taking it too far and getting wear arthritis, but get the parameters right, and it could be a lifesaver.

    Osteo is a killer not simply because of the extreme effects, the hunching over as the neck or spine deteriorates, but also because of the vulnerability it creates to minor bumps, and the way it makes falls which earlier would have been perfectly survivable into life threatening events. Broken wrists, for instance, from an apparently minor bump. Broken hips from stumbling and falling even on a well padded and carpeted floor. Its a very serious problem. Men get it too, less so, but they do.

  4. Doug Glass

    Not News

    The article may be new, but the condition, and cure, have been known for decades.

    Must be a slow day huh guys.

  5. Steve Taylor

    Old ladies?

    "Astronauts ... lose bone ... ten times faster than post-menopausal women do."

    So stop sending astronauts, send up old ladies instead.

    Seems obvious, really.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not rocket science...

    ...but is this Washington University or University of Washington? Big difference there.

    "Annoying Pedantry for Dummies" in the pocket? It's mine!

  7. The BigYin

    Make them all do judo (or aikido, or ju-jitsu, or...)

    The constant hammering into the tatami should see bone loss a thing of the past.

    And, with that in mind, I propose the the astronauts spend 30 mins a day in a type of "human washing machine" being bounced around and thus ensuring that their bone structure remains sturdy. Perhaps Mr. Dyson can assist?

  8. Joe K
    Paris Hilton

    Why are we even discussing this

    They should just spin the space station to supply gravity, like we saw in that Bruce Willis documentary, "Armageddon".

  9. Colin Barfoot

    weight training? in space?

    chyurr... the level of education of some people posting messages here is appalling. You can ignite your interest in physics, according to a Sponsored Link, at the IOP.

    Steve Taylor's Grannies in Space idea is an excellent one. It has the additional benefit that they needn't worry about osteoporosis on account of having artificial hips already. I guess they'd need to sort out that Urine Processor Assembly first.

  10. Gaius

    Well done NASA

    The effects of resistance training on bone density have been known by athletes for decades at least.

    I hope ESA isn't wasting its taxpayer's money to this extent.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @weight training? in space?

    Resistance Training then, but the general principle is the same. Instead of lifting weight (which is pretty close to zero in zero gravity) you push against/pull a resisting force (a bar connected to some springs pehaps) whilst braced against something else.

    Anyway it can't be that simple or else it would be fixed by now.

  12. Chris Haughton-Brown

    treadmill ?

    What about hooking the treadmill / rowing machine or whatever up to a generator, then all their bone-saving exertion can be put to good use charging batteries. Then put this next to the window facing the earth and you've got the world's best view whilst you work out. Or else use their person-power to propel their their problematic poop pump.

  13. RichardSmith
    Thumb Down

    Why zero gee to Mars?

    In Dr. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct plan, the upper stage of the rocket is kept tethered to the space ship by a 100 m long cable. The two are spun to simulate Mars' gravity. Use Mars Direct plan and avoid 6 months in zero gee entirely.

    Warm regards, Rick.

  14. Aaron Gilliland

    Old news

    The report may be new, but the concept has been applied all over the place.

    The American space program has used various treadmill modifications (elastic tethers, negative pressure* waist cuff things, etc) and the Russians had a "penguin suit" which applied force against the limbs throughout the day.

    The problem isn't technical. The problem is compliance. The solutions are tedious and uncomfortable to use.

    * - yes, I know there's no such thing

  15. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    That's the legs sorted

    but what about other bones? Skull? Spine? Arms?

    Hmmm. If bungee-cord pulling down from the hips works for legs, perhaps they should make all the jumpsuits the crew wear (one-piece, with gloves/socks/hood attached) two sizes too small so their entire skeleton is under compression...

  16. T Wright


    Big Magnetic hat that pulls you towards the floor anyone ?

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