NOTES on BONE LOSS and GRAVITY


Calcium is an element that seems so basic to ponder that one would almost believe that it was too trivial to characterize any further. However as I delved into researching for the post, I realized that it was the triviality in which I regard “gravity” that seems to hold me from writing a “decent post?” Gravity holds everything down—as well as my (our?) perception of how life could be “on another inhabited world (even microbial?).” It seems as if our current tendencies (on Earth)—our very personalities would be so alien to us if we suddenly were thrown to exist on a 1.5 g planet that was 80 light years distant from us. We’d be “uncoordinated” and gangly with our current bodies. Gravity—what a concept? Eh?

Perhaps the (current) paradigms of science need more “time” to mature to understand the role of gravity on biological processes (human) before we could address “travel” to a world in a different part of the galaxy? Up-right and bipedal, (rational) people are the norm—how would “evolution” attempt re-create (?) rational life-forms across the galaxy (that had a slightly different chemistry and foreign biological processes) at 1.5 or 2.0 g? The laws of physics are the same but I would argue that our perceptions and “approaches” to the practice of science (an anthropological question) would need a reality check. Bone loss and other problems associated with micro gravity is the natural response of our bodies (it may be an evolutionary response?)—how would our mind (its perception of reality) allow us to practice science (and life itself)?

VERY SHORT PRIMER OF MICRO GRAVITY

Bone loss during space flight is well-documented and will be an important factor in long duration spaceflight. Currently as it stands, astronauts address bone loss pharmacologically and through an exercise regimen. Despite success, this approach seems to work best as a preventative measure. The problem of bone loss is similar to one of extended bed rest—with one major exception being the severity. Space flight induced bone loss seems to occur at almost twice the rate of bed rest bone induced bone loss.


Fig. 1 Simplified illustration of Bone chemistry (illustrated using Open Office and the Gimp under Debian Linux Operating System) [Adapted from Morgan J. L. L. et al (2012) Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Vol. 109, No. 25. 9989-9994.]

Nominally, bone is built and strengthened through use in the resistance to gravity—but bone loss in micro gravity is the body’s natural response to the new environment. If and when we travel to another part of the galaxy, would we allow the natural processes to take over our bodies—and allow our newly “sculpted” bodies to adapt to a planet that would be twice to three times the size of our Earthly home?

I don’t know how (or if the question is tenable?) to ask how one’s personality would change?

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