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No. 127: Jan-Feb 2000

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Some Funny Things Happened On The Way Around The World

Weird things happen in the weightlessness of an orbiting spacecraft. In the many videos shot aboard the Space Shuttles, we are treated to tools, even gently oscillating globules of water, floating aimlessly in midair. Even stranger are the effects of microgravity on humans and other life forms.

Astronauts, for example, when they first arrive in orbit, sometimes perceive their world to be upside-down regardless of their orientation. Their nervous systems were apparently thrown for a loop when the force of gravity was cancelled out. These illusions disappear later in the mission.

Speaking of loops, consider the medaka. This fish is the only vertebrate to have mated and laid eggs that developed into offspring in microgravity. Said offspring are doomed to lives of somersaulting swimming.

(Wassersug, Richard J.; "Life without Gravity," Nature, 401:758, 1999.)

Comment. Could there be a connection to the nervous affliction of tumbler pigeons? See BBB8 in Biological Anomalies: Birds.

From Science Frontiers #127, JAN-FEB 2000. 1997 William R. Corliss