By Tushna Commissariat and Michael Banks
“A year here is a really really long time,” says astronaut Scott Kelly in an interview (watch the video above) that he did on board the International Space Station (ISS) just a month before he returned to Earth in March this year. The retired astronaut is talking about the very real effects of spending a long period in space, specifically citing both the physical effects as well as the “psychological stress” involved. “During my time in orbit, I lost bone mass, my muscles atrophied and my blood redistributed itself in my body, which strained my heart. Every day I was exposed to 10 times the radiation of a person on Earth, which will increase my risk of developing a fatal cancer for the rest of my life. Not to mention the psychological stress, which is harder to quantify and is perhaps as damaging,” he says.
The comments were part of the announcement of his upcoming memoir, Endurance: My Year in Space and Our Journey to Mars, which will be published later this year. Despite the damming tone, Kelly is still a staunch supporter of manned spaceflight and missions such as those to Mars, he just has a much clearer view on the realities involved. Read more about his announcement over at the GeekWire website.
And in keeping with the theme of people in space, you may be interested to know that British astronaut Tim Peake, who is still on the ISS, will be involved in an unconventional activity in the coming weeks, and this time you can join him. As thousands gear up to run the London Marathon on 24 April, Peake will run the full 26.2 mile distance on a treadmill on board the ISS, in support of the Prince’s Trust. He will strap himself to the treadmill in the Tranquility node of the ISS and start running at the same time as more than 37,000 runners set off from Greenwich. If you are not running yourself, you can support #TeamAstronaut by donating to Peake’s fund-raising page.
Many scientists leave academia because of the problems of successfully balancing a career with their family lives, especially once children are involved. A new project, dubbed “Parent Carer Scientist“, that celebrates the work and lives of 150 scientists in the UK has been launched by the Royal Society, in the hope that it will inspire others in a similar situation. The personal tales of 40 scientists are already available online and include a healthy mix of men and women. Do take a look at the profiles to learn more about the everyday lives and times of these scientists and hopefully pick up some excellent tips from them on managing the stress of balancing academia and homelife.
And finally, if you enjoy nothing more than “skip/dumpster-diving” to make good use of something someone else no longer wants or needs, you may be surprised to learn that even scientists at the CERN particle-physics lab in Geneva do the same. Take look at an article over at the Inverse website to find out more about the kind of “trash” that CERN throws out and the “scientific ecosystem” that thrives at the lab.