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Top 5 Weird Zero Gravity Facts

VO: Chris Masson

Written by Nathan Sharp

It may look like fun, but zero gravity is more complex than simply floating in space. Welcome to Watchmojo's top five facts. Welcome to Watchmojo's top five facts. In today's installment, we're counting down the five most interesting facts that we could learn about zero gravity, or more accurately, microgravity.

Special thanks to our user EmJay for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Transcript
Written by Nathan Sharp

Top 5 Zero Gravity Facts


It may look like fun, but zero gravity is more complex than simply floating in space. Welcome to Watchmojo's top five facts. In today's installment, we're counting down the five most interesting facts that we could learn about zero gravity, or more accurately, microgravity.

#5: Human Bodies Aren't Meant for Space

As we're sure you can imagine, human beings are not used to floating in space, and as a result, we start to look and act a little strange when we're in it. For one thing, our muscles aren't needed for support in the weightlessness of space, and they start to deteriorate as a result, forcing astronauts to vigorously work out every day to maintain muscle mass. Along with their muscles, they could also lose up to 1% of their bone density each month spent in space. Other abnormalities reported in astronauts include becoming taller due to spinal stretching, faces becoming puffy and legs getting skinnier due to fluid redistribution, and a loss of sensation in the bladder. In fact, without gravity causing urine to settle at the bottom of our bladders and trigger nerves as it normally would, astronauts often don’t know they have to pee until their bladder is completely full!

#4: We Can Simulate Zero Gravity, But Not Create It

While it would be fun to create zero gravity conditions on Earth, there are (as of yet) no means to accomplish it. Even Half-Life 2’s “gravity gun” was more of a “telekinesis gun” if you ask me. However, there are numerous methods to create the sensation of zero G for a handful of seconds. Most notably, there is the Vomit Comet, a hollowed out plane owned by NASA which will gain altitude, and then drop at a rate which allows its untethered passengers to experience a freefall for about 30 seconds. Fun fact: this is how Ron Howard accomplished the zero G sequences of “Apollo 13.” Just as creating zero gravity is science fiction, so too is artificial gravity. However, there is one theoretical design which would use centripetal force to simulate gravity, which is why you see the rotating ring structure in some sci-fi movies like “Interstellar.” However, even this would be imperfect, and would look more like the famous jogging scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”


#3: Zero Gravity Makes You Lose Your Appetite

In a surprising side effect of zero gravity, astronauts report having problems with their noses, which affects their appetite. In zero gravity conditions, bodily fluids rise, and as a result, astronauts report stuffy noses, limiting their ability to smell and taste food. Smell plays an important role in our appetite, and without it, we don't feel the need to eat as often or enjoy the food we are given because we cannot taste it as much. Even if their noses weren’t blocked, there’s another wrinkle: food aromas don’t rise up towards your nose in zero gravity. To make up for the lack of smell/taste astronauts use various sauces like ketchup and tabasco, and a lot of salt and pepper–suspended in water, of course.

#2: Living in Zero Gravity Can Be Torturous

The first two to three days living gravity-free can be total torture. Our spatial orientation relies on gravity, and without it, our body loses all sense of spatial awareness, not unlike being extremely dizzy. When this motion sickness is coupled with the physical changes occurring in the body, our brains cannot handle it, and we become violently ill. Symptoms of space sickness can range anywhere from simple nausea to uncontrollable vomiting and even hallucinations. The most notorious example of space sickness was Senator Jake Garn, who lacked formal astronaut training, and was in fact serving as a guinea pig on space motion sickness. His reaction was so grave, NASA now has an informal scale called the “Garn Scale” to measure adaptation sickness, with one Garn being totally incompetent and unresponsive. Most astronauts reportedly don’t get above 0.1 Garn.

#1: The ISS’s “Zero Gravity” = Falling Endlessly Through Space

We typically hear that space travellers experience zero gravity while on a shuttle or the International Space Station. But contrary to the term, zero gravity doesn't mean that there is no gravity in space. We should really say microgravity. At 250 miles, or 400 kilometres above Earth, which is the orbital height of the ISS, the gravitational pull is is still about 90% as strong as on the surface. The Earth’s gravity combined with speed of an object’s trajectory is what keeps things in orbit around the planet. So, while floating astronauts may make it seem like gravity is completely absent, the floating is actually just their bodies perpetually falling around the planet at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour.


So, did you learn anything new about zero gravity? Sounds fun, doesn't it? For more free falling top tens and one Garn top fives published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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