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Space Medicine

Posted by: Monroe - Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 pm
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Post Space Medicine   Posted on: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 pm
It just occurred to me some interesting thoughts about evolution and things like viruses. We have medicine trying to eradicate all these viruses. I wonder if that might be a mistake? I'm thinking about how many generations it takes for the human body to develop immunities and how that process really works.

If we end up hurting ourselves by removing the time it takes for the human body to do this over many many generations we might upset the balance of nature and the changes that take effect over many generations.

Then the thought occurred to me what might happen on a generational ship. It might be a problem for a generational ship to return to earth if enough generations had passed for them to develop different antibodies the return of a generational ship might bring back a plague!

Just a rambling thought- perhaps modern medicine is already having a negative effect on our evolution?

Monroe

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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:58 pm
Monroe wrote:
It just occurred to me some interesting thoughts about evolution and things like viruses. We have medicine trying to eradicate all these viruses. I wonder if that might be a mistake? I'm thinking about how many generations it takes for the human body to develop immunities and how that process really works.


You in your life time will have developed immunities to several forms of colds and flus the human immune system is quite good at reconfiguring for new threats the really nasty stuff that kills before the person reaches breeding age is few and far between compared to the more minor stuff as they say what does not kill you makes you stronger. :wink: :twisted: and in the event of the really nasty stuff in a closed population it takes one generation the ones with mutated genes survive the others don't.

Monroe wrote:
If we end up hurting ourselves by removing the time it takes for the human body to do this over many many generations we might upset the balance of nature and the changes that take effect over many generations.


Humanity does not play by the rules of nature we are symbiotic with our technology a large proportion of humanity over every generation of it that has had some kind of functional medicine has only reached breeding age because of our medical technologies of one type or another. There are some who argue that we have either stopped evolving or we are de-evolving because of our success with medical technology. This I think is an over simplification but does have some validation.

Monroe wrote:
Then the thought occurred to me what might happen on a generational ship. It might be a problem for a generational ship to return to earth if enough generations had passed for them to develop different antibodies the return of a generational ship might bring back a plague!


In a clean controlled environment they are less likely to have stuff that taxes and exercises their immune systems so its they who are more likely to suffer when returning without proper vaccinations and quarantines on their return.

Monroe wrote:
Just a rambling thought- perhaps modern medicine is already having a negative effect on our evolution?


Like we have with our domestic animals it could be said we have partly taken ourselves out of the ordinary evolutionary pool and our evolution is partly under our intellectual control and becomes more and more so as our technology progresses.

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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:25 am
But the flip side is that our now largely very clean, sterile environment has created an increasing number of auto-immune disease where a bored immune system with nothing better to do turns on its fellow cells...

Much like any population and ecology in isolation, they will rapidly diverge from each other, both on the pathogen and immune sides. This is one of great quandries of when human (and other) populations are established on other bodies or in space. With the increased radiation and resulting increased mutation rates, there is a very serious probability that a "killer bug" will develop at some point. How you address that and limit it's spread is a big issue.

But yeah, it's probably pretty safe to bet that a returning generation starship will hold as much biological risk as the Columbian Exchange. A good reason not to bring them back.


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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:13 am
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we have partly taken ourselves out of the ordinary evolutionary pool and our evolution is partly under our intellectual control and becomes more and more so as our technology progresses.


Perhaps "partly" it's the other part that I wonder about. Sure we have advanced but I would not give us that much credit just yet.

Monroe

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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:38 am
I think you hit the sweet spot again Monroe.

Allergies and immunesystem failure may be the outcome...and resistend new viruses.

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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:34 pm
A microbial growth in space is no less meaningfull than life in space,and a space medicine is its lively science experiments.


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Post Re: Space Medicine   Posted on: Sat May 24, 2014 5:16 pm
Your thoughts are reasonable, and echo many bioethicists over the years. Basically we have to understand that the human body does not live healthily in a vacuum - it has many subtle balances with various microorgasms inside of it. There's a whole society in our bodies, and when we constantly sterilize it by abusing antibiotics and being hypochondriacs, it's a crippled society that often falls victim to seeing enemies where none are (i.e., autoimmune disorders).

We'll see in time how that applies to space medicine, but I'm sure we'll find a nice balance between the extremes of just gross negligence and sterilizing everything all the time.


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