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Effects of space travel on human evolution?

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In the Disney film "Wall-E," a colony of humans becomes an obese population after hundreds of years locked inside a spaceship. A lack of activity and an abundance of food left the starship denizens with little desire to stay in shape.

But while "Wall-E" was science fiction, but at least one anthropologist believes the human race will change when it embarks on multigenerational space missions to Alpha Centauri or other nearby stars.

To the thinking of Cameron Smith at Portland State University, evolution will continue on starships despite the best attempts to limit it.

"I believe that new pressure, breathing-gas compositions, gravity and radiation environments will act on the early stages of embryo and fetus development; this will be natural selection of new selective agents on the genome," Smith told in an email after stating his views in a recent Scientific American podcast.

"Precisely what new characteristics will be selected for or against, and spread or be deleted from the population, is very hard to predict, however."

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