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Could genetics be the key to colonization ?


Posted on Saturday, 29 March, 2014 | Comment icon 6 comments

Artist's impression of humans on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings
Scientists may be able to alter our genes to make the human colonization of other planets more viable.
Professor Stephen Hawking has often suggested that if we are to survive as a species we need to get out in to space and colonize other worlds, but with the difficulties inherent in long distance space travel and the challenges we will meet in surviving on other worlds, is there a way to improve the odds and make the idea of living among the stars a viable one ?

Speakers at a recent HMS Department of Genetics symposium on "Genetics, Biomedicine, and the Human Experience in Space" were keen to emphasize that our future in space is likely to depend on our genes. These can influence everything from how our bodies cope with microgravity to how we might react to long-term cosmic ray exposure.

To tackle these issues, scientists have suggested that altering the human genome may be a prerequisite to traveling to and living on other worlds.

Potential changes could include preventing unwanted side effects from spending long periods of time in microgravity, protecting our brains from the psychological ramifications of such a trip and even halting the aging process to make it possible to travel for centuries to reach a distant destination.

Source: Phys.org | Comments (6)

Tags: Genetics, Planets


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Hartmut on 29 March, 2014, 11:16
No doubt about it, our future lies in space, but first we must solve the problems of our rampant overpopulation and climate change. If we do not, then there will be there no future for us - anywhere.
Comment icon #2 Posted by davros of skaro on 29 March, 2014, 11:32
I say make the Space Travel fit the Human through technology than changing the Human biologicaly for Space Travel. I will probably be booed, but I feel above average Humans should be used for colonization (If anyone watched "Blade Runner" knows what I mean.)
Comment icon #3 Posted by Ashyne on 29 March, 2014, 12:49
Why modify the genes when we can abandon the genes altogether and adopt a mechanical body?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Danglangdale on 29 March, 2014, 18:10
Say no to Cyborgs Ashyne!
Comment icon #5 Posted by WierdHalfling on 30 March, 2014, 8:00
No I don't believe GM is the key as its too complex and still relatively unknown as to what can really be achieved with it, cosmic radiation immunity I think would be extremely unlikely. It think maybe more in the line of Avatar, for exploration and Sleeper ships for colonisation, heavily shielded but carrying seeds rather than gestated beings at this stage of the game at least. But its unlikely in any event as any modern conflict could erupt into a population destroying war or any catastrophic event could reverse progress and population in these times, theres just too many folks concentrated ... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hvashi on 31 March, 2014, 4:54
Genetic modification seems very risky. Perhaps the modified person will achieve a prolonged life span (for the sake of argument, let's say the ability to live up to 300 years), yet will have numerous undesirable traits like severe mental decline or poor impulse control etc as their age increases. Also, would they breed children specifically for space travel? I'm presuming that genetic modification can only occur in the pre-fetal stage of human development ... correct me if I'm wrong (?). That would be a little disquieting. Such an Age we live in...


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