French researchers are seeking young, healthy men willing to embrace their inner sloth for science. As The Guardian reports, scientists from the Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology (Medes) need male volunteers to spend two months in bed so they can study the effects of microgravity—the state of virtual weightlessness—on the human body. Subjects will be paid around $17,000.
According to experiment coordinator Arnaud Beck, the goal is to reproduce the weightlessness experienced by astronauts at the International Space Station. Prolonged weightlessness can affect the cardiovascular system, and can also cause vertigo and low blood pressure, in addition to bone density loss, muscle atrophy, and other side effects. These effects can differ depending on whether an astronaut is male or female, as NASA has found. Still, this study includes only men.
Arnaud and his colleagues want to study the harmful physical effects of prolonged weightlessness, and find ways to prevent them. The end goal is “to enhance astronauts’ performance and to ready them for their return to Earth,” according to a press release issued by the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency.
During the experiment's first 15 days, scientists will run tests on the subjects. After that, the bed-ridden men will spend 60 days on their backs, their upper bodies positioned in a slight downward incline. As the CNES explains, this position simulates the effects of weightlessness, as it shifts blood towards the upper body, “causing the same changes in blood volume, cardiac performance and vascular resistance as in space.”
In addition, half of the volunteers will take antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food supplements, and the other half will serve as a control group. Subjects will be monitored, so researchers can see how the drug cocktail affects their bodies as the physical side effects of weightlessness kick in.
Subjects can’t get up to eat, bathe, or even go to the bathroom, as they’re required to keep at least one shoulder touching the bed or its frame at all times. (In short, participants should be prepared—and willing—to use a bedpan for two months.) During the experiment's final 15 days, subjects will spend time recovering from their “weightless” two months, and the scientists will conduct additional tests to see how the experience—and the supplements—affected them.
The upcoming bed-rest study is technically part of a two-part experiment, launched by the Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology last winter. One group of volunteers stayed in bed from January 2017 until April 2017, and the incoming group will remain prostrate from September to November.
Want to get paid to spend two months in bed? Volunteers must be non-smoking males, between the ages of 20 and 45, who are healthy and in good physical shape. The application is available online.
[h/t The Guardian]