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Stanford scientist seeks participants in NASA hypergravity study

If you`ve ever wanted to experience the sensation space shuttle astronauts feel during liftoff and landing - or if spinning around in circles all day inside a large NASA centrifuge is your idea of a good time - then Malcolm Cohen wants to hear from you.

A consulting professor in Stanford`s Department of Human Biology and chief of NASA`s Human Information Processing Branch, Cohen is looking for participants in a groundbreaking study to determine the extent to which people can tolerate prolonged exposure to increased gravitational force - or hypergravity.

``The human body has evolved and adapted to G forces that are relatively constant, except for brief periods of acceleration in planes, cars, merry-go-rounds and so forth,`` Cohen said. ``But there has never been a comprehensive study of the long-term effects of hypergravity on humans.``

To remedy this lack of data, Cohen and his colleagues at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., are seeking men between the ages of 18 and 35 who are willing to experience G forces up to two times greater than those normally found on Earth. The study begins in July and will run about nine weeks for each participant. Evaluations of G-tolerance levels in women are expected to be the subject of future experiments.

Those selected for the study will have to endure long hours sitting, and occasionally standing, inside NASA Ames` 20-G centrifuge - a 58-foot-long spinning machine featured in the film Space Cowboys. The centrifuge simulates increasing levels of hypergravity as it rotates faster and faster. For example, to experience the effects of 2 G - twice Earth`s gravitational force - a passenger is spun at nearly 15 revolutions per minute.

Gravity shapes life

A physiological psychologist, Cohen began studying the effects of hypergravity on military jet pilots in the 1960s. He joined the staff of NASA Ames in 1982 - the same year he began teaching a course titled ``
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
19-Mar-2002


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