Welcome again to JJNN for Monday January 26th, 2009. Today we will be talking about a problem the people that reside in the international space station face.
So what do the people on the international space station and the explorers in Antarctica have in common? Well, besides the fact that they are both groups of people that explore environments and live in conditions that humans not normally live in. It turns out that these two groups of people are each facing a similar problem. Both living for a long time in space and being cooped up in a cabin for a long Antarctic winter both lead to deterioration of the muscles, especially in their legs.
There are a lot of people that are looking for a solution to this shared problem. According to this article a Japanese professor of medical science named Shiba has come up with what might be a solution. Professor Shiba wanted to find a way that was more convenient than the strict training regiment that the people in the international space station have to go though now. His idea looks something like this.
The device is rather simple. When the device detects that you are using your muscles it gives those muscles in use a little electric zap. The net effect of this electric zap is about the same as if you were lifting a dumbbell with that limb. It is a simple idea, but if it ends up helping the people in the international space station it is a great idea.
The idea has already been put to the test. Last year a group of 18 people (4 male and 14 female) over 60 were used to test the device 2 times a week for 12 weeks. They would only use it 20 minuets a day. The results were actually rather amazing. The 18 people that tried out the device ended up with a increase of muscle power of 43% over the mean. Quite the change.
This summer (winter in the Antarctica ) the 10 people that Japan are sending to Antarctica will be wearing the device on their calves for 8 weeks. They will use it 3 times a week for 20 minuets. The scientists will compare their muscle power before and after the 8 weeks to see how the muscle power changed.
Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 筋肉(きんにく). It is pronounced kinniku and means muscle. I think I want this device.
That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.