Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

ISS twin study suggests weightlessness stresses the body in unexpected ways

The first preliminary results from NASA’s comparison of Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days on ISS, and his twin brother Mark, who did not, suggests that weightlessness stresses the body’s genetic system in ways not previously measured.

Preliminary results are in from NASA’s unprecedented twin study — a detailed probe of the genetic differences between astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent nearly a consecutive year in space, and his identical twin Mark. Measurements taken before, during and after Scott Kelly’s mission reveal changes in gene expression, DNA methylation and other biological markers that are likely attributable to his time in orbit.

From the lengths of the twins’ chromosomes to the microbiomes in their guts, “almost everyone is reporting that we see differences”, says Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He and other project scientists reported the early results on 26 January in Galveston, Texas, at a meeting of scientists working in NASA’s Human Research Program. “The data are so fresh that some of them are still coming off the sequencing machines,” Mason says.

It remains unclear at this point the medical consequences of these genetic changes. The data from this first experiment is still too preliminary, and it only involves looking at two people, a sample that is obviously too small. Nonetheless, it is a beginning, and of some significance.


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  • ken anthony

    Did they do these comparisons before the mission or just assume any difference is due to the mission?

  • Cotour

    Is NASA saying that weightlessness is responsible for these differences or cosmic rays is the cause?

    If they are sooo concerned about people flying in airplanes they must be extremely concerned about anyone in orbit or planning to live on a moon base.

  • Ken: They took baselines before the mission, so they know how much things changed for both men.

  • Mitch S

    I don’t see it say if they ate the same diet.

  • mpthompson

    Mitch, I agree regarding the difference in diet. It could potentially explain much of the difference in gene expression (assuming this was not controlled for).

  • Cotour

    I would assume that the effects of cosmic rays over such relatively short periods in space would be the more likely culprit in the disrupting of genes rather than nutrition.

  • A. Feit

    The question that should be asked is: Is the human body adjusting to zero g?

  • wayne

    Interesting input by all.

    Q: How many other astronaut’s, if any, have had twin siblings?

    While it is extremely fortuitous they actually have a pair of twins to study, I’d have to see the actual study they undertook & all the parameters, to render a decent opinion on the protocols, much less draw any conclusions from the results.
    My default however, is to be highly suspect of these type of “studies.”
    With a Sample of 1, I would put forth– science would be better served by just publishing their raw data and leaving it at that. (but…that’s not how you become famous and get Grant money.)

  • Joe from Houston

    Speaking of genes. it would be interesting to study gene expression of the offspring of astronauts that have been in space for 6 months. Does any astronaut qualify?

  • Wayne

    Joe from Houston–
    >Interesting thought.

    tangentially– I ran across this recently, and I would like some input as to how accurate it might be.

    10 Simple Things You Cannot Do In Space

  • Edward

    10) The pen is correct. When I was young, I bought a “space pen,” which had pressure in the ink cartridge to keep the ink against the ball. It wrote upside down very nicely, yet the average ball point does not.

    9) One of the space shuttle missions took Coke and Pepsi into space for experimentation. Actually, the two companies were having a huge war with each other, and it turned into much more of a publicity stunt than experiment.
    (BTW, I worked in the department that civilian-astronaut Loren Acton came from, and he said the Coke and Pepsi were not so tasty when warm.)

    8) Space junk/debris is a problem, but since each country/company/whatever is still owner/responsible for inactive satellites, I would have to guess that the Outer Space Treaty does not consider dead satellites as pollution. Sever penalties? I’m not so sure about the enforcement of the responsibility for dead satellites, because after a collision between Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251, Russia did not seem to have to pay Iridium for the lost Iridium satellite or for the lost productivity when the ISS crew went into the two Soyuz craft during a close approach of a piece of cosmos 2251’s post-collision debris.

    7) Chris Hadfield confirms this one: (1 minute)

    6) I don’t know about emailing .doc documents, but it is plausible. I have been warned that MS word documents can contain macros that can execute like a .exe file. Before Microsoft got that sloppy with computer security, it used to be that only executables were a danger for viruses and we didn’t have to worry about text files.

    5) I don’t know about flower smells. Here is what NASA says on the topic:
    IFF researchers quickly learned that what we call a rose does indeed smell sweet in space … but it does not smell the same.

    4) There are as yet no stories or even rumors that there has been sex between people in space. As far as I know, experiments of reproduction in space has not yet been tried, mammalian or any other kind. It seems to be an experiment by proxy:

    3) Whistling is a new one to me, but this video has astronauts confirming that they cannot whistle in the low pressure of a space suit, but they can whistle in the standard pressure of the ISS: (2 Minutes)

    2) I covered this one in item 4. Still no rumors. I’m sure that when there is finally a space tourist hotel, some couple will tell us something about how it worked. If it goes well, space tourism may have get a big boost (if there is a pun there, then it was unintentional).

    1) This is Chris Hadfield on the topic:

  • Wayne

    Thanks for researching those items. ( tangentially-my satellite provider recently added the National Geographic channel to my tier and I’ve been trying to discern their political-bent & general reliability.)

    -I remember the pens; didn’t they (eventually) have two versions? One that use pressurized gas & one that used an internal pump-mechanism to maintain ball-point pressure?
    (Tangentially– just read where the Chinese are now able to produce ball-point pens by themselves–heretofore they had to import 100% of the “ball-point” mechanism because they did not have homegrown technology capable of mass producing them reliably.)

    -Any information on sinus difficulties in a space capsule, or on the ISS?
    (Your sinus cavities are essentially pliable empty space and the membranes produce ‘fluids’ that serve to clean and sooth ones sinus cavities, and that process is distorted in low/zero-G./)

    -If crying in space is a problem– what is the incidence of “dry-eye” in Space? Every time you blink, your eyeball surface is coated with moisture etc.

    -Along those same lines– the cilia in your lungs, clean out your lungs by transporting particulate via a wave-action; is there any data on breathing difficulties in space? (Any of the astronauts have “asthma” at all, or is that a condition that gets one excluded from space?)

    -I was not aware the pressure in a space-suit was so low–what is the technical rationale for only using 4-5 psi?

  • Garry

    I’ve learned that I can’t always rely on my memory for details, but I seem to remember that the pens were an important issue, because stray graphite particles from pencils were considered dangerous in spacecraft. I also remember advertisements for space pens back in the early-mid 70s.

  • Wayne

    I remember (all) that as well.

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