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Obey gravity. Itís the law.
Gravity can be such a downer. When it is present, it robs us of the fun of bounding around and soaring through the air. In its absence, we have chaos to contend with.
In addition to that chaos, scientists have discovered that a lack of gravity also has a negative effect on the production of RNA.
Proteins give muscles their strength. RNA helps the body make a blueprint to make proteins and therefore, to build muscle. The top photo here shows strong, healthy human muscle fibers taken from an astronaut before spaceflight.
When RNA blueprints are not available, new proteins are unable to replace the old, tired proteins. This leads to muscle atrophy, which can be seen in the bottom photo. These muscle fibers are from the same astronaut, but after spaceflight.
Here on earth, muscle atrophy affects those with muscle-wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy . In space, the lack of gravity leads to similar difficulties. Scientists hope that by studying the effects of gravity on the muscles of astronauts, they can unlock the secrets of muscle atrophy for those of us who are a little more earthbound.
Photo Courtesy NASA