15 June 2007

Not your everyday idea!

Just a quick break to give a rest to the way too much seriousness going on which, I am sure, I will get back to in a bit.

This is one of those things that gets churned through my poor excuse for a mental set-up and there are many, many people to blame for this. First up is the creators of 'Reality Shows', which are way too unreal to be of interest to me. I really don't care if people will do stupid and dangerous things for money. I mean, one of the available sub-professions in geology is Vulcanology: studying volcanoes. And in that field there is a plethora of work to be done and one of the dangerous is the study of Pyroclastic Flows. Think of seeing just how fast, how hot and how much material can be spewed over an area and rip everything up in its path in a bevy of superheated air, steam, particulates, rocks, and other noxious fumes and such. That is a job where individuals do something that is highly anti-survival... they head *towards* active volcanoes, many that are erupting or about to do so. Think of the blast zone of Mt. St. Helens. Think of Pompeii. Think of Krakatoa.

Now if you made a 'Survivor Show' out of that, you would, slowly, get a body count. Not much good for television viewing, though, as it would run for decades with very little happening and then a whole lot all at once. Plus you would hate to have all the contestants go out at one shot. There being the one to be 'left behind' might just save your life. Nope that won't fly as a 'Reality Show'.

Now you know how my mind works on some days, when I can get it to work at all.

With that, add in this link from Instapundit to Popular Science on the 10 worse jobs in science in 2007. I do believe that even Mike Rowe could do a couple of these! But one, in particular, is suited to be a 'Reality Show' and *still* yield good science! See it?


Think of 'Big Brother'.

Think of 'Survivor'.

Think of the Discovery Channel.

Think of your average couch potato.

Got it?

Yes, take 21 people who have all signed on to their being willing to last through 21 days of experimentation. Of social interaction in their group. Of lasting out to the bitter end. It is a job custom made for television being in confined settings, easy to film locations and, even better, has a fully capable and competent medical staff ready to assist.

It is, of course, Number 7: Gravity Research Subject.

Imagine the promo, where each subject is put through physical exams, tests and other things to make sure they can survive 21 days of being on an inclined bed. Yes, the field is open to every lethargic individual who has ever formed a sofa to their behind for years on end! Or those folks in Laz-E-Boy chairs that now swivel back way too much.

The interviews, and tests all done on camera, recorded and edited together for the Intro Program. Across different ages, lifestyles and viewpoints on life they come and the lucky 21 get to actually enter the program. Each has acknowledged that this can be dangerous to them, but is worth whatever the Prize Du Jour is these days for such things. That gleam of 'easy cash' just for being flat on your back. So simple *anyone* could do it!

A good pre-screening would be to play 'Jedi Knight' on the Vomit Comet, so that folks could get to know some of what it is that it really takes to be an astronaut, and to find out just who can keep their lunch down.

Photo: NASA

One can imagine the assemblage of 50 or so when the selection is made... the smiles, clapping and then, final downcast looks of those unable to go on. Little do they know they are *the lucky ones*.

Photo: NASA

Then the entry day to the hospital, and each of these fine worthies go to the bed and it is inclined 6 degrees to allow blood to flow to the head. Get them to describe their feelings, how their internal organs have moved and the sheer uncomfortable feeling of being on a bed like that. And eat in that position. And the lovely bedpan parts we can edit a little, but the embarrassment of it and the cleanup, in bed, afterwards. Time to become an expert in that!

Because it does all flow down hill in the end.

The joy of having the beds wheeled about and having to perform mental function tests, interact in a 'pleasant social atmosphere' and then, one by one, they each get 'the centrifuge'.

Photo: NASA

Alone, isolated, as one's body is spun faster and faster until 1G is achieved at the heart, but 2.5G is at the feet and all that blood goes rushing out of the head.

Photo: NASA

Day after day of that, trying to read, stay alert and always feeling that no matter how much you swallow your food really doesn't want to stay in the stomach. And after the first day the vote each morning, to get rid of one of their number. That can be done via electronic device so that they will not know how any voted, but the viewer at home WILL.

Perhaps throw in a video poker game on day two or three, with a few thousand dollars at stake. Watch them try to concentrate as they play just after lunch. Or do the old 'concentrate on the equipment' ordeal, trying to ensure that reaction time and motor skills do not deteriorate as time goes on. Drag out the old equipment and get a real feel for history!

Photo: NASA

Even moderately technical tasks would be a problem, no doubt, but those which requires interaction with others... ahhh... by day 5 or 6 of enforced inactivity, medical tests, centrifuging, you may find quirks in personality playing on you, irritating you. Then there are the *others*! Imagine the interviews, the discussions of just how each of them feels. And, perhaps, playing back some of their earlier recordings to them to get them to compare between then and now.

Of course some disorientation tests may need to be done, and even such things as testing out of reflexes in the linear vestibulo-ocular reflex in the human linear accelerator sled. I am sure the folks at MIT would *love* to have some 'volunteer' test subjects!

Photo: MIT

Wouldn't *that* be a grand break from the centrifuge?

The possibilities are endless!

Because it is always better to be *that* sort of test subject...

...than this sort of test subject!

Some day we may get a *real* 'Reality Show'.

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