Wormonauts

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This is simply a repost of today’s article on Schott’s blog, but it’s so good, and my mind is so full of worms since last night’s episode of House, that I think everyone will find it interesting: most especially the fact that 80% of a worm’s genetic makeup is identical to human. Talk about global connections!

Headline: Worms sent into outer space!

Reporting ahead of the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, which will transport more than 4,000 Caenorhabditis elegans worms into space, Jacqui Goddard wrote in The Times of London:

The British wormonauts will spend 11 days in orbit more than 200 miles above the Earth, travelling 4.5 million miles, as part of a study that is expected to have important implications for future human space travellers.

Scientists at the the University of Nottingham, England, spent more than a year preparing for the wormonauts’ mission. According to Goddard, the worms are considered a good model for studying human physiology – in this instance, muscle wastage caused by space travel – because they share up to 80 percent of their genetic make-up with humans.
[from Schott’s Vocab, NY Times, 11/17/2009]

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