In a new study that's sure to make everyone's world just a little darker, scientists have discovered that sex in space could lead to severe health problems and life-threatening illnesses—brain disease and cancer included.
Specifically, the study wanted to look at how zero gravity would affect the reproduction process, and since sperm cells in plants are delivered to an egg with a "cylindrical tool" (i.e. love rod) just like in human baby-makin', scientists are able to apply the results to our own reproductive process.
According to Professor Anja Geitmann, the biologist at Montreal University who led the study:
Researchers already knew humans, animals and plants have evolved in response to Earth's gravity and they are able to sense it. What we are still discovering is how the processes occurring within the cells of the human and plant bodies are affected by the more intense gravity, or hypergravity, that would be found on a large planet, or the microgravity that resembles the conditions on a space craft.
The scientists chose pollen, which carries male sperm cells, as their model in part because of its pivotal role in reproduction but also because of its incredibly rapid growth—they could measure the effects of altered gravity levels in seconds. And their findings did not prove promising for our future space progeny: both hyper- and microgravity conditions affect what should otherwise be the very precisely coordinated construction of a growing cell. Co-researcher Dr. Youssef Chebli noted:
This allows us not only to understand general principles of the reproductive mechanism in plants but, more importantly, how the intracellular transport machinery in eukaryotic cells responds to altered gravity conditions.
And while there have long been (perhaps wishful) accusations of astronauts making the ol' beast with two backs mid-orbit. NASA has long denied any such shenanigans. Because even though they don't explicitly forbid astronaut sexy time, they do have a strictly enforced
code of conduct that demands "relationships of trust" and "professional standards" aboard their speeding Champagne rooms of the sky.
But in the very possible case that we begin attempting to form self-sustaining colonies on Mars or the Moon, these severe reproduction risks will become a major issue. [The Daily Mail]