NASA Searches for the Ambitiously Indolent

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Hey couch potatoes: Want to take up space? As part of an experiment on weightlessness, NASA is looking for volunteers to stay in bed for three weeks straight.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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NASA is looking for a few good couch potatoes. The space agency is searching for volunteers to spend three weeks in bed with their feet propped up five inches higher than their heads. This is part of a study of ways to counter the effects of weightlessness. The New York Times says that the potatonauts, fully propped up on an elbow, use bedpans and shower lying down on a waterproof gurney. Some subjects will get a daily one hour ride on a centrifuge bed that spins 30 times per minute to see if rapid rotation can prevent degeneration caused by zero gravity, or for that matter, a Big Mac.

Volunteers will have to set aside 41 days for the study, including time for medical tests and recovery time. They'll get paid $6100. But project scientist Liz Warren told the Times, they've only been able to round up a third of the 30 participants they need. I don't know why it's so hard, says Dr. Warren. You look how many people in this country do nothing, why they can't come work for us?

Coming up, Bill Bryson's memoir of an active childhood. Cast off your bedpans and stay tuned.

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