Dreams of pulp scifi finally coming true

Another breakthough from MIT this week. Professor Dava Newman has developed a prototype skintight spacesuit for future Mars missions.

MIT Biosuit with 'Reclining Figure'

Instead of the traditional gas pressurized suit, Newman’s design relies on wrapping tight layers of material around the body. It’s much lighter and more flexible. And as modeled by Prof. Newman, it’s much more flattering too!

Biosuit - it shapes and controls

The suit is not yet ready for space travel, but the MIT researchers hope to have something usable in “about 10 years”. Maybe by then we’ll also have perfected ray guns and wise-cracking robots. And explorers will roam the solar system just like my boyhood hero, Col. Wilma Deering.

Erin Gray as Col Wilma Deering in 'Buck Rogers'

MIT discovers chemical basis of fear

MIT researchers just published a paper in Nature which describes how to reduce “learned fear” in mice by manipulating molecular pathways. They suggest this as a way of treating emotional disorders. Useful if you have emotionally disturbed mice in your lab.

Of course, you wouldn’t want drugs that can eliminate all fear – it’s too useful a survival mechanism.

Otherwise, soldiers might behave like Dave Lister, in the Red Dwarf episode “Polymorph“. The crew meets a creature that feeds on negative emotion. After it sucks all the fear out of Lister, he volunteers to strap on a neutron bomb and go after the beast. Hilarity ensues.