Monkeys were routinely tormented and tortured in the early days of space flight—on both sides of the Cold War—but this will be the first time in decades that the doubledomes of NASA have decreed it is necessary to flog our cousins for the Greater Good of mankind.
“We realized there was a need for this kind of work,” intoned Jack Bergman, behavioral pharmacologist at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital in Boston. “There’s a long-standing commitment on the part of NASA to deep space travel and with that commitment comes a need for knowing what kinds of adverse effects deep space travel might have, what are the risks to astronauts. That’s not been well assessed.”
That’s nice. However, as far as I am aware, monkeys are not interested in “deep space travel.” Human beings, apparently, are. Therefore, if it is “necessary” to determine the “adverse affects” of deep-space travel on human beings, it is human beings who should be employed as experimental subjects, not monkeys.
Perhaps, seeing as how he feels such research to be so “necessary,” Dr. Bergman can offer up his own children, bombarding them with radiation, rather than monkeys.
The point of the experiments is to understand how the harsh radioactive environment of space affects human bodies and behavior and what countermeasures can be developed to make long-duration spaceflight safe for travelers beyond Earth’s protective magnetic shield.
Scientists are particularly interested in studying how the radiation impacts the monkeys’ central nervous systems and behaviors over time.
Rats and mice have previously been irradiated to test the effects of unprotected solar radiation upon human astronauts, but scientists aren’t satisfied with those experiments.
Eleanor Blakely, a biophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said: “Obviously, the closer we get to man, the better.”
I understand, Dr. Blakely. And that is why I suggest that you, as well as Dr. Bergman, sign up your own children to be bombarded with radiation. Let’s “study how the radiation impacts the [children's] central nervous systems and behaviors over time.”
You two, after all, would be in the best position to detect and note any such changes, having previously been intimately familiar with the experimental subjects.
Like Dr. Bergman says:
“That kind of information just hasn’t been available.”
Say goodnight, little monkeys.