Sex in Space Won't Kill You After All

But a new study raises concerns about reproduction in plants, and maybe humans

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 15, 2013 12:23 PM CDT | Updated Mar 17, 2013 12:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of the week's most salacious stories got its start in the journal Plos One with this headline: "Cell Wall Assembly and Intracellular Trafficking in Plant Cells Are Directly Affected by Changes in the Magnitude of Gravitational Acceleration." Of course, it wasn't until the Daily Mail got hold of it that the story took off, with this slightly revised headline: "Bad news for 220-mile high club: Researchers find sex in space could lead to life-threatening illnesses." This led to a spate of sex-in-space-can-kill-you stories. So what gives? It turns out that amorous space travelers probably don't have to worry—unless they're having sex for the specific purpose of producing offspring, explains Daily Kos.

Essentially, the researchers studied plant sex in zero gravity and found big problems in the reproduction process related to how cells communicate with each other. They did not draw any conclusions about human sex, but the possibility of similar problems affecting people can't be ruled out yet, says LiveScience. "What does this mean?" asks Daily Kos. "It means we may not be able to colonize the Moon or Mars anytime soon, not until we lick many, many problems." But at least the couple who might be blasting off to Mars should be able to ... unwind.

  (Shutterstock)
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