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6 Reasons Life in Space Sucks (That Sci-Fi Doesn't Show You)

Obviously, life in outer space would be no vacation -- you're out there braving the final frontier, battling meteors and malfunctioning airlocks, and knowing you'll die horribly in the abyss of space if some tiny thing goes amiss. But that's what's so awesome about it -- it's an adventure, baby! And you're doing it all in goddamned outer space!

But actually, the hardest part about life on a space station or moon base is a whole bunch of little everyday annoyances that will make your life a living hell, and not in an awesome way ...

#6. You Have to Work Out Constantly (Or You'll Pass Out)

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It is only to be expected that some amount of exercise is necessary in a weightless environment, if only because you can now rock those free weights like a boss. However, you're not going to get away with just a few wacky reps with ACME-size weightlifting equipment. You're going to work out all the time, and you won't have a choice.

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"You want me to do how many reps? I can't read scientific notation."

There are two reasons behind this. One is to avoid muscle and bone turning into brittle mush due to lack of gravity. The other is a wacky phenomenon called orthostatic intolerance. On Earth, it's the reason you sometimes feel dizzy when standing up too fast. Off Earth, it graduates to being the reason your slacker ass would freaking hate space. Your body is normally able to deal with orthostatic intolerance by raising your heart rate and blood pressure until you get a grip ... but in space, your heart is a goddamn pussy. Realizing it doesn't need to do the whole "fighting against gravity" crap, it happily gets smaller and weaker, and your blood pressure drops. When orthostatic intolerance hits in a situation like that, you'll pass out. A lot.

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Some of you may adapt better than others.

Your only remedy? Constantly hitting the gym. You have to exercise a good 2.5 hours a day, every day, as long as you're out there. It's not the cool kind of exercise, either; no, that shit is all cardio, all the time. There will be no idle ogling of asses while "sipping from your water bottle" -- you'll spend those hours strapped into one of the three exercise contraptions available (a gym cycle, a treadmill, and a space Chuck Norris Total Gym called ARED), forever grinding in a tiny room that is filled with cables and presumably smells like jock straps.

Via Wikipedia
Imagine an RV full of dirty gym clothes and the nearest fresh breeze is 200 miles away.

And you're not doing it to get shredded abs, either -- your only prizes are the privilege of continued and uninterrupted consciousness and the ability to avoid crumbling like a Jenga tower the second you re-enter Earth's gravity field.

#5. You Get Taller (and It's Incredibly Painful)

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Most people wouldn't mind being a bit taller, right? Well, space has got your back! When you venture into space, you'll soon have a pleasant surprise: A gravity-induced growth spurt will increase your height by about 2 to 3 inches. And when we say "pleasant," we of course mean "painful and horrifically deforming" -- basically it's stretching out the nerves in your spine.

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But dachshunds make elongated spines look so jovial.

Usually, the human spinal cord allows our brain to quickly communicate with any part of the body, so anything that fucks with that natural setup tends to produce difficulties. The structure of the spine itself is designed to both support our feeble frame and protect the spinal cord's complex nerve system. And it all goes to hell the second gravity goes bye-bye.

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
"It might be easier if we just took your spine out and replaced the whole thing with a 2x4."

The intervertebral disks that cushion the spine from gravity's effects are suddenly useless, and your vertebrae start idly drifting away from each other, stretching the whole spinal structure as they go. The good news is that you grow taller. The bad news is that you are likely to experience chronic back pain as a very nerve-dense part of your body is suddenly stretched like an accordion. Oh, and the nerves themselves are also in danger of getting damaged.

Still, who needs legs in a weightless environment, hey? Hey?

NASA
"I'd enjoy this more if I could still feel my toes."

But consider the moment when you inevitably run out of video games and Cheetos and have to do a supply run on a planet with a gravity field. Not only will your space-screwed spine experience its vertebrae snapping back together like a stretched and released rubber band, but the process is also running a high risk of some serious herniated nucleus pulposus, an adequately final-boss-themed name for slipped disks.

#4. Things Get Trippy Whenever You Close Your Eyes

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Astronauts aboard the very first space flights were befuddled and spooked by mysterious flashes of light they noticed while up in orbit. Big whoop, you might think -- it's freaking space, there must be any amount of weird shit going on. Maybe it was sunlight reflecting off a satellite, or some glinting piece of debris, or just a curious alien spacecraft.

Photos.com
Damn aliens always leave their high beams on.

There was just one problem: Those weird lights never occurred when they were actually looking at stuff. Those brilliant flashes were only visible with closed eyes. Yes -- in space, you've got your very own private disco in your head, baby! Also, you will probably think you're going crazy 24/7.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
Apparently disco fever is a lot more terrifying than it sounds.

This free light show is caused by highly charged particles, aka radiation, whizzing through space and then directly into -- and through -- the eye's retina. As it strikes your gushy eye matter at great speed, it tricks your brain into thinking you're seeing lights. Earth's benevolent magnetic shield protects us from the majority of the electric matter that the sun is constantly throwing at us. Therefore, we don't get to enjoy a psychedelic firework show every time we blink. In space, there's no appreciable level of magnetic protection, so your eyes will have to deal with the sun's full penetrative fury.

Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images
"BEHOLD MY SPARKLINESS."

At first, these lights might seem only like an inconvenience. Then, around your first sleeping shift, reality dawns: How the hell are you going to catch a moment of sleep when the insides of your eyelids are holding a Daft Punk concert? And, of course, it doesn't end there. Space is a vindictive bastard that also wants to screw you in the long run. The constant radiation penetration actually causes structural damage to the delicate tissues in your eyes, which may well lead to permanently messed up eyesight should you stay up there for more than a month.

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