This sounds like the perfect job and the pay is not bad either. Scientists at the Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology near Toulouse, France, are offering volunteers 16,000 euros (or a little over $17,000) to investigate the effects of microgravity on their bodies.
All they have to do in return is lie flat on their back for an uninterrupted 60 days and undergo an additional four weeks of tests - half before and half after the two months of complete bed rest.
The volunteer recruitment announcement specifies that the institute is looking for 24 male non-smoking candidates, aged between 20 and 45, and in top-notch health. Applicants are also required to be fit and sporty, and have a body mass index of 22 to 27, since researchers aim to observe how the study will affect people who are used to being active.
Simulating Weightlessness For The ISS
Lying around and doing nothing doesn't look like much of an effort, but specialists warn the weightlessness study may be more difficult than it seems.
Firstly, the test subjects have to perform all daily activities while lying in bed, with the torso inclined at a -6 degree angle that positions the head lower than the feet.
These activities include eating and going to the bathroom, which they must complete with at least one shoulder touching the bed or stretcher, according to Dr. Arnaud Beck, the physician who coordinates the study.
Secondly, simulating weightlessness takes its toll on human biology, which relies on Earth's gravity to facilitate a number of physiological processes, from blood circulation to walking and muscle support.
This means that, much like the astronauts on the ISS, in the two months of not getting out of bed the volunteers have a great chance of experiencing muscular deterioration, as well as a decrease in bone density immunity.
"In certain conditions the cardiovascular system is affected and is not capable of making the same effort as before the experiment," Beck said in a statement.
Beck added that weightlessness typically results in hypotension, lowered blood volume, and vertigo. This explains the necessity for the two weeks of follow-up evaluation after the study is over, since participants have to readjust to being upright.
The MEDES 'Cocktail' Experiment
To counteract all these effects, the researchers plan to administer capsules containing a mix of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, which study participants will be taking along with their food.
But there is a catch: only half of volunteers will be given the supplement cocktail - which prompted the name of the experiment, "Cocktail." The other half will be left to fend for themselves, said Beck.
This will be the second round of testing for the same study and is set to last from September through December. The first phase of the experiment, which enrolled 12 volunteers, started in January and is about to be completed this month.