Saturday, February 23, 2008

One Small Swim For Fish-Kind

German researchers with nothing else to do launched a rocket carrying 72 small fish on a brief space flight to study motion sickness.

The cichlids were in an unmanned rocket that blasted off from a launch pad in northern Sweden.

The thumbnail-sized fish were filmed as they swam around weightlessly in small aquariums during the 10 minute space flight.

The German team will now study the video to see if some of the fish swam in circles and vomit because that is what fish do when they experience motion sickness, said Professor Reinhard Hilbig , of the Zoological Institute at the University of Stuttgart.

He said the scientists hope the experiment can help shed light on why some people experience motion sickness while others do not because the mechanisms involved are similar for both fish and humans.

The earlier experiments that involved a fish bowl and someones hand making a whirlpool just wasn't cool and expensive enough.

Hilbig said the fish landed safely and appeared to be in good condition. Which is more than Pet Smart can claim in their Earth bound shops.

"They were very happy, I think they want to have another flight but its down the toilet for them now," he said.

Cichlids were picked for the experiment because they are sturdy fish who were deemed to have good chances to survive the stress of a space flight.

"Goldfish are a little bit fat and messy, while the cichlid fish is a well-trained, sporty, sexy fish with muscles," he said.

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