After two days, I’d turned into an idiot

Ever wonder why astronauts schedules are crammed with activity? A simple explanation is that time in space is a very limited commodity and so they naturally want to accomplish as much as possible. While that’s undoubtedly true, there’s also another reason.

Early in the space program, a NASA psychiatrist spent two days in an isolation tank with scuba gear to experience simulated weightlessness.

I thought a little, and then I stopped thinking altogether. … incredible how idleness of body leads to idleness of mind. After two days, I’d turned into an idiot. That’s the reason why, during a flight, astronauts are always kept busy.

From Rocket Men.

Related post:

Not exactly rocket science

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7 comments on “After two days, I’d turned into an idiot
  1. gwern says:

    Any chance of a more specific citation? Using Google Books I can narrow it do to ‘Fallaci, 117′, but multiple Fallaci items seem to show up in the bibliography.

  2. John says:

    I’m quoting Rocket Men, top of page 287. Rocket Men sites

    Fallici, Oriana If the Sun Dies. New York. Atheneum, 1967.

  3. PhilM says:

    I can relate to this. A few years ago, I was incapacitated by an injury and confined to bed for a number of months. During those months, I did so much less mental work than my normal level and this probably explains why.

  4. Waldir says:

    I read the same point some days ago in “Confessions of a Public Speaker”, by Scott Bekun. He says that a useful trick to engage an audience it to make them move (e.g. through a show of hands) because “our bodies, sitting around doing little, go into rest mode—and where our bodies go, our minds will follow.”

  5. As I grow up, I realize that I really must keep myself busy. If I didn’t do this, I always do mistakes, fall in them, and after a while, … I regret and feel sorry, and wish I was never been idle.

  6. Ironmistress says:

    Nothing validates this as well as solo sailing.

  7. On the other hand, Jean-Dominique Bauby – at one point Editor-in-Chief of French Elle – wrote “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death” while being entirely paralyzed, with the exception of a single eyelid. First perceived as a vegetable after a debilitating stroke, he wrote the book letter-by-letter, signaling to the assistant who read the alphabet where to stop. An incredible feat.

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