Unexpectedly Intriguing!
04 November 2005

Are you one of those people who have invested in an exercise machine? Sure, there are treadmills, home weight machines, stair-climbers, rowing machines, cross-country ski machines, and dozens of others, but do they give you the out-of-the-world workout you're truly looking for?

According to Space.com, researchers at the University of California-Irvine and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) have invented a two-person centrifuge-style workout machine, the Space Cycle:

Imagine a two-person, hanging merry-go-round. A spinning wheel sits on top of a thick steel pole. On one side of the wheel hangs a recumbent bicycle. Opposite the bike is a cage-like platform. One person sits on the bicycle while the other stands on the platform.

As the bicycle rider pedals, the merry-go-round begins to spin, causing both the bicycle and the platform to spin around the pole. As the merry-go-round spins faster and faster, both the bicycle rider and the person on the platform begin to feel the effects of artificial gravity caused by the momentum of the device.

The person on the platform can now perform squat exercises at gravity equal or greater – the researchers have produced artificial gravity seven times that of Earth – to what they would experience on Earth.

While designed to combat the loss of bone and muscle tissue that comes from prolonged exposure in the low-gravity environment of space, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a commercial version of this device show up in gyms across the U.S. The strength training possible in the hyper-gravity environment generated by the Space Cycle would be reason enough for athletic departments and professional sport teams to invest in the technology. In a world where competitive sports drive top athletes to seek every possible edge, there certainly would be a huge market for it.

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