nasa weed experiment

No, silly, NASA won’t pay you to smoke weed in bed for three months

Dammit, people!

The fake story of the week on facebook goes to “NASA Will Pay You 18000 Usd To Stay In Bed And Smoke Weed For 70 Straight Days“. Stoners all over the interwebs went crazy over it and would have joined by the millions if only they could find an apply button. Of course nobody could apply because it’s freaking fake. Dammit, people!

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s talk some real science because this headline is half true. NASA is actually conducting a series of experiments called the Bed Rest Studies were volunteers have to stay in bed and not walk for at least three months.

The purpose of the study is to research the effects of microgravity on the human body. By having subjects lie in bed for 70 days straight, the body should be subjected to muscle atrophy akin to that experienced by astronauts in space. The beds are tilted head-down at a six-degree angle. This tilt causes body fluids to shift to the upper part of the body and sets off cardiovascular events that are similar to what we see in a space flight.

“Being able to test new ideas on Earth saves invaluable flight time,” says Joe Neigut, Flight Analog project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “What the bed rest does to their [test subjects] physiology and how the exercise countermeasures benefits their physiology helps us better prepare and protect astronauts when they are in space. In fact how it affects the physiology can be applied to everyone on earth.”

And yes, participants do actually get $18,000 for lying in bed — $1,200 per week for a total of 15 weeks. Oh, and another thing. “Couch potatoes is not an accurate description for what we are looking. Subjects need to be very healthy,” says NASA’s news chief, Kelly Humphries.

“We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed,” says Dr Cromwell.

“Once they qualify physically and mentally, we do rigorous physical exercises to test muscle strength and aerobics capacity. We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut. They should be able to do the kind of activities that astronauts do.”

The first runs of the project were made in 2013, and the last one in 2015. One participant documented his experience in an editorial for VICE, if you’re interesting to hear how it was.

“Beyond the pain, I learned that it was nearly impossible to perform everyday tasks while slanted at the negative six degree angle. Taking showers consists of dousing myself with a hand-held shower head, and it’s especially hard to clean my back, legs, and feet. Reading books is exhausting, since I have to hold my arms outstretched in lieu of lifting my head up. Using my laptop is equally strange while lying down. Every time I brush my teeth, I feel like I’m going to choke on the toothpaste. Then I have to spit into a cup, but it inevitably dribbles down my cheek and through my beard every damn time,” the authors wrote for VICE.

There’s no word yet if a new round of the experiment will be made by NASA, and neither have any results been shared.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it usually isn’t.

Dammit, people!

You can smoke pot in bed for 70 straight days, but NASA won’t pay you to do it

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NASA has, in the past, paid people to stay in bed for months at a time. (They explain why here, saying that “bed rest studies often attract people looking for a change who can afford to retreat from everyday life for a few months.”)

It sounds relaxing, up to a point, but as Politifact points out, “Boredom is a constant problem … Scientists continually poke and prod them, taking readings and measurements on everything from weight to bone density. Volunteers are told when and what to eat, and have to do everything in bed.”

Volunteers might, after a few hours, hope for something to take the edge off — would the hovering scientists allow a joint? Or three? What if you could spend all 70 days of the study — poking, prodding, monotonous food and all — completely baked?

Needless to say, this is wishful thinking (the Associated Press called NASA, just to make sure.)

But it’s an idea that has lasting appeal, judging from the number of times a fake news story asserting otherwise has surfaced.

It’s hard to tell, but the first appearance seems to have been in March of 2016 at the now-defunct site (‘NASA will pay you 18000 USD to stay in bed and smoke weed for 70 straight days‘), from which it was picked up by (not to be confused with the Times of India).

Since then it has surfaced and resurfaced at least six further times (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

(This account of what it’s like to be in a NASA bed rest experiment should dispel any idea that it’s easy money.)

Will NASA pay you to lie in bed for three months and smoke pot? The answer will not surprise you one little bit.