Science To Test Fantastic Four TheoryS

Would cosmic rays turn a man into a fantastically stretchable being, human torch or just plain (orange) rocky thing? That's a question that NASA may be about to answer, as they test the body's endurance to space radiation.

If you're wondering how NASA scientists plan to test the limits of radiation tolerance, you may be happy to know that they're taking the Mythbusters approach, and just planning to shoot a dummy with a high energy proton beam until things go wrong, according to Space.com:

The "Phantom torso" dummy consists of natural bone, simulated skin and organs, and real human blood cells. "We put blood cells in small tubes in the stomach and in some places in the bone marrow," said Francis Cucinotta, chief scientist for NASA's Radiation Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "One of the questions we have is whether the less shielded parts of the bone marrow will be [much harder hit]." ...Apollo astronauts had a near-miss between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions to the moon, when an erupting sunspot unleashed a record-setting barrage of solar radiation in 1972. Researchers plan to recreate that event's effects at NASA's Space Radiation Lab at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, by using a high-energy beam of protons on the European Space Agency's Phantom Torso, named Matroshka. Matroshka also has a NASA counterpart named Fred. Both dummies have flown in experiments aboard the space shuttle and the International Space Station to show how chronic exposure to background radiation affects the human body.

If they don't become super-elastic, then I'm at least hoping that one of the dummies will develop the potential to turn green and super-strong in the event it ever gets angry.

NASA to Blast Dummy Astronaut with Deadly Radiation [Space.com]