Chemistry in Microgravity

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Jorpho
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Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby Jorpho » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:11 pm UTC

I can find a few articles that seem to suggest that there are important experiments in tissue growth and drug development being done in microgravity, but I'm not clear exactly as to why gravity should be a factor. Aren't the interatomic forces involved in this sort of thing orders of magnitude greater than the force of gravity?

I once read about some orbitally-grown spheres in an electron microscope supplies catalog, but even that doesn't quite make sense - if gravity was a factor in growing rounder spheres of silicon or polymer or whatever it is, that still suggests that the force of gravity between individual particles is more significant than other forces while they're being grown in orbit. But wouldn't that mean employing some major vibrational isolation, at least?

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Cobramaster
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby Cobramaster » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:13 am UTC

On the actual chemical processes there would be little effect but in larger systems especially with Biological ones solution gradients caused by gravity are sometimes important and things like muscle and bone do not properly develop due to the lack of stress hormones. In a pure reaction you would if anything a faster reaction due to the lack of gradient providing a dispersed reaction.

So yes on an actual micro-scale nothing important is happening at micro-gravity, on the macro though it can get complicated, which is why were are scaling up the research.
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bigglesworth
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:17 am UTC

The mouth/arse distinction in chickens is caused by gravity, for example.
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BlackSails
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby BlackSails » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:52 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:The mouth/arse distinction in chickens is caused by gravity, for example.


I doubt it. Body axes are set up while the organism is still too small for gravity to be all that significant.

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Jorpho
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby Jorpho » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:26 am UTC

Cobramaster wrote:On the actual chemical processes there would be little effect but in larger systems especially with Biological ones solution gradients caused by gravity are sometimes important and things like muscle and bone do not properly develop due to the lack of stress hormones. In a pure reaction you would if anything a faster reaction due to the lack of gradient providing a dispersed reaction.
Don't stirrers solve the solution gradient problem just as well?

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bigglesworth
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:33 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:I doubt it
Doubt all you like. But also look up Kochav, S., Eyal-Giladi, HL Bilateral symmetry in chick embryo determination by gravity. Science 1971 171:1027-1029

The organism may be too small for gravity to effect it, but the yolk is not, and the blastoderm is attached to the side of it.
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:00 am UTC

So no chickens in space?
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:03 am UTC

The Chinese sent some eggs to space in 2002 and then hatched them, but this stage happens while the egg is still in the hen.
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p1t1o
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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby p1t1o » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:02 pm UTC

I think it is something to do with convection myself. Concentration gradients would still work by diffusion. I think if you wanted to make something, like a sphere or crystal, with very low tolerances or a high requirement of regularity, then a low-convection environment might be useful as it would reduce density gradients.

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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby Moose Hole » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:32 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:The Chinese sent some eggs to space in 2002 and then hatched them, but this stage happens while the egg is still in the hen.
And you can't get the hen into space because chickens can't fly.

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Re: Chemistry in Microgravity

Postby p1t1o » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:48 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:The Chinese sent some eggs to space in 2002 and then hatched them, but this stage happens while the egg is still in the hen.
And you can't get the hen into space because chickens can't fly.


Its because they never pay attention to traffic control. Loose cannons.


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