E 1: Energy, Mass, & Speed (MS), E 2: Energy & Motion (HS), Earth Science, Energy, F&I 1: Newton's 2nd Law (HS), F&I 1: Newton's 3rd Law (MS), F&I 2: Newton's 1st Law (MS), F&I 2: Newton's 3rd Law (HS), F&I 4: Gravity & Mass (MS), F&I 5: Force Fields (MS), Forces & Interactions, Life Science, Physical Science, S&F 2: Body Systems (HS), S&F 3: Body Systems (MS), Space Systems, SS 2: Gravity (MS), Structure and Function

Microgravity and the Respiratory System

Microgravity and the Respiratory System

SUMMARY: What are the effects of gravity on lung function? This study first breaks down how gravity works and its effects on living organisms. The second section explains lung function with and without gravity. Finally, the last sections look at the difference in lung function during and after short and long term space missions. Results showed that lungs were able to adapt to gravity pretty quickly and there seemed to be no decrease in oxygen diffusion. 

LESSON COMMENTS: This article can be used as an example of gravity and forces. The first section does a great job of explaining in detail the effects of gravitational forces on the human body. Concepts covered include: acceleration, g-force, and pressure. I often tell my students that physics and biology are closely related and this article is a good example of that. The sections about lung function and circulation can be used to tie together how the heart and lungs work together, how gravity affects heart function, and the concept of blood pressure. Teachers can go a step further and cover Bernoulli’s principle as an additional physics topic.

Prisk, G. K. (2014). Microgravity and the respiratory system. European Respiratory Journal,43(5), 1459-1471. doi:10.1183/09031936.00001414