Courtesy: R. Adam Dipert

Hungry for that first stint of free-floating magic called microgravity? You can enhance your aptitude for motion and develop a deeper understanding of how best to handle yourself by practicing here on Earth.

Adam Dipert of the Department of Physics at Arizona State University explains that microgravity environments present unique movement and perceptual challenges. Furthermore, the expense of placing yourself into space puts utilization of the time in those environments at a premium.

Dipert draws upon a background that includes being a professional circus performer and dancer. Since his first parabolic flight in 2016, he continues to investigate the possibilities of locomotion of the human body in weightlessness.

The type of training he is proposing prepares “movement artists” to quickly adapt to the counterintuitive aspects of weightless movement. His research findings – “Choreographic Techniques for Human Bodies in Weightlessness” — appears in the journal Acta Astronautica.

Parabolic flights, pools, and aerial harnesses

“This research has focused on understanding strategies for planning and executing specific movements, which can be explored in precise and low cost ways,” Dipert explains. A simulator was coded to look at the dynamics of the human body. That simulator allows for visual and numeric calculations of the body’s moment of inertia “eigenvectors” and center of mass in a variety of positions.

Courtesy: R. Adam Dipert

The maneuvers were explored with dance, circus, and “parkour” artists through the use of parabolic flights, pools, and aerial harnesses. Parkour is the practice of traversing obstacles in a human-made or natural environment through the use of various movements in order to travel from one point to another in the quickest and most efficient way.

Microgravity choreography

To date, very little choreography has been designed specifically for humans in microgravity besides those choreographies designed for space walk treks.

“As humans continue on our trajectory toward increased habitation in space, the use of our bodies in artistic endeavors is inevitable,” Dipert writes. “A major challenge in developing competent movement skills comes from the short intervals spent in weightlessness in comparison to the amount of time a person spends in gravity.”

Courtesy: R. Adam Dipert

 

 

Patterns of movement

Dipert and a small group of others have begun to learn and execute simple movement patterns designed with weightless environments in mind. Three types of skills have been honed:

— continuous self-rotation about the anterior-posterior axis,

— initiating rotation about the head-tail axis with a partner, and

— self-rotation about the head-tail axis.

Each motion has been explored independent of external torques or forces.

Something in the way you move

The objective of Dipert’s work is to prepare people to be capable of moving their bodies proficiently in microgravity.

Credit: NASA

“Learning physical skills can be accomplished through synchronization of our conceptual, perceptual, and motor faculties. Our conceptual constructs regarding the application of force and the properties of location and movement are hard-wired into our neural pathways. Those pathways are usually wired for surface and water-based transportation techniques, but new pathways will need to be developed for competent control of the body in weightlessness,” Dipert explains.

“I am always surprised that I’ve not found other people discussing this topic in detail,” Dipert tells Inside Outer Space.

“The art of movement in weightlessness is truly in its infancy,” Dipert concludes, “because few members of our species have spent little time in weightless environments.” At present, only a few individuals have demonstrated competent movement in weightlessness, he adds “and we will live in a more beautiful reality when more do. This work is presented with the hope of accelerating that process.”

To access the paper — “Choreographic Techniques for Human Bodies in Weightlessness” – go to:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0094576521000758?via%3Dihub

Also, go to this video on Dipert’s research at:

https://youtu.be/dhyMStvwOiQ

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