The Moon in the News: Surgery, Water, and Colonization

A map of the moon from 1647
A map of the moon from 1647

By Natania Barron
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

We have ever been fascinated by the moon, hanging there, silvery in the sky, so mysterious and changing. I’ve often wondered what people really thought when they saw the moon up there, before telescopes and science, and how truly amazing it must have been.

Well, if you think that we know everything there is about the moon today, you’re mistaken. Yesterday, two separate moon articles got my attention, both written from very different approaches.

The first article concerned a medical study conducted to deduce whether or not the moon affected surgery outcomes. My first thought: “No, this is not a message from the 15th century.” While I’ve heard that more women give birth during the full moon, I never thought that surgery might differ depending on the phase of the moon; but apparently, enough people were concerned about the relationship between the moon and medicine that an extensive study was put together.

What did they find? Well, not surprisingly, the data suggests that the moon has little to no impact at all on the doctor’s performance. The biggest indicator is, in fact, various times of day and certain parts of the year where doctors and their staffs may be coping with various changes in their hospitals, or are simply tired. According to the article, “…doctors and other hospital personnel may be more tired at the end of a work week or later in the day. And in early July and August, new residents enter teaching hospitals.”

However, don’t throw the towel in on this moon myth just yet. While surgery outcomes may not have as much of an impact, there is still an unexplained link between emergency room visits and the full moon, in both human and animal instances:

…a study of nearly 12,000 emergency room visits for pets revealed the risk of such emergencies, ranging from cardiac arrest to trauma, was more than 20 percent greater for cats and dogs on days surrounding full moons compared with other days.

Now, how about buying some real estate on the moon? It’s not as unlikely as you might think since the announcement yesterday that space scientists have found strong evidence that water exists on the moon. According to one of the US space teams conducting lunar studies, a thin layer of water coating the surface has been detected in some areas.

My favorite bit of the article:

…proponents of human space travel hope this discovery could put pressure on the White House to follow through with the George W. Bush administration’s plans to return to the moon by 2020 and to construct Earth’s first off-world colony there.

Space rocks! And 2020? That’s just a little more than ten years away. As soon as I read about colonizing the moon, my brain went into sci-fi fangirl mode, and I began imagining all the possibilities. I’m sure the NASA folks are doing the same thing, especially considering their current budgetary woes. This might just be their saving grace.

So, have you had any weird/unexplained/geeky experiences with the moon? Do you support moon colonization? It looks like there’s room for debate.