Six Men In A Tub

An intriguing human experiment has begun in the western part of Moscow at the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems.

Six men just started a 520 day “mission” to Mars.  They are enclosed in “a series of windowless steel capsules” for the duration, with enough food and activities and chores to keep them busy.  There’s also ample time for relaxation.  The “voyagers” will have to exercise two hours a day but will only be able to shower once a week.

Uh oh.

There are many obstacles to overcome in a real journey to Mars.  There would have to be a shield to protect the humans from solar radiation.   And psychologists predict that one the greatest emotional hazards is the likelihood that the crew would begin to grow tired of each other’s company.   But at least in a genuine Martian trip there would be a sense of excitement and anticipation of arriving on the planet – something that’s missing in this effort.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle in this make believe exercise is to get six grownups to pretend for almost a year and a half that they can’t just walk out for a smoke or a bit of vodka.   After all, it takes skilled actors years of training to get you to suspend reality for two hours on a stage.  How long can fact-based scientists and researchers last?

Because a similar effort ten years ago ended badly (sexual harassment allegations, fistfights), the mission commander is quoted in an AP article as saying “Each crew member has the right to end the experiment and walk out.  We have had such negative experience in the past, and I hope it won’t happen during this experiment.”

Double uh oh.

Which guy will make a bid to scuttle the mission after 500 days because he can’t stand “Commander Flatulence” or would just like to get out and feel the sunshine? The longer you’re in, the greater the pressure to stay in.  And the longer you’re in, the greater the leverage for anyone who threatens to leave.

This sounds like a twisted reality show disguised as a scientific experiment.  All it needs a name and a theme song, like that ditty that introduced “The Brady Bunch”.

Here’s the story of a group of fellas
Who were simulating flying into space.
They were scientists and they all liked each other
Which is not commonplace.

They’re pretending to go to a planet.
If you’re Martian it’s the place that you belong.
In the movies when the Martians meet the Earthlings,
they never get along.

Till this mission where these fellas met this planet.
Well not really but they tried to make believe.
They had almost made it there when it started.
That’s when everyone declared “I’m going to leave.”

I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
I can’t stand you, and you, and you I’m going to leave.
I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
This is Moscow we’re on Earth I’m going to leave!

What would you need to survive 520 days enclosed in a series of windowless steel capsules with five other people, all pretending that you can’t go outside?

.

68 thoughts on “Six Men In A Tub”

  1. Eye patches and ear plugs? A huge crate full of books? Honestly I can’t of anything that would make this kind of experiment bearable. I’ve read a couple of books about the Biosphere experiments and it sounds like Dante’s sixth circle of hell.

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  2. Dale, you just know we are all going to say we would want a live feed to the Morning Show! (and thanks for trying to ease us through this).

    Honestly, I could never do this, never, never never. Everytime I think about people going into space, my personal claustrophia kicks in. I don’t like it in the winter if my car gets plowed in (even if I have no where I want to go, and can still get someplace by walking).

    Does anyone else remember a story, made into a movie I saw in Junior High called “The Bet”? 2 guys have a wager that one of them cannot be in a room by himself for a prolonged period of time. He can have anything he wants but company and outside contact-a substantial amount of money is involved. I always figured I could do the isolation, just not being closed in.

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  3. Funny post, Dale. Not sure what to do, but I see both TBs are up with different stories on them — so I’m posting on both — HA! 520 days in a windowless room with 5 other idiots? I’d be looking for some mind-altering substances and trashy novels pretty quickly. That sounds like hell to me …

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  4. I’m with Catherine – I don’t like to be snowed in and a couple of times when the tractor snowblower hasn’t worked, I’ve gotten a bit anxious. A trip to Mars, sadly, is out of the question! I remember stories about sensory deprivation experiments (or was that just a bad movie?) and what not being able to hear, see, smell or feel anything does to your head, so I think that having music and the smells of the seasons would help. Fortunately, technology has advanced enough in the last 10 years since the last try of this experiment that conditions might be better for this crew – I woul load up a chunk of the national library onto the ereader, download a few terabytes of music, run a machine that sprays the smell of leaves in the fall and flowers in the spring. find a little corner of personal space, and ensure I have enough tasks to keep me busy.

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  5. Uff da! Don’t think I’d want to be on this mission. I would need lots of reading material-non-scientific, thank you. And even more good music. It could be a variety to please all onboard, but not all the same genre or I would go crazy. I cannot imagine my day beginning for that long without a glass of milk (cow, not goat). Can you imagine drinking “Tang” that long? And what kid of “work” will they do on a simulated mission for 8 hrs/day? Leisure for 8 hrs day? It’ll be interesting to see if this lasts the 520 days.

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  6. Good morning all! Count me out on a trip like that! I can’t imagine much worse, eww yuck!

    Have some relaxation and fun this weekend Dale, kick back without worry. If you start to fret get some friends go tubing or to Valley Fair or the Zoo or a bike ride or the Edina Art Fair or whatever will distract you. Sleep in, see a late movie, make popcorn. Sleep well!

    Just jot a note of whatever you think of to do next week (contacts to make, investigations to start…). Get to it on Monday earliest!

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  7. I am an only child and need my alone time-I could never hang out with 5 other people without respite. Just think of all those irritating little noises the others would make, and then you’d be together so long you’d say “Here comes that noise again” which would make it twice as bad.

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  8. “Each crew member has the right to end the experiment and walk out.” Walk out… into deep space? Sounds like psychological brinksmanship.

    It was the “shower once a week” part that really, really got me. I’m with barb in Blackhoof — I’m entertaining myself thinking of people I’d love to pack into the little steel capsule.

    P.S. I don’t know how listeners are finding this site (references to Trail Baboon on the RH blog perhaps?) — I found this via Bob Collins’s Twitter and was thrilled! Maybe there needs to be a link added on TB1 so that more regulars (and not-so-regulars) find their way here too?

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  9. Dale, good to find you!

    I think I’d bring old episodes of my favorite canceled MPR shows: The Morning Show, The Dale Connelly Show, and In The Loop (why do all the good ones disappear?)

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  10. oh, darn, i just commented on the previous day’s post…guess i’m having trouble adjusting…
    glued to the computer this a.m….and will be aiming the speakers out the screen door while i do some extensive weeding in the backyard to listen all morning….
    oh, i’m just feeling so nostalgic with hearing you and jim ed….together…wonderful!!!!
    can’t comment on the blog post cuz i can’t remember what it was about now that the two guys are talking!!!!

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  11. Kay – you know you never have to stand on ceremony with us – blog away on whatever topic floats your boat today!

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  12. I’m not an official assistant nor an expert on Dale Connelly, but I just updated some of the obvious facts on the “Dale Connelly” page on Wikipedia. Following the Wikipedia philosphy/methodology, correct what’s wrong.

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  13. This project launches as the good part of RH ends. I would want a really comfy bed, internet connections, the RH library, and Dale (sorry Nancy-he’ll be home soon), and well-stocked cupboards. But since it’s men in a tub I guess that excludes me and the baboons!

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  14. Hi All,
    Just making the transition to our new digs. I’m a rare blogger but lurk every once in a while. Hope to see you all soon.
    Kathy

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  15. every episode of the Twilight Zone, and a really good keyboard with really good headphones. if someone could rig my flute so that it could be played “silently??” I’d bring that too! (and i’d have to bring my best friend, Tom of course)

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  16. 520 days? I’m with Amy – I wouldn’t survive without dairy products. E-reader would probably be a space saver so I could have a variety of reading material, but I think I’d need one or two real books, just to have the feel of them in my hands. I’d also need an iPod full of music (maybe I should get an iPad to have reader and music combined). And some sort of plant life – something green, something blooming…I’m sure it would use precious water resources, but good for the soul. Maybe a little patch of green grass to walk on barefoot from time to time. Also a stack of paper, crayons, glue, etc. to keep my inner-five-year old exercised (coloring is also good for the soul – and there’s not pressure to create anything artistic or lasting).

    Oh so glad you have created this new place for us to gather Dale! (And thanks, too, to Gus for your assistance in getting this new adventure going.)

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  17. Morning, friends! I am trying to imagine how I would be coping – now that Dale is officially off the air – if this blog was not up and running? So glad to see so many familiar names and personalities here! And I hope there are many newbies ready to join the bloggers ranks, as well.

    In reading through the comments from this morning I have noticed a few people have said they would bring their e-readers with them on the ‘six men in a tub’ journey. Is that because you already own one and enjoy it, or is because there would be no way to take with you the huge library you would need to stay sane ?

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    1. For me, I would need a massive collection of diverse reading material and would try to get used to reading on an electronic device.

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  18. Hi all 🙂 Good to “see” you here!

    I wouldn’t be able to stand being cooped up anywhere for almost two years…especially with 5 guys. I need to be able to move around. And only 1 bath a week?! No way! I’d bring books…lots and lots of books. To block out all the noises the others make, I’d download books to my iPod. Do they have an internet connection? Then I could have an endless supply of books on “tape” to listen to. Libraries are wonderful that way 🙂 Allowing you to “check out” books on “tape” (or iPod in my case), listen to them, then “return” them (delete them from your MP3 player). Now that I’m driving so much, it’s the only thing that makes the drive doable 🙂

    At least they get two hours of exercise time. That’s more than I get, hahaha 😉

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  19. I would be perfectly happy with my kindle, a private,cosy spot, and music. Flowers, animals and birds would be nice. It would be interesting, no matter what happened-an adventure. If we could choose the others, I’d take Dale and maybe the Prairie Home companion staff. But I would need my kindle for books and to send emails.

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  20. just to be on topic for once, that would be a challenge, but one my relatively solitary life has perhaps prepared me for–
    i’d need my cat, but afraid the litter box would take up a lot of precious space…
    obviously books, and a phone….
    hope the guys are cute, witty, and cuddly!

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  21. Yep, my idea of hell is 520 days with the same people, no matter who they are. I guess I’d get a kindle, and a computer that would somehow download the last 18 months of the DC Show on RH.

    Glad this is up and running today! Thanks Barb in Blackhoof for providing the link at Trial Balloon.

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  22. Will the old blog archives for Trial Balloon be available in the future? I notice now that there is no link to the Trial Balloon on the Radio heartland home page

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  23. Renee…. I’ve had Trial Balloon up all morning and it is still refreshing, so I asked Mike & Dale if they could convince something to keep the archives up for at least another week so that folks like Clyde can find us! We’ll see……

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    1. I’m here. Thanks Barbara for getting me here. Missed it all until now. Try to decide if I will explain–ah . . .
      So Carlos is making the transition to here, Donna?
      Will read through the Trial Balloon for last two days, if it stays up. Doubt I could add anything to what I guess you all said. Saw lots of new names, scanning through. I am sure there are comments like this in there, but my son, who turned 40 yesterday and had a long time email correspondence with TMS, is devastated.

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  24. i could do the 500 days if it was just me and my dogs and an ereader and my Keepers cds
    i had to leave before Happy Trails this am, can someone pls describe Dale and Tom’s parting words?
    thanx

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  25. It would be nice to access old letters from Bubby and Loomis Beechly. I suppose there is a copyright issue to be considered.

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    1. Hey. This is not fair. I want to hear Dale on Gary Eichten but I have to listen to his last RH morning rebroadcast. (Well, plus I am supposed to be working. I mean, I am working.)
      For the space capsule thing, I’d need Valium and vodka — lots of it. And noise blocking headphones, and some kind of virtual reality visor so I could pretend to be outside.

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  26. Yep, Dale’s on 91.1 with Gary Eichten after news. Sounds like there will be listener comments/questions if anyone is interested.

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  27. What would you need to survive 520 days enclosed in a series of windowless steel capsules with five other people, all pretending that you can’t go outside?

    Either have 520 days worth of extremely effective mood-altering drugs, or have the five be dead and cryogenically preserved so they didn’t stink up the spaceship. 😉

    Chris

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  28. Before anybody signs up for the virtual Mars trip, I’d suggest they make sure MPR doesn’t have anything to do with it. If MPR runs it, you’ll get about 510 days into it, and they’ll cancel everything and toss you out on your butt. They’ve done it before.

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  29. And I curious… are your FROM Nevis or are you currently IN Nevis. Or both? I’ve been to Nevis a couple of times… lovely place. I love those big breadfruits!

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  30. I had an idea about how to get the word out about Trail Baboon to our absent bloggers. Dale has many of our e-mail addresses and perhaps he could send an email next week to Clyde et al with the new address.

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  31. Thanks for the comments everyone!
    I’m at home enjoying the conversation and thinking about the 520 days together question. My instinct is to say, like so many others have, that a bunch of reading material would be the solution. But when we say that it seems like we’re all trying to survive the isolation with another layer of solitude. MORE isolation. How come nobody asked for chess, checkers, Parcheesi, heaven forbid, Twister?

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    1. I would truly not survive the time in the tub. Truly.
      I carved for my daughter a set of Santa Clauses–a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker (who I learned does not make candles but the things that hold them).
      Dale, you have a home? Why does Dale at home seem sort of odd to me, maybe I’m the odd one?

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      1. No Clyde (and delighted to see you here!!!!!), at least you are not the only odd one. I think it is because Dale has been part of our family for so long, that it seems odd to consider that he has a life beyond the one we know.

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  32. Music, books and a cat or dog. And maybe George Clooney.

    Dale, you and Mike are a class act. Listened in to Midday with a mostly open heart today (trying, trying) and was delighted to hear both of you. And so good that you were able to plug the new site.

    I second the suggestion for you to have a good, unstressful, unplugged weekend. Rest.

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    1. My Russians wife, who is taking a shower, says she wouldn’t play twister with them either. But I have lived with two cultures that prize cleanliness very highly–Jews and Russians. So am wondering about those Russians making it for that reason.

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  33. Hmm – good observation, Dale. Looks like we all are supposing that we would not want to be with our fellow travelers. Perhaps we are wrong about that. OK – assuming we might want some human contact, how about a book club? Many folks say they would bring reading material. How about “Six Men in a Tub Bookclub”, with monthly meetings? That means someone has to bring a supply of wine and some tasty morsels to go with it. Any volunteers?

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  34. Dale – I love the game night idea. Don’t forget scrabble (make sure they agree on the dictionary and language to be used) and Risk. We played a lot of several day long Risk games in college…not a lot of money, it was cheap. Of course the were accompanied by social beverages and tacos…. set the toaster oven on fire with the taco shells. I learned alot about Wellington’s marches during those games.

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  35. good conversation with Gary this am, Dale you are really a swell guy
    just want you to know i would pay a monthly fee to subscribe to your blog/website/political observations, whatever; i recall that show you tried to do a few yrs ago, i loved it but it didnt go anywhere
    it’s an election year, i bet someone needs you to write for them!

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  36. Okay, I’m not quite ready to move on yet. Bravo to all of you who are. But, as I spent the day feeling quite melancholy, I finally went out for a walk without the dogs so I could just brood if I wanted. I started thinking “why am I carrying on so about the loss of a radio show?” I have never met Dale Connelly (well, maybe a couple of times plus we exchanged emails once), I don’t actually know him (well, I have spent most weekday mornings with him for 26-1/2 years), he doesn’t know me (well, he sure does understand my sense of humor and my musical tastes). Suddenly, it all made sense. I lost the voice of a very close friend this morning, so if tears ran down my cheeks for the last hour of the show, so be it. Okay, now I have gotten this off my chest and I’m ready to move on. Maybe tomorrow.

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  37. Linda , I know exactly how you feel, tears are good, i’ve shed many over this;
    but i learned in corporate america that “change is your friend” and i’m sad but ready for the next splendid chapter of Dale’s most interesting life, cuz i’m pretty sure he will be sharing it with us

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  38. I’d take a Cone of Silence so I wouldn’t have to be tortured by listening to snoring, snorting and sniffling. And some tactile craft, like knitting, but as space would be limited I’d have to tear it out every night like Penelope, which would be maddening.
    And I’d take a holodeck and some pain sticks to hit other people with for when I really got mad.

    Good idea about Dale writing for PHC. That show used to have variety in skit material but now it’s the same old lame segments: cowboys, noir, sound effects and monologue. The Catchup couple captures the flavor of the older material, but otherwise, jeez, what a snoozefest. Although with only a few more years to go why should Keillor try anything different? He can coast. That show needs an injection of the absurd and topsy-turvy. Calling Dr. Connelly, stat.

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  39. Your observation about the pressure mounting the longer the group stayed in their pods reminded me of a little experiment my ninth grade Civics teacher, Mr. Thomas, tried with us. It involved holding out our arms until they were numb. We were free to put them down…but if we did, everyone on our team would have to sit down, and we wouldn’t win the Fourth Hour Arm Holding Out Contest. We’d die an anonymous, ignominious death! Or something.
    So, I can imagine holding out with Commander Flatulence and Colonel Butt Pincher way the heck too long, just because I didn’t want to be Miss Spoil Sport.
    And speaking of simulations, sometime when you’re bored, rent “Frontier House,” the simulation of life on the western plains in the nineteenth century….

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