Early Risers Not Fit to Live in Mars

March 15, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. gradually / ˈgrædʒ u əli / (adv.) – describing something that is slowly changing
Example: Everyone in the room noticed that the temperature was gradually increasing.

2. dominant / ˈdɒm ə nənt / (adj.) – something that stands out
Example: Spike is the most dominant of my five dogs.

3. in sync / ɪn sɪŋk / (adv. phrase) – in harmony
ExampleThe dancers moved in sync with the music.

4. key / ki / (adj.) – describes something that is needed to achieve something
Example: Keeping employees motivated is key to a company’s success. 

5. suitable / ˈsu tə bəl / (adj.) – fit or appropriate
Example: Sleeveless shirts are not suitable for winter.


Read the text below.
While human travel to Mars is still years away from happening, researchers have already determined the type of people who should not make the trip.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science says that early risers, or people who wake up early, are not fit for travel to Mars. The study’s goal was to discover the significance of the body clock, which beats according to the speed of the earth’s rotation. A team of scientists looked into the body clocks of mice during the study. 

The researchers observed two groups of mice – those with 24-hour body clocks, or circadian cycle, and those with 20-hour body clocks. Like early risers, the mice with 20-hour body clocks start and end the day earlier than those who follow the circadian cycle. The mice with 20-hour body clocks were genetically modified so that they will follow a 20-hour cycle, while those with 24-hour body clocks were not. The team released the two groups in outdoor pens, giving them access to food while they were being observed.

Based on their findings, the population of mice with 20-hour body clocks gradually decreased in a span of 14 months. Mice with 24-hour body clocks, on the other hand, became more dominant by the end of the study. According to the researchers, the study’s results are important because the mice’s ability to automatically know when to sleep and when to wake up is vital to their health. This is the same for humans, who share more than 90% of the same genetic material as mice.

Andrew Loudon, one of the researchers, said that a body clock in sync with a planet’s rotation speed is key to survival. According to him, people with fast-running clocks may not be suitable to live on Mars since it has 37 more minutes in a day than Earth.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that a person’s body clock will dictate his or her chances of survival on Mars? Why or why not?
·         How would you feel about the study’s results if you were an early riser?

Discussion B

·         What is the importance of exploring other habitable planets in the universe?
·         Do you think it would be possible for the human race to live on another planet? Why or why not?

March 15, 2016