. You may see here the way to acquire a very comprehensive book about potassium nutrition and physiology. It is called “POTASSIUM NUTRITION in Heart Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, Diabetes, Metabolic Shock (hyperkalemia), and High Blood Pressure”. The table of contents and the introduction are shown.

This science fiction short story was written in order to present a hypothesis that rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a potassium deficiency. All the names in it are fictional. However, the name "Johnson" is meant to be a fictional version of a real researcher, P.L. LaCelle [LaCelle, PL 1964 An investigation of total body potassium in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Rheumatism Association. Arthritis and Rheumatism 7; 321.]


Five huge spacecraft towered high above the lunar night horizon, dwarfing the few space suited men and women who moved about like ants around an oil truck parking lot. Deep into artificial pits had been sunk the first stage rockets which were to launch each of these enormous cylinders into man's most ambitious journey since the dawn of history. Probably not even the pyramids absorbed more man hours, nor did the cathedral of Notre Dame capture more imagination in France per person . This was Apollo 217, nicknamed "Project Stardust", which was to take five women to establish a colony on one of the nearby stars.

Every detail had been meticulously planned by innumerable committee meetings. Only women were to be sent in order to avoid any dead weight in the life support systems. The only essential function which males provide on this earth were to be provided by frozen sperm banks, immersed deep inside the frozen heavy water in the forward fuel cylinder. Also going along for the ride were the spores, seeds, or eggs of 25,000 species of the intricate creatures which had been forged by possibly as much as 4 billion years of relentless evolution. Some were to be carried live on the walls of the rotating space ship. Noticeably absent were large carnivores, blood sucking creatures, poisonous plants, and disease pathogens.

Not all the initial crew were women. It was necessary to have five engineer-astronauts along to provide skilled manual backup for the four primary cylinders, to hook up the four cylinders, and to give them the spin necessary to create artificial gravity. They manned the escort rocket space tugboat, which escort performed these functions, and helped to give the primary ship extra acceleration during the beginning of the journey. They were to return in this ship, which the gals had irreverently nicknamed "The Gigolo", when they still had enough food on board to safely return to earth. An attempt had been made to use women for this purpose also, but a world wide search had disclosed only one woman with the necessary physics, engineering, piloting experience, and courage to handle the job, and she had been talked into accompanying the other four women on the epic trek. However, the male applicants had been carefully screened by Professor Rumplestein himself for courage, steadfastness, obedience to orders, and sexual coolness. There was little chance that a nut or bolt would go wrong with this trip, let alone the human element.

The girls had also been selected with consummate care. They had been drawn from every race in the world to give them, to use one of Rumplestein's favorite expressions, "genetic variability". Ability to digest lactose was not an essential requirement, since they had the appropriate enzyme on board. Margaret Swenson, already mentioned, was to be the ship's engineer, navigation and mechanical expert. Ensik Slavinsky, who had been making odd toys and devices for twenty years since she was four years old, was to be the ship's electrician, energy, and communications expert, for the committees on earth who decide these things wanted to be damn sure they got the word in the unlikely event that anything went wrong, so that future expeditions would be forewarned. Mukeluk of the Turtle clan was to be the ship's biologist, medical officer, surgeon, and veterinarian. She was the captain under the theory that the only thing likely to go wrong would be the humans or animals, a theory which was to be vindicated. Also she was the most even tempered and oldest. She was already past her thirtieth birthday. Bunwana Mabuuri. was the ship's chemist and bacteriologist. If they came across a planet with an ammonia, carbon dioxide, and methane atmosphere, as was likely, she would be worth her weight in uranium if she could teach her daughter to alter it to a an oxygen atmosphere with her assortment of anaerobic bacteria and algae. Last, and most important, was Li Chung, the ship's botanist, nutritionist and cook. After all, they had to eat, and right from the start. Not that all this expertise was desperately essential. They had a compact disc library along, from which very little known by man was missing, and many years in which to study it. Rumplestein had carefully screened the lady applicants for courage, intelligence, steadfastness, health, and sexual coolness. They were also coincidentally rather pretty.

Even the sperm banks were selected with consummate care. Any varieties not included in the egg cells were represented here. Health, stamina, and intelligence were high on the list. A heavy physique had some priority in case the new planet had a higher gravity. There was a much larger population to choose from, since a willingness to leave the plush life on earth was not one of the requirements, nor was the precise nature of professional life or financial success a concern. In addition, 300,000 man hours had been used to segregate male chromosome sperm from female chromosome sperm for most of them by the laborious micro gate technique so that no male would be born until after the descendants had reached the surface of the planet.

At the culmination of the countdown, all ships blasted off simultaneously, leaving behind an enormous cloud of incandescent gas, of such enormous volume that the moon would have a perceptible atmosphere for thousands of years. After endless discussion and hundreds of millions of man hours of labor, man kind had embarked on a truly epic journey.

But what of the crew of the Stardust now that they were finally launched? As soon as the initial thrust had ceased and they had reached escape velocity, Ensik contacted the Gigolo.

Ensik; Are you fellows OK?

Gigolo; AOK.

Fuel pod; AOK

After pod; AOK

Forward pod; AOK

Gigolo; We have drifted about 50 kilometers apart as planned, and since everything is going well, we are going to start linking up immediately, rather than take a chance on later. Standby on the forward pod for us to link up.

It would hardly be any surprise that with such a skilled, cool crew and billions of dollars worth of exquisitely machined hardware that they had no trouble bolting the pods together, giving them sufficient spin to have one tenth gravity on the outer walls, and lashing a tow line onto the frictionless magnetic bearing holding the Gigolo. As soon as they had gravity, everyone on the Stardust turned to under Li Chung's direction, and planted on the outer walls those plants which require gravity and soil to grow. The lichens had already been placed on bulkhead walls before they took off. Planting was laborious and required a full month. When they finished this and the men had finished welding the ships together, there was not much to do as they accelerated away from the sun at an ever increasing velocity driven by the ion engines, except to read, study, listen to music and exercise on the electric generating machines brought along for this purpose. All these activities could go on simultaneously. It is not surprising that after a month of this, the following message was sent out by Ensik one day;

Stardust; Stardust to escort ship - do you read me?

Gigolo; Come in Stardust.

Stardust; Are you fellows getting tired of K rations and yogurt out of a tube?

Gigolo; I hope to tell you we are.

Stardust; Captain Mukeluk has authorized me to extend an invitation to you to come over for a few days to celebrate the Christmas holidays with some good food.

Gigolo; What's on the menu?

Stardust; Li Chung has asked me not to say. She wants it to be a surprise. However I will give you a hint - Bunwana is suffering from frostbite from all the ice cream she ate for lunch.

Gigolo; Are there any other goodies?

Stardust; yes. Us.

Gigolo; Let me check with the crew.

Gigolo (later); We will be over as soon as possible.

I will not bore you with details of how much nicer they spent the holidays than they had the previous month. Suffice it to say that they amicably paired up as young people have been doing for at least fifty million years and became increasingly enamored of each other. A whole month of segregated space duty helped considerably to enhance the attraction. Rumplestein's theories were all right. He had simply left out Vardhar University's principle of mammalian psychology - under carefully controlled conditions mammals do as they damn please.

The crew of the Gigolo was under orders to stay with the Stardust as long as they had enough food to return safely home, in order to give the Stardust as much acceleration as possible, and also to have extra hands in case of emergencies or start up bugs. Being good soldiers they obeyed this part of their orders.However, as they approached the cut off date, two of the men approached the captain and informed him that they had been invited along on the Stardust, and that they were not going back. They said that in their opinion it was too dangerous to send the gals into space alone. He being a dutiful commander, told them that they had no choice, that they were under orders to return. However since he was on the Stardust when he said it, and one of the gals who had invited them along was Captain Mukeluk, he was on flimsy ground. As soon as the other two heard of their shipmate's decision, the other two also gave notice of an intention to stay. Of course they had no illusions about any nonsense such as danger. They had simply fallen in love, and were not about to leave their girls. They had only been waiting for a suitable occasion to announce a similar proposal with some similar nonsense about danger or the like. Naturally, the girls were delighted. They had never been deliriously happy about the part of the trip which consisted of spending years in space without male companions even from the beginning. The only difficulty was that each had visualized only her young man along. With nine people a different problem arose; the biological life support systems were not yet adequate to support nine people for most of them were long lived tropical plants. They could almost remove sufficient carbon dioxide from the air already, partly because dehydrated excreta was placed in empty food compartments the first year or two. It would be at least three years before they produced enough food to support nine people safely. So a meeting was called to be attended only by the crew of the Stardust.

Margaret; Li, how can we survive with every one going?,

Bunwana; What do you mean , "every one"? I thought your captain was opposed to going.

Margaret; Only because he initially felt obligated to obey orders. He is coming too.

Li ; The only possible way is to use more of the XL strain of lichens for the time being. It is tremendously productive and will give us enough extra food energy to survive until the higher plants take over.

Ensik; Is that the tripe we call "schlock on a shingle"?

Li; Yes

Mukeluk; I would rather starve than eat more of that stuff.

Bunwana; There is no problem. That strain is high in hemicellulose easily hydrolyzed to sugar. The potassium salt of the lichinic acid is easy to extract with our exchanger, and these give it the bitter taste.

Ensik; Is not the potassium one of the essential minerals?

Li; Yes it is, but it is adequately supplied in our other food.

Ensik; Then I move that we do it.

Mukeluk; Any opposed?


Mukeluk; Then so carried. I'll inform the men of our decision.

Bunwana; Yes, and I'll inform one of them in my own inimitable way.

And so the valiant crew of the Stardust, which in a short time had doubled, worked diligently to supplant most of the existing lichens with the XL strain. Under Li's able direction, they succeeded marvelously, and they went back to standing by to watch for comets, milking the goats, listening to music, playing games, kissing and hugging, and such other activities which caught their fancy.

Several months later some of the crew began to come down with pains in the joints. This was mystifying since there were no disease pathogens on board. Mukeluk diagnosed it as rheumatoid arthritis. On a hunch she analyzed everyone for potassium with the scintillation counter, and found that everyone was low, the ones complaining of pain down as much as 40%. She even confirmed it by analysis of their white blood cells using the flame photometer (red blood cells are always high in potassium during arthritis). Li was incredulous. It was not possible. The nutritional texts were adamant that potassium could never be limiting except during diarrhea or profuse perspiration. There was none of that on board this ship. One of the men doubted that such a simple cause could be involved. It would have been discovered long before this. Had not body potassium been checked in arthritcs before? Yes, it seems that the library disclosed that Johnson (this is a fictional name. The real name is La Celle. The reference may be seen in; http://members.tripod.com/~charles_W/arthritis.html ) had found a similar phenomenon back in 1964. However, the tremendously high cost of whole body scintillation counters had tended to preclude further work. At any rate no one had followed up on it.

The white flour, white sugar, and fatty foods like butter and shortening were extremely low in potassium per calorie and the astronaut's sedentary life at low gravity in space had further reduced their intake. These foods had been selected as a concession to food tastes which went back for decades. At a subsequent meeting, it was decided to take no chances, and potassium supplements were to be added to their food. Since it was necessary to discontinue sodium chloride table salt in order to flush the sodium (which had replaced the potassium in their cell fluid) out of their systems, the potassium was added primarily as the chloride at first. It also helped to make the diet more palatable, since the chloride is the nutriment which gives our food its salty taste, the only essential nutrient with taste. They were also careful to continue vitamin B-1 supplementation since animal experiments on earth had shown that heart damage would result otherwise.

The pains disappeared in a week or so and never returned. There was only one problem remaining. Should they instruct the communication engineer to send the information back to earth? Ensik was against it. She suggested that such a cock and bull story from a mutinous crew would be tossed in a waste basket. Margaret supported her, relating a tale of her father's futile efforts to gain publication of a hypothesis of his. Li claimed the information was useless since there were no controls. However the former captain of the Gigolo insisted on the message being sent. They had elected him captain of the Stardust, since he was as good a captain as any, and since they didn't want to hurt his feelings by demoting him. He was a stickler for protocol (except perhaps when it came to leaving the woman he loved) so the message was sent.

As Ensik predicted, it was duly tossed into a waste basket labeled "inactive files".

You wont be alive when their children or grandchildren reach the nearest star and send back an H-bomb signal of safe arrival, spectrographically coded for what they find. So you wont be able to determine their success. However, welded together by bonds of love and affection, they at least now had a fighting chance of arriving with a viable community, as they sailed off across the vast reaches of space in search of their own Shangri-La. If they failed in what actually probably would be a wild goose chase, at least the trip would now be enjoyable.

I leave it to your imagination the fate of the sperm so elaborately solicited and laboriously segregated. I'm told it makes excellent fertilizer, however.

Mail to Charles Weber; isoptera at att.net


. You may see here the way to acquire a very comprehensive book about potassium nutrition and physiology. It is called “POTASSIUM NUTRITION in Heart Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, Diabetes, Metabolic Shock (hyperkalemia), and High Blood Pressure”. The table of contents and the introduction are shown.
Copper Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Nutrition and physiology of copper, especially relating to hemorrhoids, aneurysm, herniated discs, anemia, emphysema, and gray hair..
The Purpose of Cortisol: Cortisol is presented as an immune hormone used to defend against diarrhea
Cashew Nuts to Cure Tooth Abscess: Anacardic acids in raw cashew nuts may cure tooth abscesses and possibly gram positive diseases such as acne and leprosy.
Observations on Diabetes: Diabetes may be caused by a poison in food and maybe injection timing should be different.
The Eve Controversy: A proposal as to why the human species seems to be derived from a single couple.

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