Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

Title: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void 
Author: Mary Roach
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Co.
Publish Date: August 2, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour?

To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth."

My Two Cents:

"Packing for Mars" is yet another book by Mary Roach. Mary roach is definitely one of my favorite science writers. She has the ability to take a topic that on its face seems like it could get pretty technical and therefore pretty boring quickly and turn it into something that's accessible for anyone who is simply interested in science.

In "Packing for Mars," Roach looks at all of the different things that NASA has done in order to take people and put them where they don't belong: space. As she puts it in the book, astronauts are merely an inconvenience for the NASA scientists. Without the astronauts they wouldn't have to to figure out how to keep people breathing and healthy. The human body is made up of a bunch of complicated systems that can easily go haywire when exposed to extreme environments and what would be a more extreme environment than space? 

Enter Roach's trademark style of going to infinity and beyond to explore all of the different aspects of what it takes to get people in space and keep them healthy enough to land them back down on earth. Roach relies on first-hand interviews in order to talk to a lot of the people who are on the front line of getting people up into space. As somebody who as a child wanted to be an astronaut, I found this book to be endlessly interesting! This was definitely a good read!



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