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  Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (Mary Roach)

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Author Topic:   Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (Mary Roach)
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 28867
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-29-2010 12:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
by Mary Roach
The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

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.

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. She lives in Oakland, California.

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 2, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0393068471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068474

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28867
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-03-2010 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mary Roach was Jon Stewart's guest on The Daily Show last night...

328KF
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posted 08-03-2010 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The author currently has two articles published in seperate magazines which are adapted from the book.

The article in Outdoor magazine concerns the record-breaking attempt by Felix Baumgartner to accomplish the highest freefall skydive, and the other in Popular Mechanics is a somewhat gruesome story about using cadavers in crash testing for the Orion spacecraft.

Both are good reads.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28867
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-14-2010 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Packing For Mars" debuted today on the New York Times' Best Seller List at #6 among non-fiction hardcovers.

In the paper's Sunday Book Review, the topic of books in space is explored...

Mary Roach's jaunty exploration of space travel, "Packing for Mars," plants its flag at No. 6 on the hardcover nonfiction list. Will any astronauts be tossing it in their carry-ons?

dfox
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Posts: 195
From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 08-14-2010 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a very funny book packed with interesting an entertaining "technical" information and anecdotes.

The story on page 137 about urine collection devices had me laughing out loud!

Among the 106 items left on the moon's surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are four urine collection assemblies -- two large and two small.

Who wore which remains a matter of conjecture.

This lady is seriously funny!

FFrench
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Posts: 3095
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 08-16-2010 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice to see the enormous amount of media coverage (and sales) a space book is getting. The prior week's New York Times had two reviews in two days:

This one, and this one.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 10-15-2010 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a delightful book, both funny and serious at the same time. The author has a decidedly slanted perspective on life and this turns out to be an excellent foundation for a book on spaceflight.

The book covers the problems faced by all aspects of spaceflight, not just a mission to Mars. It's written in a lighthearted yet factual style I find engaging and is very well researched -- for instance the effort put out to find the truth behind the nickname Enos the Penis is amazing (and the result proves well worth the effort).

The book is not safe for kids, not only the above but also a mention of the Mercury 7 as "dick swinging test pilots" as well as frank discussions of sexual and biological issues faced by space travelers.

The book is full of interesting details you won’t find elsewhere -- for instance an explanation of the mechanism that gives people the urge to urinate in a gravity field and how that is missing in zero G, plus the consequences.

I highly recommend this book -- you will laugh out loud and learn many new things about spaceflight if you read it.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 10-15-2010 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've removed my note of "an error" in this book because of the subtleties involved in this part of the Challenger accident. The propellants in the ET commenced an "explosive burn" that (along with other events) caused the Orbiter to be exposed to aerodynamic forces that caused its demise. There's plenty of discussion on this elsewhere but I think for this book and its audience "explosion" is correct in describing the event.

onesmallstep
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From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 10-15-2010 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But aren't 'explosion' and 'break-up' both correct terms to use? Technically, the ET exploded, causing the Orbiter to break-up. A more precise wording would be 'Challenger launch explosion' or 'Challenger orbiter break-up'. Having said that, I look forward to reading the book; not many space-themed books get good press nowadays.

tegwilym
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From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 10-15-2010 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gary summed it up nicely. I read the book and really enjoyed it. Did learn a lot of things also that I didn't know, and I've read a LOT of books on this subject so finding new facts is always interesting. I'd recommend it to the cS group for sure.

hermit
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From: Scotland
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posted 10-15-2010 03:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hermit   Click Here to Email hermit     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by onesmallstep:
But aren't 'explosion' and 'break-up' both correct terms to use? Technically, the ET exploded, causing the Orbiter to break-up.

The ET was breached at the bottom by burn through and at the top by SRB impingement. The draining propellants ignited in an 'explosion'. The orbiter was broken up by the aerodynamic stresses.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 10-16-2010 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm gradually reading this, and it was fun to see collectSPACE's own John Charles show up on P.218 and then regularly after that. Some interesting insights into his work.

Kite
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Posts: 280
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 01-10-2011 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Packing for Mars. The Curious Science of Life in Space by Mary Roach, published by Oneworld Publications 2010.

Here is an unusual look at living in space but very well researched, written with a terrific, wicked sense of humour with full on bluntness, nothing is taboo. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wonder if any other members have read it yet.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-02-2011 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The paperpack edition of "Packing for Mars" comes out on Monday (April 4), bringing author Mary Roach back out on the road to promote its release. Her tour kicks off tomorrow in Colorado and continues to Ohio, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

I'm happy to say that when she comes to Houston on April 29 to take part in the Space Center Lecture Series, we have something special planned. More details to be revealed soon, but as the event site alludes, "Interview by Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28867
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-22-2011 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
More details to be revealed soon, but as the event site alludes, "Interview by Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE."
Sadly, due to the slip in launch dates, I will be in Florida for Endeavour's final flight when Mary is scheduled to give her talk in Houston.

Fortunately, John Charles (who is included in "Packing for Mars" and is a long-time cS member) has stepped in in my absence and will be hosting the discussion.

And after the talk, Mary will be heading to Boondoggles and inviting everyone to join her! So if you please do come and show her a warm Houston welcome!

jasonelam
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From: Monticello, KY USA
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posted 06-21-2011 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am listening to the audio version of this book, and I must admit it is a really good read. I do have a question though if anyone can answer.

She states that the Soyuz 10 mission was aborted due to bouts of space sickness, however I have always been told it was due to an improperly aligned docking collar. Any evidence to support the space sickness topic?

Mike Dixon
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From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-21-2011 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At the time, it was reported Rukavishnikov was ill which forced a premature end to the flight. Perhaps that was to mask the real cause (hardware) for the mission to be aborted, a matter I frankly wasn't aware of until many years later.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28867
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-01-2011 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mary Roach has announced (on Twitter) that Packing for Mars will be the basis for a new sitcom.
Deal closed for 1/2 hour Warner/NBC comedy based on Packing for Mars. A+ writer team from Cleveland Show doing pilot. Very funny guys. Yay.
She also briefly describes the concept...
Group of freshman ascans at NASA, going nowhere, lost in bureacracy and training, dreams fading. The Office meets Scrubs.

GoesTo11
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posted 09-01-2011 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So it's another reality show, then? Sorry, couldn't resist...

johntosullivan
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From: Cork, Cork, Ireland
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posted 09-02-2011 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for johntosullivan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like I Dream of Jeannie.

Tykeanaut
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posted 02-18-2014 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just started reading this, looks good!

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