Title: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Author: Mary Roach
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: Love Mary Roach’s books. Non-fiction and fun.
Where I Obtained the Book: My library
Synopsis: 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.
Review: The first thing I look for in a non-fiction book is that the topic is interesting. The genius of Mary Roach is she takes these subjects and makes them extremely fun and funny.
Imagine every question you could possibly ask about travelling in outer space, serious or silly, and you have this book. I knew in the back of my mind that everything that goes into space has been tested and retested about 100 times before the launch. I just didn’t really think about what exactly that meant. Pooping in space? Someone tested the toilets out with a group of engineers watching while floating around the “vomit comet.” Even beyond that I never realized all the problems with the process, from the consistency from the material to the fine dust that slowly covers the capsule.
From ghosts, to dead bodies, sex, and outer space; I recommend picking up any of her books, you will not be disappointed.
Author Biography: Mary Roach was born and raised in Etna, New Hampshire. She has a BA degree in psychology from Wesleyan University. She spent a few years as a free-lance copy editor before she landed a job at the San Francisco Zoological Society turning out press releases. She then moved on to write humor pieces for such periodicals as The New York Times Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated. Her article "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, in 1995. In 1996, her article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award. She published several books such as Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003) and Packing for Mars (2010).