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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
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“Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth. But would it? Since when has money saved by government redlining been spent on education and cancer research? It is always squandered. Let's squander some on Mars. Let's go out and play.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“To the rocket scientist, you are a problem. You are the most irritating piece of machinery he or she will ever have to deal with. You and your fluctuating metabolism, your puny memory, your frame that comes in a million different configurations. You are unpredictable. You're inconstant. You take weeks to fix. The engineer must worry about the water and oxygen and food you'll need in space, about how much extra fuel it will take to launch your shrimp cocktail and irradiated beef tacos. A solar cell or a thruster nozzle is stable and undemanding. It does not excrete or panic or fall in love with the mission commander. It has no ego. Its structural elements don't start to break down without gravity, and it works just fine without sleep.

To me, you are the best thing to happen to rocket science. The human being is the machine that makes the whole endeavor so endlessly intriguing.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“The nobility of the human spirit grows harder for me to believe in. War, zealotry, greed, malls, narcissism. I see a backhanded nobility in excessive, impractical outlays of cash prompted by nothing loftier than a species joining hands and saying “I bet we can do this.” Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth. But would it? Since when has money saved by government red-lining been spent on education and cancer research? It is always squandered. Let’s squander some on Mars. Let’s go out and play.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Space doesn't just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Every mode of travel has its signature mental aberration.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“He has a minor in explosives and the slightly bitter, misanthropic personality of someone who shouldn't.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“People can't anticipate how much they'll miss the natural world until they are deprived of it. I have read about submarine crewmen who haunt the sonar room, listening to whale songs and colonies of snapping shrimp. Submarine captains dispense 'periscope liberty'- a chance to gaze at clouds and birds and coastlines and remind themselves that the natural world still exists. I once met a man who told me that after landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, after a winter at the South Pole research station, he and his companions spent a couple days just wandering around staring in awe at flowers and trees. At one point, one of them spotted a woman pushing a stroller. 'A baby!' he shouted, and they all rushed across the street to see. The woman turned the stroller and ran.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“the act of vomiting deserves your respect. It's an orchestral event of the gut.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“The suffix 'naut' comes from the Greek and Latin words for ships and sailing. Astronaut suggests 'a sailor in space.' Chimponaut suggests 'a chimpanzee in sailor pants'.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“No one is excluded from the astronaut corps based on penis size.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
tags: size
“I will tell you sincerely and without exaggeration that the best part of lunch today at the NASA Ames cafeteria is the urine. It is clear and sweet, though not in the way mountain streams are said to be clear and sweet. More in the way of Karo syrup. The urine has been desalinated by osmotic pressure. Basically it swapped molecules with a concentrated sugar solution. Urine is a salty substance (though less so than the NASA Ames chili), and if you were to drink it in an effort to rehydrate yourself, it would have the opposite effect. But once the salt is taken care of and the distasteful organic molecules have been trapped in an activated charcoal filter, urine is a restorative and surprisingly drinkable lunchtime beverage. I was about to use the word unobjectionable, but that's not accurate. People object. They object a lot.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Upon the occasion of history's first manned flight - in the 1780's aboard the Montgolfier brothers' hot-air balloons - someone asked Franklin what use he saw in such frivolity. "What use," he replied, "is a newborn baby?”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Ability to Function Despite Imminent Catastrophe.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“As when astronaut Mike Mulhane was asked by a NASA psychiatrist what epitaph he'd like to have on his gravestone, Mulhane answered, "A loving husband and devoted father," though in reality, he jokes in "Riding Rockets," "I would have sold my wife and children into slavery for a ride into space.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“NASA might do well to adopt the Red Bull approach to branding and astronautics. Suddenly the man in the spacesuit is not an underpaid civil servant; he's the ultimate extreme athlete. Red Bull knows how to make space hip.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Gravity is why there are suns and planets in the first place. It is practically God.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“It's amazing what sometimes gets accomplished via an initially jarring but ultimately harmless shift in thinking. Is cutting the organs out of a dead man and stitching them into someone else barbaric and disrespectful, or is it a straightforward operation to save multiple lives? Does crapping into a Baggie while sitting 6 inches away from your crewmate represent a collapse of human dignity or a unique and comic form of intimacy?”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“My interpreter Sayuri is folding a piece of notebook paper. She is at step 21, where the crane's body is inflated. The directions show a tiny puff besides an arrow pointing at the bird. It makes sense if you already know what to do. Otherwise, it's wonderfully surreal: Put a cloud inside a bird.
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Gravitation is the lust of the cosmos.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“The V-2’s directional system was notoriously erratic. In May 1947, a V-2 launched from White Sands Proving Ground headed south instead of north, missing downtown Juarez, Mexico, by 3 miles. The Mexican government’s response to the American bombing was admirably laid back. General Enrique Diaz Gonzales and Consul General Raul Michel met with United States officials, who issued apologies and an invitation to come to “the next rocket shoot” at White Sands. The Mexican citizenry was similarly nonchalant. “Bomb Blast Fails to Halt Spring Fiesta,” said the El Paso Times headline, noting that “many thought the explosion was a cannon fired for the opening of the fiesta.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“(As brain cells die from oxygen starvation, euphoria sets in, and one last, grand erection.)”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“What’s different? Sweat, risk, uncertainty, inconvenience. But also, awe. Pride. Something ineffably splendid and stirring.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Brave and anal: the ideal space explorer. Though you don’t find “anal” on any of those lists of recommended astronaut attributes. NASA doesn’t really use words like anal. Unless they have to.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“According to more than one astronaut memoir, one of the most beautiful sights in space is that of a sun-illumined flurry of flash-frozen waste-water droplets. Space doesn’t just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“to test. Would weightlessness put them off their game? It did. The turtles moved “slowly and insecurely” and did not attack a piece of bait placed directly in front of them. Then again, the water in which they swam was repeatedly floating up out of the jar and forming an “ovoid cupola.” Who could eat? Von Beckh quickly moved on from turtles to Argentinean pilots. Under the section heading “Experiments with Human Subjects”—a heading that, were I a doctor previously employed by Nazi Germany, I might have rephrased—von Beckh reports on the efforts of the pilots to mark X’s inside small boxes during regular and weightless flight. During weightlessness, many of the letters strayed from the boxes, indicating that pilots might experience difficulties maneuvering their planes and doing crossword puzzles during air battles. The following year, von Beckh was recruited by the Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Holloman Air Force”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Hydromedusa tectifera are, like post-war Nazis, native to Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“They have this idea that they can send astronauts up and the bone loss will level off in a few months, but the evidence that has come back doesn’t support that view. If you look at a two-year mission to Mars, it’s kind of a scary prospect.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“Under the section heading “Experiments with Human Subjects” – a heading that, were I a doctor previously employed by Nazi Germany, I might have rephrased –”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
tags: humor
“I remember watching Morin walk away from me, the endearing gait and the butt that got lubed for science, and thinking, 'Oh my god, they're just people.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
“He told me that a German doctor named Wolff figured it out in the 1800s by studying X-rays of infants’ hips as they transitioned from crawling to walking. “A whole new evolution of bone structure takes place to support the mechanical loads associated with walking,” said Lang. “Wolff had the great insight that form follows function.” Alas, Wolff did not have the great insight that cancer follows gratuitous X-raying with primitive nineteenth-century X-ray machines.”
Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

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