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Packing for Mars : the curious science of life in the void (edition 2010)

by Mary Roach

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1,843None3,754 (4.03)313
Member:bluesalamanders
Title:Packing for Mars : the curious science of life in the void
Authors:Mary Roach
Info:New York : W.W. Norton, c2010.
Collections:Reviewed, Audiobook
Rating:****1/2
Tags:type: audiobook, read 2012, genre: non-fiction, non-fiction

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

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Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Tim Hardesty
Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Living in the Void Review
Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void is perhaps the most entertaining and intriguing non-fiction book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Unlike most non-fiction books, Packing for Mars lacks a chronological plot. This does not mean, however, that it is unorganized. The book is separated into chapters each covering a different topic; from the effects of isolation on the human mind, to the rather dodgy subject of sex in space. This way of organizing information would, in most cases, lead to a choppy book. However, Mary Roach does a very nice job of flowing the topics together seamlessly while keeping the reader entertained with interesting facts about space travel. My favorite quote from the book is “Space doesn't just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.” The book can almost be summarized just from this quote. Humans do not belong in the vacuum of space, and to make life possible in the vacuum practical and sometimes ridiculous procedures have to take place. Aside from the occasional swear word and the risqué topic of sex in microgravity, this book is friendly for almost all ages. Even for those who are grossly uneducated on space travel and the technical advancements, Mary Roach uses very effective metaphors and imagery to make difficult concepts very easy to understand to the average reader. The book’s premise is mostly to inform the readers of the sometimes strange but necessary things astronauts go through in order to have a successful space flight. I think Mary Roach meant for this book to be for everyone of all intellectual levels. My very favorite part of Packing for Mars is the author who wrote it. Mary Roach has a very sarcastic and whimsical writing style that really clicks with my sense of humor, and I’m sure most others, too. I also thoroughly enjoyed the people who Mary wrote about. Whether it be astronauts or other people working for NASA, the people interviewed in the book usually have something very interesting or funny to say. I don’t know if this is sheer coincidence or people at NASA are very interesting, but I love it. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is a great read and is very hard to put down!
  timaaa | Apr 10, 2014 |
The author does a good job describing the preparations that must be made for a trip to Mars. Everything from food to poop is covered. She had amazing access to the astronauts, NASA staff and other researchers...even the "three dolphin club." I think that I'll read another Mary Roach book, but not for awhile. ( )
  buffalogr | Mar 20, 2014 |
I loved this book, it was irreverent, interesting and definitely made space travel sexy - even when it didn't. There were a lot of moments where I actually laughed out loud. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Young Reader Reaction: I was quite skeptical at first, but after reading it, I loved Ms. Roach's form of writing and witty humor. The book is actually about the problems and some solutions about going on a trip to space. It talks about some things that most people do not thinks about as problems in space, such as the lack of sex or hygiene in space. Ms. Roach has done much research and touring of these facilities worldwide that relate to these topics of interest. Scientific books are very interesting to me, and I absolutely loved this one. I would absolutely recommend buying this book as a gift, or borrowing it from the library, because this book must be read. That said, it is for mature readers, not children.

Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Pros: Lots of humor and trivia make this a unique selection for nonfiction books.

To read our full review, go to The Reading Tub®.
  TheReadingTub | Mar 11, 2014 |
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.
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Packing for Mars Review
The book starts with explaining how Japan picks which astronauts are fit to go on missions. They test them by their ability to do origami quickly. It then lists, by chapters, several examples of the “behind the scenes” aspects of different space travel situations. There is no real plot to the book, just examples and situations to show the less-glamorous side to space living/travel.
I really liked this book, even though it is nonfiction. I usually read fiction books only because I feel like they are more interesting, but this book and Mary Roach changed my mind about that. Her funny, sarcastic, and lighthearted writing style made the book very enjoyable to read. There are some very serious and dangerous aspects to space living/travel, such as radiation, but Roach tends to stay away from these areas to keep the book more appealing and hilarious. A quote I found important was “the act of vomiting deserves your respect. It's an orchestral event of the gut.” This quote shows exactly the kind of humor Roach uses, and shows how she talks about the less glamorous side of being an astronaut.
I would definitely recommend this to someone who doesn't usually read nonfiction books, because this really changed my mind about them. I also recommend it to anyone who likes a good laugh when reading, because Mary Roach is definitely capable of making you laugh throughout the whole book, even in the more serious parts of the book. I think this is a good book for teens to read because you learn a lot of interesting things about space, being in space, and the equipment used in space. You also are kept engaged in the book with the ever-changing subjects, but not in a way that confuses you, so it is fairly easy to read.
From reading this book, I have learned to think about everything having another side to it. As
Gatewood 2

Roach explained the less-popular aspects of space programs, it made me think that everything has other sides or aspects to it. A concert is one example of this. If you go to a concert, all you see is the stage, the lights, the performer(s), and other special effects or props. What you don't see are all the people working tirelessly to make all the lights and other effects go off without a hitch, and making sure all the music and singing sounds good and the systems are working properly. So there is a lot “behind the scenes” work that makes everything seem the way it is, and Roach explains that very well in this book by giving details about the unknown side of preparing for space travel.
added by rgatewood1 | editMyself, Ryan Gatewood
 

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Mary Roachprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burr, SandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Jay Mandel and Jill Bialosky, with cosmic gratitude
First words
To the rocket scientist, you are a problem.
Quotations
If you stumbled onto Building 993 at Ellington Field airport, you would have to stop and wonder about the things inside. The sign on the front is as evocative and preposterous as the engraved brass one that says Ministry of Silly Walks in the Monty Python sketch of the same name. This sign says REDUCED GRAVITY OFFICE. I know what is in there, but even so, I have to stand for a moment and indulge my imagination, through which coffeepots are floating and secretaries drift here and there like paper airplanes. Or better still, an organization devoted to the taking of absolutely nothing seriously.
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Contents:

He's smart but his birds are sloppy: Japan picks an astronaut -- Life in a box: the perilous psychology of isolation and confinement -- Star crazy: can space blow your mind? -- You go first: the alarming prospect of life without gravity -- Unstowed: escaping gravity on board NASA's C-9 -- Throwing up and down: the astronaut's secret misery -- The cadaver in the space capsule: NASA visits the crash test lab -- One furry step for mankind: the strange careers of Ham and Enos -- Next gas 200,000 miles: planning a moon expedition is tough, but not as tough as planning a simulated one -- Houston, we have a fungus: space hygiene and the men who stopped bathing for science -- The horizontal stuff: what if you never got out of bed? -- The three-dolphin club: mating without gravity -- Withering heights: bailing out from space -- Separation anxiety: the continuing saga of zero-gravity elimination -- Discomfort food: when veterinarians make dinner, and other tales of woe from aerospace test kitchens -- Eating your pants: is Mars worth it?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393068471, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: With her wry humor and inextinguishable curiosity, Mary Roach has crafted her own quirky niche in the somewhat staid world of science writing, showing no fear (or shame) in the face of cadavers, ectoplasm, or sex. In Packing for Mars, Roach tackles the strange science of space travel, and the psychology, technology, and politics that go into sending a crew into orbit. Roach is unfailingly inquisitive (Why is it impolite for astronauts to float upside down during conversations? Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?), and she eagerly seeks out the stories that don't make it onto NASA's website--from SPCA-certified space suits for chimps, to the trial-and-error approach to crafting menus during the space program's early years (when the chefs are former livestock veterinarians, taste isn't high on the priority list). Packing for Mars is a book for grownups who still secretly dream of being astronauts, and Roach lives it up on their behalf--weightless in a C-9 aircraft, she just can't resist the opportunity to go "Supermanning" around the cabin. Her zeal for discovery, combined with her love of the absurd, amazing, and stranger-than-fiction, make Packing for Mars an uproarious trip into the world of space travel. --Lynette Mong

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The 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 the author 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), she takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

Two editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393068471, 0393339912

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