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MikeP

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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void - Mary Roach Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void is a 5-stage Rocket Booster to the stars, one of the absolute best science books I have ever come across. It should be read in every high school for science class. After all what kid could ignore a text book with so many funny stories about body parts and bodily functions, .e.g., fart jokes.

The zero-gravity fart has been a popular orbital pursuit, particularly on all-male flights. One hears tell of astronauts using intestinal gas like rocket propellant to “launch themselves across the middeck” as astronaut Roger crouch put it. He had heard claims and was dubious. “The mass and velocity of the expelled gas,” he told me in an email that has forevermore endeared him to me, “is very small compared to the mass of the human body.” Thus it was unlikely that it could accelerate a 180-pound astronaut. Can you imagine how much fun a science project it would be for a bunch of high school geeks to work out this problem?

Mary Roach would be so cool to hang out with, especially if you retain an ability to revert to your 15-year old adolescent self, with your overactive, juvenile sense of humor. I can revert almost instantly. I burst out laughing so many times while still learning so many interesting things about the space program and the problems that crop up. While some who have read this book have taken issue with how many pages are devoted to egesta (read the book to find out what this is), I found it fascinating. Her description of her experience with the toilet trainer is absolutely hilarious.

She covers the space program from the early days when we launched “chimponauts” to the problems that confront a Mars expedition. In between we find out about space food development, crash testing, sex in space (ultimate Mile-High Club membership), life without gravity, how astronaut are picked and all manner of cool facts. You will be entertained reading this one.

P.S. If you are old enough, as I am, to remember the space program when we landed men on the moon, you will be subject to some wistfulness for the excitement of those days. Now we can't even put a man into low earth orbit without begging the Russkies for a ride.