Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Every time I set down Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, I wanted to talk about all the fascinating things I had just read. My sweetie was not interested in trivia about vomit, the unique logistics of toilet facilities for zero gravity travellers, and the reason your feet smell just like certain kinds of cheese. She kept telling me to blog about it (and to leave her in peace).

Did you know that no one is excluded from the astronaut corps based on penis size? "It is assumed that a man will fit one of the three sizes available in the condom-style urine collection device hose attachment inside the EVA suit. To avoid mishaps caused by embarrassed astronauts opting for L when they are really S, there is no S. 'There is L, XL, and XXL,' says Hamilton Sundstrand suit engineer Tom Chase. This was not the case during Apollo. 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."

I love Mary Roach's irreverent curiosity and her great sense of humour. And you can learn all kinds of neat stuff from her too!

Readalikes: The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet by Leif Larsen (a novel, but it's about science and it's funny); The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (for its offbeat approach); or maybe check out Helen Pilcher (of the Comedy Research Project), who aims to scientifically prove that science can be funny.

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