The Human Element

By Tatu, Robin | ASEE Prism, November 2010 | Go to article overview

The Human Element


Tatu, Robin, ASEE Prism


The Human Element Tales of personal - even messy - encounters with space. PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Maty Roach. Norton, 336 pages

CHECK OUT ANY news article on the emerging field of space tourism or NASA's zero-gravity flights, - X and you'll find images of ecstatic participants floating through air. Indeed, weightlessness is so thrilling and addictive that in her new book on space research, author Mary Roach compares it to heroin: "You try it once, and when it's over, all you can think about is how much you want to do it again." Reviewing her notepad after joining a NASA parabolic flight, Roach finds she's written nothing of substance, scribbling only "woo" and "yippee."

Ironically, humans are remarkably illsuited for weightlessness: Nausea is frequent; appendages are difficult to control. Untethered by gravity, internal organs float up, rearranging themselves within the body. Move beyond brief test flights, and the problems of humans in space multiply. Aerospace scientists and engineers have to determine, and then accommodate, minute details of space travelers' bodily functions that the Earth- and gravity-bound take For granted, including how they will sleep, bathe, eat and drink, expel waste, and even sweat.

Humans, writes Roach, are "the most irritating piece of machinery" rocket scientists have to contend with in preparing an orbital launch - far more unpredictable and unreliable than solar cells or thruster nozzles. Yet it is the humble and distinctly human struggles that most intrigue the author of Packing for Mars. A writer of popular science - whose previous books have explored cadavers, the afterlife, and sex - Roach enjoys raising questions that have seldom been aired in public. How did Alan Shepard and John Glenn feel when, in 1961, a chimpanzee beat them into space? What are the long-term physical side effects of space travel? And - should a manned mission to the Red Planet ever be launched, requiring at least 500 days - what would astronauts miss most about Earth?

Some readers may be put off by Roach's lighthearted style, with extended anecdotes tucked into rambling footnotes. There's also a clear penchant for the prurient - the taste of recycled urine, the question of weightless sex in porn films, and seemingly endless descriptions of fecal bags and processes of defecation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Human Element
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.