In science fiction trips to the stars often seem to be almost routine. The problems that make real space flight so difficult are ignored. I don’t mean nitpicking points like the apparent impossibility of travelling that fast. I’m talking about the real problems. Being stuck in cramped conditions with a handful of people or having to live on pouches of mashed up food. How do you wash when water floats away in balls? And of course there is every schoolchild’s favourite question for astronauts. How do they go to the toilet in zero gravity? In Packing for Mars Mary Roach investigates these problems and a host of others connected with the basic fact that human beings are totally unsuited to life in space. (Read more…)
By Jon Krakauer
Reviewed by Alan Green
One day Christopher McCandles gave away his savings, got rid of his few possessions, changed his name to Alexander Supertramp and set out looking for adventure. He spent two years travelling around America before he started the final part of his journey. The experience that he had been building up to all along. He headed into the Alaskan wilderness to live his dream of surviving off the land. A way of life he saw as offering perfect freedom in contrast to the lifestyles of all the ‘plastic people’ who just follow the usual paths through life. A few months later Alex / Chris died of starvation, alone in the icy wilderness that he had dreamed about for so long.
I’ve added a new book review to our collection.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is a story of real life heroism in the face of a terrifying natural disaster, social collapse and government paranoia.
I’m sure you have read other books where the hero is struggling to do the right thing after society has collapsed around them. Read Zeitoun if you want to know what it was really like to live through an apocalypse.
The Royal Society Winton prize is a prestigious award for popular science books. The aim is to encourage and highlight quality science writing which enhances the public’s understanding of science.
I attended the event where the winner was revealed.
An evening of great books, mind expanding ideas, unexpected media glamour and more. Including insights into writing science books, judging book prizes and some of the deepest mysteries of the cosmos. Not bad for a free event open to all. Read my report here.