Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a lecture given by Mary Roach. Many of you have probably read her books Bonk and Stiff, and thus you know she is a thorough researcher whose tastes run a bit on the weird side. As she put it, she likes to cover topics that combine “history, science, and some gross stuff.” The lecture I attended was on her latest book, Packing for Mars, and the subject matter definitely fits the bill. Pooping in space, anyone?
This video is the book trailer for Packing for Mars (hey, we’re in the digital age, folks—even books get trailers) and it dramatizes some of the research done on space travel during the 1960s. Basically, a bunch of college kids got paid a few bucks to see what happened when they sat in the same room for four weeks without showering. Gross. But interesting too, right? Who knew blasting off into space was so disgusting?
The 90-minute lecture left me with a few thoughts: First of all, I want to read this book because space research is totally bananas. Second, I never want to be an astronaut because the profession appears to be a combination of terrifying, revolting, and difficult (not qualities I look for in a career). Did you know that when you have dandruff in space, the flakes just float around in the air, creating what amounts to a giant snowglobe of dead skin? And did you know that pooping is really difficult in space because of the lack of gravity, and that sometimes you have to manually sever the, um, specimen from your body or else it will just sit there forever?
If you, like me, are equal parts grossed out and interested by that information, then Mary Roach has just the book for you.