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What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? When you can’t have sex? Or smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles an hour? Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh veg, privacy, beer. To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations, and as Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. Packing for Mars takes us on a surreally entertaining voyage into the science of life in space and space on Earth.
Based on components already in existence, this manual details a reference design for an interplanetary spacecraft that is simple, durable, fully reusable and comprised mostly of water. Using such an accessible material leads to a spacecraft architecture that is radically simpler, safer and cheaper than conventional capsule based designs. If developed, the potential affordability of the design will substantially open all of the inner solar system to human exploration. A spacecraft that is comprised mostly of water will be much more like a living cell or a terrarium than a conventional rocket and capsule design. It will use water for many purposes before it is superheated in electric engines for propulsion, purposes which include radiation shielding, heat management, basic life support, crew consumption and comfort. The authors coined the term "spacecoaches" to describe them, as an allusion to the Prairie Schooners of the Old West, which were simple, rugged, and could live off the land.
In this international bestseller, Mary Roach breaks bread with spit connoisseurs, beer and pet-food tasters, stomach slugs, potato crisp engineers, enema exorcists, rectum-examining prison guards, competitive hot dog eaters, Elvis' doctor, and many more as she investigates the beginning, and the end, of our food.
A New York Times Bestseller “Rich in dexterous innuendo, laugh-out-loud humor and illuminating fact. It’s compulsively readable.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review In ?Bonk, ?the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn't Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.
The Animal Intelligence Bundle: “Minds of Their Own” by Virginia Morell (March 2008) “Almost Human” by Mary Roach (April 2008) “The Genius of Swarms” by Peter Miller (July 2007) In “Minds of Their Own,” Virginia Morell provides an overview of the science of animal intelligence. She introduces you to an African gray parrot named Alex, a bonobo named Kanzi, and a border collie named Betsy. Each of these animals tells us something interesting about the way they perceive and manipulate their world. The article also looks at what scientists are learning about the intelligence of dolphins and crows, beyond mere communication. In “Almost Human,” Mary Roach takes us to the savannahs of Senegal to meet a group of 34 chimpanzees, whose behavior and social structures have given scientists some important clues about the nature of their communication and intelligence. In “The Genius of Swarms,” Peter Miller looks at the collective behavior of ants, bees, and other insects for what they can tell us about social organization and how sometimes intelligence lies outside of the individual brain. This article served as the basis for his book, The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done.
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t. With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson’s book—from the axolotl to the zebrafish—are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up—that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature’s “extreme survivors,” able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value—or fail to value—and what we might change. A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change.

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