Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Mary Roach Cannon

There are times when the universe seems to be telling me that I need to read a particular book or author. This past winter, the universe told me to start ready Mary Roach, so I dove right in.

First up was Packing for Mars, which is about the hazards of space travel and how NASA prepares for it - especially the things they can't prepare for, like the "unknown unknowns." Given that my oldest daughter is a self-described "space explorer," I loved this book, and I'm envious of the access Roach had to NASA while researching it. I'd love to go up in the Vomit Comet to experience zero gravity. I'm not so sure I'd want to test out the space toilet though.

After the space book, I read Spook, which chronicles experiments people have done through the ages on what happens to our souls, if we have them, after we die. Real, respected scientists have done research on whether there is life after death and whether there are such things as near-death experiences like those described by people who have died and then been brought back to life. So far nothing conclusive has been discovered, but I like that people are looking.

Last week I finished off Stiff, which tackles what happens to our bodies after we die, specifically those cadavers that are donated to science. Turns out not every body donated goes on to take part in ground-breaking scientific or medical research. Most go on to teaching hospitals for medical students to practice on. Others go on to conferences where surgeons can hone their skills. Still others are used as crash-test dummies for car companies. Roach also chronicles different methods of disposing of cadavers - the technical term for a dead body - from cremation to freezing to burial to composting. After reading this book, I'm sticking to my plan of donating whatever organs will be of use to someone else and then cremating the rest and scattering the ashes. Silly as it seems, I don't want to turn into a crash-test dummy or practice cadaver.


knittergran said...

Geeze. In the future, ignore whatever told you to read Stiff.

FishyGirl said...

I liked Stiff, but I LOVED Boink. Though I was self-conscious about reading it in public. I haven't read her others, I'll have to check them out! I love her writing style.