Quotes from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Mary Roach ·  334 pages

Rating: (41.5K votes)


“Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth. But would it? Since when has money saved by government redlining been spent on education and cancer research? It is always squandered. Let's squander some on Mars. Let's go out and play.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“To the rocket scientist, you are a problem. You are the most irritating piece of machinery he or she will ever have to deal with. You and your fluctuating metabolism, your puny memory, your frame that comes in a million different configurations. You are unpredictable. You're inconstant. You take weeks to fix. The engineer must worry about the water and oxygen and food you'll need in space, about how much extra fuel it will take to launch your shrimp cocktail and irradiated beef tacos. A solar cell or a thruster nozzle is stable and undemanding. It does not excrete or panic or fall in love with the mission commander. It has no ego. Its structural elements don't start to break down without gravity, and it works just fine without sleep.

To me, you are the best thing to happen to rocket science. The human being is the machine that makes the whole endeavor so endlessly intriguing.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“The nobility of the human spirit grows harder for me to believe in. War, zealotry, greed, malls, narcissism. I see a backhanded nobility in excessive, impractical outlays of cash prompted by nothing loftier than a species joining hands and saying “I bet we can do this.” Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth. But would it? Since when has money saved by government red-lining been spent on education and cancer research? It is always squandered. Let’s squander some on Mars. Let’s go out and play.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Every mode of travel has its signature mental aberration.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Space doesn't just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



“People can't anticipate how much they'll miss the natural world until they are deprived of it. I have read about submarine crewmen who haunt the sonar room, listening to whale songs and colonies of snapping shrimp. Submarine captains dispense 'periscope liberty'- a chance to gaze at clouds and birds and coastlines and remind themselves that the natural world still exists. I once met a man who told me that after landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, after a winter at the South Pole research station, he and his companions spent a couple days just wandering around staring in awe at flowers and trees. At one point, one of them spotted a woman pushing a stroller. 'A baby!' he shouted, and they all rushed across the street to see. The woman turned the stroller and ran.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“He has a minor in explosives and the slightly bitter, misanthropic personality of someone who shouldn't.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“The suffix 'naut' comes from the Greek and Latin words for ships and sailing. Astronaut suggests 'a sailor in space.' Chimponaut suggests 'a chimpanzee in sailor pants'.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“the act of vomiting deserves your respect. It's an orchestral event of the gut.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“As when astronaut Mike Mulhane was asked by a NASA psychiatrist what epitaph he'd like to have on his gravestone, Mulhane answered, "A loving husband and devoted father," though in reality, he jokes in "Riding Rockets," "I would have sold my wife and children into slavery for a ride into space.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



“No one is excluded from the astronaut corps based on penis size.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“My interpreter Sayuri is folding a piece of notebook paper. She is at step 21, where the crane's body is inflated. The directions show a tiny puff besides an arrow pointing at the bird. It makes sense if you already know what to do. Otherwise, it's wonderfully surreal: Put a cloud inside a bird.
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Gravitation is the lust of the cosmos.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Upon the occasion of history's first manned flight - in the 1780's aboard the Montgolfier brothers' hot-air balloons - someone asked Franklin what use he saw in such frivolity. "What use," he replied, "is a newborn baby?”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“NASA might do well to adopt the Red Bull approach to branding and astronautics. Suddenly the man in the spacesuit is not an underpaid civil servant; he's the ultimate extreme athlete. Red Bull knows how to make space hip.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



“Gravity is why there are suns and planets in the first place. It is practically God.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“I will tell you sincerely and without exaggeration that the best part of lunch today at the NASA Ames cafeteria is the urine. It is clear and sweet, though not in the way mountain streams are said to be clear and sweet. More in the way of Karo syrup. The urine has been desalinated by osmotic pressure. Basically it swapped molecules with a concentrated sugar solution. Urine is a salty substance (though less so than the NASA Ames chili), and if you were to drink it in an effort to rehydrate yourself, it would have the opposite effect. But once the salt is taken care of and the distasteful organic molecules have been trapped in an activated charcoal filter, urine is a restorative and surprisingly drinkable lunchtime beverage. I was about to use the word unobjectionable, but that's not accurate. People object. They object a lot.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Ability to Function Despite Imminent Catastrophe.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Under the section heading “Experiments with Human Subjects” – a heading that, were I a doctor previously employed by Nazi Germany, I might have rephrased –”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“The V-2’s directional system was notoriously erratic. In May 1947, a V-2 launched from White Sands Proving Ground headed south instead of north, missing downtown Juarez, Mexico, by 3 miles. The Mexican government’s response to the American bombing was admirably laid back. General Enrique Diaz Gonzales and Consul General Raul Michel met with United States officials, who issued apologies and an invitation to come to “the next rocket shoot” at White Sands. The Mexican citizenry was similarly nonchalant. “Bomb Blast Fails to Halt Spring Fiesta,” said the El Paso Times headline, noting that “many thought the explosion was a cannon fired for the opening of the fiesta.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



“Borman's dumping urine. Urine [in] approximately one minute." Two lines further along, we see Lovell saying, "What a sight to behold!”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Gravity disappears again, and we rise up off the floor like spooks from a grave. It's like the Rapture in here every thirty seconds.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“No one goes out to play anymore. Simulation is becoming reality.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“(As brain cells die from oxygen starvation, euphoria sets in, and one last, grand erection.)”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Hydromedusa tectifera are, like post-war Nazis, native to Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



“What’s different? Sweat, risk, uncertainty, inconvenience. But also, awe. Pride. Something ineffably splendid and stirring.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“I remember watching Morin walk away from me, the endearing gait and the butt that got lubed for science, and thinking, 'Oh my god, they're just people.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“Given the complexity of the chore, “escapees,” as free-floating fecal material is known in astronautical circles, plagued the crews. Below is an excerpt from the Apollo 10 mission transcript, starring Mission Commander Thomas Stafford, Lunar Module Pilot Gene Cernan, and Command Module Pilot John Young, orbiting the moon 200,000-plus miles from the nearest bathroom. CERNAN:…You know once you get out of lunar orbit, you can do a lot of things. You can power down…And what’s happening is— STAFFORD: Oh—who did it? YOUNG: Who did what? CERNAN: What? STAFFORD: Who did it? [laughter] CERNAN: Where did that come from? STAFFORD: Give me a napkin quick. There’s a turd floating through the air. YOUNG: I didn’t do it. It ain’t one of mine. CERNAN: I don’t think it’s one of mine. STAFFORD: Mine was a little more sticky than that. Throw that away. YOUNG: God almighty. [And again eight minutes later, while discussing the timing of a waste-water dump.] YOUNG: Did they say we could do it anytime? CERNAN: They said on 135. They told us that—Here’s another goddam turd. What’s the matter with you guys? Here, give me a— YOUNG/STAFFORD: [laughter]… STAFFORD: It was just floating around? CERNAN: Yes. STAFFORD: [laughter] Mine was stickier than that. YOUNG: Mine was too. It hit that bag— CERNAN: [laughter] I don’t know whose that is. I can neither claim it nor disclaim it. [laughter] YOUNG: What the hell is going on here?”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“many space psychology experiments these days focus on ways to detect stress or depression in a person who doesn’t intend to tell you about it.”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


“to test. Would weightlessness put them off their game? It did. The turtles moved “slowly and insecurely” and did not attack a piece of bait placed directly in front of them. Then again, the water in which they swam was repeatedly floating up out of the jar and forming an “ovoid cupola.” Who could eat? Von Beckh quickly moved on from turtles to Argentinean pilots. Under the section heading “Experiments with Human Subjects”—a heading that, were I a doctor previously employed by Nazi Germany, I might have rephrased—von Beckh reports on the efforts of the pilots to mark X’s inside small boxes during regular and weightless flight. During weightlessness, many of the letters strayed from the boxes, indicating that pilots might experience difficulties maneuvering their planes and doing crossword puzzles during air battles. The following year, von Beckh was recruited by the Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Holloman Air Force”
― Mary Roach, quote from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void



Video

About the author

Mary Roach
Born place: Etna, New Hampshire, The United States
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“We’re all guilty of hiding things—it’s the nature of the world today. We hide our feelings, we hide our pasts, we hide our true intentions. There’s no way to know what’s real anymore.”
― Suzanne Young, quote from The Treatment


“No characters in any story were ever to be harmed within their fictional creations. But everything about the place, the feelings and sounds Poe processed, said that law was being broken.”
― Lucian Bane, quote from The Scribbler Guardian


“It’s the year 2017. We have drones, cars that can go in water, and men who walk on the moon. Why the hell haven’t they figured out how to unsend a text message? I don’t know who “they” are, but I’m blaming it on Apple.”
― Amo Jones, quote from The Silver Swan


“I learned an amazing way to demonstrate the effectiveness of positive versus negative thinking from Jack Canfield, President of Self-Esteem Seminars, which I now use in my workshops. I ask someone to come up and stand facing the rest of the class. After making sure the person has no problems with her (or his) arms, I ask my volunteer to make a fist and extend either arm out to the side. I then tell her to resist, with as much strength as she can muster, as I stand facing her and attempt to push her arm down with my outstretched hand. Not once have I succeeded in pushing her arm down on my initial trial. I then ask her to put her arm down, close her eyes and repeat ten times the negative statement “I am a weak and unworthy person.” I tell her really to get into the feel of that statement. When she has repeated the statement ten times, I ask her to open her eyes and extend her arm again exactly as she had before. I remind her to resist as hard as she can. Immediately, I am able to bring down her arm. It is as though all strength has left her. I wish I could record the expressions on my volunteers’ faces when they find it impossible to resist my pressure. A few have made me do it again. “I wasn’t ready!” is their plea. Lo and behold, the same thing happens on the second try—the arm goes right down with little resistance. They are dumbfounded. I then ask the volunteer once again to close her eyes, and repeat ten times the positive statement “I am a strong and worthy person.” Again I tell her to really get into the feeling of the words. Once again I ask her to extend her arm and resist my pressure. To her amazement (and everyone else’s) I cannot budge the arm. In fact, it is more steadfast than the first time I tried to push it down. If I continue interspersing positive with negative, the same results occur. I can push the arm down after the negative statement, I am not able to push it down after the positive statement. By the way—for you skeptics out there—I tried this experiment when I was unaware of what the volunteer was saying. I left the room, and the class decided whether the statement should be negative or positive. It didn’t matter. Weak words meant a weak arm. Strong words meant a strong arm.”
― Susan Jeffers, quote from Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway


“I loved his goatee even more than his mustache. It was so soft and white. I wanted to rub my face in it. I wanted to climb inside it and live there and peek out.”
― Jerry Spinelli, quote from Milkweed


Interesting books

On Heroes and Tombs
(6.8K)
On Heroes and Tombs
by Ernesto Sabato
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
(8.1K)
Buffering: Unshared...
by Hannah Hart
Slaughterhouse-five: The Children's Crusade, A Duty-dance with Death
(0.9M)
Slaughterhouse-five:...
by Kurt Vonnegut
Kraken
(20.1K)
Kraken
by China Miéville
Letters to the Lost
(7.8K)
Letters to the Lost
by Brigid Kemmerer
Alkimist
(1.5M)
Alkimist
by Paulo Coelho

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.