Thumbs up for Packing For Mars by Mary Roach. Science/humor.
If you have not yet read Mary Roach, and you like learning things and want to laugh so hard you curl up in pain and make little squeaking noises in place of breathing, then you need to go out right now and buy all of her books: Stiff, Spook, Bonk and now Packing for Mars. What I love most about her is her absolute gameness for anything. Drinking vodka with Russian ex-cosmonauts at one in the afternoon and having a conversation about sex toys via interpreter? She’s there. She’s also on my list of People-Dead-or-Alive-I-Want-to-Invite-to-a-Dinner-Party (a list which so far includes only her and Richard Feynmann; they would totally dig each other). Seriously, the woman can make dead bodies, zero-G feces, and puking dogs laugh-out-loud funny. GO READ HER BOOKS.
Kittinger would take the plane up at a 45-degree angle, and then arc it over and plunge back down, all the while watching a golf ball suspended on a string from the cockpit ceiling. “That was our instrumentation!” Kittinger told me. When the plane achieved zero gravity, the golf ball started floating. So did Kittinger, of course, but he was strapped in his seat. Meanwhile, back behind the cockpit, a Salvador Dali photo had come to life. Von Beckh and Simons were studying, among other things, cats’ ability to right themselves in zero gravity. “The guys would take them and just let them ﬂoat,” recalled Kittinger. “Here would come a cat and I would push the cat back. A couple of times we had a monkey come ﬂoating up to the cockpit. And I would take the monkey and I would push it back.”
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