Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grunt by Mary Roach ****

Some readers might recall NASA  celebrating their civilian contributions, notably Tang, the sad orange juice substitute. Now through Grunt by Mary Roach, the military responds with penis reconstruction, replacement, and transplantation. This seems to be such a fruitful field of work that they are willing to share the credit with others.
"The art of phalloplasty--craft a working penis from other parts of the patient's body--has come a long way (thanks in no small part to the transgender community)."
That gives you a taste of the fascinating subject of military R&D. Topics range from the seemingly mundane like clothing (camo is so popular, that the Navy introduced blue camo for sailors...why?..."That's so no one can see you if you fall overboard.") to the life-critical like bomb proofing troop transports and escaping from submarines.

All together this is a jumble of research reports by the author who managed to get invited into unlikely places like nuclear submarines, the Entomology Branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (bugs? right?), and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. Just the book for the hard-core military/science voyeur.

In addition to the hardcore science, the book is full of interesting trivia.

How do you rate smells? The positive responses might be (1) smells good, (2) smells edible, or (3) I would wear it as cologne. Interestingly, no matter how evil a scent might be, people can be found to choose all these descriptors.

Even though the military has a massive operation to design and test "everything a soldier wears, eats, sleeps on, or lives in," they draw the line at women's underwear. Women receive an allowance to buy their own.

Submarines use passive sonar. The do not send out blips; they only listen. Thus, submarines are blinder than bats.

A fun read.

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