Archive of ‘The Martian’ category

The Martian Movie – A Divine Comedy in ABBA

Ridley Scott's "The Martian" is a stunning visual reminder of what our space program can achieve. Top image: Matt Damon in "The Martian" Trailer. Bottom image: 1989 painting by Les Bossinas/ NASA

Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is a stunning visual reminder of what our space program can achieve. Top image: Matt Damon in “The Martian” Trailer. Bottom image: 1989 painting by Les Bossinas/ NASA

The Martian movie was everything I had hoped for. Based on the book by the same name, this movie captured our fascination with space, our fears of space travel, and our ability to use reckless abandon (with some intelligence) to conquer these exact same fears.

Matt Damon does wonders as astronaut Mark Watney, a man thrown literally into the thrashing winds of a martian inferno, only to MacGyver his way to safety – i.e. science the shit out of everything – while singing disco tunes the entire way. Though ABBA beats and space survival might sound incongruous, they fit well together in this movie, just like humor and sorrow fit well together in everyday life. Unlike many other harrowing survival stories (think Gravity) that stretch the bounds of drama and belief, Mark Watney’s unrelenting motivation to fix things and just make it work, seems more true to reality. After all, Apollo 13 did happen, and despite what the conspiracy theorists say – man made it to the moon before the existence of graphing calculators, the internet, or next-day shipping. We’ve got it within us to do it again, singing all the way. (more…)

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The Martian – The Science of Survival

Panorama of Mars Pathfinder Landing Site. Image by Dr. Timothy Parker, Jet Propulsion Lab, via NASA.

Panorama of Mars Pathfinder Landing Site. Image by Dr. Timothy Parker, Jet Propulsion Lab, via NASA.

Andy Weir’s The Martian begins with a map. A map with no compass, mountain, ocean or oasis. This is the featureless Martian terrain – a hostile desert bereft of water or breathable atmosphere. It is in this landscape that we find our protagonist, Mark Watney, an injured botanist and engineer turned astronaut – left behind as dead in a Martian sandstorm.

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