I’ve been reading The Martian which recently came out with a film as well. The book is written by Andy Weir, who’s a space and astronomy fan and geek. I watched the film first before my boss lent me the book and as I had just finished reading House of Hades, Percy Jackson’s Heroes of Olympus series. So I was a little annoyed to find out that it wasn’t the last book yet! Now I have to go out and get it…but I am a little dry financially so that have to hold for a little while.
So it was good timing that I got my hands on The Martian so I can have some me-time on the train and read on that 1 hour journeys to work. That was also one of my missions: to reduce my phone usage and do more useful things instead of being on the phone. Reading is relaxing and I get to learn new stuffs. So it’s a win-win!
When I first watched the movie, I have had a brief commentary and feedback from Mr R about the film as he had watched it first. So I was really looking forward to watching it based on the good reviews and the premise of the story! What stood out for me was the character of Mark Watney. He was hilarious and such an exciting character! He made staying on Mars pretty cool and exciting. Although I can’t imagine the loneliness and carrying the weight of knowing that you may likely die on this planet, alone.
So it was truly exciting to actually read the book and read it more in depth with the space terms, what it means (although I still don’t understand half of what it is talking about). But it was so informative and rich! And I realised how different space technology is now since my fascination with space when I was young. The technology has changed so much that it has become closer now and easier to go to the out reaches of our solar system and even beyond. I still just can’t comprehend the vastness of it and how far mankind has gone to only capture 1/1000th of the universe.
That to me was amazing. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be floating in a vacuum space and not touching earth or the ground. No more having the limits of the sky and clouds that changes from day to night. No more cars or traffic on the road. You can roam wherever you want. No more crowd of people jostling about on a Friday night in town. It’s just you and your fellow astronaut mates out there.
Of course it’s a new set of environment challenges. No more oxygen, no driving or walking to where you want to go. Everything is a calculated risk. Out in space, it’s all about real science and mathematics.
And that is what I learnt from reading the book! Everything you do is a precision in calculation and science study of how things work. Food rations and how long can you survive with what you have, what it takes to grow your own food, calculating the amount of density, pressure, chemical reactions and how can you make oxygen.
Now I understood why my Math and Science teacher kept harping and drilling to me about the importance of the subject and the basics of calculations and your periodic table. I never saw how vast these subjects are and what it does in my everyday life! Instead I was cursing and swearing as to why I should care about trigonometry and pi! What the hell does pi do!
I would say The Martian thought a lot to me about being humble because there are so much more things I do not know about the world. That there is a bigger thing at work and that my small whiny inconsequential dilemmas on Earth is just a tiny dot in the big gigantic universe. It also thought me truly the importance of Mathematics and Science. How I think everything around us, even down to the air we breathe as well as the cells are made up of precise calculations and combinations of molecules making up particles.
It’s truly one of the beauties and awe-ness of the world and universe. And if you’re not humbled by that, I would say you’re one egoistic moron!
So in conclusion, I can’t be sure scientifically if Mark Watney can truly survive in Mars for that length of time. Or if he can really grow food up there. But damn, if those scientific explanations really work and are true, he just made me appreciate science and Maths a whole damn a lot more now!
I dropped A.Maths in secondary school as it was dragging my Elementary Mathematics grade as well … *shakes head* what in the world was I doing back then?!
Why didn’t our Maths lecturer taught us the beauty side of it!