1536: "The Martian"

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Keyman
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Keyman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:21 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby chris857 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:04 pm UTC

Keyman wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The Weather Channel (of all places) has "Brainstormers".

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby HokieNerd » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:06 pm UTC

chris857 wrote:
Keyman wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The Weather Channel (of all places) has "Brainstormers".

Is the Learning Channel / Science Channel (seen it on both) still airing Junkyard Wars?

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby BytEfLUSh » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:30 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:I just can't get over the fact that the guy who did Casey & Andy is getting a movie made by Ridley Scott. (Even latter-day Ridley Scott.) I need to start me a webcomic.

Came here just to say that (or see if anyone else mentioned it). :D
I read Casey & Andy a long time ago, noticed Andy Weir again because of The Egg and now this. Wow. I would also sincerely recommend the book, got it as an audiobook a while ago (my first audiobook, actually... not a big fan of the format, but a lot of people recommended it).

To save you from googling:
Casey & Andy webcomic
The Egg (video adaptation) (another one)
The Martian (links from author's website): Hardcover Kindle Audiobook
Image

Image

-- Professor Dan, The Man from Earth (paraphrased)

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby armandoalvarez » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:40 pm UTC

Hey, people who have read the book:
I watched the trailer and was a little surprised to see Donald Glover there and then really surprised to see Kristen Wiig there. Because the trailer looks 100% serious and they're both primarily comedic actors. But then some of you guys said that the book was funny. So do you think that Glover and Wiig are playing comedic roles or do you think that this is the equivalent of Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (an actor who used to be thought of for his comedic roles expands to a purely dramatic role)?

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:23 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.


Speaking of "Mythbusters" and "The Martian"...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXmhMygDGwA

Quite funny, in a somewhat postmodernist sort of way ;)

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby cryptoengineer » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:46 am UTC

Based largely on the comments in this thread, I downloaded the Audible version today, and listened to the
first couple of chapters on the way home.

There's something I'm having a problem with:

Spoiler:
His radio is out, I can understand that (modulo the notion of a Martian wind that can actually blow something down). But.... In my universe, there are several reconnaissance satellites in orbit around Mars.
You can follow the tracks of the MER rovers and Curiosity in the photos from the HiRise photos, not to mention the rovers themselves.

All our intrepid Martian has to do is mark out "SOS NO RADIO" in strokes a couple feet wide outside the base, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be spotted in a month or so. Even if he took zero specific action, there'd be the moved rovers, and the mysteriously cleaned solar arrays.

After a catastrophe like that described, you can bet that imaging the site would be a high priority. That would allow time for an unmanned sustaining mission - just more food and other consumables and spares - to be sent well within his time limits.

Maybe this is dealt with in the book, but I haven't got there yet.


ce

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby biohazard » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:58 am UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:Based largely on the comments in this thread, I downloaded the Audible version today, and listened to the
first couple of chapters on the way home.

There's something I'm having a problem with:

Spoiler:
His radio is out, I can understand that (modulo the notion of a Martian wind that can actually blow something down). But.... In my universe, there are several reconnaissance satellites in orbit around Mars.
You can follow the tracks of the MER rovers and Curiosity in the photos from the HiRise photos, not to mention the rovers themselves.

All our intrepid Martian has to do is mark out "SOS NO RADIO" in strokes a couple feet wide outside the base, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be spotted in a month or so. Even if he took zero specific action, there'd be the moved rovers, and the mysteriously cleaned solar arrays.

After a catastrophe like that described, you can bet that imaging the site would be a high priority. That would allow time for an unmanned sustaining mission - just more food and other consumables and spares - to be sent well within his time limits.

Maybe this is dealt with in the book, but I haven't got there yet.


ce


It gets covered.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby BytEfLUSh » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:21 am UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:Based largely on the comments in this thread, I downloaded the Audible version today, and listened to the
first couple of chapters on the way home.

There's something I'm having a problem with:

Spoiler:
His radio is out, I can understand that (modulo the notion of a Martian wind that can actually blow something down). But.... In my universe, there are several reconnaissance satellites in orbit around Mars.
You can follow the tracks of the MER rovers and Curiosity in the photos from the HiRise photos, not to mention the rovers themselves.

All our intrepid Martian has to do is mark out "SOS NO RADIO" in strokes a couple feet wide outside the base, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be spotted in a month or so. Even if he took zero specific action, there'd be the moved rovers, and the mysteriously cleaned solar arrays.

After a catastrophe like that described, you can bet that imaging the site would be a high priority. That would allow time for an unmanned sustaining mission - just more food and other consumables and spares - to be sent well within his time limits.

Maybe this is dealt with in the book, but I haven't got there yet.


ce

It's actually hard to believe you haven't read (listened to) the entire book yet, since most (if not all) of the things you listed are used as plot devices (if my memory serves me correctly). :D
Last edited by BytEfLUSh on Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:39 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

cryptoengineer
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby cryptoengineer » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:30 am UTC

BytEfLUSh wrote:
cryptoengineer wrote:Based largely on the comments in this thread, I downloaded the Audible version today, and listened to the
first couple of chapters on the way home.

There's something I'm having a problem with:

Spoiler:
His radio is out, I can understand that (modulo the notion of a Martian wind that can actually blow something down). But.... In my universe, there are several reconnaissance satellites in orbit around Mars.
You can follow the tracks of the MER rovers and Curiosity in the photos from HiRise, not to mention the rovers themselves.

All our intrepid Martian has to do is mark out "SOS NO RADIO" in strokes a couple feet wide outside the base, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be spotted in a month or so. Even if he took zero specific action, there'd be the moved rovers, and the mysteriously cleaned solar arrays.

After a catastrophe like that described, you can bet that imaging the site would be a high priority. That would allow time for an unmanned sustaining mission - just more food and other consumables and spares - to be sent well within his time limits.

Maybe this is dealt with in the book, but I haven't got there yet.


ce

It's actually hard to believe you haven't read (listened to) the entire book yet, since most (if not all) of the things you listed are used as plot devices (if my memory serves me correctly). :D


Well, thanks! I listen only while commuting, and its a 10+ hour book. I'm glad to hear that my obvious issues weren't skipped over.

ce
Last edited by cryptoengineer on Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:47 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby BytEfLUSh » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:38 am UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:
BytEfLUSh wrote:
cryptoengineer wrote:Based largely on the comments in this thread, I downloaded the Audible version today, and listened to the
first couple of chapters on the way home.

There's something I'm having a problem with:

Spoiler:
His radio is out, I can understand that (modulo the notion of a Martian wind that can actually blow something down). But.... In my universe, there are several reconnaissance satellites in orbit around Mars.
You can follow the tracks of the MER rovers and Curiosity in the photos from the HiRise photos, not to mention the rovers themselves.

All our intrepid Martian has to do is mark out "SOS NO RADIO" in strokes a couple feet wide outside the base, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be spotted in a month or so. Even if he took zero specific action, there'd be the moved rovers, and the mysteriously cleaned solar arrays.

After a catastrophe like that described, you can bet that imaging the site would be a high priority. That would allow time for an unmanned sustaining mission - just more food and other consumables and spares - to be sent well within his time limits.

Maybe this is dealt with in the book, but I haven't got there yet.


ce

It's actually hard to believe you haven't read (listened to) the entire book yet, since most (if not all) of the things you listed are used as plot devices (if my memory serves me correctly). :D


Well, thanks! I listen only while commuting, and its a 10+ hour book. I'm glad to hear that my obvious issues weren't skipped over.

ce


No prob, hope you enjoy it! :) I started listening the same way, but after a while I kept on listening whenever I had some spare time. :)

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby funda » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:09 am UTC

Khrushy wrote:
The martian is for people who wish the whole movie had just been more of that scene.


Well shit, I want to see The Martian now.


Me too. Just what I was waiting for. MacGyver was not enough.

The Martian is "MacGyver on Mars".

8-) 8-)
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby IdahoEv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:58 am UTC

HokieNerd wrote:
chris857 wrote:
Keyman wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The Weather Channel (of all places) has "Brainstormers".

Is the Learning Channel / Science Channel (seen it on both) still airing Junkyard Wars?


"Escape from Experiment Island" ran for six episodes, and was all about solving engineering challenges with limited materials.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Sir Lunch-a-lot » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:55 am UTC

KarenRei wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.


Speaking of "Mythbusters" and "The Martian"...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXmhMygDGwA

Quite funny, in a somewhat postmodernist sort of way ;)


It was actually Adam's raving about the book in his podcast (" Still Untitled" on Tested.com) that led me to the book last fall. Apparently, Adam had spoken with astronaut Chris Hadfield who had said that the book was very scientifically accurate (unlike many other pieces of sci fi we won't name). As far as I am concerned, the storm at the beginning was the biggest leap (one even the author has admitted to - as I seem to recall).

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby OP Tipping » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:58 pm UTC

I enjoyed this novel.

A lot of it seemed unlikely, in that the audience needs to accept that this slightly handy botanist turns out to be a hypermega-MacGyver and his somewhat wacky schemes worked out well enough for him to live, but that's okay.

There were a few points that were a bit too odd or unlikely:

*The extensive use of N2 tanks in the EVA suits. N2 is basically baggage. They use as little as possible in real life.
*He grew his potatoes under the internal lights of the Hab but used agriculture statistics based on outdoor earth growing. Most people don’t realise the great contrast between ordinary office or residential lighting and sunlight, but plants do: sunlight is about 100 times brighter than indoor lighting. Unless the Hab packed extremely bright lighting for some reason, his potato yields would be very poor. I considered this to be a genuine plothole.
*At one point he says that food contains hydrocarbons and then goes on to talk about sugars. Hydrocarbons ain’t carbohydrates…
*SPOILER: it seems unlikely to me that the rescue mission would be mounted at all. I think if someone got left behind they’d be shit out of luck. NASA would say “we are very sorry, we’ll take good care of your family” and switch off your comms.

But at the end of the day I liked the story and the style, basically like an engineer's blog.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Kit. » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:31 pm UTC

OP Tipping wrote:it seems unlikely to me that the rescue mission would be mounted at all.

Why not? It's a great way to spend the taxpayer's money.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby cryptoengineer » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:35 pm UTC

funda wrote:
Khrushy wrote:
The martian is for people who wish the whole movie had just been more of that scene.


Well shit, I want to see The Martian now.


Me too. Just what I was waiting for. MacGyver was not enough.

The Martian is "MacGyver on Mars".

8-) 8-)


Having now watched the trailer, I'm worried - it looks like Hollywood has worked its usual turn-ambrosia-to-shit routine on hard SF stories, and
we'll have the returning astronauts doing an illegal U-turn in space to go back and pick up their crewmate, resource limitations and orbital mechanics
be damned.

ce

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Keyman » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:48 pm UTC

OP Tipping wrote:I enjoyed this novel.

A lot of it seemed unlikely, in that the audience needs to accept ...(some stuff - K)
*SPOILER: it seems unlikely to me that the rescue mission would be mounted at all. I think if someone got left behind they’d be shit out of luck. NASA would say “we are very sorry, we’ll take good care of your family” and switch off your comms.

But at the end of the day I liked the story and the style, basically like an engineer's blog.

Excuse me, but your "SPOILER" is precisely why this is a novel and not an engineering blog. Aside from the niftyness of the science, nobody's going to care unless there's a compelling examination of how 'people' handle the situation. What happens, not just to Wately/Damon, but to Wiig, and Glover, and Daniels, and Chastain...to the surviving crew, to NASA... to Earth. That's what drives the story, if it's a good one (and it is). I can see that somebody might think that giving up is the right thing (and some in this book, do). We generally think of those guys as assholes.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby The Devils Engineer » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:23 pm UTC

HokieNerd wrote:
chris857 wrote:
Keyman wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The Weather Channel (of all places) has "Brainstormers".

Is the Learning Channel / Science Channel (seen it on both) still airing Junkyard Wars?


You beat me to it. Junkyard Wars was unbelievably wonderful, mixing competition, on the fly engineering, improvisation, group dynamics (both good and bad), and just plain fun. Robert Llewellyn and Cathy Rogers were the best host team they had. It lost its way late in the run and just didn't feel the same, but the early shows are golden. I miss it.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Ubertakter » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:07 pm UTC

OP Tipping wrote:... slightly handy botanist ...

In the book the character mentions that he has a degree in mechanical engineering. If I recall correctly, he trained as a botanist for the mission, because someone had to.

OP Tipping wrote: ...He grew his potatoes under the internal lights of the Hab but used agriculture statistics based on outdoor earth growing.

Sometimes you work with what you've got. It wouldn't be surprising to find that the lights in the hab are full spectrum lights though. I'm not sure if he mentions it in the book.

Also note that Andy Weir (the author) worked out a lot of the math behind the situations in the book, so they aren't too removed from reality.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:14 pm UTC

The Devils Engineer wrote:
HokieNerd wrote:
chris857 wrote:
Keyman wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.

Science Channel has "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The Weather Channel (of all places) has "Brainstormers".

Is the Learning Channel / Science Channel (seen it on both) still airing Junkyard Wars?


You beat me to it. Junkyard Wars was unbelievably wonderful, mixing competition, on the fly engineering, improvisation, group dynamics (both good and bad), and just plain fun. Robert Llewellyn and Cathy Rogers were the best host team they had. It lost its way late in the run and just didn't feel the same, but the early shows are golden. I miss it.


Oh, Scrapheap Challenge!

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Jackpot777 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:Hey, people who have read the book:
I watched the trailer and was a little surprised to see Donald Glover there and then really surprised to see Kristen Wiig there. Because the trailer looks 100% serious and they're both primarily comedic actors. But then some of you guys said that the book was funny. So do you think that Glover and Wiig are playing comedic roles or do you think that this is the equivalent of Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (an actor who used to be thought of for his comedic roles expands to a purely dramatic role)?


It's a dark humor, mainly on the part of the part of Mark Watney (Matt Damon) because he's the jester of the Ares 3 Six so he's wisecracking in the face of almost-certain death. Here are some excerpts...

I can't wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!


[11:49] JPL: What we can see of your planned cut looks good. We’re assuming the other side is identical. You’re cleared to start drilling.

[12:07] Watney: That’s what she said.

[12:25] JPL: Seriously, Mark? Seriously?


“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.


It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:02 pm UTC

Ubertakter wrote:
OP Tipping wrote:... slightly handy botanist ...

In the book the character mentions that he has a degree in mechanical engineering. If I recall correctly, he trained as a botanist for the mission, because someone had to.

OP Tipping wrote: ...He grew his potatoes under the internal lights of the Hab but used agriculture statistics based on outdoor earth growing.

Sometimes you work with what you've got. It wouldn't be surprising to find that the lights in the hab are full spectrum lights though. I'm not sure if he mentions it in the book.

Also note that Andy Weir (the author) worked out a lot of the math behind the situations in the book, so they aren't too removed from reality.


It's not about the spectrum. I grow tons of plants in my apartment under artificial light (no, not *those* kinds of plants! ;) ). The simple problem is that you're trying to replace an incredibly powerful light source - the sun - with something that just simply isn't (indoor lighting). The difference between indoors and outdoors doesn't seem like that much to our eyes, but that's due to a quirk of human perception - the light intensities are orders of magnitude different.

The sun puts down about 1000 watts per meter squared, primarily in the visible spectrum. Now, picture the brightest CFLs you can buy - maybe 40 watts power draw? They'll put out maybe 15% of their energy as light (note: this is different than luminous efficiency, lumens are a terrible scale for plants as they're optimized around the perception of the human eye). So to match the output of the sun at noon on a clear day, you'd have to have 167 of them in every square meter, and that square meter would consume 6.7 kilowatts. That square meter, in normal industrial farming practices in an optimal potato-growing area, will yield about 7 kilograms of potatoes over the course of one growing season (maybe 8 months). That's about 16000 calories, aka 66 calories per square meter per day. He'd need 38 square meters for a normal diet, meaning about 250 kilowatts of light drawn from the equivalent of 6325 super-bright CFLs.

See the problem?

Now, there's some things that naturally push the odds more toward your favor, and things you can do beyond this.

1. The natural sun isn't always high noon on a clear day. There are clouds. There is night. The sun goes to off angles. Etc. Working against you, however, indoors is trying to make sure all of your light that you create actually hits your plants. Otherwise you're lighting up even more square meters than you mean to. But overall this cuts the challenge by half an order of magnitude or more.

2. Outdoors is often a crappy environment for a wide range of reasons. Pests. Wind. Cold. Excessive heat. Drought. Flood. Etc. Indoors you can yield a nice peaceful controlled growth environment. Well, sort of... because there's all kinds of gotchas indoors that can devastate your crops in a matter of days (I once lost tons of my most prized plants by simply starting shutting the door to the room for about a week... the temperature got too hot and fried them). And spider mites are devastating in any greenhouse environment, and they always find you sooner or later - I wouldn't be surprised if even on a mars ship a couple snuck aboard, they're so utterly miniscule. But maybe he'd be lucky in that regard and there's literally zero. Anyway, IF you can manage to not screw up and you do everything perfectly, you can get another leg up versus the sun, cutting off maybe another quarter of an order of magnitude of the sun's advantage over you.

3. By using LEDs instead of fluorescent or HID, you can get about the same amount of growth for about half the power. So another quarter order of magnitude advantage. Note however that this is for optimal grow LEDs, mainly a mix of red and blue, ideally with a bit of UV. White LEDs are just blue LEDs with a phosphor that wastes part of their energy, so they don't give you as much advantage.

4. You can reduce the number of lights you need by not giving the plants a day/night cycle and having the lights on at max intensity 24/7. Not all plants need a day/night cycle; potatoes don't. This of course doesn't change your required power consumption.

So basically, if he did everything perfectly and lucked out, he might - maybe be able to squeeze by on maybe 25 kilowatts of power and red-and-blue LED lamps of an output intensity of around 500-1000 super-bright-CFLs over maybe 25 square meters (a square 5 meters / 16 feet per side) of grow area. This is the sort of thing that could be possible to set up on Mars if that was a mission goal. But scrounging that together on a mission not designed for it? I hate to have to say it, but that's just not going to happen. :(

I've not read the book. But if they had him growing potatoes indoors using a couple office lights, I'd be hitting my head and groaning. On the other hand, if they had him macguyvering a solution to use natural light using several hundred square meters of inflatable clear plastic... well, maybe. Where he'd get the plastic from, I don't know**. He'd have a ridiculously hard time stopping leaks and he'd be in a constant battle to clean off the dust, esp. on a plastic not designed to repel dust - it's a perfect material to build up a static charge. I hope his suit can take such protracted daily EVAs. And I don't know how well potatoes would deal with the radiation. He'll have a huge battle with thermal management, with the whole thing becoming warm during the day and frigid at night, transitioning rapidly between the two - to stand a chance, the base would have to have a nuclear generator and he'd have to shunt the reactor's waste heat in every night and stop it during the day, ideally either in an automated fashion or with a temperature alarm - otherwise he'll surely screw up at some point and lose his entire crop. His hab surely has this sort of temperature regulation on its own but also certainly doesn't have the capability to shunt in the sort of massive heat he'd be losing at night with all of the new uninsulated surface area, so he'd have to give the HVAC system a serious upgrade. The plants would grow slowly due to the reduced light conditions even if he can keep the dust off the plastic - he'd need significantly more acreage than usual. BUT, all of that said... it might be achievable.

Indoors or outdoors, a couple gotchas:

* He's going to need nitrogen as fertilizer, martian regolith will not contain nitrates. Maybe there's some sort of supply of nitric acid or ammonia onboard for some kind of industrial process or fuel that he can use as a feedstock. His own waste and plant composting won't suffice, some nitrogen will be lost.
* If he wants to use regolith as his growth medium (note that one can use almost anything as a growth medium - even no growth medium if you keep the roots constantly misted), he's going to have to neutralize the perchlorates first (such as by baking it). And hope that the regolith in his area isn't too salt rich or manage to wash out the salts. I hope his water supplies are plentiful and/or renewable.

** - To any chemical engineers here - would there be any way you can conceive of that someone could take bulk acrylic panels and make thin acrylic sheeting out of it? This is out of my realm of expertise, apart from knowing that acrylic is a thermoplastic and thus I would expect it to be possible to reform into different shapes via the application of heat. It's quite possible that a building, rover, or somesuch would have large thick acrylic panels as windows (exterior or interior) or internal walls, flooring, etc; there might even be whole spare acrylic panels onhand in storage, isn't inconcievable. But is there any realistic process that one could use on Mars to turn a couple thick panels into thin sheeting with 2 orders of magnitude more surface area?
Last edited by KarenRei on Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:19 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby IdahoEv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:45 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:It's not about the spectrum. I grow tons of plants in my apartment under artificial light (no, not *those* kinds of plants! ;) ). The simple problem is that you're trying to replace an incredibly powerful light source - the sun - with something that just simply isn't (indoor lighting).

KarenRei wrote:He's going to need nitrogen as fertilizer, martian regolith will not contain nitrates. Maybe there's some sort of supply of nitric acid or ammonia onboard for some kind of industrial process or fuel that he can use as a feedstock. His own waste and plant composting won't suffice, some nitrogen will be lost.


I'd noticed the nitrogen problem when I read it but -- silly me -- didn't think of the illumination problem. Good catch.

That said - while there are unquestionably going to be scientific problems (as there are in any SF book that wants to have a good storyline), there's so much satisfyingly good, well-researched science and engineering that I think you'd likely really enjoy the book if you read it. There's far more good science in there than in pretty much any other fiction book I've ever read. Just enjoy patting yourself on the back for catching errors when they do occur ... I did. :-)

p.s. He does have enormous amounts of water, starting from the fact that his facility is designed for six. But acquiring more, and the trials and tribulations of that task, is a major aspect of the plot that I won't spoil for you.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Ubertakter » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:44 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Many words ....
...
I've not read the book.
...


Holy fucking shit, why didn't you just start with that statement :wink: ? Maybe someone else who's read the book and isn't high on cold medicine (it's not lost on me that I have a cold in the summer) can address this. Watney (BTW, since you haven't read the book, that's the main character) goes over his calculations as part of the story, but I don't remember how much detail there is.

I think Weir (the author) had shared his calculations somewhere. You might be able to find it somewhere. Actually I want to see them now.... argh, I know I've seen them before, but I can't find them at the moment.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby funda » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:19 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:
funda wrote:
Khrushy wrote:
The martian is for people who wish the whole movie had just been more of that scene.


Well shit, I want to see The Martian now.


Me too. Just what I was waiting for. MacGyver was not enough.

The Martian is "MacGyver on Mars".

8-) 8-)


Having now watched the trailer, I'm worried - it looks like Hollywood has worked its usual turn-ambrosia-to-shit routine on hard SF stories, and
Spoiler:
we'll have the returning astronauts doing an illegal U-turn in space to go back and pick up their crewmate, resource limitations and orbital mechanics
be damned.


ce


Spoiler alert ! :roll:

Why do they sent Matt Damon to space AGAIN ?

He just got back from across a wormhole in interstellar. :lol:
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby werty22 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:46 pm UTC

Sir Lunch-a-lot wrote:
KarenRei wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
richP wrote:alt text sums up the explanation for why there are no reality shows about engineers.

Mythbusters is the closest I can think of.


Speaking of "Mythbusters" and "The Martian"...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXmhMygDGwA

Quite funny, in a somewhat postmodernist sort of way ;)


It was actually Adam's raving about the book in his podcast (" Still Untitled" on Tested.com) that led me to the book last fall. Apparently, Adam had spoken with astronaut Chris Hadfield who had said that the book was very scientifically accurate (unlike many other pieces of sci fi we won't name). As far as I am concerned, the storm at the beginning was the biggest leap (one even the author has admitted to - as I seem to recall).



In this interview by Adam the author says that is his favorite scene of any film, and he wanted to make an enire book like that :)
https://youtu.be/5SemyzKgaUU?t=45m50s

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby BytEfLUSh » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:52 pm UTC

funda wrote:Spoiler alert ! :roll:

Why do they sent Matt Damon to space AGAIN ?

He just got back from across a wormhole in interstellar. :lol:


http://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/ ... _a/co3m6u1

2.Have you had conversations with Ridley Scott.? Do you believe Matt Damon is the right choice,considering the fact that he played vaguely similar role(albeit a small one), in the movie Interstellar?

I haven't spoken to any of the cast or crew. I think Matt Damon will be excellent in the role. He gets cast into action movie archetypes so often, people forget what a talented actor he is. Watch "The Informant" to get feel for his range. As for the similar role in Interstellar, that's a minor headache, but anyone who watches both movies will agree there's no colerration or similarity other than an overlap in cast.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:06 am UTC

On the recommendation of you xuys I've used this month's credit on Audible to acquire the audiobook of The Martian.

Despite all the zillion of unfinished audibooks in my queue :P
I should really unsubscribe until I halve my backlog.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:40 pm UTC

Ubertakter wrote:
KarenRei wrote:Holy fucking shit, why didn't you just start with that statement :wink: ? Maybe someone else who's read the book and isn't high on cold medicine (it's not lost on me that I have a cold in the summer) can address this. Watney (BTW, since you haven't read the book, that's the main character) goes over his calculations as part of the story, but I don't remember how much detail there is.


All of the calculations above that point were independent of anything in the book - they're the basic requirements for growing potatoes indoors, based on my experience growing plants indoors under artificial light for most of a decade.

I went ahead and looked up some of the details from the book and now I'm hitting my head even more. Apparently his power source was 200 square meters of solar panels and was used to grow about 100 square meters of potatoes. So we're to take it that he converted Mars' 44%-intensity sunlight, with at best maybe 25% capacity factor (highly optimistic!) to electricity (at best maybe 30% efficiency if they're super expensive multi-junction cells), then into light as per above (at best maybe 20% in an optimal situation), thus giving his plants the amount of light that strikes 60 square centimeters of potatoes on Earth, assuming that nothing else in the habitat needed power? That makes it even more ridiculous and I'd be hitting my head against the wall even harder if I read that. The author clearly screwed up by orders of magnitude on this one. And can someone please explain to me why the habitat would have enough lights onboard to be able to consume nearly their entire power production just to make light?

I have a strong suspicion that the author knows nothing about plants and I'd be hitting my head about many, many things on this front. That said, in the movie trailer I see what looks like skylights in the lab... maybe for once Hollywood will be fixing a plot hole in a book rather than the other way around. Assuming they make the grow area large enough....

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:22 pm UTC

Okay, I found the book online. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

First off, it's terribly written. It's like something a teenager would write. Sorry, fans. Seriously, how stuff like "My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain" can you stand to read? He doesn't even talk like an adult, let alone a scientist. The word "regolith" isn't even used once in the whole book, he just calls regolith "soil" or "sand". On the other hand, he seems really fond of words like "shit".

The author seems to love math but has trouble doing it right or basically having any understanding of what he's talking about. Example: "Once I get that hooked up to the Hab's power, it'll give me half a liter of liquid CO2 per hour, indefinitely. After 5 days it'll have made 125L of CO2, which will make 125L of O2 after I feed it through the Oxygenator." Liquid CO2? So they're storing it as a superfluid in highly pressurized tanks? That makes absolutely no sense when on Mars you can just store it as a solid just by having your container be shiny and outgas it as needed. But let's just go with "125L of liquid CO2". "125L of liquid CO2" does not equal 125L of liquid O2. The guy is thinking of ideal gases. Liquids are not gases. This is just one example, there's tons of these basic errors all over the place.

Ignoring that "bacteria in earth soil" are not "critical to plant growth" (counterexample: aeroponics), he inocculates raw regolith with the bacteria. Congrats, your bacteria are dead due to perchlorate sterilization. He does nothing to get rid of the perchlorates or rinse salts out of the regolith.

A botanist that finds manure unbearably disgusting? Meanwhile I was out two days ago scooping manure up into my truck, bringing it home and hand sorting it into pots in my apartment to pot up my banana trees, coconuts and acerola. I've in the past worked with manure that still has little larvae wriggling around in it (note: the fresher the manure, the more careful you have to be with how much you use, it's best to use aged / well oxygenated manure). Wear gloves.

There's nothing in any of the writing that suggests the author has any experience at all growing plants indoors, writing nothing about any of the difficulties therein. Here's a fun one that I haven't even mentioned yet: all of his electronics are going to start short circuiting from the humidity (he writes about not being able to stand the humidity, but nothing about how serious of a problem it is). An especially fun type of humidity damage from growing plants indoors is where humidity makes it up through the ceiling in winter and plates out against the roof as ice, and then when the temperature changes you get a lot of water all at once. You learn about it when your breakers throw and unplugging everything doesn't help. I actually had light fixtures filling up with water once. Live and learn...

The author's entire justification for how the plants get enough light? "Also, the internal lights will provide plenty of 'sunlight''. That's it. That's his entire justification. This author is a moron. Argh. Can't keep reading this. Let's just skim ahead.

Okay, so his habitat's oxygen level went down to 9%... and he *didn't notice*? No, sorry, try again, not going to happen. He would be unconscious. 64% hydrogen and he didn't notice? Really, the squeaky voice didn't clue him in? And 64% hydrogen, it would already have exploded. Hydrogen takes 1/10th the ignition energy of gasoline, even tiny static sparks would ignite it, let alone his open flame. So, so badly written...

Ugh, I'm stopping now. This book is an utter mess.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby operagost » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:51 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Echo244 wrote:
Plutarch wrote:'You've just bricked something important.' I don't understand that. What does 'bricked' mean in this context?


Disabled functionality and rendered it about as much use as a brick. Previously referenced in 1518 - "Can you brick it remotely?" referring to a mobile phone alarm ringing, somewhere out of reach...


The origin AFAIK is that bad code loaded onto a cellphone's OS caused the phone to be useless and unrecoverable, hence physically indistinguishable from a brick.

It far precedes that. When cell phones were still dumb, and rarely hackable, people used to have to update EEPROMS and flash on things like embedded devices or PC motherboards. If the update failed, we used to call that "bricking". I think it entered the mainstream (or at least the geek mainstream) with consumer routers, because those generally didn't have a removable flash module or socketed EEPROM, so if you bricked it that was likely a permanent state.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby cryptoengineer » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:28 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Okay, I found the book online. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

First off, it's terribly written. It's like something a teenager would write. Sorry, fans. Seriously, how stuff like "My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain" can you stand to read? He doesn't even talk like an adult, let alone a scientist. The word "regolith" isn't even used once in the whole book, he just calls regolith "soil" or "sand". On the other hand, he seems really fond of words like "shit".

The author seems to love math but has trouble doing it right or basically having any understanding of what he's talking about. Example: "Once I get that hooked up to the Hab's power, it'll give me half a liter of liquid CO2 per hour, indefinitely. After 5 days it'll have made 125L of CO2, which will make 125L of O2 after I feed it through the Oxygenator." Liquid CO2? So they're storing it as a superfluid in highly pressurized tanks? That makes absolutely no sense when on Mars you can just store it as a solid just by having your container be shiny and outgas it as needed. But let's just go with "125L of liquid CO2". "125L of liquid CO2" does not equal 125L of liquid O2. The guy is thinking of ideal gases. Liquids are not gases. This is just one example, there's tons of these basic errors all over the place.

Ignoring that "bacteria in earth soil" are not "critical to plant growth" (counterexample: aeroponics), he inocculates raw regolith with the bacteria. Congrats, your bacteria are dead due to perchlorate sterilization. He does nothing to get rid of the perchlorates or rinse salts out of the regolith.

A botanist that finds manure unbearably disgusting? Meanwhile I was out two days ago scooping manure up into my truck, bringing it home and hand sorting it into pots in my apartment to pot up my banana trees, coconuts and acerola. I've in the past worked with manure that still has little larvae wriggling around in it (note: the fresher the manure, the more careful you have to be with how much you use, it's best to use aged / well oxygenated manure). Wear gloves.

There's nothing in any of the writing that suggests the author has any experience at all growing plants indoors, writing nothing about any of the difficulties therein. Here's a fun one that I haven't even mentioned yet: all of his electronics are going to start short circuiting from the humidity (he writes about not being able to stand the humidity, but nothing about how serious of a problem it is). An especially fun type of humidity damage from growing plants indoors is where humidity makes it up through the ceiling in winter and plates out against the roof as ice, and then when the temperature changes you get a lot of water all at once. You learn about it when your breakers throw and unplugging everything doesn't help. I actually had light fixtures filling up with water once. Live and learn...

The author's entire justification for how the plants get enough light? "Also, the internal lights will provide plenty of 'sunlight''. That's it. That's his entire justification. This author is a moron. Argh. Can't keep reading this. Let's just skim ahead.

Okay, so his habitat's oxygen level went down to 9%... and he *didn't notice*? No, sorry, try again, not going to happen. He would be unconscious. 64% hydrogen and he didn't notice? Really, the squeaky voice didn't clue him in? And 64% hydrogen, it would already have exploded. Hydrogen takes 1/10th the ignition energy of gasoline, even tiny static sparks would ignite it, let alone his open flame. So, so badly written...

Ugh, I'm stopping now. This book is an utter mess.


Lots of good stuff to chew on here, but I'll pick a nit.

Yes, he does need the soil bacteria. He doesn't have the nutrients to create a soil-free hydroponic system. He has to create soil containing plant nutrients, and the only way he can do so is by composting any organic material he can find. Composting requires micro organisms to break material down to nutrients the plants can absorb. You yourself talk about 'aging' manure. What do you think is happening to it during that process?

ce

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:24 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:
KarenRei wrote:Lots of good stuff to chew on here, but I'll pick a nit.

Yes, he does need the soil bacteria. He doesn't have the nutrients to create a soil-free hydroponic system. He has to create soil containing plant nutrients, and the only way he can do so is by composting any organic material he can find. Composting requires micro organisms to break material down to nutrients the plants can absorb. You yourself talk about 'aging' manure. What do you think is happening to it during that process?

ce


Do you really think you have to sprinkle dirt on your feces for it to be able to break down?

It's actually not uncommon for experienced growers to bake their soil before reuse to sterilize it to kill off pests and pathogens.
Last edited by KarenRei on Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:46 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:37 pm UTC

Most plants don't grow in poop.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Most plants don't grow in poop.


Nope**. But they grow superbly in a blend of manure and inorganic material. The limitation on how much manure you can use depends on how old it is - the younger it is, the less you can use. I do precisely what one would need to do on Mars when planting on my melur terrain (don't know the English word.... "volcanic gravel flat"?) It's highly deficient in nitrogen and doesn't retain moisture well, rather like martian regolith (minus the salts and perchlorates); even moss doesn't grow well in it. Blending it with manure at a 2:1 to 5:1 ratio yields a superb growth medium.

If he wants to wait until it's fully broken down, he'll be waiting several years. There's a big difference in my 1-year old and 2-year old manure piles, and even 2 and 3 year piles.

** Well, some things try to grow in pure manure. You'd be surprised at how fast little tussocks of grass get established. The key is that they grow on the surface, the roots don't go down into the heart of the pile. They love the abundant nutrients and good water retention, but the inside is oxygen poor and it's prone to causing nitrate burn. At about 2-3 years old the piles really grass over, and "a heap of bright green grass" is the defining characteristic of old piles.

Anyway, this is all a moot point because one isn't going to meet their plants nitrates needs with their own waste and composting plant debris. It's not a closed system. Denitrification occurs. And potatoes aren't nitrogen fixers.

By the way, if you'd like I've got tons more reasons this is ridiculous - I'm only getting started. Try, for example, ethylene. I once had a greenhouse that hit ethylene problems, and it was way less sealed than this guy's 100% airtight habitat. In tiny, tiny quantities, it's a hormone. They give it off, esp. when damaged (aka, every time he "doubles" his potatoes or breaks a leaf or stem - but even when that's not happening). However, in still ridiculously tiny, but larger quantities (sub-ppm), it causes them to deform. In larger quantities, it kills them. It's deadlier to plants than carbon monoxide is to us. In the exterior environment, and even in most greenhouses (due to leaks), it's able to escape and breaks down in the atmosphere. In his habitat? Bye bye, plants.

But all of this stuff pales in comparison to the light issue. That the author thinks you can grow caloric crops on indoor lighting like some sort of houseplant is just embarrassingly bad. No need to pick on him not knowing about things like ethylene, he doesn't even know the most basic aspects of plant cultivation.
Last edited by KarenRei on Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:29 pm UTC, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:02 pm UTC

IIRC he mixes his poop with regolith and the bits of soil that he had for research purposes. He's not planting in just poop, and he's just just waiting for the poop to cure, though I think he does wait... a month? before planting.
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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby yoda3850 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:07 am UTC

Just incase this hasnt been discovered yet,
The Talking Room with Adam Savage interview with Andy Wier literally says that was the aim of the book and that the Apollo 13 scene refernced is one of his favouriote of all time.
youtu. be /5SemyzKgaUU
quote is in the last 15 minutes.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby OP Tipping » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:37 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:Okay, I found the book online. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

First off, it's terribly written.



Most of it takes the form of a blog by a scientist. To me it reads like the blog of a scientist.

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Re: 1536: "The Martian"

Postby KarenRei » Sat Jun 13, 2015 2:50 pm UTC

OP Tipping wrote:
KarenRei wrote:Okay, I found the book online. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

First off, it's terribly written.


Most of it takes the form of a blog by a scientist. To me it reads like the blog of a scientist.


Really? How many martian scientists do you know that don't know the word "regolith" and are obsessed with the word "shit", and refer to hardware systems by 1950s pop sci-fi names like "Oxygenator" rather than actual hardware names? It reads as the sort of "first novel" that most authors would have shoved in a shoebox in a closet and never speak a word of to anyone. Don't get me wrong - it's a great, very compelling concept. But my god is the implementation terrible.

Oh god, I just opened up the book again... never should have. Concerning potatoes:

Also, as their flowering bodies breach the surface, I can replant them deeper, then plant younger plants above them.


What the frick?? Is this guy on drugs or something? "Naaaaah plants don't need to spend any time above the surface - just stack then up in the dirt! I'm a botanist, trust me!"

Rewatching the trailer, though, there may actually be hope, it looks like they're working hard to work around some of the terrible plot holes and bad science in the book. For example:

Image

Clearly whoever designed that scene for the movie read that section of the book and had the same "Okay, this is a giant pile of BS" reaction that I had ;) They gave the potatoes being grown from natural light rather than artificial light, and they had him build a grow tent to keep the humidity off of the rest of his habitat - both very critical things. Of course, it's still not without big problems. Grow tents make heat / humidity / gas / etc management even harder than they already are (again, never doubt how easy it is to accidentally kill plants in an intensive indoor grow operation! It's totally different from random scattered houseplants!), and I work out that that's only about 50 square meters, which given Mars's low solar constant, dust on the roof, absorption of the glazing, and no light coming in from the sides, means still way less calories than he needs, probably only 10-20% of his needs at best. But, at least potatoes would grow at all in such a situation.

Hopefully the people making the movie fixed all of the other god-awful BS in the book as well. Wow, so wierd to be hoping for a movie to fix the book it's based on rather than not ruin it...


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