"It is the first method that lets us study how people access different group identities outside the laboratory on a large scale, in a quantified way," said study lead author Miriam Koschate-Reis, in an interview with Science Daily. "For example, it gives us the opportunity to understand how people acquire new identities, such as becoming a first-time parent, and whether difficulties 'getting into' this identity may be linked to postnatal depression and anxiety. Our method could help to inform policies and interventions in this area, and in many others."
Many of us were riveted to the screen last week watching the successful landing of the Mars Rover Perseverance, and it brought to mind the potential for sending a human team to investigate the Red Planet. The obstacles to overcome are huge; the four-odd-year voyage there and back, requiring a means for producing food, and purifying air and water, that has to be damn near failsafe.
Consider what befell the unfortunate astronaut Mark Watney in the book and movie The Martian, and you'll get an idea of what the crew could face.
Physicist and writer Kate Greene was among a group of people who agreed to participate in a simulation of the experience, not of getting to Mars but of being there. In a geodesic dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, Greene and her crewmates stayed for four months in isolation -- dealing with all the problems Martian visitors would run into, not only the aforementioned problems with food, water, and air, but the isolation. (Let's just say that over that time she got to know the other people in the simulation really well.)
In Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars: Space, Exploration, and Life on Earth, Greene recounts her experience in the simulation, and tells us what the first manned mission to Mars might really be like. It makes for wonderful reading -- especially for people like me, who are just fine staying here in comfort on Earth, but are really curious about the experience of living on another world.
If you're an astronomy buff, or just like a great book about someone's real and extraordinary experiences, pick up a copy of Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars. You won't regret it.
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