Sunday, August 21, 2016

Grunt by Mary Roach

    • Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
    • Published June 7, 2016
    • Other books by author: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal; Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; and several more.

    • This book delves into the science behind the armed forces. Necessity is the mother of invention and as modern warfare is more modern than ever, advances are still being made in equipment, medical techniques and soldier health.
    • There are chapters on fabrics, tank safety, noise and hearing, sweat, medical advances in reconstructing reproductive equipment (and penis transplants), diarrhea, sharks, submarine safety, sleep (or lack thereof) and several more.

    • When you think of the men and women serving in the military you don't think about their equipment much. But so much of their safety and success depends on it in many ways.
      • Example: When a medic arrives to tend to your wound you don't want them running off at the first loud noise (fight-or-flight) so the medics need training in situations as close as possible to combat conditions.
        • Big city emergency rooms are a great place to do some of this.
        • There are companies that specifically provide this training, simulating everything except actual gunfire.
    • Ms. Roach researches her topics thoroughly (or as thoroughly as her relatively low security clearance allows her) and participates in many of the scenarios:
      • She acts as a casualty in the simulation for medics, for example.
    • Her writing is humorous and she has a definite style. 
    • One casual mention of a mess hall had me researching the person it was named after: the Dorie Miller Galley at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
      • A footnote mentioned that there were 23 things named for Dorie Miller (real first name was "Doris") but I had never heard of him. He was an African-American sailor who worked mainly as a cook in the U.S. Navy. He happened to be stationed at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
      • Check out the Wikipedia article here. Chester Nimitz himself pinned the Navy Cross --- the third highest Navy award at that time --- onto Miller's uniform.
    • I just read an article the past day or two (link here) about how the use of cell phones by armed service personnel is possibly putting their safety at risk. No matter how many problems science solves for the armed forces, there are always more issues on the horizon.
    • A quick read recommended for those interested in the military's issues in these days of modern warfare.

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