July 21, 2016 6:12 pm

Friday, Mary Roach and Neil Tyson Explore the Science of Humans at War

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn

StarTalk has looked at advances in military science and technology before, and no doubt we will again sometime in the future. (We’d tell you about an upcoming interview with a highly placed government source, but it’s still classified, and if we told you, we’d have to… how does that line go again?)

But this week, we’re looking at the softer side of military science: people.

And to answer your Cosmic Queries about humans in war, host Neil deGrasse Tyson has invited back author Mary Roach, who has just written a new book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

You may remember Mary from her other guest appearances on StarTalk Radio: Spooky Science, Packing for Mars and The Science of Sex. And if you do, you’ll likely remember that Mary revels in finding the unexpected in her subjects.

For instance, in this week’s show, Mary discusses a DARPA research paper she uncovered that explores building super soldiers by modifying the human body based on animal characteristics. That includes surgically installed gills for undersea combat, increased hemoglobin for mountain warfare, and even developing unihemispheric sleeping ability like dolphins to prevent sleep deprivation while remaining alert on active duty.

As always with our Cosmic Queries episodes, the conversation is driven by the questions our fans submitted on social media that co-host Chuck Nice has chosen to ask Mary and Neil. This week, many of you seemed particularly interested in advances in combat medicine and the human toll of warfare throughout the ages, including injuries from dysentery in the Mexican American War, to PTSD and hearing loss on modern battlefields today.

You also asked about military technology that has made its way from the battlefield to main street…and even into space. You’ll hear about weaponizing exotic particles, infrasound, and non-lethal anti-personnel devices that use microwaves to “heat up” a crowd. You’ll hear how Germany’s V2 rocket and the ballistics of mortar shells led to advances in computers, satellites and the exploration of space. And you’ll hear how a replacement for intravenous glucose is saving millions of lives around the world from death due to cholera, malaria and other diseases.

This week’s episode also features a new segment of Cosmic Queries: Maker Edition, where Bill Nye the Science Guy joins Chuck Nice to answer questions about portable greenhouses, the use of 3D printing in space exploration, and what’s next on the horizon after 3D printing. (Cosmic Queries: Maker Edition is brought to you by Google. Be sure to check out their website at makingscience.withgoogle.com,)

Please join us at 7pm EDT Friday, July 22 for Cosmic Queries: The Science of Humans at War, on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, and right here on our website.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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