Top 20 Things I’ll Miss When I’m on Mars

I was going to wait to write this post until after the applicant advancement announcement, but I’m just so excited that just maybe news will arrive today instead of tomorrow (or worse, Saturday).

Four months spent ‘on Mars’ is a quick trip compared to the complete 2-year journey that would be required of astronauts heading to the Red Planet. However, I’m sure that the 6 selected participants will feel the strain of such a lifestyle every so often. Before deciding to apply, I asked myself if there was anything I absolutely could not live without for four months that should keep me from submitting my application. While I couldn’t think of anything of that magnitude, I was able to come up with some items that I’d certainly miss (but, ultimately can live without IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE).

My Top 20 Things I’ll Miss:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Freedom to Travel
  4. Vegetarianism
  5. Sunshine on my skin
  6. Long, hot showers
  7. Animals
  8. Crock Pot? If the Mars kitchen isn’t equipped with a slow cooker I will be quite sad. 
  9. Forests
  10. Hiking
  11. Mountains
  12. The Ocean (and it’ll be so close, yet so far!)
  13. Having my own room
  14. Fresh fruit and vegetables
  15. Direct contact with people (5-20  min delay on all communications)
  16. My own kitchen, stocked with what I want to eat/snack upon
  17. Streams
  18. A fully equipped lab and greenhouse
  19. Food choice
  20. A private life, outside of work
A lot of the things that make this list, I already miss. Graduate school in the desert certainly has many, many perks, but I’m finding myself missing going for a hike in the woods and stumbling upon a stream. I can’t think of anything more delightful to do once I graduate. I’ll take a nap in the sun and then turn over rocks to observe critters.

If selected, I’ll be very eager to see how this list of predictions holds up to what I actually end up yearning for the most.

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As an EXTRA ADDED BONUS, I found this short talk by Kim Binsted! Dr Binsted is one of the co-PIs for the Hi-SEAS project. Last week, she tweeted a link to this talk that was recorded at The Green House Innovation Hub in Honolulu, HI. Be sure to check out the other presentations, but if you grow impatient, the Hi-SEAS talk starts about 30 minutes into the clip. My favorite part is when she says that they’d only expected 50 applications (remember, there were 700)! I also would LOVE to have a better view of the slide with the guinea pig that outlines some of the other aspects they’ll be monitoring. I see sleep! 
Questions of The Day:
What would you miss if you traveled to Mars?
What did you think of Kim Binsted’s talk? Was her summary of the project what you expected?

Cool Stuff Sunday 4

What a long week/month. I’m reluctant to believe that April is already here. I was able to relax a bit yesterday and celebrate the Bluegrass Brawl basketball game with friends. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I am a fan of my home state and wanted to share some of the Kentucky enthusiasm. Even though I didn’t post a Stuff Your Face Saturday, I did spend the morning creating an array of homemade snacks! I even brewed my own sweet tea! I’m not sure how long tea bags last, but this could be a real sweet treat on Mars!

After you check out all of the Cool Stuff for today, check out the newly added ‘About Me’ section. I also figured out how to add slideshows of the two Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Flickr accounts to the blog sidebar. Employed some good ol’ fashioned stubbornness and trial & error with that accomplishment!

Also, this week announcements will be made about who advances to the next round in the application process. 700 applicants applied to participate in the Hawaiian Mars Analog Mission and Food Study, and the review committee has spent the last month narrowing that pool to a mere 30 people! 

I’m pregnant. No, I’m dropping out of grad school. No, I’m not linking you to a story about the history of April Fools Can’t get a preview for this, but its worth checking out!

Found Apollo 11 Rockets
Pretty Underwater Volcano Eruption

A great Nat Geo clip about a dam removal. Just think about how much that area will change!

Decommissioning the Space Shuttles 

Reinventing Education: eTextbooks

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I was going to wait a bit until I talked more about this topic, but I’m excited to get it out of my brain onto a post! Earlier this week, I talked about how the Khan Academy has the potential to revolutionize education by allowing students to view video lectures at home and focus on mastering the concepts with help from teachers in the classroom. I’ve already watch a handful of videos myself and have found them very helpful and educational.

I’ve been watching videos though the Academy iPad app and have loved how convenient it is. I was able to download videos so that I could watch them during my bus ride (with no internet) back to New Mexico. I felt like could have been in a ‘The Future is NOW’ ad. I can’t help but smile and shake my head in amazement and the products we have available to us.

What’s even more amazing is the dedication that Apple and other companies have to the education system. My friend Cornelius received a refurbished iPad as part of a larger donation to Teach for America. He currently uses it as a teaching tool at …. Hopefully we can convince him to write a guest post in the future!

What I’d really like to share with you today is Apple’s iBook2 announcement from January 2012. I was nerdy enough to watch the keynote speech the day this initiative was announce and was completely blown away and inspired by what they’ve created. I have long complained about the antiquity of textbooks, and it seems like the creative, talented people of the world are trying to insight a paradigm shift.

No heavy backpacks. No expensive, out-of-date texts. No boring walls of text.

Why did this take so long?!

Actually, I’ve already purchased two e-books as required texts for my graduate classes, but this announcement still got me all riled up in a tizzy. After my initial, giddy reaction, I began to spread the good news like it had been passed down from Steve Jobs on high (and he only needed the one tablet). I could see no flaw in the design and expected everyone to be just as excited as I. Most were. But then, gradually different criticisms emerged.

  • eTextbooks are only available though iBooks 2 on the iPad
  • iPads are too expensive for most schools
  • Teachers will be reluctant to adapt new learning platforms
  • Students already have limited contact with print media. Too many ‘gadgets’ will actually prevent advancements in certain areas of their education. 
  • Just a new way for students to be distracted in the classroom. 

I believe many if these issues will be addressed in the years to come. Even just allowing access to the texts on a Mac computer will placate many naysayers. I’ve seen predictions of the Retina Display coming to the next generation of MacBooks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that jump is announced alongside the new lineup of computers in the Fall. Certainly, there will need to be a transition period and different platforms will most likely attempt similar version (Kindle), however it is important to remember that initially teachers were not assigning schoolwork that required the internet or even word processors, but those are not integral parts of the classroom.

I’m already growing impatient with the current stale, lifeless textbooks I’m using this semester. After watching that first keynote, I turned my focus back to my studies. Assigned reading in my Statistics textbook.

I felt like my brain was moving in molasses in an attempt to learn the concepts.

I had seen the future and now instead of reading and retaining information, all I could think about was how I could transform the text into an entertaining, interactive experience. I eventually got the chapter read, but it was very clear to me that hey, I could do this! And so, it is now that I announce, nay declare, that I, Meridith, will one day author a completely awesome eTextbook.

Until then, I’ll have to manage with the current system.

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Perhaps, if selected, I can convince the Hi-SEAS program to compile the joint experiences of the 6 Astro-Nots and 2 alternates into an iBook. I can easily envision a healthy collection of reports, media, and blog entries that would serve as content.

Can’t get to ahead of myself. Still one more week until the first announcements!

Questions of the Day:
Do you think such a radical change can occur in the public school system?
Are you a supporter?
What do you think are the biggest challenges to this idea?
What would you want to see in an end report/book from the 120-day Hi-SEAS food study?