The Martian Makes Science Crazy Cool   

This post covering The Martian was originally posted October 2, 2015, on our Binary Aether blog. I am retiring that blog and migrating all of its posts here to their new home on our website. I hope you enjoy this post....I still am a fool for The Martian. It is one of the most inspiring books and movies that I've experienced in a very long time.

I can still remember the day my world became larger than life. I was 8 or 9 years old and my Dad told me we were going to the movies. This was strange because it was the middle of the week and Dad was not one to casually take the day off. The movie we watched that day in 1977 was Star Wars and I knew nothing about it when we walked into the theater. By the time we walked out, my head was firmly planted in the stars.

Since that pivotal day, I’ve been through heaps of astronomy and Arthur C. Clarke books and a couple of telescopes. Growing up near Houston, a kid couldn’t help but be bit by the space bug. There have been very few movies since the first three Star Wars movies that have captivated me. Four come to mind:

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Apollo 13
  • the TV movie Moon Shot
  • Interstellar

However, I saw a movie last night that took me back to that warm summer day in 1977.

Binary, Hex, The Martian, Oh My!

The Martian is an incredible movie (and book) experience that uses good science and makes it super cool. I’m usually not a fan of 3D movies but this is definitely one that should be seen in 3D. Being the geek that I am, I really enjoyed how the astronaut, Mark Watney, dealt with figuring out a communication system with NASA. I will just say (without throwing out any spoilers) I am a fool for binary and hexadecimal numbering systems.

Towards the end of the movie, I was practically in the fetal position. Good thing I won’t be doing any space walks any time soon. I know there will be people who will have their issues with the science used in the movie. There always are those people who are chomping at the bit to find fault in sci-fi movies and books but what I have seen so far is very petty stuff.

The question of the intensity of the opening storm on Mars has been address by Andy Weir (author), himself, but critics are still taking their shots at the atmosphere question. There have also been mentions about the quantity of breathable air and the level of radiation in the movie. For any of you who are interested, here is a link to NASA’s article covering their technologies that were showcased in the move The Martian.

As I walked out of this movie, my head was back in the stars but this time ASCII tables were floating around my brain as well. Even if you aren’t a science geek or space nut, you will still enjoy this movie. I totally agree that this story is a love letter to NASA.

As I said before, I grew up about an hour away from Houston and NASA was like Camelot to me. It was a dark day for me when they announced there would be no more shuttle launches. I know that work is being done on the ISS and various space probes but I’m ready to see manned space exploration.

This movie has given me hope that there is going to be a Renaissance at NASA and we will start seeing great things from them soon. In modern history, we have seen many instances of ideas born in sci-fi later appearing in real life. I hope that we will see astronauts on Mars soon.

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