Each week Inquiring Minds brings you a new, in-depth exploration of the space where science, politics, and society collide.
There aren't many people on Earth who have spent more of their life in space than Marsha Ivins.
A veteran of five space shuttle missions, Ivins has spent a total of 55 days in orbit, on missions devoted to such diverse tasks as deploying satellites, conducting scientific research, and docking with Mir and the International Space Station.
This episode features an interview with Ivins, where she relates some of her in-orbit experiences—such as how your body and brain slowly adapt to the fact that no single direction is up or down. Plus, for the benefit of geeks across the universe, she also explains why the Borg cube from Star Trek can maneuver just as well in space as any starfighter that Hollywood has dreamed up.
She discusses why publicly supported space missions are still vital, what it will take to get us to Mars and beyond, and why solving advanced space travel problems (energy, propulsion) might simultaneously help us solve many of our problems on Earth—perhaps including global warming.
This episode also features a discussion about new developments in science, including research suggesting that political biases are so pervasive that they can interfere with your ability to do math, and mounting evidence of the dangers of head injuries received from playing football.