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Disaster in Space

A remarkable discovery has emerged in astrophysics: key properties of the universe have just the right values to make life possible. Most scientists prefer to explain away this uniqueness, insisting that a number of unseen universes must therefore exist, each randomly different. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch joined George Knapp in the first half of the show to propose the alternative—that the special properties of our universe reflect an underlying intelligent consciousness.

In the second half of the program, veteran journalist Chris Taylor talked about how the Star Wars franchise has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics, and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike.

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Disaster in Space

Show Archive
Date: Saturday - October 2, 2004
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Tess Gerritsen

Best selling novelist, Dr. Tess Gerritsen, discussed the perils of space exploration and her book, Gravity, about a biological disaster aboard the International Space Station. Gerritsen was initially inspired to write the novel after reading about the Progress/Mir docking accident in 1997. She imagined what it would be like if someone she loved was trapped in space and there was nothing she could do to help.

Having researched aerospace medicine and the effects of "zero-gravity" exposure, Gerritsen described in gruesome detail what astronauts would experience if a breach in their spacecraft exposed them to the vacuum of space. She said the beginning stages would be very similar to decompression sickness ("the bends"). As the pressure continued falling, the lungs would explode and the blood would boil. Once total vacuum is reached the blood (and the rest of the astronaut) would instantly freeze solid.

Gerritsen shared other interesting tidbits gained from her research. She said obituaries are prepared for astronauts before they are launched into space. According the Gerritsen, there is a bunker at Cape Canaveral where soldiers stand ready to destroy the Space Shuttle in case of grave malfunction during launch over a populated area. Gerritsen also claims that NASA officials told her 1 out of 50 shuttle missions is expected to end in disaster.