Extremes of War / Open Lines

Hosted byIan Punnett

Extremes of War / Open Lines

About the show

Best-selling author Mary Roach joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war. For research on her latest book, Roach visited the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, where all aspects of battlefield wear are tested. She described the facility as "a geek’s playground," where clothing and protective wear (such as "blast boxers" or protective underwear) are developed. Roach related that surprisingly, the Army has moved away from synthetic materials and even cotton in battle wear because natural textiles such as wool and silk seem to be able to protect soldiers better.

Roach said that the facility also attempted to create a "universal camouflage" uniform that would work in any environment, but that what happened was "it was not camouflaging anybody" so the project was abandoned. Apparently the Navy wanted their own version, but it was also useless. In the 19th century and well into the 20th, Roach pointed out that more soldiers were lost to "diarrhea and dysentery" than in battle. The lessons learned had lasting effects in not just the military, but in public health as well. Another battlefield discovery was the use of maggots as treatment for wounds, which surprisingly, is still being used by a company called "Medical Maggots."


In the second half, Open Lines began with Ray in Oregon, who reiterated the claims of a caller from the first half about the healing properties of raw bacon. He said that the salt in bacon "is a drawing agent" and will slowly extract pathogens from a wound. Walt in Pennsylvania said that the moon landing hoax idea "stems from a 1971 movie called Capricorn One." Gina Maria in Washington State described her experience with last week’s earthquake there and how she broke two ribs trying to get out of her house when it hit at 2:51 AM on July 12.

Brian from California told Ian that the moon landing footage was faked because afterwards the "astronauts were ashamed to show their faces" and that the apparent lower gravity on the moon was faked in a studio or landscape on Earth with space suits "filled with helium for buoyancy." Christopher in Iowa thought that it would be a good idea to remake the film The Day After (which depicted a nuclear war) for modern audiences. Blair in Arizona recalled a 1999 lunch with Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell and how he "chain smoked and drank bourbon" throughout. He guessed that Mitchell was dealing with personal issues at the time. Burt in Florida said that mirrors left on the Moon (and used to bounce lasers from Earth) by the Apollo missions were "empirical proof" that the landings happened.

News segment guest: Tim Binnall

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