By CFEO Director of Media
Last night I went to see The Martian. The three best things for me were: 1) it established the main character’s likeability within the first five minutes, 2) established the dilemma to be solved in the first ten minutes, and 3) had Sean Bean in it. Aside from that, the acting was good, the humor was intelligent, and even though everyone on Earth kept the same hairstyle and fashion sense over the course of the 500+ days of the story, I still liked it.
It would be easy to take away a never-give-up-no-matter-what kind of theme from the movie. The main character did go through a series of processes where he identified the obstacle in front of him and worked the problem until he found the solution (at times, with the help of NASA). That macro-process plays out right in front of your eyes. But something else, something microscopic, occurred to me during the movie.
Spaceflight osteopenia, according to Wikipedia, refers to the characteristic bone loss that occurs during spaceflight. Astronauts lose an average of more than 1% bone mass per month spent in space. On Earth, with our gravity, bone remodels in response to stress in order to maintain constant strain energy throughout by growing more dense in areas experiencing high stress. On Mars, where gravity is about one-third that of Earth, the lack of gravitational forces would be lower, thus causing bones to decrease in mass and density.
So while I glossed over the fact that The Martian’s main character didn’t experience multiple fractures after taking several tumbles on Mars (I know – it’s only a movie), I also came to the realization that here on Earth, our bones are constantly fighting gravity. Every day and every minute of our existence, our bones are constantly regrouping, reinforcing, and battling, and if they break, they rebuild. Even in our low times, when we fall short of our goals in a WOD or competition, or get fired, or lose a loved one, or when life in general isn’t going our way, our bones are still engaged in battle, never giving up. That’s something I’ll be thinking about the next time I need an extra dose of hope.
And I don’t mean to spoil the ending of The Martian, but he doesn’t die. Sean Bean. He doesn’t die. Cherish that rarity.