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Science Writer Mary Roach on the Strange Methods Used to Keep Soldiers Alive in Combat

"War is loud," says Mary Roach. "If you're exposed for 6 or more hours - it takes a toll." So, TCAPS were invented to prevent hearing loss while optimizing a soldier's hearing capability.

Exhaustion, shock, panic, disease, extreme heat, and horrific noise -  these are some of the less talked about challenges of military combat.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with celebrated science writer Mary Roach about her new book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. In it, she explores the aspects of war no one makes movies about - the quirky but essential science behind staying alive in combat.


A description of Grunt from the publisher, W. W. Morton & Company, Inc.:

"Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee."

Editor's Note: This show originally aired on River to River on June 20, 2016. 

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River