For finding innovation on the front lines
Mary Roach’s 2016 book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, addresses a seemingly simple question: How can we better protect fragile human bodies in combat? The answers she unearths turn out to be ingenious, peculiar, and heartbreakingly necessary. While researching the book, Roach spent time with textile scientists who are devising water- and flame-resistant uniforms that can nevertheless keep people cool in 110-degree weather, physicians tasked with treating Navy SEALs who develop inconvenient bouts of diarrhea during high-pressure missions, and military officials who employ amputee actors and liters of fake blood to create combat simulations authentic enough to prepare soldiers for the all-too-real trauma of treating a fallen comrade. Her previous books have examined the physiology of sex (Bonk), death (Stiff), and digestion (Gulp).