SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers about the first chapter of the book follow! (Because someone is likely to complain about that kind of thing.)
Has anyone actually done the math on this? We are not talking about a man being blown around in a windstorm, really. We are talking about equipment that NASA launched to Mars getting blown around in a windstorm. The ascent vehicle getting blown nearly over is a stretch, for sure, but perhaps the injury that befalls the protagonist is not. It was inflicted on him by a piece of metal that was thrown by the windstorm. I am not qualified to do the math, but I hope someone else here is.
While the protagonist and most likely the ascent vehicle are fairly heavy, presumably everything else that NASA spent rocket fuel to put on the surface of Mars is as light as it can possibly be to still do its job. It would not take much air density to pick up a piece of metal that has high surface area and small mass, like a thin piece of aluminum with a bend in it to make it rigid would be. It certainly could be whipped by the 150kph (42m/s) wind. Anything near that speed and it would not have a problem piercing a spacesuit or damaging a circuit board. Maybe it would not likely have enough energy to do both of those things and still seriously injure a human, but it is at least plausible from this high-level perspective.
So, who here has the knowledge and the energy to run the numbers on whether this is more than just plausible and actually possible? I wish I had the former because I certainly have the latter and enjoyed the book--the plot, the technical details, and the writing style--enough to want other people also to enjoy it. Maybe Randall Munroe will give it a shot, although it is a bit non-absurd for his usual taste.
By the way, let's give the author one deus ex machina point for how he solved the final problem that his characters faced. Does he get a negative deus ex machina point for how he created the first problem that they faced and thus balance it out or do both problems and solutions have positive valence when counting the dei ex machinis?
Yutani? I am sure they are in it together. And they know all about the aliens on LV426 - the bastards.
There are tens of thousands of fax machines and fax systems still in use today because, despite all of our technological advances, the fax machine is still the most secure way of delivering medical and legal documents between locations in a compact time frame.
E-mail? Right out unless you're configured for encryption and getting all the companies you deal with to agree on, utilize, and understand how the encrypt/decrypt works is
The legal field is just as bad - judges, courts, lawyers, public defenders, police departments, fire departments, etc, and clients of course.
So, yeah, technology that has supposedly died usually is alive and well and the people who think it has died just work somewhere they don't have to deal with it.
I had this happen to me a while back as I was working while going to college. Admittedly, it was when the minimum wage was $5.00/hr and they raised it to $5.25 per hour so nothing drastic like $7.00/hr to $15.00/hr but for a college student it was a decent increase. The problem was, I was already making $5.25 per hour because I was good at my job and had earned a pay raise.
So, the week after the minimum wage increase went into effect my co-workers, who had not earned a raise, were now making $5.25 per hour and I was looking forward to my $5.50 per hour. Check came in, checked my totals, and my pay was $5.25 per hour. I explained to the store manager that this was incorrect and, at first, he just kinda laughed and said it was correct. I explained to him that no, it was not, because my pay was tied directly to the minimum wage and I had EARNED a pay raise of $0.25/hr and I asked him to explain to me how it was fair for the other three employees (small store) to be making the same I was when they had not earned a raise, but been handed one by the government. He just stood there for a minute with his mouth hanging open and said "You're right. Let me talk to corporate." Sure enough, our parent corporation agreed with me and increased my pay to where it should be and paid me my missing wages for the previous week.
Unless I am a salaried employee, I _always_ make it plain to my company that my pay is tied to the minimum wage and if it goes up my pay goes up by a corresponding amount -- otherwise, I just took a pay cut and someone fresh off the street without my years of experience with the company could be making nearly as much as I do (depending on the increase of the minimum wage vs. my wage, of course).
There is a toast I've made a few times:
Here's to them that love us and
Here's to them that don't.
But if them that love us, don't... Fuck them and here's to us!
The open internet is one of the most democratizing things we have in a modern society, why is this even up for debate? What benefit would society have in enabling "Fast lanes" or "premium" connections or other nonsense? What do we get protecting commercial interests?
I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.