What went down in Life on Mars: The Gameshow at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival 2015

Einstein's banner - Green Man

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We made it back. Thanks to the Rising Ape Space Agency  we have returned from Mars and finished our thorough debrief with the professional medical staff here at RASA Mission Control in Bristol. But the memories of our time with you Martian colonists will stay with us, at least until the same time next year.

In total eight teams signed up to compete in the first ever gameshow held on Mars, including Superstars, Team Uranus, Space Oddity, and Team Placenta. The prize? A luxury hamper containing precious bonus rations of ice-cream (freeze dried), a foil blanket for the cold Martian night, and an extra regulation RASA crew t-shirt. The be-tophatted host, James Riley, introduced his two android helpers, A-TON and E-STEL, and the serenest super computer this side of Orion, DAVIDBOT 3000, and then the games were afoot.

Host James

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Ash, our engineer, and a veteran of a simulated Mars mission who helped us devise the rounds was unable to attend the festival at the last moment. Understandably, these sorts of things can happen in space missions, and it gave us an opportunity to practice an important skill for all astronauts to have: improvisation.

Into the breach stepped Zoe of the National Space Centre, who with minimal (read: no) rehearsal delivered three motivating speeches throughout the show on the importance of Teamwork, Communication and Psychological Understanding to a successful space mission. You colonists made our guest very welcome and there were loud cheers for her inspiring words.

Aton and James

Round 1 was all about¬†Teamwork. It saw two teams race against the clock to navigate a giant exposed wire that formed part of the hab’s airlock system. A steady hand and excellent coordination between team members was required to succeed. Amazingly, both teams completed the challenge in the time allowed, but due to touching less exposed wires, Team Uranus made it through to the final.

Charades Round

In the second round, Communication, two teams engaged in a Charades-off based around various space-related titles in pop culture. Incredibly this proved even¬†more difficult than on a Christmas evening after too many sherries when your nan has to act out¬†Shawshank Redemption. Perhaps the pressure of the crowd, or the weight of the potential prize was weighing on the colonist’s minds, but in the end Space Oddity qualified despite only getting two film titles correct! Special mention must be made for their rivals, Team Placenta, who managed to describe Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus for their only correct answer. using only frantic pointing. The colony administration salutes your dedication!

DAVIDBOT 3000

For the third qualification round, the teams had to guess the most popular answers to the Colony-wide survey that was distributed shortly before the weekend. The Colony Administration would like to thank all who volunteered their personal psychological data, and to let those who¬†selected ‘Lighthouse Family – Lost in Space’ know that they are being closely monitored.

In an extremely tense round, the young whippersnappers of Superstars came from behind to steal the win from Team Uranus,¬†after¬†correctly deciding that most Colonists would want to call their parents for their annual phonecall (aww, you softies). Full results of the survey will be available soon¬†for those who really want to know what the Colony’s favourite ice-cream (freeze dried) flavour is. Hint: it’s not ‘Chorizo’.

Alex on Mars

And so the final round was upon us. At this point the downpour was really trying to make sure everyone believed there was liquid H20 on Mars which will have come as welcome news to those early 21st Century rovers that we saw gathering dust out on the plains. The three qualified teams remained resolute and threw themselves into the final challenge. Tasked with carrying multiple radioactive pellets all the way around¬†Einstein’s Garden, using only a custom made hand-held safety transporter, which only looked a bit like a big spoon covered in foil and hazard tape, before throwing them into the Colony furnace from a safe distance to save the habitat’s rapidly shutting down life-support system…. Well, let’s just say they nailed it.

In the end, Team Uranus¬†emerged victorious, out throwing the others by some margin, and claiming the extra rations as their prize. Like true Colony comrades they immediately shared the spoils with the remaining teams, in a scene which nearly, nearly brought a virtual tear to DAVIDBOT 3000’s stoic pixels.¬†As if in awe of what it had just witnessed, at this point the rain finally stopped.

RASA off stage

We’d like to thank Maddy for letting¬†us on the Solar Stage for this escapade, Jen and the crew of Einstein’s Garden for solving our problems and making us feel so welcome, Ash and Zoe for their contributions to the show and, most of all, the eight teams of brave colonists who stuck it out through the deluge and competed with such admirable gusto. The future of Martian colonies looks safe in your hands.

And so, as the lights of¬†the vast domed Green Man festival habitat went down, we tidied away the set and DAVIDBOT 3000,¬†before¬†celebrating the success of the first ever gameshow on Mars by dancing around to some very fine musical acts. Circulating rumours of the white suited RASA team being repeatedly mistaken for the band Super Furry Animals and engaging in 5am sing-alongs with Charlotte Church can be neither confirmed, nor denied….

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Y is for You!

It’s been 25 weeks since we started this epic journey through the alphabet together, and sadly we are nearing the end. ¬†At this critical juncture, just one letter away from the finality of zed, I thought I would bestow my Pharaoh powers on to you, dear readers.

Comment below with your burning science questions, and I will answer them all next week in my final ABCs of Interesting Things post.

Thank you for reading.  I leave this quest in your very capable hands.

357px-Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)
I want YOU to ask me questions

For those still aching for some¬†interesting science facts, how about these “you” facts:

There are more bacterial cells in and around you than human cells.

All of the atoms in your body¬†were made inside stars, as the great Carl Sagan said the 1980 TV Series Cosmos: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies, were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. ¬†We are made of starstuff.”