Princeton, East Pyne Hall, photo by Joel Achenbach Princeton, East Pyne Hall, photo by Joel Achenbach

Poolside at a motel on Route 1 in New Jersey — livin’ the dream! There are cigarette butts in the wet grass under the table here, because the smokers know how to live, enjoying the outdoors while everyone else stares at televisions in their generic rooms. I never got the hang of smoking, other than a cigar now and then. Yet another talent I could never master. Always coughed pathetically.

(This is just a quick note from the road. It looks like I’m going to be on the road a lot in the near future, which is fine, so long as someone waters my tomatoes.)

Today I’m participating in an alumni event at my alma mater, with Robert Wright and the man of the hour, the revered writer whose name we don’t even dare to utter without a special dispensation. I think Bob and I are supposed to ask questions and offer supplementary banter. You know how we get. Here we are a few months back, doing the Bloggingheads thing.

Meanwhile, back in outer space…. Here’s my story on the latest research on space radiation. The bottom line is that space is dangerous. How dangerous? Not as dangerous, probably, as attempting to land on Mars. If you’re a human being, a Mars mission has many hazards, and radiation isn’t necessarily the show-stopper. The show-stopper is probably the landing. As I’ve explained recently. For now, we’ve got a human mission to Mars securely parked in the Ain’t Gonna Happen slot.