As a crew, the Martians have decided to try and learn Russian over our year on Mars. Russian is the second space language. Whether that remains to be the case after Space X takes over servicing the launch vehicles is an open question, but in the meanwhile, Russian it is.
Being 50% Russian, and possessing fond memories of my loving-if-slightly-terrifying Russian relatives, I have extra motivation to learn Russian. My dearly departed grandfather Benjamin Bauer, physics genius and founder of the modern field of stereo quadraphonics, was born in Russia, and subsequently fled, with my great-grandmother and great aunt, to Germany, France, England, and Cuba. It was 1919 – not a good time to be in any of these places, especially if you were a Jew. They stopped in Havana, partially because it was an open port, welcoming to all, and partially because that year the US had already taken its quota of Jews. There they said, and he stayed, until the 1930s when it was time to go to college. Grandpa Bauer got on a boat in Havana, bound for Miami, to take a train to Cincinnati. The boat stopped in Key West, FL, to take on passengers. On stepped a stunning redhead, and the rest is history (he made it to college, by-the-by. And so did she).
Grandpa Ben spoke Russian, German, and Spanish fluently. He was well read in all of those languages, played the violin, and invented the Unidyne electric principle when he was 24. That electric principle, which allows sound to be gathered and focused, and the iconic microphone that went with it, changed the world and won an IEEE in 2014. Other IEEE awards include the Telephone, The internet, The computer… you get the point.
My other grandfather argued in front of the supreme court that military men and women have the right to trial by jury of their peers. In 2007, my step-grandfather, Howard Sachar, won an Emmy for inventing the remote control. They had done these things before they were my age. At the time when they did all these things, they had young families too boot.
I figure, all things considered, the LEAST I can do is learn Russian.
On SMars, we’ll have email, and the ability to send files back and forth, but no internet. I’m wondering: are any science-minded Russians out there who would like to listen to a bunch of Martians fumble their way through your language, and send back videos to help us along? Leave a comment here if so. And спасибо! (Spasibo)