Mary Roach
Author, "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War"
01:32

Mary Roach Introduces Her Book ‘Bonk’

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The author was led to write her book by colposcopic research from the 1950s.

Mary Roach

Mary Roach grew up in a small house in Etna, New Hampshire. She graduated from Wesleyan in 1981, and then moved out to San Francisco. She spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the SF Zoo. During that time she wrote freelance articles for the local newspaper's Sunday magazine.

Though she mostly focuses on writing books, she writes the occasional magazine piece. These have run in Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many others. A 1995 article of herse called "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and in 1996, her article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award in the general interest magazine category. Mary Roach also reviews books for The New York Times.

Her first book, Stiff, was an offshoot of a column she wrote for Salon.com. Her other books include Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

 

Transcript

Question: What inspired Bonk?

 

 

Mary Roach: I came across a reference to a technique that... Masters and Johnson essentially...They were the first to document the whole sexual response cycle from arousal through orgasm.  And they want to document, like, what happens in the human body, male and female.  And with women, a lot of that's going on inside so they're like, "we got to figure out a way to see what's going on."  Actually, they built a penis camera in essence and women would come into their lab and essentially have sex with this penis camera, which will document their responses from the inside.  And I just remember, thinking, "sex research, next book." Just because that is such a, you know, a technological challenge or logistical, ethical, weird challenge to how, you know, to figure out how do you... how do you study something like that in a scientific setting.  So that was actually just a reference in Film Quarterly of all places to the colposcopic films of Masters and Johnson.  I remember... Colposcopic, that means, like, cervical... And looking it up and doing all the research and finding out about that whole project, which is... And this was the 1950s too, which is incredible, that they were, you know, bringing...finding people who would come into a lab and be willing to be documented in that way.  So that's what got me rolling.   

 

Recorded on: May 7, 2009

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