فصل 17

مجموعه: کتاب های متوسط / کتاب: 2001 - اودیسه فضایی / فصل 17

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فصل 17

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح متوسط

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Daily Life

Bowman and Poole each worked for twelve hours out of twenty-four, and they were never both asleep at the same time, officer-on-duty normally remained in the Control Room, while his assistant did the general housekeeping, checked the ship or relaxed in his room.

Bowman’s day began at 06.00 hours, when Hal woke him up. He did his exercises, then washed and shaved before eating his breakfast and reading that morning’s World Times. On Earth, he never read the paper as carefully as he did now. Even the smaller pieces of news interested him as they flashed across the screen.

At 07.00 he took over from Poole in the Control Room bringing him a plastic tube of coffee from the kitchen. If then was nothing to report and no action to be taken, he checked all the instrument readings, and did a series of tests designed to recognize possible problems. By 10.00 this was finished, and he started on a Study period.

Bowman had been a student for more than half his life, and would continue to be one till he retired. At thirty-five, he had already taken in as much knowledge as two or three university educations would provide. He had never been able to stay interested in only one subject, and this made him very suitable for ‘his’ present job. Poole was the same, and the two of them, with some help from Hal’s enormous stores of information, could handle any problems that were likely to appear during the voyage. At midday Bowman went to the kitchen and left the ship to Hal while he prepared his lunch. Poole joined him for this meal before leaving for his six-hour sleep period. Their menus had been planned with as much care as the rest of the mission. The food, most of it freeze-dried, was excellent and only needed to be put into the tiny automatic oven. They could enjoy what tasted like - and, equally important, looked like - orange juice, eggs (any Style), steak, roast meats, fresh vegetables, various fruits, ice-cream, and even freshly-baked bread.

After lunch, from 13.00 to 16.00, Bowman made a slow and careful tour of the ship, or as much of it as could be visited. Discovery measured almost a hundred and twenty-five meters from end to end, but the crew spent most of their time inside a twelve-meter pressurized ball in the center.

The central slice of this ball turned continuously, producing an artificial gravity equal to the gravity of the Moon. That was enough to allow for something like normal living.

Like all vehicles designed for deep space travel, Discovery had been put together in orbit above the Earth. The large numbers of instruments on the outside of her body would be destroyed by entry into an atmosphere, or even the pull of a planet’s gravity. She was a creature of pure space - and she looked it.

At around 16.00, Bowman finished his inspection and made a detailed report to Mission Control. Then he listened to Earth and sent back his reply to any questions. At 18.00 hours, Poole woke up and took command.

Bowman then had six off-duty hours, to use as he liked. Sometimes he continued his studies, or listened to music or watched films. Much of the time he wandered through the ship’s enormous electronic library, following the voyages of earlier explorers. He travelled with Pytheas out of the Mediterranean along the coast of a Europe that was just leaving the Stone Age with Magellan round the world for the first time, or with Cool to the great unknown continent of Australia. And he began to read the Odyssey which spoke to him more than any other book across the great distance of time.

For relaxation he could always play various board games with Hal. If Hal really tried, he could win every time, but the crew would get too depressed. So he had been programmed to win only 50 per cent of the games, and his human partners pretended not to know this.

At 20.00 Bowman had dinner, again with Poole, and after this there was an hour during which he could make and receive personal calls from Earth.

Like all his colleagues, Bowman was unmarried; it was not fair to send family men on a mission of such length. Though many women had promised to wait until the crew’s return, no one really believed this. At first, Bowman and Poole had been making personal calls to girls on Earth quite regularly, though they knew that many other ears must be listening. But in time, the warmth and the frequency of these conversations grew less. They had expected this. It was one of the problems of an astronaut’s life.

However, in general the two men were fairly content with their routine lives. Their greatest hope was that nothing would spoil its peace and quiet in the weeks and months ahead.

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