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The Cold Equations
Transcript of The Cold Equations
by Tom Godwin
Answer these questions in your group:
1. Do you think that the rule on the ship, "any stowaway discovered in the E.D.S. shall be jettisoned immediately on discovery," is too harsh of a penalty? Or is it a necessary evil?
2. Do you feel that the government in this story were keeping the people on Earth ignorant about the reality of the situation? (what it was like on the other planet, life or death situations that the men of the frontier have to deal with as well as the risks involved)
3. Would you be able to kill Marilyn? Do you think that the commander over the radio has it easier than the pilot to make this decision?
4. Do you think Barton will continue to pilot EDSs after this?
5. If you were in the shoes of the astronaut Barton, and you had this young girl stowed away on your Emergency Dispatch Ship, how would you feel, and what would you do?
6. How would your decision affect you over the course of the rest of your life?
7. In what other circumstances do people have to face the choice of sacrificing some lives or even one life to save the lives of many, many others?
In Titanic, "The Needs of the Many" is the reason given why the lifeboats don't go back to try to save those in the water after the Titanic sinks: if they go, they'll be mobbed by people trying to get on the boat, causing the lifeboats to sink and killing the passengers aboard them.
After the oxygen tank in the command module explodes, the crew is forced to use the life-support systems of the LEM module. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, but the LEM was only designed to support two people, not the full crew. Luckily, they succeeded in MacGyvering a few ways to work around this that didn't involve murder, and NASA wanted their LEMs to have a large margin of error if something went awry. NASA didn't expect the LEM to have to last for 3 men for the entire mission, but it did.
Read "Cosmic Questions"
Apollo 13 lift off April 11, 1970
Who would own it?
What about Earth?
Can you think of other possible solutions besides killing Marilyn? Would
you kill yourself instead of killing her if you were the pilot? Write an alternate ending to the story.