When the mass media isn’t responding to President Trump’s venom with its own venom, they can actually produce some thought provoking stuff. Take the New York Times for example.

The paper is doing a video focus piece with the bland title: Life on Mars. The project is a NASA backed 8 month long test of “team cohesion” using six young scientists and engineers, four men and two women.

The group is ensconced in a tightly configured space capsule built into a volcanic mountain in Hawaii. The idea is to simulate the Mars environment in everyway possible. For example anytime any of the crew leaves the capsule, they are required to wear awkward protective suits that make them look more like firefighters than space cadets. The terrain is bleak at best, totally lacking in vegetation.

The 8-month project corresponds to the approximate 228 days it took the spacecraft Mariner 4 to make the trip. The difference: Mariner 4 had no humans aboard.

The experiment has been underway for a while and some initial impressions have been given to questions presented by NYT readers. Mission biologist Josh Ehrlich mentioned missing the feel of wind and the smell of grass.

When mission specialist Brian Ramos was asked a question “about romance” he quickly insisted how they were all professionals, there was much work to be done and they were all very busy.

This seems like a very relevant question given all the publicity these days about sexual harassment. Brian’s answer: not so much.

Are You Kidding Me

But if it takes 8 months to get to Mars, it takes the same amount to return and that is only if you are the bus driver dropping off passengers. That’s lots of Saturday nights without Boogie Nights. After all, we are dealing with human beings.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld claims a man cannot go more than two minutes without thinking about sex. Do the arithmetic, how many two-minute intervals are there in 8 months?

If you were the husband of one of only two female mission specialists, how would you feel about sending your spouse to live with four men?

Vice President Mike Pense won’t even have dinner with any women other than his wife.

Big Issue For Employers

Team cohesion as NASA terms it, is not just an issue for Mars travel; it is a big time headline-making news. Men and women work side-by-side, sometimes shoulder-to-shoulder in today’s modern workspaces.

By itself, that can make an uncomfortable situation. But in light of the harassment scandals at Fox News things have gone to a whole new level. It has people scared.

More than 25% of office workers are afraid to even have a one-on-one private meeting in the office with a member of the opposite sex; things are getting really scary.

A recent survey conducted by Morning Consult for the New York Times makes exactly this point. What is causing the fear? Are women becoming concerned that harassment is around every corner? Are men fearful of being accused of harassment every bit as much? Or worse yet, is harassment pervasive?

Almost half of the survey takers believed it is not appropriate to even have lunch together. That is usually a pretty safe venue and common in many companies. When it came down to having a drink or dinner, there was overwhelming negative response.

But in some pretty innocent things like riding in a car together nearly 40% deemed this inappropriate. It seems a long way from the world of the anything goes 1960’s.

The NASA project is just getting started so it will be revealing if the same set of questions could be presented around New Years Eve. That is when the true test of cohesion can be measured. In the meantime, until Artificial Intelligence comes up with a real solution, stay safe.

This fact underlies the entire basis of ESPN. It is shear genius that SportCenter schedules programming and commercials in perfect sequence to accommodate this phenomenon. But even in this increasingly mobile world, what happens when there is no ESPN?