Monday, March 14, 2016

365 True Things: 351/Astronauts

Back on January 4, 2013, George Takei posted this  ☜ on Facebook, referring to a Twitter exchange the day before between "Captain Kirk" of the starship Enterprise and Commander Chris Hadfield of the International Space Station. Leonard Nimoy soon contributed to the conversation—"LLAP"—followed by Wil Wheaton (The Next Generation), and finally Buzz Aldrin (second man to walk on the moon) himself, who tweeted: "Neil [Armstrong] & I would've tweeted from the moon if we could have but I would prefer to tweet from Mars. Maybe by 2040."

I didn't actually see any of this. I'm not much of a Twitter user, and at that time I didn't follow George Takei—though it was possibly when I got wind of all this that I started to.

But somehow, several weeks later, this burst of Twittery marvelousness did come to my attention, and thus I was introduced to Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut. I learned he was sharing amazing photographs and videos, experiences and thoughts, on his Facebook page. I started following him, riveted especially by his daily photos of the earth from space. For example (a random sampling):

Moose Jaw, SK, and the airport where I truly learned how to fly.
Home of the renowned RCAF Snowbirds aerobatic team.

Sometimes Mother Nature uses a protractor, like here in
New Zealand's South Island. [Waitaki River, natural
boundary between Otago and Canterbury]
Antwerp, Belgium, with the Scheldt river like lightning
sparking up the city.
Tonight's Finale: In proportion, our atmosphere is
no thicker than the varnish on a globe. Deceptively fragile.

His photos all still reside on Facebook, and it's wonderful to tour through them from time to time. Occasionally he would remark about a photo of a city from high above: "Two million of us live here." Reminding us that we all inhabit this amazing planet together.

Of course you've seen his "Space Oddity" video, right?

The reason I'm thinking about him today is a TED talk I watched this morning about fear. It's an interesting listen.

As for my first astronauts, I remember well sitting in the front lounge of my Bavarian boarding school residence on July 20, 1969, watching with amazement as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. Conversely, I may be one of the few humans on this planet (or at least in this country) not to remember just where I was when news of the Challenger explosion hit. And I do enjoy movies about astronauts: the true ones like The Right Stuff and Apollo 13; and the fictional ones like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Space Cowboys, Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian. I'd like to see In the Shadow of the Moon, a documentary featuring all the surviving astronauts (except Armstrong).

I think astronauts are heroes. They are exquisitely trained, brave, intelligent, and often—as in the case of Col. Chris Hadfield—extremely generous (and pretty funny to boot!).

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