Chris Hadfield at the Orpheum in Vancouver

480px-Chris_Hadfield_2011Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was in Vancouver tonight at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre to sing, talk, and share stories, pictures and videos of his early life, his successful launches into space and his missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He looked extremely natural and genuine on the stage, and answered questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. He had a number of great quotes ranging from the profound to the inspirational, sprinkled with his signature dash of humour and humility. Hopefully I haven’t butchered his words too badly here, in this short collection of some of his most memorable words:

On inspiration for children, after showing a photo of his childhood in which he was sitting in a Quaker Oats box:

“Give your child a box. Give them more than just times tables. Give them a dream. Give them something to dream about that’s beyond impossible. Give them inspiration.” 

On the Great Lakes, as seen from space:

“When you see them (from the ISS) in their real perspective, they’re shallow and small. To see the world in proper perspective is at the soul of the International Space Station.”

On our precarious place on Earth, and how we treat it:

“We live on a little thin skin, like the cold skin on the top of a pot of porridge, with the Earth’s molten center below us, and the poisonous vastness of space above us. We’re in a tiny bubble between space and earth, and we still treat our surroundings the way we do. We’re the most arrogant goldfish in the universe.”

On a young girl who is transfixed and inspired by a video from the ISS:

“What opportunities does she see in her life?”

An-Astronauts-Guide-to-Life-on-Earth book coverWhat does the next sixty to seventy years of space science have to offer us? If seeing Hadfield in the ISS is her “man on the moon moment” what will that girl’s grandchildren see in the next half century of space exploration?

Here’s to Chris Hadfield and the next generation of young people who have been inspired by his words, photos, videos, and positive attitude. On that note, I had to respect the fact that not once did Col. Hadfield pitch his book (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth) to his audience, so here I am pitching it for him. I seriously think we need a few more kids, adults, and policy makers alike to read it, heed his words, and get interested in what science can do for us. If nothing else, appreciating the vastness of space and the fragility of Earth gives us a crucial sense of perspective, and that never hurt anybody.

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