Question: Hi Chris. It’s Jackie. I’m from the CBC’s “The Nature of Things.” What I wanted to ask you on this great day, you’ve managed to create an incredible platform while you’ve been up there. It seems everybody is tweeting, is watching, is listening. How do you want to use this opportunity?
Chris Hadfield: There are a lot of really interesting things going on in Canada right now and around the world and in all different fields. We tend to only focus on a few, the ones that somehow bubble up to a level of public perception. Personally I think what we’re doing in human exploration in trying to understand our world better, trying to understand the area around our planet better and then trying to understand the rest of the universe, I think that is important.
I think it’s a critical thing for the health of the planet, for the health of the Canadian economy and just generically for people. So for the last 20 years as an astronaut I have been speaking at schools, talking to the media, writing and doing everything I can to try and just let people know what the Canadian Space Agency is doing.
Now living on the Space Station with the incredible privilege of commanding this spaceship and also with the new technology that’s available through social media and the direct links that NASA has built between this spaceship and Earth, it has given us the opportunity now to really clearly transmit what it is we’re doing up here and to let Canadians and really the whole world see.
That is the goal. I’m really delighted at the level of response. When you give people a chance to see what’s happening here in the universe around them, when you get them to experience it as people, then the response becomes overwhelming. Twitter is just a means of communication. It’s just another form of radio but it’s extremely vivid, the level of public support and I’m really pleased to see it. I think the science is important but I think people’s awareness of the science we’re doing is important as well. I’m just pleased to be the messenger in the middle.
Translation: Good morning Mr. Hadfield. So excuse me, you were saying effectively that science is very important because it helps us to better understand the universe, the planet we live on and I just wonder within this framework how is scientific research important in Canada since obviously there’s been some policies that have cut the financing with respect to some of these scientific research projects. Can you tell us how important is research and what have been some of these research projects that you’ve been involved in?
Chris Hadfield: Donc c’est toujours …
Translation: It is always very necessary within a country like Canada, a province like Quebec in Canada. It’s like a family like at home. It’s good to have a balance between your dreams and what is practical between what I want to do and what I have to do every day and just as it is at home you have to use a part of the money for today and some of the money for the problems, insurance, health and all of that stuff.
But also at the same time you have to look at some of this and save it for the future and look out for the future to inspire my children, our children and to be able to better understand the environment for health in the future for my family or for our country.
Chris Hadfield: La grande question c’est toujours …
Translation: The big question is what is the proper balance within this obviously. For me and in Canada we have a fantastic balance because we have a very high quality of life and at the same time we have a lot of universities.
Chris Hadfield: Nous avons les chances pour …
Translation: We also have the opportunities for the young Canadians as never before. It is difficult. It’s maybe not the easiest moment in history but between the First and the Second World War it was a tough time. Every historic time there’s always problems. This reminds us or makes us think that these are the worst problems ever but they may not be.
At the same time you always have to be thinking long term and to have a balance between today and tomorrow. With what we do here today we have our manipulating arm and also we have some experiments.
Chris Hadfield: Dans la Station …
Translation: In the Station such as the micro-flow that was designed and invented in Canada, in Quebec and this is a huge improvement for blood tests for Canada. This was as an invention for the Station and thanks to the money for research we were able to do this but also it was financed by some Canadian businesses and it’s good for Canadian health. It’s not only my decision obviously but
Chris Hadfield: Moi, ce que je fais …
Translation: Me, from what I do as an astronaut is to work as hard as possible so that every penny that is given to the Agency, to me because this is my responsibility, I fulfill it to the maximum potential. For me and for the Station, for the Space Station program and for Canada.
Question: Hi Chris. It’s Peter Ray (ph) from the Canadian Press. We’ve seen you smiling all the time. We’ve seen your tweets. We’ve seen your pictures. The question I have to ask and people kind of wonder sometimes is there anything you find frustrating up there? Is there anything that just gets your temper going? I just wonder if there’s any difficulties you face, any frustrations that you keep to yourself or just to keep yourself going and if you can answer in French as well I’d appreciate it.
Chris Hadfield: Peter, this is a marvelous, marvelous human experience and the only thing that gets me mad is I have to sleep. I mean this is a tremendous opportunity, one that I’ve dreamed about since I was a young Canadian and one that I’ve worked towards ever since.
My resolution has been to make the absolute most of it, to spend as little time sleeping as I can. If I get an extra three or four minutes go look out the window. When I come back from this I’m going to regret every minute that I didn’t spend looking at the world or trying small experiments or doing things that are impossible the rest of my life.
No, you can find beauty and pleasure in every day or you can find frustration and hate in every day. It’s kind of a personal choice and up here the opportunity for the pleasurable beautiful part is overwhelmingly in the majority. I don’t let myself get that way. It’s not going to help and it’s kind of counterintuitive to being in a place like this.
Translation: In French, every day everybody has to choose whether you want to be frustrated or whether you want to have a good emotion to be ready for the day and to feel fine about everything that’s going to happen today and I have been dreaming about being in the Station since I was 9 or 10 years old.
I’ve been training for this moment all my life. For me the most frustrating part maybe is the need to sleep because this takes out a couple of hours of my day. Like I said before, it is an environment that is amazing, inspiring and when I have three extra minutes we have the window that is like a dream to look out that window. I would say, no.
I chose the emotions of being here. I can change the emotions myself. This is a personal choice. I choose to be in a good mood and to fully appreciate the taste of being here.
Question: Hi Chris. It’s Jackie again from “The Nature of Things” at CBC. Because I’m here for “The Nature of Things,” I’m wondering if David Suzuki was up there with you what would you want to tell him and show him about how the science in space has applications down here in the real world.
Chris Hadfield: Jackie, the real world is a tiny little blue speck surrounded by everything else. We are only just now, just starting to understand about all the rest of that. It is only by taking these first steps away from our planet both with machinery, with robots but more interestingly and much more deeply with people that we can really start to see the world’s place in all of that.
For any person that came up, we grab each other by the scruff of the neck up here but for any person that came up here to the Space Station of course the first thing I would do would be to take them to the big window so they could truly see our Earth, to understand the magnificence of it, the inevitable power of it, the size, the rolling beauty of it but also the inherent fragility of it.
When you see the blackness and the harshness of the universe and the one layer of onion skin atmosphere that’s around our planet, then it becomes so vivid in your mind that it permanently changes your thinking if you hadn’t thought about it before. Then of course just the science that’s on board, we’re running hundreds of experiments on the Space Station that can’t be run on the surface of the Earth.
After we got over the initial wonder of it I would go around to each of the racks around and talk about the metals research that’s going on in that rack over there or the crystallization research that’s going on over my head to try and make better materials on Earth or micro-flow here in my hands that’s floating around, a Canadian experiment that has taken this challenge and necessity of keeping people healthy out here and as a result have come up with a way of doing blood analysis in something that you can see is the size of a breadbox or a big loaf of bread.
When you challenge people with a new extreme, with a new frontier and a new environment they come up with new solutions. Mounted to the top of the Space Station is the alpha magnetic spectrometer. The control computer is right here beside me. It is trying to understand the absolute stuff of the universe. What is anti-matter? What is the percentage of anti-matter and dark matter collecting dark energy from the universe?
Something that is just very recently even been theorized and proven and we are using this human platform to dig into that to get out there and sample it, something that can’t be done any other way. It would be with great pleasure and pride that I would have anybody come up and someone of David Suzuki’s stature would be a wonderful guest but also a wonderful representative of humanity to come up and really see the magnificence of what we’re doing together up here.
Question: Rebonjour M. Hadfield.
Translation: Good morning Mr. Hadfield. I would like to tell you a quick anecdote. I had a colleague, Mr. Richard, that was at a very important time when Mr. Richard had told him or had written by writing the sky is no longer the limit. I saw this in the office and for him this was a very touching moment. I just wanted to share this moment with you because I thought it was beautiful. I saw this on his wall.
I had a question. You had spoken, certainly you mentioned you realize you’re very well placed to realize that we are so small on this Earth and you mentioned how fragile the planet is. I would like to know what do you think about global warming when you look at it from space? Do you think in Canada we should change the things we’re doing in Quebec? Should we maybe wake up strongly regarding global warming? What do you think?
Chris Hadfield: Oui c’est comme un coup d’œil …
Translation: Yes, it is like having a glance here from the Station when you look at Earth because right now you can see a very large lake. I’m not sure in French but the Aral Sea right between Kazakhstan and Russia. During my life and my experience the last 20 years the changes there were amazing. That was a human change, change that has occurred thanks to what humans have done.
There was a huge lake, a great body of water. It’s almost like a small ocean and now there’s almost nothing. It’s just sand. That is a result of our decisions, of what we have done. This is maybe the future for some of the other parts of the world and the planet and our country as well.
It’s up to us to think about this, to see this, to know this and it’s hard to know obviously. It’s far from Canada and you may say this is not our problem but that’s not true. The big lakes are not unlimited. There is a limit of how much water there is in the rivers, in the lakes. It is needed, it’s very important for us to think of what we are doing and obviously we cannot change that quickly.
The small changes are what can translate into a bigger change. Myself as an individual, what you do, what each Canadian does together it is possible to make a change.
Chris Hadfield: C’est nécessaire de faire ça graduellement …
Translation: This has to be done gradually. Climate is changing naturally and perhaps as a result of what we have done, our influence, like you said global warming but it’s not the first time in the planet’s history and it won’t be the last. Maybe we just need to be more responsible in the decisions we make and think of the longer term, more than five years, more than the upcoming elections, more than just one lifespan. Think about our grandchildren and even further. With smaller changes and with very small steps we may be able to keep the health of our planet for the future.
Question: Just one quick last one Chris. Let’s talk about social media. You have over half a million followers last I checked and counting. Can we talk about that in the context of all those that you’ve seen out there, of all the tweets that you’ve had, of all the images you’ve shot but particularly was there one that stood out?
The other part is I understand your son Evan is also helping you out on this so we can wrap the whole social media together a bit.
Chris Hadfield: Well, first let me just say that a tremendous number of people have worked very, very hard to make this type of thing possible for our country and for me to be here as a representative. We have people right across the country building Canadarm. That was our ticket on board. The people at the Space Agency of course do tremendous work.
I’ve worked at this for a long time myself along with the other astronauts. This is only the result of that that this possibility even exists. The public awareness of it comes from all that huge pyramid of work that leads up to it and really is culminating now with something really clear to focus on.
I think it’s great. I’ve enlisted the aid of someone who’s of the right generation to try and give me advice on how to use social media in addition to all the other wonderful work that’s being done and my son Evan has been helping me with that and doing a terrific job as evidenced by the number of people.
Twitter is just one measure of course. There’s over half a million people following on Twitter but social media has many different forms and the numbers are good to read but what’s important out of it is the impact it has. You asked what is significant out of that for me.
I read constantly about schoolrooms across Canada and around the world that are using this to teach, that are using the work that I’m doing, the science that we have on board like micro-flow, the pictures that we take of the world, the fact that I speak three languages, one reasonably and two passably.
They use the fact that I play guitar and play music. They use all of those different facets of this human experience leaving Earth in order to teach, in order to inspire young people all around the world but specifically for us of course in Canada to make the most of themselves, to understand our place in the world.
It’s a really clear message when you can see one Canadian constantly comparing all of these places around the world almost simultaneously. It’s hard to view the other places as foreign and different when they are all viewed in 90 minutes. For me it’s very heartwarming when I see that people are internalizing that, when they stop using the third person and start talking about we and us and not just you and they.
Mine is just one voice in billions. I’m the commander of this spaceship but I’m the 35th commander of this spaceship. This is by no means any sort of pinnacle but at the same time I’m trying to use whatever means I can in order to help people see themselves better and to make better decisions whether they’re 5 years old or whether they’re 85 years old. Social media and all of the work that the people are doing has been a big part of that.