Astronaut Chris Hadfield is currently on the publicity trail promoting his book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (Amazon.com / Amazon UK), and as a result there are a number of fascinating interviews with @Cmdr_Hadfield in various places around the internet that touch on fun topics such as belief, spirituality and alien life. For instance, in a recent NPR interview Hadfield remarked on how being on the ‘outside’ of the planet looking in certainly brings with it spiritual feelings:
I think what everyone would find if they could be [up in space] – if they could see the whole world every 90 minutes and look down on the places where we do things right, and look down where we’re doing stupid, brutal things to each other and the inevitable patience of the world that houses us – I think everybody would be reinforced in their faith, and maybe readdress the real true tenets of what’s good and what gives them strength.
Hadfield’s words bring to mind the ‘Overview Effect‘, which transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it.
Yesterday, everyone’s favourite astronaut also stopped in to one of our favourite podcasts, the Joe Rogan Experience, for a relaxed and in-depth chat. It’s one of my favourite JRE episodes, because Joe doesn’t freak out about it all, and as a result the feel of the interview is like you’re sitting down having a beer and chatting with an everyday guy, who just happens to have flown in space on multiple occasions and spent around half a year living on the International Space Station, and thus has some amazing experiences and insights to share with you.
One such insight was inspired as Hadfield looked down at the erupting Mount Etna below him:
It was a really clear reminder of the fact that most of the planet is super-heated lava and magma, so hot that the rock is liquid and plastic. And we just live on this little chilled crust, like the top of a porridge pot…we just live on this little thin bit on the top that is crust.
And when you tip it the other way around and look up, half of the atmosphere is in the first three miles. Three miles. Think about it, people go for a three mile run – and really the whole habitable atmosphere is three miles. Above 15,000 feet it’s hard to even live.
So we live on this little bit of cooled crust, and this little sliver of air, and we think it’s guaranteed. We think we’re invincible right, and we think the whole universe is here to serve us. And we’re like bacteria in a corner, just found a little niche that’ll support our life.
You can watch/listen to the full one hour interview here:
Throw in Hadfield’s first-hand description of what it feels like to ride a rocket into space (a journey that takes less than 9 minutes, reaching a speed of 5 miles per second), his thoughts on our use of fossil fuels, and whether there’s life out there, and it’s compelling stuff. I’ll even forgive him and Joe for singling out UFO researchers as the focus for criticism about belief systems.
And just to round out the Chris Hadfield appreciation post here on TDG, here’s his uber-popular rendition of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (18 million views on YouTube), in case you’re an alien being and haven’t seen it yet: