Science World Innovators Speaker Series: Chris Hadfield and Ryan Holmes

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Science World launched a new speaker series last night with two special guests: a rockstar astronaut and a social media giant. Colonel Chris Hadfield (first Canadian to do a space walk, first to operate the Canadarm in orbit, first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station, and much more) was joined by BC’s own Ryan Holmes, CEO and founder of HootSuite (a social media management tool used by over 7 million people worldwide) to launch the “Innovators Speaker Series”.

Science World Innovators Speaker Series

Science World Innovators Speaker Series Can't wait to hear @invoker speak with @cmdr_hadfield at @scienceworldca #InnovateSW Science World Innovators Speaker Series

The event was hosted by Riaz Meghji of Breakfast Television in the OMNIMAX® Theatre and the two guests, Hadfield and Holmes, asked each other questions about inspiration, motivation, and included a few oddball inquires such as what happens if you pass gas in space or do you every just crave a Slurpee? The talk was casual, with both speakers standing up to address the audience, humorous and genuine. Audience members were given the chance to ask questions as well, such as what would happen if you attempted a water fight in space?

Ryan Holmes was able to talk a bit about his new initiative, The Next Big Thing (“#TNBT”), which gives Canadians aged 18 to 22 the chance to participate in a kind of entrepreneurial boot camp based out of Vancouver’s HootSuite headquarters. Successful applications will receive a $10,000 bursary and a six-month sojourn at HootSuite’s Vancouver headquarters with its meeting rooms, yoga space and other workplace perks, plus mentorship and guidance from entrepreneurs and leaders in the digital space.

“We are just not passengers on the planet, we are all crew.”

Colonel Hadfield shared eloquent insights starting with where he first began pursuing his dream of becoming an astronaut — “There were two guys named Buzz and Neil.” He explained the harrowing process they had landing on the moon, something he watched from afar as a child. These men, with their lives hanging in the balance and 16 seconds of fuel remaining, were able to “have a rapid fire, professional, and informed conversation,” to get things in order, safely touch down, and declare: “The Eagle has landed.”

He followed up by listing three pieces of advice for future astronauts out there:
1) Keep a healthy body. “Don’t eat stupid food” and lead an active lifestyle.
2) Get an advanced education, be informed, and be able to think on your feet.
3) Practice making good decisions. “Decision making is a perishable skill.” Also have “tenacious patience.”

Science World Innovators Speaker SeriesHolmes asked “The Colonel” (as his children call him) about space tourism, which he says he is all for and talked about the experience Guy Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil) had, which did cost several million dollars to visit the ISS. Another form of space tourism is taking “Virgin Galactic”, which he said was the “best name ever” for such a venture.

He was asked what he missed about space, and what he missed about earth but Colonel Hadfield said that missing something is a state of mind. However he did say that weightlessness feels like a magical power and it feels “so unfair that everyone is stuck to the floor” down here on earth.

Leaving Science World, mixing in with those in hockey jerseys walking around False Creek from the rink, I overheard audience members raving about the talk, how articulate Colonel Hadfield was and how moving it was to see him in person. I’m certain that he provides more humble humour and insights in his new book: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

The event was a fantastic way to kick off Science World’s Innovators Speaker Series, which is a new fundraising initiative of Science World’s Chair’s Council. This Series will showcase BC’s world-class, science and technology-minded leaders in the iconic facility. All proceeds from these events will go to support the science programs at Science World and around the province.

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