Me and Junior just got home from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. First we were shown the portrait collection and the main meeting room where a lot of Nobel prizes have been decided. Then, under the joint auspices of the Academy and the Swedish Skeptics Society, we heard an hour’s lecture by one of the Society’s long-time members: astronaut Christer Fuglesang.
It was a good talk in plain Swedish, ranging from abstruse physics to everyday practicalities of life in space. (If you lose something small inside a space station, just wait a day or two and then look for it near the intake of the air circulation system.) Fuglesang argued that we shouldn’t choose between manned and unmanned spaceflight: we should use each where most appropriate. He did concede without prompting that many of the situations where you need an astronaut arise because of this very astronaut’s needs. But he feels, in a touchingly non-cynical and enthusiastic way, that human space travel is a valid goal in itself. Junior liked the talk a lot, and was proud that he understood almost all of it. He does feel now that he probably needs some training in physics.
Afterwards, we went up to Fuglesang and said hi to him, and he signed Junior’s book. “Hey, I’ve got this book too”, he said. It’s a used 80s paperback that I ordered recently for my kid. He’s read a few chapters and he loves it. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, by Robert A. Heinlein.