Monday night, we went to see “Explorers” as part of Chicago Ideas Week. It was my first time at any Chicago Ideas Week. The event felt modeled after TED. Speakers had about 15.5 minutes to speak on their topic. Anyway, the event was fantastic. Five people talked about their crazy adventures in the skies, in caves, and even in space.
It started with Amelia Rose Earhart who is the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single engine plane. Yes, Amelia Earhart. She’s not related nor did she change her name. It was the name her parents gave her. After many years of fielding questions about flying, she decided to check it out and discovered that she loved it. So eventually, she decided that she was going to follow in her namesake’s footsteps across the planet. Earlier this year, she did it. She said that she was very fortunate; they didn’t have any issues with weather, engine, etc. They did get held up by armed men for twelve hours in Papua New Guinea but that eventually got sorted out. Amelia Earhart has started a foundation to encourage and support women and girls in aviation.
I had the opportunity to talk to her after the event. I told her that my great-grandmother flew planes and actually knew Amelia Earhart. I explained that someday I was going to try flying a plane, even if only one time. She told me that I definitely needed to do it. Huzzah! If that doesn’t light a fire under me, I don’t know what will!
The other huge highlight for me was astronaut, Capt. James Lovell Jr. He has over 7,000 flight hours, went to the moon several times…and was on Apollo 13. He was the man who actually said, “Houston, we have a problem.” Now, space generally scares me so I avoid planetariums, etc. But hearing Capt. Lovell Jr speak was a dream come true. He talked about his missions to space. For instance, on the Gemini flights, they were learning about the physiological effects of zero gravity on the human body. They learned that the heart is 10 beats slower than on earth, your blood is thinner, and your leg muscles can start to weaken since you don’t need them the same way. Fascinating!
Capt. Lovell Jr did talk about Apollo 13 and the brilliance of the team that got them home safely. He said the movie was fairly accurate; however it was originally 3 hours and had to be cut down due to the studio. He talked about the series of little mistakes that led to the explosion on Apollo 13. Incredible.
The other three speakers also had accomplished some incredible things. Lucian Perkins, a filmmaker and Pulitzer prize-winning photographer, talked about his journey into war-torn Yemen where he got to see first hand the civil war going on between the sheiks. Lev Wood, Captain of Secret Compass, shared his story of why he decided to walk the length of the Nile. He mentioned how locals would join him for a period of it; sometimes for a few hours, while some folks for days. One man was with him through the entire desert for 46 or so days. At the end, they met an ice cream seller. Lev Wood bought the man an ice cream. He tasted it and immediately threw it down. The man said that his tongue was on fire. It was the first time he had ever experienced ice! Jut Wynne, ecologist, explorer & research scientists, SETI Institute, talked about his work in caves and the applications for planetary habitation.
I’m so pleased to have gone to this. I’m going to two more presentations for work. So I’ll let you know how those go.