Chris Hadfield was, as of before yesterday, the commander of the International Space Station. If you haven’t already seen at least one of his videos or photos, I’m surprised. He’s been taking questions and requests from Earth and doing all kinds of cool stuff: my favorite that’s been going around is a video of what happens when you wring out a wet washcloth in space. Since there is no gravity, the only forces acting on the water are surface tension and inertia (yes, I know those aren’t technically forces, but close enough), so the water just stays around the washcloth and whatever else it’s touching. It’s a cool phenomenon, and it’s even cooler to watch.
So, Commander Hadfield is a man who not only makes sure the ISS runs smoothly (for instance, he organized the repair of an ammonia leak on the Station earlier this week), but also takes time out of his day to answer kids’ questions via youtube and twitter. He’s a scientist, an administrator, an educator, a photographer, and a musician. Yesterday, he posted a video of himself doing a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on the ISS, and not only is it a well-made video with lots of great imagery, it is also a really good cover, and on top of all that, Hadfield has replaced some of the lyrics to make them more accurate. So, here’s the video. Watch it.
Sadly, Chris Hadfield has transferred command of the ISS to Pavel Vinogradov yesterday, and heads back down to Earth tonight. But he has already made a huge impact. He’s brought the public interest back to the Space Station, which is, in my opinion, a fascinating example of global cooperation towards the greater advance of science. He’s engaged a lot of kids with physics. So, my hat comes off to Chris Hadfield. He’s accomplished a lot, and I’m sure he will continue to do so once he gets back down to Earth.