Volume 91, Issue 66

Tuesday, January 27, 1998



Spacey speaker takes students on tour of the universe

©Photo by Geoff Robins

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason launched an engaging lecture yesterday which offered a detailed account of his adventures in space and managed to naturally transform his venue from an engineering classroom to a planetarium.

Tryggvason was the sixth Canadian astronaut to travel in space when the Shuttle Discovery departed on August 7, 1997. His lecture, Space: Its Role in Our Future, is the seventh in the Lynda Shaw Memorial Lecture Series established in memory of the third-year engineering student who was killed in 1990.

"There was nothing more that I wanted to do with my life than join [Buzz Aldrin in space]," Tryggvason reminisced. Consequently, he got his wish and Tryggvason spent 11 days in space completing 176 orbits of the earth prior to his return.

From shots of Israel to Nova Scotia and forest fires to clear-cutting, Tryggvason's vast array of slide pictures taken from the shuttle during his flight to space made his experience seem a reality for the audience.

"[Experience from the shuttle] produces a detailed picture of what we need to understand on our earth," he said. Trygvasson spoke of a 16 hour working day and an opportunity to change his clothes only when he couldn't stand to be in them any more.

"[From the shuttle I] looked at North America a bit, worked a bit, looked at Europe, worked a bit – tried to find China. You can travel from Vancouver to Calgary in a minute and a half.

"It's really quite impressive," he said of the view of earth from space. "I saw all of the Great Lakes from one big glimpse."

Tryggvason's accomplishments as an astronaut, scientist and engineer are especially significant as a result of his association with Western. Between 1974 and 1982 he was researcher at the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory and lectured in applied mathematics.

Tryggvason is seriously considering going into space for a second but last time, however: "I think I'd like to rot away as a professor," he joked.

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