Dear Academy person…
So starts a handwritten letter from 9-year-old Robert from Adelaide who wrote to us with a special request for his ‘space nut’ dad.
Robert wanted to surprise his dad at Christmas with Buzz Aldrin’s autograph.
We love science here at the Academy, and we also love seeing others excited by science, so we put our thinking caps on.
Buzz Aldrin had toured Australia last year but it was too late to request an autograph. So, how could we honour the Christmas wish of this boy and his father?
While we couldn’t get a hold of the astronaut, we could think of no better space superstar than Academy Fellow Professor Brian Schmidt—the Australian Nobel Prize winner who discovered Dark Energy.
Professor Schmidt’s discovery that the universe is growing at an accelerating rate—not slowing down as most people had thought—completely changed our understanding of the universe. It led Brian and his team to propose that 70% of the universe must be made up of dark energy, a hypothetical energy that fills space and opposes gravity, and since then there has been a flurry of activity to understand more about this mysterious force.
Also keen to foster an interest in science in the young (and not so young), Brian was happy to have a poster with his autograph sent to Robert.
The response (above) brought a tear to our eye and we were pleased to be able to meet both Robert and his dad Daren when we invited them to attend our IMMORTALITY event in Adelaide last week.
Through the powers of social media Mars One participant Josh Richards saw our story in February about Robert’s Christmas wish…
“I have Buzz Aldrin’s signature,” Josh wrote to us via Facebook “and I’d love to get it to the boy and his family.”
So, at his Planet Talk at WOMADdelaide on Saturday 11 March the Academy helped make this happen.
The Academy sent Robert and his family to Womadelaide on us so they could hear Josh speak about the Mars One mission, whether colonising Mars is the next giant leap for humanity, and how he’s practising and preparing to go and live on the Red Planet.
And then, Josh gave 9-yr-old Robert and his space-nut dad Buzz’s signature.
It was a touching moment and there weren’t many dry eyes in the room as Robert got his wish. Thank you so much to Josh for his generous and inspiring act of kindness and the many people who helped make this dream come true.
Another big highlight for Robert and his family was getting to meet radio legend and fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Robyn Williams from the ABC Science Show.
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