Besides having the coolest title ever, space architect Constance Adams from Synthesis International has job we want: designing the shelters that transport and house us when we leave the Earth’s atmosphere. She says design that keeps people safe in space follows the “Mothership” model; looking to the planet for structural guidance, and finding solutions that make the smallest environmental impact. Adams’ pursuits strive to bring the crucial senses of time, place and wellness to wayward travelers–not always an easy task as the only designer working in a team of engineers. It’s her job to incorporate human elements like patterns into the sterile interiors of the shuttle.
The best part of any John Hockenberry-moderated conference is when he comes out after presentations to interview the speakers. He poised to Adams an especially hard-hitting question about the politics of NASA. She thinks we would have had the space station built 15 years ago, for less money, if NASA wouldn’t have hit dry spells during the administrations that didn’t support exploration.
David Gallo’s presentation took us in the opposite direction–straight down. His teams at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute create undersea explorers that can go as deep as 20,000 feet, mapping mountain ranges as big as Manhattan, and taking samples in the seven-mile-deep Mariana Trench. His incredible images of oceanic biodiversity were gorgeous, but with its weird Enya soundtrack we felt like we’d wandered into an IMAX movie.
Hockenberry Q&A: What’s the deal with global warming? Gallo says that we don’t need to worry about the earth, we need to worry about the earth’s ability to support humans. And we don’t need to worry about temperatures rising, we need to worry about preserving rainfall patterns that will provide fresh water.