Going to space left William Shatner ‘crying’ with grief | CNN Business

Going to space left William Shatner 'crying' with grief |  CNN Business
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CNN Business

William Shatner – 90-year-old actor, presenter, spoken word poetauthor, and more recently the oldest person to travel in space – shows no signs of slowing down.

This fall, he plans to publish a book, called “Boldly Go”, which is presented as a kind of philosophical reflection on his life, career and “the interconnectedness of all things”, according to publisher Simon and Schuster. He’s also the face of a new coding contest that will give the winner a chance to fly more than 18 miles high in a spaceship-like capsule attached to a balloon. (Yes, really.)

CNN Business sat down with the “Star Trek” legend this week in a high-profile interview. Here is a brief recap.

Shatner was the guest guest of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the second crewed flight of the New Shepard, the suborbital space tourism rocket developed by Bezos’ company Blue Origin. When he returned, Shatner was visibly moved. He described seeing the empty, black expanse of the cosmos as “seeing death”.

See what it’s like inside a Blue Origin flight

“There’s Mother Earth and comfort, and then there’s…death,” he said at the time.

After the flight, he couldn’t stop crying, he said in an interview with CNN Business this week.

“It took me hours to figure out what it was, why I was crying,” he said. “I realized that I was in mourning. I was mourning the destruction of the Earth.

Shatner said he was deeply influenced by “Silent Spring,” the 1962 book on environmentalism by biologist Rachel Carson.

“It’s going to get worse!” Shatner said of the environmental crisis. “It’s like someone owes money on a mortgage, and they don’t have the payments and they think, ‘Oh well, let’s go to dinner and forget about it.'”

Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin – run by two of the world’s richest men – are often the butt of criticism. Can space exploration by a wealthy few ever spawn the kind of egalitarianism touted by “Star Trek”?

“It misses the whole idea here,” Shatner said. “The whole idea is to get people used to the space, like going to the Côte d’Azur. It is not vanity. It’s a company.

He also reiterated Bezos’ publicly stated goal: if we can make space travel cheap enough, we can move polluting industries to outer space, preserving Earth as a huge national park. (This idea also has its skeptics and critics.)

One of Shatner’s latest gigs is as the spokesperson for a contest run by Rapyd, a digital payment platform developer. It’s called “Hack the Galaxy” and calls on developers to solve coding challenges every two weeks. The winner can choose between a cash prize of $130,000 or the chance to join a flight in 2026 conducted by the startup. Spatial perspectiveswhich plans to transport customers about 100,000 feet high in a capsule attached to a balloon.

Shatner said he jumped on board with the idea because he wanted “problem solvers” to experience a transformative high-altitude ride, just like him.

“I want to obtain [these coders] interested in building the financial community, but then saying, “Why don’t you focus on carbon capture or, you know, one of the big issues?” Hunger? Poverty? Said Shatner.

Shatner said he has a newfound fascination with string theory – a popular idea that attempts to explain quantum physics, or how subatomic particles behave, and how it fits into more easily observable scientific ideas. like gravity.

For the non-physicists among us, this is incredibly difficult to understand. Shatner said that when he traveled to the UK to Stephen Hawking interviewthe famous cosmologist, for a documentary, he wished he had delved into the subject. But Hawking, who was confined to a wheelchair and used a computer to speak due to a degenerative disease, had to have all the questions prepared in advance.

“I never got to ask him that question” about string theory, Shatner recalls. “But he said when we made this arrangement, ‘I want to ask Shatner a question.’ I lean over, you know, we’re sitting side by side watching the cameras…and he laboriously typed in, ‘What’s your favorite episode?’ »

Shatner, for the record, doesn’t have a favorite “Star Trek” episode and didn’t offer an answer. But Hawking invited him to dinner anyway.

“What are you doing? At dinner? With someone who can’t talk?” Shatner burst out laughing. “But I had a great time with him.”

For the curious, Shatner also summarized his thoughts on string theory, which posits that everything in the universe is, at its most basic level, made up of vibrating strings: “I think we’re in vibration with the universe. . It’s a matter of us connecting.

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