Chris Hadfield — the ever-tweeting, always charming Canadian running the space station these days — has had an eventful few months in space. If he’s not chatting with Captain Kirk, he’s playing guitar or, as it turns out, making very watchable videos.
Being on television requires a certain flair. You need to talk in sound bites, cultivate a charismatic presence, and keep the action moving enough so people don’t flip the channel. For an astronaut, who usually works methodically, carefully and slowly, working on television must be fully alien (pun intended) to how one does the technical parts of the job.
But Hadfield — who knows how to study a situation and make the most of it — has created videos with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Whatever he’s doing is working.
Universe Today checked up on Hadfield’s secrets to success by watching the most popular videos in a playlist curated by the Canadian Space Agency. Here are the top five. Strangely, the last one doesn’t even include Hadfield’s face or voice.
5) Chris Hadfield Talks with the Queen’s Representative in Canada
If you’re all about cute questions from kids, or enjoy a brush with royalty, this lengthy press conference with Hadfield is very interesting. This is a bit of a marathon charm session on Hadfield’s part, but he pulls it off with his charismatic aplomb. One of the best answers demonstrates what he’s learned about weightless life: “I can fly. I can go in different directions,” Hadfield says enthusiastically, spinning before the camera.
4) Chris Hadfield Demonstrates How Astronauts Wash Their Hands in Zero G
For a question that came out of a routine Q&A with kids, Hadfield’s performance is pretty good. He demonstrates that soapy water looks like some sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-like ooze in space, and compares life on the space station to life on a sailboat, all while simply washing his hands. It’s almost existential.
3) Nail Clipping in Space
It turns out that Hadfield chooses to cut his nails because long ones interfere with his guitar playing. We wouldn’t want that to happen (and neither would the Barenaked Ladies), so fortunately Hadfield gets right on the problem, positions himself over an air vent and trims them with an ordinary nail clipper. Charmingly, this was not fully scripted, as he makes a mistake with the first clipping.
2) Chris Hadfield’s Space Kitchen (aka how to make a peanut butter sandwich in space)
With words you’d never hear on Martha Stewart — “We’ve got one tortilla. Oh, got away!” — Hadfield slathers condiments on to a tortilla and eats it. His sense of humor helps break up a very routine act; we’d be scared to be one of his kids after seeing the stern way in which he says, “Disinfectant wipe!”
1) Mixed Nuts in Space
This video is oddly mesmerizing, and that’s not just because of the UFO-type music near the beginning. It’s quite a simple setup: Hadfield shoots a bunch of nuts floating around inside of a can. But face it, it looks awfully weird for those of us used to grabbing similar packages off the kitchen shelf. Maybe that’s why this video has more than 4 million views.