Former astronaut Don Lind told Central Davis Junior High School students if they want to compete in a technological world they must study hard, be persistent and stay away from drugs.
Speaking to a standing-room-only audience at the school's Math and Science Awards program Tuesday night, Lind told students that top wages and the "fun" of the future will be in assisting in scientific and technological advances.The program also honored students whose project to name a new space shuttle "Nautilus" was one of two entries from Utah recently chosen by NASA.
"I would be almost willing to trade places with you," said Lind.
Lind, a former space shuttle astronaut and professor at Utah State University, said that the horizons of scientific knowledge will be pushed back faster and faster in the coming decades.
"You will probably view the space shuttle like we now view the Wright Brothers' plane. Technology is booming ahead so incredibly fast," he said. He noted that during his career as an astronaut, scientists have almost entirely rewritten their theories of the Earth's geology and that microbiology wasn't even heard of when he went to college.
He spoke about the prospects of cold fusion, a process which may have been recently discovered by University of Utah scientists.
"The probability is very high that we have started on a new technique to manufacture energy. Up to this point everybody thought palladium was a dance hall in Los Angeles," Lind said. "It would be a totally different world is that (the U. research) is true."
During his speech he showed students a film of his mission into space and explained an experiment he conducted to make crystals in weightlessness. He said current space shuttle experiments could eventually lead to manufacturing on a space station.
He encouraged students to prepare to part of space exploration and technological explosion by taking math and science classes.
"Don't steal hubcaps and don't mess up your grades," he said. "Also please don't fiddle with alcohol, drugs and tobacco."
He told students to be persistent, recounting how it took three and a half years to get into the space program.
"I want you to do something: Don't take no for an answer even after the first 2,000 or 3,000 times," he said.