A One Way Ticket to Mars. Would you have the Courage?
This was certainly a conversation that had everyone on the edge of their seat. I could hardly get any of my questions in because all those who were watching kept sending their own questions through and let me tell you, they were going deep. We discussed:
- How growing up in outback Australia has prepared Dianne for lockdown and a one-way ticket to Mars.
- What it is that makes her want to explore what is on the edge of possible.
- If she decided not to enter into a relationship once she was picked.
- How she will say goodbye forever to her loved ones.
- If there will be a wine fridge on the rocket!!!!!
– Hello, and welcome to the Wine and Wisdom Show. Thank you for being here with me tonight, a Wednesday night. It is cold here in Sydney, but I am glad you have decided to prioritise some time so that you could be here with me tonight. It is going to be an incredible show. Oh, my goodness.
If you are here as a returning guest, thank you for coming back. We really appreciate it. If you are here for the first time, welcome, and cheers to you. I hope you have got your glass of wine ready because there is a lot of wisdom to come. I wanted to tell you a little bit about this show. First of all, I started it because I believe in connection. I believe with connecting with others who are on this planet to be able to fill their brains with more wisdom, fill their hearts with more courage and love, and just to be able to share joy and inspiration together.
So, this show is about me being able to connect with you, and it is also about me being able to connect the really resilient and courageous self-leaders who I have been lucky enough to have in my world, somehow, someway, and tonight is no exception.
Oh, my goodness. I don’t think you will have ever met anybody like Dianne McGrath who is about to come up. Actually, let’s just bring her up onto the show right now, see if we can get her. There she is. Hello, Dianne.
– Hey, how are you? How are you doing?
– I am great. How are you?
– I am fantastic. Great to see you this evening.
– Thank you very much, and thank you for being here. For everybody who is watching, this is the amazing Dianne McGrath. There are many layers to her extraordinary-nous. Is that a word? I don’t think that is the proper word.
– I feel like I should have a cape when you said, “The amazing Dianne McGrath.”
– I think you should have a cape. Our episode tonight is a one-way ticket to Mars, would you have the courage? And of course, the reason for that is because Dianne, she is one of the top 100 when there were over 200,000 applications to take a one-way ticket to Mars, and I don’t know about you, but I am extremely interested in hearing the entire backstory to that about what it is going to be like, where she got her courage from, and how it is all possible.
But I suppose before we do that, we should have a little cheers. I know your glass and cup is different to mine. Your body is more of a temple than mine, obviously. I mean, you are going to Mars, so you have got to take care of yourself a lot more than I do. I am just here for decades still on earth as a wee, mortal human.
– I will take it for the team for you, honey.
– Thank you very much. So, what have you got there in your cup?
– I have got a decaf coffee.
– A decaf coffee.
– Yes. I know, you are like, “Decaf, what?” But it is close to bedtime for me, so if I have caffeine at this hour, I will be absolutely – I would not need anything to help me launch. I will be gone, flying.
– Aw. And who have we got, yes. Oh, Magdeleen. Hello. I am so glad you are here. Cheers to you, too. What are you drinking? A white? A red? A beer? A bubbles? A whiskey? A rum? What are you all having at home? We would love for you to let us know in the chat.
We cannot actually see that you are all live. I can see that there are people there, but I don’t know who you are unless you comment so please, let us know what you are having in your glass tonight, while you watch The Wine and Wisdom Show.
So, let us get this started. Dianne, first of all, can you please share with us who you are, what you do, and the positivity that you are sprinkling around our globe?
– I love that. That is awesome. Who am I? Goodness, isn’t that a deep question to start with?
– I guess you could probably sum me up as an explorer. Not the traditional way of going out and looking through jungles or whatever, but I am deeply curious. I have got this almost ferocious curiosity and that is one of the reasons why I signed up to go to Mars, but it is also behind why I have decided to go, “How can we become more sustainable as a society?”
It is what’s driven me behind my PhD, and the work I do in food waste and sustainability. So for me, being a waste warrior, so to speak, as well as being an astronaut candidate, as well as being a bio hacker, I am just fascinated by what is possible. So, that is what drives me, trying to uncover the remarkable things that we can achieve.
– Mmm. And so, apart from being the Mars One astronaut, how does that unfold? What are you doing to put those things in place so that we can all benefit?
– Goodness. So, the Mars One mission itself, I am sure some of your listeners tonight will be aware, it is a one-way mission to Mars. So, I have been doing a lot, yes, just stop that clanger there. Ooh, one-way.
– One-way. One-way ticket only.
– That is it. No return. That is correct. So, the one-way mission aspect of things is one of the things that grabbed me about this entirely, because I wanted to sign up because of the element of having to live there because when you go somewhere to visit it is very different than when you live somewhere.
So, you think about all of us in our lockdown situations at the moment, people have done DIY projects at home, they have cultivated new gardens, they have really cared for the space that they are in; whereas when we go somewhere on holidays or just to visit something, we don’t have ownership of that, so we don’t treat it the same way. So, I was fascinated to be a part of a society where it is critical to preserve every resource we have, because you cannot live on Mars unless you are sustainable.
There is no Bunnings over the next crater to get some more fertiliser. It does not exist. You have to deal with it all yourself. Everything that you bring with you is what you are going to have. That is it.
– So, there is no water. Recycle, reuse. Now we really have to make sure everything is considered a resource, constantly. That completely fascinated me. I thought, “Wow, if we can do that “to live on Mars, “that means we are going to have to design, start to mock up, mock up tests, build, and then scale up all of that sort of technology, all those sorts of systems here on earth first. So, we could almost remake this planet before we even get to Mars, just because we are trying to get there.
Yes, so that was so inspiring to me, and I thought, well, part of my journey, and what I help sprinkle on this planet, as you touch on, is that sort of aspect of being able to see our planet from a different perspective, to step back from earth and look at it from space and understand that we have to protect it.
– Wow. Yes. For us to be able to improve what we have got right here before we even get to there, that just shows, I think, how inspirational you are because it is not just about “I get to go to Mars, “and I get to do this all over here,” but actually, there is this other underlying purpose because if that happens prior to that happening, we have to create something right here where we are on our planet that is so much better than it is today. Is that what I am hearing?
– Yes, absolutely. And I really don’t care if my name’s ever known. Dianne McGrath can be a shadow in the history books. I really don’t care. But if I can be something, maybe even just a shoulder someone else stands on to make that sort of thing happen, how phenomenal is that? We know we are in a challenging time when it comes to our climate. Whether people believe it is because of mankind or because the climate changes just over time anyway, it does not matter.
The climate is changing, and how do we deal with that and how do we respond to it? How do we adapt? How do we become resilient in such moments? If we learn to do it for a planet where we would die within a few minutes, then we can really make a big difference on this planet. We can become planet B just staying here.
– Oh, I love that. How exciting. Oh, my goodness. I have got chills, just when you say that.
– Ah. It makes me think about things all the time, even just the little stuff about our resources that we have. I spent a year going plastic-free a couple of years ago just as an experiment.
It is like, “How can I live my life? What if I could not use plastic at all?” because I recycle all the time, of course, paper, glass, plastic. Most of us do. We are pretty good at that.
But I thought, “Wow, look at all that stuff in the recycling bin. What if I didn’t recycle anything?
“What if I just had none of it to go in there to start with?” “How would that look?”
And so, I had to reshape how I lived my life. I could not go and buy anything from any of the aisles in the supermarket, except for the ones in the outer, so that it was all fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, meat, and etcetera. Nothing could be pre-made because it was all in packets of plastic. So, I ate vastly healthier.
– Yes, I bet.
– It really made me think about our resources. It was just a different way of seeing the world and it changed my behavior dramatically.
– Dianne, I am really interested in what there has been in the background for you to want to put your hand up, apply for this mission. What has been in the background, do you think, that has given you the courage to put your hand up and apply for this mission? I know from a little bit of research that I did, you grew up in a remote area of Australia. So, I don’t know if that will be as remote as Mars is, but as it goes here, to grow up in that kind of area, it was fairly remote.
– I have done it before.
– You have done it before. “That was my entire childhood,” she says. But what do you think it is that has… I had a guest on last month and he talked about this magical dance between choice and chance in life, and is it the choices we make that bring us to where we are or have brought you to being a Mars One astronaut, or has it been chance? What has it been for you, do you think, that has brought you to this?
– Yes, I am not a strong believer in chance. I am more focused on opportunity. I see that if we live a life with purpose and we move towards something that is important to us, then opportunities present. My grandfather told me as a child that the wise man grasps the opportunity ahead. And so, I have always sort of seen, “Oh, look! There is that extraordinary thing in front of me. “Why not go for it?” because what’s the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is life stays the same. If I don’t get to go to Mars, I still live on earth where I can breathe the air. It is pretty cool.
But what’s the best that could happen? I could also stay here on earth. That is also pretty good. So, I look at the decisions I make, and it is about decision, isn’t it? When you make a decision to do something, you don’t go into it half-hearted. You have really got to go into it and believe this is possible. It may be on the edge of possible, but it is possible. So, we can make it happen. I can go to Mars. We can make this world sustainable. We can do extraordinary things in our lives, in our businesses, in our communities.
Even now, in this situation of COVID, we sometimes feel we are really isolated, but I have never been connected to so many more people around the world through media such as this, through Zoom with people, through Skype and emails. I have got more new connections all around the world just in the last few months, and all of us have a similar experience.
This is one of the few times in history where everyone on this planet is experiencing the same sort of challenge in their own way. So, we will take this as a united humanity forward, and what can we learn from that? Let us move forward, and that is what I like to do. I like to move forward with something. Yes, I will learn from what I have been through. Absolutely. The fool does not look back completely. So, I definitely learn from that and move forward, but we have opportunities through this. We just need to sometimes step back out of it and look at it.
– Yes, absolutely. And if you have a question for Dianne about anything to do with her Mars trip, what she had to do to get on the program, or what would happen? I think it takes seven months from earth for you to get to Mars. Is that right? What are you going to do for seven months on the rocket?
– Exercise a lot.
– Exercise a lot. Yes, I think we talked about that I had heard that you need to do three hours of exercise every single day in that seven months on that way to Mars. So, is that the truth?
– Yes, about two and a half to three hours’ worth of exercise when you are in weightlessness. I have run multiple marathons and an ultra-marathon, and I have done a lot of endurance work before, so I am used to exercising for prolonged periods of time, but not every day. Imagine doing that every day for the rest of your life. That is insane.
– So, I have been working on a whole lot of different bio hacks to see, well, how can I get the same sort of effect without having to do so much exercise constantly? Because a lot of exercise actually puts stress on the joints and on your heart and so forth. So, how can I get the balance to optimise the outcomes without risk, as well? So yes, I have been doing a lot of high intensity interval training, using a lot of time under load, which is a technique by Body by Science to really see can I put my body through extreme pressures in short periods of time to get the same effect? And that is how I have been able to increase my body mass recently.
– Yes, wow. Right. Well, we have got a few questions coming up, but before I forget, I just remembered that I had a question that came through on Linked In this morning, and that question was will there be any wine on Mars? I think it is really important you answer that question.
– I think it is very important. Well, I understand that the Mars One food system will be all indoors, hydroponics, and thus, predominantly plant-based supported by insects and algae. So yes, eating insects, but that is another story.
So, there is a chance that there could be the sorts of plants that may be able to have multiple functions, such as grapes, for example. So, it is possible.
– Life’s going to be fine there, then. Life will be fine.
– So, Tiffany has asked, “What was the criteria “for getting on the list?”
– Well, the first aspect of the selection process was an application. Honestly, it was just like applying for any other job.
– Just a very different sort of job. You had to fill in an application form to indicate why you are the best candidate, and examples, tell us about a time when. So, you had to illustrate times when you have made a mistake and learned from it, or times when you have worked with people of other cultures and you have been exposed to new things and how did you respond to that? So, because Mars One are looking to send crews to Mars that are ethnically diverse, age diverse, and gender diverse. So, we need to be able to understand and appreciate and respect other people.
So, we had to go through and application process like that and send in a video application. Now, I don’t know, they obviously didn’t care about the production quality of my video because I recorded mine, I will just got back from a training run for a marathon and I think I will been running for about four hours or three hours or something, and I got back to my apartment and I was still sweaty, and I put on a hoodie, and I thought, “I know what I am going to say now,” and I just recorded it straight away on my phone, off the cuff, and I thought, “Well, “they are obviously up to something authentic.” So, there you go. There is no pretense. Yes. So, interview process came a little bit later, but we had to go through a medical first, because naturally, to get one of the criteria is you have got to be fit enough, fit enough and also mentally fit enough, too, like what’s my psychological fitness like? And after that, I was invited with 659 other people. So, imagine interviewing 660 people.
– Yes, that is insane.
– Goodness. I know. Bless the man that did that. So, he interviewed 660 of us, and all the questions were really about risk. So, there were four technical questions around radiation exposure and things like that to see if we understood what our risks were.
And the other four questions were personal questions to see, are we prepared for what will be the most challenging thing we will ever experience in history. And so then, from that, they chose the 100 of us who were left, and then we are going into this final round of selection coming up in the sometime future with COVID. We don’t know when that will be, naturally.
– Yes, yes. We have got lots of questions coming in. Well, I think this one, can you see that one from Tiffany about Leonardo DiCaprio?
– Is Leonardo DiCaprio on the list? I have not seen him on the list. No. Although, there are a few, out of the 100 candidates, there are a couple of the candidates who are unknown. So, there are a couple who have permission to be silent, shall we say? But the rest, we had to announce ourselves and put our applications out in the public sphere, as well, when we first applied. So, people could see who we were and I looked up who all the other candidates were, too, because I had no idea who was applying. Then, I saw there were the astrophysicists and people who had worked with N.A.S.A., and all of these super smart people in the space field, and me. Wow.
– I would imagine that all of those people with your food sustainability background, they would be very happy that you would be on the project with them to ensure that they can continue to eat.
– To eat. Very helpful.
– A very helpful trait you have got there. I wondered, I saw the movie The Martian with Matt Damon, and I am just wondering, is he still there? Will he be your arrival party?
– I don’t think so, and bless Matt Damon. I don’t think we would have survived on just potatoes. There is a limit to the nutritional value of that vegetable.
– I don’t know. I am married to an Irish leprechaun and that is all he wants to eat, let me tell you. All right. So, let us move on to the next question from Magdaleen. I am not going to get to any of my questions. I can see this now.
– That is all right.
– How do you overcome? How do you get over?
– Yes, overcome saying goodbye to everybody you know.
– Am I saying goodbye? That is a really interesting thing to consider. When I first was shortlisted and I realised that, wow, I could seriously be going to Mars, potentially, in 10 or so years, because the first crew are not going until 2031, at the moment, although they may move out now because they only go to Mars every couple of years, just from where the planets are in their orbit, for the best, the fastest flight.
I had a look at all of the challenges that I will face, so the physical ones, the mental ones, and one of them was around this. How would I? I will never see my family again, my mother, father, brothers. How would I deal with that? And what does it mean for me and what does it mean for them?
So, I started seeing a counsellor and we are working through, I guess, a whole ream of things from the psychological health, to go, “Okay, can I build a resilience toolkit for myself? How can I be bulletproof in that way?” So that if I go to Mars, I have started to work through this stuff already, and this is exactly one of the areas I work through, grief and loss, because yes, I would be treated as if I am dying, even though I am just going 54 million kilometres away, and a bit.
I will still be able to email with people, I will still be able to do delayed video messaging, and things like that, but I would not be able to have a direct conversation like we are tonight. So in essence, it would be like having a pen pal, but that is not the same as sitting in a room with someone, it is not the same as, on a bad day, when you just get on the phone and you want to have a cry to your mom or your best friend or something like that. That will never happen again if I am lucky enough to go to Mars. So, how do I deal with that?
So, I started to work with a psychologist but also working with a Buddhist teacher who’s working on presence and acceptance, things of that sort of nature so that I can just accept that that will be a part of my journey.
– Yes. Because I would imagine, like all the testing that you talked about in the interview stages, there is only so much that you can test for. Yes, I am physically resilient and there is obviously testing that people do when they go into organisations like that, about their mental toughness and all of that type of thing, but we never know how we are going to feel when we go through loss and grief. We think we can imagine it, but for anybody, I am sure, who has gone through it, it is so unexpected how it actually makes us feel that it is not like you can prepare for that, really.
– No. You can do the best you can in making the most of the relationships you have now, and that is what I have been doing. For example, I have a twin brother who lives up on the Sunshine Coast, and usually, not this year, but usually every year I go, and ever since I have been shortlisted I go and spend a few weeks with him and just live. We live together. How often do we really spend time with our siblings, for those who have brothers and sisters? How often do we actually, rather than at birthdays and weddings and funerals, when do we see them and just become part of their lives? I realise that I didn’t have a relationship with my brothers that went beyond, “Oh, I grew up with them,” and then what?
And so, I wanted to know these people as closely as possible because what if I don’t see them tomorrow? What if I do end up getting on a rocket? I want to treasure that because then I won’t have that opportunity. So, it is really made me refocus on what matters in my life today, and it is truly enriched my life.
– I bet it has. Yes. Wow. Okay. I can see I am not going to get to any of my questions, but I think these ones are better. Here’s a fabulous one from Belinda. “Dianne, you are incredibly courageous.” That is just our opening here. “Usually, that means you have fears, but face them in your quietest moments, what do you fear most about going to Mars?”
– What do I fear most about going to Mars? I don’t fear the technology failing, because it will fail. There is an acceptance.
– You don’t fear that?
– I don’t fear it because it will.
– Because then it is nothing that you can necessarily control, but then you actually respond to it. So, when that question earlier came about this selection criteria, they are really after human qualities and not necessarily technical skills. The head of selection said he wants people who are adaptable, resilient, curious, trusting, and creative because things will go wrong, and it is how we deal with that. It is how we bounce back, it is how we look for solutions, it is how we bring everybody in and make it happen as a team, this team of four astronauts, which will become eight, which will become 12 as the colony gets larger.
So, my fear is not about the technical because we will find some sort of solution to that. Something will break. My fear more rests with uncertainty about how I would deal with expectation. I am, like probably a lot of the people who are listening tonight, I am sure many of us are, perhaps, A-level in many things in our lives, high achievers and the like.
– Why do you think that I collect those people in my life? What are you saying?
– However, because of that we often have really high expectations of ourselves. I am sure this resonates with a lot of people here. So, very high expectations of yourself. That does not mean others have that high expectation. Often, we do really well in doing a mediocre job. Often we do the job more than fine.
And so, just being your best that you can be is going to be the trick, and for me, I have been worried that what if, what if I get to go to Mars and I have got the entire expectation of the planet on my shoulders? Because here I am potentially being someone to set up the first colony on another planet on behalf of humanity. Don’t take that on board, Dianne. That is not your coat to wear. But that is the fear I have there, Belinda, is to worry about whether that is something I accept or not. So, I am trying to choose not to accept that and not to wear that coat.
– Okay. Yes, how interesting. And it is interesting, you talked about those traits that it was not skill, you said, but it was being resilient, adaptable, curious, and creative.
These are the traits that not just astronauts going to Mars need, but this is what we need as leaders in organisations around our world because it is those traits that allow us to continue to move forward in a way that will be positive and optimistic and, I don’t know, when you just said those, that is the transferable traits that we need across the board in all kind of leadership positions.
– In our communities, as well. When we have been faced with challenges, look at what’s happening during COVID, look what happened here in Australia during our bush fire seasons, look at the communities that are bound together that have really moved forward. Resilient. That have adapted because things changed, then had to find new solutions. Curious. They had to trust each other to make that happen. So, all of those qualities come out when we are pushed to our limits.
And so, no wonder they are looking for that in their astronaut candidates because that is the perfect crew, the perfect team, the perfect community that solves a problem together as a united group.
– Of course. For those of you who are listening right now, can I recommend that you share this to your friends? Because I think this is an amazing conversation. To hear what Dianne is saying is completely extraordinary, and I will love for us to get her wisdom and inspiration out to as many people as we can. But in the meantime, Magdeleen is asking about whether your family have felt that they have needed some counseling, as well, knowing that they are going to have to say goodbye to you.
– It is true. Whether they have had counseling personally, I don’t know. They have not told me that they have. I have had a lot of discussions with my parents and my brothers about it, and my nieces and nephews, as well, to see how they are dealing with it; and as things have progressed, as I move through the selection process and the numbers came down to 100, that really did put me in, I guess, the public eye and I was not expecting that.
I was never expecting anyone to pay any attention to the fact that I applied for a job to go to Mars. Unless I was actually getting into a rocket, then on that day, sure, I will expect people to notice me, but until then, I really didn’t think anyone would be interested in my story. But it becomes not just my story, it is part of all of our stories. And so, my parents are completely supportive of it. Of course, they would miss me and of course they would want me to stay as much as they want me to go, but my father has always been someone that says, “You’ve got to follow your dreams.” So, I am doing it.
– Yes. You are doing it. Wow. Now, Kevin is asking how long from first mission lands until housing is established. Oh, he met you at a bar at someone’s 50th. How about that?
– Fantastic, great. Yes, I remember that 50th well. It is fantastic. It was a festival, if I remember correctly.
– Oh, was it? They are the best type.
– So yes, the housing aspect of things. So, what Mars One’s concept is they are sending all of the technology in advance and all the infrastructure for the crews before the crew lands.
So, there will be about six to eight technical missions in advance of the first human mission going in 2031. So, that will start with a lander in a few years’ time that will assess can they extract water from the soil? Can they create oxygen? Can a seed germinate? So, things that will be critical for life.
Then, they will start to send a couple of rovers and some landing modules that will become our living quarters, and those rovers will be essentially like robots and they will robotically deploy the actual construction of the settlement, get the electricity going, roll out solar panels for that, start to harvest water from the soil. Well, it is not soil, it is regolith, but harvest water from the ground, which is ice, and put that into tanks. So, all of this will happen before the first humans get there. So, there will be housing, but they are not sending a single human off this planet until the lights are on and there is water in the tank.
– Yes, of course.
– Yes, let us make that our first for humanity and not a first for technology when we first get there.
– Yes, absolutely. So, Belinda wants to know if you have avoided getting into a relationship as a result of going on this trip.
– No, not at all. Life is still life. I don’t believe in putting things on hold for something which is 10 years’ time, if I get to go in 2031, or 11 years’ time. So, I live my life today for today in a way that benefits tomorrow. So for example, some of the bio hacking I do, for example, so trying to build my bone mass. The activity I do, the way I eat, the exercises I do, those extra bio hacks, if they didn’t benefit me today as well as for the future to increase my bone mass, it is not worth necessarily doing it. So, I try and focus on things that give me advantages in both aspects of my life, today and tomorrow.
– That includes relationships. I am in a relationship and I happily have been in one for the last six years.
– Okay. Well, we are not going to ask how that is going to unfold or what the conversations have been around that; but Karen’s got a fabulous question, of course, being The Wine and Wisdom Show, is there a wine fridge in the rocket?
– I have not seen any interior design that has a wine fridge in it. I think that alcohol will be very limited on such a trip because, of course, we cannot have any sort of risks on such a trip. So, I believe even on the Space Station, as well, it is exceptionally limited. There is not allowed to be any risks of that sort of nature. Too risky.
– Especially if they have really yummy, buttery chardonnays that you cannot stop and have just one glass. Never. All right. Belinda’s got a deep question. She apologises in advance, but have you thought about having to die alone without your family and friends?
– Yes. Absolutely. Belinda, that is a fantastic thing to think about. How often do we contemplate our own passing? It is very rare, except sometimes we may do so in moments of sadness, but does it always have to be sad? When we do finally finish our time on this planet or another one, then we will have achieved something in our lives. What are we leaving behind for others? What are our legacies?
If mine can be something which assists in ensuring this planet is a little bit greener, then I feel really comfortable about the end of my days, and if I get to do it on Mars. Goodness, I could die in Glen Waverley or I could die on Mars. I mean, the choices I have, ladies and gentlemen.
– I love it.
– I used to live in Glen Waverley, so I can comfortably say great place. Loved it. Fantastic. Good spot. Mars might be a little bit better.
– There will be a better memoir anyway, won’t it? Okay, so Magdeleen is asking, “So, you are not leaving for 10 years, so that is a major preparation.”
– It is a lot of preparation.
– Allows finally for me to come back to one of my questions which was around the preparation. So, what is going on? And are you having to continually, be anally retentive about your preparation, knowing that it is still 10 years before you get to go?
– Well, it is 10 years away and I may not even get chosen. I may not even get through these final stages of selection that is coming through, but it does not mean I should not try and should not be ready for it. So, I focus towards that, as well, and I look at the elements that I need to work on myself, and that is around my mental health, and that is around technical information to learn and increase my cognitive function, work on my bone mass, and some of the other physical things.
I know you and I were talking about it a little bit earlier, Heidi, that when you go to space, the body is dramatically changed. For example, eyesight. About 82% of men that come back from the Space Station come back with vision impairment, and 64% of women do, and we also, men and women, their bone mass loss is phenomenal. They lose about 20% of their bone mass in about six months in space. So, they come back worse than being in osteopenia. They are osteoporotic when they come back from space.
– Women, when we go through menopause, it takes us about nearly five years or more to lose that much bone mass. They lose it in six months. So, I looked at all of this sort of stuff when I first got selected in the first stage, and I thought, “Wow, if I am facing that, if I could be losing my bone mass like that in that amount of time.” “Heck, hang on, I am, well, today, now I am 50, but at the time I was in my mid to late 40s, and I thought, “Wow, I am just going through premenopause now.” I am going to lose all of that here on earth first, and then I might lose even more of it in space. Wow. I cannot deal with that, that is not going to happen.”
So, I took it on board. Like, all right, let us change this game. How can I build bone? Why does it have to be like that? And just because that might be normal, does not mean it is natural and does not mean it is optimal. Let us see if I can just do things differently. So, I set forward a plan to try and build my bone mass, and I first spent a lot of time thinking, “Well, how does it happen? How do we lose bone and how do we build bone?” and then started to find people to help me along my journey, because it is like anything in life, when we have got a really big goal and we have no clue, absolutely none how to get there, as soon as we pin it to the wall and say, “This is what I want to do,” It is amazing how many people put their hands up and say, “Oh, let me help you with that,” or, “Oh, I have got an idea.” Incredible. Say what you want to do, put it out there, and the universe–
– Out loud.
– Oh, absolutely. The universe brings things to you to help you make it happen. You still have to be discerning about stuff, but yes, that is been part of my journey to build my bone mass, and I have been increasing it now by a few percent each year, at least one or two percent through the last few years, and normally, normally, it declines by one to three percent a year. So, I have been building it.
– What are you doing? What are you doing to build that? She knows that I want to know.
– What’s my protocol?
– I am not telling you. I have got a course for that.
– No. No, not at all. Well, actually, the first thing I did was I emptied the cup, and by empty the cup that means I needed to make sure there was room for new ideas. I had to take out the old ideas about what I thought and what I knew so that I was ready for new ideas and new thought, and I also had to remove some of the things that I was doing that might’ve been damaging my bones. For example, running for extreme long distances. As soon as you start running for more than an hour or so you can actually decrease your bone mass and muscle mass. So, I thought, “All right. Bye bye marathons.”
So, I stopped running marathons. Still ran 5K, maybe 10K or something, but no longer extreme distances. So, let us stop the things that cause damage. How often do we start, “Oh, I am going to take this pill “or I am going to do that thing,” but you are still doing all this other stuff. Let us cut a few things out first. Let us just not. Then, we will focus on how to pick something. Otherwise, you keep damaging things along the way. It is counterproductive, isn’t it?
So then, I also worked on, “Okay, “what sort of exercise actually stimulates bone growth?” And then, “What do I need to be eating?” We talked about calcium earlier. Yes, calcium’s great, but without collagen, you are just going to have brittle bones. So, let us have a look at what we are eating and what we are eating in combination at what times of the day, and what are the other nutrients we need as well as that? And then, when all of that was working and in sync, I then added in some very unusual hacks. I started to do cryotherapy. I started to use something called osteogenic loading. I started doing even a hopping protocol. As simple as hopping. Hopping about 50 times, a few times a week will increase your bone mass. Simple things. But they are hacks that people don’t do. Why? Because they don’t know about it, but it works. And that is the stuff that I have been doing, and it is increased my mass.
– Wow. Fantastic. “Is there an age limit for the crew?” Tiffany. Can I just check? We have gone over time.
– That is okay.
– Are you all right?
– Yes, absolutely.
– All right. Fantastic. Thank you. There is too many questions here. So fascinating. Yes, is there an age limit for the crew?
– No, there isn’t. There is a health limit.
– Yes. Which is great, hey?
– Oh, yes.
– Just because you might be 50 that does not mean that physiologically I am, and in fact, my bio age is roughly about 35. So, a number means nothing on a sheet of paper. It means something when it comes to how healthy you are. In fact, the oldest person that is been to space have been 77. So, age does not matter. And in fact, we need to have older people in early crews, as well as younger people. We have to have diversity of ideas and life experiences. We cannot all be a homogenous group. We must have diversity. We know that having differences in opinion and ideas will lead to better problem solving. It is necessary.
– Not just on Mars.
– Not just on Mars. On earth, as well.
– Yes, on earth, as well. Right, Tiffany has a 12 year old who wants to know how long it is going to take you to get there.
– How long will it take me to get there? Tiffany, you can tell your 12 year old that it takes seven months to get from earth to Mars. That is a really long car trip.
– My goodness.
– It is like getting in a car at Easter and getting out at Christmas.
– My goodness. And there is four of you. Two women and two men who will go their first?
– That is right.
– So then, it is coming up with our next. Yes, what is required for the final stage of selection? Tell us about how that works, and then how’s it decided for the first four, then the next four, and the next four?
– Yes, the final stage of selection is so fascinating how they put it together. I don’t know if anyone who’s listening on tonight is in the HR field, but this is amazing. You might want to take some notes. It might be useful.
– So, the selection process. They are bringing all 100 of us together, and we are going to spend up to five days together doing a whole lot of team dynamic work. But in advance of us getting together, Mars One has asked us to self-organise into 10 diverse teams of 10, so culturally diverse, age diverse, and also gender diverse.
And so, we have been doing that in the background, is putting our teams together, getting ready for the selection process, and we have to learn all this material, as well. They sent us information on engineering, on medicine, law. Yes, there is something called space law. Who knew?
– Oh, yes.
– Anyway, so now, I know about space law.
– Wait for it. The lawyers will be raking it in in the future.
– Cannot even begin to imagine.
– It is fascinating. It is a really fascinating area.
– Is it?
– Yes, yes. You’d be surprised. So anyway, you got to learn about space law, engineering, and medicine, and a few other things, and then we get to the selection process of bringing all 100 of us together, and we are going to go through, each day, there is team dynamic activities in our teams, competing with each other. But during the activities each day, they will be pulling out people during the time to assess us for the information which we have learned. And our teams cannot progress with that activity unless we get the questions right. So, we are all helping each other get ready for it, make sure we all understand the engineering and whatever else. So, we will be doing that, and then after that, at the end of each day of selection, the committee will kick out 10 to 20 people a day. 10 to 20 a day. Intense, hey? And then, day two, we have to reorganise into new diverse teams. Same thing again that day. Another team dynamic activity, kick out another 10 to 20. Day three, we would reorganise into another team of diverse age, gender. I love this concept.
– And it is going to trim us down to eventually 12 to 24, after as well an isolation experiment at the end for about nine days. What this does, it removes silo thinking. It sees who is it in these teams that understands that it is about what the team is needing to achieve, not who the team is. So, it is about the vision. It is about the goal, and that should be able to be achieved no matter who you are working with on any given day. So, I love that. I absolutely love that.
I used to work in the government for a number of years, and also for a large organisation, too. I have been in the private sector. Silo thinking happens in all organisations. There is a lot of keeping of knowledge. Imagine how successful we would be in our businesses if we stopped holding onto the knowledge and shared it towards an outcome. Love this. So, I am really excited about this.
– And Dianne, I would imagine that all this you are learning about in the preparation phases, between now and 10 years before you go, what an asset you would be to organisations to be able to put this in place for them and show them how, with such a massive mission as the Mars One is, this is the best practice on how we work as a team to be able to set up something really successful. That kind of end goal is so much more than even just the little goals that we would have day to day within organisations, but the practice of what you are talking about and the strategy to get to there, wow, what a gift that would be to so many.
– And I love the fact Mars One are filming this next round of selection to make a documentary-style series out of it. So, think about, as you say, Heidi, what we will learn from that. We will be able to watch this unfold and learn about how these sorts of team dynamics and how these processes could benefit us in our organisations, in our communities. I think it is going to–
– Mind blowing.
– Oh, absolutely. And the changes we will be able to make positively in such a way. United humanity, united organisations focused on vision.
– Yes, and whether that is in large organisations or in teams of remote workers or small businesses or groups of volunteers, still the strategy behind it, the thinking behind it can be applied to all those types of teams, right?
– Oh, most definitely. In fact, only in the last week or so a number of us from the 100, we call ourselves ‘Martians.’
– I love that.
– We call ourselves ‘Martians’ from all over the world. We had a whole lot of Hangouts. Now, if we were in our teams and we were competitive, why would we bother getting to know each other from all of the other teams? I only spoke to about one or two people who are in my team for day one, everyone else I spoke to during the Hangouts that week to get to know them and see how they are going and what their thoughts are in some aspects of what we are doing, they are from totally different teams, but that is great.
– And they are your competition.
– They are my competition, but they are also not. They are also my collaborators. So, that is what I see this as, competitive collaboration. How can we get the best out of each other and ourselves as a community, as a crew, and even in this dynamic activity, how do we get the best out of each other? You got to collaborate in wanting to win as a group.
– Yes, because the end goal for all of you is to have a sustainable, new society on Mars. Now, those other 99 people don’t have your background, they don’t have your upbringing, your skills, your experience, your education, they may not have the passion for food sustainability that you have, or the experience. So in fact, they are wanting to draw everything they can from knowing you and understanding how you can see all your skills and experience apply when you are with them, perhaps, on Mars.
– And it is the same the other way around.
– And the other way around.
– I have not lived their life, I have not learnt the things they have learnt, and I am honored to be amongst such an incredible group of people that see the world, our world, differently, that have strived for a similar goal as me, but from their own perspective. Amazing people. I am truly honored.
– Yes. Well, I have got to get through these questions.
– That is all right.
– Magdaleen is asking, “Is meditation a part of your preparation?”
– Definitely. Meditation is a big part of my preparation. I meditate every day, and some days it is short because life happens and you just have to try and squeeze it in, but it is a commitment to myself because you cannot, as my teacher says, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, you need to be full, you need to be able to find the space and create the space, and particularly during the COVID lockdown as we have had for a long period of time, and longer to come yet in Melbourne.
Meditation’s been really important for me here because it is allowed me to create more space. I live in a very small space. I live in a studio apartment. How do I create space when I cannot really go outside at all? I create space from within. So, it allows me to feel I can be amongst the turmoil within myself in comfort and be in a calm in a challenging moment.
– Yes. Has that been a practice you have started, or is that something you have always had?
– It is something that I started since being part of the Mars One selection process. I started probably about, oh, goodness, maybe five years ago? I think, yes. About five years ago. I think I have only been doing it seriously every day for the last couple of years, and it is phenomenal. It is really changed my life.
– Yes, fantastic. Well, Belinda’s asking what the strategy employed for choosing your group of 10, and diverse, yes, but what were you specifically looking for in your particular 10.
– Well, we cannot talk about a lot of that publicly. There is some things that Mars One has asked us not to disclose. What I can say is that I was the only person in my team who was given no choice.
Now, in every one of the teams of 10 there was one person that was placed in the team automatically. It happened overnight, because Mars One, the head office is in Europe, but they have staff in the U.S. and other places. So, the email went out overnight for us in Australia saying, “Selection process will look like this. Please, organise your teams.” And I woke up in Australia and everything already happened in all the teams. So, I was full. I was like, “What, What?” But what they had automatically done is put allocated one person as a foundation person in each of the teams and I was in team blue, and everyone else was kind of already in my team.
So, I didn’t really. Ta da! There it was. And that person that they allocated to the teams is not allowed to move. We are allowed to move between teams. We are absolutely, day one, our team might look dramatically different than what it does today. People might choose that, “You know, I know these people really well now “and I don’t think this will be optimal “for the best outcome on day one.” So, we can make decisions to move to another team any day we like until we start the process, except for one person in each team, and I am not able to move.
The reason why I was put in a team by myself initially, and like all the other nine were that had the same situation, was that I was the only person in a particular category, female, Oceania, and my sort of age bracket. And so, it was difficult for me to have, I guess, and I am not that competitive at someone of a similar category to ensure that there was equality across teams. So, they went, “You can be in blue, “and everyone else make a choice.”
– Wow. That is incredible. Vanessa, sorry, you have just come on. Yes, we are still here. We are actually live. So, if you have a question for Dianne, I have gotten to none of my questions. Everybody else has taken over the show pretty much tonight. That is great. It is been good fun.
– Dianne, I am really interested in the fact you were born in 1969. Something kind of important happened that year in space.
– And you were born in 1969, as well.
– I was born, yes. It is kind of a very important year for various reasons. Do you think, did that have any kind of, you know? Did you grow up thinking, “Oh, my goodness, I was born in the year that they stood on the moon, I am going to be that girl one day on another planet.” Was there anything there for you?
– Not in relation to 1969, per se. I was born the day before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.
– Pretty amazing.
– Some people may think that is fate. However, it was going to take more than a birthdate to make this happen. But I guess I grew up in that era where it was exciting. Space travel was on the verge of us going into our solar system, beyond our solar system, and the planets were fascinating. We saw earth the first time from space, and actually, that was a moment in history that incited and inspired so many of our environmental movements was when we saw that first picture of our planet from space.
Amazing time for sustainability and the environment. But my interest in space came from my dad. My dad was a huge lover of science fiction, and still is now. Loves the movies, loves the books, devours them, and as you mentioned earlier, Heidi, I grew up in the northern territories. A young girl from the age of 10 to 17, my parents, we lived on an aboriginal community in the desert, and I taught myself from books. So, a lot of homeschooling, done it before. Whatever.
– No, it is difficult. It is not an easy thing to do. But I read my father’s book ferociously. There was not a lot to do. The TV didn’t exist, we didn’t have, in those days, this is the ’80s, there was no internet. So, I read. I read, I read, and I read, and I read, and I read all my dad’s science fiction books and watched movies when we had an opportunity to go into Alice Springs and go to the cinema, and I watched Star Wars, all of those sorts of things. So, I wanted to imagine that it is possible, because I grew up thinking that we were going to be in space at some stage or other. Then of course, why not? It just hadn’t happened yet, that is all.
– Yes. Well, I find that so interesting because, yes, I was born in 1969, as well, and I remember my dad talking about the fact that I was born in the year that man stepped on the moon. So, that must say something about what my future would be. And then, I was telling you earlier that we had this photo of my dad, he was on the motorcycle for heading all the astronauts up George Street for the motorcade. Is that what they used to call it? The motorcade.
– The motorcade, yes.
– So, he was the front motorcycle policeman in that photograph. So, he felt there was something in that, as well, that should link me to going into space. But of course, that is not been my path, but it has been your path for whatever reason; and you posted a beautiful quote from Winston Churchill today, saying, “Fear is a reaction. “Courage is a decision.” And I am really interested to know about the courage you have felt that it is taken for you to make the decision.
I know you have talked a little bit about that tonight, but when you think about what you have really had to dig deep on to find that courage, to put your hand up for something extremely risky. Yes, if it all goes well, my goodness, what a legacy, but there must be that little fear, as well, that it perhaps might not go well, but you still found the courage to put your hand up and say, “I am going to do this “and I am going to do what it takes “to prepare my body and my mind and my life “to ensure I am the best I can be “to be on that rocket “and setting up a new society on another planet.” Where has that come from?
– The courage, I think it comes from, I guess you could say a fear, fearless curiosity. I really believe that this is something which is possible, and when we have belief and when we take the time to understand what we want to really achieve and we do the research or really do our background reading and understand what’s possible, and what are the barriers to success, and we see something that is just there on the edge of what’s possible, then what’s wrong with grabbing it? What’s the worst that could happen? The worst that could happen? So, my courage comes from not being afraid to have a go, because if I don’t have a go, I will never know. I don’t want the barriers in my life to be set by me.
I want someone else to make the decision that, Dianne, you are not the right person to go to Mars. That is not going to be me that says that. I am going to say, “Yes, I am going to keep knocking on that door,” and let someone else say, “Not today,” or, “Come on in.” We often do that, don’t we? Especially as women. How often do we say, “Oh, look, I have not got all of those qualifications for that job,” and yet, we might run households or we are in charge of the funding for the local netball club, or something else that proves that we have got more than enough skills and abilities for things. We hold ourselves back all the time. I was lucky enough, my father was probably the strongest feminist in my life growing up. He never let me feel…
– Yay, dad!
– Yay, dad. I know. He never let me feel that being a girl should stop me from doing something. For example, I wanted to play cricket when I was a little girl, but this is back in the ’70s, because my twin brother was playing cricket, and anything he was going to do, I was going to do, because that is what twins are like, right?
– Of course.
– But of course, in those days girls didn’t play cricket. I didn’t understand that because my brother played, so why can’t I? I should be allowed to. But my dad decided to go and coach the local team, local boys’ team, so then that barrier was not there for me to enter. Of course, naturally, being the coach’s daughter, I had to work three times as hard.
– Yes, of course.
– And be better than just about anybody else to make sure that it was not looking like I was getting a shot because I was the coach’s daughter.
– But that first barrier was not there, of someone believing, “You are a girl, you cannot do that.” So, I want to be that for all of those other girls, too, in the STEM world, science, tech, engineering, Math. I want other girls to see, if you cannot see it, you cannot be it. I want people to realise that we can achieve extraordinary things. You just got to go for it. You never know what’s going to happen. It won’t happen at all if you don’t put your head in the ring.
– So true. Such true words. Which brings me to my final question. Finally, my question that I want to ask, and we are on The Wine and Wisdom Show, so I would love to hear from you, Dianne, what is the most impactful piece of wisdom that has been handed down to you, and why was it impactful and how has it helped shape you?
– Why not? Those two words are the most impactful words I have in my vocabulary, and they were handed down to me from my mother who is the most fearless woman I know. Extraordinary. A number of years ago, when she had turned 70, she decided she was going to learn to ride a bicycle. At 70. She’d not had a bicycle ever in her life, and she decided it was time to learn to ride a bike. And I remember being there at her house and watching her ride down the driveway, and the bike was doing this, right, and I am thinking my God, please, don’t fall. Please, don’t. I must have been like. I don’t have children.
It must have been, for anyone who has children, the training wheels are off the bike and the bike’s going. So, you must be thinking, “Oh, my God, please, don’t fall. Please don’t break anything.” That is what I was thinking about my mother.
– I bet.
– But you should have seen the look on her face. It was the cat who’s got the cream. She was just in so much joy and pleasure doing this amazing thing for herself. Look at, I succeeded in riding a bike at 70. This is fantastic. I thought, “Wow, why not?” And why do those two words mean so much? Well, if you think of the term, “Why?” just that word, “Why?” as someone doing a PhD, I am always thinking, “Why? “Why does that happen? “How does that occur?” You really drill down to something to try and understand something deeply, but when you ask, “Why not?” That opens up possibility. Does not it? What could things be? So, why not? You cannot help but think anything could occur. So, I love that, and that is been my two favorite words that exist in the human language.
– I love that. Yes. And it is just so perfect with all the, “I should not go to Mars “because I will never see my family again. I should not go to Mars because I am in a beautiful relationship for six years so far, and I should not go to Mars “because what about this PhD that I am doing? Where will I get to apply it?” But why not?
– Why not?
– Why not?
– Why not? The universe will provide. Things will integrate in a way in my life whether things will happen so that I will be able to make an impact. It will be impactful whether I get to go to Mars, or whether I stay here on earth and get to implement some of the things I have been doing in my PhD, reducing food waste. We can do these things. Why not?
– Why not? I love it. So, we have gone way over time. This has been the longest episode, and I have skipped questions because I have had to cut questions, so no more. Dianne, I cannot–
– Oh, good. It is been great fun.
– It is been so amazing to talk to you and hear your story; hear your story, but also your generosity of spirit and for you, hearing about all your really deep, intense reasons for wanting to go to Mars that are nothing to do with, “I want to go to Mars because I am going to be famous.”
– No, no, no.
– No, of course, and not that I ever felt that from meeting you, but really, what’s been unpacked for me tonight is that the generosity of you putting yourself out there, as I am sure the other 99 skillful, experienced, amazing, incredible humans are doing by putting your hand up to go to Mars, it has meant that us here on earth are likely to have a better planet because of you, and I thank you for that. I really do. Thank you.
– Thank you. And honestly, the most courageous thing in signing up to go to Mars was announcing it publicly to the world, because people might think I am crazy.
– I might not get to go. Things could go terribly wrong. A lot of things could be quite negative.
– Yes. Yes.
– But they could also be really positive too. Why not? I’ve got to give it a crack.
– Well, I think that is a wonderful way for us to finish, and for those who are still on, and I can see that there is quite a few of you, I would love you to have think about what it is in your life that you could say, “Why not?” Take five minutes. I am only giving you five minutes, and I will love you to put it in the comments.
Let us all put one of our ‘why not’ moments in the comments and share that together because, as Dianne had said earlier on, when you say it out loud, as well, what a difference that makes, right?
– And I think about all of these big goals that we have, like you and I have been talking about tonight, Heidi, there might be things that, at the moment, during COVID, we cannot achieve because of unable to go places or our businesses are on hold, or something like that, and these are really challenging times; and while they may be on hold, it does not mean that we, personally, are on pause, and that is my attitude during this in COVID. I am not stuffing myself from getting ready to Mars just because Mars One might be in hiatus because the world’s closed down for COVID. I have not closed down. There is a lot that we can still do.
– Yes. Oh, I love that so much. My god. I have to finish, because otherwise I will just keep, I am just going to keep doing this to you, and–
– No, no, no, no.
– So, thank you, Dianne, for your time. I so appreciate you being here tonight to tell us this story about this amazing project. Thank you everybody who is either listening now or who will be listening after we click off. If you have any questions for Dianne, please, put them in the comments. We will come back and check them. We will be recording this. I mean, we are recording this, but we will be transcribing this and putting it on my website. So, if you do want to share it with anyone you know at a later date, it will be there to do that, but in the meantime, cheers to everybody. I know you have got your decaf.
– Water now.
– Water. Your body’s a better temple than mine, but to everybody, I see Magdaleen. “I will have to give up chardy!” Oh. I don’t know. I know you too well, Magdaleen. I don’t think that is going to happen.
– Thank you so much, everybody, for joining us tonight. It is just fantastic to have had so much interaction and I love the questions that have come through.
– All right. So goodnight, everybody. If you would love to know who we have got upcoming in The Wine and Wisdom Shows, please direct message me and I will be able to set you up so you get notifications. But until then, goodnight. Have a wonderful week.
About Diane McGrath:
Dianne McGrath is one of the 100 astronaut candidates worldwide in the Mars One selection process. Her goal is to prove that we can thrive in a closed-loop sustainable system on Mars or on Earth. Currently completing a PhD in Environmental Engineering at RMIT University, Dianne is a leading expert in food waste and sustainability; and is the Director of Food For Thought Consulting Australia.
Dianne is also a biohacker, self-experimenter and self-optimisation expert. She applies leading-edge thinking and technology to transform her health and life to create the best version of herself. She has reversed vision impairment, improved bone mass, turned back the ageing process, increased cognitive function, and more. All in her journey to become Dianne 2.0.
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