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A couple of people who are out of this world (literally)

I’ve never been to space. For someone who won’t look over the guardrail at malls because of an irrational fear of heights, the prospect of going into the endless void of space feels a bit too much.

I’m sure space is cool. There are stars there and maybe Jimmy Neutron’s abandoned spaceship and possibly little green aliens who have three fingers that light up and can talk to dolphins through telepathy.

Of course, this is all conjecture. I’ve never been to space and I’m fairly confident that most of you—the loyal readers—have not ventured into the great beyond either; unless my writing is prominent in the space-travel community.

If so, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your time and request that you talk to United Airlines so I get better snacks on my cross-country flights.

Even though most people associated with IU probably wouldn’t even watch Gravity in IMAX, we have among us two venerated individuals who made it beyond the final ozone layer and floated their way into history, Dr. Mae Jemison and David Wolf.

“Who are these wonderful people?” you may ask.

“Sit down and let me provide you with two short profiles,” I reply.

Dr. Mae Jemison

Astronaut, engineer, entrepreneur, physician, educator, very-big-business-card-haver-to-fit-all-of-her-titles, Dr. Jemison is currently serving as the Poling Chair of Business and Government for the Kelley School of Business.

Having been a NASA astronaut for six years, she was the first woman of color to go to space and the first astronaut to appear on “Star Trek.”

She also served as a Peace Corps Medical officer in the 1980’s and did research for the Centers for Disease Control researching various vaccines.

I’m not saying she’s accomplished everything possible for a human being, because I don’t know if she’s ever bowled a 300, but she’s probably come pretty damn close.

Also, I wouldn’t bet against her somehow finishing ten frames with a 301. “I always knew I’d go to space,” she once said, and she was right.

What she probably didn’t know is how many lives she would affect for the better along the way.

David Wolf

Although he earned a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, we won’t hold it against Wolf because he eventually made the two-hour drive from West Lafayette to Bloomington and earned a medical degree from Indiana University’s School of Medicine.

Like every IU student upon receiving a diploma, Wolf went on to join the staff of the Johnson Space Center to investigate the physiological effects of microgravity.

He is also a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, the NASA Inventor of the Year and the Carl R. Ruddell scholarship award for research in medical ultrasonic signal and image processing, all of which make him the sole-owner of the most impressive LinkedIn page.

Wolf has been to space four times and is a veteran of seven spacewalks totaling over 41 hours.