In this week’s Top Women podcast, Topco CEO, Ralf Fletcher sits down to talk with Adriana Marais – theoretical physicist, technologist and aspiring extra-terrestrial. Adriana’s goals are big: to understand our world and beyond.

Adriana is the founder of Proudly Human, which pioneers new frontiers in research and technology for a resilient future on Earth and Mars. Having recently visited the Antarctic interior and the Oman desert on location scouts for Proudly Human’s Off-World Project, she is used to extremes. Adriana and Ralf discuss a wide range of topics, from what it means to truly think globally, to the importance of seizing the moment and making the most of what we have right now. Adriana dives into the importance of keeping the youth at the forefront of our minds because when it comes down to it, they are the future. Young minds are curious, receptive and enthusiastic – they are our best chance of achieving as much as we can.

Key takeaways to listen out for in this podcast:

  • The lockdown that most people around the world have recently experienced has given us the opportunity to rethink where we’re going as a society. We can rethink on a personal level what we’re doing with our time, our jobs and how we’re living.
  • We need to start thinking globally and this means considering every single human mind and body on the planet.
  • In order to progress through this era of change, we need to recognise that it’s not about resilience it’s about being flexible and being able to do more with less.
  • Being able to share knowledge in a way that people understand is a powerful process that can help us in more ways than we may understand.
  • The beauty in talking to the youth about big ideas is that they’re open to almost anything. Encouraging curiosity in children isn’t necessarily about telling them our ideas, but rather about opening their minds to the possibilities of what could be.
  • We are not doing ourselves any favours by running away from challenging situations. We are simply postponing learning that needs to take place.
  • The time is now. We need to explore beyond what we are doing on earth – if we want to sustain our species beyond this era, it’s imperative that we become a multi-planetary species.
  • We need to figure out how to get on – the fundamental nature of life is the network and collaboration between all living species.

Dr Adriana Marais is a South African theoretical physicist and technologist. She is Director of the Foundation for Space Development, South Africa, an organisation that aims to inspire children in developing countries via education and science. Adriana is the founder of Proudly Human, an initiative of which is Off-World Antarctica, an off-world settlement simulation experiment to take place over the winter of 2021. She was one of four South Africans chosen in the third round of astronaut candidate selection for Mars One and was awarded the 2015 L’Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Award. Adriana holds an MSc (summa cum laude) in quantum cryptography and a PhD in quantum biology. Her postdoctoral research focused on quantum effects in photosynthesis as well as the origins of prebiotic molecules and life itself. She is currently pursuing a second PhD in economics in team dynamics in extreme environments at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.

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