Outer Space Lessons For The Workplace

Outer Space Lessons For The Workplace

Jaideep Patel explains how out-of-this-world occurrences can form lessons for our daily work life.

Interstellar blew my mind. I was the kid who had binoculars and telescopes as toys, spending hours upon hours gazing into the clear skies over the small towns I grew up in. The stars (and meteors, if I looked through the lens long enough) were the objects of my fascination. So when I got the chance to visually travel through worm holes and witness the destructive force of black holes, thanks to the genius of Chris Nolan and his production team, I was elated. It was like a childhood dream coming to life on the big screen. Yes, I admit, I nearly shed tears.

While sitting through the epic star-studded masterpiece, something else came alive inside of me. It also got me thinking of how we can learn some lessons from these strange things that happen in the deepest, darkest, recesses of space. Don’t worry, I’m not going to discuss astrophysics, but do hang on tight as there are some science involved!

The science: Black holes are stars that have collapsed.
The lesson: Don’t let an ego crush your chances of success.

'The bigger they are, the harder they fall' applies to stars because only the really massive ones (those that have at least thrice the mass of our sun) collapse under their own internal pressure, thus forming black holes. And as we all know, black holes are the ultimate destroyers of galaxies, swallowing everything in their path including light!

The lesson in this is that you should keep your ego in check at all times, lest it threaten your rise to the top of the corporate ladder.

Sun size comparison

Star size comparison

The sun may be the giant of our solar system but it is relatively tiny compared to some of its bigger brethrens. Antares is the largest star shown in Diagram 1, but it is nowhere as big as UY Scuti which is about the size of 1,700 suns. Diagram 2 illustrates the relative sizes of the two.

UY Scuti size comparison to the sun
The science: The moon is tidally locked with the earth.
The lesson: Good leaders will gather worthy followers.

We all know the moon is in the night sky, but did you know that it is tidally locked (in synchronous rotation) with the earth? This explains why, we humans on earth – no matter where we are – always see the same side of the moon every single night. It is indeed a partnership made in heaven.

While this may sound ridiculously romantic, it is proof that a good leader not only attracts talented people as followers, but can also impart his or her values to them.
The science: The search for alien life uses the power of thousands of personal computers around the world.
The lesson: You may be able to do good things on your own, but to do great things you will need a team.

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is the name given for a number of activities organised to search for life outside of earth. One of these activities includes seti@home, which utilises idle personal computers around the world via the internet to perform sophisticated analysis of data. So, if we do find solid evidence of intelligent aliens in outer space, we have the humble personal computer to thank!

The take-away from this is: you will need support from the entire team to pull off fantastic feats at work.