South African quantum physicist Dr. Adriana Marais, who is a finalist in the Mars One initiative, addressed hundreds of high school girls on Youth Day, at a satellite initiative in Cape Town.
A theoretical physicist doing research in the field of quantum biology, Marais is one of the hundreds of people selected for the worldwide Mars One project, and hopes to eventually be one of the 24 finalists chosen to venture to the Red Planet in 2026.
On request of the Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO), Marais spoke to SA school girls at the organisation’s Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project, which aims to spark the girls’ interest in these decidedly male-dominated fields.
Speaking to Sarie.com, Marais said she believes it’s imperative that an interest in science and maths is nurtured in the young across the world.
“It’s essential that the new generation dream big and contribute to science and technology. It is how humanity is going to survive,” she told the website.
“The young women who are going to participate in the program already show us how to reach these ideals, in the way they are being encouraged to programme rovers themselves. They will also take part in the launching of the first private Africa satellite later this year. I am so proud of them and it’s an honour to be part of the project.”
Marais also shared her personal belief that all people have a responsibility to share their knowledge.
“While I’m on earth, I want to actively take part in the furthering of science and space exploration. I am also a specialist project coordinator for the establishing of space development in South Africa, an exciting initiative that forms part of the Africa2Moon project.
“I hope that I can, by sharing my dreams with the next generations, play a small role in getting young people involved in science. So they can also always believe in Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’,” she added.
“World issues stare us in the face and science and technology can help us solve it.”