Former astronaut Clayton Anderson opened his lecture Friday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center with something a little different: penguins.
“Astronauts are like penguins,” Anderson said, explaining the video clip of a depressed-looking penguin. “Before you get a flight assignment, you're all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
The next slide showed a penguin sliding across the ice and waving its arms in victory, eliciting chuckles from the audience of about 50.
“And then you get your assignment,” he said. “When I got mine, people were like, 'How did the guy from Nebraska get chosen to go to space?' ”
Anderson, a native of Ashland, spent 152 days on the International Space Station in 2007. During the trip, his bone mass dropped 4 percent.
Stories from the expedition were the bulk of Anderson's lecture at the orthopedic surgery residency graduation.
Also addressing the graduates was visiting professor Dr. Bernard Morrey, a professor of orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Morrey was a NASA engineer during the Apollo program in the 1960s.
Photos showed Anderson floating in space dressed in Husker gear, meeting the pope, posing with the Harlem Globetrotters and outside Air Force One with President George W. Bush.
“People asked me what it was like to be in space,” Anderson said, gesturing to a photo. “I was Superman. I flew to work. I flew to the bathroom. I flew while I was going to the bathroom.”
Kaitlin Neary, a second-year resident, enjoyed the lecture.
“It's always cool to get different perspectives from different fields,” said Neary, a second-year resident. “Plus, graduations are always inspiring. It reminds you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”