Apr 242013
 

In this episode of the Wait Wait… In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to fly in space when she served as a science mission specialist. We’ve invited Jemison to play a game called “Excuse me? When do we get to the Southwest terminal?” Jemison has flown in the space shuttle Endeavour, so we thought we’d ask her questions about a sometimes more unpredictable vehicle … the airport shuttle.

Listen to the Story

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now, the game where we ask people who’ve done amazing things to do something rather mundane. In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space when she flew as a science mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. A short while later she served as a Transporter Engineer on the Starship Enterprise. Guess which one I think is cooler?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Dr. Jemison, welcome to WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME.

DR. MAE JEMISON: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Wow. So you have done a lot of remarkable things, a Stanford graduate, a medical doctor, a teacher, a professor at Dartmouth and an astronaut.

JEMISON: Yes.

SAGAL: And we’ve read that you say two things got you into science, “Star Trek” and pus.

(LAUGHTER)

JEMISON: Yes.

SAGAL: Could you explain the influence pus had on you?

JEMISON: Pus is one of the neatest things ever, right? When I was a little girl, I got a splinter stuck in my thumb and it got infected, pus came out of it. My mother told me to go look it up and then I found out it has all these really cool things in it. It’s just the most fascinating thing that your body could do. It’s the way around – that’s the way we – I don’t know, I thought it was cool.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I mean it’s interesting that – were people’s reaction to your fascination with pus to be like, wow, some day you’re going to be an astronaut, or was it like you’re an odd little girl?

(LAUGHTER)

JEMISON: Well, that wasn’t the oddest thing I did. I mean, I made mud pies. I had the whole full science scope going. I had pus, mud pies, dance, you know…

SAGAL: Wait a minute. Oh yeah, it sounds like a typical girlhood, pus, mud pies, dance, sure.

(LAUGHTER)

 

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