Interview: Christian Ohlendorff Knudsen

Christian Ohlendorff Knudsen
Name: Christian Ohlendorff Knudsen

Where do you live: Copenhagen, Denmark

Known for:
A very deep voice, an insatiable curiosity and wanting to go on a one-way trip to Mars

Currently working with:
I’m a systems engineer at the web hosting company One.com, also I’m a Mars One candidate, one of 100 remaining candidates to go on a one-way trip to Mars.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
It kind of crept up on me, my dad has been working with computers for most of my life and I knew I’d be working with something technical, but I think the first time I really saw myself as working in the computer industry was when I got a student job as the IT department (Network, server, workstations, the whole thing) at a small consultancy firm called Nordic Consulting Group, the company specializes in projects for Non-governmental Organisations, developing infrastructure in third world countries.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
Mars! Because just getting there would entail huge technological and social progress for the entire human society, and I think each of us owe it to all the people that have built the society we enjoy, to leave something better for the ones that come after us, be that by colonizing another planet or leaving a work of art that others can enjoy.

How would you describe your creativity?
My creativity is very much driven by curiosity, I often ask myself “I wonder how this could be done” and if the answer is not readily available, sometimes I try to puzzle out a solution myself, such as was the case when I asked myself “I wonder how hard it would be to grow anything on Mars?” I went ahead and bought some simulated Mars soil and 3D printed an irrigation system for it and build a small garden. I learned that there IS such a thing as too much sunlight, especially for young plants.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I suppose my first serious, full-time job was when I was hired by an Internet Service Provider as part of their monitoring/3rd level support team, that was a great job, I learned so much about network and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and I still see some of my colleagues from those days, great job and great people!

What do you do at the moment?
When I don’t work my day job, I work out (resistance training, about 3 days a week) or spend time on projects related to Mars One, which could be everything from speaking about Mars One and space, in general, at public schools, to breeding mealworms and printing models of the Curiosity rover on my 3D printer, also I spend WAY too much time (and money) on Wikipedia and kickstarter.com.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Agree with yourself on what you want to risk (in terms of time, effort and money), that way you can afford to be bold and aim for something that would REALLY make you happy.

Personally I try to take 50% of my pay in job satisfaction, as long as the last 50% gives me food and a roof over my head, I think that’s worth it.

Tell us how it all started.
My participation in the Mars One project started when I saw someone posting about ti on an internet forum I frequented, that caught my interest and I applied and began really digging into the technical details about space exploration and colonizing other planets.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Tools, be that a computer or a screwdriver, if you don’t have the right tools (or, at least, just SOME tools) you can easily feel like your’e being held back.

What is your favorite film?
It’s a close call between “Blade Runner” (1982) by Ridley Scott and “Dune” (1984) by David Lynch, both have stunning visuals, an engaging story and interesting characters. Oh, or maybe “The Labyrinth” (1986) by Jim Henson, oh, sorry, did you ask me to pick ONE movie?

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Elon Musk, because he’s a man with selfless, ambitious dreams, who has had the drive to make them more real than anyone thought he could. Also I may have a slight man-crush on him 🙂

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Wikipedia.org and Kickstarter.com! Indulging my curiosity and enjoying other peoples creativity is what I enjoy the most.

What is luxury for you?
Irrelevant.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
Someone (unfortunately I’ve forgotten who, let’s pretend it was an intelligent, witty, self-confident and pretty woman), after visiting my apartment and seeing all my projects, exclaimed “You’re such a huge geek!”, that made me feel all warm inside.

What do you fear most?
Idleness, it gives me a sense of wasted potential which I dislike.

What is a happy life to you?
A happy life is a life where I can indulge my curiosity and feel like I’m contributing at the same time.

What does a regular day look like for you?
I get up at about 0700, spend 30 minutes grooming myself, and then 30 minutes biking to work. After work I get back home, pack my gear and head to the gym with my training buddy, after 1½-2 hours of training we go back to my place, I cook dinner and we watch an episode of some TV series we like, together (Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead and Archer are frequent guests at the dinner table), after that my training buddy goes home and I’m off to bed.

Tell us about your dream project.
That would be the Mars One project, the project of establishing a human colony on the planet Mars. To me that would be the accomplishment of a lifetime, I don’t even have to be directly involved in it, as long as someone establishes a permanent colony on Mars (or really just off Earth) I’m convinced it would kickstart a new golden era in human history, once we’re free of Earths oppressive gravity, I think it’s inevitable that we open up the resources of our solar system and I, personally, believe that would result in such a boost in quality of life for people (perhaps not right away, but eventually), that we would, mostly, stop fighting each other and begin expanding throughout the solar system to exploit it’s riches, and once we’ve opened up that frontier, there’s no telling where we’ll find the next one.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I have several role models, some of my colleagues are my role models (both professionally and personally), and I also look up to people like Elon Musk and Robert Zubrin, for their drive and for how they refuse to be cowed by other peoples lack of ambition. For pure physical determination and dedication, I have great respect for Kai Greene.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
While searching for a subject/project to work on: Playful and explorative.

Once I’ve settled on a subject/project: Methodical and deliberate

My clothing style I would describe as: As long as it’s in one piece, kinda fits and keeps me warm, it’ll do, I often come across as an uncoordinated or careless dresser, mostly because I am 🙂

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
That would probably be internet, without that how would I satisfy my curiosity for any meaningful amount of time? If I end up on Mars, it is planned that we will have the most important websites (Wikipedia will doubtless be among them, not a moment of doubt in my mind about that) cached locally and the rest we will have to wait to receive from Earth if we want to visit them, which would entail a delay of somewhere between 4-45 minutes, depending on the positions of Earth and Mars.

What inspires you?
Challenge and possibility, if something is too easy I loose inspiration, if something is possible it can, potentially, pique my curiosity, if it is enough of a challenge.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
From a moral point of view, I think Robert A. Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” has had the most profound effect on me (yes, there was a movie based on the book, but I do recommend you read the book, the book and the movie are VERY different creations).

Connect with Christian on Facebook and Google+
Follow him on Twitter @MrMonster911

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