When I started graduate school, I was given the impression that astronomy consisted of two broad formats (observational and theoretical) and addressed a set of specific subtopics (planets, stars, intersteller media, galaxies/cosmology). In this paradigm, people who studied how people learn astronomy were off to the side somewhere. In broad brush strokes, this is a fairly fair image. While there is a rich and dynamic group of people...

Read More

Lost in the vastness of space

Posted By on Mar 10, 2010

Tonight I co-gave the opening address at the Templeton Foundation supported Q3 conference on Cosmology and Theology. It was perhaps the most nerve wracking talk I’ve ever given. While I am a Christian, I must admit to being terrified of conservative Christians. I’ve just realized I can’t count the number of churches who have made me feel rejected because I spend my days studying our universe. At the same time,...

Read More


Posted By on Mar 1, 2010

Live blogging will begin here at 5:30pm 5:10pm A presentation will be by Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Title : “New Oppurtunities in the President’s FY2011 Budget” 5:12pm Speaker is not dressed in back. While there are people downstairs pre-lecture drinking in the bar, I don’t think it will be too awful. I fear for man (or at least manned space...

Read More

Two Views on Gravity Part 2: Geometry

Posted By on Feb 20, 2010

Sometimes analogies just feel right. For instance, “as hard to find as a needle in a hay stack” is often a good way to describe trying to find a needed quote in a half-remembered book. The mental image and the actual task just fit. In physics, I sometimes feel like the hardest part is finding the perfect analogy that will make it possible for everyone in the class to visualize the concept I’m trying to explain. In...

Read More

If you’re like me, you’ve been following NASA’s desperate attempt to free Spirit, and the ongoing roving of the rugged little Opportunity. These two rovers, with Captain Jack like habits of not dying, are in part the creation of Steven Squyres. Next week, on Wednesday night, Squyres will be giving a talk here at SIUE. Come give him a listen? Here are the details: Steven Squyres “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity...

Read More

The End of IYA (Part 2)

Posted By on Jan 27, 2010

Sometimes it takes a bit longer than planned to get around to writing than expected. The second day of the IYA Closing ceremonies was filled with talks on history & vision – Who was Galileo and what was the real relationship between him and the Chrutch? How do we move forward to celebrate astronomy in years that aren’t 400 year anniversaries? How do we build on what we’ve done so that great new projects...

Read More