Salt Lake City’s Sterling Poulson - Chief Meteorologist for KUTV 2News (with a plethora of credentials and a defense background) - served as the moderator for the evening. After a warm welcome to the crowd from Seth Jarvis - Director, Clark Planetarium - David Ruck - director of the film, which was originally his final thesis project upon achieving his MFA from American University - introduced the film and thanked @ClarkPlanet and @ATK for their tremendous support and collaboration toward this event.
Sterling Poulson then introduced the film in no better way than by initiating a countdown sequence, as per NASA space shuttle launches throughout history. At countdown #6, former NASA astronaut Jake Garn - Republican politician and former U.S. Senator for Utah who happens to be the first sitting member of the U.S. Congress to fly in space aboard space shuttle Discovery as a Payload Specialist (more here) and whom was in attendance among the crowd - stood up, put his hands in the air, and said “main engines start!” The countdown continued until the dramatic “launch” of the film.
What a night. Upon the end of the film, Sterling Poulson once again took to the mic and brought out David Ruck, Jake Garn, and fellow (former) NASA astronauts Charlie Precourt (Vice President of ATK) and Kent Rominger (Vice President of ATK’s Advanced Programs and former NASA Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA JSC) all of whom engaged with the audience for a panel discussion about NASA, the past and developing present/future of space exploration, along with inspiring stories of dedication and commitment to their dreams.
There were children scattered amongst the attendees who donned mock astronaut uniforms, flight suits, and helmets. It was such a beautiful sight. Children and adults alike participated in a live Q&A with David and the astronauts.
As a personal aside, I spent a good portion of my time that evening speaking with Jake Garn and his wife before the screening (in the second to last photo from left to right: Jake, myself, and Melissa); and it’s only reaffirmed in me the assertion that regardless of whatever religious conviction one may have, the primary individuals who should experience spaceflight and acquire "the overview effect" must be politicians. Although I certainly support efficient access to space for all human beings on Earth - serving as our first steps to becoming a global spacefaring civilization - if we are to continue forth along this political trajectory of “business as usual”, it’s necessary for those appointed or interested in running to venture beyond our atmosphere, witness the Earth from space, and grasp the role of stewardship we have to each other, the rich biodiversity of this planet, and to the cosmos itself.
I encourage you all to watch this brief but intimate message from General Garn. Even though Mr. Garn’s opinon of extraterrestrial life in the universe may be slightly anthropocentric, it’s indeed refreshing to hear such an inspiring perspective from an acclaimed Republican Mormon who flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery…the very same spacecraft I witnessed become retired and stowed away as an artifact in the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum.
Ebola has a nasty reputation for damaging the body, especially its blood vessels. But when you look at the nitty-gritty details of what happens after a person is infected, a surprising fact surfaces.
Illustration credit: Lisa Brown for NPR
Chinese Man Loses Half His Skull in Fall – Doctors to Return Him to Normal with 3D Printed Titanium Mesh
For a 46-year old Chinese man, named Hu, he was just going about a typical job on a construction site about 10 months ago, when he fell 3 stories to the ground, severely damaging his head, skull, and brain. Hu was left with a disfigured upper portion of his head, as a large portion of his brain and skull were completely removed. People in his neighborhood would jokingly call him ‘Half Headman’, and he had become the brute of some other jokes. All in all, Hu had lost a 14cm × 9cm section of his skull. Because of brain damage that he suffered, Hu has severe vision damage, particularly in his left eye, and also can not write or speak. However, his wife says that he can understand what people are saying to and about him. The part of his brain responsible for walking was mostly unaffected, so he has little problem getting around. Doctors at the Xijing Hospital, located in the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an, have determined that Hu is suffering from post-traumatic skull defects, traumatic aphasia, limited motor function, left ptosis with vision loss, and traumatic aphasia. He is also experiencing a severe case of double vision, referred to as diplopia.
Surgion MaoGuo Shu, of Xijing Hospital, who has seen a vast array of head and skull injuries, says that cases like Hu’s are very rare, and finding a solution to fix the damaged skull is very complex and difficult. To try and come up with a solution, the hospital brought in dozens of experts in the field. What they came up with was an idea for a 3D printed titanium mesh which would cover Hu’s brain and help make his skull look normal again. Thankfully for Hu, he won’t have to pay a dime for the surgery, as the hospital is covering the cost, and an American company, Stryker has agreed to pay for the 3D printing and materials used in the printing process.
Bill Nye Fights Back
How a mild-mannered children’s celebrity plans to save science in America—or go down swinging.
Read the full article on Popular Science
Curiosity Rover: Looking Back on the Two Years of Wear and Tear Inflicted By Mars
It’s insanely hard to believe that Curiosity has been traversing Mars for a full two years now, but, as these images show, time has certainly taken a toll on it. See before and after images of the damage: http://bit.ly/1pP0GpQ
Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Solar energy that doesn’t block the view
A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”
Meet the First Woman to Win Math’s Most Prestigious Prize
“As an 8-year-old, Maryam Mirzakhani used to tell herself stories about the exploits of a remarkable girl. Every night at bedtime, her heroine would become mayor, travel the world or fulfill some other grand destiny.
Today, Mirzakhani — a 37-year-old mathematics professor at Stanford University — still writes elaborate stories in her mind. The high ambitions haven’t changed, but the protagonists have: They are hyperbolic surfaces, moduli spaces and dynamical systems. In a way, she said, mathematics research feels like writing a novel. “There are different characters, and you are getting to know them better,” she said. “Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s completely different from your first impression.”
Learn more about Maryam Mirzakhani at wired.
Have you ever noticed the refraction of light in a cup of coffee?
The envelope of light rays reflected or refracted by a curved surface is called a caustic (from the Latin causticus, “burning”); more concrete a catacaustic in case of reflection, and a diacaustic in case of refraction. The caustic is a curve or surface to which each of the light rays is tangent. In case of a circle, the resulting shape is a cardioid.
Wolfram MathWorld provides a list of famous catacaustics.
Rainbows are familiar examples of caustics as well!