Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics|
The CfA Almanac Vol. XIII No. 2, July 2000
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Candy Hoffman and Jim Moran of the Radio and Geoastronomy Division were among the 235 finishers of the 8th annual 5-kilometer Team Hoyt Road Race in Waltham, MA, on May 25. They both posted quite respectable times and were awarded prizes (automobile oil changes at a local garage!). To place this achievement in perspective, their times were about a factor of two greater than needed for qualification for the Olympics and neither Hoffman nor Moran has received a call to represent the US in the games in Syndey this summer.
Hoffman is a veteran road racer, but this was Moran's first try. He noted that road racing is an excellent way to pick up easy prizes: For two $15 entrance fees, they received neat tee shirts festooned with corporate logos, candy bars, dinners of pizza and pasta, and an infinite number of orange slices for themselves and their personal trainers (Charles Hoffman and Barbara Moran, respectively), as well as the oil changes.
Sallie Baliunas of the CfA's Solar and Stellar Physics Division has been named as the next Vice- President of the International Astronomical Union's Division XI, "Space and High Energy," a multidisciplinary section combining a variety of fields, e.g., planets, stars, sun, and galaxies, that share a common interest in space and high-energy science.
A banquet on March 24 to celebrate Owen Gingerich's 70th birthday (and his impending retirement) was attended by 39 former Teaching Fellows from Nat Sci 9, Science A-17, and Science B-17, plus family and friends. The convocation in Hall A at the Science Center the next day was chock full of history, anecdotes, music, art, cake, slides, tributes to Owen, and two exquisite lectures by the master himself, liberally illustrated with demonstrations and theater.
CfA Senior scientist, Yakov Alpert, 89, has been making waves all his life--in scientific laboratories, where his pioneering work as a radio physicist earned him world renown, and in the Soviet Union, where he defied the repressive Soviet regime, became a Refusnik and a dissident, and at the age of 76 finally won permission to emigrate to the United States. In "Making Waves: Stories from My Life," a new book to be published this fall by Yale University Press, Alpert tells what it was like to be a scientist during the entire life cycle of the Soviet Union. He also provides a uniquely revealing look inside the Soviet scientific community, a firsthand view of Soviet society from postrevolutionary days to the nation's ultimate collapse, and a description of how scientists and citizens responded, some bravely and some cravenly, to the repression and anti-Semitism of the Soviet regime.
A pioneer in several fields of radio and space plasma physics, Alpert participated in Sputnik I and many other Soviet satellite projects in the 1960s and 1970s. He hosted the officially banned "refusnik scientific seminars" in Moscow in the 1980s and emigrated to the United States in 1987, when he joined CfA's "Special Projects" group.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has named its cornerstone science mission to Mercury after the late Giuseppe (Bepi) Colombo (1920-1984), co-developer of the tethered satellite concept and a long-time associate of the CfA. The ESA honor recognizes that the orbital maneuver that enabled NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft to pass close to Mercury three times in 1974-75 was proposed by Colombo. As a professor at the University of Padua and an associate of SAO at that time, Colombo also explained the peculiar rotation of Mercury, in which the planet turns three times on its axis during two revolutions around the Sun, a previously unsuspected resonance.
Fred Whipple, Philips Professor of Astronomy Emeritus and former director of SAO, was among 83 Americans named as "Living Legends" by the Library of Congress at a celebration of its bicentennial on April 24. Selected by the Library's curators and subject specialists, those honored included artists, writers, activists, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures, and public servants. According to the Library, each of the selected individuals "has embodied the quintessentially American ideal of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, and exuberance."
Two long-time employees of SAO retired this spring. Jim Taylor, who joined the organization in October 1965 as an Administrative Assistant, and progressed to Program Administrator (1966), Budget Analyst (1970), Financial Analyst (1974), Budget Officer (1975), Budget and Accounting Officer (1987), and, finally, since late last year, in his last--and leading--role as Manager of the Financial Management Department, left (with a gala going-away gathering at the Cottonwood Cafe) on May 26. And, after 42 years of service to SAO, Gene Campbell of the Computing Facility retired on Friday, June 2, following his own goodbye party at the Harvard Faculty Club. A veteran of SAO's satellite tracking program, including a stint in Spain where he met his wife-to-be, Campbell played a pioneering role in the development of SAO's preeminence in the world of astronomical computing. Indeed, at the time of his retirement, he was one of only two original CF staffers still in the department (the other being Richie Kozlowski).
"Cosmic Horizons: Our Place in Space & Time," a national exhibition and education project being developed by the staff of the NASA-sponsored Science Education Forum at SAO, will attempt to bring to a broader public the unprecedented spate of scientific discoveries that are changing our views of the Universe. The exhibit will also attempt to highlight some of the human stories of how these discoveries are being made--from lone theorists, to a remote team of astronomers in Antarctica, to huge groups launching great observatories into space--to provide insights on how science is done.
The innovative 5000-square-foot traveling exhibition is designed to foster an ongoing national conversation--among museum audiences, scientists, educators, and students--about the meaning and relevancy of the age-old quest to understand the origin and nature of the Universe.
In "Cosmic Horizons," visitors will explore three basic cosmological questions: What does the Universe look like? Was there a beginning to time? How do we fit in?
Through these three thematic inquiries, exhibit-goers will be able to explore key astronomical ideas, such as, the composition of the cosmos and its vast scale of space and time; the physical and analytical tools of the astronomer; the universal principles on which the Universe seems to operate; and, the interplay of ideas and observational evidence in forming our models of the Universe.
Exhibit elements in each section of the exhibition will allow visitors to articulate their own ideas about the Universe; to explore the scientific concepts behind the cosmic questions, using physical and computer-based models, hands-on activities, and interactive experiments; to learn about the scientific search for answers by meeting the scientists involved, and encountering the most recent theories, images and evidence on those questions; to discover the various human perspectives (historical, personal, cultural, artistic, etc...), on these cosmic questions; and, to reflect upon their learning and communicate conclusions and new questions to other visitors, to scientists, and to museum educators.
As currently planned, "Cosmic Horizons" will include: dioramas and multi-media presentations to give the "big picture" (Multi-wavelength Sky, Cosmic Time Tunnel); immersive experiences to suspend visitors in outer space and bring them to observatory sites (Tour the Galaxies, Milky Way Flyby, Chandra Control); three-dimensional models and interactives to help visitors visualize new ideas (Where in the Universe are We?, Space not Nothing...); simple experiments to engage visitors in the processes of astronomical observations (Mystery Star, Infrared Eyes, How Far the Stars?, Stellar Spectra); and, a "Cosmic Cafe" Resource Area where visitors can pursue hands-on activities as well as question-and-answer sessions and demonstrations with space-scientist volunteers.
A comprehensive set of programmatic activities and resources will accompany the exhibition, which is being supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA's Office of Space Science and, hopefully, private and corporate donors. For more information, contact Mary Dussault of the Universe! Education Forum (496-7962).