Thursday, January 7, 2010

215th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. II

The meeting is now over, so here's a summary.  I ran into many old friends and acquaintances.

Some of the highlights:

I met John Hearnshaw, who authored one of my favorite astronomy history books, “The Analysis of Starlight: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Astronomical Spectroscopy“ (Barnes & Noble).  I made heavy use of this reference when writing “The Cosmos in Your Pocket“.

I shook hands with John Grunsfeld, one of the astronauts who flew in the last Hubble Servicing mission, and thank him for a job well-done.  I had actually met John many years ago when I worked with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

I ran into Sandy Antunes whom I worked with back when I did scientific programming at the HEASARC.  He is now doing science writing as The Daytime Astronomer.

I found out about work to improve the timing precision of clocks used in the GPS system (Wikipedia).  This will make relativistic effects even more important, creating even more problems for the relativity deniers among the Electric Universe supporters (see “Scott Rebuttal. I: GPS & Relativity“).

I was very pleased at the reception of the ideas presented in my poster “Crank Astronomy as a Teaching Tool?“.  There were a number of interesting stories from classroom professors about dealing with students advocating creationism.  A number of them expressed interest in the approach I was advocating and provided contact info, and I hope to follow up with them over the next few weeks.  I gave my contact info to many others.  I will refrain from mentioning names on this blog unless the individuals in question wish to identify themselves in the comments.

I spoke briefly with a professor who presented on taking a group of teachers-in-training to the Creation Museum.  That was a very interesting story and I hope this professor will follow-up with me.

Only a handful of professors I spoke to had even heard of the Electric Universe, though many were familiar with its philosophical predecessor, Immanuel Velikovsky (Wikipedia).

Among the additional ideas for my resources suggested by my visitors:
  • Many of the examples I presented illustrate very fundamental principles which physicists, astronomers, and engineers need to estimate quantities.  This is a powerful tool for future scientists and citizens.
  • Some future graduate students may encounter these types of questions in their Ph.D. qualifying exams!  They are an excellent source for testing unconventional thinking!
I listened to a number of talks ranging from astronomy education effectiveness to discovering new sources of data for developing content for this project.

I also notice a backlog of comments to earlier posts which need moderating and I should be able to address this weekend.  I want to check some of the references provided before I respond.


W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

I mentioned above about the professor who took his teachers-in-training to the Creation Museum. Tim Slater, has written more about this in the astrolrnr blog in a post titled "Will cosmologists ever convert non-believers?".

Anonymous said...

Immanuel Velikovsky was not the "philosophical predecessor" of the Electric Universe. Alfred de Grazia, writes in his book "Cosmic Heretics" (page 228) that when he "asked Velikovsky, more than once, whether he could accept Juergens' [electric sun] theory, he would reply with a definite negative. He adhered to internal thermo-nuclear fusion as the secret of the Sun's radiation."

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

I've found that Velikovsky catastrophism seems to tag along in almost any EU-related discussion and some aspects EU were clearly influenced by Velikovsky. I'm sure some people following this blog could provide a link to a genealogy.

Alfven was not an Electric Sun supporters either as I have noted in this blog ("Electric Sun Verified"?? - In your dreams...). But in that case, I would say EU is trying to hijack credibility off Alfven.

ID also tries to claim they are not creationism. I even read one paper suggesting that the modern "Scientific Creationism" movement was inspired by "Worlds in Collision".