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April 27, 2006

Dr. Michael Zolensky, Co-investigator, Stardust Discovery Mission, NASA Johnson Space Center, 4/26/06

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Dr. Michael E. Zolensky is Co-investigator of the Stardust Discovery Mission, the Associate Curator for Interplanetary Dust and hardware returned from space, and a member of the science team of the MUSES-C asteroid sample return mission, at NASA Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX).

Dr. Zolensky has led or participated in successful meteorite recovery expeditions in Antarctica, Chile, Namibia, and the U.S. He has worked on the development of techniques for the characterization of meteoroid and space debris impact features on spacecraft. He led the effort to characterize the impact record of the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF). Dr. Zolensky works now on development of new techniques for the analysis of nanogram-sized extraterrestrial samples, especially as applied to the early formation of solids in the solar nebula and the detailed characterization of the chemical weathering record of asteroids. He is also leading efforts to locate and characterize aqueous fluid inclusions in meteorites, the first direct samples of water found off the Earth.

Dr. Zolensky serves on the Cosmic Dust Working Group and as a member of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Subcommittee. He is a fellow of the Meteoritical Society and the Mineralogical Society of America. Dr. Zolensky has received NASA’s Group Achievement Awards for leading the LDEF Meteoroid and Debris Investigation Team and development of the Stardust Discovery Mission, and the National Science Foundation Antarctic Service Medal. He has more than 400 publications, and is the namesake of minor planet 6030/Zolensky.

Posted by David Lemberg at 09:00 AM Return to Science and Society Podcasts Main Index

April 21, 2006

Dr. Kim Griest, Professor of Physics, University of California, San Diego, 4/19/06

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Dr. Kim Griest is Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Griest trained originally in particle theory, studying supersymmetry, before turning to cosmology and the particles coming out of the first nanosecond of the Early Universe. These particles (weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs) may well be the mysterious dark matter that dominate the mass of the universe today and hold the galaxies together.

In 1989, Dr. Griest started thinking about other kinds of dark matter, including black holes and small dim or dead stars, coining the term "MACHO" (massive astrophysical compact halo object) to describe them. After writing some theory papers on how to detect MACHOs via gravitational lensing, he joined a large collaboration (the MACHO collaboration) and led the analysis that eventually discovered gravitational microlensing and some evidence for this form of dark matter. Further work by the team eventually proved the majority of the dark matter cannot consist of MACHOs, thus leaving WIMPs as the primary suspect.

Currently, Dr. Griest works on gravitational lensing, as well as dark energy, serving as chair of the Science Definition Team for the NASA/DoE Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM), and as a member of other NASA satellite mission teams. Dr. Griest has published over 150 scientific papers, is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and has won awards including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, DoE Outstanding Junior Investigator, Cottrell Scholar, R&D 500, and Chancellor's Associate award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Dr. Griest is also interested in energy policy, and is co-author of a petition by physicists against the new U.S. policy of first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

Posted by David Lemberg at 12:06 PM Return to Science and Society Podcasts Main Index

April 13, 2006

Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, author of The Fractal Geometry of Nature, and Battelle Fellow, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 4/12/06

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Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, Battelle Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is an internationally acknowledged and recognized mathematician. Dr. Mandelbrot originated the field of fractal geometry, and showed how fractals occur in many diverse places, both in nature and mathematics. He published The Fractal Geometry of Nature in 1982, recognized by The American Scientist as one of the most influential science books of the 20th Century.

Dr. Mandelbrot has authored more than 180 research publications and nearly a dozen books. He has been cited more than 20,000 times for his journal publications and conferences. He has received many awards, honors, and prizes for his remarkable achievements, including the Wolf Foundation Prize for Physics, the Japan Prize for Science and Technology, the Richardson Medal in Geophysics, and the Sierpinksi Prize in Mathematics. In the Legion d’Honneur of France, Dr. Mandelbrot became a Knight in 1990 and an Officer in 2006.

Posted by David Lemberg at 12:00 PM Return to Science and Society Podcasts Main Index

April 10, 2006

Dr. Katie Klinger, Faculty Associate, George Lucas Educational Foundation, and Primary Designer, National University Virtual High School, 4/5/06

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Dr. Katie Klinger has over 25 years experience in teaching students of all ages how to use computer technology effectively in their lives and in their classrooms. She actively presents at international conferences and publishes on how to integrate technology into K-12 learning environments for faculty and pre-service teachers.

Dr. Klinger was the Project Director of a Microsoft Virtual Classroom Tours grant, for which she was presented one of only three nationwide 2003 Innovative Teachers Outstanding Achievement Awards. Recently she was honored with the status of Faculty Associate for the George Lucas Educational Foundation. In addition, she has served as the Principal Investigator on a $1.2 million PT3 DOE grant and as Project Director for a Gates Foundation Grant.

Dr. Klinger discusses sex-based differences in disease processes, particularly related to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, highlighting the work of Dr. Carole Banka at the La Jolla Institute for Molecular Medicine.

Dr. Klinger also discusses the Waimea Middle School, a NASA Explorer School, located in Kamuela, HI. Waimea recently won the State Award for their Robotics Team.

Posted by David Lemberg at 08:34 AM Return to Science and Society Podcasts Main Index

April 06, 2006

Dr. Lisa Randall, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Harvard University, 4/5/06

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Professor Lisa Randall's new book, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, was recently published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. Warped Passages was included in The New York Times list of 100 notable books of 2005.

Professor Randall’s research concerns the fundamental nature of particles and forces and how matter's basic elements relate to the physical properties of the world that we see. She has worked on a wide variety of ideas for what might lie beyond established particle physics and cosmological theories, including grand unified theories, supersymmetry, cosmological inflation, string theory, and most recently, extra dimensions of space.

Professor Randall has made seminal contributions in all these areas, and as of Fall 2005 was the most cited theoretical physicist of the past five years. is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society. Professor Randall is a past winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, and the Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search.

Professor Randall discusses how gravity is connected to the geometry of spacetime, potential solutions to the hierarchy problem utilizing a Gravitybrane model, the possibility of infinite extra dimensions, and possible outcomes of future experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (coming online at CERN in 2007).

Posted by David Lemberg at 09:55 AM Return to Science and Society Podcasts Main Index