Internet Astrophysics Celebs Carroll & Gay to Speak in Second Life
For those of you who haven’t been following my blog or watching my twitter or facebook updates, you may not realize that there are regular public-outreach astronomy talks in Second Life. These are designed for the general public, and are open to anybody. Indeed, because a Second Life account is free, they really are open to anybody. These talks are on Saturdays at 10 AM pacific time / 1 PM eastern time, are sponsored by the Meta-Institute of Computational Astrophysics, and are held in MICA Large Amphitheater of the StellaNova region in Second Life.
This series has historically been called “Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy”, because through the end of 2009 I have given the lion’s share of the talks. Indeed, I was thinking about it the other day. The last semester before I left Vanderbilt, I was contacted by the people who make the CD series called “The Great Courses”. These are CDs with lectures from university professors on their topics of expertise. Based on some podcasts of mine that were online from several years ago, they contacted me and asked me to come audition. The idea was that if I passed it, they might well produce a course from me. However, when I left Vanderbilt, and could no longer call myself a “Professor of Physics and Astronomy”, they were no longer interested in me.
It occurs to me that given the number of talks I’ve presented so far, those who have come to most or all of my talks have effective received the equivalent of one of these CD series on “hot topics in astronomy.” Indeed, it was more than that, for not only were there visuals (i.e. my slides), but it was interactive. You could ask questions, and also discuss the talk with the others present.
If you look at our schedule for this coming semester, you’ll see that we’re starting to mix things up some more. I’m still giving more of the talks than any other single person, but we’ve got a larger range of guest speakers. You can see who’s coming up soon by looking at the Upcoming Public Events page.
Last week, we had Nobel Prize winner John Mather speaking about the history of the whole Universe, and of hopes and plans for the upcoming Webb Space Telescope. In the next two weeks, we’ll have two “Internet Celebrities” talking. Sean Carroll, one of the authors of the popular physics blog Cosmic Variance, will be talking about his recently released book on the nature of time, From Eternity to Here. Then, Pamela Gay, host of 365 Days of Astronomy and a member of Astronomy Cast, will be speaking in two weeks.
Drop by and hear us. These talks can be very good… and, while you shouldn’t believe me if I tell you my own talks are good, others have told me that they are. The immersive environment of virtual worlds means that you really feel you are there— John Mather was commenting on this just last week after giving his talk.
AAS Astronomy Events Live Streamed into Second Life
I’m at the annual big meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week in Washington, DC. Lots of stuff going on, and I’m already overwhelmed by the sheer number of people here. (And, also, depressed by the number of young people here in comparison to the number of entries on this list.
Several of the bigger events— press conferences, invited talks— are going to be live streamed into Second Life. Drop by the Astronomy 2009 island to hear the talks, including the Wednesday at 8AM Eastern / 5AM Pacific talk by astronaut and Hubble Mechanic John Grunsfeld. These events are hosted by Astronomy 2009 and by the Astrosphere New Media (Pamela Gay’s and others’ new venture). A full schedule is here.
Remember that a Second Life account is free! Drop by and check it out. And, once you’ve got a Second Life account, nothing will be stopping you from coming to hear my public astronomy talks that I frequently give.
“Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy” — archived on the web
I give regular talks in a series entitled “Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy” as part of MICA’s public events. These talks are in Second Life, so people from all over the place can come to them.
if you’ve missed them, and want to catch up on them, at the site above slides from most of my talks are archived, as well as MP3 files of the audio in many cases. However, there are now three of the talks online that have been recorded fully in video. Of course, it’s not the same as being there, since you can’t ask questions and interact, but it might give you a sense of what goes on at these things.
The first one is a talk about how we know that Dark Matter exists that I gave several months ago; this talk is online at PookyMedia.
More recently, Geo Meek has recorded my most two recent talks, and there is now a Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy channel at livestream. The two talks online there are one all about redshift (the Doppler shift, gravitational redshift, cosmological redshift), and my talk a few days ago about black hole misconceptions. Special thanks to Spike McPhee (aka Paradox Olbers) for supporting this latter effort!
Joe Bob Says Check It Out!
(Update: it looks like the black hole talk is not online at livestream yet, as of 2009-12-15 13:40. However, I believe it will be before too long.)
The REAL Christmas Story— ART Production Dec 11-13
Come by and see Avatar Repertory Theater’s 2009 Christmas production, entitled The REAL Christmas Story. This production includes three short plays written by members of the troupe.
In The Christmas I Met Santa, we find out how one Christmas changed everything for one little boy. In that show, I have a non-speaking role, and others have lines… but I say more than anybody with lines. How can this be? Come and find out! In He Remembers It Well, a reporter sent on a banal Christmas assignment finds out that even the silliest of assignments can be quite interesting. In And It Was Christmas Day, YADF (Your Average Dysfunctional Family) provides the sort of catharsis you need in order to face your own family during the holidays….
The productions will be in Second Life at the George C. Dove Theater in Rockcliffe University’s region. Productions are on Friday at 5pm PST, Saturday at 3pm PST, and Sunday at 2pm PST. Remember that a Second Life account is free!
Howard Barker’s 13 Objects — global performance October 20 and 21
Howard Barker is a celebrated British playwright. On October 21st, there will be an international celebration of his works entitled 21 for 21. Participating in this celebration will be Avatar Repertory Theater, the virtual theater company of which I am a part. We’ll be putting up a production of his play 13 Objects: Studies in Servitude.
This is one of those things that makes it very clear that virtual worlds are not just computer games. These 13 short plays are all interesting and challenging, and vary all over the place in tone. Some of them are funny, some of them are grim, some of them are surreal, and all of them give you various different things to think about. It’s being directed by Joff Chafer, a faculty member at Coventry University. The cast is a sundry group of people from all of the USA, the UK, Austrailia, and New Zealand. It includes at least three former professors (two of whom were English professors, one of whom was perversely a professor of physics & astronomy…), a former Opera singer, and a couple of people who have performed and continue to perform professional theater in real life.
The design of the sets for all 13 plays follows a run-down, semi-post-apocalyptic theme. The objects in the sets were all constructed by famed former Second Life builder Arcadia Asylum, famous for her “hobo” type builds. Near the stage, there will also be “installations” for each of the 13 short plays, present through October 20 and 21 (and probably available even before then). You’ll see the sets, and hear recordings of the voices of the actors who will be performing on those sets.
This play will be free to attend. If you have a Second Life account, drop by; the show will at this spot in the Coventry University sim, at 4PM PDT (23:00 UT) on Tuesday October 20, and 2PM PDT (21:00 UT) on Wednesday, October 21. If you don’t have a Second Life account, consider getting one! They’re free; visit www.secondlife.com, ignore the gratuitously flash-heavy front page, and click on the big orange “Join Now” button to create an account.
Astronomy talk in Second Life : Solving the 3-Body Problem
I’ll be giving a talk in Second Life on Saturday at 10AM SLT (Noon CDT, 17:00 UT). This is part of the regular series Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy.
Double and Triple Stars: Solving the 3-Body Problem
If you look at the stars in the night sky, you discover that a very large fraction of them are not isolated, but are in fact in binary star systems, or even in larger groups. Using Newton’s gravity, we are able to perfectly solve for the orbits of a system involving just two bodies, but it’s impossible to analytically solve it for more. In this talk, I’ll describe why we care– not only in trinary star systems, but three-body interactions also matter in rich clusters. I’ll describe how we’re able to solve the 3-Body problem and figure out the orbits of stars in such system, and give a demonstration of a working computer that actually solves the system in Second Life, right before your eyes….
The talk will be at the MICA Large Amphitheater in Second Life. Remember, a Second Life account is free!
In related news, I’ve now uploaded the slides to all of my previous talks to the MICA website.
“The Stars in a Galaxy” — talk Saturday at 10AM PDT / 17:00 UT in Second Life
I’ll be giving the latest installment of my the regular talk series “Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy” (usually, but not always, given by me) in Second Life tomorrow (Saturday) morning. This time I’ll be talking about the stars that make up a galaxy:
We now know that most of the mass of a typical galaxy is Dark Matter. But, when you look at an image of a galaxy in optical or near-infrared light, the light you’re seeing comes from the stars. It turns out, however, that the stars that are responsible for most of the light you see are not representative! Most of the stars in a galaxy, and indeed most of the stellar mass of a galaxy, aren’t the ones emitting the light that you see in a typical image. In this talk, I’ll describe what we know about the kinds of stars that one finds in a typical galaxy. How typical is the Sun? What are the stars that we’re mostly seeing when we look at a galaxy? And what makes up most of the stars in a galaxy?
Drop by and see us in the StellaNova Large Amphitheater in Second Life. Second Life accounts are free; you can join at the registration portal offered by the SciLands.
This talk will use Second Life Voice.
This morning in Second Life : Comets Crashing Into Jupiter
I’ll be giving a public-outreach astronomy talk as part of MICA this morning at 10AM PDT in Second Life entitled “Comets Crashing Into Jupiter”.
A few weeks ago, an amateur astronomer spotted a scar on Jupiter, which was later confirmed to be the result of an impact of a comet fragment with the giant planet. This is not the first time we’ve observed comets smacking into Jupiter; in 1994, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter after having been torn into several fragmets by an earlier pass with the planet, leaving scars on Jupiter over the course of a week. In this talk, I’ll describe the gravitational interactions that lead to these comet collisions, as well as what we may be able to learn about Jupiter as a result of these collisions.
To keep track of what popular talks are upcoming in MICA, see our Upcoming Public Events Page.
“Superluminal Jets in Quasars” — Saturday in Second Life, 10AM PDT
Tomorrow (Saturday) in Second Life I’ll be giving a public talk about the relativistic jets we see emerging from the cores of active galactic nuclei, and in particular I’ll explain how it can be that some of them are apparently moving faster than the speed of light…!
The talk will be at the MICA Large Ampitheater in Second Life at 10AM PDT (Noon CDT, 1PM EDT). Remember, a Second Life account is free! You can join via the SciLands registration portal– if you do, that will take you to the SciLands orientation experience. (StellaNova, the in-world home of MICA, is part of the SciLands.)
This is a snapshot I took during a rehearsal for Avatar Repertory Theater’s upcoming performance “Shakespeare at the Pavillion” (Saturday and Sunday, 4PM PDT in the San Diego City sim in Second Life). A bunch of us were backstage, costumed up for various upcoming scenes. It looks very much like a classic “backstage” such as you might find in a real-life theater; lots of people, standing around, dressed up in all manner of wacky costumes.