Boulder Science Festival: Celebrate Science in the Shadow of the Rockies

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 6 2013 12:22 PM

Science Rocks in Boulder!

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My life is all about science. So is yours, even if you aren't always aware of it. But it's all around you, all the time: As you read this you’re sitting at the bottom of a planet’s gravity well, spinning madly as it whirls around a gigantic star, itself on a stately path orbiting a galaxy a hundred billion stars strong, punctuated with a massive black hole sitting at its heart. Science is everywhere! Seriously: You’re soaking in it.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Science is cool, and the more you know about it, the better your life is. That’s why my wife and I are running the Boulder Science Festival: A weekend where you can celebrate amazing science in my own hometown. On October 12-13, 2013, we’ll have talks by scientists and an outdoor science carnival for the whole family that includes exhibitors, hands-on demos (make your own comet! Hold an actual asteroid in your hand! Make your own fossil!), and a live performance by Colorado songstress extraordinaire Danielle Ate the Sandwich.

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We’re adding to the list of Science Carnival exhibitors all the time—we just got a confirmation from the B612 Foundation, a group that is literally trying to save the world from asteroid impacts. B612, along with Ball Aerospace in Boulder, is building a space probe called Sentinel that will look for dangerous asteroids, and at the Science Festival we’ll have the Sentinel Program Manager John Troeltszch and Mission Director Harold Reitsema to tell you why their mission is so critical. If you disagree you can try asking a dinosaur, but you might have a hard time finding one.

plait and porco
Drs. Plait and Porco take a short break while hiking in Eldorado Canyon—one of the nature hikes you can take at Boulder Science Festival.

Photo by Phil Plait

Our speakers include Cassini Imaging Team Leader Carolyn Porco, who will expand your brain with stunning and intriguing images of Saturn, its rings, and fleet of weird moons—and she'll be talking up Enceladus, a moon which has geysers of water erupting from its south pole. In my own talk, I’ll take you along on a ride with the Curiosity rover, now a year into its journey across the now-arid-but-once-wet landscapes of Mars.

Are you concerned about global warming? I am. Our speakers will tell you about the ancient and modern environments at our planet’s poles, ancient animals that lived during a time of global warming, and how generating energy without fossil fuel fits in with our planet’s current global situation. In the final talk you will soak up the geologic history of Boulder’s ridiculously picturesque foothills before going out to experience them yourself on one of several guided nature discovery walks.

Oh, and since the festival is happening on the tail end of the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, we’ll tap into the craft beer lover’s psyche by offering a talk on the sudsy science of beer making. So there’s that, too.

The Boulder Science Festival now has a Facebook page, too. Far be it from me to ask you to “like” it, but go there and like it. If you have a Boulder experience, or some way science changed your life, leave a comment on the page and let us know. I’ll read the best comments on stage at the Festival.

One more thing: we just lowered the student registration price. We want as many people as possible to be encouraged and inspired by this festival, especially young people who are actively learning about the world around them and making their career choices now.

I love science. Love it. I’m excited to share it with you in my hometown. October in Boulder is beautiful, and a perfect time to fill your lungs with crisp mountain air and your brain with science

Enceladus
Enceladus is a moon of Saturn and Dr. Porco's favorite place in the solar system. It has a liquid water ocean under its surface. Might it have life? Click to hugely embiggen.

Photo by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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