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Pluto lecture launches Science for Alaska series

Submitted by Amy Hartley
Phone: 907-474-5823

01/10/08

Science for Alaska
It's more than three billion miles away and only one-fifth the size of Earth's moon, yet Pluto was the source of worldwide debate when members of the International Astronomical Union demoted it to the status of dwarf planet in 2006. The mysterious celestial body is no longer included in the Milky Way's list of eight major planets, but scientists still yearn to learn more about it. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Travis Rector, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, will share information about Pluto and why he and other members of the IAU voted to change its status.

Rector's lecture, "What Constitutes a Planet? The Debate Over Pluto," will begin at 7 p.m. in the Westmark Gold Room in Fairbanks, launching the statewide Science for Alaska Lecture Series. He will also kick off the Anchorage leg of the lecture series Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The lectures are free and all ages are welcome.

Since 1992, the Science for Alaska Lecture Series has brought the current research of University of Alaska scientists to the community in free presentations that are entertaining and educational. With topics ranging from astronomy to zoology, the lecture series invites speakers from each major university campus to participate. This year, Science for Alaska will run for six consecutive Tuesdays in Fairbanks, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 19. All lectures will begin at 7 p.m. in the Westmark Gold Room, located in downtown Fairbanks. The four-lecture Anchorage series will begin Jan. 23 and run Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at UAA. The two-lecture Juneau series will run Feb. 6 and 13 at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

The 2008 Science for Alaska Lecture Series is sponsored by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Anchorage and the UAF Geophysical Institute. A full schedule is attached.

CONTACT: Amy Hartley, Fairbanks coordinator, at 907-474-5823 or via e-mail at amy.hartley@gi.alaska.edu. Cheri Renson, Anchorage and Juneau coordinator, at 907-474-5114 or via e-mail at cheri.renson@uaf.edu.

ON THE WEB: www.scienceforalaska.com

2008 Science For Alaska Lecture Series

Fairbanks

Tuesday, Jan. 15
"What Constitutes a Planet? The Debate Over Pluto"
Travis Rector, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, UAA

Tuesday, Jan. 22
"Polar Dinosaurs: Living the High Life in the Age of Dinosaurs"
Patrick Druckenmiller, curator of earth sciences, University of Alaska Museum of the North

Tuesday, Jan. 29
"Unheard Soundscape: The Infrasound World of Man & Nature"
Curt Szuberla, assistant professor of physics, Geophysical Institute, UAF

Tuesday, Feb. 5
"There's No Place Like Nome: Science Nuggets from the Last Frontier"
Ned Rozell, science writer, Geophysical Institute, UAF

Tuesday, Feb. 12
"The Economics of Climate Change"
Britteny Cioni, assistant professor of economics, UAS

Tuesday, Feb. 19
"On Thin Ice: Marine Mammals Challenged by Climate Change"
Mike Castellini, associate dean, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, UAF

Anchorage

Wednesday, Jan. 23
"What Constitutes a Planet? The Debate Over Pluto"
Travis Rector, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, UAA

Wednesday, Jan. 30
"The Economics of Climate Change"
Britteny Cioni, assistant professor of economics, UAS

Wednesday, Feb. 6
"There's No Place Like Nome: Science Nuggets from the Last Frontier"
Ned Rozell, science writer, Geophysical Institute, UAF

Wednesday, Feb. 13
"Climate Change, Alaska and National Security"
Douglas Causey, vice provost for research and graduate studies, UAA

Juneau

Wednesday, Feb. 6
"Unheard Soundscape: The Infrasound World of Man & Nature"
Curt Szuberla, assistant professor of physics, Geophysical Institute, UAF

Wednesday, Feb. 13
"What Constitutes a Planet? The Debate Over Pluto"
Travis Rector, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, UAA