The UA Campus played host again this spring to the annual Tucson Festival of Books. This year's event, the sixth annual festival, was held March 15-16, 2014. The Tucson Festival of Books is free and open to the public. It has become one of the most anticipated and well attended book fairs in the U.S., attracting approximately 100,000 attendees, 450 authors, and 300 exhibitors.
LPL faculty, staff, and graduate students participated in the festival as part of the UA ScienceCity Science of Tomorrow Tent, which was this year located on the UA mall directly in front of the Meinel Optical Sciences building. LPL was well represented by students, faculty, and staff. Highlights of the LPL events included:
- OSIRIS-REx staff and ambassadors describing the mission and signing visitors up to send their names to Bennu;
- LPL graduate students educating the crowd about exoplanets;
- Dr. Steve Kortenkamp and preceptors from Teaching Teams creating comets, exhibiting meteorites, and discussing the properties of light;
- LPL Research Specialist Senior Dolores Hill talking meteorites.
In addition to these hands-on activities, Associate Professor Travis Barman spoke on "Capturing Images of Planets that Orbit Distant Stars" as part of Science Café.
As if all this science weren't exciting enough, the Kuiper Space Sciences building was invaded by Martians! That's right...two Martians stepped off the pages of writer Ray Bradbury's science fiction and into the Kuiper Building. Martian tourists Mr. K. and his wife Ylla acted as the MCs of the book launch for Orbiting Ray Bradbury's Mars (edited by Gloria McMillan), which was held in Kuiper 308 on Saturday, March 15. The Martians were ably played by local college student actors Rainey Hinrichs and John Noble. Mr. K and LPL Professor Emeritus Peter Smith got into a bit of a row when Mr. K. asked Smith if he had filed for a Martian parking permit before landing his Phoenix Mars Lander in their Mayor Ingo Nup's "back forty" acres on Mars. The audience laughed as Smith sighed, "Has it come to this?"
Orbiting Ray Bradbury's Mars is a unique volume that has space scientists and literary and film scholars writing about Bradbury's fiction, especially Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Dr. Peter Smith contributed a Foreword in which he explains how Bradbury's fiction helped him to envision a career in astronomy. Kuiper Circle Chair and retired aerospace engineer David Acklam traced his memories of Bradbury's fictional Mars and made engaging connections with the real world of space missions. NASA scientists from Smith's Phoenix Mars Lander Mission also wrote about the fictional vs real Mars. LPL alumnus Dr. William K. Hartmann played a role in creating the book and its artwork.
Whether outside on the UA Mall or inside the Kuiper auditorium, visitors to the 2014 Festival of Books were treated to an educational weekend of art and science!