Listening to Einstein’s Universe; March 20th at Sonoma State

image of event poster

image of poster, all info also in this postJoin scientists from across the globe for a unique event to celebrate the exciting new field of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy, awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Tuesday, March 20; 7:00-9:00 PM

The Cooperage at Sonoma State University

Our evening features:

  • Special screening of “LIGO Detection”, the latest
    movie by award-winning film director Kai Staats
  • Live video link-up with Kai Staats for an exclusive
    Q&A about the movie
  • Panel discussion on the future of gravitational-wave
    astronomy, with scientists from the LIGO Scientific
  • Hands-on practical demonstrations exploring
    the science and technology behind detecting
    gravitational waves

Admission is free, on campus parking is $5.

Complete information here.

We are at Contra Costa College in April!

We’ll be at the Contra Costa College on April 13/14 for our spring conference. We’ll have a social event on Friday, and on Saturday we’ll have our main event.

We are very excited to have John Collins, the Paper Airplane Guy as our invited speaker.  Watch his fun videos at 

Here’s our Saturday schedule, we’ll meet in GE-225:
  • 8:00 Registration/Posters Doors will open at 8, come and hang with physics teachers, and check out posters.  We have removed the abstract submitting process, if you have something you want to share that fits on a wall, bring it and show it!
  • 9:00 Morning Workshop Slot We have three workshops in our morning slot.  Both Vernier and PASCO will have representatives demoing their latest, and Bernard Cleyet will tell us about radioactivity experiments.
  • 10:00 – 11:15 Invited Speaker – John Collins He’ll talk about things you can fold and throw.
  • 11:15-12 Group Photo plus Short Business Meeting We’ll take a picture of all of the cool people who attended (administrators sometimes like to look at those) and then hold a business meeting.
  • 12:00-1:30 Lunch NCNAAPT is synonymous with tacos for lunch. We’ll have an array of topic tables for discussion groups.
  • 1:30-2:30 Panel – Incorporating educational technology into your teaching Dan Burns, Bree Barnett-Dreyfuss and Jon Celesia  will share their wisdom and scars as it regards what has and hasn’t worked for them as they’ve implemented new technologies into their classrooms.
  • 2:30-3:30 Afternoon Workshop Slot We have the PocketLab folks showing us their latest, Mike McCusker will tell us about microwave ovens, and Lee Trampleasure will walk us through best practices for social advocacy.
  • 3:30-4:30 Share&Tell We end with our classic Share&Tell where people show the cool things that they are doing to teach physics. Bring a demo!

If you are interested, but have issues around taking care of loved ones on Saturdays, we have mini-grants that cover dependent care.  Read here for details:

Here’s what Google says about getting to Contra Costa College: Map

It is never too early to think about carpooling:


Pluto New Horizon Mission Tweets

You can see the latest developments for the Pluto Hew Horizons mission. Their most recent tweets appear below (they make take a few seconds to appear, and you can scroll down to see older ones).

“What is color?” The 2014 Flame Challenge

The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University is challenging scientists to take part in the 2014 Flame Challenge and answer a vibrant question asked by 11-year-olds from around the country:

What is Color?

The Flame Challenge is an international contest started by Alan Alda that asks scientists to communicate complex science in ways that would interest and enlighten an 11-year-old.

If you are a scientist, or a teacher of 11 year olds, join the fun!

The Flame Challenge

Next Generation Science Standards, second draft version

The second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards have come and gone (comment period was in January 2013). The January 2013 draft version has been removed from the official website, but you can still find it here.

Continue reading “Next Generation Science Standards, second draft version”

Colloquim at Sac State: Measuring the Universe with Gravitational Lenses

The following colloquium is free and open to all.

Dr. Chris Fassnacht, UC Davis, will present his lecture, “Measuring the Universe with Gravitational Lenses” on Thursday, February 11, 2010, at 4pm in Mendocino Hall 1015, Sacramento State University.  This lecture is free and open to the public.

Chris Fassnacht received his AB degree from Harvard College and immediately afterward joined the Peace Corps, where he served as a secondary school math and science teacher in Ghana, West Africa.   After returning, he received a PhD from Caltech.  He held postdoctoral fellowships at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, NM and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.  He is currently an associate professor in the physics department at UC Davis, where he has been for the last seven years.

Prof. Fassnacht’s research involves using gravitational lenses to measure the rate at which the Universe is expanding and how galaxies such as the Milky Way are assembled.

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium
Location: Mendocino Hall 1015<>

Thursday, February 11, 2010
4:00 PM – 5:20 PM

Title Url:
Department: Physics & Astronomy
Contact: Heidi Yamazaki<>
(916) 278-6518

LCROSS lunar impact videos and images on the web

Here’s a video:

a mid-infrared (MIR) image showing the flash of the Centaur impact:
and an image of an even larger impact we performed  about 40 years ago: the Apollo 14 booster stage for calibrating Apollo 12’s seismometers:
And NASA’s LCROSS page:

Jupiter pummeled, leaving bruise the size of the Pacific Ocean

By Robert Sanders, UCB Media Relations | 21 July 2009

Complete article here:

infrared image of Jupiter taken with Keck IIThe scar from the probable impact appeared July 19 in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, and has grown to a size greater than the extent of the Pacific Ocean. This infrared image taken with Keck II on July 20 shows the new feature observed on Jupiter and its relative size compared to Earth. (Paul Kalas ,UCB; Michael Fitzgerald, LLNL/UCLA; Franck Marchis, SETI Institute/UCB; James Graham, UCB)

BERKELEY — Something slammed into Jupiter in the last few days, creating a dark bruise about the size of the Pacific Ocean.

The bruise was noticed by an amateur astronomer on Sunday, July 19. University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Paul Kalas took advantage of previously scheduled observing time on the Keck II telescope in Hawaii to image the blemish in the early morning hours of Monday, July 20. The near infrared image showed a bright spot in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, where the impact had propelled reflective particles high into the relatively clear stratosphere.

In visible light, the bruise appears dark against the bright surface of Jupiter.

The observation made with the Keck II telescope marks only the second time astronomers have seen the results of an impact on the planet. The first collision occurred exactly 15 years ago, between July 16 and 22, 1994, when more than 20 fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter.

Complete article here:

NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Moonwalk Video

NASA moon logoWASHINGTON, July 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA released Thursday newly restored video from the July 20, 1969, live television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. The release commemorates the 40th anniversary of the first mission to land astronauts on the moon.

The initial video release, part of a larger Apollo 11 moonwalk restoration project, features 15 key moments from the historic lunar excursion of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

A team of Apollo-era engineers who helped produce the 1969 live broadcast of the moonwalk acquired the best of the broadcast-format video from a variety of sources for the restoration effort. These included a copy of a tape recorded at NASA’s Sydney, Australia, video switching center, where down-linked television from Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek was received for transmission to the U.S.; original broadcast tapes from the CBS News Archive recorded via direct microwave and landline feeds from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston; and kinescopes found in film vaults at Johnson that had not been viewed for 36 years.

NASA Television will provide an HD video feed of the Apollo footage hourly from 12 – 7 p.m. on July 16 and 17. Each feed is one hour. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit:

A copy of the newly restored scenes from the Apollo 11 restoration effort can be found at:

NASA’s Apollo 40th anniversary Web sites provide easy access to various agency resources and multimedia about the program and the history of human spaceflight, including a gallery of Apollo multimedia features. Visit the site at:

Other Apollo 11 resources

  • JFK Library Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing
  • “The site will plug you into the current state of the mission and has many tangents to keep you occupied during quiet times (especially the “loss of signal” intervals). Keep the site running in the background while you work away at the tasks of the day.” [Thanks, Dean Baird, for the quote]