A spectacular second day at Starmus

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Astronomy magazine Editor Dave Eicher with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Starmus Festival, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, June 28, 2016. // Credit: David J. Eicher
Well, we all were blown away by the explosive and amazing events of the first day at the Starmus Festival. More than 1,000 people are gathered here to celebrate astronomy, science, music, and art, on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. The third Starmus, this event started off with a bang, with incredible presentations, thanks to the organization of founder and director Garik Israelian. But the second day carried right on with presentations that were simply mind-blowing. This was Tuesday, June 28, and it began in the mid-afternoon and carried right on through to a late-night star party featuring the music of Brian Eno played by Anathema.

Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt began the day by talking about dark energy and its cosmological implications. We were then treated to a historic moment when Roger Penrose, the famous cosmologist and teacher of Stephen Hawking, delivered a lecture complete with magnificent overhead transparencies. One got the feeling of sitting right in a Cambridge classroom when Stephen was a student. Chris Rapley then delivered a spectacular summary of the science behind climate change and the crisis that looms in global warming. I continue to be absolutely amazed by some people looking at this issue as politics and failing to understand the science, or even declaring that it is not science! Rapley’s lecture should be required material for such ill-informed people.

The event then featured an entertaining discussion about intelligent life in the universe between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jill Tarter, and that discussions featured lots of agreement but also some differing views. It was a highlight of the day.

And then came more fascinating lectures. Eugene Kaspersky told us about the alarming state of cyber security. Nobel Prize winner Edvard Moser delivered a mind-blowing talk about how the brain interprets spatial patterns and mapping recognition — absolutely amazing!! Danny Hillis told the crowd about the age of entanglement, in which reality and non-reality and becoming increasingly intermingled. And Carolyn Porco delighted the audience with a spectacular summary talk on the history of the Cassini mission at Saturn, ending with the iconic view of Earth and the Moon in the distance as seen from the saturnian system. What a performance that was!

Entertainer David Zambuka gave us a very funny and exhilarating session on the theory of everything, riffing with excellent comedy on our treasured Stephen Hawking’s career and legacy.

And the final event was another stupendous moment: Six astronauts came together to reflect on their experiences in space, including Alexei Leonov (the first human to walk in space), Rusty Schweickart of Apollo 9 and other fame, Claude Nicollier, who repaired the Hubble Space Telescope, and spaceflight veterans Sergey Volkov, Garrett Reisman, and Roman Romanenko. The session was moderated by famed ISS astronaut Chris Hadfield. WOW!!!!

My wife Lynda and I, friends Glenn Smith, Steve and Laurie Young, Max Alexander, and others were so staggered that we could hardly take in the star party. But we did, and now running short on sleep, we start another incredible day to come . . .

Stay tuned.

For all images from the trip, visit the Online Reader Gallery.

For related blogs, see:

   Starmus starts with a bang in Tenerife!

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