Science Programming and Guests

Please welcome our #FarpointCon2020 science program track guests. Invitations are still being sent out; please bookmark this page, follow us on Facebook (Farpoint Convention) and Twitter (@FarpointCon) to receive updates as they are published. Questions and suggestions can be sent to
Below are selections of panels and presentations from the #FarpointCon2019 science program track, which was our biggest program in years! You can look forward to exciting topics like these at #FarpointCon2020.
Panel — The Ethics of Hacking Humans

This panel is a joint Author Track and Science Track presentation. Recently a Chinese scientist claims to have edited the genome of twins. What now? Panelists bring expertise to bear on the subject from the aspects of technology, medical potential, commercial potential, ethics, and possible abuses. The panel will begin with two or three short presentations of about 10 minutes each, and then the panel chair will lead an open discussion, inviting both panelists and the audience to comment.

Dr. David Batchelor Silicon-Based Life Forms

Since Isaac Asimov’s famous short story about the alien, space-dwelling silicony, writers and scientists have explored the possibility of Silicon as opposed to Carbon-based life in the Universe. In this talk, Dr. Batchelor will give some highlights, show how some of our Carbon-based life on Earth makes use of Silicon, and describe the prospects for finding such Si life.

Dr. Charles Blue Radio Cosmos!  Greatest Discoveries in radio Astronomy in the Past Year

Baby planets, exploding stars, weird chemistry in our galaxy, it’s all here in a review of the biggest, most interesting, and downright unusual discoveries in radio astronomy from the past year. To quote famed researcher David S. Pumpkins, “Any questions?!

Ms. Mary Louise Davey —  SpaceX and NASA — Better Together For Getting To Mars

This talk relates some of SpaceX history and discuses the plan for Mars and how both SpaceX and NASA contribute to it.

Dr. Alexa Halford — Space Weather – cloudy with a chance of radiation

Thinking of a weekend trip to the space station, or a vacation to the lunar plains? Before you pack make sure to check out the weather. As both national and commercial entities are expanding further out in space, with plans for human exploration, it is important that we understand how environmental changes affect our technology and astronauts. We will look at our current understanding of space weather and how it affects our lives, how examining space weather at other stars helps us better understand the extremes we may experience at Earth, and how it may affect our future in space.

Dr. Inge Heyer Living and Working in Space

Using the servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope as examples, we will examine the environment in which astronauts live and work. How is it different from what we experience here on Earth? What does it take to become an astronaut? How do they prepare for their missions? We will take a short glimpse into a world only a few hundred miles beyond our own.

— Exploring the Mysteries of Mars

There have been a number of rovers crawling around Mars in recent years, and they, together with the orbiters, have discovered an amazing amount of new information about our neighbor planet. We will take a tour of Mars, of the surface and in time, to find out the current status of our knowledge of the red world. Undoubtedly we will also find a lot of new questions that need answering.

Mr. Larry Hubble — Astrophotography

Larry will present updates on the new Holtwood PA and Muddy Run Observatories. He will also share some of his images, tell you how he made them, and tell you what you need to get started if you are interested in doing Astrophotography yourself.

MSGT David McOwen Sick Bay at 30,000 Feet (updated with the latest changes and newest capabilities)

Aeromedical Evacuation crews have been transforming cargo aircraft into flying Intensive Care Units since WWII. More recent advances like Critical Care Air Transport teams, Burn teams, Transportation Isolation Systems for safe transit of patients infected with level 4 pathogens like Ebola, and even flying surgical teams mean that the line between modern day cargo aircraft and Star Trek sick bay are getting blurrier. Join an Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation Technician for a discussion of the modern military “airevac” aircraft, missions, and technology that make science fiction seem a lot like just another day at work.

Dr. Valerie J. Mickles — Weather Satellites – Saving Lives from Low-Earth Orbit

Keeping an eye on the earth is a full-time job. Whether tracking a hurricane, a drought, a flood, or a wildfire, the data from weather satellites has become indispensable to NOAA’s mission of saving lives. Dr. Mikles introduces GOES-16 and JPSS-1, the next generation weather satellites that are changing the game.

Dr. Timothy Miller — The DART Mission: Testing Planetary Defense via Asteroid Deflection
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is directed by NASA to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) with support from NASA centers:  the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), and Johnson Space Center (JSC).   It will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.  The DART mission is in Phase B and Iis managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. 
Dr. Seth Rittenhouse – How cold is cold? Physics at the coldest temperatures in the universe.

The coldest place that we know will soon appear our neighborhood of space. This fact might not sound too surprising, until you realize that it will not at some point beyond our solar system, but aboard the International Space Station in the freshly operational Cold Atoms Lab (CAL). There a group of scientists are trying to cool a gas of rubidium atoms down to just a few picokelvin (that is just a few hundred quadrillionths of a degree above absolute zero).In this presentation, I will talk about how labs here on Earth (and now in orbit) are able to cool atomic gases down to these extreme temperatures. I will also introduce some of the bizarre things that we see when a gas is cooled down that far and the strange world of quantum mechanics takes over.

Dr. Stephanie Slater Star Trek Discovery vs. Canon

ST Discovery feels different than what we’re used to, but why? Let’s explore how a film maker’s use of sound, light, science, and camera angles changes everything about how we perceive the Star Trek Discovery STD universe.

Dr. Timothy Slater — Tsunamis and Tidal Waves in Science Fiction

Tsunamis, tidal waves, and killer surf, oh my! Death, destruction and devastation from raging walls of water is a common catastrophic troupe across science fiction, but what defines the blurry lines separating scientific fact, engaging fiction, and editorial license for entertainment’s sake? Always know where your towel is!

Mr. Ray Villard — Hubble’s Technicolor Universe

Astronomy is a preeminently visual science. Even before telescopes were invented humans were trying to understand the wonders the night sky through naked-eye observations. Powerful telescopes, combined with the advent of photography, extend our reach deep into the universe by capturing light from objects much fainter than our eyes are able to see. This is epitomized by the legendary Hubble Space Telescope that has visually redefined the universe for whole new generations of space enthusiasts with its evocative color images of the universe. The power of these images cannot be underestimated. They convey the wonders of the heavens much more quickly to lay audiences than text alone. A common question is: are the Hubble images too good-looking to be true? How close these celestial snapshots are to reality? Actually, this is a moot point. Hubble’s powerful vision captures the essence of space phenomena through a careful blend of science and photographic aesthetics. This talk will explain how Hubble’s images are assembled and processed for the public.

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