Gary Lagerloef is an Oceanographer and the Principal Investigator (PI) for the NASA Aquarius mission to study the interactions between the Earth’s water cycle, ocean circulation, and climate. As such, he provides the overall leadership for the development of the mission and its scientific success. He is President of Earth & Space Research, a small scientific institution in Seattle founded in 1995.
Lagerloef’s scientific interests include ocean circulation and climate dynamics with special emphasis in developing new applications for satellite remote sensing. He has served on numerous science teams and working groups over the past 20 years, which include the Salinity Sea Ice Working Group (Chair), Satellite Altimeter Requirements for Climate Research Working Group (Co-chair), NRC Committee on Earth Gravity Measurements from Space, the AMS Committee on Sea Air Interaction and on NASA Science Working Teams for Topex/Poseidon/Jason missions, Ocean Surface Topography, Ocean Vector Winds, and the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission. He has been a Guest Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research—Oceans and is a member of several professional associations, learned, and technical societies. He is the author of more than 60 publications and presentations.
Prior to co-founding Earth and Space Research, he worked with Science Applications International Corporation, and was the NASA Physical Oceanography Program Manager from 1988–1990. He has served in the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (1976–1984) and in the U.S. Coast Guard (1971–1975).
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com), the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University.
Dr. Shermer’s latest book is The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. His last book was Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown, about how the mind works and how thinking goes wrong. His book The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Share Care, and Follow the Golden Rule, is on the evolutionary origins of morality and how to be good without God. He wrote a biography, In Darwin’s Shadow, about the life and science of the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. He also wrote The Borderlands of Science, about the fuzzy land between science and pseudoscience, and Denying History, on Holocaust denial and other forms of pseudohistory. His book How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, presents his theory on the origins of religion and why people believe in God. He is also the author of Why People Believe Weird Things on pseudoscience, superstitions, and other confusions of our time.
Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years (1979–1998), teaching psychology, evolution, and the history of science at Occidental College (1989–1998), California State University Los Angeles, and Glendale College. Since his creation of the Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, and the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, he has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Larry King Live, Tom Snyder, Donahue, Oprah, Lezza, Unsolved Mysteries (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!), and other shows as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims, as well as interviews in countless documentaries aired on PBS, A&E, Discovery, The History Channel, The Science Channel, and The Learning Channel. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.
Dateline NBC Special: Did You See That?
Dr. Seth Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He has an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University, and a doctorate in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies, and has published approximately sixty papers in professional journals. During more than a decade, he worked at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, in Groningen, The Netherlands, using the Westerbork Radio Synthesis Telescope. He also founded and ran a company producing computer animation for TV.
Seth has written more than four hundred popular magazine and Web articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television. He lectures on astronomy and other subjects at various academic venues, and gives approximately 60 talks annually at both educational and corporate institutions. Seth has been a Distinquished Speaker for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also Chair of the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Committee.
Frequently interviewed for radio and TV, Seth has recently been seen and/or heard on Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, History Channel, the BBC, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Coast to Coast AM, NPR, CNN News, and National Geographic Television. He is the host of a one-hour weekly radio program on astrobiology entitled Big Picture Science.
Dr. Christopher M. Sorensen is the Cortelyou-Rust University Distinguished Professor and a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Kansas State University in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry (adjunct).
Dr. Sorensen divides his professional time between teaching and scholarly research. His research concerns particulate systems, soft matter physics, and light scattering. He is the author of over 260 papers and holds six patents. He has given over 100 invited lectures in the US and abroad. He serves on the editorial advisory boards of Aerosol Science and Technology and the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. In 2003 he won the David Sinclair Award of the American Association for Aerosol Research for his work on aerosol fractal aggregates and light scattering, and he is a Fellow and past president of that organization.
For his teaching efforts Dr. Sorensen has won numerous awards at all levels. He is a teaching innovator having developed methods to put hands-on instruction into traditional classroom settings, integration of readings from the great scientists into non-major physics courses, and outreach activities for teen women and under-advantaged youths. In 2007 he was named the Carnegie Foundation and Council for the Advancement and Support of Education United States Professor of the Year for doctoral and research universities.
Dr. Joao Varela is a particle physicist pursuing research at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Since 1992 he has been involved in the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, where he holds the position of number-two manager. The CMS experiment involves 3,300 physicists from 179 universities in 41 countries, forming a collaboration that built a large detector to study proton collisions at the highest energy achieved — to date — in particle accelerators. The main result of the experiment was the recent discovery of a new heavy particle with the characteristics expected for the Higgs boson. Dr. Varela was involved in the initial conceptual design of the experiment, coordinated the construction of several detector systems, and participated in the analysis of the data.
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