Sunday, March 17, 2024

From Ann Arbor to Asteroids

ANN ARBOR (c. 1984) I settle into booth in the recently opened food court area in the basement of the Michigan Union to work on a Physics 401 problem set. It's early afternoon, and I am fueled by a slice and a soda—sorry, pizza and a pop (this is Michigan!). The fellow undergrad preparing the square pizzas at Parcheezi is Phil Plait. And $2.85 was all you needed for that lunch. 

Later that evening, I visit my neighbor at the Mary Markley dorm to finish the 401 problem set. He's a year younger than me, and super brilliant. His name is Dan Durda and, like me, he can be found in the audience at the monthly AstroFest presentations produced by Jim Loudon. We attended those gatherings religiously!

SACRAMENTO (c. 1996) I'm a fan of Homicide: Life on the Street (predecessor to HBO's The Wire). The guy playing drug kingpin Luther Mahoney is Erik Todd Dellums. Many actors relish playing the bad guy, and Dellums is clearly eating up this role.

(2015) I've been asked to introduce Michio Kaku at the Sacramento Speakers Series. It's a rare non-wedding, non-funeral occasion for which I am willing to dress up. I do my best to hype him up for the large auditorium crowd.

BOZEMAN, 2024. I'm writing a question set to accompany Asteroids: Worlds that Never Were, an episode of How the Universe Works. The episode is narrated by Erik Todd Dellums. It features astronomy experts Dan Durda, Phil Plait, as well as physicist Michio Kaku.

From icy worlds with more fresh water than Earth to flying mountains of pure metal, asteroids shaped our past and promise much for the future. Could these enigmatic space rocks hold the key to how life in the Universe arises and is extinguished?

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