Renowned astronomical leader to lecture for Capitol College’s President’s Forum series
LAUREL, MD - The Innovation and Leadership Institute’s President’s Forum series at Capitol College is proud to present “Dawn, New Horizons and the Great Planet Debate,” a lecture given by Mark V. Sykes, PhD, Director of the Planetary Science Institute. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Avrum Gudelsky Memorial Auditorium.
Dr. Sykes’ talk will focus on the clash of science, personalities and politics, and how these and other elements have fueled the debate on what constitutes a planet, sparked by the International Astronomy Union decision to define a common term. He believes the process was chaotic and public controversy erupted, and argues that a paradigm shift may be underway from IAU’s classical perspective about planets, rooted in ancient times, to a modern perspective in which those roots are finally cut. He also believes that the debate offers wonderful access to the public about science as a process.
Dawn and New Horizons, two NASA missions that have traveled to the most historically disputed celestial objects (Ceres and Pluto), may provide important additional facts for the debate. Dr. Sykes, a member of the Dawn mission, will also address what we may expect these missions to discover and whether they will provide the final nails in the coffin of the classical perspective.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for Capitol College to host Dr. Sykes,” said Dr. W. Vic Maconachy, Capitol’s vice president of academic affairs and CAO. “With our Space Operations Institute’s satellite activities, our partnership with NASA, and excellent astronautical engineering program, Dr. Sykes’ lecture will be of great interest to the entire Capitol College community.”
Dr. Sykes is nationally and internationally noted for his leadership in opposing the International Astronomical Union’s decision regarding the reclassification of Pluto. He is Director of the Planetary Science Institute, a private non-profit corporation dedicated to the exploration of the solar system with scientists in 16 states, the UK, Switzerland, Russia and Australia with corporate headquarters located in Tucson, Arizona.
Dr. Sykes’ scientific research includes the study of Pluto, asteroids, comets and interplanetary dust, using both ground-based and space-based telescopes, primarily in the thermal infrared. He is the discoverer of cometary dust trails and rings of dust around the inner solar system arising from asteroid collisions within the zodiacal cloud.
Capitol College is the only independent college in Maryland dedicated to engineering, computer science, information technology and business. Founded in 1927, Capitol is an accredited institution offering associate, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as professional development training and certificates and partnerships with government and industry. Capitol is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. The college is located in Laurel, Maryland, a suburban setting midway between Washington, DC and Baltimore. Capitol and is committed to providing a quality education that is technology-driven, accessible, affordable and practical especially during these challenging economic times.
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