Get a glimpse of Mission Control. Explore what it’s like to be in outer space. And meet one of four Penn State astronauts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston during the March 26 City Lights program. This family-friendly event is a chance to feel the excitement of space exploration first hand.
Penn State Professor and Space Shuttle Astronaut Jim Pawelczyk ’85g will lead a tour of the Skylab training module before his program “To Infinity and Beyond: Defining the Human Limits of Space Exploration.” He will also discuss some of the technical and scientific hurdles to overcome in order to make human planetary exploration possible in the future. By integrating chemistry, engineering, life sciences and social sciences, he will explain how humans will adapt to a 30-month trip to Mars.
Pawelczyk will also talk about his 1998 flight aboard the space shuttle Columbia. On that flight, Pawelczyk circled the earth 256 times and logged 6.3 million miles during more than 381 hours in space while conducting 26 individual life science experiments focusing on the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system.
Penn Staters will also get a behind-the-scenes look at the Johnson Space Center during a narrated tram tour ride and a special tour of Mission Control. Cost for the all-day program is $25 for Alumni Association members, $40 for non-members and $15 for children. Register now.
The goal of City Lights is to engage Penn State alumni with programs that include lectures by Penn State professors and alumni experts on current topics, while including socializing and networking opportunities. Three more City Lights events are scheduled for 2011:
“The Naked Truth: Why Humans Have No Fur”
The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
April 30, 9:00 a.m.
Humans are the only primates who are mostly naked. The reasons for this are fascinating and have to do with the evolution of “whole-body cooling” through sweating. During this program, held at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Nina Jablonski, professor and head of the Department of Anthropology, describes how and when we evolved into hairlessness and how we have compensated for the absence of insulating, protective and socially expressive fur. You will never again think the same way about your skin! Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members and $15 for children. Register now.
“From Comic Books to Hollywood: Superheroes at the Box Office”
May 12, 5:30 p.m.
How have superhero comic books changed the Hollywood blockbuster movie, moving from sweeping epics like “Gone with the Wind” to today’s “Spiderman”? How has the relationship between the two industries changed comic books? And how has the recent surge in popularity of graphic novels influenced artistic trends in film? Join other Penn Staters at the ToonSeum in downtown Pittsburgh as Matt McAllister, professor of communications, co-editor of Comics and Ideology and Film and Comic Books, looks at the relationship between the two popular and visual mass media industries of comic books and movies. He will also discuss the qualities that allow comic books to easily transform into box office hits, such as stimulating scenes, easy narratives, sequel and merchandising potential, and clear villains and heroes. Cost: $25 members and $40 non-members. Please note: While comics and superheroes are appealing to children, this City Lights program is geared toward an adult audience. Register now.
“The Battle of Gettysburg’s Courage, Carnage, and Commemoration” Gettysburg National Park
May 21, 9:30 a.m.
In November 1863, as a late autumn breeze swept through the new Soldiers' National Cemetery, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. In this immortal two-minute speech, he bestowed enduring honor on the Union soldiers buried there, men who gave their "last full measure of devotion" in the bloody three-day Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 to secure a "new birth of freedom" for the United States. During this special program at the Gettysburg National Park, Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor of American History, will take attendees on a narrated tour of the Gettysburg battlefield—the farms and fields and hills that inspired a president and became a major landmark in American military history. Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members and $15 for children. Register now.
For more information on other Alumni Association events, click here.