This weekend was the Dayton Regional Science Festival: Super Science Saturday at the Boonshoft Museum. I was lucky enough to be an invited guest representing the role of science fiction in stimulating young minds to get excited about science.
I’ve done a lot of events. Big book events. Comic Cons. Each one has something that makes it special, but hands down, the Boonshoft event just shot to the top of my Awesome List.
If you’ve never been to the museum, you’re missing out. Located in Dayton, Ohio, it’s been there for decades, growing, sprawling, changing with the progression of new science discovery. There’s so much for kids to do, but it’s also got plenty of sophisticated exhibits to keep adults happy.
I gave a new presentation called, “The Science of Horizon Alpha: Dinosaurs on Different Worlds. It’s a look at the science part of sci-fi, and we talked about why I don’t have a lightsaber, why I’m not likely to get a cloned dinosaur for a pet, and about all the real-life animal adaptations I stole for the fictional dinosaurs of Tau Ceti e.
Speaking of Tau Ceti, the Boonshoft has a planetarium. You’ve probably been to planetarium shows before…pre-rendered movies projected on a dome. They’re cool. This planetarium is so far beyond cool, there’s not even a word for it. It’s totally programmable. The night sky shows they do there are being programmed in real time as the astronomy educator shows you exactly what he wants you to see. He has access to every known star in the galaxy. So when Joe the astronomer heard I had set my book on Tau Ceti, he asked if I’d like to see it.
Well, yeah. I’d kind of like that.
He was able to program the planetarium to not just show me where Tau Ceti is (in the middle of the constellation Cetus in the southern sky), but to fly us there, turn around, and LOOK AT OUR OWN SUN AS IT WOULD APPEAR FROM TAU CETI! We watched the constellations bend as we flew past the other stars…some look pretty much the same, and others are totally distorted from that vantage point. How many other space travel sci-fi authors can say they’ve seen the stars from their book’s homeworld? I was so excited I forgot to take any pictures, and that’s saying something.
Oh, and I also got to watch an actual paleontologist removing an actual excavated dinosaur bone from its protective jacket. He was scraping away rock matrix to expose fossilized bone that hasn’t seen daylight in over 60 million years. I got to touch actual dinosaur bone.
Comic Cons are cool, but there aren’t any real dinosaur bones there.
I met a ton of kids who are super-enthusiastic about everything science, and met some truly amazing museum staff who were so excited to show off their amazing collections.
Now all I can do is sit and wait, and hope they’ll invite me back next year.