Our Chapter’s Science Activities Council launched a new series of monthly science lectures on October 15 with Dr. Doug Simons, Executive Director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) forecasting the future of astronomy. Before he looked forward, he looked back – to his first toy telescope from Sears Roebuck at age 7 years; to his time at the University of Hawaii as an ARCS Scholar; to creating “Maunakea Scholars”, a program for high school students, in 2015; and to working with Larry Kimura at the University of Hawaii on naming discoveries made on Maunakea in the Hawaiian language.
Looking forward, Dr. Simons focused on discoveries and ongoing research on black holes, first stars, life on other planets, and “the new physics”. He expanded our vocabulary with “cosmic dawn” (about 13 billion years ago), “white dwarfs” (how 97% of all stars end up), LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), and the discovery of phosphine (a biomarker of microbial life in the atmosphere of Venus). He shared part of Carl Sagan’s “The Frontiers of Everywhere” (that voice that still rings bells for him and many others). He predicted what would come next with emerging technologies and international collaborations, including the discovery of life on another planet. A lively Q&A session was expertly moderated by Dr. Alexei Filippenko.
We thank Dr. Simons for inspiring us to continue to support young scientists, who are the “Minds of the Future”.