Colloquium Lectures 1995

What the Hubble Space Telescope is Telling Us

by Dr. Stephen P. Maran

Tuesday, January 3, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Following the brilliant success of the First Servicing Mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, the HST has produced such exceptional findings as conclusive evidence for the supermassive black hole at the center of Virgo A, indications that the formation of protoplanetary disks may be a frequent accompaniment to star formation in the Orion Nebula, and the most reliable determination of the local value of the expansion rate of the universe, which is needed to establish the extragalactic distance scale, and to resolve the disagreement between the time since the Big Bang and the ages of the oldest stars. The July, 1994 impacts of the massive fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 were monitored in visual and ultraviolet light, and also spectroscopically, by the Hubble Space Telescope, with remarkable results.


Dr. Stephen P. Maran is Senior Staff Scientist, Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. Maran has extensive experience in developing and applying groundbased telecopes and orbiting observatories for astronomical research. He was selected as both a Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on the Hubble Space Telescope and as a member of the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope Team for the Astro-1 and Astro-2 Shuttle Missions. A prolific writer, Dr. Maran authored or co-authored more than 340 publications, including serving as author, co-author, or editor of 12 books on astronomy and space science. Dr Maran created and edited the widely referenced 1000-page volume, The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, published by the Van Nostrand Reinhold Company in 1992. Dr. Maran serves as the Press Officer of the American Astronomical Society and chairman of the Society’s Astronomy News Committee. He has written for numerous publications, including Smithsonian, Astronomy, Natural History, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sciences Year, and Sky and Telescope.

Dr. Maran received a B.S. (Physics) from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and an M.A. and Ph.D. (Astronomy) from the University of Michigan. He received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement.

Navigating the Information Highway Using Human Language Technology

by Dr. Victor W. Zue

Tuesday, February 28, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Successful commerce on the information highway depends crucially on our ability to provide an effortless user interface, so that ordinary people can access, process, and manipulate vast amounts of information for decision making, purchasing, education, and entertainment. A speech interface, in the users natural language, is highly desirable because it is the most flexible, efficient, and economical form of human communication. However, many tasks that lend themselves to spoken input – making travel arrangements, for example, or selecting a movie – are in fact exercises in interactive problem-solving. The solution is often built up incrementally, with both the user and the computer playing active roles. Therefore, several human language technologies must be developed and integrated to reach this goal. On the input side, speech recognition must be combined with natural language processing so the computer can understand spoken commands (often in the context of previous parts of the dialogue). On the output side, some of the information provided by the computer – and any of the computer’s requests for clarification – must be converted to natural sentences, perhaps delivered verbally.


Victor Zue received the Doctor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Since then, he has held various teaching and research positions at MIT, where he is now a Senior Research Scientist. He is also Associate Director of MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science, and head of its Spoken Language Systems Group. Dr. Zue has conducted research in speech technology for more than twenty five years. His main research interest is in the development of spoken language interfaces to facilitate graceful human/computer interactions, and he has taught and written extensively on this subject. Over the past few years, his group has pioneered the development of systems that enable a user to interact with computers using spoken languages. Dr. Zue has served on many planning, advisory, and review committees for DoD, NSF, and the National Academy of Science. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He also chairs the Board of Directors of the Linguistic Data Consortium. In 1994, he was elected Distinguished Lecturer by the IEEE Signal Processing Society.

Technology of the 21st Century Automobile

by Robert N. Culver

Tuesday, March 7, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


In the past 30 years, with a few notable exceptions, the major advances in automotive technology have been transparent to the customer. In contrast, new automotive technology for the 21st century will be primarily driven by four factors: 1. The need to significantly improve fuel efficiency, while simultaneously; 2. Reducing vehicle emissions by an order of magnitude or more; 3. Providing sophisticated driver information needs; 4. Improving personal and vehicle safety. The first two technology factors are being primarily driven by anticipated government regulations. Advances in lightweight materials, powerplant technologies and control systems will be required as enabling technologies. Driver information needs, including traffic conditions and route guidance, are being driven jointly by enabling electronic and communication technologies and driver information needs. Personal safety considerations include anti-theft and limp-home capabilities. Auto companies are forming cooperative ventures with each other, with suppliers, and with government agencies to leverage technology development in each of these areas. Of paramount importance is the need to ensure that the customer be part of the equation. Customer requests of cost, value and driving comfort must not be compromised with new technologies.


Mr. Culver was born March 6, 1945 in Saginaw, Michigan. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration form the University of Michigan in 1968 and 1969 respectively. Mr. Culver joined Ford in 1968 as a quality control engineer in the Climate Control Division and he held several positions in that Division leading to Principal Engineer in 1977. In 1978, Mr. Culver joined the Engineering and Research Staff as a Staff Planning Associate. In 1983, he led the formation of the Company’s Corporate Technical Information System. Mr. Culver moved to Manufacturing Strategy and Planning as a Project Manager in 1989. He assumed his present position in June, 1992.

The High Speed Civil Transport from an Industry Perspective

by Robert E. Spitzer

Tuesday, April 4, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The High Speed Commercial Transport (HSCT) is predicted to have a big impact on long-range air transportation. This future aircraft must meet stringent criteria to ensure commercial viability, environmental compatibility, airline economics and public acceptability. As part of its charter to develop and validate aerospace technologies, NASA has accepted the challenge and created the High Speed Research (HSR) program, an effort combining the best talents of both Government and Industry. Phase I of this program addressed the environmental issues surrounding commercial supersonic flight, and the results have been positive enough to encourage the beginning of HSR Phase II. This is an in-depth study of critical enabling technologies: greater propulsive thrust without exceeding criteria for noise and emissions, lightweight structural materials that can withstand high temperatures, flight systems permitting higher lift and less drag, and a new flight deck appropriately designed to control and monitor the high speed flight path and provide better pilot situational awareness in the terminal area. Once a database of sufficiently validated key technologies has been developed, industry will use it to design and build a viable HSCT. Some of our foreign competitors have a head start as a result of their earlier successes in civil supersonic flight, and others have developed the level of technical expertise necessary to be major contributors in the design of a future HSCT. Therefore, successful U.S. leadership in the HSCT effort is heavily dependant on the determination and cooperation of all NASA/Industry team members involved in the HSR program.


As vice president for engineering of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (BCAG), Robert E. Spitzer is responsible for a broad range of research and development activities for new airplane products, including technology processes, technology development, program planning, and business development. Spitzer had previously served as vice president for technology of BCAG, and as vice president for engineering of the Wichita Division of BCAG. He joined Boeing in 1965, and gained experience in a wide range of programs encompassing both the commercial and military sectors, including the 737 program, the NASA Augmentor Wing STOL research airplane, the USAF YC- 14, and the B-2 program. In addition to earning a Master of Science degree in management at MIT with the Sloan Fellowship program, Spitzer holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from the University of Illinois, and an aeronautical engineering graduate degree from Caltech. Spitzer is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Impact of a Fragmented Comet on Jupiter

by Drs. Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker

Tuesday, May 16, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The disruption and crash of Periodic Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 during its last 2 perijove passes will be described and compared with theory.


Dr. Eugene Shoemaker has recently retired as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He has had a long career in planetary science, beginning with his studies of terrestrial impact craters and the geology of the Moon in the late l95Os. He was co-investigator on the Ranger project, principal investigator on the Surveyor and Apollo projects, and a member of the imaging team with the Voyager project. Most recently he has been the science team leader for the Clementine mission to the Moon. Gene served as a professor at the California Institute of Technology, 1969-1985, where he originated the Palomar Asteroid and Comet Survey. He is on the staff at Lowell Observatory and is a research professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University. He has co-discovered 29 comets and many asteroids.

Dr. Carolyn S. Shoemaker has served since 1980 as a visiting scientist in the Astrogeology Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1989, she became a Research Professor of Astronomy at Northern Arizona University, and in 1993 joined the staff of the Lowell Observatory. Dr. Shoemaker has discovered 32 comets, including 15 short period comets of the Jupiter family and 17 long period comets, two of which are giant comets that came no closer to the sun than Jupiter’s orbit. Working with her husband, Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, and David Levy, Dr. Shoemaker discovered Periodic Comet Shoemaker- Levy 9 in orbit around Jupiter in March 1993. Dr. Shoemaker received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chico State College in California. She received an honorary doctorate of science from Northern Arizona University in 1990. With her husband, she received the Rittenhouse Medal in 1988 and became a Cloos Scholar at Johns Hopkins University in 1990.

The Accomplishments of Samuel Pierpont Langley

by Donald L. Lansing

Tuesday, June 6, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Samuel Pierpont Langley’s highly successful career as an astrophysicist, scientific administrator and aviation pioneer during the late 1800’s has been unfairly overshadowed be thefailure of his Great Aerodrome. The ensuing glare of publicity and public censure certainly surprised and demoralized Langley himself and drew attention away from his many prior achievements. This Colloquium will describe the numerous noteworthy accomplishments of Langley’s early career for which he can be justifiably proud.

Samuel P. Langley’s work was highly regarded by the U.S. and international scientific communities. His memory lives on in the names of this NASA research center, the adjacent air force base and several place names across the country. Our nation’s first aircraft carrier, CV-1, built at the Norfolk Navy Yard in the early 1920’s, was named after Langley. A model of this ship, which saw active service in World War II, may be seen at the Virginia Air and Space Center and Hampton Roads History Center in downtown Hampton (which serves as NASA Langley’s official Visitor Center).

During his early years Langley developed a reputation as a distinguished astronomer and astrophycist by making detailed measurements of the sun’s spectrum with an instrument of his own design. This work was motivated by Langley’s recognition that all life and activity here on earth was made possible by the sun’s radiation. This highly original and innovative research earned Langley honorary doctorates, awards and medals from universities and scientific societies around the world.

Langley was the only professional scientist of his day who believed that man was destined to fly. He was 52 years old in 1886 when he undertook a series of experiments on a rotating rig to measure the power needed to propel objects through the air. Encouraged by his findings he set out to build a series of large working models of steam powered flying machines he called “aerodromes.” Five years of work culminated in three sustained free flights in 1896, securing for Langley the honor of accomplishing the world’s first successful unmanned flights of a heavier than air flying machine. If Langley’s career had ended with these triumphs his stature as one of the great men of 19th century American science would have been unblemished. This Colloquium will recall the string of Langley’s successes which established his well deserved reputation.


Donald L. Lansing retired from Langley Research Center in 1991 after 36 years of service. During that time he held a variety of assignments in research and management primarily in the Dynamic Loads, Acoustics, and Analysis and Computation Divisions. His research was in the areas of sonic boom, duct acoustics and image compression. He is the author of 35 technical papers on these subjects. In late 1991 Mr. Lansing had an Intergovernmental Personnel assignment with the Virginia Air and Space Center and Hampton Roads History Center, the official NASA Langley Visitor Center.

Mr. Lansing’s interest in Samuel P. Langley’s life and career developed in the fall of 1992 as he worked with Robert Bower, a former NASA Langley Director of Aeronautics, and others at Christopher Newport University to organize and present a two week award-winning elderhostel entitled “Hampton Roads – Cradle of Aerospace” which highlighted this area’s unique contributions to the growth of the aerospace sciences through lectures and field trips. Mr. Lansing has lectured on Samuel P. Langley’s legacy both to this audience and to the NASA Langley Alumni Association. He and Kim Hinson of the Virginia Air and Space Center have also authored an article on the Great Aerodrome on display at the Center, which will be published in the January 1996 issue of “Aviation History” magazine.

NASA LaRC Spaceflight: From Sputnik to Apollo

by Dr. James Hansen

Tuesday, July 11, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 radically altered the course of American aeronautical research, and Langley Aeronautical Laboratory was no exception. The 1958 Space Act transformed Langley into a NASA research center that was to concern itself with flight beyond the atmosphere, and Langley quickly rose to the challenge of launching America into space. Spaceflight Revolution traces Langley’s many contributions to the United States’ space effort, including Project Mercury and the Space Task Group, the genesis of lunar-orbit rendezvous, and the development of the world’s most reliable launch vehicle. It is more than just a catalog of Langley’s accomplishments, however; it is a cogent analysis of the repercussions of the nation’s rapid shift from air to space at the nation’s premier aeronautics laboratory. Hansen examines the effects of such changes as the increasing emphasis placed on project work at the expense of general research, the sudden exposure of the center to worldwide scrutiny as opposed to its former obscurity, NASA’s explosive growth and the resulting competition among the agency’s centers for work, and the new reliance on contractors to complete work instead of doing everything in-house.


James R. Hansen is a historian specializing in the history of technology and the impact of technology on society. He earned an A.B. degree with high honors from Indiana University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Dr Hansen is currently Alumni Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of History at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where he has taught since 1986. He served as the official historian for NASA Langley Research Center from 1981 to 1993, and has published three books on aerospace history and over four dozen articles, book chapters, and review essays on a variety of technological topics. His books include Engineer in Charge: A History of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, 1917-1958, and the recently released Spaceflight Revolution: NASA Langley Research Center from Sputnik to Apollo. Dr. Hansen has served on a number of advisory boards and panels, including the Research Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum, the Editorial Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution Press, and the Advisory Board for the Archives of Aerospace Exploration at VPI. He is also a past vice-president of the board of directors of the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Marine Aquaculture – Seafood Farming for the Future

by Michael Oesterling

Tuesday, August 1, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Aquaculture, broadly defined as the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants and animals, has experienced a resurgence of activity throughout the United States. The term “marine aquaculture” has been used to distinguish marine or estuarine organisms from freshwater aquaculture. As the supplies of traditionally utilized fisheries (i.e. wild stocks) approach maximum exploitation, cultured products can help meet increasing consumer demand for high quality seafood. Although aquaculture has had a long history in Virginia, major industry expansions began in the mid-1980’s. Virginia marine aquaculture activities focus on three species: hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), oysters (Crassostrea virginica), and soft shell blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Future activities are expected to concentrate on several other species of mollusks; the bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) figures predominantly. A just-begun program directed towards the commercial culture of the soft shell clam (Mya arenaria) promises to further expand Virginia’s marine aquaculture industry.

Information will be presented chronicling the development of Virginia’s marine aquaculture industry and illustrating the basic methods utilized to produce cultured items. The $11 million a year hard clam culture industry will be highlighted, including hatchery technology for the production of “seed” clams and progressing through all culture steps to the finished product. Additionally, current and past activities attempting to revitalize the oyster industry will be addressed. Finally, “non-traditional” culture species in Virginia’s future, such as bay scallops and soft clams, will be discussed.


Michael J. Oesterling received his B.S. from the University of Miami (Coral Gables) in 1970, and his M.S. from the University of Florida (Gainesville) in 1976. He has worked as a Marine Biologist at the University of Florida, an Assistant in Marine Research at the C.V. Whitney Laboratory for Experimental Marine Biology and Medicine at the University of Florida, an area marine advisory program agent for the University of Florida and Florida Sea Grant; and as a Commercial Fisheries/Aquaculture Specialist for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. Mr. Oesterling is professionally active in crab fishery development projects in Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico; soft shell crab production facility design and operation in the United States and elsewhere; and in bivalve aquaculture and other non-traditional species development. He is the author or co-author of numerous publications on marine aquaculture.

The Future of Aeronautics

by James (Mickey) Blackwell

Tuesday, August 15, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


None provided.


Mickey Blackwell is the President of the Aeronautics Sector of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

High Performance Racing Boats

by Reggie Fountain

Tuesday, September 19, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Past, present, and future design developments. Reggie Fountain will discuss the research and development that goes into the design of his high performance power boats, including the original designs of the past, how the modifications have transformed the boats to what they are in the present, and what is in store for the future.


Reggie Fountain entered his first boat race in 1954 at the age of 14. He moved quickly into professional competition in 1970, and set many world records and won many championships. In 1978 he retired from active competition to begin an extensive research and development testing program commissioned by Mercury Marine. He started with a 31-foot V-bottom Excalibur Boat, and modified it extensively to improve both the handling and acceleration. This was the start of what is now Fountain Powerboats. In addition to world-renowned sport boats, Reggie Fountain has also developed a successful line of outboard and stern drive fishing boats. Fountain personally masterminds all engineering and product Research and Development within the company. He was among the first to use bi- and tri-directional glass along with lightweight coring material, and was also one of the first to successfully utilize a notch transom, pad keel running surface for improved handling and performance. Once a hull mold is created, Fountain performs all initial on-the-water testing and then collaborates with his staff on interior design and graphic styling. He still logs approximately 1,000 hours a year on the water. In 1990, Reggie Fountain returned to racing to set the V-bottom world speed record twice. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina with degrees in Business and Law.

The Human Genome Project: The Science Behind Jurassic Park, and its Implications

by Dr. Paula Gregory

Tuesday, October 10, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The Human Genome Project is an international effort to understand the human body’s blueprint by locating all its approximately 100,000 genes by the year 2005. Even before it is complete, though, this project promises to transform both biology and medicine because genes influence not only what we look like, but also what diseases we may get. Errors in our genes are responsible for an estimated 3,000 clearly hereditary diseases, and are also now known to play a part in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other common ailments. Understanding the complete set of genes promises to usher in a new era of molecular medicine, with precise new approaches to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. But as the scientific community advances our understanding of human genetics, the knowledge will begin impacting large numbers of people as never before. And many Americans know too little about exactly what genes are and how they work. The education and outreach programs of the Human Genome Project, therefore, aim to give the public the knowledge they need to understand genetics so they can make informed and responsible decisions.


Dr. Paula Gregory is Chief of the Genetics Education Office for the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR), and established the Human Genome Project’s education effort at the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD in 1993. As a research scientist previously performing cytogenetic studies, Dr. Gregory founded the first education program within a human genome center while at the University of Michigan. During recent travels she has spoken to over 14,000 students, educators, and others interested in genome research and its implications. Dr. Gregory received her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi, and her Ph.D. from Tulane University, and has taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the University of Michigan, and several other colleges. She also remains an active scientist, conducting research on acute leukemia and human artificial chromosomes.

November lecture postponed until January 1996 because of government shut-down

Life Aboard Mir

by Norman Thagard

Tuesday, December 5, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


America’s longest-flying space traveler, astronaut Norman Thagard will be the guest speaker at a special colloquium December 5 at 2 p.m. He will relate his more than 100-day experience as an inhabitant of the Russian space station Mir. Thagard blasted off into space on a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 14 with cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Gennady Strekalov. The three returned to Earth July 7 after more than three months aboard the Russian station. An electrical engineer, a licensed physician and a pilot, Thagard will talk extensively about life aboard the Mir. During the Mir 18 mission, Thagard and his Russian counterparts conducted 28 scientific experiments. Even more important than their “work” in space, though, was the opportunity to study the mental and physical well-being of culturally diverse crews who will live together on the international space station.


Born in Marianna, Florida, Thagard is a graduate of Florida State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering science. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, following duty as a combat pilot with the Marine Corps. He joined NASA in January 1978. A veteran of five space flights, Thagard has logged a U.S. record of 140 days in space.

The Boeing 777 – “Working Together” Works

by Jim McWha

Tuesday, December 12, 1995 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The 777 is the latest member of the Boeing family, the largest twin-engine airplane ever built and certified on schedule for long duration, over-water flights. The development of this airplane set a new standard for cooperation between Boeing and the airlines, the suppliers and especially between engineering and operations within Boeing. The modern airplane uses a large number of sophisticated systems to provide the level of functionality and maintainability required. Due to the interdependency of many of the systems, there could be lots of opportunity for errors due to miscommunication. The 777 program relied on the “Working Together” spirit of the inter-functional teams, and the most comprehensive test program ever undertaken to produce a service-ready airplane. This presentation provides an overview of the program and describes some of the new features of the airplane like the flight control system which is the first commercial airplane from Boeing to rely entirely on fly-by-wire controls.


Jim McWha is a Chief Engineer of Flight Systems in Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. This organization is responsible for Flight Deck Design, Primary and Secondary Flight Control Systems, and Automatic Flight Controls for all Boeing airplanes. Jim has been with Boeing for 29 years and worked on all of the airplanes at various times, primarily in Flight Controls. He managed the Flight Controls organization throughout the development of the 777; significant, because that was the first fully Fly-by-Wire Flight Control System for Boeing. Before joining Boeing, he graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast and worked for Short Bros. on a number of interesting projects. Jim is a member of AIAA, SAE Control and Guidance Committee member, member of the NRC Committee on Airplane-Pilot Coupling, and recently a member of the Guidance and Control ARTS subcommittee which reviews NASA research programs.