Colloquium Lectures 1999

The Coming Revolution in Flight

by Cary R. Spitzer

Tuesday, January 19, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


A quiet, but significant, revolution is underway in the way aircraft are flown. After decades of using ground-based navigation aids and voice communications, today there is a global movement towards satellite-based navigation and digital data communication. Sparked by the findings and recommendations of two International Civil Aviation Organization Future Air Navigation Committees in the 1980s and early 1990s, many aircraft operators and nations are beginning to implement Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) in hopes of achieving benefits such as reduced operating costs, and increased safety and airspace capacity. NASA Langley and many other organization have developed and demonstrated many of the CNS/ATM technologies and procedures. This talk will review the technologies involved, the anticipated benefits, and the state of international implementation.


Cary R. Spitzer is a graduate of Virginia Tech and George Washington University. After service in the Air Force he joined NASA Langley Research Center. During the last half of his tenure at NASA he focused on avionics. He was the NASA manager of a joint NASA/Honeywell program that lead to the first satellite-guided automatic landing of a passenger transport aircraft in November, 1990. In recognition of this accomplishment, he was nominated jointly by ARINC, ALPA, AOPA, ATA, NBAA, and RTCA for the 1991 Collier Trophy “for his pioneering work in proving the concept of GPS aided precision approaches.” He led a project to define the experimental and operational requirements for a transport aircraft suitable for conducting flight experiments and to acquire such an aircraft. Today that aircraft is the recently commissioned NASA Langley B-757 ARIES flight research platform.

Mr. Spitzer has been active in the RTCA, including serving as chairman of the Airport Surface Operations Subgroup of Task Force 1 on Global Navigation Satellite System Transition and Implementation Strategy, and Technical Program Chairman of the 1992 Technical Symposium. He was a member of the Technical Management Committee. Mr. Spitzer is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He received the AIAA 1994 Digital Avionics Award and an IEEE Centennial Medal. He is a Past President and Life Member of the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems. Since 1979, he has played a major role in the highly successful Digital Avionics Systems Conferences, including serving as General Chairman. He is also the author of Digital Avionics Systems, 2nd Edition, the first book in the field, published by McGraw-Hill, and Editor-in-Chief of the Avionics Handbook to be published by CRC Press.

Unmanned Air Vehicles into the 21st Century: Is the Past Prologue?

by Michael S. Francis

Tuesday, February 2, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Dr. Michael S. Francis will present his vision of the future of unmanned air vehicles (UAV) as the genre moves into the 21st century, examining this vision in the context of the last century of manned aircraft development. The unique attributes and wide range of future possibilities (both civilian and military) that make UAVs appealing will be discussed. A look at the technological, institutional and cultural barriers that impede growth of the UAV industry and how they might be breached will also be provided.


Dr. Francis is the President of Athena Technologies, a new company specializing in software-based control systems and products for dynamic systems including manned and unmanned aerospace vehicles, automobiles and trucks, and industrial processing systems. Athena is a spinoff venture of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, an unmanned air vehicle manufacturer. Colonel Francis retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1997 after 27 years. In his last assignment as Director of Architecture and Integration for the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, he led the effort to create the first integrated air-space information architecture that will underpin U.S. defense capabilities in the 21st century. From 1991-96, Col. Francis directed numerous advanced technology projects at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. While there, he initiated the Micro Air Vehicle Program and the Unmanned Tactical Aircraft Project, the precursor to today’s Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Program. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and has served on its national Board of Directors. He is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and has authored or co-authored over 40 open literature publications.

Acoustics and the Violin – Past, Present, and Future

by Carleen Hutchins

Tuesday, March 2, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The violin makers of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th Centuries such as the Amatis, Stradivari, and Guarneri del Jesu must have used the age-old intuitive science of instrument making to create their amazingly effective violins left to us today. The first actual measurements of violin vibrating properties apparently were done by the physicist Felix Savart working with the famous French violin maker J. B. Vuillaume in the early 19th Century. This work was followed by the contributions of Helmholtz, Lord Rayley, and others later in the 1800s. Then, with the development of the vacuum tube and the beginnings of electronic testing in the 1920s, considerable violin research was done in Italy by Pasqualini and in Germany by Backhaus and Meinel, with F. A. Saunders of Harvard University getting into the act in the 1930s.

The developments in solid-state test equipment and computers since the 1960s and 1970s as well as optical technologies have created a spate of violin research at all levels. Investigators are probing deeply into the interactive physical and acoustical properties of violins by using circuit theory, holographic interferometry, modal analysis, finite element analysis, electron microscopy, surface intensity measurements, aero and fluid dynamics, and even CT scans.

Dr. Hutchins will discuss and illustrate how the research of the last two centuries has contributed to four important developments today in the application of acoustics to the construction and adjustment of superior violins today: (1.) Free plate tuning; (2.) mode tuning of finished instruments; (3.) duplication of the tonal qualities of fine instruments; and (4.) the Violin Octet family of instruments, which will be discussed and demonstrated as far as time permits in the lecture.


Carleen Maley Hutchins (1911 – ) is the cofounder and driving force behind the Catgut Acoustical Society, creator-in-chief of the Violin Octet family of instruments, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, a Life Member of the Audio Engineering Society, and a trained violin maker who has been working on the interface of violin making and science for more than 50 years.

She has received numerous awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, four grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the first recipient of the Carleen Maley Hutchins medal of the Catgut Acoustical Society. She received an Honorary Fellowship from the Acoustical Society of America (the Society’s highest award, bestowed only 14 times, the first of which was to Thomas Alva Edison). She has received four honorary doctorates: Doctor of Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology; Doctor of Fine Arts, Hamilton College; Doctor of Science, St. Andrews Presbyterian College; and Doctor of Laws, Concordia University, Montreal.

In addition to constructing over 100 instruments of the new Violin Octet family, she has constructed 75 violins, 165 violas, and 12 cellos. By studying the acoustical properties of each instrument during construction and assembly (as related to its final tonal characteristics), her work has resulted in a test that violin makers worldwide are using to produce consistently fine sounding instruments (Scientific American, October 1981).

She has published over 100 technical papers, taught violin making to over 50 students, and given over 200 lecture-demonstrations with the Violin Octet. She has twice written the violin acoustics section of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians and edited two sets of volumes of Collected Papers in Violin Acoustics covering the seminal work from 1800 to 1993.

At the present Dr. Hutchins continues the construction of new instruments and her research into the acoustical properties of stringed instruments, lectures occasionally, and serves as the permanent secretary of the Catgut Acoustical Society and the director of the Octet Development Center.

Safe Solar System Exploration: NASA’s Planetary Protection Program

by John D. Rummel

Tuesday, April 6, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Life on Earth is extraordinarily tenacious-we find life on this planet in every environment in which it can exist, and many in which we once thought it couldn’t. Such tenacity may provide a lesson about life, in general, and certainly argues for caution in our exploration of the solar system. NASA is committed to exploring space while avoiding the biological contamination of other solar system bodies and protecting the Earth against potential harm from materials returned from space. NASA’s planetary protection (formerly planetary quarantine) program has been established to prevent biological cross-contamination during US space missions, and establishes the policies and procedures whereby that objective is achieved. Ongoing and future missions to Mars are particularly of interest because the general similarities between Mars and Earth (especially early in their history), and recent mission and observational data suggest that there is a high potential for Mars to harbor life under its surface. As we delve deeper into the martian subsurface, and when we return samples from that planet in 2008, planetary protection activities will become increasingly important. Elsewhere in the solar system, Europa, a moon of Jupiter, may have liquid water under its icy surface, and may also provide an environment conducive to Earth life, at least, and perhaps to living systems of its own. An ocean on Europa would present a compelling target for the further exobiological exploration of the solar system beyond Mars, and would present a particular challenge for planetary protection.


John D. Rummel is the NASA Planetary Protection Officer, based at NASA Headquarters, and is an Associate Program Scientist with NASA’s Gravitational Biology and Ecology Program. Before rejoining NASA in 1998, he was the Director of Research Administration and Education at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he was responsible for the MBL’s year-round and summer research efforts, its fellowship program, and for the MBL’s world-famous program in advanced biological education.

During his first tour at NASA Headquarters, Rummel was the Deputy Chief of the Mission From Planet Earth Study Office, and for six years led NASA’s Exobiology Program to understand the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe. During that time he also served as Branch Chief for the Gravitational Biology, Life Support, and Biospheric Research Programs in the Life Sciences Division, and was the SETI Program Scientist for both the Life Sciences and Solar System Exploration Divisions. He led the US teams responsible for defining joint exobiology and life support activities with the Soviet Union/Russia, and served as the NASA Planetary Protection Officer. For his work at Headquarters Dr. Rummel was the recipient of a number of NASA performance and achievement awards, and was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Rummel first came to NASA in 1985 as a National Research Council Research Associate, conducting research at NASA-Ames on microbial ecology and on the modeling of Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems.

Rummel was awarded a Doctorate by Stanford University for his research in community ecology and evolution in 1985. His current research interests include the ecology and biogeography of deep sea hydrothermal vents. He was an undergraduate at the University of Colorado in Environmental Biology, and served on active duty as a Naval Flight Officer for five years before attending graduate school. He currently is a Commander in the Naval Reserve.

Pacific Saga: The Disappearance and Rescue of Eddie Rickenbacker in World War II

by W. David Lewis

Tuesday, May 4, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


On October 21, 1942, a Boeing B-17D flying across the Pacific from Hawaii to Australia became lost en route to an intermediate stop at Canton Island and had to be ditched at sea after running out of fuel. Aboard were eight men, including one of America’s greatest aviation heroes, Edward V. (“Eddie”) Rickenbacker, who was taking a secret message from the War Department to General Douglas MacArthur. The disappearance of Rickenbacker and his crew, and their rescue three weeks later, emaciated and dehydrated after drifting through shark-infested waters, became one of the major news stories on the home front during World War 11, epitomizing human courage and bolstering morale during one of the most trying years of that conflict. During the past several years, while doing research for a biography of Rickenbacker, Dr. Lewis discovered much previously unexamined material about the raft episode, leading to an article, “The Rescue of Eddie Rickenbacker,” published in the September, 1998 issue of Air & Space\Smithsonian, In his colloquium presentation he will discuss the research involved in writing Rickenbacker’s biography, which included a three-hour interview with John Bartek, a survivor of the ordeal. Since that interview, he has received further material from persons with whom Bartek has put him in contact. Because the information at his disposal now far exceeds what can be used for the biography he is writing, he will later write a separate book about the raft episode itself.


W. David Lewis is Distinguished University Professor of History at Auburn University, where he has taught since his initial appointment in 1971 as Hudson Professor of History and Engineering. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in history at Pennsylvania State University in 1952 and 1954 and his Ph.D. in American social and intellectual history at Cornell University in 1961. He also did post-doctoral study in the Science, Technology, and Society program at the University of Chicago in 1978-1979 as a National Humanities Fellow.

In 1993-1994, Lewis was Charles A. Lindbergh Professor of Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum. In 1993 he received the Society for the History of Technology’s highest award, the Leonardo da Vinci Medal. In 1990 he received the Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award in the Humanities.

Lewis’ two main fields of interest are the history of commercial aviation and the history of the iron and steel industry. He has written or co-authored several books on these topics and is currently writing a biography of Edward V. (Eddie) Rickenbacker under a contract with Johns Hopkins University Press. He has been instrumental in helping build a large collection of Rickenbacker papers, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, and other memorabilia at the Auburn University Archives.

A New Mars – the View from Mars Global Surveyor

by Joseph G. Beerer

Tuesday, June 1, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Mars Global Surveyor, since arriving at the Red Planet in September 1997, has begun a decade of intensive exploration of Mars, providing a striking new view of Mars in spectacular detail. New instrumentation, much advanced since the last global view of Mars twenty years ago, is just beginning to reveal a new understanding of the atmosphere, surface and interior of the planet. As the precursor reconnaissance mission of the Surveyor program of Mars exploration, it will provide the information to direct future landed missions and forecast the locations from which to obtain samples of the Martian surface that will be returned to Earth for more extensive study.

Exploration of the planets is not an easy task. Mars Global Surveyor has had it share of challenges as it begins its two-year mapping mission.

In this presentation, Mr. Beerer will share some new insights into our most hospitable neighboring planet, the tumult of managing the operations of this dramatic new exploration, as well as describing NASA’s continuing program of robotic exploration of Mars.


Joseph (Joe) G. Beerer is flight operations manager for the Mars Global Surveyor mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is responsible for the daily flight activity of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft that is performing a robotic mapping of the red planet. He was formerly MGS mission design manager during the development phase and engineering office manager on the Mars Observer project.

Beerer, joined JPL in 1969 as an engineer in the Mission Design Section and has worked on a variety of spacecraft missions, including the 1971 Mariner mission to Mars, the 1973 Mariner mission to Venus and Mercury, and the 1977 Voyager mission to the outer planets of the solar system. He was the trajectory design engineer for the Mariner Venus Mercury mission – the first mission in which a single spacecraft visited two planets. He led the trajectory design for the Voyager Jupiter flybys which achieved the first close observation of the Galilean satellites. After serving as the Flight Mechanics Group Supervisor for five years, Beerer was named mission design manager for the Mars Observer mission in 1984.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Beerer grew up in Whittier, California, and earned his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1964 from the University of Colorado and a master of science degree in astrodynamics in 1969 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a recipient of three NASA Exceptional Service Medals for his work on the Voyager, Mars Observer, and Mars Global Surveyor projects.

Space Exploration Progress and Future Opportunities

by Robert C. Seamans, Jr.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Forty-six years ago, in January 1953, I gave an evening talk at a meeting of the MIT Club of Southern California. I discussed the development projects underway in MIT’s laboratories, and used a poster depicting satellites to discuss the future opportunities. At that time, I said that unmanned satellites would precede manned flight and that man might orbit the earth in ten years. I was correct. However, I didn’t have the temerity to suggest a manned lunar landing in 16 years.

What prompted us to take such a bold step and how was the mission executed? Why did President Kennedy go before Congress in May 1961 to recommend that the United States “take longer strides in space” and “land men on the moon and safely return them to Earth before the end of the decade?” What led him to believe such a mission was desirable and feasible?

I will discuss these questions by addressing the political situation and many of the technical issues of the day, and by detailing a number of management issues that have relevance to today’s space activities. Langley Research Center played a key role in the creation of the Space Task Group to manage the Mercury Project. Bob Gilruth and his team successfully placed Alan Shepard in sub-orbital flight several weeks before President Kennedy delivered his space message to Congress. When it was realized that the Space Task Group would have to be quadrupled in size to manage the Apollo Lunar Landing Program, a new location was sought and ultimately the group moved to Houston, Texas. This site became the Manned Space Flight Center before it was renamed in honor of President Johnson. I will discuss this move and its importance to the space effort.


Robert C. Seamans, Jr. was born on October 30, 1918, in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended Lenox School, Lenox, Massachusetts, earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Harvard University in 1940, a Masters of Science degree in Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1942, and a Doctor of Science degree in Instrumentation from MIT in 1951.

From 1941 to 1955 he held teaching and research positions at MIT, during which time he worked on aeronautical developments for instrumentation and control of airplanes and missiles. Dr. Seamans joined Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1955, and in 1958 became Chief Engineer of the Missile Electronics and Control Division at RCA Burlington, Massachusetts. He held this position until joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in September 1960.

He served with NASA for more than seven years, first as Associate Administrator from September 1960 until December 1965, and then as Associate and Deputy Administrator until 1968.

Dr. Seamans resigned from NASA in January 1968 to become a Visiting Professor at MIT, and in July 1968 he was appointed to the Jerome Clark Hunsaker Professorship, an MIT-endowed visiting professorship in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics.

From February 1969 until 1973, Dr. Seamans was Secretary of the Air Force. He then became President of the National Academy of Engineering, elected in May 1973.

In December 1974, Dr. Seamans became the first Administrator of the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). He left ERDA in 1977 to return to MIT.

Dr. Seamans was Henry Luce Professor of Environment and Public Policy at MIT from July 1977 until attaining retirement status in July 1984. He was appointed Dean of Engineering in July 1978, and served in that post until September 1981. He served as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics from 1984 until 1996.

Aviation Safety from an Airline’s Perspective

by Captain Edmond L. Soliday

Tuesday, August 3, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


None provided.


Captain Ed Soliday is the Vice President for Corporate Safety, Quality Assurance and Security at United Airlines. He is a Boeing 767 Captain and has worked for United for over 32 years.

Captain Soliday has headed up safety programs at United for 8 years and was recently given responsibility for all quality assurance programs at the airline. In the safety arena, Soliday directs flight safety, inflight safety, occupational safety, environmental safety, corporate emergency response, and corporate security programs.

The Corporate Safety, Quality Assurance and Security Division is involved in regulatory oversight, analysis of safety and regulatory trends, internal safety and compliance audits and facilitation of appropriate change. The division encompasses a staff of over 150 people.

Captain Soliday has played a key role in developing many innovative flight safety programs in the aviation industry including: Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA), Flight Safety Visualization and the Crew/Leadership/Resource management program for United’s flight officers. He has testified before numerous governmental panels on safety and security issues and has also played an important role in developing enhanced airline industry programs in the areas of crisis response, family assistance, explosive direction systems, and automated passenger profiling.

Applications of Free-Electron Lasers for Materials Science and Materials Processing

by Dr. H. Fred Dylla

Tuesday, September 14, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Over the last decade, free-electron lasers (FELs) have been shown to be useful sources of coherent radiation for pure- and applied-science investigations from the far infrared to the ultraviolet. Unique, often-exploited aspects of FEL radiation include broad wavelength tunability, high peak power, and a short-pulse (picosecond) time structure. High construction and operating costs usually require amortization by multiple users at an FEL user facility like the recently commissioned one at the Department of Energy’s Jefferson Laboratory. Its new kilowatt-range FEL opens up a new class of laser applications, particularly in materials processing and the related materials science. An industry-university consortium planned the Jefferson Lab FEL, with primary interests in demonstrating large-area materials-processing techniques with a cost-effective, high-average-power laser source. Consortium working groups have built and installed equipment for initial experiments in polymer surface processing, metal surface processing, large-area microfabrication, and electronic materials processing. NASA and Langley have several active and potential areas of interest in the Jefferson Lab FEL program.


Fred Dylla joined Jefferson Lab in 1990 to help plan and lead the free-electron laser project. He also oversees Jefferson Lab’s other efforts to transfer newly developed technology to industry. In 1975 he earned a physics Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later he worked on fusion energy research at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Clouds, Rain, and the Global Climate: What are we learning from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)?

by Dr. Christian Kummerow

Tuesday, October 5, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Tropical rainfall is important in the hydrological cycle of our planet and to the lives and welfare of humans. In addition to being a life-giving resource, tropical rainfall also plays a crucial role in the dynamics of the global atmospheric circulation. Three-fourths of the energy that drives the atmospheric wind circulation comes from the latent heat released by tropical precipitation, which varies greatly in space and time. Because the rain-producing cloud systems may last several hours or days, and because their dimensions range from ten km to several hundred km, it is difficult to incorporate rainfall directly into large-scale weather and climate models. In fact, until the end of 1997, precipitation in the global tropics was not known to within a factor of two. Regarding “global warming,” the various large-scale models differed among themselves in the predicted magnitude of the warming and in the expected regional effects of these temperature and moisture changes. Accurate estimates of tropical precipitation and the associated latent heat release were urgently needed to improve these models. Since its launch in late 1997, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite has yielded important interim results after nearly two years of successful flight operations. This talk will summarize the questions and report where the TRMM science team is with regards to answering some of these important scientific challenges.


Dr. Christian Kummerow is the Project Scientist for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Originally from Chile, Dr. Kummerow immigrated to the United States in 1973 with his parents. He completed his A.B. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982, and received his Ph.D. in nuclear and atmospheric physics at the University of Minnesota in 1987. He joined Goddard Space Flight Center as a postdoctoral fellow in 1987, and was recruited by then-Project Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson to begin work on rainfall retrieval algorithms for the TRMM mission. Dr. Kummerow became the TRMM Deputy Project Scientist for Data Systems in 1992, the TRMM Deputy Project Scientist in 1994, and began his current position as Project Scientist at the time of the TRMM satellite launch in 1997.

Dr. Kummerow is an expert in problems dealing with the transfer of radiation through non-uniform cloud systems and determining rainfall rates from spaceborne sensors such as the three TRMM primary rainfall instruments. He has authored over 30 journal articles on subjects of radiative transfer and rainfall retrievals, and has recently spent considerable time in the development of the TRMM data and information systems to facilitate the analysis and visualization of TRMM data products.

The Role Of Failure In Successful Design

by Prof. Henry Petroski

Tuesday, November 2, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


The idea of failure is presented in this talk as a central concept in engineering, and it is argued that the design process can be considered to be one of proactive failure analysis. Historical case studies will be used to illustrate the thesis that this view of design is independent of the state of the art and thus applies equally to ancient, modern, and future engineering practice.


Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University, where he also serves as chairman of the department of civil and environmental engineering. Before moving to Duke in 1980, he was on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin and on the staff of Argonne National Laboratory.

His books include: To Engineer Is Human, which he also adapted for a BBC-television documentary; The PencilThe Evolution of Useful ThingsDesign ParadigmsEngineers of DreamsInvention by DesignRemaking the World; and The Book on the Bookshelf, which has just been published by Alfred A. Knopf. His books have been widely reviewed, and he has been interviewed often on radio and television in conjunction with their publication. He also writes the regular engineering column in American Scientist and lectures frequently.

Henry Petroski has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the National Humanities Center. Among his other honors are the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, honorary degrees from Clarkson University and Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), and distinguished engineering alumnus awards from both Manhattan College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Measuring Cosmic Evolution with the Hubble Space Telescope

by Dr. Henry C. Ferguson

Tuesday, December 7, 1999 at 2:00 p.m. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.


Studies of distant galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope are providing clues to the origin of galaxies like the Milky Way and providing constraints on the age and geometry of the universe. This talk will review what has been learned from the observations so far and outline some of the questions and paradoxes that still remain in trying to chart cosmic evolution.


Dr. Henry Ferguson was one of the leaders of the “Hubble Deep Field” project, which has provided the deepest optical image of the distant universe to date. Dr. Ferguson received his A.B. degree in 1981 from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy from the Johns Hopkins University in 1990. He subsequently held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge (UK) and a Hubble postdoctoral fellowship at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. He joined the permanent staff of the institute in 1995. In addition to leading the HDF project, Dr. Ferguson was responsible for the orbital verification of the Space Telescope Imaging spectrograph, and has used Hubble instruments to study “intergalactic” stars between the galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster.