News Release
University Affairs Office
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609
(707) 664-2057
    August 26, 2004    
    Contact: Joe Tenn, Department of Physics and Astronomy, (707) 664-2119


Planetary Explorers Among Physics and Astronomy Fall Speakers at SSU

Two planetary scientists from Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab head an impressive list of speakers who will present free public lectures in Sonoma State University’s “What Physicists Do” series this fall.

Lectures will be on Mondays at 4 p.m., from Sept. 13 through Nov. 29 in room 108 in Darwin Hall on the SSU campus.

Coming from Pasadena on Sept. 27 will be Linda Spilker, Deputy Project Scientist on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, to present first results from the spacecraft that has traveled a billion miles over seven years and is now orbiting the giant ringed planet.

On Oct. 11, Albert Haldemann of JPL will describe the scientific achievements of the two Mars Exploration Rovers over the past year.

Perhaps the most famous speaker is Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI Research in Mountain View. Often described as the model for the heroine of Carl Sagan’s book "Contact" and the movie that followed it, she is one of the world’s leaders in SETI, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence. She will describe plans for the forthcoming Allen Telescope Array on Sept. 20.

Another speaker of note is Anthony Siegman, professor emeritus at Stanford Universe and a past president of the Optical Society of America, who will describe recent advances in science and technology made possible by lasers and fiber optics on Nov. 15.

The series will open with the new codirector of SSU’s W.M. Keck Materials Characterization Lab, Hongtao Shi, describing future dramatic increases in the storage capabilities of magnetic materials. Dr. Shi has just joined the university’s department of physics and astronomy.

Other speakers will cover brightness enhancement films, reducing the role of cars in global warming, tests of gravity at very short distances, medical imaging, recovering historical sound recordings using optical methods, biomaterials and biosensors, and SSU’s new robotic telescope in the hills north of Santa Rosa.

SSU professor Joe Tenn, who is directing the series, expresses his gratitude to the donors who have made it possible to bring such distinguished speakers to SSU for the privately-funded lectures.

For a free poster describing all twelve lectures, send e-mail to, or call (707) 664-2119.

The series Web site can be found at


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Last Modified: 08/27/2004