Dave Schlom

Host, Blue Dot

Dave Schlom has taught the physical sciences at Corning Union High School since 1991. A lifelong amateur astronomer and astronomy educator, he has a passion for both the earth and the space sciences, which are the principal areas of focus for guests on Blue Dot. He started doing radio interviews on space and astronomy topics for local stations like KFM and KPAY in the 1980s and into the 90s, where he was a popular go-to guest for local radio personalities. He is also an expert on the history and geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he has served as a volunteer for decades. Dave enjoys a quiet life at home with his partner in life, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Elvis and Pearl, at their Red Bluff residence.

It’s been several months since we last talked about the astronomical event of the year and maybe even our lifetimes – The Great American Total Solar Eclipse is coming on August 21, 2017. You don’t want to miss it – but neither will anyone else – we talk to Mr. Eclipse Fred Espenak.

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Dave talks to film makers Michael Barnett and Michael Mahaffie about their new Netflix documentary The Mars GenerationTheir film traces the past and future of the United States Space Program by following a group of young people attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Many of them have attended Space Camp numerous times and are using their experiences to try and set themselves up to be a part of future missions to Mars from astronauts to flight directors, engineers and software designers. How did the United States go from the most powerful space faring nation on Earth in the late 1960s to a country that can't even get its own astronauts to the International Space Station without hitching a ride with the Russians? The young Americans in this inspiring film want to change that equation.

Plans are on the drawing table at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to explore the hottest scientific target in the solar system — Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Recent findings indicate that it has all the ingredients needed to support life — oceans of liquid water, heat coming from deep within the world and the basic organic chemistry of life. We talk to Andrew Shapiro about missions to explore Europa as well as other fascinating new technologies that are on the cutting edge of astronomy and space exploration. It's a look into the future, and promises to amaze and fascinate. Plus Dave and Nolan give their take on the new Netflix Series Bill Nye Saves The World and the National Geographic Channel's Genius — a fascinating look at the life of Albert Einstein starring Geoffrey Rush.

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The search for life beyond Earth is one of the driving forces behind NASA’s exploration of the solar system. Two moons of the outer solar system have been the targets of intense scrutiny as well as plans for future missions – Jupiter’s giant moon Europa and Saturn’s tiny satellite Enceladus both have subsurface oceans of liquid water. In 2005, the Cassini orbiter discovered geyser plumes erupting from Enceladus’ south polar region and recent Hubble Space Telescope observations have indicated that the same type of activity is occurring on Europa. The Cassini orbiter is entering the final months of its mission and just this past week, imaged yet another dramatic picture of the pale blue dot – Earth, set between Saturn’s rings. Joining us to talk about the exciting new discoveries and the end of the mission is Cassini Deputy Project Scientist Scott Edgington.

You know what ear worms are right? Those catchy tunes that get stuck in your head. Well the ones that get to me have not just a musical hook, they also have a scientific one. And I totally love to sing them in the shower. Join me. No not in the shower – but in my chat with the creator of Acapella Science on YouTube – Tim Blais.

Scientists are concerned and for good reason. Scientific evidence for things like climate change and vaccinations is increasingly being questioned and undermined. Governmental science agencies like the EPA are having their budgets cut and missions changed as Washington adapts to a new administration under Donald Trump. Scientists around the country and the world will be marching for the values of the scientific method – reasoning from evidence to uncover the truth.

How do we think? How do we solve problems and why do we sometimes struggle with finding answers to logical questions? It’s all about our brains, and neuroscience is one of the most daunting topics of any that I can think of. Thankfully, we have a guest who can help demystify how we interact with the world with our brains – she’s the creative force behind one of YouTube’s hottest science channels – Braincraft – meet one of my favorite Aussie science communicators – Vanessa Hill. 

Being an astronaut is synonymous in our culture with being a hero. And there are a few that are household names, like John Glenn or Neil Armstrong. But perhaps none of them had as much of an impact on our society and NASA itself as the first American woman in space - Sally Ride. After her 1983 flight on the space shuttle Challenger, she became one of the most famous people in the world, and yet, she was also an intensely private person, her sexual orientation only becoming widely known after her death in 2012. Former ABC News reporter Lynn Sherr covered the space program during the early space shuttle era and became good friends with Ride. Her biography, Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space is an in-depth look at the astronaut, scientist and human being.

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“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here…” Those words have become part of our pop cultural history. Just like, “Houston, Tranquility Base here…the Eagle has landed.” During the halcyon days of Project Apollo in the late 1960s and early 70s, Houston was a call sign that referred to the Mission Operations Control Room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We will talk to Houston ourselves, though not the one you might be thinking of…Rick Houston is the author of Go Flight! An inside look at the history and culture of the legendary space center. It’s all new and all blue with a little red and white thrown in for good measure.

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A red dwarf star with seven Earth sized planets? Sound like science fiction? No, it is the Trappist-1 system recently discovered – and it rocked the science world because these are rocky worlds – maybe like Earth! Find out what we know and how we know it on this week’s show.

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