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.

As we count down to the big event, the Eclipse Across America on August 21, Dave talks to two people preparing for a logistical challenge to say the least. One million visitors are expected to come to Oregon to be in the 65 mile wide path of the eclipse. Shelley Hall is the Superintendent for John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It's remote location and limited infrastructure (there is no camping in the park unit) make for a particularly challenging opportunity for park staff and visitors alike. Shelly explains how the park is preparing for a large influx of visitors and shares her concerns and aspirations for the event. Then we chat with Dave Thompson from the Oregon Department of Transportation about their messaging campaign designed to keep people safe and traffic moving. Bottom line? It won't be easy -- especially if large numbers of people try to get to the eclipse path late and leave early.

Josh Willis has business cards that his wife made for him. His job title? "Idiot Leftist Scientist." Dave finds out why in this fun and fascinating interview with Willis, who was honored by President Obama with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2009. A NASA/JPL Oceanographer and climate scientist, Josh uses comedy and improvisational skills honed in theater classes and at workshops from the Second City Comedy group to help him bridge the gap with people who are skeptical of climate science. Find out about OMG -- it's not what you think...as well as the adventures of Dick Dangerfield and Guy Scientist (with half hearted apologies to Garrison Keillor) in this light hearted look at a heavy subject -- climate change.

In this episode, Dave talks to Dr. Gordon Telepun. An Alabama plastic surgeon, Gordon's other passion is chasing eclipses. Based on his experiences with eclipse photography in Africa, Gordon saw the need to develop an eclipse timing device and did it himself. Now he has taken that concept and turned it into an app for both iPhones and Android devices. It lets you know when significant events are going to happen from wherever you are along the eclipse path using GPS. It is designed to help rather than distract you -- you rarely have to do anything with the phone other than wake it up. Then Gordon's voice let's you know what to look for and when! But better than the app itself is Gordon's infectious enthusiasm about the Great American Eclipse coming on August 21.

  

In this week's episode, Dave talks with Kate Fullam, the communications director for The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. It's a completely unscripted and natural conversation about her work at the center in general and The Flame Challenge in particular. The Flame Challenge is designed for scientists to create a four-minute video or write a short essay on a theme. This year's was "What is Energy?" What makes the contest so unique is that the contestants have to be scientists and they have to make their content accessible to an 11-year-old. And guest what? Eleven-year-olds also judge the contest!

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Dave talks to Dave Hill, emeritus scientist for the United States Geological Survey and Margaret Mangan, director of the California Volcano Observatory. They talk about the history of volcanic unrest at Long Valley Caldera near Mammoth Lakes in the eastern Sierra Nevada. A series of earthquakes in the late '70s and 1980, coupled with the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in May of 1980, led USGS scientists to issue volcanic hazard warnings. When picked up by the LA Times, the story caused social and political challenges for the scientists and community members. To this day, the Caldera remains a region of geologic activity.

You know the story of Icarus – the unfortunate fellow who flew too close to the Sun on wings made of wax? Well NASA is planning to send a much more robust probe into the very atmosphere of the Sun. How do you protect a  spacecraft from such an extreme environment? And what do we hope to learn about our star? Find out on this episode when we are joined by Dr. Nicky Fox from The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. She is the Project Scientist for The Parker Solar Probe, scheduled for launch in 2018.

Dave talks to Time Magazine's Science Editor Jeffrey Kluger about his new book, Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon. His previous book, Apollo 13 was co-written with Jim Lovell, who was an astronaut on both missions. Apollo 8 takes place during the dramatic events of 1968 against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy and riots at the Democratic Connvention in Chicago. After the traumatic events of that turbulent year, the first mission to the Moon comes with a television transmission from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. As one citizen wrote in a telegram to the crew, "You saved 1968."

Kevin Scanlon

Today on Blue Dot, we talk with Rico Gagliano, cohost of The Dinner Party Download, about the show’s upcoming hourlong podcast and live event at Lassen Volcanic National Park called “Look Up and Listen.” Both the audio program and the in-person listening party are designed to encourage you to go outside and reacquaint yourself with the natural world.

Dave asks Rico about the origins of The Dinner Party Download and gets the 411 on the guest lineup and the get-back-to-nature theme of the “Look Up and Listen” program. Dave also answers Rico's questions about why Lassen Volcanic National Park is such a special place. It's a lighthearted conversation about the wonders of nature and why we need to connect more deeply with them in our hectic, technology-driven lives.

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.

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