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The Daily Wildcat


Five science events not to miss during the Festival of Books

Rebecca Noble

An overhead view of the mold used to make the seven mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope in the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab on July 13, 2015. The lab will be offering tours over the period of the Tucson Festival of Books. 

It seems all of Tucson is getting ready for the annual Tucson Festival of Books. This celebration of literature brings dozens of authors from around the world to the UA campus to share their work with the community. While the festival provides an excellent opportunity for those with artistic aspirations, the event also features several unique and interesting opportunities to learn about science. Here are five can’t-miss science attractions for this weekend’s Festival of Books: 

1. Orbital perspectives

On Saturday, March 11, at 10 a.m., panelists will take the stage to discuss their perspectives on Earth, space and the universe. Panelist Ron Garan is a retired NASA astronaut who’s flown several missions to the International Space Station. Now an entrepreneur and author, Garan’s most recent book, titled “The Orbital Perspective – Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles,” was published in 2015. 

Garan will be joined on stage by Lowell observatory historian Kevin Schindler and KNAU science and technology reporter Melissa Sevigny. The panelists will give a presentation on different perspectives on our place in the universe, as well as answer questions from the audience.

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2. Tours of the UA Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab 

The mirror lab will be giving eight tours a day for the Tucson Festival of Books. This high-tech lab underneath Arizona Stadium produces cutting-edge mirrors for the most advanced telescopes in the world. Tickets can be reserved at the Science City Visitors Center free of charge, compared to a typical cost of about $20. This is a unique opportunity to see where UA Science shines brighter than any other institution in the world.

3. BMX show

On Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, former X-Games competitor John Parker will take to the air, putting Newton’s laws to the test in a high-flying BMX demonstration. Parker’s organization, Stuntmasters Inc, puts on BMX and skateboarding shows for communities around the country. Only at the Tucson Festival of Books will they be joined by scientists explaining the physics behind the amazing stunts they perform.

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4. Women Writing about Women in Science 

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, listen to a discussion on women in science from science and tech authors Nathalia Holt, Julian Guthrie and Nancy Atkinson, as well as UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory scientist and HiRISE camera operations engineer Kristin Block. 

Holt is the bestselling author of “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars”. Atkinson is a science journalist for Universe Today, focusing mainly on astronomy. Guthrie is an award-winning journalist in the San Francisco area. The panelists will discuss and answer questions regarding writing about women in science.

5. Volcano eruption

Like watching stuff blow up? Look no further than the Tucson Festival of Books. On Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12, UA Geosciences will display Tucson’s largest volcano eruption in thousands of years. The Geosciences department has put on this event for the past few years, and it always promises to be a favorite. In previous years, the liquid nitrogen-fueled reaction has gone up to 40 feet high and 70 feet out.

These are just a few of the many amazing events going on at the Tucson Festival of books this weekend. Festivities will last from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on March 11 and 12. 

More information for science events can be found at Information on the all the events happening at the Tucson Festival of Books can be found at

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