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  • Sponsored by Best of the East Bay
  • Sponsored by Future Fridays

Future Fridays

Upcoming Speakers | Past Speakers

Chabot Space & Science Center presents a series of community conversations with science and futurist thought leaders

Tickets: $23 Members / $26 Guests
$30 at the Door: No discounts & subject to availability

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Ticket proceeds help underwrite the educational programming at Chabot.
Speaker Series tickets make great gifts for friends and teachers!

This series is proudly sponsored by Rudney Associates


2017 Season

April 7, 2017 - 6pm
Dr. David Grinspoon – Earth in Human Hands: A Cosmic View of our Planet’s Past, Present and Future

What are we doing here on this planet? Can a deep-time and deep-space viewpoint help us gain the perspective to create a sustainable civilization? Informed by comparative planetology and a survey of the major transitions in Earth history, David Grinspoon will describe a taxonomy of planetary catastrophes meant to illuminate the unusual nature of the "Anthropocene,” our current time of human-driven planetary changes, and reframe our environmental predicaments as part of a larger narrative of planetary evolution. This saga has now reached the pivotal moment when humans have become a major agent of global change, and geological and human history are becoming irreversibly conjoined. Is this a likely or even inevitable challenge facing other complex life in the universe? Possible implications for SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will be considered, as well as the choices our civilization faces in seeking to foster a wisely managed Earth.

Bio »
Dr. David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author, as well as a frequent advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization. Grinspoon's writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Scientific American, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He lectures widely, and appears frequently on television, radio and podcasts, including as a frequent guest on StarTalk Radio and host of the new spinoff StarTalk All Stars.

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May 5, 2017 - 6pm
Edwin F. Erickson, NASA Ames Research Center (retired)

NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Program
A unique program of astronomy from aircraft began at NASA Ames Research Center in the mid-1960s and continues to this day.  The mobility of a telescope in an airplane and the transparency of the atmosphere at aircraft altitudes provides unequaled capabilities for a variety of astronomical observations.  This presentation will describe these capabilities, their evolution via different facilities at NASA Ames, the character of the observing program and some of the important scientific results Dr. Erickson will also explore the development of the incredible, now-flying machine SOFIA:  the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. 

Bio »
Dr. Erickson holds Ph.D. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics from Stanford University. He was a Captain, U.S. Army Chemical Corps and spent thirty-six years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astrophysics Program at NASA Ames Research Center, specializing in airborne infrared astronomy. He was NASA's Facility Scientist of the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and a science team member for the infrared instrument (NICMOS) on the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Erickson was NASA's original Project Scientist for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) before he retired in 2007. In retirement, he has enjoyed speaking on astrophysics to school classes, ballroom dancing, spending time with family.

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Past Speakers


  • Scott Manley – Can You Learn Rocket Science from Video Games?


  • MJ Marggraff - Far and Away: Going Beyond Earth Without Going Crazy
  • Christopher McKay - Life on Mars: Past and Future
  • Dr. Robert Knight - Insights into Human Behavior from Neurological Patients
  • Scott Hutchins - Novel Science: The Making of A Working Theory of Love
  • Peter H. Gleick - The Future of Water for California and the World
  • Ed Finn - How to Build a Dream Machine
  • Steven Shepard - From the Internet of Things to the Internet of Human Capability
  • Bill Nye - Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation


  • Will Wright - Game Designer & Creator of Sim City
  • Tom Atchison - Founder & Chairman, Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation
  • Carl Haber - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Physicist and MacArthur Genius Award Winner
  • Edward Moses - Director of Fusion Science and Applications Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Alexander Rose - Executive Director of Long Now Foundation and Clock Project Manager
  • Ray Jayawardhana - Author and Professor of Observational Astrophysics


  • Jim Capobianco, Derek Thompson & Kevin O'Brien - Pixar Animation Studios
  • Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon - Astrobiologist
  • Dr. Alex Filippenko - Astrophysicist
  • John Romero & Brenda Brathwaite Romero - Game Designers
  • Robert Weiss - President of Xprize & Entertainment Movie Producer


  • Brian David Johnson - Author and FutureCaster at Intel
  • Ben Burtt - Sound Director, Designer & Engineer for LucasFilms/Pixar
  • Bill Nye the Climate Guy - Scientist, Engineer, Comedian, Author, and Inventor
  • Ray Jayawardhana - Author and Professor of Observational Astrophysics


  • Dr. Michio Kaku - Bestselling Author and Popularizer of Science
  • Mary Roach - Columnist and Popular Science Writer and Author
  • Bill McKibben - American Environmentalist and Writer
  • Al Worden - Apollo 15 Astronaut