In a rare shift in its normal schedule, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium will present both a "World of Science" talk and a concert under its dome in early May.
Staerkel's "World of Science" lecture series usually ends in April each academic year. However, at 7 p.m. on May 3, Dr. Paul Debevec from the University of Illinois Department of Physics will visit the dome to discuss fossil fuels and renewable energy in the season finale "Understanding the Energy Challenge." Then, at 8:30 p.m., Staerkel will suspend its usual programs to welcome the electronic/acoustic group Sound Source 6, which will perform a unique concert titled "Music from the Magellanic Clouds: A Sonic Voyage of Exploration From Beyond the Milky Way."
Admission to the WOS lecture is $1 at the door with "Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium" admitted free of charge. Admission to the concert is $5 per person at the door.
The world runs on fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels won't last forever, even though technological advances in fossil fuel extraction may extend the resource. This makes renewable energy a must for the future. The connection between fossil fuel use, environmental damage, and climate change should drive a more rapid transition, but the route is blocked by many challenges.
In his planetarium talk, Debevec and the audience will search for solutions: How can we drive cars and trucks without gasoline or generate electricity without coal or natural gas? How can we have enough energy for a growing and developing world population? The sun and the wind provide options, but when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow, what's next? Debevec believes the world has no option but to solve these energy challenges; people need to think big and act big.
Debevec is an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has been a faculty member since 1977. His research in nuclear and particle physics has included experiments at CERN and PSI in Switzerland, and at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Laboratory in the U.S. In 2009, he and his colleagues developed the core course for the University of Illinois College of Engineering's Energy and Sustainability Engineering graduate option (EaSE), and he has provided community lectures on energy issues at the college since 2010.
Following the science talk, the improvisatory collective Sound Source 6 will "generate experimental musical soundscapes of ethereal, chaotic, serene and explosive qualities, reflective of the primal forces at work deep within the Magellanic Clouds." Enjoy fleeting one-of-a-kind performances of pure sound as the planetarium improvises images on the dome to support the sound. Comprised of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate music composition students Halim Beere, Ming-ching Chiu, Leon Harrell, Barry Morse, John Nichols, and Allen Wu, this group manipulates electronic and acoustic sound sources in real time using laptop computers and the latest in electro-acoustic technology.