Of Tunnels, Teaching, and Time Travel

Dear Wonderfest friend,

On Monday, inventor Elon Musk challenged California’s high-speed rail plans with his Hyperloop. On the very same day, Wonderfest challenged Mr. Musk to think more “deeply” (*ahem*) about truly futuristic, low-cost, high-speed transport. The Radical Physics chord tunnel would take us from San Francisco to LA in 42 minutes at virtually no energy cost!
Hyperloop sketch
Who will be the next Carl Sagan? Could s/he be in development at, say, a Bay Area university, right now? More generally: How can we inspire great researchers — as psychologist Alison Gopnik and astronomer Geoff Marcy have been inspired — to dedicate a significant portion of their energies to public science understanding?
To address these vital questions, Gopnik and Marcy (and six other local professors noted for their expertise in science communication) have nominated eight gifted Bay Area PhD students to become Wonderfest Science Envoys.
Scientists Must Speak
Wonderfest’s Science Envoy Pilot Project (SEPP) will provide a series of workshops and speaking opportunities to these most-promising, hand-picked, energetic, young researchers. The very title of their SEPP textbook declares the point of the project: Scientists Must Speak.
Through SEPP, Wonderfest will simultaneously present youthful science insights to the Bay Area and inspire the next generation of well-spoken public-spirited researchers to follow in Sagan’s footsteps. Keep your eyes peeled for further news about SEPP, and please check this newsletter’s post script for a remarkable opportunity to triple your donation to the cause.
Einstein sailing
Speaking of generous science experts who share knowledge with the public…  San Jose State physicist Ken Wharton will expand upon the insights of his June Cinema Science presentation with Physics vs. Time Travel, on August 20, at NASA-Ames in Mountain View.
Prof. Wharton’s presentation will use popular movies to explore both the logical and physical challenges to this most favored of science fiction themes. (For a short review of Einstein’s insights into forward time travel, try this.) Physics vs. Time Travel is a free presentation that marks Wonderfest’s first collaboration with the prestigious Commonwealth Club.
Wondrous regards,
Tucker Hiatt
Founding Executive Director
P.S.  Would you like to help inspire Saganesque dedication to public enlightenment among young researchers? Why not donate to Wonderfest’s Science Envoy Pilot Project?! For the next few weeks, every dollar donated to the project will be matched by TWO dollars from an anonymous Wonderfest benefactor! This fantastic 2-for-1 offer expires on September 30 or when we’ve raised $5,000, so please make a contribution soon.