Astrobiology Lectures Available Online

by Paul Gilster on May 29, 2006

Centauri Dreams continues to champion innovative tools that get scientific findings out to a broader audience. On that score, be aware of QCShow, a freely downloadable player that synchronizes PowerPoint and PDF presentation materials with audio. We’ve discussed this software before, when QCShow’s parent company, New Mexico-based AICS Research, made sessions from NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts meeting in 2005 available. Now a weekly series of recorded lectures on astrobiology has launched in this format.

Short of attending a conference on astrobiology yourself, it would be hard to top the list of participants here. Planet hunter extraordinaire Geoff Marcy (University of California, Berkeley) leads off with a 52 minute talk entitled “Exoplanets, Yellowstone & the Prospects for Alien Life.” As the discoverer of roughly 70 of the first 100 exoplanets to be found, Marcy’s thoughts on planetary diversity and its implications for life are well worth hearing, but he’s followed up in coming weeks by, among others, names like Greg Laughlin (UC-Santa Cruz), Webster Cash (University of Colorado), David Grinspoon (Southwest Research Institute) and Matt Golombek (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

The Astrobiology lecture series can be found here, with archives available. QCShow is a fine tool for distributing this kind of presentation — it is a low-bandwidth solution that focuses on what really counts, the slide show delivered by the presenter coordinated with audio of his or her discussion of the material. My own view is that lectures and conference sessions will one day be routinely distributed through downloadable video files (the burgeoning of digital storage makes it all but inevitable, and preferable to bandwidth-hogging streaming techniques), but as we create that infrastructure, QCShow gets the job done now, and is building expertise for the future dissemination of scientific materials.

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