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No matter how far we move into the future, there will always be much that we can learn from the past. And often, the achievements of the former lead directly to paradigm shifts in the latter.

That’s where Dr. Sarah Parcak comes in. She is a professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham who is at the forefront of the cutting-edge field of space archaeology. Yes, you read that right – space archaeology. Through the use of high-resolution satellite imagery and other tools, Parcak and her colleagues have completely changed the game, finding thousands of heretofore unknown potential dig sites and unlocking whole new worlds of investigative possibilities.

The National Geographic Explorer, TED Prize-winner and all-around brilliant researcher has written a new book – “Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past” (Henry Holt and Co., $30) – aimed at sharing her work, its importance and the history behind it. It’s a chance to gain a closer understanding of the complexities of Parcak’s work, as well as the value that comes from digging into our ancient past. It’s a compellingly-written piece of popular science.

But it also offers something that other science-oriented nonfiction doesn’t – the warm, impassioned and funny voice of Sarah Parcak.

Published in Tekk

Talking science, storytelling and her new book “Archaeology from Space”

Dr. Sarah Parcak’s Twitter handle says it all - @indyfromspace. Yeah, that’s right – she’s a space archaeologist.

What’s that, you ask? Well, you’re about to get the chance to find out, thanks to the Bangor native’s new book “Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past.” Her work involves the use of satellite imagery to determine the presence (or absence) of archaeological sites that otherwise could only be discovered via traditional boots-on-the-ground methods.

Forget the fedora – we’re finding the past by way of the future!

Parcak’s fame in scientific circles has been steadily growing over the past decade or so. Things really blew up for her when she was awarded the million-dollar TED Prize in 2015. She appeared on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” bringing awareness of her work to a whole new level. She founded the website GlobalXPlorer, which allows users to do their own metaphorical digging, using satellite images to go on their own archaeological scavenger hunts from on high.

Let me repeat – she is a space archaeologist. It sounds like the sort of job that a precocious six-year-old would invent, something along the lines of “cowboy astronaut” or “baseball player president.” But make no mistake – she is real.

And she is SPECTACULAR.

Published in Cover Story

BANGOR – Too often, we think of science as SCIENCE, some far-removed thing that has little connection with most of our everyday lives. We allow ourselves to be intimidated by this notion that science is something far too complex for any but the most specialized among us to truly understand it.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Science is EVERYWHERE, a fact that is celebrated annually by the Maine Science Festival. This year’s MSF – which marks the fifth year of the event – takes place March 13-17 at locations all over the greater Bangor area. Scores of events aimed at bringing science to joyful, relatable life – as well as finding those connections to the world we live in everyday – are happening over that span.

And at the risk of sounding cliché, it really is fun for all ages. There will be plenty to do and to learn for young children, teenagers and adults alike. Seriously – if you have even the slightest bit of curiosity, you’ll find something to fascinate you at the Maine Science Festival.

Oh, and the vast majority of events are absolutely free.

You can find more information and a full schedule at www.mainesciencefestival.org. And you should absolutely do that, because any effort on my part to convey the vast and varied sweep of offerings over MSF weekend would be lacking. There’s just SO MUCH SCIENCE.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Kate Dickerson is the Director of the Maine Science Festival and one of the driving forces behind turning it into one of the most anticipated events on the cultural calendar. She was kind enough to engage with The Maine Edge via email for a Q&A that was not only incredibly informative, but also illustrative of the passion she carries for this project.

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 11:04

To the extreme – ‘Superhuman’

Just what are we capable of?

That’s the question asked by biologists, psychologists, anthropologists – just about any “-ist” you can think of … what are the limits to human endeavor? It’s a question whose complicated answers evolutionary biologist Rowan Hooper hopes to unravel.

Hooper’s new book is “Superhuman: Life at the Extremes of Our Capacity” (Simon & Schuster, $27) introduces us to a vast and varied collection of outliers, individuals whose abilities in certain arenas far outstrip the capacity of the average person. Whether we’re looking at intelligence or physical endurance or courage or empathy, there are people out there who are more disposed to the extreme end of the spectrum.

Published in Tekk

Writing about science in a manner that is entertaining and accessible while also conveying the desired information with clarity and concision – not an easy task by any means. Finding the proper balance of wonky jargon and narrative engagement requires a backwards-and-forwards depth of knowledge about the subject matter AND significant storytelling acumen. It’s a shot at harmony while dodging discord.

In short, there’s a real art to science writing.

Nick Pyenson’s new book “Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures” (Viking, $27) is a prime example of getting it right. Pyenson is unabashedly wonky for long stretches (though he does come by it honestly - he’s Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian and a noted paleobiologist), but he also allows his personal passion for the work shine through. True passion is infectious, and that’s what he brings to the table – the reader can’t help but be drawn along.

Published in Tekk

What is it that truly defines athletic genius?

While there’s no doubt that physique and physicality play massive roles in what makes a successful athlete, there’s more to it than that. True sporting greatness springs from not just one’s body, but also that body’s connection with the brain.

In his new book “The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience is Redefining Athletic Genius” (Dutton, $28), Zach Schonbrun attempts to explore that connection; it’s a deep dive into the neuroscience behind movement that attempts to develop an understanding of the body-brain relationship and determining how the relationship impacts those performing at an elite athletic level.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:25

To the moon and back - ‘Rocket Men’

It’s remarkable to think that 50 years ago, we sent men to the moon with slide rules and punch-card computers. You’ve probably got something in your pocket right now exponentially more powerful than the combined computing power of NASA in the late 1960s.

But send them we did.

While history most clearly remembers Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon back in July of 1969, he and his crew were just the latest in a long line of astronauts who took many first steps of their own – steps that led to the planting of a flag somewhere not of the Earth.

Robert Kurson’s “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon” (Random House, $28) tells the story of one such step – the mission undertaken by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to become the first men ever to travel to the moon. From meticulous research and hours of interviews springs a lively narrative, one that brings the bravery and brainpower of all involved to vivid life.

Published in Tekk

While there can be conflicts between science and religion, there are commonalities as well. Both seek to find ways to make sense of the universe and our place within it, albeit in largely disparate fashion.

Author and physicist Alan Lightman seeks to spend some time searching for potential intersectionality between the two with his latest book, titled “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine” (Pantheon, $24.95). Best known for the novel “Einstein’s Dreams,” Lightman has built a literary reputation – in both the fictional realm and the non – on finding ways to make lofty ideas relatable and engaging without being simplistic or condescending. This new book continues that trend as Lightman explores his internal contradictions with regards to the notions of logic and faith.

Published in Tekk

BANGOR – The greater Bangor area is set to once again come alive with its annual celebration of science.

The Maine Science Festival is back for its fourth year of reminding us that science isn’t some remote thing separate from our everyday lives. No, the truth is that science is everywhere. It’s all around us, serving as an integral part of everything that we do.

Starting on March 15 and running through March 18, the MSF is offering dozens of events at venues all over Bangor. These events, large and small, are all dedicated to bringing aspects of science to joyful, vivid life.This is a chance to see for yourself how science impacts your world; you might be surprised at how large a part it plays in your life. And while there are some events that are ticketed, the vast majority of what’s happening over these four days is free.

We’re including a schedule of events, but there’s not nearly enough space to go into detail for all of the wonderful programming that’s going on over the span of MSF. For more information, head to www.mainesciencefestival.org for details on anything that piques your interest.

Published in Cover Story

Book offers thoughts on mankind’s outer space destiny

Published in Tekk
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