An Introductory Note

Hello again.  Many of you may have reached this Web page by following a link from my main page.  That page includes information about my ``professional'' life.  I would like this page to provide a bit of information about my life outside of work.  I hope that you find at least some things of interest in what follows.

For now, I'm keeping this page rather simple.  This page will evolve in the course of time as I learn more about Web design.

Space Advocacy

My interest in space began when I was rather young.  That interest motivated me to study science and mathematics throughout my early years, and led me to major in physics with a concentration in astronomy as an undergraduate.  I have specialized in space physics in graduate school.  I hope that I can continue working in this field.  But I would also like to contribute somehow to the goal of eventually developing humanity into a space-faring civilization.  I hope to one day contribute more directly; but for now I follow developments in space exploration and related scientific areas (astronomy, astrophysics, and space physics).  I also maintain membership in a few space advocacy organizations, namely

I would also recommend that interested persons check out the Web site for the Ansari X Prize.  (You may have heard of that Scaled Composite recently won the Ansari X Prize with the most recent flights of their SpaceShipOne .)  In addition, you might want to check out the following sites for space news:

I suspect that there are many more good space sites out there.  I very well might include some of them in the lists above as this Web site continues to evolve.

Science Fiction

I have been quite fond of science fiction for quite some time, as well.  I enjoy the genre in some of the more popular media in which it appears in our society: literary works (works ranging from short stories to novels and up to series of novels), television shows, and movies.

Many of my friends would think me remiss if I did not make note of my great fondness for Star Trek.  Indeed, I do consider myself to be an avid Trekker.  I am fond of all of the televised series (except the cartoon, with which I am unfamiliar).  I enjoyed all of the movies, except for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  I read several Star Trek novels when I was younger; but I don't read many such novels these days.

I could write a great deal more about Star Trek; and perhaps I will do so in the future.  But for now, I will simply recommend a couple of Star Trek Web sites:

I suspect that there are many other excellent Star Trek sites out there.  I might add more of them later.

I am quite fond of a few other science fiction television shows, as well.  I'll list some of my favorites.

I might add some links to Web sites pertaining to these shows at some point.  For now, I'll leave you with a link to the Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5, which I highly recommend to other Babylon 5 fans and any others would like to learn more about that particular science fiction universe.  I should also leave you with a link to the Technovelgy Web site, recommended to me by my friend Jeffrey.  Those who, like me, enjoy exploring the links between science and science fiction should find this site to be particularly interesting.  In a related vein, Slashdot often features news in science, science fiction, computing, and other technical areas.

Linux and Open Source Software

Although I had been introduced to Unix back in 1991 during a research internship, it was not until several years later that I started becoming acquainted with the particular pains and pleasures of Linux.  It serves as the operating system of choice for our research group.  After reading the third edition of Running Linux (by Matt Welsh, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, and Lar Kaufman), I became somewhat fond of the operating system.  Mind you, my fondness is rather moderate compared to the more ardent Linux advocates.  I also appreciate the philosophy associated with Open Source Software.  (I will not quibble here with anybody about the differences between Open Source Software and Free Software, or the sense of many in which Free Software is "free."  I'll leave that to the purists.)  Rather, I will suggest that interested persons explore the Web site of the Linux Documentation Project.  In due time, I will write more about these topics.

Science Education and Outreach

Having been a student of science and mathematics for so very long, I have had the time to develop some opinions on what works in science education and what does not.  In due time I would like to work more directly on these sorts of issues.  Actually, I suspect that I will be able to incorporate some of my ideas into the teaching that I anticipate that I will do in the future.  (I hope to eventually wind up as a professor of physics at some moderately sized university.)

I suppose that I might as well begin talking about some of my ideas on these topics here.  To start, I do believe that we would be better served by a public that is more ``science literate.''  This greater science literacy is especially relevant given the increasing number of contemporary issues that have appreciable scientific and technical components.  I believe that a lot more `ordinary' people can understand a lot more science, mathematics, and technology than they suspect.  Most people won't need to know all the fine details of a particular issue; but it would be good if they have some feel for its overall essence.

I believe that humor is an under-utilized tool in science and mathematics education.  I believe that there are some educators who can (and an appreciable number who do) utilize humor directly into their lessons.  (Mind you, one must take some care doing so.  Although learning can sometimes be fun, at other times it is simply hard work.)  I believe that humor can also be used in science outreach---that is, to increase interest in science.

Geeksta Rap

Geeksta Rap began as a fun diversion of mine back in the late 1980s.  Digital Underground had released the "Humpty Dance," bringing that group to the attention of fans of hip-hop and rap such as myself.  For whatever reason, I began replacing some of the lyrics of the first verse with some lyrics of my own.  Mind you, my lyrics were inspired by those of Humpty Hump; I just described things that were more appropriate to my experiences.  Interestingly enough, "The Physics Phunk" was a hit among my friends.  (They also appreciated my "Physics Preacher" routine.)  Perhaps one of these days I can work on the two remaining verses.

The next episode in the development of geeksta rap occurred sometime before one of the Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) Workshops (held for the last several years in Snowmass Village, Colorado).  I was frustrated by difficulties in preparing my presentation for the meeting.  So I listened to some "angry" music: namely, that on the album "Straight Outta Compton" by NWA.  For whatever reason, I started replacing some of the words in "Gangsta Gangsta" so that the resulting lyrics would relate more closely to my experiences.  I suspect that  I shared the results with some of my friends at that meeting.  These results were also well-received.  So I continued to develop the lyrics.  Fortunately, I was eventually able to develop alternate "geeksta" lyrics for the entire song.  I named the resulting rap "Geeksta Geeksta" to reflect the nature of the new lyrics.

I was asked to present samples of my geeksta rap at a couple of the GEM Workshops---once at the banquet dinner.  (That was fun.)  The response prompted me to present the poster "Geeksta Rap: An Example of the Utilization of Elements of Popular Culture in Science Education and Outreach" at the Fall 2003 meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.  That poster was also well-received.

I plan to continue using geeksta rap as a tool in some of my science education and outreach efforts.  In due time I will include additional discussion of geeksta rap concepts, as well as some sample lyrics, on this Web site.  Please revisit this Web site to examine these and other new features.


It recently occurred to me that I should consider "spicing up" this Web site with a few pictures.  I can envision eventually adding all sorts of enticing images to this site.  But for now I believe that I will simply add this link to a page with some pictures of myself.  I will add more interesting pictures at some point in the indeterminate future.

Last modified 22 December 2005