Writer and speaker to give presentations on physics


The upcoming Sky Science Festival is making physics and relativity more accessible with two presentations from author and speaker  Jeffrey Bennett. 

In 2014, Bennett had five of his children’s books launched to the International Space Station as part of the Story Time From Space program. 

“It’s quite mind blowing,” he said. “I still can’t quite believe that they’re orbiting above us, but they are.” 

The festival begins on April 30 with two back-to-back presentations by Bennett. According to his website’s biography, he earned his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and now works as a writer and a speaker. 

Richard Gelderman, professor of physics and astronomy at WKU, said this will be the first—and only—science festival in the state of Kentucky.

“This is the beginning,” he said. “There are maybe 100 places around the nation that have science festivals.” 

Bennet’s five children’s books are part of the series “Science Adventures with Max the Dog.” His first presentation of the day will be in the Hardin Planetarium at 5 p.m., where he will talk about of the first book in the series, “Max Goes to the Moon.” The event will last 35 minutes and include time for questions and answers following the demonstration. 

“It’s a great storytime book for little kids. In terms of the story,” he said, “it’s very human, and it’s just a wonderful story. But then, it’s full of science that I present in my Introduction to Astronomy course. If my students in Astronomy 104 really understood ‘Max Goes to the Moon’ from cover to cover, they would do much better on my tests. There’s a huge amount of really important science facts in [the book], but it’s not a science book. It’s a great story.”

Following “Max Goes to the Moon,” Bennett will give a presentation in the Downing Student Union Auditorium called “Black Holes Don’t Suck: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Relativity Theories and Why They Matter.” 

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. 

Gelderman said that those interested in attending do not need to have prior experience with concepts like relativity.

“Just come curious,” he said. 

The presentation is a part of Bennett’s “Relativity Tour,” which is occurring in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s publication. The lecture is designed to make relativity accessible to the public. 

“Relativity is a really interesting thing,” Bennett said. “Everybody’s heard about relativity, everybody’s heard of Einstein, but hardly anyone knows what relativity actually is or why Einstein’s actually famous.” 

Bennett also said that he believes it is important for people to understand the concept because it is so integral to their lives. 

“I think that everybody is capable of understanding these ideas,” he said. “It’s a myth that, you know, some people are just good at science and math while other people aren’t. Everybody can be good at it if they just try. Here, in this one hour, it’s not going to take a lot of effort because you just have to go, listen and pay attention to get something out of it.” 

Gelderman said he is excited to bring the festival and Bennett to Bowling Green. 

“Science matters,” Gelderman said. “Science is creative and artistic and wonderful. [The festival] is a chance to take science out of labs and put it in front of people to let everyone see that, wow, that really is beautiful— that really is amazing.” 

The festival will begin on April 30 and continue through May 2. Tickets for the “Max Goes to the Moon” presentation are being sold for $3.