Air Date: August 24, 2009

Title: The Reemergence of Planetary Science: Revisiting Percival Lowell

Author: Holly Larson

Performers: Holly Larson

Abstract: At the turn of the 20th Century, Percival Lowell published a series of books promoting the notion that there were advanced civilizations on Mars. His writing was particularly compelling to general readers, if not to the scientific community, because his physics-based vernacular lent credibility to his otherwise romantic notions of life on other planets. Although his interpretations have been discredited, Lowell’s state of the art observatory was the site of important developments in planetary sciences. I will read a short literary piece that reconstructs a day in Lowell’s life, and traces the last century of developments in the search for habitable planets.

Bio: Holly is a recent Columbia University graduate with dual bachelor degrees in Astronomy and Literature Writing. She currently manages the 1.3 meter telescope of the SMARTS CTIO consortium for Yale University, where she is also a teaching fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Podcast: MP3 File

Podcast Transcript: PDF File

Aired Podcast: 365 Days of Astronomy