I took a little breather from writing here this past week—a lot of things were on my plate to finish up for clients, and I wanted to step back and think about a direction for some of the topics I plan to write about here.
One of the questions I get a lot from people at conferences is “What’s your next book going to be about?” or “What’s your next show going to be on?” I always ask them what they’d like to see me write about and I get a wide variety of answers. One thing that nearly everybody has said is “We need a good show on dinosaurs.” And for years, I’ve wondered why we do shows about dinosaurs in star theaters. It’s really more of a paleontology thing, which doesn’t require a dome to tell the story. Except, it does, in one way: it’s commonly accepted that some sort of impact had an effect on life some 65 million years ago, back when dinosaurs were the Big Cheeses on Earth. So, that makes the dinosaur story a Space Story and thus can be told in the planetarium theater.
Okay, that’s all fine and good, but it’s my contention that once you get past the part about the impact, you’re back to a paleontology story with some climatology thrown in for good measure. However, with modern fulldome video theaters able to show pretty much anything that can be rendered for them, you can find yourself seeing paleontology, chemistry, biology, and probably even botany in the dome, along with astronomy.
However, I haven’t written a dino show yet, and really I’ve had other topics to explore for myself and on behalf of clients. If somebody wanted to commission me to write one, I’d be more than happy to throw my considerable experience behind it and write the best darned show you ever saw. And I often wonder what new, fresh approach I could bring to what was (and may still be) a staple of planetarium programming for so many years. Good question, and maybe I’ll explore that in another entry here sometime.
What’s intriguing me lately?
- The evolution of the early universe, specifically the formation of the earliest galaxies.
- Starbirth regions, which involves other planets (sometimes).
- New ways of studying the universe.
To expound a little on a couple of these topics: research into galaxy formation is proceeding in a quite lively fashion, as is continual interest in the inner workings of starbirth nurseries. Infrared-enabled groundbased and space-based observatories are taking the lead on this, although there’s work also being done in the radio regime. Planets—both here and “abroad” are also taking center stage. Just yesterday I saw a discussion on a bulletin board about what to name these new planets the researchers are discovering. To me that’s pretty darned cool: we’ve gone from devising ways to spot these things to actually spotting them and now some folks want protocols to name them!
So, the answer to that question I always get is: the cosmos is ripe with stuff to talk about. I’m sure I won’t run out of topics anytime soon!