16. Planets, Moons, Magnets – with Alain Plattner


Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 16: Planets, Moons, Magnets
Airdate: 26 April 2016
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guest: Dr. Alain Plattner, Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences, CSU, Fresno.

Summary: This month, we look at planets and moons from a different perspective – a magnetic view, if you will. Dr. Alain Plattner, a magnetic geographer of sorts, who uses measurements made by satellites orbiting planetary bodies to map the magnetic fields generated by the planet or moon, shares insights from his research with host Madhusudan Katti. He also gamely subjects himself to a new segment of semi-rapid-fire questions at the end, including some queries from a high school student. This may become a recurring segment!

For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Planets, Moons, Magnets – May the 4th


“That’s no moon…” seems like a good way to invite you to a Café Scientifique event on May the 4th this year!

But wait… that actually is a moon! It is Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons. We don’t know much about it other than its uncanny resemblance to the infamous Death Star of Star Wars fame. We won’t be talking about the Death Star, or even much about Mimas this Star Wars Day, but our Café will feature a presentation about planets and moons and their magnetic fields, starting closer to our home.

Earth has a magnetic field that mostly looks like a bar magnet with its magnetic north pole close to the geographic north pole and its south pole close to the geographic south pole. We take advantage of this magnetic field on a daily basis when we use a compass like the one built into our mobile phones when we try to find where North is. But our planet also has a magnetic field that comes from Earth’s outer-most layer, the crust. This crustal magnetic field helped us understand fundamental processes on our planet like plate tectonics. Within the last decades, we have been discovering that other planets within our inner solar system and even our Moon also have crustal magnetic fields. The scientific challenge is now to make sense of these crustal magnetic fields to understand the other planets’ and our Moon’s history and internal structure.

catskillszoom2Our guide on this magnetic planetary journey will be Dr. Alain Plattner, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Fresno State. He will be speaking a bit more about his research on the local airwaves, on KFCF 88.1FM in Fresno, at 3:30PM on Tue, 26 April 2016, during the next episode of our show “Science: A Candle In The Dark.” Tune in to 88.1FM (or its online stream) if you can for the live broadcast of his conversation with host Dr. Madhusudan Katti, or catch it later on the podcast.

And next week, May the 4th, be with us at Peeve’s Pub for a pint of brew, perchance some food from their new resident chef, and a conversation about planets, moons, and magnets.

Speaker: Dr. Alain Plattner, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, California State University, Fresno.

When: Wednesday, 4 May 2016, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721.

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number).

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family:

2: More Gaps Than Record in Reconstructing Earth’s History – Science: A Candle In The Dark


[audio http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~mkatti/valleycafesci-podcast/ScienceCandle-02.mp3]

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 2
24 February 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guest: Dr. Mara Brady
Commentary: Dr. Paul Crosbie

Topic: Earth sciences and the insights we have gained into the history of our planet including the evolution of life leading up to our own species. In a wide ranging discussion, Dr. Brady talks about the tools used to study the age of rocks and of the earth itself, about the history of the earth sciences, especially over the past century, and how we geology can provide a broader perspective on larger scales of space and time to help us understand our current challenges such as climate change. She then discusses the challenges of conducting research and teaching about the earth in a political climate where even presidential candidates and elected representatives in government deny the value of science and dismiss earth sciences as not a hard science. The interview with Dr, Brady is followed by a commentary by Dr. Crosbie on a rediscovered fossil of a beaked whale that got stranded in East Africa and how it now helps us reconstruct our own evolutionary story.