Authors Cathryn Prince and Andrew Kessler will be here to discuss their books about meteorites and Mars on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 3 pm in Buffalo Street Bookstore. When a fiery meteor crash in 1807 lit up the dark early-morning sky in Weston, Connecticut, it did more than startle the few farmers in the sleepy village. More importantly, it sparked the curiosity of Benjamin Silliman, a young chemistry professor at nearby Yale College. A Professor, A President and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science (Prometheus) explains how the chemist’s rigorous investigation of the incident started a chain of events that eventually brought the once low standing of American science to sudden international prominence. And, by coincidence, the event also embroiled Silliman in politics, pitting him against no less an adversary than President Thomas Jefferson.Based on a wealth of original source documents and interviews with current experts in history, astronomy, and geology, journalist Cathryn J. Prince tells the remarkable story of Benjamin Silliman, arguably America’s first bona fide scientist. Andrew Kessler’s first book, Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission (Pegasus), tells what happened when he won the “nerd lottery”—an exclusive ticket to work inside mission control of the Phoenix Mars Lander. For three months in the summer of 2008, Kessler enjoyed unfettered access to 130 top NASA scientists and engineers as they tried to retrieve dirt from Mars’ north pole in an effort to “unearth” the history of water and the potential for life on this planet. His is an adventure story about modern-day Magellans battling NASA politics as well as the bizarre world of time-shifting, which occurs because the Martian day is longer than ours, resulting in an uncomfortable mix of sleep deprived scientists. Kessler demystifies the discovery process and, in so doing, the scientists become humans and heroes as well—all characters you will grow to know and care about. (SwensonBooks)
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