News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education

‘Hidden Figures’ Premiere at Raw Science Film Festival 2016

‘Hidden Figures’ Premiere at Raw Science Film Festival 2016

Dec 13, 2016

Raw Science TV had it’s 3rd Annual film festival Saturday, December 10, 2016 at Fox Studios lot inside the historic Zanuck Theater. The Raw Science Film Festival honors films on science and technology worldwide with categories that include fiction and non-fiction for both students and professionals. There were cash prizes, an Awards Ceremony with magic, brain games, and immersive virtual experiences. Awards presented included the Kip Thorne Gravity Award and the Arthur C Clarke Center for Human Imagination Prize in Speculative Media. Emcee of the event is Paul Hynek of Giant Studios (Lord of the Rings, Avatar). Keynote speakers at the event include Naveen Jain (Moon Express), Peter Samuelson (Revenge of the Nerds), Brent Bushnell (Two Two Bit Circus), Janet-Ivey Duensing, Philip Lubin (Breakthrough/Starshot Initiative), Linda Rheinstein (Space Games Federation), and special guest Kip Thorne.


My new favorite movie this year and I think this film will inspire millions of young people of this generation. The Raw Science Film Festival premiered ‘Hidden Figures‘ an incredible phenomenal untold true story that was also awarded the Peter Samuelson Star Catcher Award at the event. The brilliant women in the film are Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – African-American women working at NASA during the 60′s, who served as ‘human computers’ for one of the greatest achievements in spaceflight during the historical launch of the 1st astronaut John Glenn to orbit the earth aboard Friendship 7. These amazing women were pioneers that crossed all gender and race lines of their time. Film is coming to theaters January 6th, see trailer.


For more info about the Raw Science Film Festival event, also read:


Hidden Figures

ET-94 Space Shuttle External Tank Arrives Home | California Science Center

ET-94 Space Shuttle External Tank Arrives Home | California Science Center

May 23, 2016

‘ET Comes Home’ & ‘Spot the Tank’ the popular hash tags used to track ET’s whereabouts as it first began it’s journey starting at NASA’s facility dock in New Orleans, through the Panama Canal, up the west coast and finally arriving to it’s new home at the California Science Center. Incredibly the 154-foot long tank came through the streets of LA, a 16.5 mile route as crowds of people cheered as it passed by local neighborhoods inspiring the community like it’s predecessor the space shuttle Endeavour, making the same trek. ET-94 the space shuttle external tank was like the “gas tank” for the space shuttle orbiter. It carried propellants—liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen—that flowed into the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs), where it produced almost one and a half million pounds of thrust to help push the space shuttle to orbit. Read more.


I had the chance to speak to David Knight, CEO of Terbine Group & Board of Trustees California Science Center during the shuttle tank’s early stages first leaving the port of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans heading it’s way to Los Angeles. Hear him talk about his adventure filming ET’s journey passing through the Panama Canal, virtual reality, also find out about David’s three second stunt man career.

I caught up with George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic & the Spaceship Company while he was there with his family watching the space shuttle tank arrive at the California Science Center.

“It’s a terrific day, I remember when I was at NASA we were deciding where these things were going to end up and now it’s all here, so it’s a really great day. I think it’s going to be fantastic for the city of Los Angeles to have an entire shuttle stack in one place.” – George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic & the Spaceship Company

Additionally, I had the chance to meet and talk with Robert Pearlman, Contributing Writer of & Editor of CollectSpace.


“It’s wonderful seeing so many people turn out to watch a piece of space shuttle history go through the streets of LA again. It brought back a lot of memories of watching Endeavor do the same type of transfer and gave a lot of attention to a part of the space shuttle that the public might not actually know about. They might recognize it if it was in the vertical standing on the launch pad but rolling through the streets..this is probably their first time seeing an external tank by itself. Any opportunity to expose the public to space history, get them interested in space and science is a good thing in my book. ”-Robert Pearlman, Contributing Writer of & Editor of CollectSpace

In photo (middle): Lynda Oschin, Chairperson and Secretary of Ms. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center currently home of the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

Some behind the scenes while operations is preparing to maneuver ET-94 Space Shuttle External Tank through the backside of the California Science Center outside park area. Photo (middle): In the blue shirt is Jeffrey N. Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center.

IMG_3397 b2
ET-94 first arriving at the California Science Center at Exposition Park Drive.



‘Three Nights, Three Days: Endeavour’s Journey Through Los Angeles’ | KCET Celebrates 50 Years

‘Three Nights, Three Days: Endeavour’s Journey Through Los Angeles’ | KCET Celebrates 50 Years

Nov 26, 2015

Watch the one hour broadcast premier starting Thanksgiving night at 7pm on KCET a documentary of ‘Three Nights, Three Days: Endeavour’s Journey Through Los Angeles.’ This documentary chronicles the feat of engineering required to transport the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour throughout the streets of Los Angeles in 2012 when the California Science Center in Los Angeles won the bid to become the shuttle’s new home. The documentary film follows the shuttle’s final journey to its permanent home at the Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, where it will inspire future generations of scientists, innovators, and engineers. Support and donate to KCET’s pledge drive as they celebrate their 50th year celebration of public independent television station.



More info & support:

Space Fest & Journey to Space at the California Science Center

Space Fest & Journey to Space at the California Science Center

Oct 31, 2015

The Space Fest is a three-day festival at the California Science Center featuring NASA exhibits & displays, educational demonstrations honoring aeronautics and space explorations additionally kids will have the chance to meet Astronauts Garrett Reisman and Joseph Tanner. Visitors to the Space Fest will learn about current NASA research missions, future space travel and NASA involvement in enhancing aeronautics. I had the chance to attend a pre-event of Space Fest along with many students and families that day to view some of the new exhibits & space 3D IMAX movie that was launching at the event. There I met and interviewed David Knight, Board of Trustees and Kenneth Phillips, Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center.


“Oct 30th – Nov 1st 10am-5pm regular museum hours is Space Fest 2015. For the 1st time we have a originally this started as Endeavour Fest and then we didn’t do it again because of the government sequester, we couldn’t get NASA. This year we are doing it as Space Fest because it’s more than just Endeavour because NASA is the Co-Producer of the event. So we have a full list of NASA exhibits, Astronauts, people from Jet Propulsion Labs, lots of hands exhibits for young people. Three times a day we are going to present my movie “Three Nights, Three Days: Endeavour’s journey through Los Angles” either Melissa Ayn Eccles or I will introduce the film then we will run the film. We replaced the soundtrack in the film, so visually it’s about the same but the soundtracks are totally new. Then myself and sometimes an Astronaut will do about a 20 minute or 30 min Q&A after the film to answer people’s questions. We have a lot of really cool NASA people giving talks between the film space so that will be a nice program. We are also opening up the new exhibit at the science center ‘Journey to Space’ the whole space adventure, it’s very kid oriented. We also have a world premiere of a new space 3D IMAX movie also called ‘Journey to Space’ which I also contributed a little bit of footage, they converted it to IMAX. It’s really cool stuff, all of that being unleashed and possibly our new special Endeavour exhibit. My friends have been developing my gift to the Science Center, maybe it will be ready for Space Fest. We have all of that going on.” – David Knight, Entrepreneur & Board of Trustees at the California Science Center

David and Kenneth Photo (left): Kenneth Phillips and David Knight

Interview with Kenneth Phillips:

QGITS: Tell us about the Space Fest this year at the California Science Center?

Kenneth Phillips: We are looking forward to having thousands of people come through. Space Fest is continuation of a tradition that we began the 1st year that Endeavour Space Shuttle went on display. It was awarded in 2011 but it had to finish out it’s flight work for NASA. Then it took a year for us to get ready for it to come here to California. We had to prep for it. So when it first came in 2012, we had a Space Fest and it was really fun people enjoyed it. So then we had another one in 2013. I think 2014 was one of those years NASA was sequestered and couldn’t do the Space Fest..remember the government shut down. So its been an annual event so its always the last of October until the 1st of November. This year there is a new exhibit that we are opening. So it’s not just a series of temporary exhibits supported by NASA and others but we are opening new 3d IMAX film “Journey to Space’ its a 3D film and Imax film and there’s new exhibition Journey to Space that has the same name that has hands on opportunities for kids to understand what its like to try survive in space. They can operate the International Space Station, feel what it’s like to actually try to use the gloves that astronauts used, there’s an experience that pretty much simulates what it’s like to feel the disorientation of being in microgravity, the floating around and the room is spinning slowly around you. So we got all that replicated. It’s pretty neat.


QGITS: I heard that you were the one responsible for bringing Endeavour to the California Science Center?

Kenneth Phillips: It was a team effort because when I came here in 1990 I had wanted a shuttle and I figured they would retire the fleet at some point. So I went to my President Jeff Rudolph and asked if he would support me in going after it, and he said that he would, which was great. Pretty much, things got put to bed until President Bush retired the fleet in 2004 so there was kind of a long period of time where I just had to figure out what exhibits I was going to do, put on experimental galleries to do research on how people learn. So I could put together a credible proposal and content. Jeff supported me in writing the proposal. So I was tracking the orbiters and trying to assess who was likely to get an award and who wasn’t. The beginning of the game we thought that NASA would keep all of the flown orbiters and that only the enterprise which was for atmosphere test flight would be available for the rest of us. It turns out that wasn’t the case. NASA kept two essentially. The 3rd one was Endeavour and everybody was competing for it. So I got the authorization from Jeff to write the proposal and I did and submitted it. Then tracked the process had to resubmit a year later the original submission went in 2009. Then I just waited. NASA was really stone cold silent and I had no idea if whether we were going to be successful or not. They were totally poker faced about it. NASA would only answer questions through an e-mail channel that they set up. If there was back door politicking, I certainly was not involved in it, people above my pay rate may have been. Then we got the award on April 12th in 2011. I took the call from NASA Administrator Charley Bolden. He had a very bad morning that day because he had to call around the country and disappoint a lot of people. They were really beating up on him. When I asked him how he was doing he said he was not doing well because he was calling people with really bad news and that made me feel worried. But then he immediately said I have some excellent news for the California Science Center we have decided that we thought that you would really take great care of Endeavour. We had shown in the past to the Smithsonian and others that we can really take care of the national collection. So I felt that if we could show them that we took the collection seriously, and were willing to take care of it, go the extra mile to make sure we addressed all the conservation issues then maybe when it came time to decide who would get the orbiters and we would be awarded one.

It was an interesting process because up until Endeavour, all of the things in the national collection were on loan from the Smithsonian which is not the case with Endeavour. The Smithsonian declined to be the interface so they took Discovery which is the oldest orbiter of the fleet, it has the most miles and the most missions on it and said to people like me, if you want an orbiter NASA will be coming forward with a process but the Smithsonian will not get involved in it. So the award was directly from NASA to the California Science Center, which is why we own Endeavour.


Biosimilars –The Newest Addition to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Biosimilars –The Newest Addition to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Sep 15, 2015

Biologics are among the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry. Most drugs are small molecules, and are synthesized chemically. Biologics are different in that not only are they larger molecules such as proteins, but they require a finely tuned process to be produced from  a biological source, such as a cell line.

One popular category of biologics is monoclonal antibodies. They are like the antibodies produced by your immune system, but are made to target a specific pathway. For example, the top selling biologic adalimumab is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and several other inflammatory conditions. It works by specifically targeting a protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha so that it cannot initiate the inflammatory response it normally does. This results in a reduction of symptoms.


Because biologics require such specialized and precise protocols to produce, they are generally very expensive. Fortunately, many biologics are coming off patent within the next few years, and a new field of pharmaceuticals has emerged—biosimilars. Biosimilars are defined by the FDA as being highly similar to the reference product, rather than being an exact copy such as with small molecule drugs. The molecules must have similar dosages, strengths, routes of use such as injection. They also undergo rigorous testing to ensure purity and effectiveness.

Why do we care about biosimilars? Because they are poised to be much cheaper than the reference products they are similar to and this offers more options to patients and doctors fighting serious illnesses. As of now there is only one biosimilar approved for use in the US, Zarxio, which is now a competitor to Neupogen. The drug is used to increase white blood cell counts in cancer patients.  It will be interesting to see how the landscape of the pharmaceutical industry changes as companies compete with biosimilar products. The market is expected to take off with estimates for 2020 ranging from 6-11 billion dollars, with competition among companies resulting in lower prices for consumers. Only time will tell.




Casey Raasumaa Rollins – Proofreader at Amgen and Columnist at QGITS. A Masters in Life Science from the University of Edinburgh. Linkedin

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Project

Jul 29, 2015

NASA hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California on Edwards Air Force Base. Media was invited to take a tour and attend a briefing to hear about the current status and objectives of the VIPR project. On panel were Paul Krasa, VIPR Project Manager, John Lekki, VIPR Principal Investigator; Jack Hoying from the U.S. Air Force & Volcanic Ash Environment Principal Investigator and also Cheng Moua, Armstrong VIPR Project Manager. QGITS had a chance to talk with some of the panelist after their discussion before taking a tour of the NASA Engine Shop and VIPR testing setup.

c17 Photo by: U.S. Airforce

Here is what some of the panelist from the NASA VIPR team had to say about the project:

NASA Photo (left): John Lekki, Jack Hoying, and Cheng Moua.

QGITS: What were some of the highlights discussed today.

John Lekki: What we were talking about here was an upcoming test that we are having, we are going to be introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine. The reason that we are studying volcanic ash is because it’s not really well understood what low concentration volcanic ash will do to an aircraft engine. We definitely know if there is a high concentration that you do not want to fly in it at all, it’s an issue. At low concentrations, there’s been a lot of difficulty in determining where the threshold should be, its all because we don’t have some control tests to do this at low concentration volcanic ash. So what we are going to be doing is introducing volcanic ash into an aircraft engine, it’s a military engine but it’s very similar to the engines that are used in civilian aircraft. We are going to be studying that and we have a number of measurement diagnostic and prognostic technologies on the aircraft engine. While the engine is being degraded by the volcanic ash we will try very closely to monitor what’s go on with the engine. So really what we are talking about is that we have a very interesting task, we are getting ready to do that. We know that it will help folks in making decisions if there is a volcanic eruption. How to utilize air space, when to close it, when to have it open and generally where you want to fly and not fly.

QGITS: Tell us about your role with the VIPR Project and what inspired you to work at NASA?

Cheng Moua: I’m one of the VIPR Project Managers at NASA Armstrong, we are responsible for the planning and conduct of the task. So a lot of the researchers bring their equipment out here and we are responsible for integration, planning and working with the airforce side to use their C-17 airplane. Our role at Armstrong is to plan the task, work out the logistics and make sure that whatever testing the researchers want done will be done to their specifications. We conduct tests here and using sensors to incorporate all of that into the engine airplane. So we work through all the planning and safety related issues to ensure it’s a safe test and successful test. And what has inspired me is going back to the old days the moon just being part of an organization of that caliber is always inspiring.

IMG_1333Photo: Volcanic ash being tested on the C-17.

QGITS: How do you feel about the VIPR project and how it’s helping the industry?

Jack Hoying: This project is great, it sounds maybe not so much because we are dealing with ash but the entire project from start to finish has been so interesting, learning how different it is and how to feed the simplest machine to feed it into an engine became extremely complicated. Every single thing that we did was a mini project in it of itself. The fact that we are going to be able help the industry, to help the military understand things..up until now this knowledge has been lacking. The policy guidance that exists in Europe and in the United States is just not where it needs to be. So the fact that we can now in a very careful control way put small amounts of ash into an engine for a long period of time for hours and hours. That’s the missing piece of information that we have, so its kind of exciting on the backend too because now we can help policy. We are not writing the policy, we are the researchers that give the data and that help the policy writers be able to write the new standards..’Can you fly close to the ash?’..’How long can you fly in the ash?’ VIPR is a great project.

From there we took a tour of the NASA Engine shop and the test setup which involves ground testing of a C-17 cargo transport plane.

IMG_1342 Photo: NASA F18 test engine for research

At the engine shop we were able to get up close with the engines used in the F18 and F15 to get a better understanding and visual of how the ash effects the airplane engines. I spoke with some of the technicians who work at the engine shop and Kevin Rohrer, Spokesperson for NASA Armstrong.

QGITS: What are some key take a ways from today’s tour?

Kevin Rohrer: There is two really key things we are doing with VIPR and the research that we are doing. The first is engine health monitoring of a jet aircraft knowing real time what an engine is doing. Also developing the multiple sensors that are put on jet engines moving in very harsh environments in extreme temperatures of hot and cold coming together. So the question is can you develop sensors to give you feedback and data real time? Second part is what happens when you actually ingest volcanic ash into a jet engine? We know from history there’s been several aircrafts that have experienced going through plumes of volcanic ash at various levels. What we don’t really know with any degree of confidence is how much ash causes what type of damage? We don’t know the why? We know that it could clog up engines, initially as the ash is going through an engine. It’s corrosive and could scrape even thought it’s a fine powder, it can degrade first parts of the fans on the engines. Once you go into the combustion chamber of the jet engine you have extreme heat of 1200 degrees and that heat would take the dust like volcanic ash and basically melt it and turns into a glass type of substance. So when it goes over some of the fans on the back part of the engine it could actually stick to it and that becomes a problem when you have to much accumulation you lose efficiency and you could possibly lose an engine.

IMG_1351IMG_1355 Photo (right): Rich, Technician at NASA Engine Shop and engine compressor in the shop to check out.

Kevin Rohrer: So what you will see on the animation video is the fan blades they are in front of the combustion chamber that’s where you will have the corrosion affect with the volcanic ash flowing over that we would expect it to etch and degrade those fan blades.

Check out the animation video Kevin mentioned and also VIPR time laspe video that was shown from the VIPR behind-the-scenes tour and briefing at NASA Armstrong:

More info provided by NASA Armstrong: NASA has partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Research & Technology, Pratt and Whitney, General Electric Aviation and Rolls-Royce Liberty Works on the VIPR project. Researchers from four NASA centers are involved in various aspects of research and testing – Armstrong, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

To learn more about the VIPR project:

NASA’s aeronautics research:

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Jul 6, 2015

During the weekend of July 11th and 12th, Southern California’s very own VR conference and expo (SoCal VR) is shooting for the stars – literally.

Developers, content creators, artists, engineers, and VR enthusiasts of all types will take part in a celebration of all things virtual. At the forefront of the event is an outer worldly theme, which looks to combines space exploration and virtual reality.

It all starts the evening of July 11, 2015 in Long Beach, California with a space-themed kickoff party.


Doors open at 7pm. Shortly after people start arriving and have their drinks in hand, a special fireside chat panel discussion begin around 7:30pm. Speakers include a couple local space experts. Of those who will be there is Jacki Morie (Founder, Chief Scientist at All These Worlds).

As her Wikipedia page states, “Jacquelyn Ford Morie is an artist, scientist and educator working in the areas of immersive worlds, games and social networks. Until 2013 she was a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies. In 2013 she started a spin-off company called All These Worlds, LLC to take her work in virtual worlds and avatars to a broader audience.

jacki morie

Jacki Morie

According to a recent Motherboard interview, “All These Worlds, is currently working on virtual reality experiences for NASA that aim to ease the social and psychological difficulties of long term space travel. At the moment, NASA’s installing an early version of All These Worlds’ simulation at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.”

Since there’s a 40-minute delay in communication between Mars and Earth, subjects won’t be able to interact with people outside the experiment in real time, but the simulation will sync up with Earth once a day. This will allow family members to leave recordings of their avatars which the astronauts can then interact with, and leave their own recordings in response.

At the end of the summer, “a group of scientists and engineers” will participate in a year-long Mars simulation at the HI-SEAS Habitat in Hawaii. The test subjects in that experiment will use Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 to visit virtual worlds where they can visit art galleries, swim in coral reefs, and ski on a mountaintops.

Another speaker for the event is Liam Kennedy, Inventor of the ISS-Above. His device lights up and increases the flashing frequency when the ISS is nearby, allowing users to run outside and see the space station fly over in the sky above.

Liam Kennedy

Liam Kennedy

As the website for the ISS-Above describes, “the brains of the ISS-Above is a very small Single Board Computer called a Raspberry Pi. It’s like a regular computer that you have in your house – just a LOT smaller…The ISS-Above works with numerous add-ons display devices that light up / change color and/or displays information in some way.”

The project was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $17,000 – well above the orginial $5,000 goal. Now, the devices turns up a bars, parties, and events. There is even an installation in local cafe near that’s been there since November 27th 2013. Liam Kennedy has also created a new wearable option as well.

Liam Kennedy is now looking into putting 360 degree cameras in orbit and will discuss his thoughts on the powerful nature of allowing people to teleport themselves into space to look around.

Mike Murdock, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Otherworld Interactive, will also speak on the panel.  He has worked everywhere from a small, award-winning video production house to Microsoft Research (and consulting / freelancing in between) MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Interactive Media.

Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock

Murdock even helped develop the UX / UI and virtual reality designer for the Oculus Home app for Samsung GearVR while he was at Oculus. His recent project heavily revolve around space-related environments.

Now, Murdock is working on a wide variety of content at Otherworld Interactive’s. One of their early projects was Spacewalk; a exploratory virtual reality experience set in space. The viewer is an astronaut drifting around the International Space Station. Another experience named ‘GWC: Drop the Bass‘ is a lightly interactive virtual reality animation with funny spacemen who dance to intergalactic music.

Otherworld developed a classic twin stick shooter for Google Cardboard as well. Gamers become a member of the Galactic Wrecking Company (GWC) who has been called in to exterminate an immense horde of deadly, malfunctioning robots in outerspace. User get to blow them to bits while avoiding being crushed by their sheer numbers.

Starport, a two-player social experience for mobile VR, is another space-related game by Otherworld. Players get paired with a random player and join in a series of collaborative and competitive mini games – “destroy asteroids, build castles, make friends!” Mike Murdock will provide his thoughts on space and VR from a creative design perspective.

RSVP to the Kickoff Party here


Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project (July 12)

In continuation from the space-themed kickoff party, a VIP keynote will take place at the main SoCal VR event on Sunday, July 12. QGITS readers get an exclusive promo code to get them into this VIP talk.

Promo Code: vrspace

Register here:

The EndeaVR Project utilizes leading-edge imaging technology to film, photograph and LIDAR-scan the entire Space Shuttle Endeavour, resulting in the most comprehensive captures of a Space Shuttle interior ever assembled – the goal is to render ultra-res VR experiences by which individuals will be able to don eyewear such as the Oculus Rift, and walk or ‘fly’ through the Shuttle, able to ‘look’ anywhere, even touch surfaces and turn switches, via eventual haptic feedback gloves etc.

The EndeaVR Project

The all-volunteer project involves the most advanced capture systems available, and is being done by Academy Award-winning visual effects gurus from films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Hugo and others with participation by executives and developers with Oculus, Samsung, RED and NASA itself.

Executive Producer David Knight will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done, and talk about the plans for the new Air & Space Center being constructed in Southern California where all of it will be utilized. He will also discuss planning for a VR camera unit to go up on the International Space Station, a first and potentially revolutionary experience for everyone on the ground.


Matt Terndrup – I’m a virtual reality, wearables, and technology art journalist who focuses on emerging trends in the maker, hacker, and inventor cultures. I like to travel around from place to place researching what is being made. Twitter; Linkedin

Did Batman Evolve From a Bat Dinosaur?

Did Batman Evolve From a Bat Dinosaur?

Jun 1, 2015

No, he didn’t.  Batman is a human as far as the iconic 1930s comic book series says.

However, more evidence that the non-fictional winged creatures known as birds evolved from dinosaurs has been uncovered recently in China.  Yi qi, which is Mandarin for “strange wing” is a small pigeon-sized dinosaur with bat-like wings and feathers.  Its fossils were discovered by a farmer in the Tiaojishan Formation of Hebei Province, China.  The fossils date to 160 million years ago, known as the Middle Upper-Jurassic Period.  Even though researchers speculate that the unique dinosaur may not have been an agile flyer, it provides a serious evolutionary clue as to how birds and bats came into existence.


The Yi Qi fossil that was discovered by the Chinese farmer.

The Yi qi fossil that was discovered by the Chinese farmer.


The researchers say that the findings show one of the evolutionary experiments in flight that lead to the existence of our current feathered friends.  Because of the dinosaur’s membraned wings, the paleontologists speculate that the creatured glided like a flying squirrel rather than like an agile bird.  Yi qi (pronounced “ee chee”) is especially unusual because of the rodlike structures that extended from the dinosaur’s wrists that were connected by soft tissue, features that were never before seen in any dinosaur fossil.


Yi qi's fossil shows bat-like wing structures potentially used for flying.

Yi qi’s fossil shows bat-like wing structures potentially used for flying and/or gliding.


The preserved specimen also showed the existence of feathers over the creature’s neck, humerus, and ulna.  Feathers and soft tissue were found along Yi qi’s forelimb and hindlimb.  The bat/bird-like dinosaur had a short snout and has been placed in the Scansoriopterygidae theropoda dinosaur group which means that it was essentially carnivorous but might have had some herbivore and insectivore qualities and was closely related to birds.


The three known members of the Scansoriopterygidae family.  (Photo credit: Nature)

The three known members of the Scansoriopterygidae family. (Photo credit: Nature)


While Yi qi may not have been Batman’s ancestor, “Holy bat logic!” it is still a rare, beautiful example of one of evolution’s many historical edits that gives us a more detailed look into our Jurassic past.


An artist's illustration of what the pigeon-sized dinosaur may have looked like.

An artist’s illustration of what the pigeon-sized dinosaur may have looked like.


For more information on this unique creature, check out:


Science News


Andrea Kuipers - I am a well versed, interdisciplinary scientist with a background in marketing, media, & journalism. I am currently finishing up degree number five at Cal State University Fullerton & working in a biochemical/biotechnology lab engineering proteins. Linkedin

NASA Hosts 1st ‘State of NASA’ Event at the Agency’s 10 Field Centers

NASA Hosts 1st ‘State of NASA’ Event at the Agency’s 10 Field Centers

Feb 10, 2015

NASA hosts 1st ‘State of NASA’ event inviting press to one of the agency’s 10 field centers. Guests invited were able to go behind the scenes at the respective NASA center and experience the diverse work of the agency through tours and presentations with scientists, engineers and managers. The event highlighted the work of the agency’s journey to Mars, testing of cutting-edge technologies, making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency makes progress on the next generation of air travel. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at Kennedy Space Center addressed the progress made and the exciting work ahead on the agency’s exploration initiative that secures America’s leadership in space.

Image Credit: NASA

QGITS had the opportunity to attend the 1st ‘State of NASA’ event that was held at Armstrong Flight Research Center which is the primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations in Palmdale, Ca.


The day begins with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden delivering a speech from NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida reaching us at Armstrong and all other NASA locations via TV Broadcast. Bolden announced details of the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2016 agency budget proposal recently submitted to Congress. He emphasized that the recommended increase of about a half-billion dollars over last year’s enacted budget would provide the necessary resources to continue advancing America’s bipartisan space exploration plans. The ongoing programs will ensure that the United States remains the world’s leader in space exploration and discoveries benefiting all humankind. Watch full video of state of the agency address by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:

Dietary Saturated Fat Not as Harmful as Once Thought

Dietary Saturated Fat Not as Harmful as Once Thought

Jan 28, 2015

High levels of saturated fat in the blood have been implicated in heart disease. As a result, saturated fat in the diet  is generally regarded as bad for your health. A new study may change the way we perceive saturated fat in the diet. A study was conducted on individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by having three of the following: a large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of lipid that accumulate in the blood stream and high levels are associated with poor health.

saturated fat

During the study, participants were  fed a slightly calorie deficient diet (about 300 calories). Every three weeks the composition of fat and carbohydrates was changed. This study design is unique in that it investigates different diets within the same individuals, rather than across a population. The researchers found that despite some diets having significantly more saturated fat than others, there was no change in serum levels of saturated fat in the blood. This is important because it means that our dietary intake of saturated fat does not effect how much saturated fat is in our bodies—meaning diets with low saturated fat are unnecessary.

Even more interesting, they found that the higher carbohydrate diets increased the levels of a fatty acid called palmitoleic acid. According to the authors, high levels of palmitoleic acid are associated with heart disease, hyperglycemia and cancer. These findings bring to light questions about the daily recommended diet, such as whether or not we should be encouraging  low levels of saturated fat and relatively high carbohydrate intake.


Hydrogen Future by Dr. Michio Kaku at Toyota’s Press Conference at CES 2015

Hydrogen Future by Dr. Michio Kaku at Toyota’s Press Conference at CES 2015

Jan 7, 2015

Announced this week at the 2015 International CES, Toyota is opening the door to the hydrogen future, making available thousands of hydrogen fuel cell patents royalty free. Toyota initiative will spur development and introduction of innovative fuel cell technologies around the world. Toyota will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply. The new Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle was displayed at the press conference at CES and will be available in the US and Europe this year.

At Toyota’s press conference at CES, theoretical physicist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku discusses a hydrogen future. He is a longtime proponent of hydrogen, in particular, hydrogen fuel cells as a key means to serve the world’s global energy needs and propel society to a more earth-friendly future. QGITS had the opportunity to talk with Kaku after Toyota’s press announcement. See video:

“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

toyota 2

The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fueling stations, through the initial market introduction period, anticipated to last until 2020. Companies working to develop and introduce fuel cell busses and industrial equipment, such as forklifts, are also covered. Requests from parts suppliers and companies looking to adapt fuel cell technology outside of the transportation sector will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

This week’s announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota. Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.

Companies interested in Toyota’s fuel cell-related patents will negotiate individual contracts with Toyota. Additional details, including licensing terms and application process, are available upon request.



Circuit Scribe “Draw Your Own Circuits” at SoCal MakerCon

Circuit Scribe “Draw Your Own Circuits” at SoCal MakerCon

Nov 28, 2014

Circuit Scribe was one of the innovative companies exhibited at SoCal MakerCon, an event that took place to inspire and empower people to collaborate and take initiative on their own ideas. At the Circuit Scribe exhibit, kids and families were having fun learning more about electronics by drawing with a conductive ink pen and placing magnetic modules that snap right onto circuits that you have just drawn on paper, bringing them to life. Michael Bell COO/Co-Founder and PhD student at Harvard School developed all of the modules, packaging and lessons for Circuit Scribe. He was there to help anyone with questions and demonstrate how Circuit Scribe works. QGITS talked to Michael to learn more about creating circuits with conductive ink and how they got started.

circuit scribe 3

QGITS: How does Circuit Scribe work?

Michael: Circuit Scribe is a conductive ink pen so you can draw circuits on paper with nothing but our pen and the electronic magnetic modules that we sell with the pen. So really the innovation is in the conductive ink inside of the pen. The ink formulation is from our research group, PhD students from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University. The ink inside of the pen was formulated actually for a different application and one of the other co-founders stuck it in the pen and suddenly we had a pen that could draw circuits.

Photos by: Matt Terndrup

QGITS: What inspired you guys to create this?

Michael: One of my co-founders which is Anna Lisa was finishing her PhD and she had developed this about 3 or 4 years ago. We thought one of the good things when she finished school was to start the company based on the product, so we launched a Kickstarter campaign last November. We rounded out the pen with all the modules so it’s really a learning tool and not just a high end hobbyist conductive ink pen with nothing to go with it.  We really wanted to lower the barrier of entry for electronics, it’s really hard to get younger kids interested into electronics because they wire up something wrong, it breaks, it smokes, it gets not interesting very fast but now we have something that we can see 4 year olds use easily. We hope Circuit Scribe will make it uncomplicated for anyone to start learning about circuits as well as inspire creativity among students, makers, artists, designers, and engineers.



Clinical Trial to put Supplements to the Test in Bipolar Depression

Clinical Trial to put Supplements to the Test in Bipolar Depression

Nov 19, 2014

Bipolar disorder is a serious mood disorder, consisting of periods of mania and depression. We have treatment for both, though the treatments for depression often will not work very well. The causes on a molecular level of the disease are unknown, so a research group in Australia is tackling the disease from a new standpoint. There is some evidence to suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to the disease. Mitochondria are the power plants of a cell, where energy is produced. In the brain because there are high levels of oxygen metabolism, the byproducts of which (free radicals) can create a situation known as oxidative stress. This oxidative stress can damage the mitochondria, in turn causing them to produce more damaging substances that cause more oxidative stress.

Drama and comedy

The researchers have designed a clinical trial using easily available supplements as an adjuvant treatment (meaning in addition to medication) for bipolar disorder, specifically the depression phase. These substances that are included in the trial are known to have a positive effect on oxidative stress. One of the supplements, N-acetyl cysteine, has been shown in a previous trial by the group (2008) to be effective in improving some aspects of bipolar and schizophrenia. In the current trial they are adding  a slew of other vitamins, to see if there is improvement in the depression phase of bipolar disorder.

Some of the vitamins they are adding include vitamin D3, an antioxidant that deficiency of which can lead to low mood; Vitamin E, which scavenges free radicals; and B vitamins which work synergistically with  the mitochondria  to improve function. The study is going to be finished in 2015.


Broccoli Compound Reduces Autism Behaviors

Broccoli Compound Reduces Autism Behaviors

Oct 21, 2014


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disease that affects approximately 1 out of every 68, and occurs mostly in males. It is characterized by an impairment of social communication, as well as repetitive behaviors (such as rocking) and difficulties with language. Up until this point there is no known cure for autism.

Researchers Sing et al at Harvard medical school have found a potential candidate for a new drug—derived from broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is a chemical compound found in cruciferous plants such as broccoli and cabbage. It was chosen for the study for several reasons, one of which being low toxicity because it is derived from a food source.

During metabolism, or the transformation of one chemical to another in a living cell, reactive oxygen species such as free radicals are produced. These reactive oxygen species can cause damage known as oxidative stress.  Sulforaphane counteracts this by turning on genes to protect cells from damage. It also turns on genes that protect against DNA damage and neuroinflammation. Oxidative stress, DNA damage and neuroinflammation are all associated with Austism Spectrum Disorder. This is one of the first studies that addresses these problems as a potential pathway for treatment.


In this pilot study 22 male participants were treated for 18 weeks with either sulforaphane or a placebo, and then evaluated by both caregivers and physicians for behavioral changes. A placebo is a non-active compound given to compare with the effectiveness of the drug. They found that irritability, lethargy and hyperactivity were improved among those who were treated with sulforaphane. Repetitive movements, also known as stereotypy, were also reduced. Behavior was measured 4 weeks after stopping treatment, and the participants reverted to their usual behaviors, suggesting that the changes were in fact from treatment with the compound.

CEO Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

CEO Brent  Bushnell of Two Bit Circus at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Oct 14, 2014

A lifelong engineer and entrepreneur CEO Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus a high tech circus attended the recently held 1st-ever Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire at Vocademy Makerspace in Riverside, Ca. Two Bit Circus engineers entertainment that is imaginative and interactive, blurring the line between physical and digital playgrounds to create a new world of social amusement. They have developed various experiential entertainment platforms like the STEAM Carnival that is a modern take on the traveling circus, using high-tech amusement and project-based kits to inspire kids of all ages about science, technology, engineering, art and math. See video interview by Matt Terndrup, technology & art journalist talking with Brent Bushnell while at the IE Mini Maker Faire event .

Two bit circus

First of its Kind–a Blood Test for Depression?

First of its Kind–a Blood Test for Depression?

Sep 30, 2014


Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. It is a debilitating illness characterized by loss of energy, lack of pleasure in life and potentially suicidal thoughts. Diagnosis of this sickness is often done by family physicians, and is based on the patient’s reports of their symptoms. The problem with this system is that patients often under-report symptoms so diagnosis is difficult. Fortunately there may be another way.


A recent study in Nature published by Dr. EE Redei et al at Northwestern University in Chicago Illinois suggests that depression has biomarkers, or parameters that are measurable, in the blood stream. Before DNA gets translated into protein, it first gets converted into RNA transcripts. This is what they used for biomarkers—they extracted RNA from the blood of patients with and without Major Depressive Disorder and looked for differences. They found three markers that differed between those who were sick and those who were not.


Besides antidepressants, a common treatment for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. Excitingly enough, they found transcript differences between those who improved from the therapy and those who did not. This indicates that the markers may be a measurable parameter of the severity of the illness. This means the blood test could be used to determine if treatment is working.


Having a blood test to diagnose depression is a huge step forward in the treatment of mental illness. If we could develop tests that catch these illnesses before they manifest themselves fully we could treat them before they get out of hand and the patients require hospitalization. This would keep healthcare costs down and improve the quality of life for many people.

Dr. Michael Werner Project Scientist for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope speaking at AIAA Dinner Event in Pasadena, Ca

Dr. Michael Werner Project Scientist for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope speaking at AIAA Dinner Event in Pasadena, Ca

Sep 25, 2014

Dr. Michael Werner Project Scientist for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Chief Scientist for Astronomy and Physics at JPL Caltech, recently spoke at the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) San Gabriel Section dinner event at Beckham Grill & Bar in Pasadena, Ca. The Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, is an infrared telescope that studies the early universe, young galaxies and forming stars, and is used to detect dust disks around stars, considered an important signpost of planetary formation. The mission is the fourth and final observatory under NASA’s Great Observatories program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. It is also the first new mission under NASA’s Origins program, which seeks to answer the questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone?

Gregory Smetana, Ph.D. student in Aeronautics, Explosion Dynamics Laboratory at Caltech interviewed Dr. Michael Werner while at the AIAA dinner event right before his presentation started:

To Learn More, visit:

Dr. Michael Werner

2014 AIAA Space Science Award

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope

Spitzer discover largest ring around Saturn

Spitzer Science Center

spitzer logo

Spitzer Space Telescope Team selected to receive the 2014 AIAA Space Science Award | AIAA Space Forum 2014

Spitzer Space Telescope Team selected to receive the 2014 AIAA Space Science Award | AIAA Space Forum 2014

Jul 24, 2014

The Spitzer Space Telescope team has been selected to receive the 2014 AIAA Space Science Award during the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum August 4-7 in San Diego, California at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. This award was originally established in 1961 and is given to an individual for demonstrated leadership of innovative scientific investigations associated with space science missions. The citation for the award reads: “For outstanding science producing over 2,000 papers, 50,000+hours of observation, and significant findings such as the first telescope to directly detect light from extrasolar planets.” The award consists of an engraved medal and a certificate of citation.

spitzer space telescope Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech/SSC

The Spitzer Space Telescope is designed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation that allows scientists to peer into cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes, including dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems. Spitzer’s infrared eyes also allows astronomers see cooler objects in space, like failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets. Recently NASA’s Spitzer and Kepler Space Telescopes has helped scientist with the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet beyond our solar system. Their discoveries confirm Kepler-93b as a “super-Earth” that is about one-and-a-half times the size of our planet. Although super-Earths are common in the galaxy, none exist in our solar system. To learn more visit:

Join this year’s AIAA SPACE Forum: This event will give you a 360-degree view of the impacts of space activity on society. Focused on “Connecting, Protecting, and Enhancing a Global Society,” this forum will connect you with the researchers, engineers and experts who are driving our industry forward.

Attend & Register Here


Evo Kids “Think Tank” with NASA Astronauts Wendy Lawrence & Joe Edwards | Evolution Expo 2014

Evo Kids “Think Tank” with NASA Astronauts Wendy Lawrence & Joe Edwards | Evolution Expo 2014

Jul 9, 2014

NASA Astronauts Wendy Lawrence and Joe F. Edwards presented and interacted with kids at Evolution Expo 2014 – Evo Kids program talking with them up close and personal about their experiences in the pursuit of space exploration. They also discussed new technologies like having 3D printers in space that will manufacture tools on demand or even food and the challenges for future space exploration missions. The program was enjoyable for everyone as kids asked questions to both Joe and Wendy after panel discussion and soon after in the breakout session, they worked together in groups of teams called the “Think Tank.”

Astronaut Joe Edwards is also an aviator, combat Navy fighter pilot and experimental test pilot of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. In the Space Shuttle – Mir Space Station program he set world records for flying the largest mass in Earth orbit, the most humans in space simultaneously and he flew the closest flying maneuvers in the history of manned space flight in the Orbiter Endeavour.

Astronaut Wendy Lawrence former U.S. Navy Captain and helicopter pilot. She received a bachelor of science degree in ocean engineering from U.S. Naval Academy and a master of science degree in ocean engineering from MIT and WHOI. She was selected as an astronaut mission specialist and worked at NASA for 14 years. Her technical assignments included serving as the Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. She is a veteran of four shuttle missions (STS-67, 86, 91 and 114) and has logged over 1225 hours in space.

Hear from both Joe and Wendy at Evolution Expo about what inspires them and advice to others in following their dreams:

For more information, visit:

Astronaut Wendy Lawrence

Astronaut Joe Edwards

Evolution Expo



EVO Kids Program with Tony Leavitt NASA Ames STEM Education Specialist | Evolution Expo 2014

EVO Kids Program with Tony Leavitt NASA Ames STEM Education Specialist | Evolution Expo 2014

Jul 2, 2014

At Evolution Expo in Oakland, Ca this past weekend Tony Leavitt, NASA Ames STEM outreach specialist & founder of The STEM-Space project worked with the Evo Kids program along with Astronauts Wendy Lawrence & Joe Edwards also including scientist: Liz Warren (NASA Scientist); Chris McKay (Planetary Scientist & Mars Expert); Dr. John Jaquish (BioMedical Engineer); Pascal Lee (NASA/SETI Institute Planetary Scientist & Mars Expert) and Celeste Yarnall (Doctorate in Nutrition). The Evo team first presented about the challenges currently facing our ability to reach Mars and other manned space operations. Next, families and kids settled into groups in a classroom setting called the “Think Tank” as they tried to come up with their own solutions to these issues. Once the kids were in their groups, a scientist sat with them while they brainstormed ideas to see how they were able to take their ideas to another level.

Pictured (starting left): Astronaut Joe Edwards, Celeste Yarnall, Tony Leavitt, Liz Warren, Dr. John Jaquish and Astronaut Wendy Lawrence.

QGITS had a chance to chat and interview Tony Leavitt at Evolution Expo with Nora Allstedt, California Educator for Exeter Unified Schools. Check out video to hear what he had to say about the Evo Kids Program and his new project the STEM-Space project:

At the EVO kids program at Evolution Expo,Tony Leavitt presented to kids and families “Exploring the Surface of Mars: Searching for Clues of Life: Past & Present” the exploration of Mars and how the “Follow the Water” strategy has lead to evidence of water both in ancient oceans and rivers on Mars and ways to engage students with this quest for life on other planets.


To Learn more visit:

The STEM-Space Project

Evolution Expo


Finding Space Treasures on Earth-an exclusive Interview with the Science Channel’s Meteorite Man | ISDC 2014

Finding Space Treasures on Earth-an exclusive Interview with the Science Channel’s Meteorite Man | ISDC 2014

Jun 8, 2014

QGITS had the opportunity of being the media present for the the 2014 ISDC National Space Convention.  This astronomical annual convention was filled with many innovators in space and many who had been to space to explore our mostly unknown universe and beyond.

Geoffrey Notkin and QGITS Staff Andrea Kuipers

Geoffrey Notkin and QGITS Staff Andrea Kuipers

There was one man, whoever, who explores space in his own backyard-Geoffrey Notkin, also known as the Meteorite Man and host of the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men.  Notkin is not only a television celebrity, appearing in shows for PBS, Discovery, NASA, National Geographic, and the History Channel, but he is also an award-winning author and owner of Aerolite Meteorites LLC, a company that provides meteorite and other spatial specimens to collectors and institutions worldwide.  While Notkin himself has never been to space, he knows more about it than most from the treasures he finds around the world and many in his own backyard in Tuscon, Arizona.

I had the joy of interviewing this well versed Meteorite Man and picking his brains on these extraterrestrial objects.  See video below.

Check out Geoffrey’s Stem Journals at:
Stem Journals

Also check out the Meteorite Men at:

Meteorite Men

And Geoffrey Notkin’s Official Page:

The First-of-Its-Kind Evolution Expo Science & Sci-Fi Event June 27-29 2014

The First-of-Its-Kind Evolution Expo Science & Sci-Fi Event  June 27-29 2014

May 31, 2014

The first-of-its-kind Evolution Expo 2014 is coming to the Oakland Marriott City Center this June 27-29 for a three-day event full of science and science fiction-related exhibits, workshops and presentations, it was announced by Science Fiction Entertainment, Inc. (SFE). Keynote speaker Mayim Bialik, a neuroscientist and star of the hit show “The Big Bang Theory,” and U.S. Astronauts Joe Edwards (pilot, Space Shuttle Endeavour) and Wendy Lawrence (mission specialist, Space Shuttle Endeavour, Atlantis and Discovery) headline the star-studded list of celebrities, astronauts, engineers and the next generation of space exploration innovators who will be on hand to discuss “putting the Science back into Science Fiction.” The program schedule and tickets are available now at


Joining Bialik and astronauts Edwards and Lawrence at the event for onstage panels, autograph signings, photo opportunities and more are such stars as: Katee Sackhoff (“Longmire,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Oculus,” “Longmire”), Jason Momoa (“Game of Thrones,” “Conan,” “Stargate: Atlantis,” “The Red Road”), Amanda Tapping (“Stargate SG-1,” “Sanctuary,” “Stargate: Atlantis”), John Rhys-Davies (“Lord of the Rings,”, “Indiana Jones,” “Sliders,” “Apocalypse Pompeii”), Tim Russ (“Star Trek: Voyager”), Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “Andromeda,” “God’s Not Dead”), Tom Skerritt (“Alien,” “Top Gun,” “MASH”), Veronica Cartwright (“Alien,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Resurrection”) and Garrett Wang (“Star Trek: Voyager,” “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men,” “Star Trek: Renegades”).

Mayim-BialikWendy Lawrence

joe edwards

Also confirmed to participate in workshops and onstage presentations to date are: Dr. Pascal Lee, planetary scientist and founder of the Mars Institute; Dr. Chris McKay, planetary scientist; Dr. John Jaquish, bio-medical engineer; Dr. Jenn Fletcher, molecular biologist; Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D. and Blaze Sanders, engineer.

About Evolution Expo: Development began in 2011 by SFE founders mother and son, Julie and Dustin Brown, who then brought Oakland’s famed Chabot Space and Science Center, on board as a strategic partner. Chabot, which will be a direct beneficiary of the inaugural SFE Charity Gala on Saturday, June 28, also will host the Gala at the Center. A 30 person stand-up planetarium and other interactive exhibits also will be provided by the Center for the three-day Evolution Expo event. “Evolution Expo is the next generation of events, bringing our audience a chance to learn about the real science behind the science fiction they love,” observes Julie Caitlin Brown, CEO of Science Fiction Entertainment (SFE). “We are committed to inspiring our attendees to know more about STEM outreach, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and to create opportunities for greater learning in the Bay Area.”

As a result of their commitment to education, Evolution Expo has garnered the support of Tony Leavitt, Educational Specialist for NASA Ames and will feature a specific educational program named Evo-Kids. Evo-Kids is open to general attendees all three days, and also will welcome 900 fourth- and fifth-grade students from the Oakland Unified School District, who are sponsored guests of the Expo.

Evolution Expo

Register & Attend Here

Size Matters-New element ununseptium confirmed!

Size Matters-New element ununseptium confirmed!

May 3, 2014

The Knight XV, Viagra, the Titanic, the Burj Khalifa, the pyramids of Egypt…humans have long been obsessed with creating the biggest and most badass (insert noun here).

Scientists are no different.

Researchers at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt, Germany, have created element 117, temporarily named ununseptium.  It has 117 protons in its nucleus, making it the heaviest element so far discovered.  If you look at a periodic table, you will notice that elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 have saved seats as they are considered “missing elements”.  Luckily these German researchers found number 117 but it was not without great effort.

Periodic Table

One of the missing elements has now been found thanks to a team of German researchers.


Uranium is the heaviest naturally-occurring element on the periodic table with a weight of 92 protons.  All elements heavier than this must be created in a laboratory by performing nuclear fusion reactions .  Throughout the years, researchers have created heavier and heavier elements in with hopes of finding out just how heavy atoms can be.  One of the main questions they want to find out is there a limit to the number of protons that can be packed into an atomic nucleus?

GSI Accelerator

An inside view of the GSI particle accelerator-the machine responsible for creating the periodic table’s newest element.

So far the answer is 117.  Just like all other record toppers, this will most likely spur an enthusiastic scientific competition to see who can be the first to reach 118.  It’s the Great Race…for chemists.


For more information on ununseptium and the GSI particle accelerator, check out the following links:


GSI Helmholtz Particle Accelerator



Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey | Premiers March 9th

Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey | Premiers March 9th

Mar 5, 2014

As mentioned by NASA, “The ‘COSMOS’ RETURNS! The legendary science series is coming back to TV this weekend, with host Neil deGrasse Tyson picking up where Carl Sagan so famously left off in 1980.”

The FOX Networks Group has announced the first-ever simultaneous cross-network premiere for the ‘COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY’ premier from 9pm-10pm, spanning across 10 networks, including FOX, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1 and 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life. This will means that 200+ FOX and National Geographic Channels around the world – that’s 220 channels in 181 countries, reaching more than half a billion homes will debut the series on Sunday, March 9th @ 9pm ET/PT, which will then continue its 13 episodes Sundays (on FOX) and Mondays (on National Geographic), with bonus footage and behind-the-scenes content airing on the National Geographic Channel afterwards from 10pm-11pm ET/PT.

To Learn More Visit:

NASA Mars Orbiters See Clues to Possible Water Flows Today

NASA Mars Orbiters See Clues to Possible Water Flows Today

Feb 10, 2014

Latest news by NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet. The features are dark, finger-like markings that advance down some Martian slopes when temperatures rise. The new clues include corresponding seasonal changes in iron minerals on the same slopes and a survey of ground temperatures and other traits at active sites. These support a suggestion that brines with an iron-mineral antifreeze, such as ferric sulfate, may flow seasonally, though there are still other possible explanations.

space images
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL

This image combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area. The area is at Palikir Crater in the southern hemisphere of Mars.

The photograph is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The composition information, as an image with pixels appearing as a grid of squares, is from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). Both of these instruments are on NASA’s Mar Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The view is oriented with north toward the bottom. The scale bar at lower left indicates 90 meters (295 feet).

AIAA event with Dr. Armin Kleinboehl | New Insights into Weather & Climate on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

AIAA event with Dr. Armin Kleinboehl | New Insights into Weather & Climate on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Feb 3, 2014

The (AIAA-SGV) American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics San Gabriel Valley section held an evening dinner event at Beckham Grill Restaurant in Pasadena, Ca with guest speaker Dr. Armin Kleinboehl, Research Scientist and a Remote Sensing Specialist at the (JPL) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Bremen, Germany, and has more than 10 years of experience in remote sensing of the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. He participated in numerous airborne and balloon-borne field campaigns to study the stratospheric ozone layer and to validate satellite measurements. Currently, Dr. Kleinboehl is a Co-Investigator and the lead developer of the operational retrieval algorithm for the Mars Climate Sounder investigation on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which he uses to conduct research on the martian weather and climate.


Armin works with the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), one of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s six science instruments, that is performing a detailed, systematic study of Mars’ weather and climate. Mars Climate Sounder is the first science investigation at Mars that is capable of performing a “4-dimensional” study (three spatial dimensions and time) of the key properties of Mars’ lower and middle atmosphere. Since Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began its science operations in November 2006, Mars Climate Sounder has been acquiring vertical profiles of the temperature, pressure, dust, and clouds of the lower 80 kilometers (50 miles) of Mars’ atmosphere. 

Mathobotix Sumo-Bot Robotics Lego Challenge | OC Mini Maker Faire

Mathobotix Sumo-Bot Robotics Lego Challenge | OC Mini Maker Faire

Jan 30, 2014

Mathobotix offers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational services to K-12 students providing an Integrated Learning Environment to promote the 5 C’s such as Critical thinking, Creative problem-solving, Communications, Collaboration, and Cross-cultural relationship building, and the 4 R’s – Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic, and Robotics.

At Mathobotix kids can learn the basics of programming using Scratch & Python with Raspberry Pi, Optobotics giving your robot eyes, Build Night with a different theme using Lego technic components, a 12 week course for students to apply grade level math and science in simulated real world projects, Summer Camp, Robotics Scout Merit Badges also birthday parties and corporate team building events.

Watch video interview with Anil Pattni from OCHackerz/QGITS & Andrea Kuipers from QGITS talking with Kyle Samuelson STEM Mentor from Mathobotix about the fun and exciting Sumo-Bot Challenge where kids will build their own robot through the Lego platform and compete at the OC Mini Maker Faire.

View the latest classes at Mathobotix, Click here to see Calendar


1000 Roosevelt, Suite 200, Irvine Ca 92620

10900 Los Alamitos Blvd. Los Alamitos Ca 90720

OC minimaker faire

Celebrating 50 Years NASA’s Deep Space Network

Celebrating 50 Years NASA’s Deep Space Network

Dec 20, 2013

NASA’s Deep Space Network, the world’s largest and most powerful communications system for “talking to” spacecraft, will reach a milestone on Dec. 24: the 50th anniversary of its official creation. Over the past 50 years, antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) have communicated with just about every mission that has gone to the moon or beyond. The historic communiqués include “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind”; numerous encounters with the outer planets of our solar system; images taken by rovers exploring Mars; and the data confirming that NASA’s Voyager spacecraft had finally entered interstellar space.

The Deep Space Network has been so critical to so many missions over the decades, the network’s team members like to use the phrase “Don’t leave Earth without us.”From the very beginning of NASA’s space program, it was clear that a simple, direct way to communicate with missions in deep space would be needed. For example, what is the purpose of sending a spacecraft to Mars if we can’t receive data, images and other vital information from that spacecraft?

Click to read more about The Deep Space Network: 50 years of Interplanetary WiFi by NASA JPL:

Award Winning movie Flight of the Butterflies 3D at the California Science Center

Award Winning movie Flight of the Butterflies 3D at the California Science Center

Oct 7, 2013

QGITS at the premier of Award winning film Flight of the Butterflies in 3D IMAX theater at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Ca. This amazing breathtaking nature documentary takes viewers on a journey that spans thousands of miles, three countries and several generations — tracking real monarch butterflies that leave Canada for their mysterious Mexican winter haven.  Audiences will discover a truly spectacular sight: hundreds of millions of butterflies in the hidden butterfly sanctuaries set 10,000 feet high in the mountains of the States of Michoacán and Mexico. The iconic monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature weighing only less than a penny, it makes one of the longest annual migrations on Earth between Canada and Mexico with absolute pinpoint navigational accuracy. Flight of the Butterflies is a must see film for families, children, and film enthusiasts.


AIAA SPACE 2013 Conference

AIAA SPACE 2013 Conference

Sep 25, 2013

The AIAA Space Conference provides leaders from government, industry, and academia an opportunity to share ideas on how to focus the great talent and resources of the space community on the future. This work fuels the collective human drive to explore and be part of something bigger than ourselves, and brings about new technologies that make everyday living better for all of us.

The Space Conference was an awesome, interactive and exciting event to be able to attend and see that was held locally in San Diego, Ca at the San Diego Convention Center. It was more than what I expected so much to see and learn, I felt like a kid going to space camp. It was a full week event, however; I was only there for the day to hear the NASA panel presentation talk on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission yet I wish I had more time to spend at this remarkable inspiring event.  It was not only exciting to hear the NASA panel speak but to meet and talk to people in the space tech industry working on incredible projects who were also once inspired as a kid watching Star Trek and the movie Apollo 13.

New Standards for Science Education

New Standards for Science Education

Sep 2, 2013

A group of scientists, educators and policymakers released the newest draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) this year, which lay out ambitious expectations for what elementary, middle and high school students should learn at each grade level. These guidelines affect virtually every child enrolled in public school, and advocates say they will revolutionize STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in this country. A Framework for K-12 Science Education proposes a new approach to K-12 science education that will capture students’ interest and provide them with the necessary foundational knowledge in the field.

Read more and watch video of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

Gravitational Wave Astronomy-A New Way of Looking at the Universe

Gravitational Wave Astronomy-A New Way of Looking at the Universe

Aug 15, 2013

We can see light, whether it be from the fluorescent light buzzing overhead in our office or whether its the mid morning sun beating down on our backs as we take a stroll on the beach.  We can hear all sounds audible to the human ear and even have special instruments to detect the ones that are not in that range.  We feel heat, from a newly warmed up cup of tea in the microwave to the car door handle that just got too hot in the sun.  These are things that are in the Electro Magnetic Spectrum, or EM Spectrum, which is our understanding of radiation from energy that travels and spreads out as it moves.

Conan O’Brien says “Science is Cool”

Conan O’Brien says “Science is Cool”

Jul 20, 2013

Conan O’Brien says “Science is becoming cool,” during his interview with Professor Brian Cox on his tonight show.

Professor Cox discusses teleportation and time travel, and swearing in true British fashion. Brian Edward Cox, OBE is an English particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, PPARC Advanced Fellow, and Professor at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland.

Check out this video clip of Professor Brian Cox on the Conan O’Brien show:

Space Elevator

Space Elevator

Jul 1, 2013

Space Elevator concept is a 22,000 mile journey into space that is actually cheaper and safer than rockets. What would enable this possibility in the future to happen is by a new material called a Carbon Nanotube (CNT).

A Carbon Nanotube is a tube-shaped material, made of carbon, having a diameter measuring on the nanometer scale. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about one ten-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair. The graphite layer appears somewhat like a rolled-up chicken wire with a continuous unbroken hexagonal mesh and carbon molecules at the apexes of the hexagons. Overall, Carbon Nanotubes show a unique combination of stiffness, strength, and tenacity compared to other fiber materials which usually lack one or more of these properties. Incredibly they are also stronger and lighter than steel.


CERN Accelerating science

CERN Accelerating science

Jun 2, 2013

CERN known for the birth place and invention of the worldwide web is the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva where scientist from 20 European nations are seeking to find what the universe is made of?

Here at CERN laboratory, particle accelerators and detectors are used to collide particles at amazingly high energies almost at the speed of light to help scientists better understand particle physics and discover more insight into our universe.

At CERN it’s not just one but there are a number of accelerator chains that are joined together boosting more energy into positive charged protons in sequence having the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) last in the chain process enabling particles to be accelerated by an electric field in ultra high energy collisions at incredible speeds to uncover the basic building blocks of matter and how they interact.

First image of a hydrogen atom’s electron orbital!

First image ever captured of a hydrogen atom's electron orbitals.

First image ever captured of a hydrogen atom’s electron orbitals.

If there are two things that any chemistry student can live without (okay, if we had to name ONLY two things), it’s Lewis Dot Structures and quantum numbers. Now, thanks to a team of researchers in the Netherlands at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF), chemistry class is now changed forever.

Live Without Breathing! Scientists Discover How

Live Without Breathing!  Scientists Discover How

May 5, 2013

Last year a team of researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston figured out a way to inject oxygen directly into their patients with an obstructed airway. These amazing researchers did this by creating an injectable foam containing oxygen-carrying microparticles.

These microparticles deliver oxygen almost immediately to red blood cells in a way that is much faster and is predictably much safer than current methods such as CPR and trachial intubation. With the time saved from this unique technique, doctors would be able to quickly manage the problem with the blocked trachea and therefore minimize brain injury or cardiac arrest.
While the implications of this new technique are mostly applicable to emergency rooms, intensive care units, or operating rooms, one can’t help but wonder how this will benefit sea and space exploration in the hopefully-not-too-distant future.

Red blood cells can now get the oxygen they need through an injectable foam


For more information on this article, check out:

The Scientist

Digital Trends


Who Is On Your Mind? Neuroscientists Can Now Tell

Who Is On Your Mind?  Neuroscientists Can Now Tell

Mar 10, 2013

Whether you’re thinking about the cute blonde girl sitting next to you in class or your unfair boss from the 9-5, there will no longer be any hiding these thoughts, whether they are good or bad, as scientists can now tell exactly who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of your brain.  Just as people have their own unique personalities and their own unique traits, so they make their own individual imprints on each other’s brains.

Neuroscientists Now Know Who Is On Your Brain

According to a study done by Cornell University, each person we think about produces their own unique mental model in our heads.  In this study, nineteen adults learned about the personalities of four different people, each greatly differing in their own key personality traits, and were then placed in four different scenarios (such as sitting on a bus when an elderly person gets on and there are no seats) and were then asked to think about each of these four people would react specifically.  During these tasks their brains were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) which measures activity by detecting changes in the blood flow.

The research team then found four different patterns of brain activity produced which were found to be associated with each of the four different personalities that were on the participant’s mind.  This research study has profound implications, aside from rendering one’s ability to lie about who they were thinking about, as it is a small step in the science of mind reading.  Politicians should be weary.

For more information, please check out this link:
Science Daily

Star Proves You’re Never Too Old to Procreate Planets

Star Proves You’re Never Too Old to Procreate Planets

Feb 2, 2013

Herschel Space Observatory

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA recently reported (Jan 30th) that a star that was once thought to be “past its prime” in terms of making planets is still in fact creating new worlds.  TW Hydrae, which is roughly 176 light years away and over 10 million years old, has been well studied since it is so similar to Earth in terms of astronomical standards.  Using the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Telescope, it was revealed to NASA scientists that the star still has enough gas and mass to produce the equivalent of 50 Jupiters, which is way more planets than are even in our solar system.

The findings of this are extremely significant not only because of the picture that it paints of the exotic solar system that it will most likely form but because it demonstrates a better method of measuring and weighing out dead stars, otherwise known as “planet-forming disks”.  “Knowing the mass of a planet-forming disk is crucial to understanding how and when planets take shape around other stars,” said Glenn Wahlgren, Herschel program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

To read more of this article, click here.

To find out more on how dead stars make planets, visit here.

A graphical depiction of TW Hydrae


Anti-GMO = Anti-Science?

Anti-GMO = Anti-Science?

Jan 11, 2013

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are a hot topic these days, especially here in California with the try of Prop 37 (which would require that all GMO foods be labeled), but what are they really?  Are they perhaps this mutant food that will eat you from the inside out, as anti-GMO activists would have you believe with their photo-shopped twisted Frankenstein apple pictures or are they simply another harmless product of genetic modification and agricultural advancement?

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