The first of four Chili Chats given under the theme of “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact: Star Travel, Relativity or Close Encounters?” will take place at noon in the Gathering Hall at the McPherson Museum Oct. 12.
The Chili Chats will feature presentations by Dr. Mike Mitchell, Ph.D., of Lindsborg.
Mitchell, whose Ph.D. is in Chemistry and who was Bethany College’s Chemistry professor until retirement, said the purpose of the Chili Chats is to discuss problems and issues in going beyond current science into what we read or see in science fiction.
“It very much frustrates me,” Mitchell said, “to read science fiction and find it has bad science. Yet, to be good science fiction, it has to be able to reach beyond the science and technology we have and know now.”
“Star Travel, Relativity or Close Encounters?” will deal with the pragmatic issues involved with space travel and how they’re affected by the theory of relativity.
Mitchell said he would bypass the heavy math that tends to work its way into discussions of relativity, keeping the discussion to a layman’s level.
“The most difficult element to relate,” Mitchell said, “is the distances and energy involved for interstellar travel.”
Mitchell said he isn’t just planning to lecture, though.
“I want to get feedback,” Mitchell said. “I want discussion back and forth with the audience. I want to get them thinking about star travel. How would they go about it? How would you do it? I want to be able to discuss these problems.”
“Star Travel, Relativity or Close Encounters?” will be followed by three more Chili Chats, including, “Virtual Pumpkins and Quantum Coaches” on Nov. 9, “Artificial Intelligence and You” on Jan. 11, and “Eternal Youth? For Whom?” on Feb. 8.
Chili, crackers, dessert and coffee will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Admission is $3 for members and $5 for non-members.
For more information contact the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation at 620-241-8464, or visit their website at www.mcphersonmuseum.com.