Beyond limits
by Johnny McDonald
Published - 03/15/13 - 10:18 AM | 2550 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When exploding meteors crash to earth and asteroids zoom past, people begin to take note of how vulnerable life can be on this planet.

On our globe, however, it can be said that scientists have their hands full keeping abreast of challenges that demand their expertise.

Birch Aquarium has been, and will continue to, cover some of these evasive topics during lectures this spring.

Professor emeritus Richard Somerville, a world-renowned Scripps climate scientist, explained the scientific case for urgent action to limit climate change on March 11.

Next up, geophysicist Michael Hedlin will describe on April 8 how the new field of atmospheric acoustics is allowing researchers to listen to earth from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to meteorite impacts. 

Then, division director Lisa Balance will discuss research and programs that are informing how we can protect and sustain precious ocean resources on May 13.

Each year since 2001, these informative lectures for the public, students and faculty have dealt with a multitude of topics, including “oceans, atmosphere, solar activity, weather and temperature, magnetic field physics of earthquakes and coral reefs,” said aquarium executive director Nigella Hillgarth.

Titled the Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives on Ocean Science Lecture Series, the lectures enlighten not only those in the audience, but millions online viewers, as well.

Hillgarth said they have registered 9.96 million downloads of past series that have touched on climate change, atmospheric acoustics and ocean resources.

“We’re proud of the series,” she said. “It’s for the lay person who wants to know more about ocean science, as well as students and faculty from UCSD.”

Scripps researchers are noted for their diversity of topics, from monitoring earthquakes worldwide to searching the ocean depths of the Mariana Trench.

“Scripps scientists are exploring earth’s mysteries through hundreds of research projects under way on every continent and in every ocean,” Hillgarth said.

She pointed out that schools don’t have the resources for science studies as in the past so it’s not taught as much. 

“Places like our lecture series, our museums and those in Balboa Park help to get kids excited and interested,” she said.

Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for the general public, $5 for students and educators. For more information or to RSVP, visit

— Johnny McDonald is a longtime writer and columnist for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group.
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