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Science on Saturday Series Kicks Off on Jan. 9

Michael Graziano at Science on Saturdays 2015. Photo courtesy of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.
Michael Graziano at Science on Saturdays 2015. Photo courtesy of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.

The U.S. Department of Energy’’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory will ring in the New Year with the start of its popular Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday lecture series at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 9.

For more than 30 years, the series has attracted hundreds of science enthusiasts ranging from high school students to retirees. The nine-week free lecture series was renamed “The Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday Lecture Series last year in memory of the engineer who spent 20 years organizing the series and serving as the unofficial master of ceremonies.

Professors and scientists from all over the country talk about some of their projects and discuss a broad variety of topics from stars to the ocean. The talks are aimed at high school students, but the series attracts loyal followers of every age. Some have been coming to the lecture series since it began.

The first lecture in the series by astronomer Alan Hirshfeld, “”Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe,” will focus on the history of modern astronomy that culminated in Edwin Hubble’’s 1929 discovery that the Universe is expanding. Hirshfeld is a professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

The 2016 lecture series features several scientists from a variety of fields at Princeton University. Former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman will speak on Jan. 16 on ““The Wild and Wacky World of Epigenetics.”” Epigenetics is the study of how genes can be switched on and off by factors in the environment or other external factors rather than an individual’s DNA sequence.

On March 5, Ed Synakowski, the associate director of the Office of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy, will discuss fusion energy in his talk ““Reimagining the Possible: Scientific Transformations Shaping the Path Towards Fusion Energy.””

The lectures begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, 100 Stellarator Road, Princeton, off Sayre Drive. Parking is free. Visitors should plan to come early because seats fill up quickly. The doors open at 8:15 a.m. and there will be refreshments for early birds. There is no lecture on Feb. 20 due to the Department of Energy’s New Jersey High School Science Bowl.

Adult visitors should be prepared to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license. Non-U.S. citizens must show a photo ID and provide the following information: citizenship, date of birth, and place of birth.

The lectures can also be viewed live online.

If Science on Saturday is canceled due to inclement weather or other emergency a message will be left on the Science on Saturday Hotline at (609) 243-2121.