Dr. Bennett speaks frequently to the general public at colleges, science museums, and planetariums. Currently he can offer the following presentations, each lasting approximately 1 hour.
Global Warming Demystified — How You Can Make Sense of the Media Debate
Is human-induced global warming real or a hoax? Most people will express an opinion on this question, but relatively few can back their opinions with solid evidence. This is true on both sides, as most “believers” are no better able to explain the scientific case for global warming than “skeptics” are able to make a case against it. Many times we’ve even heard politicians and media pundits say “I am not a scientist” to avoid the issue altogether. But the truth is, the basic science is not that difficult. In this presentation, noted educator Jeffrey Bennett will give you the foundation you need to speak intelligently about the science behind global warming, and show you why the solutions to this important problem are ones that people of all political persuasions can agree on. If you have any questions or doubts about the reality of global warming or what we should do about it as a nation, you’re sure to come away enlightened. The level is suitable for anyone of middle school age and up. Note: This talk is based on Dr. Bennett’s Global Warming Primer.
What is Relativity? An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas and Why They Matter
Have you ever been curious about Einstein’s theory of relativity? Almost everyone has heard of it, but few people know much about it or realize its critical importance to our modern understanding of the universe. With 2015 marking the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s publication of his general theory of relativity, it seems time to change that, which is why astrophysicist and educator Jeffrey Bennett embarked on a 25-city “national relativity tour.” In this presentation, based on his book What is Relativity? from Columbia University Press, Dr. Bennett will introduce you to the basic ideas of relativity and why they are important to everyone. The presentation is aimed especially at people with no prior knowledge of relativity and should be understandable for anyone of middle school age or up.
Math for Life — Crucial Skills You Didn’t Learn in School
How can we solve the national debt crisis? Should you or your child take on a student loan? Is it safe to talk on a cell phone while driving? Are there viable energy alternatives to fossil fuels? What could you do with a billion dollars? Could simple policy changes reduce political polarization? These questions may all seem very different, but they share two things in common. First, they are all questions with important implications for either personal success or our success as a nation. Second, they all concern topics that we can fully understand only with the aid of clear quantitative or mathematical thinking. In other words, they are topics for which we need math for life—a kind of math that looks quite different from most of the math that we learn in school, but that is just as (and often more) important. This presentation will offer a series of examples of why “Math for Life” is so important to our future. Note: This talk is based on Dr. Bennett’s book Math for Life.
Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and its Astonishing Implications for Our Future
Is there really life beyond Earth? Astronomer and author Jeffrey Bennett will talk about why this question has become a hot topic of scientific research, and discuss how scientists are searching both for microbial life and extraterrestrial intelligence. Along the way, we’ll also see why the possibility of life beyond Earth has profound implications to the future of our species, even in the unlikely event that we are alone in the universe. Children are welcome; those over about age 10 should be able to understand most of the talk, and younger children will still enjoy the pictures. Note: This talk is based on Dr. Bennett’s book Beyond UFOs (Princeton University Press, 2008/2011); he is also the author of Life in the Universe, the leading college textbook in the field of astrobiology. Click here to see a video of a past presentation of this lecture.
The Scale of the Universe
If you could hold the Sun in your hand, where would we find the planets and other stars? Astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett will discuss the remarkable scale of the universe in both space and time, so that you’ll see what it REALLY means when we say that something is “astronomical” in size. Note: This talk largely centers around the Voyage scale model solar system that is now a permanent exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, DC; Dr. Bennett proposed the exhibit and served as co-PI during its development.
Booking a Public Talk: Please contact Dr. Bennett for information about scheduling and fees.