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Apollo Lunar Landing

Man on the Moon 40th Anniversary July 20

UCR experts are available to talk about the impact of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on space travel and American culture.

(July 14, 2009)

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon, fulfilling the goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade. As the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing nears, scholars at the University of California, Riverside are available to comment on the impact of the mission to land on the moon, on space travel and on American culture.

Space Travel

Jose Wudka
, professor of physics
(951) 827- 4296

Professor Wudka researches high-energy physics and phenomenology. He explores the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces which act between them. Some of the research topics he currently is focusing on are the unification of all or some of the fundamental forces, the origin of mass, and the possible violation of fundamental conservation laws. He can offer comments on time travel, faster-than-light space travel,
space exploration, wormholes, matter/antimatter drives and teleportation.

Gabriela Canalizo, assistant professor of astrophysics
(951) 827-5310

Professor Canalizo’s research includes the study of galaxy interactions and mergers, active galaxy nuclei, and stellar populations. Recently, along with colleagues, she helped reveal the precise locations and environments of a pair of supermassive black holes at the center of an ongoing collision between two galaxies 300 million light-years away. She can offer comments on time travel, faster-than-light space travel, space exploration, wormholes, matter/antimatter drives and teleportation.

Gillian Wilson, associate professor of cosmology
(951) 827-6274

Professor Wilson’s research covers astronomy and cosmology; dark matter and dark energy; the formation and evolution of galaxies; weak gravitational lensing; and the expansion of the universe. She came to UCR in 2007 from the Spitzer Science Center in Pasadena, and was a member of one of the first teams to announce they had measured “cosmic shear,” i.e., had detected weak gravitational lensing distortions of distant galaxies by cosmic dark matter at large scales. She can offer comments on time travel, faster-than-light space travel, space exploration, wormholes, matter/antimatter drives and teleportation.

Math/Science Education

Pamela Clute
, executive director, Academy of Learning through Partnerships for Higher Education (ALPHA Center)
(951) 827-5722

Clute is a national leader in training future K-12 mathematics and science teachers and in developing math achievement opportunities for middle-school girls, career opportunities in math- and science-related fields for college majors and university academic outreach programs to public schools. She also is an expert in legislative/policy issues related to math and science education. Clute is known for her efforts to encourage women to study higher mathematics, science, technology and engineering. She has received numerous awards including: the National Science Foundation Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; International Athena Award; Riverside County Mathematics Teachers Association Lifetime Award; and Outstanding Service to Mathematics Education presented by the California Legislature.

Linda Scott Hendrick, principal investigator, Copernicus; Academic Administrator & Director, Teacher Development Program, Graduate School of Education
(951) 827-5722

Hendrick heads UCR’s Copernicus Project, which addresses early identification of future science teachers, systematic recruitment from a diverse pool of candidates, focused teacher preparation beginning at the community college level, and sustained, mentored support of teachers through ongoing professional development. Copernicus Project partners cover a broad spectrum of education leaders, K-12 teachers, institutions of higher education, parents and the business community. The project's goals reflect what research underscores: that the single most important element in the academic achievement of students is the quality of their teachers.

Science Fiction

Rob Latham
, associate professor of English
(951) 827-1966

Latham has been a senior editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies since 1997 and is a member of the editorial boards of The Journal of Science Fiction Film and Television and The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He is the author of “Consuming Youth: Vampires, Cyborgs, and the Culture of Consumption” (Chicago, 2002), a study of contemporary consumer youth culture and its relationship to technological systems and discourses. He is completing a book on "New Wave" science fiction of the 1960s and ’70s, focusing on its connections to counterculture movements and debates of the period, as well as co-editing a teaching anthology on science fiction for use in college classrooms.

Gary Westfahl, Ph.D., Coordinator, Success Central, The Learning Center
(951) 827-5229

Westfahl earned the 2003 Pilgrim Award, presented by the Science Fiction Research Association to honor lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship. He has written or edited numerous scholarly books about science fiction. His current research involves writing a book about realistic films about space travel, “Riders to the Stars: A History of the Spacesuit Film, from 1929 to the Present,” which will document why such films have failed to capture the public imagination and will provide additional reasons as to why humanity may not yet be ready to conquer space. “My lifetime of researching science fiction, and of garnering insights from its texts as to why the world has not advanced into space as rapidly and extensively as science fiction writers once envisioned, has convinced me that the true lesson to be learned from the Apollo program involves the danger of premature overreaching,” he says. “I am convinced that today we simply do not have the technology and the resources to achieve any meaningful progress in conquering space, beyond narrowly focused, spectacular stunts, and one lamentable effect of the successful lunar landings has been to falsely persuade many people that we have the capacity to move on to similar, and even more grandiose, projects, but simply lack the will to do so.”

George Slusser, professor of comparative literature emeritus, curator emeritus of the Eaton Collection

The “Golden Age” of science fiction literature (1940s-1950s) and its aftermath in the 1960s are interconnected with the space race, Slusser says. For more than 25 years Slusser helped build UC Riverside’s internationally known Eaton Collection, the world’s largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian fiction. It is the major resource for research in science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature worldwide and includes works in Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Spanish. The collection consists of nearly 100,000 hardback and paperback books, nearly 300,000 fanzines, as well as pulp magazines, film and visual material, comic books, and ephemera.

Derek Burrill, assistant professor of media and cultural studies
(951) 827-1261

Professor Burrill studies science fiction as an embodied form of historical and cultural practice that constantly morphs in relation to contemporary anxieties and desires. He notes that the Internet as we know it today is a direct result of the Cold War and the space race. In order to survive a nuclear attack, the U.S. government, universities and the private sector imagined and then built a network system that would withstand an attack and retain its robustness by decentralizing the network. This, in turn has led to countless re-imaginings of how labor, play, communications – even cognition itself – can be non-hierarchical and amorphous in structure and function.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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