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"Deep Time" to be Discussed

"Deep Time,” Subject of Deep Discussion At UC Riverside’s Library Lecture Series

Physics Professor, Best-Selling Science Fiction Author
Gregory Benford to Discuss 1999 Book “Deep Time”

(May 21, 2003)

Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Gregory Benford, professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, and a major writer of “hard” or science-based science fiction, will visit UC, Riverside to speak about his 1999 non-fiction book, “Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia,” which deals with preparing messages for the really, really long term. The free public lecture is scheduled for 3 p.m., Wednesday May 21, in the fourth floor Special Collections reading room of the Tomás Rivera Library. Contact UC Riverside Library’s Special Collections at (909) 787-3233 for more details about this and next year’s “Meet the Author” series.

The event is this year’s last in the UC Riverside Library’s lecture series. The series events are designed to bring the richness of UC Riverside’s libraries to the community. According to organizer Melissa Conway, who heads UC Riverside’s Special Collections, the speakers are either from UC Riverside, or relevant to some of the library’s rare collections, such as the Tomás Rivera Archive and the Rupert Costo Library of the American Indian. Many of Benford’s published works, manuscripts and correspondence can be found in UC Riverside’s J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Utopian Literature, the largest such collection in the world.

Benford’s nonfiction work “Deep Time,” deals with building messages that can be understood scores of thousands of years from now. Deep time refers to the hundred-million-year stretches of geologic time. Bendord’s book discusses four projects, two with which he has been directly involved, such as warnings for a nuclear waste site in the New Mexico desert that could be understood 10,000 years from now, and a proposed plaque to be attached to the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft. Both projects involved questions of building messages that were able to teach the reader how to decipher them.

The other two projects do not involve communicating specific messages but deal with issues that have “deep time” implications, such as the Library of Life and Stewards of the Earth projects. The first concerns preserving biological information from animals, plants and bacteria that may soon be extinct. The other involves the conscious shaping of the environment to sustain it — and humankind — into the future.

Benford is the co-author of the 1990 novel “Beyond the Fall of Night” with Arthur C. Clarke. He received his Ph.D. from UC San Diego in 1967, and the San Diego campus figures prominently in “Timescape,” his 1980 Nebula-award-winning novel. Benford's novels are noted for their detailed portraits of how science is done in the modern institutional setting and the politics and culture of science. He names among his formative influences William Faulkner and the oral poetry he heard as a boy growing up in Mobile, Alabama.

For more information about the lecture series or the UC Riverside libraries, visit the Web site

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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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