Tuesday, December 6, 2016

David Grinspoon

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. He is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. He is involved with several interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth systems and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization.

Grinspoon's new book is Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve been re-reading The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. I read it years ago but I picked it up recently for inspiration because I’m writing a new book now about the exploration of Pluto. I’m co-authoring this new book with Alan Stern, the scientist who led the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and in the process I’ve been learning so much about all the ridiculous trials and tribulations that the young scientists who wanted to fly such a mission experienced for decades before they were successful. I want to bring that to life so I’m seeking inspiration from the master. Nobody has written about the adventure of space exploration as boldly and with such punch-in-the-gut intensity as Wolfe. Of course here we are writing about robotic exploration, so it's a little different: Nobody is putting their life on the line, but people are taking crazy risks with their careers and trying all kind of gambits to save a mission that seemed to be doomed many times over. Reading somebody so frighteningly gifted is both inspiring and intimidating, but I’m trying to focus on the former.

I’ve also just started reading Robbie Robertson’s memoir Testimony. I’m only about 30 pages in, but I can tell I’m going to love it. My guilty pleasure is reading musician biographies and autobiographies. The last one I plowed through was Elvis Costello’s. It was fantastic – quite revelatory about the songwriting process. In the late 70s those “new wave” musicians pretended they had no use for the “dinosaur” musicians of the 60s, but now the truth comes out: Elvis and his angry young contemporaries were actually listening to, and copping riffs from, Neil Young and the Byrds. “Watching the Detectives” is just “Cowgirl in the Sand” slowed down and mixed together with the James Bond theme. The two I read before that were by Pete Townsend and Keith Richards. Next up will be Bruce Springsteen. I read them all.
Visit David Grinspoon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue