Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

Oct. 20, 2008

NASA Scientist to Speak at Annual Science & Society Series Oct. 30 at Whitworth

The 2008 Science & Society Lecture Series at Whitworth University will feature John Horack, a NASA scientist and manager of the Science and Missions Systems Office at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Horack will present a lecture, "50 Cents, 50 Years—Finding the Value of the Space Program on the Back of a Quarter," on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4263.

Horack's lecture will include an overview of NASA's Constellation Program, which is building on Apollo and Space Shuttle technology to create a 21st century human and robotic exploration system. The Constellation Program involves replacing the Space Shuttle, completing the International Space Station, and returning astronauts to the moon. Horack will address why NASA is moving forward with these projects and talk about the importance of NASA in the United States' past and to its future.

The Science and Mission Systems Office at NASA conducts advanced research involving science and space exploration. When Horack was named manager of the Science and Missions Systems Office in 2006, he also was appointed to the Senior Executive Service, which is the government personnel system that covers the top managerial positions across 75 federal agencies.

Horack began his career with NASA in 1987. His projects there have included research into gamma ray bursts, or violent star "hypernovas." He also served as assistant mission scientist on the Astro-2 science payload, which flew to space on Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1995 and successfully detected the presence of intergalactic helium—a test of the Big Bang theory. In addition, he developed new strategies and processes for communicating technical scientific research to non-scientific audiences, including overseeing the launch of the Web-based Science@NASA news site that won a "People's Voice" Webby Award for best science site on the Internet.

Horack also founded the Huntsville, Ala.-based software company Mobular Technologies Inc. A native of Saint Louis, Mo., he earned a B.A. in physics and astronomy from Northwestern University and a master's degree and Ph.D in physics from the University of Alabama, in Huntsville. He was a finalist in NASA's Astronaut Candidate selection class and has authored or co-authored more than 75 publications for peer-reviewed journals and science conferences.

The Science & Society Lecture Series was created by Whitworth trustees, faculty and administrators to increase understanding and awareness of scientific advances and issues that influence areas including public policy, law, ethics and business. The annual series features experts who address current scientific issues that are of interest to the general public.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Julie Shanholtzer, Speakers and Artists Series and psychology department program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4263 or jshanholtzer@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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