Category Archives: Updates

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Fact, Fiction, and Supposition:

Dr. Phil Plait: “2012: We’re All (not) Gonna Die!”:


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Attendee Meal Registration

Planning to attend the forum? Please complete the meal survey so we can get accurate numbers for the caterer. It’s quick and free! Just go here:

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Program Now Available!

The program for this year’s forum is now available at

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Keynote: Phil Plait

The 2012 FID is pleased to announce our keynote address will be delivered by UVA Alumnus, Phil Plait.

Phil With Laptop

Astronomer & Author Phil Plait


You’ve heard the rumors, the conspiracy theories, the internet scuttlebutt: the Mayans predicted the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012. Books have been written, documentaries aired, even a major motion picture was made based on this idea. But is it real?  In a word: nope. Astronomer and author Phil Plait will take you through the claims made by the doomsday-mongers and show why there’s nothing to fear. No mega solar flares, no galactic alignment, no giant asteroid impact… and, in fact, the Mayans didn’t even really predict the end of the world at all! Dr. Plait will use firm science and lots of humor to describe just why December 2012 will be pretty much like every other December on the calendar.

For as long as he can remember, Phil Plait has been in love with science: “When I was maybe four or five years old, my dad brought home a cheapo department store telescope. He aimed it at Saturn that night. One look, and that was it. I was hooked,” he says.

Death from the Skies

After earning his doctorate in astronomy at the University of Virginia, he worked as a NASA contractor at the Goddard Space Flight Center, working with the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Plait began a career in public outreach and education with the ‘Bad Astronomy’ website and blog, debunking bad
science and popular misconceptions. The book Bad Astronomy was released in 2002, followed in 2008 by Death From The Skies! Dr. Plait’s television show, Phil Plait’s Bad Universe premiered on the Discovery Channel in September 2010.

Dr. Plait has given dozens of talks about science and pseudoscience across the US and internationally. He uses images, audio, and video clips in an entertaining and informative multimedia presentation packed with humor and backed by solid science. He has spoken at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, the Space Telescope Science Institute (home of Hubble), the Hayden Planetarium in NYC and many other world-class museums and planetaria, conferences, astronomy clubs, colleges & universities, and community groups.

Bad Universe

“Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, spoke to a group of 400 gifted and talented high school seniors at the summer Arkansas Governor’s School. He spoke about critical thinking from the view point of the sciences, specifically astronomy. His informal presentation style and his humor were appealing to our audience and he kept their attention for the full 90 minutes. Even the students who were not interested in science were engaged and entertained…. Our students rated Phil as one of the highest rated speakers of our program this summer. We definitely want him back next year!”
– Lyle Rupert, Director, Arkansas Governor’s School

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Presenter Registration Closes Friday

The deadline for Presenter Registration is Friday, August 17, 2012.
As discussed in previous posts and emails, due to a technical problem all registrations completed before August 7 were lost. Please re-register so that we can collect information required to complete the logistics of the conference, e.g. catering, presentation equipment, transportation etc …


In addition, we encourage you to invite colleagues or students to the conference. There is no registration fee for attendance and two meals (breakfast and lunch) are provided for each day of the conference. Unfortunately, there is only limited hotel availability due to the UVa Football schedule. We will release unused hotel rooms on September 1st.


If you have any questions or are having trouble completing your registration, please contact the organizing committee via email at  jefffid.2012 [at]

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Resolving Email List and Registration Problems

In lieu of our original GoogleGroups email list, we are moving over to a list hosted by the UVA mail server. All confirmed presenters will be receiving an email confirming your subscription to the list.

The problems with the Registration Forms have also been resolved. These problems were highly technical and no data was recorded through the original form. Unfortunately, we require that all presenters re-complete the Registration Process as soon as possible. Direct links to the form are provided below.

Registration has two phases: (i) a Registration Form and (ii) a Meal Survey.

Presenters are asked to complete the Presenter Registration Form and the Meal Survey.
We also ask that you confirm your abstract and title by viewing the page for your panel on the Program. Please note that the formatting on the page may change, but the text will not.

Attendees are asked to complete the Attendee Registration and Meal Survey.

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Problems with Registration & Email List

We apologize, but we are experiencing problems with our Registration Form and our Email List (through Google Groups).  Due to extensive travel of our Local Organizing Committee we had not been able to diagnose the problems before today. Please bare with us as we try to resolve the problems!


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