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

Death from the Skies discusses all the aspects of the Universe that threaten the Earth.

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

The Discovery Channel Series Bad Universe premiered in 2010.

“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