Alumnus’ TV Show, ‘Bad Universe,’ Debuts Sunday

This just in from UVA Today science correspondent Fariss Samarrai:

University of Virginia alumnus Phil Plait, who earned a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1994, is hosting a new television series that premieres this Sunday at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

The show, “Phil Plait’s Bad Universe,” examines question related to astronomy, putting assorted claims to the test. The first show is on asteroid impacts.

(More, including a trailer, after the break …)

The show is a result of a blog Plait writes for Discover magazine’s blog site, “Bad Astronomy,” where he provides scientific understanding to assorted phenomena. In 1998, he launched a website, BadAstronomy.com, and later added the blog before it was picked up by Discover. Time magazine last year rated the blog among its “25 Best Blogs.”

Plait’s goal as “an astronomer on a mission,” with the blog and the show, is to “debunk all the junk science out there, and reveal the truth.”

Plait is an astronomer, lecturer and author. He worked for 10 years with NASA on the Hubble Space Telescope and for six more in astronomy education before becoming a full-time writer.

He is the author of two books, including, “Death From the Skies: These Are the Ways the World Will End …,” dozens of magazine articles, and “12 bazillion” blog articles, by his count. He describes himself as a skeptic who “loves fighting misuses of science as well as praising the wonder of real science.”

Plait said he got the teaching bug as a doctoral student at U.Va. For three years, he ran a nighttime lab for astronomy students, but his favorite experience was when the public was invited to peer through the telescopes at Observatory Hill and Fan Mountain. The questions he fielded put his talents to the test, he said, recalling an 8-year-old and his grandmother who tag-teamed him about black holes.

Visit his blog (and view the show’s trailer) here.

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