Earlier this week, the Franklin Institute Night Sky Observatory program featured special guest Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist, inventor, and co-host of the Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science to focus on some of the most perplexing paradoxes of the universe, the possibility of life on other planets, and why he believes his unlikely personal path can inspire the next generation of scientists.
He stopped by WHYY studios to join the conversation with WHYY’s Dave Heller and Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at the Franklin Institue.
Oluseyi was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. After his parents divorced when he was four years old, he and his mother lived in some of the country’s toughest neighborhoods including the 9th Ward of New Orleans; Watts, Los Angeles, California; Inglewood, California; South Park, Houston, Texas; and Third Ward, Houston, Texas before settling in rural Mississippi a month before Oluseyi turned 13 years old.
He completed middle school and high school in the East Jasper School District graduating as his high school’s valedictorian in 1985.
Oluseyi served in the U.S. Navy from 1984 to 1986, and then enrolled in Tougaloo College where he earned Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and mathematics.
He earned MS and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Stanford University.
His best known scientific contributions are research on the transfer of mass and energy through the Sun’s atmosphere, the development of space-borne observatories for studying astrophysical plasmas and dark energy, and the development of transformative technologies in ultraviolet optics, detectors, computer chips, and ion propulsion.
However, he values inspiring others to strive over his personal accomplishments, as evidenced by his tweet;
“Positively impacting lives and communities through education gives me greater satisfaction than any scientific discovery or invention I’ve ever made”
Oluseyi appears as a commentator and scientific authority on Science Channel television shows including How the Universe Works, Outrageous Acts of Science, and Strip the Cosmos.
His TED Talks include the topics “Infinity explained in three minutes” and “How we know; the big bang.”
With favorable viewing conditions;
Saturn will appear just below Venus tomorrow morning.
On Monday, they will be next to each other, then they switch places and Saturn will be above Venus with Venus heading down toward the sun.
Mars still dominates the evening sky but Uranus is lurking right next door below towards the horizon.