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Report from TAM 9

Paul Kohlmiller


On July 14-17, the James Randi Educational Foundation held their annual meeting in Las Vegas at South Point. These are called TAMs, short for “The Amazing Meeting”. This year the topics had a decidedly astronomical bent. This was the 9th such meeting and that inspired the subtitle “TAM 9 from Outer Space”.

The keynote was delivered by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson is well known for running the Hayden Planetarium and he hosts the PBS show “NOVA Science Now”. Within this crowd (more than 1600 attendees) he is practically a rock star. His talk generated an extended standing ovation.

Other astronomers at the conference included Pamela Gay (she gave an impassioned plea for restoring science funding at the National level) and Phil Plait (he gave the most remembered speech from last year’s meeting but only participated in panel discussions this year). Parts of both P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins talks dealt with what alien life might look like (i.e. not like the aliens on Star Trek).

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) talked about the Planetary Society, the group that he is now the Executive Director of. He also talked about learning from Carl Sagan. Many speakers mentioned the end of the Space Shuttle. One panel that included Nye, Tyson, Gay and Lawrence Krauss (“The Science of Star Trek”) became quite animated as panelists argued over the need for manned space flights.


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