The College of Humanities kicked off its sixth annual Humanities Week on Monday with a lecture that connected the science of meteorites to everyday life.
The event, titled “The Sky is Falling: The Fascinating Science and Crazy History of Shooting Stars,” featured Christopher Cokinos, an associate professor in the department of English and author of “The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars.”
The event took place at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, where audience members were able to observe shooting stars before the presentation began.
Cokinos spoke about the history of meteors, meteorites and shooting stars, including how they form, where they come from, their meaning in everyday life and the array of meanings that they share in different cultures around the world.
Cokinos’ interest in writing on this topic was sparked after realizing a lot of people who were meteorite hunters had “these amazing lives but there was a lot of heartbreak and tragedy in them as well,” he said.
The success of his book, along with his interest in meteors and shooting stars, landed him a five week-long scientific expedition to collect meteorites in Antarctica in 2003, granted by the National Science Foundation.
The event was the first of “Revival of the Fittest,” the title of this year’s Humanities Week.
More events are planned throughout the week week that will focus specifically on engaging the Tucson community.
Monday’s event initially stemmed from Mary E. Wildner-Bassett, dean of the College of Humanities, who wanted to “come up with a way to engage the community, not just the UA community, but also the Tucson community,” said Helen Bernard, coordinator of external and alumni relations at the College of Humanities.
“We want to engage the community, and get them to understand what the value of humanities is,” Bernard added. “We want to get the word out as much as possible.”
On Tuesday, Humanities Week will continue with a lecture at 5 p.m. titled “Exploring Faraway Lands & Cultures,” which will be presented by the UA Critical Languages Program at the UA Poetry Center.