OU Professors Talk Aliens with History Channel

It was an unusual assignment.

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The 1954 sci-fi movie “Target Earth” featured an alien invasion by giant robots.

Oglethorpe’s Dr. John Orme, professor of politics and division chair, and Dr. John Cramer, professor of physics, recently appeared in the H2 channel’s series Target Earth. The show explores topics such as infrastructure, natural resources, and engineering, but with a sci-fi twist: how would aliens view our planet if they were targeting Earth for a takeover?

This 173rd episode in the series, likely named for the 1954 science fiction movie, Target Earth, hypothesizes about what would happen during an alien invasion.

Although the documentary itself seems a bit far-fetched and funny at times, the issues addressed are serious: What would the consequences of an (alien) invasion or biological weapon? What would we do in the event of a world wide black out? What if water sources were attacked? How does nature affect our lives? Ultimately, Dr. Cramer and Dr. Orme offered answers that reflect possible outcomes in the event of any disaster—not simply an alien invasion.

So, why are our professors considered to be experts on alien invasions?

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Dr. Cramer, pictured at the annual Space on the Green, Oglethorpe’s celebration of science.

Dr. Cramer is the author of How Alien Would Aliens Be?, which takes a scientific approach to the potential existence and appearance of extra-terrestrials. His book surmises that since both humans and aliens would be subject to similar physical constraints (vision, hearing, environment), it’s likely that aliens would not be so physically different from us —if they exist. Similarly, Dr. Orme was tapped for his expertise based on his book The Paradox of Peace, which “examines the foundations of peace by using diverse case studies to look at the calculations of political leaders and their reliance on optimism.”

Dr. Orme teaching a politics class in his fabled favorite classroom, simply for the  chalk board.

Dr. John Orme in the classroom.

In the event of an alien invasion, both cite water resources as pivotal. Dr. Cramer believes that water resources would be targeted during an invasion. Dr. Orme suggests that humans’ experience and reaction in natural disasters would likely be repeated in the event of an invasion. For instance, an attack on freshwater sources would elicit similar chaotic responses; water would become worth stealing  and protecting. Patience would wear thin and violence would erupt.

So, while the show itself seemed a bit campy at times, our professors’ professional opinions were credible and based in reality. Plus, it’s pretty cool that our professors were interviewed about aliens.

To watch the documentary, search your TV listings, or purchase the episode and watch it on demand.

Science-Palooza Helps Students’ Academic and Professional Development

Cancer Biology students also hosted a cancer awareness event that was featured on Cure Childhood Cancer's website.

A few weeks ago, Oglethorpe students majoring in biology, chemistry and psychology were able to verbally and visually present to the entire OU community on the topics they studied this semester. The annual Science-Palooza poster session event featured approximately 50 different presentations, and some students were responsible for more than just one. As attendees approached, students were prepared to explain their research and answer questions presented to them about their work.

Students enrolled in “Cancer Biology” explained the multiple processes of how cancer cells travel to organs in the body. “Cell Biology” students conducted experiments that showed how different chemicals can affect cell growth and development. Psychology students expanded on previous psychological research by creating experiments that focused on everything from race and pro-social behavior to belief in being able to influence random chance events. Some of the content may have been a little difficult to understand if you are not familiar with terms like HELA cells, metastasis, and partial eta effect sizes. Nonetheless, each presentation added its own special touch to the array of scientific topics present at the college-leveled science fair.

Allyson Terry '14 presents her psychology research during Science-Palooza.

Presenting at this event does a lot more for the students involved than simply showing off the eye-catching posters they created. By presenting at this Science-Palooza myself, I experienced the effects that an event like this can have on a student’s academic and professional development. As a Psychology major, I conducted a study that looked at how people perceive interracial couples in comparison to same-race couples. Every time someone came up to me I had to give a three-minute spiel explaining my strenuous four months of hard work. It seemed redundant and cumbersome at times, but the more I interacted with spectators interested in my research, the more comfortable and fluid I became in presenting.

Another plus to presenting at the session is when questions are asked and you are the only one that can answer them. Being solid in your approach and strong in your knowledge of the topic you studied increases the feeling of accomplishment. Conducting individual research is a difficult task, but when you have the opportunity to share all you have done with people who are genuinely interested, you know your late nights in the library have not gone in vain.

Events such as Science-Palooza enable students of different majors and academic interests to see first-hand what their peers are doing on campus. The only improvement to the event that I might suggest is hosting it in a larger venue in order to accommodate the large number of attendees!

Pegasus Creative is pleased to welcome Allyson Terry ’14 as the campus reporter intern for summer 2013!