South End Dining Hall
October 4, 2018
05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
JOHNS HOPKINS APL
With Love, from Pluto
With a PhD in planetary geology from The Johns Hopkins University, Kirby Runyon (2008, physics) has a passion for communicating his love of space exploration and science with the Church and the general public. A biblical theology of science motivates his passion for making discoveries in space and sharing the passion, beauty, and joy of God’s extraterrestrial creation with others: “What may be known about God—his eternal power and divine nature—has been revealed through what has been made,” (Romans 1:20). He is an avid proponent that a biblical theology of science de-conflicts mainstream science from orthodox, biblical Christianity, freeing the disciple of the Lord Jesus to follow scientific evidence wherever it leads.
As a postdoctoral planetary geologist at Johns Hopkins APL, he is involved with basic research on the geologic forces that shape the landscapes of planets, moons, and asteroids, mainly using images and related data from robotic NASA and international spacecraft. Specifically, Kirby is a planetary geomorphologist with expertise in wind-blown geology on Mars, Titan, and Pluto; the effects of impact cratering throughout the solar system; and structural geology of tectonic faults on planets and moons. He also participates on the science teams of active and proposed spacecraft missions. This includes New Horizons which explored Pluto and Charon in 2015 and will fly past “Ultima Thule” on New Year’s Day, 2019, reconnoitering the farthest-explored world in the solar system. He also chairs the geology science theme group for the proposed Interstellar Probe mission which would notionally fly past several planets and worlds on its way out of the solar system to explore the physical environment between the stars. He is also a geologic spacesuit test subject with NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Originally from Spring Arbor, Michigan, he now lives in Columbia, Maryland where is active in his church and big, tightly-knit community of friends. His formative time in the Houghton physics department was marked by immersion in a supportive group of phriendly physicists who can all personally attest how terrible he is at math. He recently became scuba certified and Nixie, his cat, was named after Pluto’s small moon, Nix. His cat refrains from scuba diving.
Science & Math Colloquium, Students