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On Wednesday, April 9, Martin Harwit, former director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, will give a lecture at Colby College in Waterville titled “History and Memory: The Enola Gay Controversy at the National Air and Space Museum.” The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 01 of the F.W. Olin Science Center. It is open to the public and free of charge.
Harwit served as director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum from 1987 through 1995. In 1995 he resigned his position and left the museum due to a controversy surrounding a proposed exhibit on the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Congress, the news media and veterans groups demanded the cancellation of the exhibit. Harwit later published a book on the controversy titled An Exhibit Denied–Lobbying the History of Enola Gay.
As an astronomer Harwit was involved in developing the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Infrared Space Observatory. Now a professor emeritus of astronomy at Cornell, he continues his research into the atmospheres of stars and planets and the interstellar medium. Harwit is currently a member of the science team overseeing preparations for the Herschel Space Observatory, which will be launched by the ESA and NASA in 2007. Harwit is the author of Astrophysical Concepts, the most widely used general astrophysics text over the past three decades. He is currently updating it for publication in 2003.
On Tuesday, April 8, Harwit will present a lecture on “The Growth of Understanding In Astrophysics.” The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Room 01 of the F.W. Olin Science Center. It is open to the public and free of charge. Harwit will discuss how new astronomical phenomena frequently are discovered by accident, most often when a powerful new observational instrument is introduced to the field.