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July 2000

NCAR and UCAR celebrate their 40th

A buoyant affair

Swaying to the pulse of the breeze, this remarkably lifelike creature welcomed visitors to the Bubble and Balloon Festival. (Photos by Carlye Calvin.)

One of Peter Davison's young fans picks up where the juggler left off.

NCAR's Bubble and Balloon Festival was a smash hit. The Father's Day event lured throngs of visitors to the Mesa Lab: an estimated 5,000 were on hand, enough to fill the ML parking lot and then some. Kids and their parents crisscrossed the tree plaza, making bubbles, learning about the Bernoulli effect, or watching juggler Peter Davison, alumnus of Boulder's well-known Airjazz ensemble. Inside the lab, people toured the exhibits and checked out the half-hour performances of Casey Carle's Bubblemania (see photo at right). The self-proclaimed "bubbleman," who performs 250 shows a year, created bubbles within bubbles and even set a bubble aflame (don't try it at home). The new NCAR Science Store did brisk business at its main ML lobby site and a special tree-plaza location. With NCAR sounding units in the field for STEPS (see the article in this issue), the National Weather Service launched its own weather balloons from the ML parking lot. There, and on the fountain plaza, giant balloon sculptures from Fast Lane Productions greeted visitors. "I am really thrilled with the way the Bubble and Balloon Festival turned out," says organizer Linda Carbone (ISS). "When the 40th Anniversary Committee first met, we knew that we wanted one event in the 40th activities that would be fun for the staff and their families and draw the community into NCAR and UCAR's celebration. I think that we did that with the festival." Linda's claim is backed up by comments posted by visitors at the feedback kiosk in the new exhibit. Among the postings: "Cool! My mom did the color swirls." "It was a great gift for Father's Day. He had fun!" "This is about the 5th or 6th time I've been here, and I like it more every time I come."

Colwell's whirlwind weekend

Rita Colwell (far right) was joined on her tour of Jeffco by (left to right) UOP director Jack Fellows, assistant NSF director for geosciences Margaret Leinen, and ACD/ATD associate scientist Teresa Campos.

NSF director Rita Colwell topped the list of dignitaries on hand for the 40th anniversary weekend. She paid a visit to the Bubble and Balloon Festival on Sunday and stopped by Jeffco for a VIP tour later that afternoon. The next day, NCAR scientists briefed Colwell on wildfire research and other hot topics. At a town meeting, Colwell and NSF assistant director for geosciences Margaret Leinen gave staff an update on NSF's activities and priorities.

Colwell said the foundation has "increasingly become the government's investor for basic nonmedical research." The federal share of all U.S. research and development has dropped from roughly 60% in 1970 to around 40% today. NSF now awaits approval of a proposed budget that would include the largest dollar increase in its history. Although NSF pays for over half of all the nation's mathematics research, Colwell described the field as "underfunded" (math grants average $25,000 each). More social-science research is also "badly needed." At the same time, too much energy is being siphoned into the "treadmill" of grant writing, she said, noting that NSF processes some 250,000 proposals a year. "My biggest challenge," she added, "is to pursue emerging areas while keeping [core research] robust and vital." Following Colwell, Leinen outlined the agenda for the NSF geosciences directorate and stressed the human-resources dilemma that will face the geosciences–the least diverse of the nation's science and engineering disciplines–as the nation's ethnic makeup shifts in the decades to come. Colwell capped the day with an evening presentation at CU's Old Main Chapel on NSF's polar research. With the help of photographs, paintings, and quotes from artists who documented the Arctic and Antarctic, Colwell described the beauty of the polar ecosystem and explained its importance to the global environment.

Pictures of an exhibition

Ron Secrist (left) assists Rita Colwell as she cuts the ribbon to open Atmospheric Odyssey, while UCAR president Rick Anthes (far right) looks on.

The majestic sound of the Boulder Brass, led by Dave Fulker (Unidata), filled the ML lobby with Cecil Effinger's "Fanfare for NCAR." The original score was performed for the first time since the building's dedication in 1967. "Fanfare" followed Rita Colwell's ribbon cutting that marked the debut of the science-and-history exhibit Atmospheric Odyssey. Among those paying tribute to NCAR and UCAR at the afternoon dedication were Boulder city manager Ron Secrist and UCAR Board of Trustees member Leo Donner (Princeton University). Atmospheric Odyssey is a semipermanent addition to the ML exhibits, says coordinator Susan Foster: "The new exhibit panels and the updated interactive computer kiosk provide a wonderful framework for expanding education and outreach efforts within the building and through our Web site," which will include new pages tied to the exhibit.

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Wed Jul 19 13:56:38 MDT 2000