Dave Schlom

Host, Blue Dot

Dave Schlom has taught the physical sciences at Corning Union High School since 1991. A lifelong amateur astronomer and astronomy educator, he has a passion for both the earth and the space sciences, which are the principal areas of focus for guests on Blue Dot. He started doing radio interviews on space and astronomy topics for local stations like KFM and KPAY in the 1980s and into the 90s, where he was a popular go-to guest for local radio personalities. He is also an expert on the history and geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he has served as a volunteer for decades. Dave enjoys a quiet life at home with his partner in life, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Elvis and Pearl, at their Red Bluff residence.

Blue Dot 07: Engineers Who Get It Done

Mar 17, 2016
Chris Gunn / NASA

Engineers figure out how to implement cool science — things like shooting a rocket to the moon, deploying the sky crane maneuver, sending probes all over the solar system, building space telescopes and much more. On Blue Dot today, we hear from Riley Duren, principal engineer and chief systems engineer for the Earth Science Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about some of the projects he's been a part of and the issues and challenges that arise making that stuff exist, and making it work.

We also check in with Adam Steltzner, the NASA engineer who figured out how to get the Mars Curiosity Rover safely on the surface of Mars. 

Blue Dot 05: Physics Girl

Mar 3, 2016
UC San Diego

MIT grad, former astronomy researcher and Hawaii native Dianna Cowern also carries another mantle: Physics Girl. Her YouTube channel answers science questions in a fun, engaging way, and she's recently began creating content for PBS Digital Studios. 

We talk with Dianna about fighting through school struggles, being part of the YouTube renaissance, and what it's like to have "Girl" in your title. 

Blue Dot 04: El Niño 2016

Feb 25, 2016

  What exactly is El Niño and what does it have to do with the warming planet? How can the Jason satellites help us understand all that? What is Josh Willis's favorite movie? For all that and much more, we talked with Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 


Scientists have detected what may be remembered as the biggest discovery in our lifetimes: gravitational waves. The minute but unequivocal readings are further confirmation of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, and serve to deepen our scientific knowledge of the way the universe ticks. 

Blue Dot 02: Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer

Feb 11, 2016
Bad Astronomy


Phil Plait pens Bad Astronomy for Slate and is an all-around science guy. He hosted the astronomy season of Crash Course on YouTube and regularly takes on pseudo-science.  


Amy Mainzer knows a lot about infrared. She was deputy project scientist for the Wide-filed Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which used infrared to study the entire sky. She's now principle investigator on NEOWISE, a project that uses WISE images to study asteroids and comets. Amy Mainzer joined us for the inaugural episode of “Blue Dot.”


It's hard for scientists to study "dark matter" — they can really only learn about it by studying its effects on the things we can see. Gary Prézeau, an astrophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has published a study which explains how streams of dark matter pass through the Earth and form extremely dense filaments, or "hairs." The "roots" of these hairs would originate not in Earth itself but about twice as far away as the moon and — well, don't take our word for it. Listen above to Dave Schlom's conversation with Gary Prézeau.


This transcript has been lightly edited

Climate change is one of the most daunting problems facing our global civilization. And while world leaders struggle to find solutions, scientists continue to compile the compelling evidence of a planet being warmed by human activity. Climate scientists are people too, and they have to talk to their friends and family members who may still be skeptical or ambivalent about what can seem like an overwhelming issue.

YouTube screengrab

Physics Girl, aka Dianna Cowern, has created a lot of buzz about science and herself online. Her YouTube channel educates and fascinates, aiming to make science interesting and fun (See "How to Make a Cloud in Your Mouth" below). Dave Schlom's conversation with Cowern was going so well that we kept it rolling well past the usual four-minute mark. 

Macmillan Publishers

Bill Nye has been communicating science for decades. His hit show "Bill Nye the Science Guy" educated millenials (and their parents) in the '90s, and since then he's been spreading the good word: science rules. His new book is "Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World," and it aims to do just that: encourage people to address the changing climate.