Maniac Talks

Upcoming Talks

POC: Charles K. Gatebe, Phone: 301-614-6228, Email:

Maniac Talks are about what inspired people to do what they are doing now in their career. It's about their driving forces and motivators and what keeps them going. It's about how they overcome obstacles. The format of the talks is informal and discussion is encouraged. All talks are recorded/taped and archived at GSFC Library. The talks are also available on YouTube:

John Mather Maniac Lecture

Nobel Laureate John Mather presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Creating the Future: Building JWST, what it may find, and what comes next?" In this lecture, John takes a rear view look at how James Webb Space Telescope was started, what it can see and what it might discover. He describes the hardware, what it was designed to observe, and speculate about the surprises it might uncover. He also outlines a possible future of space observatories: what astronomers want to build, what we need to invent, and what they might find, even the chance of discovering life on planets around other stars.

James Irons Maniac Lecture

Dr. James Irons, Deputy Director of NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Division, presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Balancing Precariously on Giants' Shoulders; Landsat and Project Science." Jim shared his 35 years experience and observations working across GSFC Directorates to play a role in a couple of successful Landsat missions.

Brian Dennis Maniac Lecture

NASA Solar Physicist Dr. Brian Dennis presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From Picking Potatoes to Measuring the Biggest Bangs in the Solar System -- Always a Farm Boy!" Brian described his formative years in England, then summarized our present understanding of how solar flares work and reviewed possible advances in instrumentation that could lead to major breakthroughs in the future.

Pawan K. Bhartia Maniac Lecture

NASA climate scientist Dr. P.K. Bhartia presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Maxwell Demon, Black Swan and a Romp in Scientific Hinterlands." PK discussed his roller coaster career, which got nearly derailed after a brief tryst with history and his obsession for understanding esoteric details of measurements that once in a while leads to something interesting.

Jack Kaye Maniac Lecture

Dr. Jack Kaye, Associate Director for Research at NASA Headquarters presented a Maniac Talk entitled, "An Unlikely but Rewarding Journey--From Quantum Chemistry to Earth Science Research Program Leadership." Jack took stock of his 30+ years at NASA, noting the people, opportunities, lessons learned, and choices that helped him get to where he is today and accomplish what he have.

Aprille Joy Ericsson Maniac Lecture

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, Deputy to the Chief Technologist for the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, presented a Maniac Talk entitled, "A Rocket Scientist grows up in Brooklyn (NY)." Aprille shared her journey of being in a Tom-girl growing up in the Bed-Sty Projects in Brooklyn (NY) with a budding interest in STEAM to becoming a Rocket Scientist for NASA. And the impact of watching men going to the moon and the ah-ha moments!

James Garvin Maniac Lecture

Dr. James Garvin, Chief Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From Brownian Motion to Mars, by way of hockey on the rocks." Jim shared how his passion for rocks and landscapes drove him to promote new remote sensing approaches for measuring their topologies and led to founding of the Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity Rover.

Anne Thompson Maniac Lecture

NASA climate scientist Dr. Anne Thompson presented a Maniac Talk entitled "A Career in Many Ozone Layers." Anne shared some of her long scientific career both as a researcher at Goddard and Meteorology professor at Penn State. She also described some of the problems she has worked on and tried to convey an enthusiasm for Earth Observations

Henning Leidecker Maniac Lecture

NASA physicist, Dr. Henning Leidecker, presented a Maniac Talk, entitled "How I came to NASA to fix Spacecraft ..." Henning talked about his life, from earliest memories to now, pondering how things work. And how a single tiny incandescent lamp killed 3 GOES, HST gyros running down, and exploding parts in TDRS, and why the Shuttle repeatedly failed to launch, and the underlying physics.

Peter Hildebrand Maniac Lecture

Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Director of NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Division, presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From studies of solubility and divers breathing helium, to DOGS, then NCAR and NASA." Peter described the path that got him to where he now finds himself, with role models, mentors, a few fumbles, and a lot of love for the study of Mother Nature.

William Lau Maniac Lecture

Dr. William Lau, Deputy Director for Atmospheres, Earth Science Division at NASA Goddard, presented a Maniac Talk entitled "My Story: A Tale of Three Continents." Bill shared his early childhood under a colonial education system with strong Chinese cultural influence and how world events, cultural and education system of three major continents, Europe, Asia and North America shaped his upbringing career goals and work ethics.