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Release: Oct. 17, 2002

UI offers free 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 'Sun Rings' presentation

The University of Iowa will present a free discussion and presentation titled "Sounds of Space and the Kronos Quartet's 'Sun Rings'" from 3:30 -4:20 p.m. Thursday,
Oct. 24 in Lecture Room 1 of Van Allen Hall on the University of Iowa Campus.

Scheduled in conjunction with the Oct. 26 Hancher Auditorium world premier of "Sun Rings," the session will include UI physicist Don Gurnett, Kronos artistic director David Harrington, composer Terry Riley, and visual designer Willie Williams giving a presentation on their respective roles in the Kronos Quartet's production of "Sun Rings," which will be a unique multi-media collaboration between art and science.

Although the general public is familiar with the dramatic images of Jupiter, Saturn and their moons captured by NASA spacecraft, relatively few people are aware of the sounds that can be harvested from space. Don Gurnett, whose radios and antennas collected the 40 years of space sounds that inspired "Sun Rings," recalls a time when even he was surprised to learn about the existence of the sounds of space.

"When we first launched a plasma wave receiver into Earth orbit in 1962 we were astonished to find that space was filled with such a rich variety of fascinating sounds," he recalls in an article by writer Blake Likins. The article notes that Riley, a renowned composer, gained a different perspective on space from Gurnett and a renewed concern about mankind's future from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Visual designer Williams was influenced by a combination of Gurnett's sounds of space, Riley's composition, and visual images from space. Williams, video director of the current Rolling Stones "Licks" tour, has designed stadium and arena tours for U2, REM, David Bowie, Bryan Adams and other rock and pop stars.

"Sun Rings" was co-commissioned by NASA and Hancher Auditorium, and the work will tour internationally following the UI premiere. Gurnett, a native Iowan and a UI alumnus, has conducted plasma physics experiments on more than two dozen spacecraft, including the Voyager missions to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Mars. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. People requiring an accommodation in order to participate in this program are asked to contact the department of physics and astronomy in advance at 319-335-1688.