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Weekly Space Hangout

Nov 14, 2021

This week we are excited to welcome Dr. John Forbes to the Weekly Space Hangout. John is a theoretical and computational astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation, in New York City. He studies how galaxies and stars form using supercomputer simulations, statistical modeling, and machine learning. John recently collaborated with Dr. Nia Imara from UC Santa Cruz and James Weaver from Harvard to develop a series of nine models that incorporate the three forces that govern how stellar nurseries are formed: turbulence, gravity, and magnetic fields. Using these models, they have 3D printed colorized nebulae "marbles" that visually represent the filaments and other material found in star forming regions.

John earned his undergraduate degree at Caltech, a PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and did a fellowship at Harvard before joining the Flatiron Institute.

He is a huge fan of science fiction & board games. His favorite science fiction books include The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, and Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. His current favorite game is Alchemists, though for scientists some of the game mechanics (like losing a point of reputation for having too few theories published at a conference) might hit a bit close to home. On a more serious note, John cares a lot about social justice in & out of astronomy.

You can read more about the 3D printed nebulae here:

You can learn more about John and his research by visiting his website at And don't forget to follow him on Twitter where his handle is @redshiftless.

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