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Physicist and adventurer Francis Slakey describes his decade long journey that led to his becoming the first person to both summit the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean. The talk reviews some of the people he encounters and the challenges he endures – a Lama who gives him an amulet etched with “life’s meaning”, an ambush in the jungles of Indonesia, a life-or-death choice atop Everest – that culminate in a recognition that science is the most powerful tool we have to build a better world. He will describe how that perspective now informs his work for the American Physical Society and Georgetown University.
Francis Slakey received his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1992. He is the Associate Director of Public Affairs for the American Physical Society where he oversees APS legislative activities, specializing in energy and security policy. He is also The Upjohn Lecturer on Physics and Public Policy and the Co-Director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest at Georgetown University. He is a Fellow of the APS, a Fellow of the AAAS, a MacArthur Scholar, and a Lemelson Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. In recognition of his adventures, in 2002, he was chosen to run the Olympic Torch from the steps of the US Capitol. He recounts his global journey in his best-selling adventure memoir, "To The Last Breath."