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20 Under 30: Brian Hart

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Brian Hart is an astrophysicist working towards his PhD at UC Irvine. He's also deeply committed to sharing his enthusiasm for the world around us. After attending a conference about PBS's "Nova ScienceNOW" series in 2004, Brian decided to launch the Southern California branch of the Science Cafe, which is part of an international network of science education discussion groups that have sprouted up in cafes all over the world (the first one started in the United Kingdom). These informal events bring scientists and lay people together, with the aid of popular social lubricants such as coffee or beer, to discuss scientific ideas and developments impacting the lives of everyone . Some groups have even attracted corporate sponsorships and support from scientific research societies such as Sigma Xi.

Brian established the Southern California Science Cafe as a roving discussion group that meets in various cafes and public spaces all over the Southland. So far, the SoCal Science Cafe has attracted a core group of 185 members from all over SoCal.

Age and Occupation:
26, Astrophysicist

How long have you lived in Orange County/Southern California, and which neighborhood do you live in?

4 years; Irvine

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Why do you live here?
The weather, definitely. I am from Minnesota originally -- can say "yah ya betcha" with the rest of them -- and got a little tired of the snow.

Why did you enter your field of study?
Ever since I was 10 years old I have been in awe of the mysteries of space.

What do you hope to accomplish with your PhD?
I’d like to figure out the answers to the questions of existence, by studying the structure and evolution of the Universe.

How does living in Los Angeles and Southern California inform your research?
What kinds of resources/facilities/feedback can you get here rather than in another region? Living in Southern California is like none other when you're an astronomer. With access to the Keck Telescopes at Hawaii, Palomar, and access to NASA research with the Chandra X-Ray Telescope (an orbiting satellite), and also to the great schools and institutions like Caltech, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Stanford, as well as the many national research laboratories in the Southwest, such as Livermore and Los Alamos, California can't be beat.