“From the center of the Earth to the center of the sun.” The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks covers a lot of territory, and a lot of subjects. It started out with space physics and aeronomy, but has expanded its interests to include atmospheric sciences, seismology, remote sensing, snow, ice and permafrost, tectonics and sedimentation, and volcanology.

The building to the right is actually the International Arctic Research Center, but this is the building that now houses the GI's climate and atmospheric science program.

A large part of its work is cutting-edge research, but it also provides aurora forecasts, earthquake information, the Alaska Science Forum (a popular science feature distributed to media outlets throughout Alaska, which I once wrote) and volcano alerts. It maintains the world’s only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university.

If you’ve read the bio on my website, you know that I spent more that 30 years  at the Geophysical Institute as a student, researcher and teacher. But what’s the Geophysical institute all about? What problems does it address? And what on earth does it have to do with writing science fiction?

I certainly can’t cover everything the Geophysical Institute does in a single article, but why not use this as my new article series for Sundays? As to what it has to do with writing science fiction, not much with the plots, but a tremendous amount with the planet building.

Next week I’ll try to give a little of the early history of the GI (as it is mostly called by those who work there.)