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Autumn 2004 | Volume 27, Number 4 | Faculty

A Fabulous Time to Be Alive

Professor Emeritus Celebrates New Discoveries in Space

Though Karl Krienke retired in 1997 after 44 years in the Seattle Pacific University classroom, he still seeks to turn over every stone in the cosmos in search of truth. “We are in the process of discovering a God far greater than we’ve ever envisioned before,” says the man with master’s degrees in physics, astronomy, and religion, and a doctorate in astronomy.

The frontiers of space are among Karl Krienke’s ultimate passions. Behind him is a simulated Mars base camp at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center.  
To illustrate, he points to the wonders revealed by the Hubble Telescope. Through its mirrors, scientists last spring took a million-second-exposure to reveal 10,000 galaxies that are among the oldest ever seen. The image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field will help scientists better understand how stars and galaxies formed in the early universe. It is the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved.

Krienke, former dean of Seattle Pacific’s School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences and the co-discoverer of a comet, says that such discoveries make the present “just an absolutely fabulous time to be alive.”

This is from a man who regularly listens to the top astronomers in the nation report on their research. He has received firsthand accounts that would have rendered Galileo speechless: “We have now measured the age of the universe; the fact that cosmological space is flat, not curved; and the ‘Hubble constant’ (relating recession velocity to distance). These quantities were diligently sought during the last 75 years, and finally we know them!”

For more than 20 years, Krienke has been a member of the University of Washington research group headed by Paul Hodge, professor of astronomy and longtime editor of the Astronomical Journal. The two men have co-authored “Newly Identified Star Clusters in NGC 6822 and the Age Distribution of the Cluster System,” a paper that appeared in the June 2004 issue of Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Krienke’s research included frames from Hubble imported to SPU via the Internet.

Krienke also exchanges ideas with Christian astronomers, this year including George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, and Owen Gingerich, professor of the history of astronomy at Harvard University.

One of the astronomical “hot buttons” right now is Mars exploration. Krienke says that the findings of the Mars Rovers, such as evidence of water and its “geological” effects, are important, yet not totally surprising. The idea of sending a person to Mars, however, he finds flawed: “That money is needed for other, more critical things in science.”

One of those things, he says, might be to devise a robotic solution to Hubble repairs that could prolong the telescope’s usefulness for many years — and discoveries — to come.


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From the President
In 2000, Seattle Pacific intensified its commitment to racial reconciliation. Is it possible, asks Philip Eaton, for SPU to discover ways to tear down walls that divide?

In Trust for the Future
Charitable trusts are benefiting students and donors. One couple, in fact, has seen their trust provide income for them, while supporting student scholarships. [Campaign]

Zorn to Largent
Sarah Zorn and Kramer Largent have teamed up as Falcons, showing the same competitive spirit as their famous NFL fathers. [Campus]

Putting a Face on Homelessness
Two young alums are at Seattle’s Bread of Life Mission, helping to restore lives — by replacing hopelessness with hope. [Alumni]

Life Stories
A filmmaker talks about his visits with SPU students and his project to share the internment stories of Japanese Americans during World War II. [Books & Film]

Mutual Inspiration
Falcon men’s and women’s soccer teams cheered each other on to success in 2004, as both teams continued the University’s tradition of being a national force in soccer. [Athletics]

My Response
For Sharon Hartnett, assistant professor of education, diversity reflects a piece of heaven on earth. “After all, heaven is a multicultural place,” she says.

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