Professors ponder planetary questions during talk

Physics Professor Tad Thurston and philosophy Professor Stephen Morrow recently came together to talk about searching for possibilities outside the solar system and inside the self in a format similar to TED Talks, labeled OCCC Talks.

The presentation was given to a small audience Sept. 18.

In his presentation Thurston attempted to answer the question, “Are there planets circling other stars?”

He explained the extreme distance between the sun and other stars using the OCCC campus and Google maps as references.

Thurston said if the sun were located on the OCCC campus, the nearest star would be somewhere in Hawaii.

Thurston explained that both the star and its planets’ mass pull on each other — creating an orbit. As the planets orbit the star, they pass in front of the star creating a shadow.

Through this method, he said, astronomers can mathematically determine the composition and location of the planets.

Thurston concluded that there are indeed far away orbiting planets and that a select few of them could have a composition similar to Earth.

In his presentation, Morrow discussed the importance of higher education from a philosophical perspective.

He asked the audience to “ignore spectral lines and search into one’s own consciousness for answers.”

Morrow created an analogy between searching for knowledge through education and Plato’s ancient story of the cave and the sun.

The story explains how a slave in the cave gains the courage to climb out of the cave and sees the sun for the first time.

He returns to the cave and brings those willing to make the climb into the sun.

The sun represents education, Morrow said, and though difficult, others can climb out of the cave and receive the sun’s benefit.

The presentation ended with questions from the audience.

TED talks is a global set of conferences that are presented under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.”

The OCCC version is offered through Campus Voices. The next lecture in the series will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in CU1.

For more information, contact Thurston by phone at 405-682-1611, ext. 7605, or by email at Morrow can be reached by phone at 405-682-1611, ext. 7350, or by email at

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