First Friday Forum – Astronomy: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

(Pearl Toy, Photographer)
First Friday Forum Speaker, Dr. Larry Toy, will talk about Astronomy: The 5% We Know and the 95% We Don’t Know, April 1 at 10 a.m.

    “In the last 60 years, there has been no scientific field that has undergone a more drastic change in the amount of what we know than astronomy,” posits Dr. Larry Toy, the First Friday Forum speaker appearing April 1 at 10 a.m.
    Contrary to this increase in knowledge, the title of his talk is“Astronomy: The 5% We Know and the 95% We Don’t Know.”
    “This is not what we typically expect from science,” Toy said. “When I was studying astronomy in college and grad school, we thought we knew pretty much everything about the universe in detail. At a minimum, we at least had a broad outline. Fast-forward to today and astronomers now believe we know about 5% of the universe.” Toy clarified, “In my lecture we’ll talk about the 5%, particularly the parts that affect our daily lives, and the big questions about the 95%, including why we think 5% is known and 95% 
    Toy has been interested in astronomy since he was a child.
    He graduated from Harvard, majoring in astronomy and then went to the University of California, Berkeley, for an M.A. and Ph.D. in astronomy. He spent 30 years as a professor of astronomy at Chabot College and was chosen from among 15,000 faculty statewide to receive one of the first four Outstanding Faculty Awards for the California Community Colleges. He then spent 10 years as the founding president/CEO of the Foundation for California Community Colleges.
    A recipient of two Resolutions from the California Assembly, Toy was also awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Harvard Club of San Francisco. He has served as president of both the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and the Californians for Community Colleges. He is president of Lamorinda Village.
    Toy’s personal story provides an interesting insight about the value of community colleges: “My grandfather was a laundry man who brought his children from China to the United States. My father was 12, and, at that time, no one in my family had even graduated from high school. My father ended up getting his high school diploma before attending Joliet Junior College in the 1930s. He later transferred to the University of Illinois to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. 
    “So, my dad, the son of a laundry man, got his Doctorate after attending a community college, and had his son graduate from Harvard, an example of what community colleges can do and a big reason why I champion them.”
    Toy’s lecture, sponsored by the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, will be a webinar presentation. Registration is required at

Bobbie Dodson can be reached at

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