Speakers Club: James Norris

Event Date: 

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 2:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Webb 1100

Jim Norris, the son of UCSB's Department of Geology's esteemed first Chair, Robert Norris, heads Interwoof, a local scientific and industrial design firm that specializes in complex, small to medium-scale instrumentation and automation projects. His engineering skills were crucial in solving a long-standing scientific enigma at Devil's Racetrack (queue an ominous pipe-organ chord). 

He will give Sept. 29th's Speakers Club presentation.

Unraveling a mystery: the Slithering Stones of Death Valley

Six years ago I began what I thought would likely be a lonely and quixotic effort to discover what motivates a few otherwise ordinary desert rocks to wander around a remote desert playa.  Please join me as I discuss how our team of citizen scientists devised an experiment that ultimately solved a long-standing geologic mystery. It is a story of persistence and hard work, punctuated with strokes of amazingly good fortune. It is also the story of a growing team of curious people having a wonderful time exploring how our small planet works.


James Norris is a consulting engineer based in Santa Barbara. He studied Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University, then began a career developing instrumentation for science and industry. Since 1995 he has been a partner in Interwoof, a research and development outfit. Jim’s career has spanned a number of fields, ranging from electro optics to soil science, rock core flow analytics to nano structure fabrication.  Recently Jim joined the UC system, supporting the NRS Climate Monitoring Network. He has had a life-long interest in the sciences, particularly meteorology and geology - which surely led to his interest in the activities of the stones of Racetrack playa.

In his spare time, Jim is an avid cyclist, soaring pilot and desert naturalist.