Astrophysicist Paul Coleman and expert ocean navigator Kalepa Baybayan visited the Exploratorium as advisors to our Polynesian Navigation project—a large-scale Web resource (launching April 2010) that will feature the astounding navigation practices of the Pacific Islanders, who were expertly navigating the Pacific thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
Paul Coleman works at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, where he concentrates on the large-scale structure of the universe. Kalepa Baybayan is an expert navigator with the high rank of Puo (meaning “xxxxx”) who mentors Hawaiian youth in native navigation practices. Both men are native Hawaiians. We spoke with them about traditional navigation practices, the balance between science and spirituality from a native perspective, and the benefits of being grounded in one’s culture.