Actor; Host/Presenter; Songwriter
American Roots; Children's; Country
Flute; Acoustic Guitar
25 Dec 2019
Jim Thorne is a singer/songwriter and the host/producer of a TV show based on his story songs called "Space Quest with Dr. Jim", which is carried by 15 public access stations in the U.S. and on YouTube.
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum has animated four of Jim’s songs for the Music Time section of their YouTube channel. The videos include imagery of real spacecraft and other items from the artifact collections.
Jim's TV show, “Space Quest with Dr. Jim” won Silver Award in the People’s Tellys in 2020.
Early Life and Interests
James “Jim” Thorne was raised in a small college town in Western Pennsylvania. He took an early interest in music and learned to play piano, guitar, banjo, trombone, and later studied jazz flute and mandolin. Jim was identified as a gifted student in the third grade and was selected as the subject of a special research project by a graduate student in education. He learned everything he could about math, science and space engineering, and graduated from high school in three years to start college early. Jim earned a degree in space engineering from Purdue University where he followed in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong. After Purdue, Jim served 21 years of active duty in the US Air Force working with space systems, and completed masters and PhD degrees in astronautical engineering. He solved a 300+ year-old problem in orbital mechanics that was described as “difficult” by Isaac Newton, and the equation he derived is known as “Thorne’s Solution of the Lambert Problem” in the scientific literature.
Music and Educational Outreach
In 2014, Jim was contacted by a talent agent from New York who liked his family-friendly comedy songs, and suggested that he might try writing for children. After writing several folk-style story songs for kids, Jim noticed that a song he wrote about space travel called “The Stars Go By” really captured the imaginations of the children, and so he started playing it in elementary schools as part of space science presentations. The response was so positive, he decided to inspire children with a full album called “To Follow Apollo” about two characters, a young boy and girl named Tommy and Laura, who go on scientifically accurate adventures in the solar system and beyond.
Jim has released a new album called “A Race in Space” where the same two characters, Tommy and Laura, continue their missions to the planets and also take a trip back in time to photograph the early space launches to create a history display in the future. The seven new songs touch on specific questions from the state Standards of Learning (SOLs) for elementary students to help them prepare for their tests in school. Some local students were very pleased when they used the title track “A Race in Space” to study for, and pass their standardized tests.
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