Facts and the SciSchmooze 1.11.21

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SciSchmooze Weekly Events Newsletter

Hello Reasonable and Science Accepting Folks,

Is it still 2020? Is this the 42nd of December? It has been a rough start to the new year that everybody was so hopeful about.

Here at the SciSchmooze we focus on science, reason, and critical thinking. Many people are struggling with what happened last week in Washington DC. I think we have been watching a corollary of what happened for years and denying the importance of it. The "freedom" to deny facts has morphed into something really crazy. Many people have been able to deny facts and let that affect other people's lives to the detriment of us all.

Consider our own home, Earth. Over 2000 years ago Pythagoras and Aristotle figured out that the earth must be round. Eratosthenes even came up with a reasonable estimate of the circumference of the earth! That was science using the best information and data at the time. It's too bad that Columbus hadn't read about Eratosthenes, it might have helped. While Galileo is well known for going against the common beliefs that everything went around the earth, Copernicus published a book about this and had been dead for 21 years before Galileo was born. Galileo thought about something that was incredibly revolutionary. Galileo is believed to have dropped a cannonball and a musket ball from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Until then it was "known" that heavy things fell faster than light things. Most of us probably didn't hear about this until David Scott demonstrated it.

So here we are in 2021 caught between a pandemic and a president that can deny anything without concerning himself about the consequences. I think we need to embrace truth is one of the best statements relative to where we are now. (Don't be offended by the title of Stupid) How much risk do we take walking to the store or driving? There have been so many challenges to what science explains or predicts it is crazy. Science grows, improves, evolves, and develops over time. How about a nice tall glass of iced phlogiston? Humans have been having a really bad year. You might think science and science based medicine have brought us to the brink of success in getting past this pandemic. This is largely true for us here in the SF Bay Area, but if enough people don't follow the science as we understand it, we are destined to struggle against what we could be defeating. That's not enough though. We need to make sure that entire countries and continents that are not as wealthy as us also receive the benefit of our science and technology.

Here are two articles that have an audio version with them. How Science Beat the Virus by Ed Yong and The Great Vaccinator by Radiolab. Listen to them. Here are some more articles I think are worth your time… The Safest Medical Procedure We Have. Make Your Wager Wisely, The Idiot's Guide To Viral Mutation

Now that we are in a new decade by both definitions (except… see opening paragraph) things are starting to warm up on the calendar. Here's a couple of good on topic prospects for the coming week. Check out Grey Matters: What the History of Vaccines Can Tell Us About the Future this Wednesday and After Dark Online: Vaccines on Thursday. You should also consider The Continuing Relevance of America’s Eugenic Legacy on Thursday, you might be surprised.

Tuesday is the first day of class with Professor Fraknoi, don't be late. Aliens in Outer Space: The Science & the Fiction - A Short Course There's still time to register. Be sure to make the call instead of registering on line. I'm not known for punctuality but I'll be on time this time!

You might want to check out A New Wave of Vibrant Science Programs and the Encyclopedia of things considered harmful.

So what do we all need to do? When you see something false, stupid, dangerous, or otherwise needing some redirection, you need to speak up. Sometimes it might be hard. Sometimes it might not be the right time or place. Sometimes you have to find another way. Oh yeah, did I mention how Global warming scaremongering causes so much misinformation.

Good luck science, we're all going to need it.
herb masters

"When a thing is said to be not worth refuting you may be sure that either it is flagrantly stupid—in which case all comment is superfluous—or it is something formidable, the very crux of the problem." Miguel de Unamuno

Upcoming Events:
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Monday, 01/11/2021


California King Tides Project: January 11-12 - 01/11/2021 07:00 PM
Various,

The California King Tides Project is asking the public to safely photograph the highest high tides of the year, arriving January 11-12. Photographing the impact of these tides on beaches, wetlands, roads, harbors, and homes helps California plan for future sea level rise. Anyone with a smartphone can participate. Find out what time your nearest king tides arrive and how to contribute your photos to this community science project at california.kingtides.net.


How do astronomers model gravity? - Livestream - 01/11/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh,

Newton's simple formulation of gravity perfectly describes our solar system. However, at galaxy-size scales, understanding the subtler effects of gravity is best accomplished through computer simulations. I'll describe the state-of-the-art simulations that model gravity and the historical work in the field, along with some novelties astronomers uncovered along the way.

Speaker: Michael Peterson

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum : Rashaad Newsome - Livestream - 01/11/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum,

Speaker: Rashaad Newsome

See weblink for Zoom link.


Climate Change: Turning a Threat into an Opportunity - Livestream - 01/11/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium,

The only way humanity can achieve sustainability is by Closing the Carbon Cycle. Closing the carbon cycle is achieved when CO2 harvested from the atmosphere is The only way humanity can achieve sustainability is by Closing the Carbon Cycle. Closing the carbon cycle is achieved when CO2 harvested from the atmosphere is used in combination with hydrogen and renewable energy, for both fuel and for materials production. The result is a renewable energy and Materials Economy (REME) that mimics nature and therefore is in harmony with it.

The benefits are numerous:
- The Climate crises will be addressed
- A new industry infrastructure will bring many jobs, resulting in economic recovery
- Greater equity will result because air, water and renewable energy is more uniformly distributed
- We will move closer to a truly sustainable circular materials and energy economy

Closing the carbon cycle presents a huge oppurtunity for humanity while it ensures climate security.

Speaker: Peter Eisenberger, Columbia University

See weblink for Zoom information.


Mary Nichols, Former Chair of CARB - Livestream - 01/11/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar,

Mary Nichols is the former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. She has served on the Board under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (1975 - 82 and 2010 - 18), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (2007 - 2010) and Governor Gavin Newsom (2019 - present). She also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources (1999 - 2003), appointed by Gov. Gray Davis.

Register at weblink to receive connection information.


Slugs and Steins: Lights, Camera, Action! Animal-borne Video Cameras Show a Whale’s Perspective - Livestream - 01/11/2021 06:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Whales are the largest animals on the planet and inhabit oceans around the world from the tropics to the poles. Whales spend nearly all of their lives underwater and out of view of researchers. While biologging tools have allowed us to track the underwater movement of these ocean giants and describe their behavior, the development of tags that include animal-borne video cameras has opened up a new world to researchers and the general public. From a whale’s perspective, we can now visualize the environment in which whales live and better understand the decisions they make and the behaviors they employ. In this talk we will explore the underwater lives of the largest and the smallest baleen whales in local and the the most remote parts of the planet: blue whales from California, humpback whales from South Africa, and minke whales from the Antarctica. Not only does this novel perspective provide information about the whales and their environment, but it also provides insights as to how anthropogenic impacts including climate change are affecting these animals.

Speaker: Ari Feiedlaender, UC Santa Cruz Institute for Marine Sciences

Register at weblink to receive connection information.


Tuesday, 01/12/2021


California King Tides Project: January 11-12 - 01/12/2021 07:00 PM
Various,

The California King Tides Project is asking the public to safely photograph the highest high tides of the year, arriving January 11-12. Photographing the impact of these tides on beaches, wetlands, roads, harbors, and homes helps California plan for future sea level rise. Anyone with a smartphone can participate. Find out what time your nearest king tides arrive and how to contribute your photos to this community science project at california.kingtides.net.


Aliens in Outer Space: The Science & the Fiction - A Short Course - 01/12/2021 02:00 PM
Osher Lifelong L earning Institute Dominican Univ.,

A Non-credit Short Course with Andrew Fraknoi

Spend eight weeks getting off this planet to think about the possibility of intelligent life among the stars.

When a Silicon Valley billionaire recently gave $100 million to UC Berkeley to step up the search for evidence of extra-terrestrials, the experimental search for messages or signals from civilizations out there moved into high gear. The course will discuss past and current experiments, how we might communicate with aliens, and what we propose to do if we find them. It will also look at some of the most imaginative science fiction ideas about what aliens will be like and what the results of getting in touch with aliens might be. No background in science will be expected or assumed; the course will be in everyday language.

Astronomer and educator Andrew Fraknoi leads this non-technical short course for adults over 50 on the scientific se arch for aliens out there. He’ll take a careful look at the factors that make astronomers more optimistic than ever that there we may have counterparts on other worlds (including the discovery of more than 4,000 planets so far orbiting other stars.)

Andrew Fraknoi retired recently as the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College. He was the California Professor of the Year in 2007 (selected by the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education.) Fraknoi is the lead author of Astronomy, a popular introductory textbook, published in a free electronic edition by the non-profit OpenStax project. He keeps a website cataloging science fiction stories based on good astronomy, and three of his science fiction stories have been published in recent years. Asteroid 4859 has been named Asteroid Fraknoi by the International Astronomical Union in recognition of his contributions to the public understanding of science. Relevant to the course, he has been on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute since it was founded.

The OLLI program has offered Bay Area adults fun learning opportunities for over 15 years. Now, their classes are on Zoom, so you don’t need to travel to Marin to enjoy them.

People who have never taken a course from OLLI Dominican can take this course for a total of $80 (25 reg fee plus 55 for the course). Due to recent changes in the registration procedures it is recommended that you follow these directions to register and received the first time course discount offered by OLLI Dominican if it is your first time...

Don't register on line. Call 415-458-3763 and leave your name and phone number. Calum Mackechnie, the Program’s Associate Director, will call back within two business days and register you over the phone. NOTE: If you have taken courses here before you can easily register on line at the website.


How will the tropical Pacific respond to global warming? The influence of the extra-tropical ocean and cloud-feedbacks - Livestream - 01/12/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Several oceanic and atmospheric mechanisms have been put forward to describe the response of the tropical Pacific to global warming. Still uncertainties persist in their interaction and relative importance, with projections varying substantially across climate models. Adding to this complexity is the time-scale dependance of specific processes, wherein the wind-driven subtropical overturning circulation and adjustment of the equatorial thermocline plays a key role. We will review these mechanisms within both complex and idealized models and their role in the transient and equilibrium response of the tropical Pacific to warming. We will contrast fully-coupled and slab-ocean perturbed CO2 simulations, a s well as a unique set of climate simulations across which we systematically scale the strength of the low cloud cover (LCC) feedback under abrupt 2xCO2 forcing within a single model, thereby isolating the impact of this feedback. Finally, in search of an observational constrain on the equilibrium response to warming, we will turn to the last time in Earth’s history that atmosphere CO2 estimates exceeded 400pm, the Pliocene.

Speaker: Natalie Burls, George Mason University

See weblink for Zoom information


Wednesday, 01/13/2021


Bay Visions 2021: “The Power of Plants Will Protect the Bay' - Livestream - 01/13/2021 09:30 AM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center,

Bay Visions 2021, a FREE virtual symposium that will provide an inspiring look at adaption, regeneration, and the powerful role plants play in mitigating the challenges facing San Francisco Bay.

Speakers include Karina Nielsen, Professor and Director, Estuary & Ocean Science Center, San Francisco State University; Dr. Katharyn Boyer, biology professor at San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center; and Josie Iselin, author of The Curious World of Seaweed.

More information and registration at website


Grey Matters: What the History of Vaccines Can Tell Us About the Future - Livestream - 01/13/2021 01:00 PM
Science and Entertainment Exchange,

In record time, the world has three COVID-19 vaccines but our resumption of normal life hangs on the success of making and distributing hundreds of millions of doses. Will peo ple take them? There are also serious equity issues as to who has access to vaccine. Asking Americans to place their trust in a brand new technology demands clear communication about what we know and what we don’t. And let’s face it, science’s track record for getting this kind of messaging right hasn’t always been great.

Our present day conundrums are not new. Our grandparents faced similar quagmires and human nature was the same one hundred years ago. Join us as we lay out what’s at stake as we look at examples from our public health history that show where we’ve gone wrong and where we’ve gone right, and what the past can teach us about 2021.

Speakers: Ruth Faden, Johns Hopkins; Howard Markel, Physician

Register at weblink for connection information


Thursday, 01/14/2021


'Pandemic19': Behind the Sce nes with Frontline Doctors - Livestream - 01/14/2021 12:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event,

Learn about the making of a timely new documentary that reveals a side of the coronavirus pandemic often unseen by most people.

Pandemic19 is a short documentary film that captures the story of three doctors in the United States fighting COVID-19 from pre-to-post surge, told through their own reflective, humanizing voices, while the chaos of the pandemic spreads outside the frame of their video confessions. Pandemic19 sidesteps the salacious news headlines by focusing on the personal video journals of three doctors as they prepare for the “calm before the storm” and share their direct experiences with COVID-19 patients. As the days unfold, the doctors check-in and record their changing impressions: fears, hopes, challenges, and triumphs - laying bare their unfiltered and subjective feelings.

Join us for a conversation with Pa ndemic19 directors Yung Chang and Annie Katsure Rollins.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


All about Newts - Livestream - 01/14/2021 01:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden,

Winter rains bring the return of the Garden's resident newts for their epic migration to our Japanese Pool for mating season! Learn about the fascinating adaptations and lives of these native animals with Dr. Paul Licht, UC Botanical Garden Director Emeritus. He will share his wealth of knowledge about the newts’ biology, including physiology, behavior, and life cycle, with images from the Garden.

Register at weblink to receive connection information.


Talking about chronic illness, care, and Covid - Livestream - 01/14/2021 05:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Join Academy-Award Nominated Filmmaker Jennifer Brea and anthropologist and writer Megan Moodie for an evening of conversation and reflection on chronic illness, the global crisis of care, and Covid-19.

As the numbers of the chronically ill grow rapidly worldwide due to what is being called “long Covid,” there is much to be learned from the experience of those who were grappling with the effects of difficult-to-diagnose, understudied, and invisibilzed diseases long before the appearance of the novel coronavirus. What do the experiences of the chronically ill teach us about how to survive - not just physically, but emotionally and socially - in the face of huge knowledge gaps and medical disbelief? How can patients separated by vast distances and often unable to engage in traditional political organizing join together to demand answers and treatment? What do patient voices tell us about how the organization of medicine needs to change in order to better serve the well-being of us all?

Registrants will receive a link to pre-screen Brea’s 2017 film “Unrest” at no cost (the film is also available to view on Netflix and Amazon Prime), as well as be invited to pre-submit questions to these two medical justice advocates. Audience members will also be invited to submit questions and participate in the discussion in real time during the event.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


SFBBO Birdy Hour Talk: Tales from a Cape Cod Wildlife Rehabilitation Center - Livestream - 01/14/2021 05:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory ,

Learn about some of the common species, wildlife injuries, and ailments they see at Wild Care, a wildlife rehabilitation center situated on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From Bald Eagles to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, learn why wildlife rehabilitation is important and how you can reduce your impact on our wild neighbors. This program will be very positive and family-friendly, though there will be some discussion of causes of bird mortality.

Stephanie Ellis has been the Executive Director of Wild Care for 4 years.

Register at website


What You Need to Know about the COVID Vaccines - Livestream - 01/14/2021 05:00 PM
Linda Hall Lib rary, Kansas City

With two vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., the next major hurdle in the fight against the pandemic will be getting people immunized. In the U.S. alone, distributing vaccines to over 300 million people will present an unprecedented logistical challenge. The accelerated pace of vaccines development has given rise to many questions and unease amongst the public.

Moderator Alex Knapp, Senior Editor of Healthcare and Science at Forbes will be joined by a panel of experts to answer your questions about COVID-19 vaccines, including their safety, effectiveness, and distribution process.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


January LASER Event - 01/14/2021 06:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous,

Richard Halpern (Cultural Historian, NY University, Retired) on "What is Tragedy good for?"

Christian Kohler (Lawrence Berkeley Labs) on "Environmental Building Technologies"


The Continuing Relevance of America’s Eugenic Legacy- Livestream - 01/14/2021 07:00 PM
Bay Area Skeptics,

The history of eugenics is often characterized as a cautionary tale of life in the bad old days, when assumptions about genetic determinism provided a respectable veneer of “pseudoscience” that enabled barely submerged racism, xenophobia, and blatant discrimination against those with disabilities to take root in American law. Some argue that today our science is sound, our attitudes enlightened; we need not be hobbled by fear of our long expired bad eugenic habits. This talk challenges such as sumptions, asserting that the same tendencies that led to a century of eugenic law and policy are still alive and continue to inform our public debate over democratic values and the proper role of science as a tool for solving social problems.

Speaker: Paul Lombardo, Georgia State University

See weblink for connection information


After Dark Online: Vaccines - 01/14/2021 07:00 PM
ExplOratorium,

The coronavirus vaccine has arrived - and along with it, a lot of questions. How do we know it's effective? How do we know it's safe? Who will get it, and when? Tonight, we’ll be joined by UCSF Chair of the Department of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter and UCSF Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo for a live conversati on moderated by staff scientist Jennifer Frazier, addressing what science says about these questions and more. The conversation will be followed by a live Q&A where panelists will address audience questions.

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook links.

Ages 18+


NightSchool: Arctic Life - Livestream - 01/14/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences,

Arctic explorers join us from the northern polar regions to talk about life found there - from microorganisms that live in sea ice to belugas and wolverines - and why biodiversity research and conservation in this region have never been more critical.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

Iñupiaq Inuit wildlife and conservation biologist Victoria Buschman takes us to the Arctic through first-hand experiences and research on how Indigenous communities contribute to the conservation of lands, waters, and species across the Arctic. She’ll share stories from her hometown in northern Alaska, to the flatlands of northern Scandinavia, and to her current home in western Greenland. (Nuuk, Greenland)
The MOSAiC expedition was a year-long journey to explore and understand the role of the Arctic climate system. Dr. Allison Fong, a polar biologist, spent more than 250 days on the ice, working in complete darkness and braving sea ice rivers and melt ponds to collect samples of microbial life. She’ll talk about how her team captures the pulse of Arctic life, and what it means to be a witness to melting ice. (Bremerhaven, German y)
Let Justine Hudson regale you with the wonders of whale snot. As an arctic marine mammal biologist and grad student at the University of Manitoba, Justine studies the effects of climate change and human activity on belugas in the Hudson Bay by measuring the stress levels of belugas - yes, by collecting and analyzing their snot. (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Wolverines are known as one of the toughest animals on the planet, supremely adapted for life on snow. Wildlife photographer Peter Mather (who calls them “Arctic snow machines”) has documented wolverines for three seasons, and he’ll talk about just a few of the wild things he’s observed, like wolverines chasing down caribou and tackling animals 20-times their size. (Whitehorse, Canada

See weblink for links


Friday, 01/15/2021


Making Science Fair: Applying Psychology to Create Equity in STEM - Livestream - 01/15/2021 11:00 AM
Gladstone Institutes,

Lack of awareness or the refusal to acknowledge racial-cultural dynamics within teams perpetuates systemic inequities, corrodes psychological well-being, and limits personal and scientific breakthroughs.

In this webinar, Aziza Platt will help you understand the impact of systemic iniquity at both a personal and societal level and provide tools to assess racial-cultural identities, intersections, and experiences. Learn how to recognize when race is a factor in interpersonal interactions and discuss how racial biases can influence and derail communication and cooperation within teams.< /p>

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Galactic Archaeology - Livestream - 01/15/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers,

The goal of Galactic Archeology is to reveal how galaxies are built by looking at the current visible evidence and inferring the past. This requires knowledge of some of the most difficult aspects of Astronomy: determining ages, distances for individual stars. Using the APOGEE survey and augmenting with the GAIA survey we are able to determine chemical composition, space velocities, distances and ages for hundreds of thousands of giant stars across all components of the Milky Way. I will focus on the APOGEE results for the halo and the disk and show how these spectra may reveal the origin stories for the Milky Way stellar components.

Speaker: Dr. Matthew Shtrone

See weblink for information to receive connection information.


Galactic Archaeology: Uncovering the construction of the Milky Way - Livestream - 01/15/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers,

The goal of Galactic Archeology is to reveal how galaxies are built by looking at the current visible evidence and inferring the past. This requires knowledge of some of the most difficult aspects of Astronomy: determining ages, distances for individual stars. Using the APOGEE survey and augmenting with the GAIA survey we are able to determine chemical composition, space velocities, distances and ages for hundreds of thousands of giant stars across all components of the Milky Way. I will focus on the APOGEE results for the halo and the disk and show how these spectra may reveal the origin stories for the Milky Way stellar components.

Speaker: Matthew Shetrone, European Southern Observatory

See weblink for instructions on receive access to this lecture


Saturday, 01/16/2021


Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 01/16/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center,

Join our resident astronomers on Facebook Live every Saturday evening live from Chabot’s Observation deck!

Each week, our astronomers will guide us through spectacular night sky viewing through Nellie, Chabot‘s most powerful telescope. Weather permitting we will be able to view objects live through the telescopes and our astronomers will be available for an open forum for all of your most pressing astronomy questions.