An Anniversary Schmooze

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A volunteer artist sets up a memorial May 20 in Brooklyn. Artists and volunteer organizers across New York City put up memorials throughout the five boroughs to honor those who died of COVID-19. Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

SciSchmooze Weekly Events Newsletter

Hello again Science Fans!

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the reporting of the first COVID-19 cases in the US. Let that sink in a bit. In some ways it doesn't seem like it, but we've been hearing about and dealing with this virus for a year now, and it has affected all aspects of our lives.

It has changed the way we work, shop, recreate, and entertain ourselves. It has cost the lives of more than 400,000 of our friends, relatives, and neighbors. It has contributed to an awareness of racial and economic inequality. It has taught businesses around the world that just in time manufacturing has downsides (remember the toilet paper shortage?).

We've responded in heroic fashion, with medical researchers around the world developing vaccines in record time. Those working on the front lines, first responders, hospital personnel, super market employees, delivery people, have risked exposure to keep things going. New treatments have lowered the percentage of cases resulting in death from over 5.9% to under 1.59%.

What a difference a year can make.

Going forward, there is reason to feel relief. The Biden administration has taken over, replacing a non-existent plan to address the pandemic with promises to fix the vaccine supply issues, coordinate and prioritize at the Federal level, and provide consistent guidance based on science. While the "normal" we all knew a year ago may never return, a new normal is on the horizon that should allow travel and closer contact with friends and family sooner rather than later.

Second-Generation COVID vaccines are coming. In creating the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, a new technology was developed for attacking the virus. That technology will have uses combating other diseases in the future, and should allow for quick adjustments if new versions of COVID-19 prove resistant due to mutations. New, faster, cheaper, and more practical tests have been developed, also in record time, to confirm infections. One has been approved for at-home use.

One of the most vexing questions is why some people test positive for COVID-19 but show no symptoms, while others get seriously ill. Many studies are looking for patterns in the data to find ways to predict who might fall seriously ill. One such test is being validated and, if it passes, will really help doctors quickly predict who will need intensive care and who won't early in the cycle, perhaps saving lives.

If we had to do it all over again, I hope some things would be done differently. Early in the pandemic, health experts around the world decided to discourage the general use of masks, fearing that not enough of them would be available for doctors and nurses treating cases. They also weren't sure if the masks were effective. When they changed their message, the public was skeptical. Which types of masks were effective and which weren't? (Multi-layer = good, bandanas and gaiters = not so good). Those resistant to being told to do something were understandably reluctant (and still are), given the mixed messages.

So now we're facing another major milestone with vaccinations, and again the overall message is mixed. Headlines say the vaccines are not 100% effective, that people might still spread the virus after vaccination, and trumpet allergic reactions.

Let's look at that. 32,000 people were subjects in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines tests. The vaccine proved to be 95% effective. What does that mean? 95% of those 32,000 did not test positive for COVID-19. 5% did, and those 5% were counted as "failures" in the statistics. But only one person out of those 32,000 came down with a serious case. The remainder of the 5% had mild cases, comparable with the flu.

To date, no study has shown that vaccinated people can spread the virus. No study has shown that they can't either, but, as Dr Paul Sax of Harvard wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, " [i]f there is an example of a vaccine in widespread clinical use that has this selective effect - prevents disease but not infection - I can’t think of one!"

Every vaccine causes allergic reactions in some very small percentage of people. Life in general is not risk-free.

For more on this, see The Morning newsletter from the New York Times. For more perspective on this anniversary, see Lisa Krieger's article in today's San Jose Mercury News as well as this review of how California and the US compare to the rest of the world. All of these served as sources for my commentary.

There are, of course, many other things happening in the world, especially in space. Next month several different Mars landers will arrive at the red planet. NASA has a bunch of presentations on the upcoming landing of the Perseverance Rover, which will be attempted on February 18. Here's the full schedule.

While that is exciting, so is the return to Earth of some asteroid dust collected by the Hayabusa-2 Japanese space probe. This mission took six years!

Researchers now believe that the Milky Way, our home galaxy, collided with at least one other galaxy early it its life. Over the past two years, almost everything they though they knew about the Milky Way's history has been rewritten, all due to better data. Here on earth, the first 500 million years were pretty intense, with continents being formed, then destroyed. Things we take for granted, like the current conditions on Earth, are really anything but constant when viewed in cosmic terms.

As long as we have been on the planet, we have been creating things. We don't give this much thought, but given a historical perspective, the weight of all the human-made materials now weighs more than all life on Earth. That's a lot of stuff!

Not every event we learn about fits the format for our calendar. One of those is a virtual STEM camp for middle school students put on by ChalkBox. They have two programs running on Saturdays starting February 13th that are worth considering if you have 10 - 14 year olds at home. For information on "The Science of the Pandemic" and "Exploring Your World", go here. Cost is $160 per participant, with scholarships available to those in need.

Lastly, it is not too late to sign up for Andrew Fraknoi's mini-course on Black Holes which starts Thursday.

Have a great week in Science, and, since this is my first newsletter since November, Happy New Year!

Bob Siederer

Upcoming Events:
Click to see the next two weeks of events in your browser.

Monday, 01/25/2021

AI at the exascale - Livestream - 01/25/2021 11:00 AM
Berkeley Institute for Data Science,

It is no coincidence that the rise of AI as a valuable tool for science has come at an interesting time for computing, where the end of Moore’s Law has meant that energy constraints are increasingly driving hardware innovation. AI is playing a growing role in shaping computing architecture, even at the largest scales. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the USA's first exascale supercomputers, coming in 2022 at a combined cost of $1.1B. These will be based on GPU architectures, and have been designed specifically for large-scale AI science applications that will be partly developed by the US DOE ExaLearn program, a new co-design center for exascale machine learning technologies. In addition, many other specialized energy-efficient architectures designed for AI workloads have emerged in the past few years, including FPGAs, custom ASICs like Google’s TPU and Graphcore, and neuromorphic machines. In this talk I will explore the interplay between energy-efficient hardware and the rise of AI as a serious factor in scientific computing. I will focus on the challenges and opportunities for AI in the exascale era, with a focus on applications to cosmology.

Speaker: Debbie Bard, UC Berkeley

See weblink for connection information

Weird New Worlds - Livestream - 01/25/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh,

With literally thousands of exoplanet candidates discovered to date, we now know of a few relatively Earthlike worlds -- and many many more planets very different from those in our own solar system! Beth will discuss what we know already about these worlds and what we will be learning in the next decades.

Speaker: Beth Miller, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Digital Literacy in the Age of Disinformation - Livestream - 01/25/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum,

With all of the concern around disinformation online, what can be done about it? One proposal is to improve digital literacy, but what does this mean and how should we do it? In this talk we'll discuss research showing how different kinds of people encounter, process and detect (or not) disinformation online, and then describe a new study examining the effectiveness of a recent digital literacy intervention for seniors. We will conclude the talk by opening up to the audience on suggestions and ideas for how to improve digital literacy programs for a wider range of the population.

Speaker: Jeff Hancock,

See weblink for Zoom link.

Magnetic Textures in Quantum Materials - Livestream - 01/25/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley,

Quantum materials are rapidly emerging as the basis for possible novel computation devices. However, fully understanding the interplay between magnetic and electronic excitations are preventing us from realizing their full potential. In my talk I will show how realizing the microscopic magnetic textures in quantum materials is crucial to the understanding of transport phenomena on the macro scale.

I will demonstrate this with two examples from two different types of materials. First, I will show how scanning nanoSQUID-on-tip magnetic imaging of magnetically doped topological insulators reveal the underlying fragility of the Quantum Anomalous Hall effect at elevated temperatures. Then, I will show how with a combination of transport, magnetization, and magnetic imaging of the Weyl semimetal Co3Sn2S2, we find that a hidden spin texture is responsible for the anomalous transport behavior in the material. These observations show that better understanding of the microscopic magnetism in these systems reveal new phenomena and deepen our understanding of the interplay between magnetic textures and electronic properties.

Speaker: Ella Lachman, UC Berkeley

See weblink for Zoom information on day of event

The Fastest Eye on the Sky: The Vera Rubin Observatory - Livestream - 01/25/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium,

What is the Universe made of? In modern cosmology only 4% of the universe is deeply understood, while the other 96%, Dark Energy and Dark Matter, remains a mystery. The Vera Rubin Observatory, currently under construction, will observe billions of galaxies, billions of stars in our own galaxy the Milky Way, as well as millions of objects closer to home in the solar system. Every night over a ten year survey, the Rubin Observatory will observe much of the night sky, so that every portion of the sky will be imaged nearly a thousand times. In this talk I will describe the Rubin observatory and especially its camera, the world’s largest digital imager now under construction at SLAC, and this remarkable set of observations, and how we will be able to “see” the dark portion of our universe in unprecedented detail.

Speaker: Aaron Roodman, SLAC

See weblink for Zoom information

Making Climate Policy Work - Livestream - 01/25/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar,

For decades, the world’s governments have struggle d to move from talk to action on climate. Many now hope that growing public concern will lead to greater policy ambition, but the most widely promoted strategy to address the climate crisis - the use of market-based programs - hasn’t been working and isn’t ready to scale.

In a new book, Danny Cullenward and David Victor show how the politics of creating and maintaining market-based policies render them ineffective nearly everywhere they have been applied. Reforms can help around the margins, but markets’ problems are structural and won’t disappear with increasing demand for climate solutions. Facing that reality requires relying more heavily on smart regulation and industrial policy - government-led strategies - to catalyze the transformation that markets promise, but rarely deliver.

Register at weblink to receive connection information.

From the Black Hole Conundrum to the Structure of Quantum Gravity - Livestream - 01/25/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley,

Having a complete quantum theory of gravity has long been a major goal of theoretical physics. This is because a naive merger of quantum mechanics and general relativity---though it works in certain limited regimes---suffers from major theoretical problems. A particularly acute one arises when one considers the quantum mechanics of black holes: two fundamental principles of modern physics---the conservation of probability in quantum mechanics and the equivalence principle of general relativity---seem to be incompatible with each other. I will explain how recent theoretical progress begins to address this problem and portray the emerging picture of how spacetime and gravity behave at the level of full quantum gravity.

Speaker: Yasunori Nomura, UC Berkeley

See weblink for Zoom link, posted day of lecture.

Tuesday, 01/26/2021

Disaggregation of Latinx Health Data: Implications for Sleep and Behavioral Health Intervention Research - Livestream - 01/26/2021 09:00 AM
UC Berkeley,

Speaker: Carmela Alcantara, Columbia School of Social Work

See weblink for connection information

Discovery of the Orocopia Schist in northern Plomosa Mountains and ongoing investigations into Laramide subduction and metamorphism - Livestream - 01/26/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Speaker: Nikki Seymour, Stanford

See weblink for Zoom information

What About Climate Change and the Impact on Ocean Life? - Livestream - 01/26/2021 07:00 PM
American Cetacean Society,

What is the evidence of climate change?

What impact do we see on ocean life?

What adaptations might we expect from human and marine mammals alike?

Join us as we explore these crucial questions with three experts in the field in a panel discussion moderated by ACS San Francisco Bay Chapter Board Member and Sustainability Professional Susan Hopp. Our esteemed panelists will include Dr. Cara Field, Medical Director at The Marine Mammal Center, Marc Webber, Marine Biologist and co-author of Marine Mammals of the World, and Sara Hutto, Ocean Climate Program Coordinator for Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Peninsula Gem and Geology Society General Meeting - Livestream - 01/26/2021 07:00 PM
Peninsula Gem & Geology Society,

Valerie Concello will give a presentation on all aspects of pearls.

See weblink for connection instructions

'The Planets - Mars' NOVA Virtual Movie Night and discussion - 01/26/2021 07:00 PM
SETI Institute,

Join your TeamSETI friends for Movie Night, featuring an episode of NOVA's docuseries The Planets about Mars. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, will host the viewing, and Dr. Lori Fenton, a planetary scientist who studies climate change on Mars, will join us as a special guest to answer your questions.

Learn more about Mars before the Perseverance Rover lands on the red planet in February.

The Planets is a NOVA series that showcases the mysteries and magic of the planets in our Solar System. The second episode, titled Mars, gives viewers a close-up look at the red planet--past and present.

Episode summary: Mars was once a blue water-world with active volcanoes. But when its magnetic field and protective atmosphere faded, it became the frozen desert planet we know today. With so many necessary elements in place, did life ever form on Mars?

RSVP here to receive connection information.

Wednesday, 01/27/2021

Global Energy Dialogues - A Conversation with Kara Hurst, Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon - Livestream - 01/27/2021 08:30 AM
Stanford Energy,

Utilizing Amazon's scale, speed and innovation, the Sustainability organization includes teams executing the work of The Climate Pledge; Sustainable Operations (renewable energy and energy efficiency, buildings); Sustainability Science and Innovation; Social Responsibility and responsible supply chain management; Circular Economy; Sustainable Products, packaging and shopping; Sustainability Technology; Sustainable Transportation; and social and environmental external engagement and policy setting.

Speaker: Kara Hurst, Amazon

Register at weblink to receive connection information.

Genome-resolved metagenomics reveals novel enzyme diversity, micro-scale interactions, and biogeochemical potential - Livestream - 01/27/2021 11:00 AM
Monterey Bay Aquarium Rese arch Institute,

The development of genome-resolved metagenomics has provided a robust method to recover complete or near-complete genome information for entire communities of bacteria, archaea, and viruses from the environment. In this seminar, Alexander Jaffe will demonstrate how this technique can be applied to illuminate the biology of Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) bacteria and the archaea superphylum DPANN - novel microbial lineages recently resolved in the tree of life. Organisms from these lineages encode various RuBisCO-related proteins, which broaden our understanding of the diversity, function, and evolutionary history of this globally important enzyme family. Using publicly available metagenome data, he shows that CPR organisms have undergone multiple habitat transitions and display variable abundance patterns across global microbiomes, including those from marine and animal-associated environments. Patterns of co-occurrence and CRISPR-Cas targeting suggest that CPR may interact with diverse host cells from the Actinobacteria and bacteriophage with the potential to infect both symbiotic partners. Alex will also discuss how genome-resolved techniques show that the metabolic potential of both CPR bacteria and their surrounding microbial communities varies along an oxygen gradient from a stratified freshwater lake. Overall, his research concludes that ultra-small cells from phylogenetically diverse lineages may make important contributions to both the functioning of microbial communities and their impact on Earth’s ecosystems.

Speaker: Alexander Jaffe, UC Berkeley

Register at weblink to obtain connection information

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values - Livestream - 01/27/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley,

With the incredible growth of machine learning (ML) over recent years has come an increasing concern about whether ML systems’ objectives truly capture their human designers’ intent: the so-called “alignment problem.” Over the last five years, these questions of both ethics and safety have moved from the margins of the field to become arguably its most central concerns. The result is something of a movement: a vibrant, multifaceted, interdisciplinary effort to address the alignment problem head-on, which is producing some of the most exciting research happening today. Brian Christian, visiting scholar at CITRIS and author of the acclaimed bestsellers “The Most Human Human” and “Algorithms to Live By,” will survey this landscape of recent progress and the frontier of open questions that remain.

Register here.

Ask the Scientist - Dr. Joanna Alfaro Shigueto - Livestream - 01/27/2021 02:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center,

How do scientists go from OMG to PhD? How do they turn their passion for science into their profession? What advice do they have for future scientists?

If you are a 5th-12th grade student, undergraduate, teacher or parent, join us to ask these questions and more in a Q&A session with our weekly Seminar speakers

Register at weblink to attend.

Marine turtle conservation in Peru - Livestream - 01/27/2021 03:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center,

I will be talking about sea turtle conservation in Peru, some of the challenges and also opportunities we have identified over the past decade. Our experience had been for a long time working with fishing communities, and it has been a learning process. Collaborations down the road had been crucial for our work, and one example is the work with Anna and Ellen, using both expertise to learn about ways on how to help fishermen to continue fishing and reduce the impact on fauna as well.

Speaker: Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Universidad Cientifica del Sur, Peru

Register at weblink to receive Zoom information

From Farm to Pharmacy: A Strawberry-Derived Solution to Oral Protein Delivery - Livestream - 01/27/2021 04:00 PM
UC Berkeley,

Speaker: Kathryn Whitehead, Carnegie Mellon Univ.

See weblink for Zoom information

From intermittent to continuous water supply in urban India: a multi-dimensional evaluation - Livestream - 01/27/2021 04:00 PM
Energy and Resources Group,

Intermittent piped water supply is common throughout urban India, but continuous, fully pressurized supply (“24-7 water”) is the Government of India service norm. Employing a matched-cohort research design, we compare eight wards with intermittent water supply and eight wards that were upgraded to continuous supply in a demonstration project in Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka. We compare tap water quality, child health, water storage practices, and coping costs across socio-economic strata. We estimate water consumption and “waste” in the intermittent zones, and the potential for scale-up of continuous supply to the entire city. We find that the 24-7 project improved water quality, did not improve overall child health but did reduce serious waterborne illness in the lowest-income strata, reduced the costs of waiting, increased monthly water bills, and potentially increased water insecurity for the poorest households. We find very little household water waste in intermittent unmetered wards, though this is a significant (stated) motivation for the upgrade. Many households are using less water than is recommended for basic daily needs. Finally, our model forecasts show that planned system capacity going forward could be inadequate to scale up 24-7 to the entire city. If this is so, a 24-7 upgrade can only be sustainable and equitable with significant - as yet unacknowledged - investments.

Speaker: Isha Ray, UC Berkeley

See weblink for connection information

'Frozen Obsession' Online: Film Screening and Panel - 01/27/2021 04:00 PM

Nowhere are the consequences of a warming climate more pronounced and observable than in the polar regions of our planet. Frozen Obsession follows the 18-day, 2,000-mile Northwest Passage Project expedition through the extreme and stunningly beautiful Canadian Arctic Archipelago aboard the Swedish research icebreaker Oden, in search of clues to understanding the effects of climate change.

Following the film, join Exploratorium staff scientist Mary Miller in conversation with a panel featuring the film’s producer, two scientists, and undergraduate student who was on board the vessel.

See weblink for connection information and registration

The Antarctic and Climate Change: Exploration Above and Below the Surface - Livestream - 01/27/2021 05:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Please join us for our second Kraw lecture focused on climate change. Dan Costa, distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, share how the changing climate is associated with a reduction in true Antarctic species like Adélie and emperor penguins and crabeater seals, while sub-antarctic species like elephant seals and chinstrap penguins are becoming more common. Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Slawek Tulaczyk will share with us how the Antarctic glaciological community is evaluating how much and how fast the Antarctic ice sheet will shrink in response to climate change, particularly the Thwaites Glacier. Join us as we learn more about the UCSC glaciology research group, which is leading one of the large research projects aimed at understanding the current behavior and projecting the future evolution of Thwaites Glacier.

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Conversations About Landscape: Observing Landscapes - Mirrors of Time - Livestream - 01/27/2021 07:00 PM

History, politics, nature, and culture shape our sense of our landscape. Who we are, where we come from, and how we see our futures all connect back to our sense of place.

Please join poet Tess Taylor and photographer Lewis Watts in considering ways our contemporary landscape holds traces of the past and glimmers of the future. Through a poem, or a lens, Tess and Lewis offer perspectives on the complexities of cultural and ecological change. Taylor will read excerpts from her two new books, Last West, For Dorothea Lange and Rift Zone. Watts will present images from his 30 years of observations of African American life and transformation in California.

RSVP at weblink to receive connection information

Thursday, 01/28/2021

A Mini-course on Black Holes for People over 50 - 01/28/2021 03:00 PM

Black Holes: Space Warps, Time Machines, and the Science that Won the 2020 Nobel Prize with astronomer Andrew Fraknoi

In this non-technical mini-course, we will learn about the theory and experiments behind one of the most remarkable phenomena in science the gruesome and powerful places in the universe called black holes. Formed through the deaths of huge stars, black holes are places where gravity overwhelms every other force in the universe and the behavior of space and time is altered, almost beyond recognition. Designed for non-scientists and presented in everyday language with lots of beautiful illustrations, the class will first describe how black holes emerged from Einstein’s work and then show how new instruments on Earth and in space are demonstrating that black holes of various sizes really do exist.

Week by Week Outline

Week 1: Introduction to the Universe & Theory The realms of physics & astronomy. What Einstein called “the happiest thought of my life”. Introduction to Warped Space-time, The rubber sheet, and the trained ant help us understand relativity

Week 2: Black Holes in Theory The rubber sheet leads to ultimate collapse. Understanding black holes and their structure and properties Black holes and the nature of time. What it would be like to be near a black hole. Black holes in science fiction.

Week 3: Observations of Smaller Black Holes. Finding black holes produced by single stars (x-ray revelations). Finding black holes of intermediate size using gravity waves. Black hole mergers in the universe. How big can a black hole get?

Week 4: Supermassive Black Holes, The 2020 Nobel Prize observations: Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way. Black Holes and Galaxy Mergers. Super-sized Black Holes: Quasars and Other Phenomena at the Largest Levels. Black Holes and the Beginning and End of the Universe (briefly)

Andrew Fraknoi retired as the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College a few years ago, and now offers short classes to seniors for enjoyment. He is the lead author of a free, on-line introductory textbook in astronomy (used by over 300,000 students) and has written two children’s books and three published science-fiction stories. Fraknoi appears regularly on local and national radio, explaining astronomical developments in everyday language. He was selected as the California Professor of the Year in 2007, and has an asteroid named after him.

Offered through the SF State Osher Life-long Learning Institute (OLLI), but open to anyone over age 50. When you register for the class, if you are not a current member of OLLI, you will be asked to sign up, but it’s a free process.

NOTE: This is a Mini Course it is not necessary to be a member. However, you must be signed in. Check website.

SFBBO Birdy Hour Talk: Taken Under Their Wings: How Chickens and Supportive Mentors Launched My Passion for Birding and Nature Journaling - Livestream - 01/28/2021 06:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory,

Join avid teen birder Fiona Gillogly, age 17, for a talk about her journey as a birder over the past 6+ years. Fiona will share some key early experiences that encouraged her, how mentors have had a profound impact on her, and how her passion for nature journaling supports her development as a birder and keen observer of the world.

Born and raised in the Sierra Foothills of California,Fiona Gillogly, age 17, spends time daily in the wild lands near her home. In 2016, when she discovered nature journaling and the work of John Muir Laws, she was thrilled to find something that combined her love of art and nature. Now a passionate birder, nature journaler, and naturalist, Fiona has created more than 2,000 journal pages since she began this journey. An avid birder since 2015, Fiona is a five-time recipient of the Central Valley Birding Club Youth Scholarship, enabling her to attend summer teen birding camps in birding hotspots around the United States. She has volunteered many hours on bird counts, nest box monitoring, and bird banding, gaining valuable hands-on experience in field research as well as the opportunity to observe birds up close. She has given numerous talks on birding and nature journaling, and in June 2020, the American Birding Association's Birding magazine published Fiona’s article, “A Birder’s Brain on Paper: How keeping a nature journal improves our birding experiences.” To learn more about Fiona, see more nature journal pages, or read her writing, visit

Register here: to receive Zoom link

AI-Driven Photorealistic Human Digitization - Livestream - 01/28/2021 06:30 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery,

It is unquestionable that photorealistic digital humans will become ubiquitous in society, whether in the form of AI assistants or as fictional characters on viral media or as our own virtual self for social interactions. While currently creating a convincing digital human involves an expensive and lengthy procedure from a team of VFX experts, in the near future, anyone will be able to create photorealistic human content at their fingertips. In this talk, I present techniques to create photorealistic digital humans using 3D computer graphics and deep learning. Using the Light Stage high-fidelity capture systems, I describe how we can achieve realistic rendering of an animated face in real-time that is accurate to the level of microns. By combining cutting edge 3D graphics and deep generative models, I present methods to model, animate, and render photorealistic 3D humans from minimal inputs to bring avatar digitization to everyone. I will also showcase the applications of deep generative models for lifelike digital humans fo r VFX, gaming and an autonomous virtual agent. While these are key technologies for the creation of consumer accessible virtual beings, they can also be misused for malicious purposes such as the spread of disinformation. To that end, I will discuss a method to detect advanced media forgeries such as deepfakes and our efforts to fight against them.

Speaker: Koki Nagano, NVidia Research

Register at weblink to receive connection information

After Dark Online: House Plants - 01/28/2021 07:00 PM

The popularity of houseplants has grown steadily since shelter-in-place began. Learn more about the science of tending your own, the wide diversity and origin of indoor greenery, and meet some fellow fans of photosynthesizers.

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook links.

NightSchool: The Study of Humanity - Livestream - 01/28/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences,

Get a crash course in anthropology, the expansive field of study that encompasses everything about our species - from human evolution to human cultures, past and present. Learn about these different research areas with an archaeologist, a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist, a bioarchaeologist, and a mini-tour through the Academy’s anthropology collections.


Peek into the Academy’s anthropology collections with Curatorial Assistant Cheryl Tripathi as she shows off research specimens to help illustrate the four different fields of anthropology. You’ll see early hominin casts, stone tool specimens, Mayan ceramics that survived the 1906 earthquake, and more.
We live in a state with incredible cultural and natural diversity, but this is nothing new. Dr. Todd Braje, Professor of Anthropology at SDSU, explores some of California's most exciting and incredible archaeological finds, which speak to the deep history and amazing adaptations of its indigenous inhabitants for more than 10,000 years.
Dr. Jonathan Rosa, sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist at Stanford, challenges popular stereotypes about linguistic diversity and explores how language can play a central role in social justice efforts.
How do anthropologists "read" the human skeleton? Dr. Nikki Slovak will introduce you to bioarchaeology, a sub-discipline of anthropology that focuses on the analysis of human remains from archaeological sites.

Ages 21+

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook Live links.

Friday, 01/29/2021

The strength of solid asteroids constrained by craters on asteroidal boulders and Near-Earth Object population estimates - Livestream - 01/29/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Speaker: Ronald Ballouz, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona

See weblink for connection information

Prepare for Landing: An Update on NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover - Livestream - 01/29/2021 07:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center,

Get ready to land on Mars! The Mars 2020 spacecraft, carrying the Perseverance rover, is already close to Mars, and the rover will land on February 18, 2021. Join us Friday evening as astronomer Gerald McKeegan gives a Mars 2020 mission update. He’ll describe the final phase of the flight and the “seven minutes of terror” NASA controllers will undergo as Perseverance descends to the Martian surface.

Speaker: Gerald McKeegan

See weblink for Facebook Live and YouTube links.

Wonderfest: Exoplanets and the Search for Alien Life - Livestream - 01/29/2021 08:00 PM

Humanity has looked up at the stars for millennia and wondered whether we're alone in the Universe. Yet only in the past few decades have we begun to discover planets outside our Solar System: to date, we've found over 4,000 such "exoplanets." Further, we have statistical reasons to believe that roughly one billion exoplanets - in our Galaxy alone - are promising abodes for life. Come learn about exoplanets and the exciting search for Earth-like and potentially habitable worlds.

Speaker: Andy Mayo, UC Berkeley

Saturday, 01/30/2021

Science of Whales Virtual Conference - 01/30/2021 09:30 AM
American Cetacean Society,

Join us for our virtual conference “Science of Whales: Understanding the History - Informing Conservation Today.” American Cetacean Society conferences have a distinguished history of offering high-quality opportunities for scientists, students, conservationists, and enthusiasts to connect and exchange vital information about the latest research and efforts to conserve cetaceans and their habitats. Our first-ever virtual conference will continue this tradition while offering participation from the safety and comfort of your home.

Scheduled speakers include Peter Corkeron, Ph.D., Michelle Fournet, Ph.D., Erich Hoyt, Lori Marino, Ph.D., Gianna Minton, Ph.D., Louisa Ponnampalam, Ph.D., and J.G.M. 'Hans' Thewissen, Ph.D.

This year registration is open to the public and is free of charge! Register today so you won’t miss out on this unique opportunity!

See weblink for registration info and speaker agenda.

Birds of the Garden and Their Nests - Livestream - 01/30/2021 10:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden,

Winter is a great time to see old nests revealed in trees that have lost their leaves. Join Garden education staff over Zoom for a cozy morning finding out more about some resident Botanical Garden birds and their unique nests. Mary will share a collection of real nests that were saved during tree trimmings and other activities at the Garden. We'll find out about nest-building material preferences of different birds and listen to bird calls from 6 iconic winged Garden friends.

Register at weblink to receive Zoom information

Science Saturday: Amazing Migrations - Livestream - 01/30/2021 03:00 PM
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Pacific Grove

Join us as we investigate the world of long-distance animal travels. Whales, birds, insects, and more will be the focus of our deeper look at these natural phenomena. Learn about the many amazing migratory birds that visit Monterey County every year and celebrate another birthday for Sandy the Whale!

Marine Life Studies is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting our ocean, whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife. Tune in as they teach us about the many Monterey Bay marine visitors. We will learn why some of these organisms stop here on their long migrations, getting a closer look at humpback whales and gray whales.

Star Map History for Today’s Amateur Astronomer - Livestream - 01/30/2021 07:00 PM
East Bay Astronomical Society,

The history of star maps evolved into several pathways that have relevance for today’s amateur astronomer. Ancient views of the sky had mapping traditions that used both a geocentric orientation (where the stars and constellations were pictured as they were seen from the Earth) and an external orientation (where they were right to left reversed as seen from the outside of a celestial globe carved in marble). The development of the telescope favored a geocentric view, as well as a switch in the celestial grid from a longitude/latitude perspective to one that spoke about right ascension/declination. Many ancient books included volvelles, which were analog computers on paper that attempted to reproduce some of the features of 3-dimensional astrolabes on 2-dimensional pages in a book. These led to our modern planispheres. Early atlases pictured beautiful constellations using mythological and scientific themes that gradually grew to over 100 figures, but these were reduced in number b y an international society to 88 constellation areas of the sky, and the images gradually disappeared (although line drawings persist in modern astronomy magazines). Dr. Nick Kanas will trace the history of these and other developments that we take for granted as amateur astronomers.

See weblink for Facebook Live link.

An Astronomical Perspective on Star Clusters, Planet Earth - Livestream - 01/30/2021 08:00 PM
San Jose Astronomical Society,

This talk will be in two parts. I will begin by sharing some results from my research on globular clusters following a brief introduction to these fascinating and ancient structures. In particular, I will focus on the role that binary stars play in cluster dynamics and show some examples of how my students and I have been searching for these binaries using space-based observatories. Time permitting, I will make a brief detour into possible connections of this work to the LIGO discoveries of binary black holes. The second part of my talk will focus on a project that grew out of a realization that the astronomical perspective is valuable and can be harnessed in the struggle to preserve our planet's habitability. The organization that I helped to found, Astronomers for Planet Earth, now comprises 700+ astronomers and astronomy educators from 41 countries worldwide. I will describe our goals, some of our current activities, and invite you to share your thoughts on how we can collectively make progress on this urgent matter.

Speaker: Adrienne Cool, San Francisco State University

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 01/30/2021 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.

Monday, 02/01/2021

Stanford Energy Seminar - Sharon Tomkins - Livestream - 02/01/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar,

Speaker: Sharon Tomkins, Sempra Energy

Making metal halid e perovskite photovoltaics a reality: an update on state-of-the-art - Livestream - 02/01/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley,

Photovoltaic (PV) devices based on metal halide perovskite (MHP) absorbers have reached outstanding performance over the past few years, surpassing power conversion efficiency of over 25% for lab cells and with large area devices in excess of 18%. For the solar application stability, the most demanding requirement to assess for PV and remains the outstanding issue for MHP based devices. The problem of stability motivates basic science driven work on MHP based PV at NREL and work by industrial partners. Material and device insight can enable MHP PV stability along with the associated opportunities to further improve efficiency with multijunction while maintaining scalability and manufacturability is critical. This talk will highlight the latest work at NREL to develop understanding of critical roadblocks, aspects of solar cell performance, device architectures, stability and operational dynamic to enable the next generation of photovoltaics.

Speaker: Joseph Berry, NREL

See weblink for Zoom link, posted day of lecture.

Tuesday, 02/02/2021

Hydrologic aspects of rivers Down Under: from the coast to the Red Centre - Livestream - 02/02/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Wednesday, 02/03/2021

Metal-Organic Frameworks: From Energy Storage to Drug Delivery - Livestream - 02/03/2021 12:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society,

Living With a Star: In Conversation with NASA - Livestream - 02/03/2021 04:00 PM

Energy and Resources Group Colloquium - Livestream - 02/03/2021 04:00 PM
Energy and Resources Group,

Cosmic Instability: How a Smooth Early Universe Grew into Everyone You Know - Livestream - 02/03/2021 07:00 PM
Silicon Valley Astronomy Series,

Thursday, 02/04/2021

Bird Flight and Co-operative Aerodynamics - Livestream - 02/04/2021 10:30 AM
London Natural History Society,

Astronomy on Tap Santa Cruz: - Livestream - 02/04/2021 06:30 PM
Astronomy on Tap,

NightSchool: Seabirds - Livestream - 02/04/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Shaping Landscapes: After Dark Online - 02/04/2021 07:00 PM

Friday, 02/05/2021

Fault roughness and earthquake rupture at plate boundary scales - Livestream - 02/05/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz,

Saturday, 02/06/2021

Zoom Opening Reception - Plants Illustrated 2021 - 02/06/2021 05:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden,

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 02/06/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center,

Sunday, 02/07/2021

Virtual Butterfly Walk: Color - 02/07/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden,

Monday, 02/08/2021

Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum : Julie Stanford - Livestream - 02/08/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum,

UC Berkeley Physics Colloquium - Livestream - 02/08/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley,