SciSchmoozing Around the Neighborhood

Dear Science Fans,

Out in our solar system neighborhood, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter is still dangling from the underside of the Perseverance rover. NASA’s official description of Ingenuity’s role says it will be decommissioned after a month of test flights. Sorry, folks. I do not expect the world’s population will sit idly by while Perseverance trundles off abandoning the cute little ‘copter in the brutally cold and lonely Mars wilderness. Any day now, expect an international campaign demanding NASA not abandon its diminutive drone.

Please show me some sympathy. I LOST. Instead, an Embry-Riddle alumnus won the lottery for a trip in space around our Earthly neighborhood, but decided not to go - out of caution? - from a fear of heights? Regardless, he/she offered the ride to an old friend. Here is a page with video introductions to the four civilian astronauts.

Once again, a SpaceX Starship prototype blew up - this time before reaching the ground - and with a lot more explosive force. (The term that rocket aficionados often use is not ‘explosion’ but “R.U.D.,” which is short for “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly.”) A heavy fog hid this RUD from view.

Saildrone is a company in our Bay Area neighborhood that manufactures science drones in Alameda that sail the oceans of Earth. Heck, they’ve even circumnavigated Antarctica. The 7m (23 ft) craft resemble windsurfing boards but are loaded with radar, sonar, cameras, radios, solar panels, and are capable of autonomous operation for a year at a time. In January, they launched the first of a larger version - 22m (72 ft).

Dave Boitano is a science journalist for the Bay Area neighborhood with his own website, Science In View, that is well worth checking out.

Also part of the Bay Area neighborhood is the Bay Area Science calendar, of which the SciSchmooze is an adjunct. Using the calendar, let me offer you my (livestream) picks for the week:

QAnon continues - rife with disinformation and conspiracies. Our household does not have HBO or i would watch “Q: Into the Storm,” a six-part documentary. Thankfully, a number of sources help us counter disinformation, such as Snopes and Annenberg Political Factcheck. There are even advice and games helping us from becoming disinformation spreaders. Many of my relatives believe in multiple conspiracies, e.g. the moon landings were a hoax, automakers can make 100 mpg cars but the fossil fuel industry won’t let them, cold fusion power is being suppressed, and a consortium prevents lightbulbs from lasting longer. Wait! That last one was an actual conspiracy!

Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill University offers a little information and advice on COVID-19 vaccines. The Rand Corporation identifies some hurdles to achieving herd immunity. PBS shares information on a virus pandemic that lasted 15 million years

Stay safe - and happy, damn it,
Dave Almandsmith
Bay Area Skeptics board member

“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person's perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It's all through our own individual prisms.”

- Sterling K. Brown, Actor (1976 - )

Monday, 04/05/2021

Tailoring Electronic Structures of 2D Heterostructures - Livestream - 04/05/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley

Atomically thin, single-crystalline 2D electronic materials have recently emerged, offering a remarkably wide range of building blocks of nanostructures, ranging from metals (e.g. graphene), large gap insulators (BN), to semiconductors (transition metal dichalcogenides and black phosphorous). One key advantage of these van der Waals materials lies in the flexibility of stacking different types of materials to form heterostructures, providing a design platform for achieving novel device functionality.  In vdW hetero-bilayers, the interface encompasses the whole heterostructure, and interlayer interactions become the controlling parameter for the electronic structure.

In this talk, I will first discuss probing the inter-layer interactions using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy (STM/S).   I will first revisit the issue of how to accurately probe the quasi-particle band structure and corroborate with the newly available k-resolved data using time-resolved angle-resolved photoemission.  I will then briefly touch upon our earlier effort in probing the electronic structure of moiré superlattice formed in MoS2/WSe2 vdW heterobilayer.

I will then switch gear to show a new approach to tailor the lateral energy profile of a monolayer transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) without using heterobilayers.  This new approach harnesses a close proximity effect of a 2D monolayer to an hBN substrate with a nanoscale engineered electrostatic field and Coulomb screening by tuning the interface between the hBN monolayer and the supporting transition metal.  Using this new approach, one can create a lateral p-n heterojunction with a built-in potential of 1eV within 6 nm, and a change of bandgap by 0.35 eV, all on the same TMD monolayer.

Speaker: Chih-Kang (Ken) Shih, Univ. of Texas at Austin

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Polarized emission around the M87 supermassive black hole - Livestream - 04/05/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium

In 2017 April, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) observed the near-horizon region around the supermassive black hole at the core of the M87 galaxy. These 1.3 mm wavelength observations revealed a compact asymmetric ring-like source morphology. This structure originates from synchrotron emission produced by relativistic plasma located in the immediate vicinity of the black hole. Now we present the corresponding linear-polarimetric EHT images of the center of M87. We find that only a part of the ring is significantly polarized. The resolved fractional linear polarization has a maximum located in the southwest part of the ring, where it rises to the level of ∼15%. The polarization position angles are arranged in a nearly azimuthal pattern. We will discuss the polarimetric data reduction and analysis methodology. The polarimetric images carry information about the structure of the magnetic fields responsible for the synchrotron emission. We will discuss the theoretical implications of these observations.

Speaker: Maciek Wielgus, Harvard

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Quantum computing with superconducting circuits at Google - Livestream - 04/05/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

How do quantum computers work? Let's start from a couple basic surprises of quantum mechanics and develop an appreciation for the physics and logic underlying quantum computing. Then we'll delve into the implementation we're working on at Google Quantum AI, superconducting circuits.

Speaker: Dr. Kevin Satzinger, Google Quantum AI

Reproducibility and contingency in the evolution and ecology of microbial communities - Livestream - 04/05/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley

Microbes form complex multi-species communities that play many critical roles across the biosphere. Building quantitative models that may help us predict the composition and function of a microbial community in a given habitat is a long-standing aspiration. To this end, we must understand what features of microbial communities (and at what level of description) are predictable, which are not, and why. We have addressed this question through a combination of quantitative experiments and simple models. Experimentally, we cultivate large numbers of natural communities in environments with a defined nutrient composition. Our experiments indicate that the coarse-grained metabolic organization of microbial communities is reproducible in identical habitats, following simple equations that are consistent over ecological and evolutionary timescales, despite substantial variability at finer levels of resolution.

Speaker: Alvaro Sanchez, Yale University

Tuesday, 04/06/2021

Transformations of Trace Contaminants in Nature-Based Treatment Systems - Livestream - 04/06/2021 12:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society

Speaker: Dr. Rachel Scholes, Univ of British Columbia

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The Disordered Cosmos - Livestream - 04/06/2021 06:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

What does freedom look like to you? To theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, freedom is (in part) thinking about "problems like dark matter and dark energy without worrying about cops killing Black people," and freedom is "everyone having a chance to look at the dark night sky, wonder about it, and know it." In her new book, The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein shares a deep love of physics - including the physics of melanin in skin, the nature of cosmic dark matter, and what may lie beyond the nearly-all-encompassing Standard Model of Particle Physics. Publisher's Weekly calls The Disordered Cosmos "a resonant paean to the beauties of the cosmos and a persuasive appeal for solutions to injustices in science."

Speaker: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, University of New Hampshire

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Admission is free with special discount code WONDERFEST21

Wednesday, 04/07/2021

Sparrows in the Mist: Complex Winter Social Behavior in a Little Brown Bird - Livestream - 04/07/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz Women's Club

Ornithologists often study breeding birds and as a result the winter ecology and social behavior of migratory birds is relatively under studied. For the past 18 years my students and I have been studying a population of golden-crowned sparrows that winter in the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum. Each sparrow is given a unique combination of color bands which allows us to identify individual birds in the wild and monitor their behavior and survival. Given that they survive migration and breeding, individual sparrows return winter after winter to the arboretum and flock together with the same individuals as in previous years.

Speaker: Dr. Bruce Lyon, UC Santa Cruz

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The Economics of Local Planning Restrictions and NIMBYism in Renewable Energy Deployment - Livestream - 04/07/2021 01:30 PM
Energy and Resources Group

In this talk Stephen will discuss his research on the economic costs of local planning restrictions and NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitudes in the context of renewable energy deployment. Using data on the United Kingdom, he estimates how wind and solar projects affect nearby property values. He then studies how these local costs influence the decisions made by planning officials, and quantifies the scale of misallocated investment resulting from the fragmented nature of the planning process. Stephen will conclude by discussing how this work fits into a broader research agenda looking at these issues in both Europe and the US.

Speaker: Stephen Jarvis, UC Berkeley

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Editor's Note: This even was originally scheduled for 4:00 PM.

Ask the Scientist - Nicholas Carver - Livestream - 04/07/2021 02:00 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.

Parents must give permission for children under 18 to participate.

Nicholas Carver is a physical oceanographer who is currently enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Marines and Estuarine Science graduate program at San Francisco State University. Nicholas will be graduating this Spring. As an undergraduate at SFSU Nicholas studied Earth Science with an emphasis on ocean, weather, and climate. Prior to pursuing higher education Nicholas served in the United States Coast Guard for 10 years. Nicholas is also the vice president of the Pedro Point Surf Club.

The Chimpanzee Within Us: Why are Humans the Way We Are? - Livestream - 04/07/2021 04:00 PM
The Leaky Foundation

One way to answer this question is to look to our closest cousins, the chimpanzees. Join Assistant Professor of Psychology and Anthropology Alexandra Rosati of the University of Michigan and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology Zarin Machanda of Tufts University as they examine the world of chimpanzees, including chimpanzee social lives, ecological context, and how they think and solve problems. By understanding what it means to be a chimpanzee, we can turn back the evolutionary clock to glimpse the origins of human cognition and behavior.

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Second Nature: Green Rabbits, Passenger Pigeons, Cloned Ferrets, and the Birth of a New Ecology - Livestream - 04/07/2021 05:00 PM
Long Now Foundation

Reporter and writer Nathaniel Rich delves deep into conversation with Revive & Restore's Ryan Phelan and Ben Novak to discuss his newest book Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade,which attempts to come to terms with the massive changes that are underway on our planet, and how humans can better understand our role to caretake, conserve and thoughtfully manage our relationship with nature for the long term.

From Losing Earth to the film Dark Waters (adapted from his writing), Nathaniel Rich’s stories have come to define the way we think of contemporary ecological narrative. In Second Nature, he asks what it means to live in an era of terrible responsibility. The question is no longer, How do we return to the world that we’ve lost? It is, What world do we want to create in its place?

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Thursday, 04/08/2021

Labside Chats: A Conversation with a Scientist, featuring Katie Kobayashi - Livestream - 04/08/2021 11:00 AM
Seymour Science Center

Tune in for the Seymour Center's next Labside Chat with Katie Kobayashi, Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at UC Santa Cruz and graduate student researcher with the Fisheries Collaborative Program. Discover the differences between a steelhead and a rainbow trout, and what it means for the ecology and conservation of California’s coastal watersheds.

Join the conversation! Submit your questions in advance for Katie, then watch the conversation to hear the answers during the live chat. Help us put together questions such as:

What is the difference between steelhead and rainbow trout?How does a “keystone gene” shape migration, feeding behavior, physiology, and ecological interactions? How did the CZU fire impact our local watersheds?Why is scientific communication so important, and how can it inspire others to become stewards of the natural world?

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Singing Hummingbird Feathers and the Quiet Flight of Owls - Livestream - 04/08/2021 05:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory

Dr. Chris Clark will present ongoing research in his lab, starting with work on how hummingbirds make sounds with their tail feathers during courtship displays. Then he will shift to ongoing research he is conducting on why owls have evolved to fly quietly.

This talk is recommended for high school and up.

Please register here.

The Zoom meeting link will be sent in the confirmation.

Grounds for Science - Representation in Research and The Good Side of Viruses - Livestream - 04/08/2021 05:00 PM
Grounds for Science

Representation in Research: The Case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Heart Disease Navya Pothamsetty, Depts. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UC Berkeley The rate and prevalence of heart disease is increasing worldwide. Although the link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and heart disease has been heavily studied in military populations, a thorough assessment of this relationship in other populations has not been conducted. Using this relationship as a case study, this talk will discuss disparities in research and its consequences, for public health and beyond. The Good Side of Viruses: Engineering Viruses for Therapeutic Development Ana Carneiro, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UC Berkeley While many viruses are harmful to humans, there are some types that can actually be beneficial. Viruses that are not known to cause disease in humans can be harnessed as delivery vehicles for potential therapeutic treatments of a wide range of illnesses. One such "good" virus is adeno-associated virus (AAV). In this talk, we will learn how AAVs can be developed into highly effective delivery vehicles.

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April LASER Event - 04/08/2021 06:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

Janine Randerson (Auckland University of Technology, live from New Zealand) on "Weather as Medium"

Jennie Lavine (Emory Univ) on "What is the endgame of the covid pandemic? Will covid become endemic?"

Cindy Cohn (Executive Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation) on "Imagining A Future with Real Digital Privacy"

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NightSchool: Missions to Mars - Livestream - 04/08/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

Mars is hot right now, despite its sub-freezing temperatures. With multiple countries sending spacecraft to the Red Planet this year, we’ll take a look at missions past and future, their breakthroughs and challenges, and what we hope to find when we get there.

After Dark Online: Bees - 04/08/2021 07:00 PM

The buzz is true: This After Dark Online will be the bees’ knees! They may be small, but the impact of bees is mighty, and the work of these flying insects plays key roles in sustaining ecosystems as well as human life. At this After Dark, dive into the rich tradition of beekeeping - and its output - as well as the fascinating biology of bees. Then learn more about which species of bees are at risk and why.

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Why storytelling is vital to science communication - Livestream - 04/08/2021 07:30 PM
Bay Area Skeptics

Many think that storytelling is only for fiction and frivolity. But storytelling is essential to all forms of communication. This is especially true when communicating science. Storytelling primes the brain to absorb and recall information. Without the story, the science does not stick. In this talk, I will explore the why and the how of science storytelling based on my years of experience working between academia and arts industries. The lessons learned can be useful for anyone who wants their communications to be received and considered.

Speaker: Sara ElShafie, UC Berkeley

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Friday, 04/09/2021

Searching for Life on Mars: Live Session with NASA Perseverance Rover Scientist - 04/09/2021 11:00 AM
SETI Institute

You won’t want to miss this exciting and exclusive opportunity to listen to and chat with a scientist involved with history in the making! St. Louis-based research scientist, Dr. Pablo Sobron, will take us along on his journey to discover life on the Red Planet. Learn about his role as a member of NASA’s Mars 2020/Perseverance Rover Science Team and their mission to seek signs of ancient life on Mars while collecting samples for return to Earth. A research scientist at the SETI Institute, and expert in robotic exploration of Earth and planets, Dr. Sobron, leads scientific expeditions worldwide, looking for life in the extreme. In 2016 he founded Impossible Sensing, where his team is developing the next generation of tools NASA uses to search for life in deep space. Together with their partners at NASA, they are world leaders in technology R&D for Earth and planetary exploration. The presentation includes a range of stunning visuals, including informational graphics, images, and photos transmitted from the Perseverance Rover. The chat messenger will be open for questions throughout the session, making for an interactive Q&A experience with Dr. Sobron. Sign up now - this class will fill fast!

Saturday, 04/10/2021

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 04/10/2021 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.

Sunday, 04/11/2021

Virtual Butterfly Walk: Rare Butterflies of the Garden - 04/11/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

Join our resident caterpillar lady Sal Levinson and butterfly guy Sarab Seth for our monthly Zoom presentation, this month featuring an illustrated slideshow about rare butterflies seen in the UC Botanical Garden. Our fun Zoom event is suitable for all ages.

Register at weblink

Monday, 04/12/2021

The Discovery of Gravitational Waves - Livestream - 04/12/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

A brief (pre)history of the Discovery of Gravitational Waves

Mario Kalomenopoulos

The detection of gravitational waves some years ago, opened a new window to the Universe, created a media fuss and gave a Nobel Prize for Physics! But what is the story behind this discovery? What about the discovery claims of the 60s? And where does Glasgow fit into this mystery? In this talk, we'll try to answer these questions (and maybe some more) concerning the discovery of these mysterious waves.

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Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum : Emma Brunskill - Livestream - 04/12/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum

Speaker: Emma Brunskill

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UC Berkeley Condensed Matter Physics Lecture - Livestream - 04/12/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley

Speaker: Zuocheng Zhang, UC Berkeley

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Physics at LHCb - Livestream - 04/12/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium

I will describe the LHCb experiment that studies decays of b quarks (mass of 5 GeV), and charm quarks (1.5 GeV), and show how studying these particles we are sensitive to physics and new particles at very large mass scales of several TeV and up. Specific measurements of CP violation and tests of lepton flavor universality will be discussed. Strong interactions are also studied; the have detected several particles that do not fit in the simple quark model, such as tetraquarks and pentaquarks.

Speaker: Sheldon Stone, Syracuse Univ.

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Quantum Computing with a Topological Phase of Matter - Livestream - 04/12/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Speaker: Dr. Christina Knapp, Microsoft

The Future of the Precourt Institute for Energy - Livestream - 04/12/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar

The Precourt Institute for Energy welcomed a new director in January. In this seminar, he will share his vision for the future of the institute.

Speaker: Yi Cui, Stanford University

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What happened to the kilogram? - Livestream - 04/12/2021 04:30 PM
Stanford University

For 130 years, a cylinder made of a platinum-iridium alloy stored near Paris was the official definition of a kilogram, the basic unit of mass. This all changed on May 20, 2019: a kilogram is now defined by a fundamental constant of nature known as the Planck constant h, which relates the energy of a photon to its frequency: h= 6.62607015 10-34 kilograms times square meters per second.

Sounds complicated? In this talk, I will provide the reasons for changing the definition of the kilogram, give simple explanations what the new kilogram is conceptually, and explain how objects with exactly known masses can be realized using advanced technology.

Speaker: Wolfgang Ketterle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Blood memory: evaluating antibody responses to COVID-19 infection and vaccination - Livestream - 04/12/2021 06:30 PM
Slugs and Steins

Research into detection methods for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in blood has rapidly accelerated during the pandemic in response to global health needs. In this virtual seminar, Dr. DuBois will discuss how her lab applied existing knowledge from their research on antiviral antibodies to contribute to understanding the human antibody response to COVID-19 infection and vaccination. Specifically, she will describe her lab’s development of a new technology to quickly measure SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in blood, with results in less than 20 minutes. Dr. DuBois will describe the utility of this technology for COVID-19 studies, as well as the potential to develop this technology as a diagnostic platform to evaluate immunity to other infectious diseases.

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Tuesday, 04/13/2021

Spin dynamics of ultracold atoms in optical lattices - Livestream - 04/13/2021 04:30 PM
Stanford University

Wednesday, 04/14/2021

RISC-V & consumer technology with Ted Marena, Western Digital - Livestream - 04/14/2021 12:00 PM

Estuary & Ocean Science Center Seminar - Livestream - 04/14/2021 03:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center

Cocktails & Conservation: Glacier National Park’s Safe Passage for Grizzlies - Livestream - 04/14/2021 06:00 PM
Oakland Zoo

Wonderfest: Rewilding; Mutualism - Livestream - 04/14/2021 08:00 PM

Thursday, 04/15/2021

Midday Science Cafe: Water-Energy Nexus - Livestream - 04/15/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley

Converging Threats, Cascading Health Risks: Climate Change, Food Security, and Migration - Livestream - 04/15/2021 02:30 PM
UC San Francisco

LASER: Pulled Apart: Re-engineering and Re-purposing Human Civilization - Livestream - 04/15/2021 06:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

Bird Sound Recording for Conservation and Research - Livestream - 04/15/2021 07:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society

After Dark Online: Listening to the Environment - 04/15/2021 07:00 PM

NightSchool: Illustrating Science - Livestream - 04/15/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

Friday, 04/16/2021

Coded Bias - Online Screening of New Documentary On How AI Can Perpetuate Class, Race and Gender Inequities - 04/16/2021 11:00 AM
Computer History Museum

Lick Observatory Back On Sky: 2020 Wildfire Recovery - Livestream - 04/16/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers

Saturday, 04/17/2021

Climate Change, The Top 10 things you Should Know in San Francisco- Livestream - 04/17/2021 10:00 AM
San Francisco Public Library

Black Hole Portrait: How We Got Our First Picture - Livestream - 04/17/2021 07:30 PM
Mount Tamalpias Astronomy Lectures

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 04/17/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Sunday, 04/18/2021

Conservation Physiology in Marine Mammals: Predicting Vulnerability in Threatened Cetacean, Pinniped, and Sirenian Species - Livestream - 04/18/2021 01:30 PM
Seymour Science Center

Monday, 04/19/2021

Dipolar excitonic insulator in atomic double layers - Livestream - 04/19/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley

From Black Holes to Neural Networks - Livestream - 04/19/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Virology 101 - 04/19/2021 05:00 PM
San Mateo Public Library