SciSchmoozing To the Future

SciSchmooze 3/7/2021

Percy (Perseverance Rover) has been feeling its oats, doing calisthenics, and moving about at its landing spot dubbed “Octavia Butler Landing.” ((Butler’s 1998 book, Parable of the Talents, tells of the election of the populist, misogynistic, xenophobic Andrew Steele Jarret to the White House, whose rallying cry is “Make America Great Again.” During President Jarret’s administration, white supremacist groups grow powerful and usurp control in numerous locations.)) Jump forward a few decades and there may be a plaque placed at Octavia Butler Landing. Jump forward a few centuries and it might be a tourist site.

((I keep falling into the error of imagining that the surface of Mars is rather small - it’s about 30% that of Earth. But 70% of Earth is covered with water -- therefore the land area of the two planets is nearly equal: Earth with 149 million sq km and Mars with 141 million sq km.))

Scientists trained Percy to look for life, but who trained the scientists? Other scientists, of course. And what happens if Percy does find life on Mars? Even if Percy finds evidence of life on Mars, we won’t know whether it is similar to Earth life with DNA and all. To learn the answer to that question will require we get samples back to Earth. Percy is going to help by ‘pooping’ sealed tubes of samples out onto the Martian landscape. A future mission will: (1) go into orbit around Mars; (2) send down a rover and a ‘return rocket’; (3) the rover will scuttle about collecting Percy poops and load them onto the return rocket; (4) the rocket will blast back up into space and rendezvous with the orbiter; (5) the samples will be loaded into another rocket which will return to Earth and parachute down into some desert. (Rube Goldberg, we love you!) And if we find Martian life similar to Earth life, we won’t know if it developed autonomously or was seeded from Mars to Earth or from Earth to Mars or came to both planets from outside the Solar System. Fodder for future scientists.

The future of human space travel is taking shape. You may have heard that - on the third try - SpaceX landed a Starship without it immediately exploding. It blew up after sitting around for a while possibly because of a failure to vent away LOX (liquid oxygen) as it warmed up and tried to expand.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been insanely busy for over a year now. But that does not keep them from preparations for the future zombie apocalypse

Here are my livestream picks for the week:

Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate is not looking too good for our near-term and long-term future. This is “Carbon Sequestration Week” with a great lineup of online talks; and curiously that brings us to the issue of concrete, as well as carbon capture, oil wells, and Coca-Cola. There’s even a website where you can donate to capture carbon.

The future of the COVID-19 pandemic could be an entire SciSchmooze all to itself. Already one out of every five people in the U.S. have received at least one shot and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now going into people’s arms, speeding up the rate of vaccinations. But this is a ‘pandemic’ and the world-wide rate of vaccinations is quite low. If you have questions, there are sites with answers. Public Health professionals are making educated guesses for COVID-19’s future.

Stay smart, stay safe, and stay well, damn it

Dave Almandsmith

Bay Area Skeptics board member

“The only effect I ardently long to produce in my writings, is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from themselves in everything but the broad fact of being struggling erring human creatures.”

-George Eliot (1819 - 1880) English novelist, poet, and journalist

Upcoming Events:
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Monday, 03/08/2021

Growing Supermassive Black Holes - Livestream - 03/08/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

We now know that supermassive black holes, with masses of millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, are found at the centres of most galaxies (including our own galaxy, the Milky Way). But where do they come from and how do they get so big? This talk will describe how astronomers are able to see growing black holes and why we think they play a key role in shaping the Universe.

Speaker: James Aird

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In search for the elusive dark matter with the LZ experiment - Livestream - 03/08/2021 11:00 AM
SLAC Special Seminar

One of the major questions remaining in modern cosmology as well as particle physics is the nature of dark matter which constitutes the majority of the matter content of the universe. Many observations point to its existence but its exact form has remained elusive. A new particle is a likely explanation with Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, WIMPs, a particular favorite due to the mass scale involved. Direct detection experiments can look for interactions of dark matter and standard model particles and liquid Xenon provides a good medium for detecting WIMP interactions. But detecting this new particle requires incredible sensitivity and control of backgrounds, both achieved by the Lux-Zeplin (LZ) experiment. I will describe LZ, currently being commissioned at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. LZ represents over a decade of development; innovating hardware, data handling, software and analysis. I will first introduce the accomplishments of LZ'z predecessor, LUX, previously located on the same site. I will then focus on the R&D effort involved in bringing LZ to life, much of which took place at SLAC where further work continues. Finally, I will provide an update on the progress of LZ commissioning and a sampling of the science we can expect from it.

Speaker: Tomasz Biesiadzinski, SLAC

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Carbon Capture and Storage - Engineered Carbon Sequestration - Livestream - 03/08/2021 12:00 PM
Electrify Now

Carbon Capture and Storage is the process of capturing carbon dioxide, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere. There are many different places CO2 can be captured - from power plants to industrial centers to directly capturing this gas from the air.

Most pathways to zero carbon envision some serious application of carbon capture and storage in order for the world to stay below dangerous temperature levels. But there are many questions about the maturity of this technology, its costs and scalability and whether it will truly become an important tool in helping to solve the climate crisis.

Speakers: Deepika Nagabhushan, Clean Air Task Force; Brett Henkel, Svante

What Is Your Data Worth? Quantifying the Value of Data in Machine Learning - Livestream - 03/08/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum

As data becomes the fuel driving technological and economic growth, a fundamental challenge is how to quantify the value of data in algorithmic predictions and decisions. For example, CA Gov. Newsom recently proposed "data dividend" whereby consumers are compensated by companies for the data that they generate. In this talk we will present a principled framework to quantify the value of different data in machine learning. Beyond regulatory implications, we will discuss applications to denoising, active learning, and domain adaption on large biomedical datasets. I will conclude by discussing how data valuation contributes to a broader framework of accountable AI.

Speaker: James Zou, Stanford Univ.

Editor's Note: Keren Haroush, originally scheduled for this date, will not be speaking.  Instead this talk will be given.

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Gamma-ray Bursts: Nature’s Most Remarkable Cosmic Explosions - Livestream - 03/08/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium

First discovered serendipitously in 1967, the phenomena known as gamma-ray bursts - short-lived, extremely bright flashes of high-energy radiation - mystified astronomers for decades. Despite many breakthroughs, key open questions - such as the mechanism responsible for the prompt gamma-ray emission, as well as a detailed characterization of their progenitor systems - remain open. In this talk I’ll review several recent results, including 1) the discovery of very high-energy (TeV) gamma-rays from ground-based Cherenkov detectors; 2) the association of a peculiar short gamma-ray burst with the binary neutron star merger GW170817; and 3) prospects for utilizing these events as probes of the early universe and the epoch of reionization.

Speaker: Brad Cenko, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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An Entrepreneurial Journey to Solve Climate Change - Wins, Failures, and Lessons Learned - Livestream - 03/08/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar

Bill Gross is a pioneering renewable energy entrepreneur who has created seven billion-dollar-plus exits. Starting with creating a company called Solar Devices in high school, Bill has created more than 150 companies with more than 50 IPOs and acquisitions over the last 30 years.

Bill is the creator of one of the first, and now longest-running technology incubators - Idealab - which he founded in 1996 and still runs as the world’s leading startup studio.

Bill is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, climate change, renewable energy, and more at TED, DLD, Davos, and college campuses around the world, including Caltech, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, and where he serves on the board of trustees.

Three of Bill’s most impactful recent energy companies include Energy Vault for low-cost energy storage, Carbon Capture, for low-cost direct air capture of CO2, and Heliogen, pioneering ultra-high temperature solar concentration to both replace fossil fuels and create green fuels from the sun.

Bill is committed to showing that while climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time, using technological innovation to address it can make it one of the biggest economic opportunities at the same time.

Speaker: Bill Gross, Heliogen

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The physicist as a prism - Livestream - 03/08/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Speaker: Jacque Benitez, California Academy of Sciences

Making dark matter out of light - Livestream - 03/08/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley

Dark matter could be a “thermal-ish" relic of freeze-in, where the dark matter is produced by extremely feeble interactions with Standard Model particles dominantly at low temperatures. In this talk, I will discuss how dark matter can be made through freeze-in, accounting for a dominant channel where the dark matter gets produced by the decay of plasmons (photons that have an in-medium mass in the primordial plasma of our Universe). I will also explain how the resulting non-thermal dark matter velocity distribution can impact cosmological evolution, setting the stage for using the dark matter phase space as a handle for indirectly detecting dark matter in the future.

Speaker: Katelin Schutz, Massachusets Institute of Technology

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A fireside chat with two pioneers in science, Sandra M. Faber and Kathryn D. Sullivan - Livestream - 03/08/2021 05:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

We are thrilled to invite you to an inspiring conversation with two of our most prominent trailblazers in science, and who we are proud to say will be distinctly honored in our transformed Science & Engineering Library.

The conversation will explore their incredible careers and the influence UC Santa Cruz has had on their unparalleled success. Among many of their accomplishments, for instance, Sandra co-led the largest project in the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, an undertaking that extended our view of galaxy formation back nearly to the Big Bang, while Kathryn was part of the team that launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained the Hubble Space Telescope. The list of their accomplishments, recognitions, and awards is unmatched. What inspired them to pursue these exceptional careers? What is next for them? What are their hopes for our current students?

Speakers: Sandra Faber, UC Santa Cruz emerita; Kathryn Sullivan, Astronaut; Beth Shapiro, UC Santa Cruz, Moderator

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Tuesday, 03/09/2021

The Health Benefits of Vitamin D and Solar UVB - Livestream - 03/09/2021 09:00 AM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

This program will feature four vitamin D researchers who will discuss the evidence they generated and/or collected showing that vitamin D has important health benefits.

Carole Baggerly, CEO of, will outline the findings of health outcomes of more than 10,000 participants in their studies who take vitamin D supplements, measure their vitamin D levels every six months, and report any health changes. She will also discuss the evidence that vitamin D reduces risk of COVID-19. Dr. Carol L. Wagner will present results from studies of high-dose vitamin D supplementation of pregnant and nursing women, such as significantly reduced risk of preterm delivery. Professor Joan M. Lappe will discuss her clinical trials on vitamin D and calcium on prevention of cancer. William B. Grant, Ph.D., director of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, will moderate the discussion.

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JFrog, DevOps tool leader, uses AI and ML internally. Our Story Revealed! - 03/09/2021 11:50 AM
Magnimind Academy

Our sense of good DevOps practices is very strong at JFrog. As good techies, we drink our own champagne. So, how did we automate the data science and model training to have a validated secured version? And how did we automate the deployment to production? We will also explore how we see the future of AI in the enterprise.Agenda:11:40 am - 11:50 am Arrival and socializing11:50 am - 12:00 pm Opening12:00 pm - 1:50 pm Fred Simon and Matan Mashiah, "JFrog, DevOps tool leader, uses AI and ML internally. Our Story Revealed!"1:50 pm - 2:00 pm Q&ASpeakers: Fred Simon, JFrog;  Matan Mashiah, JFrogZoom link.Webinar ID: 838 5244 6246

Forests - Natural Carbon Sequestration - Livestream - 03/09/2021 12:00 PM
Electrify Now

Scientists think that planting billions of trees is one of the biggest and cheapest ways to solve our climate crisis. Research published in the journal Science in 2019 declares that a world wide planting program could remove up to - of human caused greenhouse gas emissions - a figure many call “mind-blowing.”

Beyond planting, other key considerations are how to manage and harvest forests, how to use carbon offset markets to help preserve them, the role of fire in this time of increasing mega fires and what we all can do to help get more trees on the ground.

Join us for a fascinating discussion with two panelists who are on the front lines of forest management who will discuss the vital importance of forests in solving climate change and sequestering carbon.

Speakers: Greg Meade, The Nature Conservancy; Julius Pasay, The Climate Trust

The Fate of Water on Mars: Tracing Water-rock Interactions Through Modelling, Satellites, and Rovers - Livestream - 03/09/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Speaker: Eva Scheller, Cal Tech

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The magic of moiré quantum matter - Livestream - 03/09/2021 04:30 PM
Stanford Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium

The understanding of strongly-correlated quantum matter has challenged physicists for decades. The discovery three years ago of correlated phases and superconductivity in magic angle twisted bilayer graphene led to the emergence of a new materials platform to investigate strongly correlated physics, namely moiré quantum matter. These systems exhibit a plethora of quantum phases, such as correlated insulators, superconductivity, magnetism, Chern insulators, and more. In this talk I will review some of the recent advances in the field, focusing on the newest generation of moiré quantum systems, where correlated physics, superconductivity, and other fascinating phases can be studied with unprecedented tunability. I will end the talk with an outlook of some exciting directions in this emerging field.

Speaker: Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, MIT

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Microbe-pollutant interactions between fluorinated fire-fighting foams and bioremediation of hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents - Livestream - 03/09/2021 05:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society

Microbes are fantastic chemists that can alter the fate of contaminants, but co-occurring contaminants can inhibit or stimulate microbial processes.  In this talk we will look at case studies with per- and poly-flourinated alkyl substances (PFAS), highly flourinated and sometimes called forever chemicals, and how hydrocarbon bioremediation impacts the fate of PFAS.  Likewise, we will look at how PFAS impacts trichloroethylene biotransformation.

Speaker: Christopher Olivares, UC Berkeley

Michael Mann: Moving Forward Together on Climate Change - Livestream - 03/09/2021 07:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002.

Dr. Mann is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, numerous op-eds and commentaries, and five books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy and The Tantrum that Saved the World. Forthcoming in early 2021 is The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet.

Wednesday, 03/10/2021

Wonderfest: Life's Edge - Livestream - 03/10/2021 12:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

At least since physicist Irwin Schrödinger published "What Is Life?" (1944), the popular imagination has struggled alongside scientific exploration to recognize what is alive, and what isn't. The question hangs over some of society's most charged conflicts - whether a fertilized egg is a living person, and when we ought to declare a person legally dead. We even wonder if we can create life in the lab, and we certainly hope our billion-dollar interplanetary probes know how to look for it in space. This is the subject of Carl Zimmer's brand new book, Life's Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive.

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Ask the Scientist - Aurora Ricart - 03/10/2021 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.

Aurora Ricart is a marine ecologist studying global change in coastal marine ecosystems. With a Master and Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Barcelona (Spain) and wide international research experience, Dr. Ricart is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Maine, and the Bodega Marine Laboratory, California. Her research addresses questions in four main areas: Seascape ecology, Community ecology, Ecosystems resilience, Coastal carbon cycling. Her general approach consists of developing studies in field and lab settings to investigate (1) impacts of climate change, environmental change, and human action in foundation species of marine macrophytes (seagrasses and seaweeds), and (2) the potential of these ecosystems to combat climate change effects through carbon sequestration.

Who helps whom? The role of marine forests on the mitigation and adaptation to climate change - Livestream - 03/10/2021 03:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is essential to slow down the velocity of climate change. Likewise, the complementary implementation of other mitigation and adaptation strategies is equally important to increase environmental, social, and economic resilience. In the ocean, one strategy is to focus conservation and management actions on foundation species of marine macrophytes, such as seagrass meadows and kelp forests. First, the capacity of these systems to sequester carbon in the sediments (blue carbon) makes them carbon sinks at global scales. Second, the capacity of these systems to increase local mean pH by removing CO2 from seawater through net photosynthetic activity makes them important habitats to consider as ocean acidification (OA) refugia. However, while their carbon sink capacity is widely recognized, the capacity of marine macrophytes to effectively buffer OA is still an open question. In this talk, I will show the latter research I have developed on this topic in seagrass ecosystems and will give a glance at current and future work on kelp forests.

Speaker:  Aurora Ricart, Postdoctoral Scientist, Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences

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The UC Botanical Garden Tropical House Collection - Livestream - 03/10/2021 04:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden

Enter the Tropical House at the UC Botanical Garden and you will be enveloped in a warm and lush environment! Featuring a great diversity of plants from the rainforests of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, this global collection houses both familiar tropical favorites and those that are rare and threatened with extinction. Holly Forbes, Garden Curator and head of our conservation program, will take us on a virtual tour of this collection. We will also explore the exciting project to redesign both the exterior (complete) and interior (underway) of this important greenhouse display with Garden Director Lew Feldman. This program is the kick-off to our 24-hour BIG GIVE fundraising campaign to refurbish our Tropical House. If you love the Tropical House experience, visit our website to learn more and join our efforts!

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Bay Nature Talks: Chaparral Fire Ecology & Fire-Following Plants Around Us - Livestream - 03/10/2021 04:00 PM
Bay Nature Institute

In this timely Bay Nature Talk, senior botanist and rare plant specialist Heath Bartosh will delve into chaparral fire ecology, including fire return intervals, life history strategies of chaparral plants, and climate concerns. Learn about how chaparral recovers from fire, meet some common fire following plants, and find out where to see fire followers this spring! Heath will accompany his talk with slides from the California Coast Ranges.

He will be joined by Christina Toms, ecological engineer and senior scientist, who will lead a lively and informative Q&A following Heath’s presentation.

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Lick Observatory During Pandemics: 1918 and 2020 - Livestream - 03/10/2021 07:00 PM
Silicon Valley Astronomy Series

Lick Observatory, the first continuously inhabited mountain-top observatory in the world, has been doing ground-breaking research since its opening in 1888.  30 years after Lick Observatory established itself as a leader in astronomical research, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic hit the United States.  Research, while hampered by the conditions at the time, continued with the dedicated efforts of William Wallace Campbell, Heber Curtis, and other notable astronomers of the day.  Dr. Gates will highlight the hot topics of research being done in 1918 and how the observatory persevered through the difficult conditions at the time.

Today we are experiencing another devastating pandemic - COVID-19.  Shelter-in-place orders and shutdowns have limited Lick Observatory operations.   Additionally, the SCU wildfire disrupted operations and almost destroyed the observatory, creating additional challenges for staff and researchers.  Dr. Gates will describe how they have dealt with the challenges and adapted to continue as much research and data acquisition as possible, particularly in the areas of supernovae, exoplanet, and SETI research, as well as commissioning new telescopes and instruments.

Speaker: Dr. Elinor Gates is a staff astronomer at Lick Observatory

YouTube link to watch the lecture.  It will be recorded and available later at this same link.

Thursday, 03/11/2021

The Famous Corpse Flower - Livestream - 03/11/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

The Famous Corpse Flower or What's that foul smell in the Tropical House?

Known to have the world's largest "flower" (unbranched inflorescence to be precise), the titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is a star attraction in our Tropical House collection, especially when in bloom with a structure that can reach over 3 meters (10 ft) high! Join Garden Director Emeritus Paul Licht for a literal inside look into this incredible plant whose famous flower stink gives it the nickname corpse flower. We'll discuss its native habitat, interesting life cycle, and when a bloom might be expected. We'll also learn about other fascinating relatives in the arum family growing in the Garden. This program is part of our 24-hour BIG GIVE fundraising campaign to refurbish our Tropical House interior. If you love the Corpse Flower and the Tropical House, visit our website to learn more and join our efforts!

Labside Chats: A Conversation with a Scientist : Luis Huckstadt - Livestream - 03/11/2021 11:00 AM
Seymour Science Center

Tune in for the next Labside Chat with Luis Huckstadt, assistant researcher with the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. Learn about the role large predators, such as marine mammals, play in the marine ecosystem.

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

*  What are stable isotope analyses and biologging technologies, and how are they used to understand marine predators? *  How are marine predators studied in hard-to-access areas such as high latitudes and polar regions? *  Is there a link between changing environments and at-sea behaviors of marine mammals?

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Green Concrete - Building with Carbon- Livestream - 03/11/2021 12:00 PM
Electrify Now

Concrete is both a big problem and a big opportunity in our climate crisis. It currently accounts for 8% of CO2 emissions which is comparable to the entire agriculture sector. Yet, new low carbon concrete mixes are already in use and scientists are exploring the possibilities of actually sequestering carbon in concrete making it carbon neutral or negative.

We’ll talk to scientists leading this work and get an update on research, availability and pricing of green concrete as we look to reduce emissions from this important sector.

Speakers: Alana Guzzetta, UC Concrete; Michael Bernert, WCP, Inc; Alex Boetzel, Green Hammer

Liftoff: Inside the Historic Flights that Launched Elon Musk's SpaceX - Livestream - 03/11/2021 03:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

Hear the dramatic inside story of the first four historic flights that launched SpaceX - and Elon Musk - from a shaky startup into the world's leading-edge rocket company.

In 2006, SpaceX - a brand-new venture with fewer than 200 employees - rolled its first, single-engine rocket onto a launch pad at Kwajalein Atoll. After a groundbreaking launch from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Falcon 1 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s engineers rose into the air for approximately 30 seconds. Then its engine flamed out, and the rocket crashed back into the ocean.

In 2007, SpaceX undertook a second launch. This time, the rocket rose far into space, but just before reaching orbit it spun out of control. Confident of success in 2008, Musk and his team launched their third rocket with several paying customers. The first stage executed perfectly, but instead of falling away, it thudded into the second stage. Another failure. Elon Musk had only budgeted for three attempts when he founded SpaceX.

Out of money and with a single Falcon 1 rocket left in its factory, SpaceX decided to try one last, dramatic launch. Over eight weeks, engineers worked furiously to prepare this final rocket. The fate of Musk’s venture mirrored the trajectory of this slender, single-engine rocket aimed toward the skies. If it crashed and burned, so would SpaceX. In September 2008, SpaceX’s last chance for success lifted off . . . and accelerated like a dream, soaring into orbit flawlessly.

That success would launch a miraculous decade for the company, in which SpaceX grew from building a single-engine rocket to one with a staggering 27 engines; created two different spacecraft; and mastered reusable-rocket descents using mobile drone ships on the open seas. It marked a level of production and achievement that has not been seen since the space race of the 1960s.

But these achievements would not have been possible without SpaceX’s first four flight tests. Drawing on unparalleled access and exclusive interviews with dozens of former and current employees - engineers, designers, mechanics and executives, including Elon Musk - Eric Berger tells the complete story of this foundational generation that transformed SpaceX into the world’s leading space company.

Speaker: Eric Berger, Author; Alison van Diggelen, host, Journalist

Tropical House Highlights with Anthony Garza - Livestream - 03/11/2021 04:30 PM
UC Botanical Garden

Get a special sneak-peek into our beautiful, newly "reskinned" Tropical House with our Supervisor of Horticulture Anthony Garza live from the Tropical House itself! During this short program, Anthony will walk us through some of the fabulous plants in this collection, including rare cycads, orchids, towering rainforest canopy trees and tiny bromeliads. Join us for this 'plant happy hour' and help us reach our goal in the final stretch of our 24-hour BIG GIVE fundraising campaign to refurbish the interior of our Tropical House. If you love Tropical plants, visit our website to learn more and join our efforts!

SFBBO Birdy Hour Talk: A Walk Through a Bay Area Birder’s Garden - Livestream - 03/11/2021 05:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory

Join Barbara Coll as she walks through her garden live! As she walks around her yard, she will point out the feeders, plants, and water elements that attract the 63 species she has recorded in 30+ years of living in Menlo Park on the San Francisquito Creek. She will also discuss feeder/birdbath maintenance, the current Pine Siskin irruption and subsequent Salmonella outbreak, seed types, and which plants the birds love. Barbara will share many videos and photos of the birds that she sees from her home windows. She is also a fanatic eBird user and will introduce you to the Yard tracking feature.

Barbara Coll is a regular volunteer with SFBBO. She took her birding to a new level a few years ago by starting to photograph the birds she sees. When she retired from the insanity of Silicon Valley and the digital marketing world, she found birding a wonderful mix of nature, challenge and statistics. Barb’s website with all her photography can be found at

This event will be fun, casual, and family-friendly! Please register here

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The Bees' Disease and Building a Stronger Postman - Livestream - 03/11/2021 05:00 PM
Grounds for Science

Grab an after-work beverage of your choice for a fun night of science, trivia, and socializing with two budding UC Berkeley researchers. The Bees' Disease: How Do Bees Get Sick? Speaker: Nina Sokolov, Department of Integrative Biology Did you know that there are over 20,000 species of bees worldwide? The European honey bee is just one species that faces staggering winter losses due to a variety of stressors, including infectious diseases. Viruses that were once thought to be honey bee specific however, are now being found in many other bee species, with unknown impacts on their populations. This talk will focus on an overview of the viruses that make bees sick, what bee sickness looks like, why it is hard to diagnose, and how flowers are involved. Building a Stronger Postman: How to Improve RNA Messengers Speaker: Teena Bajaj, Department of Bioengineering While DNA is the king of the cell, proteins are its major workforce. But how does the workforce get instructions from the king? A postman! In our cells, the postman is called messenger RNA, or mRNA, carrying information from DNA to proteins. But mRNA tends to be unstable and delicate. This talk will describe a process scientists are using to make mRNA stronger and how this improvement can help treat genetic diseases.

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March LASER Event - Livestream - 03/11/2021 06:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley) on "The Novel after the Scientific Revolution"

Anastasia Raina and the Posthuman Mobility team (Rhode Island School of Design) on "Microbial Cosmologies"

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

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NightSchool: Wolves - Livestream - 03/11/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

Get to know the wolf, one of North America’s most iconic terrestrial mammals and important predators - as well as one of its most controversial species. We’ll dig into wolf history and ecology, scientific classification, and the complicated relationship between wolves and humans.

Ages 21+

After Dark Online: Fractals - 03/11/2021 07:00 PM

From forests to farms and skies to shores, we’re surrounded by fractals. These infinitely complex patterns, which emerge from repeating a simple process over and over, are aesthetically astonishing and a valuable tool for creating meaning from chaos. Tonight, practice your pattern recognition as we dig into fractals - where they show up in nature, how they can be used to understand scientific concepts, and their role in aiding predictions. Then indulge in some celebration of this phenomenon's exceptional beauty. 

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook Live links.

Haunted Humanity: The Fringe Is Not Fringe, and That’s a Big Deal - 03/11/2021 07:30 PM
Bay Area Skeptics

Paranormal, pseudoscientific, and fringe beliefs are chronically understudied major aspects of the human condition and significant drivers of world events since antiquity. He explores why baseless beliefs are consistently dismissed until it is too late, and why we are so often unprepared for events we were warned about, from climate change to pandemics to the ascendancy of paranoid conspiracy theories in American politics. Paranormal and similar weird beliefs are neither a “rising tide” nor a winnable battle, but a challenging endemic reality that must be continually faced and managed. ¿What would it take to get serious about the overlooked central role that weird beliefs play in shaping society?

Speaker:Daniel Loxton is a Canadian writer and illustrator who studies allegedly paranormal and other fringe claims for the nonprofit Skeptics Society.

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Friday, 03/12/2021

Lakes, evaporites, and sand: Investigations into the sedimentary cycle on Saturn’s moon Titan - Livestream - 03/12/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Saturn’s moon Titan hosts the only active hydrological cycle outside of Earth’s and, thus, an associated sedimentary cycle where surface materials are modified and redistributed with the ebb and flow of liquid hydrocarbons. In this talk, we’ll discuss some recent efforts to understand the history of Titan’s lakes and seas, their associated organic deposits, and how these processes manifest across the surface, especially as might be observable by NASA’s next New Frontiers Mission, Titan.

Speaker: Shannon Mackenzie, Johns Hopkins University

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Soils - Recapturing Carbon with Agriculture - Livestream - 03/12/2021 12:00 PM
Electrify Now

Climate change conversation does not immediately spawn thoughts of soil for most. But soils play a crucial role in absorbing the carbon that our modern civilization emits. Join Electrify Now, to discuss natural climate solutions (NCS), and how we can promote their adoption.

Global emissions need to reach net-zero by mid-century. Electrification helps us reduce emissions output, NCS can help get us the rest of the way. Natural and working lands can absorb up to 37% of 2030 emissions found a recent report by The Nature Conservancy. Learn from experts on how soils and land use change and regenerative agriculture can help us reduce climate impacts and lead to broader co-benefits such as wildfire management and more fertile soils.

Speakers: Tim LaSalle, California State Uinversity, Chico; Kyle Hemes, Stanford; Peter Kernan, Community Energy Project, Portland, OR., Moderator

Saturday, 03/13/2021

North Bay Science Discovery Day - Livestream - 03/13/2021 09:00 AM
North Bay Science Discovery Day

Children, teens, and families are invited to join us for a FREE North Bay Science Discovery Day.

Discovery Day is a FREE event that will spark curiosity and excitement about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Previous Discovery Days have been in-person events at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. We hope to return in person in the future, but the 2021 event will be virtual due to COVID-19.

Register at weblink and see full list of presentations and schedule. Register by noon on March 12.

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 03/13/2021 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, 03/14/2021

Milkweeds and Milkweed Butterflies - Livestream - 03/14/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

Join our resident caterpillar lady Sal Levinson and butterfly guy Sarab Seth for an illustrated slideshow about various milkweeds and milkweed butterflies found locally and globally. Our fun Zoom event is suitable for all ages.

Register at weblink to receive connection information.

Pi (π) Day - Online - 03/14/2021 01:15 PM
ExplOratoriumPi (π) Day “Round” Table + Listening Party Free online event - join viaFacebookorYouTube

No matter how you slice it, you won’t want to miss Pi (π) Day - we’ll be celebrating differently this year, but you can still join the party for this irrational and transcendent figure. Math artist John Sims will host a live listening session featuring work from his music project 31415: The Pi Collection. This performance will present his work: "Pi Day Anthem" video, a spoken-word "Dear Pi" letter, and the world premiere of a new "Jazz Pi" composition. Then join our panel of pi enthusiasts dishing out bites of pi trivia and pi art (along with a side of puns and pi-kus), and ask your questions and share your pi stories in the live chat.

Check out our pi activities to snack on at home, four new pi-themed videos in the player on this page, new servings of pi curiosities, and share your own celebrations below.

What is Pi (π) Day?

Founded in 1988 at the Exploratorium, Pi (π) Day has become an international holiday, celebrated live and online all around the world. The numbers in the date (3/14) match the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi (π).

What is π, anyway? Divide any circle’s circumference by its diameter; the answer (whether for a pie plate or a planet) is always approximately 3.14, a number we represent with the Greek letter π. Keep calculating π’s digits with more and more accuracy - as mathematicians have been doing for 4,000 years - and you’ll discover they go on literally forever, with no pattern.

Monday, 03/15/2021

Instrumentation in Astronomy: Building Cameras to Take Pictures of Extra-Solar Planets - Livestream - 03/15/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Speaker: Dr. Isabel Lipartito, Lockheed Martin Focalplane

The New Nuclear Arms Race, Its Dangers, and How to Turn it Around - Livestream - 03/15/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley

The United States and Russia are engaged in the first phases of a new nuclear arms race. With the recent shredding of arms-control agreements, this race may proceed unfettered and could lead to unprecedented dangers to humanity. As scientists we are obliged to understand the dynamics of this race and its dangers, and to lead in averting the rush to oblivion.

Speaker: Robert Goldston, Princeton University

Wonderfest: Woman in Motion + Searching for Solar System Life - Livestream - 03/15/2021 08:00 PM

Hailing frequencies open! Woman in Motion (2019) tells the inspiring story of Nichelle Nichols, recipient of NASA's Public Service Award and portrayer of Lt. Uhura, Communications Officer for the glorious starship Enterprise (2019 + 2.5 centuries). Movie Nation's Roger Moore says that this compelling documentary "underscores Nichols' undeniable contribution to broadening NASA's horizons and drumming up interest in STEM education among minority students all over America." Moore also describes the film as "warm, sentimental, and delightful ... transcending its natural 'Star Trek' fan appeal." Alongside the movie, in a livestream video that starts at 8pm PST, we'll enjoy the insights of another woman in motion: planetary scientist Erin Redwing will describe her own "search for new (solar system) life" through research at the University of California.

See weblink for instructions to access the documentary prior to the talk

Tuesday, 03/16/2021

Bouverie in Bloom - Livestream - 03/16/2021 12:00 PM
Audubon Canyon Ranch

Decarbonization in the Real World - Livestream - 03/16/2021 03:00 PM
Columbia University

Basic Science Lights the Way: Shedding Light on Black Holes - Livestream - 03/16/2021 05:00 PM
UC Berkeley

Two Talks: Popping the Science Bubble - Livestream - 03/16/2021 05:30 PM
Berkeley Public Library

Fascinating Mushroom Spores - Livestream - 03/16/2021 07:00 PM
Mycological Society of San Francisco

Wednesday, 03/17/2021

Robotics and human-computer interaction - Livestream - 03/17/2021 12:00 PM
Berkeley Institute for Data Science

Eavesdropping in the Arctic on singing bowheads and a changing climate - Livestream - 03/17/2021 03:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center

What is pyrogeography and how can it help us coexist with wildfire? - Livestream - 03/17/2021 04:00 PM
Energy and Resources Group

Full-Spectrum Science Online: Making Color - 03/17/2021 04:00 PM

AI Trust: Adversarial Attacks on AI ML models and defenses against attacks - Livestream - 03/17/2021 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery

Celebrating Stephen Hawking: How Black Holes are Not Quite Black - Livestream - 03/17/2021 07:30 PM
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

Thursday, 03/18/2021

Midday Science Cafe - Leveraging the Quantum Realm: How Small Physics Solves Big Problems - Livestream - 03/18/2021 12:00 PM
Science @ Cal

Turning the Oxygen and Vitamin Dials - Livestream - 03/18/2021 05:00 PM
Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley

What Would US Climate Policy Look Like if People and Planet Truly Mattered? - Livestream - 03/18/2021 06:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society

Building a Better World through Tech for Collaboration - Livestream - 03/18/2021 06:00 PM
Computer History Museum

NightSchool: Extreme Science - Livestream - 03/18/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

After Dark Online: Shifting Spring - 03/18/2021 07:00 PM

Friday, 03/19/2021

From Plant Scents to Perfumes - Livestream - 03/19/2021 11:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

Wildflowers of the Bay Area - Livestream - 03/19/2021 12:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

The Detection and Confirmation of Gravitational Waves - Livestream - 03/19/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers

Saturday, 03/20/2021

Dan Gluesenkamp: The Franciscan Manzanita Story: from Saving 'one last plant' to Protecting California's Bountiful Biodiversity - Livestream - 03/20/2021 10:00 AM
Friends of the Regional Parks Botanical Gardens

The Chocolate Tree - Livestream - 03/20/2021 10:00 AM
UC Botanical Garden

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 03/20/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Sunday, 03/21/2021

Water Management, Climate Change, and Salmon Health: The Story of the Sacramento River - Livestream - 03/21/2021 01:30 PM
Seymour Science Center

Monday, 03/22/2021

UC Berkeley Condensed Matter Physics Lecture - Livestream - 03/22/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley

Deep Dive into AI and Deep Learning Infrastructure with Lambda Labs - Livestream - 03/22/2021 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery