SciSchnooze and Leap!
August 14, 2022
Hello again science fans,
Daniela Rößler (‘ß’ is a double-s symbol used in Deutschland) has gathered fascinating data suggesting that jumping spiders might actually dream while sleeping. ¿Sleeping spiders? Well, yes. Just about every animal has been observed in behaviors that seem to indicate sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is associated with dreaming in humans, and other mammals often move and sometimes vocalize during REM sleep. Problem here: the two big forward-facing eyes that salticids (jumping spiders) use for hunting prey don't move; they’re fixed to the head. But their retinas do move! These tiny spiders look around their surroundings by moving their retinas back and forth - sorta like broad windshield wipers. Since young salticids are mostly transparent, Rößler filmed apparent REM sleep in a salticid species (Movie S2).
And then there are ‘sneezing’ sponges. Kid you not. Sponges secrete mucus to help trap ‘food’ (detritus, plankton, etc.) in their tiny little passages and every once in a while they expel that snot with a slo-mo sneeze.
Gotta love this world we’re in!
There are monkeys in the Americas because some survived rafting across the Atlantic over 30 million years ago. Since then, old-world monkeys gave rise to apes including us - smart cookies that we are. Research on Capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica suggests that they have become rather social and intelligent here in the new-world resulting in close friendships, etc. Yet not all is vine and roses; Capuchins - as with many other primates - practice infanticide.
Polio has not been eradicated. Wild poliomyelitis virus type 1 (PV1) is found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and recently it turned up thousands of kilometers away in Malawi. More common are vaccine-derived polio viruses (VDPV). These are mutated forms of the oral poliomyelitis vaccine. Bummer. Apparently, hundreds if not thousands of people in England and in New York are currently infected with VDPV2 (vaccine-derived poliomyelitis virus type 2). Most people show no symptoms from polio, but for those who do develop symptoms, there is no cure and disabilities from the disease are generally permanent and can be fatal. (Which is a kind of permanence, i suppose.) Vaccinations are 100% effective but it’s anticipated that many will refuse to be vaccinated due to religious beliefs, conspiracy theories, and politics.
¿Seismometers in the air? Actually, yes. As the earth quakes, it creates low frequency sounds that travel much like other sounds. Seismometers firmly set on the ground work much better so why on Earth would scientists work on perfecting seismometers that hang from balloons? Because it has to do with Venus, not Earth. It’s too hot on the Venusian surface for instruments to survive, so the plan is to send a balloon-supported seismometer into the more temperate Venusian clouds.
The James Webb Space Telescope - JWST from now on - gave us a spectacular view of the Cartwheel Galaxy. I’ll let astrophysicist Dr. Becky Smethurst of the University of Oxford tell you about it.
Kathryn H won the JWST mirror lapel pin when the random number generator disgorged 101. This time we’re offering a laser-cut kit of an 8-inch James Webb Space Telescope model. The photo shows the model completed by a previous SciSchmooze winner. Just send an email to david.almandsmith [at] gmail.com (only one) before noon Friday with an integer between zero and 1,000. We will then use a random number generator to select the target number and mail the kit to the person who chose the closest number.
Bennu: An Asteroid Full of Surprises - Livestream: 10 - 11am Wednesday
Limitations of AI systems on Explainability, Causality, and Ethic - Livestream: 7 - 8:30pm Wednesday
After Dark: Fly: 6 - 10pm Thursday, S.F. explOratorium, $
Science Sunday: The Human Story Behind Your Fish - Livestream: 1:30 - 2:30 Sunday
And a special event next month, but tickets will sell out fast:
Einstein: 7 - 830pm (followed by Q&A) Friday September 16, Davis
Important legislation was passed by the Congress! Imagine that! The oddly-named Inflation Reduction Act has much in it (over a third of a trillion dollars) that is earmarked for tackling climate change. Realistically, even that is insufficient - but it will help.
Space satellite studies of the Antarctic are revealing greater water loss than previous estimates. Some of that ice loss is from glaciers calving enough ice to cause a retreating glacier ‘face’. Another study shows that much of the continent’s surface is a few centimeters lower now than it was a few years ago. A study just published in Communications Earth & Environment estimates that the Arctic is warming up not twice as fast as the rest of our planet, but nearly four times as fast.
Take a tour through Meltsville to learn ways that higher temperatures affect cities.
Meanwhile, there are a host of developments that are reducing fossil fuel consumption. All-electric locomotives are shuttling train cars around rail yards. (Think of them as gigantic Teslas on rails.) Ocean-going ships are installing Flettner Rotors. So far, reduction in the use of fossil fuels by these technologies is slight - but they are pushing past the ‘proof of concept’ phase.
Approximately 600 humans die from COVID each day in the U.S. That is manageable from a public health standpoint - but horrific. Two older acquaintances of mine were treated with Paxlovid and both experienced ‘rebound’. Rebound is the term used when a person tests negative after a bout with the disease, but just days later symptoms return and tests are again positive. It is surprisingly and bafflingly common. The two suffered only minor symptoms and recovered fully.
I leave you today with a few fun and fascinating videos:
Be bold this week, reach out, expand your empathy space,
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics
Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology and the fundamental equations of physics.
― Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018) Theoretical physicist and cosmologist
Click to see the next two weeks of events in your browser.
How Can Silicon Valley Protect the Most Vulnerable? - 08/16/2022 05:00 PM
swissnex San Francisco San Francisco
Join us for a panel discussion and networking session on how Silicon Valley institutions can help the most vulnerable protect themselves in cyberspace.
Small organizations such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial government organizations (SLTTs) and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) struggle to protect themselves and their beneficiaries in cyberspace. On the other side, startups and technology companies have unique expertise that can help them respond to some of the key challenges these organizations face.
Ultimately, our common safe future physically and in cyberspace depends on our ability to protect everyone. To this end, numerous public, private, academic and civil society actors are stepping up to offer protection to the most vulnerable.
Join us on Tuesday, August 16 at Pier 17 and meet the innovators and leaders from the Bay area and beyond who are working literally on the frontline of cyber peace.
They will introduce us to their "give-back" programs and share their insights about key trends shaping the future of cyberspace and cyber peace. We will then host a networking session where you will discover how you too can play a role towards a safe cyberspace.
Speakers: Adam Rosenzweig, OKTA for Good; Adrien Ogee, CyperPeace Institute; Ann Cleaveland, UC Berkeley; Michael Makstman, City and County of San Francisco; Yannick Heiniger, swissnex, San Francisco
Two Talks: Popping the Science Bubble - Livestream - 08/16/2022 05:30 PM
Berkeley Public Library
It's not easy staying green: Understanding Plant Immune Systems
Speaker: Chandler Sutherland, UC Berkeley
Plant Disease Evolution across California: Surviving Cold Winters
Monica Donegan, UC Berkeley
Since arriving at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission has brought a wealth of observations of the near-Earth asteroid revealing at the same time a lot of surprises.
Bennu has proved to be consistently unpredictable. The OSIRIS-REx team found a rough surface littered with boulders instead of the smooth, sandy beach they had expected based on observations from Earth- and space-based telescopes. Researchers also discovered that Bennu was ejecting rock particles from its surface into space. Unusual, bright boulders on its surface seem to come from the main-belt asteroid, Vesta. And finally, a few weeks ago, measurements taken during the sampling collection revealed that the asteroid is so loosely packed and lightly bound to each other that if a person were to step onto the asteroid, they would feel very little resistance. Bennu may have the same internal structure as a Plastic Ball Pit.
To discuss the key results provided by OSIRIS-REx, we invited three scientists involved in the mission, the data analysis and interpretation of these data. Chrysa Avdellidou, Planetary scientist at the Nice Observatory in France; Erica Jawin, Postdoctoral Research Geologist at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Saverio Cambioni, EAPS Distinguished Fellow at MIT.
Together with moderator Franck Marchis, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, the researchers will discuss how they have used data from OSIRIS-REx to revisit our understanding of small solar system bodies and will tell us how expectations about the asteroid's surface were largely wrong.
Register at weblink
Understanding the Milky Way - Livestream - 08/17/2022 03:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event
The Milky Way - its hundred billion stars, supermassive black holes and countless unsolved mysteries - is as intriguing as it is colossal. And for astrophysicist Dr. Moiya McTier, merely studying it is not enough, as she combines myth and science into a whimsical, fanciful and fascinating "autobiography" of our home galaxy.
Dr. McTier holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Columbia University and studies astrophysics as well as folklore and mythology at Harvard University. In her latest book, The Milky Way, McTier takes on the role of the titular galaxy and delivers a "juicy tell all" of its formation, growth, history and relationship with its surrounding galaxies. Sharing fascinating tales ranging from out intergalactic rivals to the time the Milky Way was once in love, McTier breaks down advanced astronomy into playful, simple and easily understood chunks.
Join us, as Dr. Moiya McTier shares the never-before-told personal story of the colossal place we call home, and helps us understand better the universe around us.
Tickets are FREE with discount code Wonderfest22
Limitations of AI systems on Explainability, Causuality, and Ethic - Livestream - 08/17/2022 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery
Today, there are more than fifty domains in which AI systems perform at least as well as humans, and there are hundreds more where they are helping humans in making better decisions. However, current AI systems suffer from several debilitating limitations. For example, even the well-trained deep learning networks are often not robust and can recognize random images having perturbed patterns with over 99% confidence (such as a king penguin or a starfish). Medical doctors make mistakes too but by and large, we trust them. Unfortunately, trust mainly develops over time, but transparency and predictability can help.
Whereas predictability usually requires that these systems do not falter with small perturbations, transparency requires openness, proper explanations, and useful interpretations. The latter requirements are particularly daunting since most AI algorithms act as "black-boxes" and provide no explanations. This lack of "explainability" can be a stumbling block in adopting these systems especially in the fields of health care, legal and criminal, security, defense and military, product liability, and financial services.
In this talk, we first discuss need for explainble AI (XAI) and application domains that generally require XAI. Since explainability may not be easy to come by for current AI systems, we discuss various research efforts for achieving interpretable, causal, fair, and ethical AI systems.
Speaker: Alok Aggarwal, Scry Analytics
Register at weblink to receive connection information
The World's Largest International Dark Sky Reserve - Livestream - 08/17/2022 07:00 PM
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers
Over the past 100+ years, the world's night skies have been rapidly vanishing due to the spread of light pollution. Thankfully, easy solutions to light pollution exist. In a remote region of West Texas and Northern Mexico, astronomers, conservationists, parks, and many communities have teamed together to form the largest area in the world where the night sky is protected: the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve is not only the largest of its kind at over 15,000 square miles in area, but also the first such reserve to cross an international border. At the core of the reserve is the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, home to one of the largest telescopes in the world. McDonald Observatory has worked with surrounding communities for decades to promote better lighting practices to preserve our night skies, without requiring people to live in darkness. Stephen Hummel will discuss the impact of artificial light as well as the strategies that have led to the reserve's success.
Speakers: Stephen Hummel, University of Texas McDonald Observatory; Amber Harrison, International Dark Sky Association, Tucson
See weblink to attend.
As scientists continuously hunt for novel approaches to combat our energy crisis, the field of materials science has secured a spot in the fight, furthering our understanding of the properties and applications of matter. "Materials discovery" is at the heart of this research. In this month's Midday Science Cafe, Berkeley Lab's Dr. Matt Horton will walk us through the process of discovering materials, how computing has given us new tools to examine crystals in ways we never thought possible, and how researchers have embraced the open-data, open-source revolution. We'll then zoom in on one of these applications with UC Berkeley's Dr. Rachel Woods-Robinson. She will take us on a journey to understand solar cells, starting from the sun, down to nanoscale proportions, and into the tiny crystals that convert sunlight into electricity. She'll highlight the most important material challenges that scientists face in making solar a viable energy alternative - more efficient, reliable, and sustainable.
Speakers: Rachel Woods-Robinson UC Berkeley; Matthew Horton, Berkeley Lab
Registration required in advance
NightLife: Art Lab - 08/18/2022 06:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco
NightLife: Art Lab is back for another interactive evening dedicated to the intersections of science and art. For budding and seasoned artists alike, get those creative juices flowing with hands-on art practice inspired by the natural world.
The Importance of Mentoring in STEM - Livestream - 08/18/2022 06:00 PM
Astronomical Society of the Pacific San Francisco
Why is mentorship important? Are you committed and dedicated to being the change you want to see in the STEM field? Let's come together to explore the recommendations from the groundbreaking American Institute in Physics Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (AIP TEAM-UP) Report. Harris has dedicated her professional career to supporting Black and Brown students in the STEM fields with a focus in Physics and Astronomy. She will be sharing with you her #AuntieJess Mentoring Program best practices. We will receive tangible methods to support students in STEM through mentorship.
Speaker: Jessica Harris, physicist
After Dark: Fly - 08/18/2022 06:00 PM
ExplOratorium San Francisco
Flutter, float, gust, waft, or soar - just get ready to be blown away. Tinker with wind tunnels and wind tables. Marvel at wind-powered whirligigs and aerodynamic designs. Then step outside to see the familiar in unfamiliar ways. Tonight, creativity is in the air!
California Hummingbirds and More - Livestream - 08/18/2022 07:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society Berkeley
Although the focus of this talk is California hummingbirds, we'll also stop in Arizona and Central and South America as we discuss the origin and taxonomy of these flying jewels, their nesting and migration behaviors, and some of the features that make hummingbirds so unique.
Speaker: Bob Lewis, photographer
See weblink for Zoom information or attend in person
NightSchool: Animal Navigation - Livestream - 08/18/2022 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences
Animals don't use GPS to navigate the world around them, so how do they do it? Join us for a night featuring some of the amazing science behind communication and wayfinding in nature.
Sharks routinely make long-distance migrations, sometimes spanning entire ocean basins to their targeted locations. How do they maintain such incredible navigational success? Dr. Bryan Keller, Foreign Affairs Specialist at NOAA Fisheries, shares the story of a group of bonnethead sharks off the coast of Florida, and how they may be using the earth's magnetic field as a navigational aid. Bats are skilled at echolocation, producing soundwaves to pinpoint their surroundings, but when it comes to navigating mid-flight they might not rely on echolocation as much as previously thought. Dr. Aaron Corcoran, Head of the Sensory and Aerial Ecology Lab at the University of Colorado, reveals the nighttime-navigation strategies of the hoary bat. Ever taken a second to look closely at the marvels of an ant trail? Learn about the communication ecology of these insects as Jaime Mathew Chalissery, Master of Pest Management, shares the secrets of how little ants traverse a big world, and how one species of pavement ant coordinates its vast network of trails.
See weblink for links to YouTube and Facebook.
Virtual Telescope Viewing: the Return of Saturn - 08/18/2022 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center
Stay up with Chabot Astronomers on a Journey to the sixth planet from the Sun, Saturn, also known as the "Jewel of the Solar System"!
Saturn is the second largest planet in our solar system, after Jupiter. Saturn is a "gas giant" composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, and is best known for the bright, beautiful rings that circle its equator. The rings are made up of countless particles of ice and rock that each orbit Saturn independently!
Join Chabot Astronomers on Thursday evening, August 18, for "The Return of Saturn," an hour long virtual telescope viewing and tour of our neighbor. Explore other exciting space objects, such as the Ring Nebula and the great globular cluster in Hercules.
See weblink for links to Facebook and YouTube
An Introduction to Telescopes - 08/19/2022 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers Livermore
This presentation is geared toward people who are new to astronomy and considering buying a telescope, but don't know what to buy. The different types of telescopes will be discussed, as well as how they work, and advantages and disadvantages of each type. The talk will cover the best types of telescopes for beginners. (Hint: There is no one best type, the best type for you depends on what you want to do with the telescope.) Newer technologies in telescopes, such as electronic eyepieces, will also be included in the discussion. Telescopes for astrophotography will also be discussed, but this will not be the "focus" of the talk.
Speaker: Eric Dueltgen, Tri Valley Stargazers
Attend online (see instructions in weblink) or in person
Iluminating the Cosmic Web with Fast Radio Bursts - SOLD OUT - 08/19/2022 08:00 PM
Lick Observatory Mt. Hamilton
Astronomy Speaker: Dr. J Xavier Prochaska, UC Santa Cruz
Space Telescope Snapshots - 08/20/2022 01:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center Oakland
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is more advanced than any telescope...ever. As the first images come back, we begin shedding light on some of the mysteries of the Universe. What are we learning? Why does it matter? Get an astronomer's take on the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope.
Join us every third Saturday of the month for Investigating Space as we exploreand discuss the big topics in space exploration with some of the leading scientists and researchers in the Bay Area. In this new series Chabot Space & Science Center highlights the latest discoveries, science research and space missions.
Investigating Space is hosted by Chabot Museum Educator Maxwell Edmonds-Drati.
Artist: The Black Cedar Trio
Astronomy Speaker: Charli Sakari, San Francisco State University
Science Sunday: The Human Story Behind Your Fish - Livestream - 08/21/2022 01:30 PM
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
Following major concerns in the environmental sustainability of seafood production, over the last several decades, governments, NGOs, researchers, and industry have invested significant resources in trying to reduce overfishing, minimize environmental impacts of fishing and aquaculture activity, and build supply chain incentives and consumer awareness around seafood sustainability. Much of these science, management, and advocacy efforts have largely ignored the other side of the equation - the human story behind seafood production. Recent controversial advocacy efforts have even suggested avoiding seafood consumption altogether. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend on the seafood sector for their livelihood, half of whom are women, and billions of people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and micronutrients. For many, fishing is much more than food and livelihood security, but is an identity, a culture, and a way of life. Yet, recent research and media exposure has brought increased attention to pervasive human rights violations and the myriad social issues facing the sector, providing the impetus for people to come together to address these issues.
Join Elena Finkbeiner, Ph.D. in an online webinar to explore the human story behind seafood production. Who depends on this sector and who is the most impacted? What efforts are currently underway to protect human lives in seafood supply chains? What are these efforts missing and what can be done in the future?
What's up with the Sun? Recent results from NASA's Parker Solar Probe - Livestream - 08/22/2022 06:00 PM
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
What is faster than a speeding bullet? What can fly through turbulence without fastening its seat belt? What can tell us about the origins of our solar system at the same time performing its main mission to understand our closest star? NASA's Parker Solar Probe! The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) spacecraft was designed to solve 3 mysteries of the sun as well as the very practical goal of furthering our understanding of space weather. The talk will cover Parker's measurements of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs- billions of tons of material hurling through space at millions of miles an hour - part of space weather), as well as recent Venus encounters and a few other surprises that Parker has discovered!
Speaker: Kelly Korreck, NASA
Drug Discovery using AlphaFold, Neural Networks, and Docking Algorithms - Livestream - 08/22/2022 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery
From 2020 to 2022, I embarked on two different drug discovery projects. The first project dealt with small molecule drugs, using machine learning to expedite processes within computational chemistry. On the second project, I worked on protein therapeutics, particularly nanobodies. Unlike the small molecule drugs, synthetic nanobodies and antibodies are more easily accepted by the body since the mimic our immune system. Discovering effective nanobodies remains a time consuming process, mostly involving extensive wet-lab procedures. I was to develop biocomputational techniques to accelerate the determination of nanobodies with higher specificity and affinity to a pathogenic target, reducing costs and time-to-market and thereby saving lives.
Speaker: Anirudh Venkatraman, Homestead High School
Register at weblink
August Bird Walk - FULL - 08/23/2022 09:30 AM
UC Botanical Garden Berkeley
August Butterfly Walk - First session - 08/23/2022 01:30 PM
UC Botanical Garden Berkeley
August Butterfly Walk - Second session - 08/23/2022 03:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden Berkeley
Monterey Bay: Bountiful and Biodiverse - Livestream - 08/23/2022 07:00 PM
American Cetacean Society
Morning Hike at La Honda Open Space Preserve - 08/24/2022 10:00 AM
La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve La Honda
Life in Space: a conversation with National Geographic Explorers - 08/25/2022 05:30 PM
CANOPY Jackson Square San Francisco
The Bird Genoscape Project: Harnessing the Power of Genomics for Migratory Bird Conservation - Livestream - 08/25/2022 06:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
NightLife: Level Up - 08/25/2022 06:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco
The National Geologic Map Database: A wealth of geologic information at your fingertips! - Livestream - 08/25/2022 06:00 PM
US Geological Survey Public Lecture Series
After Dark: See for Yourself - 08/25/2022 06:00 PM
ExplOratorium San Francisco
Science Saturdays - Water Wild - 08/27/2022 10:00 AM
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Younger Lagoon Reserve Tour - 08/27/2022 10:30 AM
Seymour Marine Discovery Center Santa Cruz
In Conversation: Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Annalee Newitz - 08/27/2022 03:00 PM
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts San Francisco
Coastal Walk at Pillar Point Bluff - 08/28/2022 04:00 PM
Pillar Point Bluff Moss Beach
UC Berkeley Condensed Matter Physics Seminar - 08/29/2022 02:30 PM
Physics North Berkeley