Space with the SciSchmooze

It's one frontier

Greetings Friends of Science,

It was 60 years ago that Alan B. Shepard, Jr. climbed into a rather tight capsule and was launched in to “space”. (Be sure to read the section on Launch) He traveled 116.5 miles up and 303 miles away from the launch site in 15 minutes, 28 seconds. Less than a month before that Yuri Gagarin was the first to do it. Note that Yuri actually completed a full orbit of earth in 108 minutes. You can still celebrate Yuri’s accomplishment. Today a not so private person got to less than ½ the altitude ~55 miles, didn’t make it to the Kármán line and returned to where he started about 17 minutes after leaving the mother ship. Getting to space with humans on board is really hard. Science, engineering, and technology make it possible.

It’s easy to think that “the scientists” have it all figured out. It isn’t hard to realize they don’t. We are impacted by science in so many ways it’s hard to comprehend. Consider one of the arguments being put forth about the security of elections.

I remember hearing about manganese nodules on the floor of the oceans many years ago. There was great hope for mining them. Well it was a lot tougher to get them to the mill and foundry than expected. Now many decisions are being made on far more sophisticated science that we had just a few years ago… “The Pacific island nation of Nauru last month triggered a clause in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”. The prospect of mining the seafloor is prompting calls for more research about its potential impact on the ocean and sea life. The unknowns of mining the deep sea It’s easy to ignore how dependent we are on our oceans. The damage being done to them is becoming more apparent thanks to science. The ocean is full of tiny plastic particles – we found a way to track them with satellites. Just because someone says something is biodegradable or recyclable doesn’t make it OK! It seems that humans are still the best at imagining new ways to use science and technology all the time!

It’s summertime (if temperature is any measure)! Some presenters cut back during this time but there are plenty that still have things to intrigue us. Here are a few that look pretty interesting to me that are coming up this week.

Combatting Misinformation: Incorporating Primary Sources in Your Science Classroom to Promote Critical Thinking in Students Tue 7/13 @ 1:00 PM

Question Your Perception Thu 7/15 @ 6:00 PM

On Cults, Language, and Social Science Wed 7.14 7:00PM

If you are intrigued by the problem of misinformation… Misinformation The big picture

You may have felt the earth move the other day. It turns out it moved a bit more than what you likely felt… Tectonic mystery swirls as earthquake rocks California-Nevada border. Sometimes I wonder about the different ways we experience the world around us. Many of us have slight differences in how we perceive what is going on around us. There are many though that completely miss what some of us take for granted because we are all different. It might be from vibrations we feel with our feet. Sometimes you need to just stop and be amazed. Here’s one of those that I find incredibly inspiring… You and the thing you love.

It might be a bit hot out there this week. Make sure to drink lots of water and appreciate that you have good clean water to drink. If you have air conditioning you might want set it at a much higher temperature or even go to a mall and watch all the people since we haven’t been able to do much of that for the last year!

Whatever you do, be safe and learn something new and interesting.

Still thinking about it...

herb masters

"The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life." - Jessica Hische


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


Monday, 07/12/2021


Introduction to Computer Simulations in Physics, from Forest Fires to Salad Dressing - Livestream - 07/12/2021 11:00 AM
UC Merced

We will have a hands-on introduction to how computer simulations are used in scientific research, focusing on a versatile kind of simulation called "lattice models." We will examine simulations of real-world topics such as forest fires, oil-water separation in salad dressing, and the spread of diseases. In a series of guided activities, participants will use and edit Python programs through an Internet browser and will discover small changes in parameters that dramatically affect the simulated results. Preparation instructions will be sent before the session.

Speaker: Daniel Beller, UC Merced

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Target audience: High school students

This is a four day class, running through July 15


Sonic Spaces: A Psychology of Music and Work - Livestream - 07/12/2021 11:00 AM
Long Now Foundation

Eric Debrah Otchere's research revolves around the power of music in the context of work; covering an ambitious range from ethnographic research on Ghanaian indigenous fishing culture to personalized musical preferences via modern technology.

Throughout history, the power of music to enhance productivity and focus at work has been explored, leveraged and exploited - by individuals and societies. Combining empirical data from his extensive fieldwork with a critical review of literature and theories from different areas of study, Otchere is connecting previously siloed research into a comprehensive body of knowledge on the intricate relationship between music and work.


Visualizing Cells via Fluorescent Staining - Livestream - 07/12/2021 01:00 PM
UC Merced

In this workshop, we will briefly cover stem cell biology and other cellular biological structures. The workshop will then shift to a live demonstration where we will show the audience how to visualize some of these structures under fluorescence.

Speaker: Jose Zamora, UC Merced

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Target audience: High school students


A Universe of Surprises - Livestream - 07/12/2021 01:30 PM
California Academy of Sciences

Our universe is full of surprises, from ghost remnants of black hole jets to exotic planets around distant stars to Boyajian’s star, the most mysterious star in our galaxy. How scientists do cope with surprises? What is it like to think you might have found aliens? And how might you too make a remarkable discovery from the comfort of your home?

Speakers: Chris Lintott and Laura Trouille, Zooniverse


Tuesday, 07/13/2021


Sampling ADE's: A Guide for Corpus Curation - 07/13/2021 11:50 AM
Magnimind Academy

Electronic health record systems with clinical decision support capabilities are increasingly prevalent in the ambulatory setting. However, the impacts of these systems on patient care are mixed with respect to medication safety. Approaches to identifying adverse drug events (ADEs) have improved with the use of natural language processing tools and other methods, however, most relevant research has been conducted in the inpatient or oncology settings. ADEs are not uncommon in the ambulatory setting. However, the prevalence and distribution of the ADEs documented in ambulatory visits is unclear. Our task is to figure out how to identify a corpus of ambulatory visit notes that are representative to train and validate an ADE detection tool.

In this talk, I will discuss our process for identifying a corpus of notes that appropriately captures the wide diversity of ADEs present but is manageable for a small team of annotators to annotate and de-identify.Agenda:11:45 am - 11:50 am Arrival and socializing11:50 am - 11:55 am Opening11:55 am - 1:50 pm Joseph M. Plasek, " Sampling ADE's: A Guide for Corpus Curation"1:50 pm - 2:00 pm Q&AJoseph M. Plasek, Ph.D. is a health data scientist, clinical informatician, and dynamic systems theorist. Joseph is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.Please register using the zoom link to get a reminder.Webinar ID: 885 3580 9232


Combatting Misinformation: Incorporating Primary Sources in Your Science Classroom to Promote Critical Thinking in Students - Livestream - 07/13/2021 01:00 PM
UC Merced

To combat misinformation, students must develop the scientific literacy and critical thinking necessary to discriminate between science, pseudoscience, and nonsense. Peer-reviewed journals are the most reliable sources of information but are often full of intimidating jargon and have limited accessibility, while misinformation is free and sensationalized. This webinar will present accessible and time-efficient classroom resources for incorporating peer-reviewed journals into your curriculum. Teaching students to disseminate scientific journals in the classroom will equip them to critique information outside the classroom.

Speaker: Melissa Goodlad, UC Merced

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Wednesday, 07/14/2021


Early Treatment of COVID-19 and An Update on Vaccine Safety - Livestream - 07/14/2021 09:00 AM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the world and shone a light on our medical system. Pandemics require a multi-prong approach, including early treatment, preventative measures, hospitalization, and vaccines.

Dr. McCullough has examined each of these prongs. In his testimonies to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, he reported that essential, effective life-saving treatments were suppressed. Following this thread, he explains the origins of the virus, how it spreads, and the validity of testing.

McCullough will address the questions, Are our government staffers serving us well? Has medicine been politicized with policies determined by staffers without the input from physicians who are on the front lines treating patients? He will also discuss the origins of the vaccines and their effects.

Speaker: Dr. Peter A. McCullough, Texas A&M University; Dr. Robert Lee Kilpatrick, Commonwealth Club, Moderator


Cloud Microservices for the next Billion People - 07/14/2021 11:50 AM
Magnimind Academy

The food wastage in India is 70 tonnes per year, and there is mismanagement at several layers. Approximately 20-30% of the wastage happens in the last mile, between wholesale traders, and retail mom-and-pop stores. Is there something we can do about food wastage?This was the problem statement I attempted to solve as a first engineering hire at a startup. Our customers were 12.8 million retail owners that deal in FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods, such as food grains, tooth paste, etc.). The goal was to develop a platform for retail traders (mom and pop shop owners / small and medium business owners) to buy FMCG products from wholesale traders using an Android app.

We were attacking a deeply entrenched business practice to help solve a societal goal. For a section of the population which is not very well versed with smartphones and technology, the user experience had to be designed from the ground up to be multi-lingual, fungible, unstructured, and relevant. In this talk, I cover how we went about iterating the solution from a simple SMS based system to a full fledged app backed by micro-services. Having a micro-service architecture provided us the agility to experiment and iterate quickly, and we were able to push out changes much faster, and help solve wastage problems even sooner.

I will discuss the several problems we faced in this segment with regards to unstructured data, and how our data models had to adapt. We used cloud services extensively, so I will also cover how different pieces came together in a cogent form to build better experience for our customers.After having worked in bigger companies on software projects that scale to millions of devices, this was a unique challenge for me, and something I am very proud of. I would like to share my experience in building empathetic software for the masses.Agenda:11:45 am - 11:50 am Arrival and socializing11:50 am - 11:55 am Opening12:00 pm - 1:50 pm Tejas Chopra, " Cloud Microservices for the next Billion People"1:50 pm - 2:00 pm Q&ASpeaker: Tejas Chopra, NetflixPlease register using the zoom link to get a reminder:Meeting ID: 824 1220 8742


On Cults, Language, and Social Science - 07/14/2021 07:00 PM
California Institute of Integral Studies

What makes cults so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we're looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join-and more importantly, stay in-extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Author and journalist Amanda Montell's argument is that, on some level, it already has. Our culture tends to provide incomplete answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of "brainwashing." But the true answer has nothing to do with mind-control wizardry. In Amanda's latest book, Cultish, she argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive and shadowy ways, cultish language is something we hear-and are influenced by-every single day. Through juicy storytelling and original research into the curious social science of power, Amanda exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities cultish, revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven's Gate, but also how they pervade start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Join CIIS Professor, writer, and speaker Zara Zimbardo for a conversation with Amanda about influence, the social science of cults, and how to recognize the language of fanaticism all around us.Please Note: ASL Interpretation will be provided.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Thursday, 07/15/2021


Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old - Livestream - 07/15/2021 09:00 AM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

Aging - not cancer or heart disease - is the world’s leading cause of death and suffering. In spite of this, we accept the aging process as inevitable. We come to terms with the fact that our bodies and minds will begin to deteriorate and our risk of disease will rise as we get older.

Aging is so deeply ingrained in the human experience that we never stop to ask: is it necessary?

Scientists, on the other hand, know that aging is not a biological inevitability. Dr. Andrew Steele's new book Ageless introduces us to the cutting-edge research that is paving the way for a revolution in medicine. It takes us inside the laboratories where scientists are studying every aspect of the body: DNA, mitochondria, stem cells, the immune system, even ‘aging genes’ that have helped animals enjoy a tenfold increase in lifespan - and which could, in the not too distant future, lead to treatments that could forestall our own bodies’ decline.

Steele will explain how understanding the scientific implications of aging could lead to the greatest revolution in the history of medicine - one that has the potential to improve billions of lives, save trillions of dollars, and transform the human condition.

Speaker: Andrew Steele, Author; Robert Lee Kilpatrick, Commonwealth Club

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Midday Science Cafe - The Road to Net Zero: Combating Climate Change through Carbon Removal - Livestream - 07/15/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has laid out several paths by which we might reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 -- that is, carbon emitted into the atmosphere is balanced by carbon removed from the atmosphere. Each proposed path requires a reduction in carbon in (i.e. lower emissions) and an increase in carbon out (i.e. carbon capture and storage). In this Midday Science Cafe, we will hear from two researchers seeking innovative ways to accomplish this goal. We will hear from Dr. Daniel Sanchez about how forest management in California can address key challenges posed by climate change through sequestering carbon, producing low-carbon products, and mitigating climate risks, including widespread fire hazard. We will also learn from Dr. Chet Hopp about work being done to understand the seismic viability and safety of underground CO2 storage at scales large enough to pave the way for carbon neutrality.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


Bird Photography 101 - Livestream - 07/15/2021 05:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory

Join us as wildlife and conservation photographer Sebastian Kennerknecht discusses the basics of bird photography, including settings, composition, equipment, how to get close to your subject, ethics, and his mental approach when photographing birds

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NightLife - SOLD OUT - 07/15/2021 06:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco

Calling all creatures of the night: explore the nocturnal side of the Academy at NightLife and see what's revealed. With live DJs, outdoor bars, ambiance lighting, and nearly 40,000 live animals (including familiar faces like Claude the albino alligator), the night is sure to be wild.

Reserve your entry to the iconic Shake House and our four-story Rainforest, where you can explore the Amazon’s treetops surrounded by free-flying birds and butterflies.

Venture into our latest aquarium exhibit Venom to encounter live venomous animals and learn the power of venom to both harm and heal.

Visit the BigPicture exhibit in the Piazza to marvel at the most recent winners of the BigPicture Natural Photography competition.

Bask in the glow of one of the largest living coral reef displays in the world: our 212,000-gallon Philippine Coral Reef tank.

Take in the interstellar views from the Living Roof, then grab a bite from the Academy Cafe and head to the West Garden outdoor bar to drink and dine under the stars. For adults 21+.

See weblink for additional details.


After Dark: Question Your Perception - 07/15/2021 06:00 PM
ExplOratorium San Francisco

Can an artificial hand feel like part of your body? How do you know you’re really paying attention to what’s going on in front of you? Tonight at After Dark, we spotlight exhibits that probe the nature of human perception. Consider the ways we see color, the powerful role of attention in determining what we see (and what we don’t see), and fascinating optical illusions whose disorienting patterns help scientists better understand how our visual systems work.

See weblink for schedule of events


Micromitigation: Fighting Air Pollution with Activated Carbon - Livestream - 07/15/2021 07:00 PM
Counter Culture Labs

We would like to invite new members to join Counter Culture Labs' Micromitigation Meetup alternate Thursdays. We will be discussing ways to deploy existing adsorption technology using commodity granulated activated carbon for the mitigation of air pollution. 

We welcome those interested in both the environmental justice and technical engineering aspects of air quality.Please sign up by joining the Counter Culture Labs' Meetup group, then RSVPing for the event. Weblink provided after signup.


Listen to Her Sing - Livestream - 07/15/2021 07:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society

Only male birds sing, right? Wrong! In fact, this widespread notion has a lot more to do with human cultural and geographic biases than it has to do with nature. In this talk, Nathan Pieplow explores the often-overlooked songs of female birds. You’ll hear the pair duets of meadowlarks and blackbirds, the musical songs of female cardinals and orioles, and the distinctive song of the female Canyon Wren. In which species do females actually sing more often than males? How do you know when you’re listening to a female Blue Jay? And where did we even get this crazy idea that only male birds sing? Answers to these questions and more in this presentation.

Speaker Nathan Pieplow

See weblink for Zoom information


Friday, 07/16/2021


Meet the San Francisco Garter Snake - Livestream - 07/16/2021 12:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

Did you know that the San Francisco Peninsula has its very own special snake? Join Peninsula Open Space Trust in welcoming US Geological Survey (USGS) researchers Richard Kim and Elliot Schoenig who will share their knowledge of this elusive and beautiful local snake. You’ll hear about how the USGS, in partnership with POST and other organizations, has been conducting research and habitat restoration activities around ponds on the Peninsula that are the snake’s preferred habitat.

Sadly, the SF garter snake is still federally listed as an endangered species. And what makes things even more complicated, one of their favorite meals is the California red-legged frog, federally listed as a threatened species! But with partnerships and dedication, we hope to continue the recovery of this striking blue, orange and black snake.

Register at weblink to receive connection information


The Drake Equation: Livestream - 07/16/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers

At the heart of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) lies the Drake Equation, a mathematically simple yet fascinatingly enigmatic formula proposed by American astronomer and SETI founder Frank Drake. The Drake Equation provides a way to estimate the number, N, of advanced civilizations present in our Milky Way galaxy. Although N is often assumed to be large - there would be many civilizations in the Galaxy -, large numbers for N are in apparent conflict with observation, a contradiction known as the Fermi Paradox, named after Italian-American physicist and 1938 Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi. Pascal Lee, planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, examines the state-of-the-art of our knowledge about each term of the Drake Equation, and reaches the perhaps surprising conclusion that N might actually be a very small number, close to 1. We could be it. The implications of N~1 are profound and will be discussed.

See weblink for connection information.


Saturday, 07/17/2021


2021 Baylands Bioblitz - 07/17/2021 09:00 AM
Environmental Volunteers EcoCenter Palo Alto

What is a Bioblitz? Simple: a fun event that attempts to find as many species of plants and animals in a specific area and time! Join the EV in learning about how to do a Bioblitz, why they are fun, and how they can help scientists in studying the plants and animals of the Baylands!

The program will begin with an interactive instruction on what a Bioblitz is and how to join, and transition into a fun exploration of the Baylands that records as many plants and animals as possible.

Bringing a camera is highly recommended. If you are able to, downloading the iNaturalist smartphone app prior to the program is also recommended.

Registration required


Oumuamua: Interstellar Visitor - Livestream - 07/17/2021 07:30 PM
Mount Tamalpias Astronomy Lectures

In 2017, astronomers detected an elongated object swinging past Earth on its way out of the solar system. The size, shape, and motion of Oumuamua (roughly “scout” in Hawaiian) inspired a few excited researchers to suggest the visitation of an interstellar “spaceship." This presentation will explore the physical nature of Oumuamua and a vast fleet of its extrasolar cohorts.

Speaker: Douglas Lin, UC Santa Cruz

See weblink for Zoom information


Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 07/17/2021 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, 07/18/2021


Untangling Giant Kelp: How Do the Environment and Genetics Shape Giant Kelp Form and Structure? - Livestream - 07/18/2021 01:30 PM
Seymour Science Center

Giant kelp poses a fascinating mystery - this single seaweed species exists in two distinct forms. The two forms - or “ecomorphs” - differ in the shape of their holdfast, the structure of the kelp which anchors it to the seafloor. One ecomorph forms a mound-shaped holdfast as big as a basketball with dense layers of root-like structures, while the other has a flattened holdfast that snakes along the rocky reef like a long piece of taffy. Why does the same species exist in such different forms? Is kelp more influenced by its DNA or by its environment? 

Dive into the kelp forest with Sara Gonzalez, UC Santa Cruz, to learn more about what her underwater research is revealing about the mystery of the giant kelp ecomorphs.


Monday, 07/19/2021


The Science of Flocks and Swarms - Livestream - 07/19/2021 10:00 AM
UC Merced

Flocks of birds, schools of fish, and swarms of ants are all around us. We have all seen and marveled at them. But why and how do they form? This session will introduce participants to the simple universal rules that give rise to collective flocking behavior and explore them with hands-on computer simulations. Preparation instructions will be sent before the session.

Speaker: Ajay Gopinathan, UC Merced

Register at weblink to receive connection information

Target audience: 5th and 6th graders


Tuesday, 07/20/2021


College Readiness and STEM Disciplines - Livestream - 07/20/2021 11:00 AM
UC Merced


The Big Score: Silicon Valley from the Beginning - Livestream - 07/20/2021 11:00 AM
Computer History Museum


Modeling Cells and Organelles on Computers - Livestream - 07/20/2021 01:00 PM
UC Merced


Two Talks: Popping the Science Bubble - Livestream - 07/20/2021 05:30 PM
Berkeley Public Library


Wednesday, 07/21/2021


The Science of Flocks and Swarms - Livestream - 07/21/2021 10:00 AM
UC Merced


SETI Talks: Could Rogue Planets Harbor Life? - Livestream - 07/21/2021 10:00 AM
SETI Institute


Modeling Cells and Organelles on Computers - Livestream - 07/21/2021 01:00 PM
UC Merced


Deep learning to detect early depression symptoms and fake news in social media - Livestream - 07/21/2021 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery


Fast Radio Bursts: ElectroMagnetic Pulses from Cosmologically Distant Neutron Stars with Hundred GigaTesla Magnetic Field? - Livestream - 07/21/2021 07:00 PM
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers


the Hubris of Manipulating Nature - Livestream - 07/21/2021 08:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event


Thursday, 07/22/2021


Product Design Researcher - 07/22/2021 11:50 AM
Magnimind Academy


Modeling Cells and Organelles on Computers - Livestream - 07/22/2021 01:00 PM
UC Merced


Future of Transportation - 07/22/2021 05:00 PM
Werqwise San Francisco


A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves - Livestream - 07/22/2021 05:00 PM
SETI Institute


NightLife - 07/22/2021 06:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences


Shifting Tides: Convergence in Cloth - 07/22/2021 06:00 PM
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History Pacific Grove


After Dark: Living Things - 07/22/2021 06:00 PM
ExplOratorium


Invasive Species - Lizards, Treesnakes, and Burmese Pythons, Oh My! - Livestream - 07/22/2021 07:00 PM
US Geological Survey Public Lecture Series


Saturday, 07/24/2021


Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 07/24/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center


Monday, 07/26/2021


Wonderfest: Rovers, Helicopters, & Ancient Martians: Why We Explore Mars - Livestream - 07/26/2021 07:00 PM
Hopmonk Tavern Novato


Measuring and Improving Engagement in Online Learning - Livestream - 07/26/2021 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery