Schmoozing into Orbit

David Almandsmith

I just bought 25 raffle tickets for a multi-day orbital journey. Since each orbit takes about 90 minutes, i’ll make 16 orbits each day while i’m in orbit. First, however, i need to win the raffle. ¿Would you like to buy a few tickets? Just donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Each dollar you donate in February gives you one raffle ‘ticket.’ The winner will ride in a SpaceX Dragon capsule with three other folk. Because of olfactory fatigue, you shouldn’t be too concerned about spending a few days in an unventilated capsule with three others - - and no bathroom - - and no DoorDash deliveries. (Hmmm. ¿Have you read or seen “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre?)

Mars Missions:

Other space news:
According to cosmologists, only about 5% of the visible universe is composed of normal (baryonic) matter. Astronomers had only been able to detect about half of that. Then last year, astronomers used data from FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts) to find evidence that the missing mass was composed of thin clouds of gas. Last week, astronomers in Australia announced they were able to ‘see’ an otherwise invisible stream of gas using a clever method.

Earth news:
The United States is back in the Paris Climate Agreement, General Motors plans to phase out fossil-fueled vehicles by 2035, and South Korea just announced committing $43 billion to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

Geothermal energy production got an undeserved bad rap from the Tech Xplore website. A careful reading of the scientific paper reported on, reveals that only poorly-designed geothermal facilities would have longevity problems. The “quote” at the end of the Tech Xplore article appears to be a distorted version of a quote in the published research. Another example why it’s important to critically assess information - whatever the source.

Fun stuff:
I sometimes binge-watch live animal cams. Here is a list of a few out of thousands available: Giraffe, Rhino, Cape Buffalo; Jellies; Tembe Wildlife Park; California Condor; Platypus; Shark; Human, Bald Eagle. Some of these are in different time zones. A couple of these i learned about from Science in View, a science website hosted by Oakland resident Dave Boitano.

Deep Dive into Biology:
When our immune system produces antibodies to ‘combat’ an infection, the antibodies are typically about 1,400 amino acids in length. Then along came the discovery of antibody fragments in camels, alpaca, llamas, and other cameloids. These fragments are about 1/10th the size of antibodies and surprisingly, they also combat infections. They have been named “nanobodies.” They are ‘relatively’ easy to create in labs in billions of versions. Several labs have announced success in generating nanobodies that combat SARS-CoV-2 infections, i.e. COVID-19. Cool.

My livestream picks of the week:

Every doggone time, i forget to join several of my own picks. So this week i’ve told my phone to zap me in time to participate or watch. I recommend you do likewise for the ones you wish. (The Thursday pick is brought to you by the Bay Area Skeptics, of which i am a member.)

Ping Pong Balls & Passports
The Public Broadcasting Service, Joe Hanson, and 500 ping pong balls seek to explain and demonstrate phenomena of infectious diseases. (Put a white & red knit cap on Joe and - voila! - you’ve just found Waldo!)

Decades ago, i had to present a certificate showing that i had received my smallpox vaccine before i was allowed to travel to Europe. That requirement was officially dropped in 1981. However, countries around the world are reviving the practice of issuing vaccination certificates in response to the current pandemic. Forget paper certificates, however. Electronic vaccination passports are now being designed that will show your most recent COVID test and its result as well as vaccination information for a number of infectious diseases.

Living is a fantastic voyage. Enjoy the trip.

David Almandsmith
Bay Area Skeptics board member

"There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television or radio service inside the United States."
T.A.M. Craven, FCC commissioner, 1961.

Upcoming Events:
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Monday, 02/08/2021

Please in my backyard: Developing community-owned renewable energy - Livestream - 02/08/2021 11:30 AM
Stanford Energy

One challenge that renewable energy developers increasingly face  - particularly in land-restricted and urban areas - is community opposition to industrial development in their backyard. And when clean energy is installed, it rarely benefits low income communities and communities of color. At Shake Energy Collaborative, we are exploring a new way of developing renewable energy projects in partnership with disinvested communities so that the projects we build are not just tolerated by the neighbors but advocated for and owned by them. In this seminar, Iʻll share some of our successes in developing bi-directional relationships with communities in Fresno, CA and Molokaʻi, HI as well as some of our challenges in working with utilities to develop these communities’ visions. Iʻd love to discuss with all of you what our visions for the future of equitable energy looks like and what our respective roles will be in realizing it.

Speaker: Ali Andrews, Shake Energy Collaborative

See weblink for connection information

Serving Like an Organization: How Food-Service and Retail Workers Interpret Their Interactions With Customers - Livestream - 02/08/2021 12:00 PM
Berkeley Institute for Data Science

How do food-service and retail workers interpret interactions with customers? Researchers have identified many novel sociological processes, specific to service work, that seem to pull service workers in opposing directions, leaving them either better or worse off. In this talk, I argue that these opposing processes are not mutually exclusive. Due to the nature of the job, service workers may experience a series of divergent interactions with customers during their job tenure. In order to account for these conflicting experiences, I take an orientations approach - analyzing summative judgments about customers and their associations with job satisfaction. I draw on a novel dataset of over 15,000 job quality evaluations from 10 food-service and retail companies, collected from This website allows workers to post written reviews of the pros and cons of their job, as well as to provide numeric ratings of their job quality. Qualitatively coding a subset of 1,000 reviews, I find that frontline workers express three distinct orientations towards customer interactions: an occupational orientation - where customers are an inescapable occupational hazard or benefit, an organizational orientation - where positive and negative interactions are a result of organizational strategies, or as a source of intrinsic satisfaction. Using computational text analysis, I code the remaining 14,000 reviews to investigate how occupational and organizational orientations towards customers are related to job ratings. I find that an organizational orientation is associated with more extreme ratings of the job.

Speaker: Adam Storer, UC Berkeley

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HCI as Taught vs. HCI as Practiced : Julie Stanford - Livestream - 02/08/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum

You’ve taken HCI classes at Stanford, but you’re curious about how reality works outside of Stanford. How do the techniques, practices and priorities in the classroom translate into HCI in the wild? As a Stanford faculty member and the principal of a UX design agency, I’ll share stories from all sides of my experience, propose some theories on how things work, and try to avoid random conjecture and gross overgeneralization. Come with your questions and leave with some insights on what this might mean for your academic and professional career choices.

Speaker: Julie Stanford

See weblink for Zoom link.

An Ultra-Compact X-ray Free-Electron Laser - Livestream - 02/08/2021 03:30 PM
SLAC Colloquium

Recent advances in high gradient cryogenic Cu structure RF research open the door to use of surface electric fields between 250 and 500 MV/m. Such structures can enable a new generation of photoinjectors with brightness an order of magnitude beyond the state-of-the-art. Further, one may accelerate these beams to GeV scale in ~8 m. Such an injector, when combined with IFEL bunching techniques can produce multi-kA beams with 50 nm-rad emittance. These beams, when injected into short-period (1-10 mm) undulators enable ultra-compact X-ray FELs having university-scale-lab footprints*. We discuss the design and performance of this compact XFEL, which promises photon-per-pulse production a few percent of existing XFELs. In the context of a burgeoning project centered at UCLA to develop this instrument, we review implementation issues including collective beam effects, compact X-ray optics systems, and various technical challenges. To illustrate the potential of such a light source to fundamentally change the current paradigm of XFELs with their limited access, we examine transformative applications in biology, chemistry, materials, and atomic physics.

Speaker: James Rosenzweig, UC Los Angeles

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Biomass Energy and Natural Climate Solutions: A Meaningful Piece of the Solutions Portfolio - Livestream - 02/08/2021 04:00 PM
Stanford Energy Seminar

Most scenarios for ambitious decarbonization rely on photosynthesis-based technologies for a substantial fraction net GHG emissions reductions.  These technologies potentially contribute emissions reductions through providing low-emissions energy, coupling with CCS to produce energy with negative emissions, increasing the carbon content of the biosphere, or decreasing emissions from land-use change.  While all these options will be attractive at some scale, setting realistic targets is challenging, largely because the constraints and trade-offs for these technologies are so different than for other components of a decarbonization strategy.  In general, limits imposed by land and water requirements, challenges with governance and implementation, and sensitivity to climate change argue for the expectation that these technologies will provide a meaningful, but not dominant, fraction of the decarbonization solutions portfolio throughout the 21st century.

Speaker: Chris Field, Stanford Univ.

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From Particles to Power: How photons, electrons, and ions determine the efficiency of perovskite solar cells - Livestream - 02/08/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Assuming business as usual, our planet is projected to warm more than 4C in the next 80 years. Those four degrees mean more chaotic weather, increased food scarcity, unprecedented flooding, along with many other impacts of global warming - unless we do something radical to cut greenhouse gas emissions. While there is general agreement that solar energy will play a huge role in this task, scientists like Dr. Belisle are trying to push the very limits of what solar technology can do by designing perovskite solar cells - a novel renewable energy material that is poised to have high efficiency, minimal cost, and be manufactured extremely quickly to mitigate the impending devastation of climate change.

In this talk we’ll discuss the fundamental properties that make this new class of optoelectronic materials a game-changer in the field of solar energy. With tunable absorption, unprecedented defect tolerance, and mixed electronic-ionic conduction, perovskites require new design rules and new physical models of understanding for their use in solar cells. In light of these unique properties, I’ll explain how photons, electrons, and ions interact to affect the performance of perovskite solar cells, and how my lab is using optical and structural characterization to improve our knowledge of fundamental perovskite properties to enable even higher efficiency devices.

Speaker: Dr. Becky Belisle, Wellesley College

Zoom link

Moiré Magic - Livestream - 02/08/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley

Moiré materials are formed when two-dimensional crystals are overlaid with a small difference in lattice constant or orientation.  When the two-dimensional crystals are semimetals or semiconductors, the low energy states of moiré materials are described by periodic continuum models and have the electronic properties of artificial crystals with lattice constants on the tens of nanometer scale, allowing the number of electrons per atom to be varied widely using electrical gates.   My talk will focus on the particular case of graphene bilayer moiré materials, which exhibit a rich set of strongly correlated electron states, including superconductors and insulating orbital magnets, when twisted close to a magic relative orientation angle at which the electron velocity at the Fermi level vanishes.   Electronic correlations in Magic Angle Twisted Bilayer Graphene (MAtBG) are strong because the low-energy moiré superlattice bands are very narrow and because the flat bands form an octet that is the direct product of spin, valley, and sublattice internal degrees of freedom.  I will discuss efforts, still very much in progress, to settle on answers to some of the following questions.  Does the flat-band dispersion that remains at the magic twist angle play a key role in controlling the phase diagram?  How does octet symmetry breaking depend on the moiré band filling factor? Is superconductivity in MAtBG mediated by electron-phonon interactions or by some other mechanism?

Speaker: Allan Macdonald, University of Texas at Austin

See weblink for Zoom link, posted day of lecture.

Astronomy on Tap: Los Angeles - Livestream - 02/08/2021 07:30 PM
Astronomy on Tap

We’ll hear from Dr. Jessica Werk: “Intergalactic Immigrants” and from Dr. Zach Hafen: “Exploring the Virtual Universe”. In addition, we will host interactive astronomically-themed pub trivia. The event is free and open to all ages.  Join us on YouTube at this link.

Tuesday, 02/09/2021

Next Stop: How to Build Hyperloop - Livestream - 02/09/2021 09:00 AM

How will people travel in 20 years? Hyperloop is a proposed mode of transportation which consists of pods transported at high speed through the length of low-pressure tubes. These tubes are elevated off the ground due to a lack of air resistance or friction. The concept of using low-pressure or vacuum tubes as part of a transportation system has a long heritage.

Join the conversation with thought-leaders and experts from Silicon Valley and Europe to learn more about the future of transportation and how these new services will be integrated into the urban mobility landscape. We will discuss this with the Swiss Railways, which bring in expertise in tunnel construction and infrastructure, and with Eurotube, a Swiss Startup developing the infrastructure for hyperloop. During the panel, we will discuss how rail and hyperloop can learn from each other and thrive together. Topics like infrastructure heavy project management as well as innovation in mobility will be covered in the live panel as well.

New constraints on the post-LGM retreat of the Bindschadler Ice Stream from the Ross Sea continental shelf, Antarctica - Livestream - 02/09/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Speaker: Phil Bart, Louisiana State University

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Getting to a Fusion Pilot Plant - Livestream - 02/09/2021 04:30 PM
Stanford Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium

One hundred years ago Arthur Stanley Eddington conjectured that stars are powered by fusion reactions and speculated that one day humans would generate power by fusion. Not yet.  However, private capital is flooding into fusion research driven by the lure of fusion's promise of sustainable “firm” power and optimism about new technologies. I will discuss the benefits of these technologies including high temperature superconducting magnets, permanent magnets and liquid metal systems. I will also discuss the advances in understanding the physics of confined plasmas and the growing efforts to find optimal fusion configurations. There is increasing confidence that, with these advances, an electricity producing Fusion Pilot Plant could be operational before the middle of the century. The fusion community is calling for a concentrated effort to design such a plant.

Speaker: Steve Cowley, Princeton University

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The Transformation: A Future History of the World from 02020 to 02050 - Livestream - 02/09/2021 05:00 PM
Long Now Foundation

A compelling case can be made that we are in the early stages of another tech and economic boom in the next 30 years that will help solve our era’s biggest challenges like climate change, and lead to a societal transformation that will be understood as civilizational change by the year 02100.

Peter Leyden has built the case for this extremely positive yet plausible scenario of the period from 02020 to 02050 as a sequel to the Wired cover story and book he co-authored with Long Now cofounder Peter Schwartz 25 years ago called The Long Boom: The Future History of the World 1980 to 2020.

His latest project, The Transformation, is an optimistic analysis on what lies ahead, based on deep interviews with 25 world-class experts looking at new technologies and long-term trends that are largely positive, and could come together in surprisingly synergistic ways.

See weblink for connection button.

Wednesday, 02/10/2021

The problem with plastics (and why microplastics might be toxic) - Livestream - 02/10/2021 11:00 AM
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Plastic pollution is a well-known problem, gaining attention in mass media, international organizations, and amongst policymakers. Plastic, however, is not one thing but rather many different materials. The life cycles of plastics are complex - stretching from extraction to production, product development and use, to waste production - involving many actors worldwide. Microplastics, small plastic particles now identified in virtually every niche on the planet, comprise a complex mixture of multiple materials, sizes, shapes, and potentially 1000s of chemicals. What do we know about the hazards associated with microplastics? Do they pose risks in the environment? And importantly, what can we do about this? Bethanie, an ecotoxicologist, will discuss how researchers are working to address these questions. She will also place these issues in a larger context, introducing ideas of using large-scale collective action frameworks to push sustainable development.

Speaker: Bethanie Carney Almroth, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

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The Electric Golden State - Livestream - 02/10/2021 12:30 PM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)

Buildings are responsible for a quarter of California’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Significantly reducing that percentage is a necessary component of the state’s attempt to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. While cities and counties have led the way in pushing policies to promote all-electric building construction, with the cities of San José and Oakland some of the newest to pass local legislation, state agencies are also advancing new decarbonization rules and standards. Come hear the latest updates on action being taken in Sacramento to improve the long term sustainability of California’s built environment.

+ Merrian Borgeson / Natural Resources Defense Council+ Ken Rider / California Energy Commission+ Rajinder Sahota / California Air Resources Board

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Curating metal-organic frameworks for robust gas sensor arrays - Livestream - 02/10/2021 03:00 PM
UC Berkeley

Speaker: Cory Simon, Oregon State University

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Sharing stories: How do we create experiences and pathways to help support a STEM identity? - Livestream - 02/10/2021 03:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center


What is your immediate reaction to the words: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math? Why?What does it mean to have a STEM identity?How important are these words to your self identity?


What experiences help support the cultivation of a STEM identity?What experiences were obstacles to cultivating a STEM identity?Informal vs Formal educational experiences.


I will share my experiences and pathways in formal and informal education. Open invitation for folks to think about and share their own!How do we make intentional choices to support underrepresented students in STEM fields?How do we embed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices into everything that we do?


Get paid to sail with us! Share your story and your science.


Feedback for me, Call of the Sea and each other.

Register at weblink to receive Zoom information

Speaker:  Steve Kielar, Director of Education, Call of the Sea

The Genius of Dogs: The New Science of Canine Cognition - Livestream - 02/10/2021 04:00 PM
Smithsonian Magazine

Vanessa Woods and Brian Hare, researchers at Duke University, explore that question in their sensational new book, SURVIVAL OF THE FRIENDLIEST. It will change the way you think. Hare and Woods are also the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book THE GENIUS OF DOGS. And they are eager to share what they’ve learned in this special event from Smithsonian magazine.

Why do dogs trust people? Why do we trust dogs? What forces were at work in the distant past to shape our attitude toward dogs - and their attitude toward us? How can we train dogs to be even more productive companions? What do dogs and human kids have in common? And how can being more “friendly” help humans succeed in today’s world?

Join the Duke dog experts as they address these questions and more, for a live presentation hosted by Smithsonian writer-at-large, Jeff MacGregor, author of our recent cover story about our ancient bond with dogs.

We’ll also save time for you to pose your questions.

Healthy Society Series: COVID-19 Vaccines - What We Know and What We Don't Know - Livestream - 02/10/2021 05:00 PM
Commonwealth Club - Online Event

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early 2019, has had significantly negative consequences for individuals, families and communities around the world, with huge economic and political effects. Short-term strategies have involved sheltering in place and social distancing, rigorous and frequent hand washing, and the disciplined use of masks. We now have reached a stage in the pandemic when vaccines are bring rolled out in the United States and globally, initially for “at risk” populations.

There is much confusion arising from conflicting information about the new vaccines. There are questions related to what we know about the vaccines (and how we know it), and what we don’t know (and how and when we will know more). To address these questions, two leading virologists will be in conversation with the chair of the Health and Medicine Forum at The Commonwealth Club of California. Dr. Melanie Ott and Dr. Warner Greene from Gladstone Institutes talk with Dr. Robert Lee Kilpatrick, to help the public understand COVID-19 vaccine options better.

Wondefest: Neurobiology; Astrobiology - Livestream - 02/10/2021 08:00 PM

Wonderfest Science Envoys are early-career researchers with special communication skills and aspirations. Following short talks on provocative modern science topics, these two Science Envoys will answer questions with insight and enthusiasm:

Stanford neuroscientist Neil Khosla on "The Neurobiology of Consolation" - Cooperation facilitates social bonding and supports group cohesion. What aspects of the brain might be involved in the evolution and expression of cooperpative behaviors, and how can we study this in the lab?UC Berkeley astronomer Erin Redwing on "The Astrobiology of Our Solar System" - What kinds of environments in our solar system could support life? What would that alien life look like, and what innovative approaches may help us discover it?

See weblink for Zoom information

Thursday, 02/11/2021

February LASER Event - Livestream - 02/11/2021 12:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

The World of Stonehenge

Mike Parker Pearson (UC London/ Archeology)

Iran's Media Art Scene

Speaker: Maryam Razi (Art Researcher, live from Iran)

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you are variations: a preliminary résumé - Livestream - 02/11/2021 12:00 PM

you are variations is a public lecture addressing a vital, urgent and intricate matter of concern: Can we learn to listen to a tree? And if so, how?

Christina Della Giustina presents research studying the water cycle of trees. It processes environmental data on sap flow from scientific research on climate change, transposing it into a musical score and enacting it collaboratively.  This draws attention to the complex water-cycling and sophisticated energy balance of trees under changing environmental conditions - relevant for contemporary scientific research on climate futures, and raising questions regarding the contemporary locus of art’s transformative power. The project proposes that we face these challenges together.

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Ask the Scientist - Steve Kielar - 02/11/2021 02:00 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center

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

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

Parents must give permission for children under 18 to participate.

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How My Bluebird Study Grew My Love of Birds, Science, and Conservation - Livestream - 02/11/2021 05:00 PM
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory

Join us to hear Lara Tseng tell the story of how she became interested in birds and how this led to her passion for science and conservation. She will also be talking about her research on the timing of eggshell consumption of Western Bluebirds and what science has taught her. This talk is great for all ages!

Lara Tseng is an avid 13-year-old birdwatcher from Orange County, California.

Please register at The Zoom meeting link will be sent in the confirmation.

Improving Batteries from the Atoms Up - Livestream - 02/11/2021 05:00 PM
SLAC Public Lecture

In batteries, energy is stored in tiny particles within the electrodes that individually breathe in and out and chemically evolve as the battery is charged and discharged. Improving the efficiency and lifetime of batteries will require a better understanding of how these particles transform individually and how they interact within their own complex ecosystem and with their surrounding environment.  X-rays from SLAC’s synchrotron allow scientists to take photographs of battery materials over a wide range of sizes, down to the size of individual particles and even the size of atoms. In this presentation, I will show photographs of some of these tiny battery components in action. Through this work, we are learning how to redesign batteries from the atoms up.

Speaker: Yijin Liu, SLAC

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'Dammed to Extinction' - Film Screening and Panel Discussion - Livestream - 02/11/2021 06:30 PM
Estuary & Ocean Science Center

For eons, a one-of-a-kind population of killer whales has hunted chinook salmon along the Pacific Coast of the United States. For the last 40 years, renowned whale scientist Ken Balcomb has closely observed them. He’s familiar with a deadly pattern, as salmon numbers plummet orcas starve.

The orcas need roughly a million salmon a year, where to find a million fish? The solution, says Balcomb, is getting rid of four fish-killing dams 500 miles away on the largest tributary to what once was the largest chinook producing river on earth.

Join filmmakers Michael Peterson & Steve Hawley, and EOS Center's Marine Mammal expert Dr. Ellen Hines for a panel discussion of the film's main characters, the orcas, and the science and policy impacting their survival. 

Get your tickets HERE!

NightSchool: Ode to the Moon - Livestream - 02/11/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences San Francisco

Celebrate the beginning of a new lunar year with an ode to the Moon and its significance to our planet, our oceans, and our local culture and communities.


Moons affect more than just tides: Most corals reproduce during annual mass spawning events triggered by the full Moon. Join Dr. Rebecca Albright, Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, as she shares the fascinating reproductive biology of corals, their connection to lunar cycles, and how lunar cycles can be mimicked in a lab to induce spawning.  It’s not a Lunar New Year celebration without dumplings. Kristina Cho, Bay Area Food Blogger, demonstrates how she makes her artful dumplings - including a homemade dough, a juicy filling, and a variety of beautiful pleats and folds. (Psst: Find dumpling recipes on her website.)Faces in space: Ever look up at the Moon and see someone looking back at you? Explore the face-finding phenomenon of pareidolia and see some compelling examples of it in the universe around us with M. Josh Roberts of the Morrison Planetarium.  Settle in for a trip back in time to Lunar New Years past with artist, poet, and educator Flo Oy Wong. She’ll present “Slin Nin Loy Luh, New Year Comes,” a memory-based talk about growing up in Oakland’s Chinatown during the 1940s and ‘50s, filled with poems in her parents’ native Hoisan-wa dialect and graphite drawings of her neighborhood.

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook Live links.

After Dark Online: Representation Through Visualization - Livestream - 02/11/2021 07:00 PM

Technology and design aren’t neutral. But how can we correct course on histories and technologies that have too often left out Black voices, with oppressive results? Tonight at After Dark, we’ll consider this question through two lenses: design history and machine learning.

This program features:

Join graphic designer Silas Munro as he explores Black Design in America, which presents a history of design that centers marginalized designers and cultural figures - particularly BIPOC and QTPOC people - while also considering how design has been used as a tool of oppression. Silas Munro is an educator and the founder of poly-mode, a design studio that uses design to inspire people to better themselves and improve society. 

As technologies driven by machine-learning systems become increasingly widespread, it’s become clear that these systems, often used in surveillance or for decision-making, lack the neutrality they promised. Hear from Deborah Raji about the ways in which machine-learning systems reinforce human bias and racism - and engage with her thoughts on how we can debug” the systems of their discriminatory data and applications. Raji is currently a fellow at Mozilla and was recently celebrated as a key innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review.

Astronomy on Tap Seattle: Catching Rainbows: How Astronomers can use the Atmosphere to Turn Black and White Images into Color - Livestream - 02/11/2021 07:00 PM
Astronomy on Tap

Groundbreaking new telescopes such as the Vera Rubin Observatory will push our understanding of our solar system and the universe. As we build bigger telescopes with larger mirrors we are able to see fainter objects and create higher resolution images of the night sky, but to extract science from the data we must first solve new challenges. Among those challenges is refraction from our own atmosphere: much as a straw appears to bend when you put it in a water glass, the light from distant stars appears to bend as it passes through the atmosphere to our telescopes. We have long known how to fix this “bending”, but we now must deal with slight differences in that refraction for redder and bluer light, an effect called Differential Chromatic Refraction, or DCR. I will describe the new technique we have developed to correct for DCR, and how we are able to use it to turn black and white images into color.

The event will begin at 7pm and there will be lots of time to ask questions afterwards. We’ll be going live on Zoom and Youtube at 7pm PST! Then join us at 8pm on our Instagram for an Instagram Live Q&A with Dr. Sullivan!

Speaker: Ian Sullivan

See weblink for YouTube and Zoom links.

From Junk to Genes: The birth of new miRNA genes in the human genome - Livestream - 02/11/2021 07:30 PM
Bay Area Skeptics

One of the biggest surprises of the genomics era is the discovery that every family, genus, and even species, has a shocking number of unique genes that are not found in closely related species. These so-called “orphan genes” have intrigued scientists for the past two decades and their diverse origins are beginning to come to light. In this presentation, I will present evidence that at least two families of human-unique micro-RNA genes have been created through random genomic rearrangements. These micro-RNAs tweak the expression of hundreds of genes in tissues throughout the body and may have played a role in the unique evolutionary trajectory of our species.

Speaker: Nathan Lents, City University of New York

See weblink for connection information.

Friday, 02/12/2021

Hotspot in a Hotspot: Biodiversity in the Bay Area - Livestream - 02/12/2021 12:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

Mountains have risen, continents have moved, rivers have hurtled to the ocean, and over millions of years, the Bay Area has taken shape. Cyclical interactions over deep time give rise to the Bay Area’s great diversity of life forms and support them today. In this online talk, author Mary Ellen Hannibal will expand on her POST blog: “What Makes the Bay Area a Biodiversity Hotspot?”. She will discuss the official hotspot designation with a focus on physical features that make our home both beautiful and fecund. She will highlight some native species with special stories to tell, emphasizing the interconnectedness of life across time and the role of large landscape conservation in sustaining ancient relationships.

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Near-nucleus activities of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko observed by Rosetta/OSIRIS - Livestream - 02/12/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Between August 2014 and September 2016, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with its target comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and accompanied it through its perihelion passage. During the over-two-year operation, the scientific camera system on board Rosetta, OSIRIS, acquired more than 70,000 images of the comet with unprecedented resolution and coverage. In this talk, I will introduce our work on investigating gas and dust activities in the ambient coma of 67P's nucleus. Our analyses of the imaging data, combined with thermophysical and gas/dust dynamic models, show how water-ice sublimation could drive both nominal and uncommon cometary activities.

Speaker: Xian Shi, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

See weblink for connection information

Saturday, 02/13/2021

Discovery Chemistry at Merck in the Bay Area - Livestream - 02/13/2021 10:30 AM
California Section American Chemical Society

In this talk, Dr. Jillian Sanzone will highlight the new Merck Research Laboratories site in South San Francisco, CA.  Merck is a global healthcare company headquartered in New Jersey focusing on oncology, vaccines, infectious diseases, COVID-19 treatments, and cardiometabolic diseases. The Merck discovery hub in South San Francisco was established in 2017 and has grown to over 200 employees in the newly designed 290,000 square foot research and office space.  The South San Francisco site focuses on developing treatments for cardiometabolic diseases and oncology.  The Discovery Chemistry group enables these goals by leveraging the strong chemistry and scientific expertise at Merck to focus on discovering better molecules faster across modalities and advancing the best molecules into the pipeline to deliver to patients.

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A Most Interesting Problem: What Darwin's Descent of Man Got Right and Wrong about Human Evolution - Livestream - 02/13/2021 11:00 AM
The Leaky Foundation

Join The Leakey Foundation for a free virtual celebration of Darwin’s birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Descent of Man. This event brings together seven world-class scholars and science communicators to explore what Darwin got right and what he got wrong about the origin, history, and biological variation of humans.

In 1871, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, a companion to On The Origin of Species in which he attempted to explain human evolution, a topic he called “the highest and most interesting problem for the naturalist.” This event explores how scientific ideas are tested and how evidence helps structure our narratives about human origins, showing how some of Darwin’s ideas have withstood more than a century of scrutiny while others have not.

This event features six ten-minute presentations with viewer opportunities to submit questions to the scholars. The event concludes with a discussion led by award-winning science journalist Ann Gibbons.

See weblink for list of speakers.

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Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 02/13/2021 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.

Monday, 02/15/2021

Not Necessarily Rocket Science Online - Livestream - 02/15/2021 04:00 PM
On Line

Have you dreamed of stars and galaxies far, far away? Join Kellie Gerardi, author of Not Necessarily Rocket Science: A Beginner's Guide to Life in the Space Age, in a conversation with Exploratorium astronomer Dr. Isabel Hawkins about her experiences in the commercial space industry. In her book, Kellie takes us on a tour of her nontraditional path in the space industry - from her adventures working at a spaceport to training for Mars to testing spacesuits in microgravity, to building a massive SciComm platform. In this live conversation she’ll share more stories about her experiences in this emerging frontier and offer insights and encouragement to anyone who dreams of donning a spacesuit.

Speaker: Kellie Gerardi, Project PoSSUM, with Isabel Hawkins, ExplOratorium

You can purchase a signed copy of Not Necessarily Rocket Science: A Beginner's Guide to Life in the Space Age at our Store. All of your purchases help support the Exploratorium’s educational mission.

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What Medical Physicists Do - Livestream - 02/15/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Hernandez, St. Luke's Cancer Institute

Tuesday, 02/16/2021

How trees grow their own pot- Quantifying the role of trees as wind-wiggling, tap-dancing and crowbar-wielding Critical Zone architects - Livestream - 02/16/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Healthy Food as Preventative Medicine: California and Beyond - Livestream - 02/16/2021 05:00 PM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)

COVID-19 vaccines, variants, and more: Our latest understanding of the science of COVID-19, and the road ahead - Livestream - 02/16/2021 05:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Two Talks: Popping the Science Bubble - Livestream - 02/16/2021 05:30 PM
Berkeley Public Library

Mycological Society of San Francisco General Meeting - Livestream - 02/16/2021 07:00 PM
Mycological Society of San Francisco

Wednesday, 02/17/2021

Challenges of Decarbonizing the Grid - Livestream - 02/17/2021 08:30 AM
Stanford Energy

Covid-19 and the Ethics of Scarcity - Livestream - 02/17/2021 12:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society

From Biomass Waste to Performance-Advantaged Polymers: Efficient Routes to Lignin Valorization - Livestream - 02/17/2021 03:00 PM
UC Berkeley

Energy and Resources Group Colloquium - Livestream - 02/17/2021 04:00 PM
Energy and Resources Group

Full-Spectrum Science Online: Countdown to Mars - 02/17/2021 04:00 PM

SETI Talks: Strange and Intriguing Exoplanets - Livestream - 02/17/2021 07:00 PM
SETI Institute

How Galaxies are Influenced by the Largest Structures in the Universe - Livestream - 02/17/2021 07:30 PM
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

Thursday, 02/18/2021

Should We Fear AI? - Livestream - 02/18/2021 11:00 AM
Computer History Museum

Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars - Livestream - 02/18/2021 11:15 AM
NASA Science

Landing Day! Countdown to Mars LIVE Online - 02/18/2021 12:00 PM

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Landing Watch Party - Livestream - 02/18/2021 12:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Quantifying Haptics in Surgery: The New Value Proposition - Livestream - 02/18/2021 05:00 PM
Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley

A Rainforest at our Feet: Local wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area - Livestream - 02/18/2021 07:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society

NightSchool: Sound Waves - Livestream - 02/18/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

After Dark Online: The Universe - Livestream - 02/18/2021 07:00 PM

Friday, 02/19/2021

The Solar Cycle - Livestream - 02/19/2021 11:30 AM
Astronomical Society of Edinburgh

'Rebuilding Paradise' - Livestream - 02/19/2021 12:00 PM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)

Cracking the case of ice shelf fracture - Livestream - 02/19/2021 12:00 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Building an 18' f/4.5 Newtonian on a GEM - Livestream - 02/19/2021 07:30 PM
Tri-Valley Stargazers

Saturday, 02/20/2021

Biodiversity Virtual Program - 02/20/2021 01:30 PM
Environmental Volunteers

SOFIA: Past, Present, and Future - Livestream - 02/20/2021 07:00 PM
San Mateo County Astronomical Society

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 02/20/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Sunday, 02/21/2021

Wonderfest: Ask a Science Envoy: 'Collaborative AI' and ''Between a Coral and a Hard Place' - Livestream - 02/21/2021 01:00 PM

A Top Predator in Hot Water: Effects of a Marine Heatwave on the Northern Elephant Seal - Livestream - 02/21/2021 01:30 PM
Seymour Science Center

Monday, 02/22/2021

Loops, Ladders and Links: The Recursivity of Social and Machine Learning - Livestream - 02/22/2021 12:00 PM
Berkeley Institute for Data Science

Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum : Daniel Ho - Livestream - 02/22/2021 02:30 PM
Stanford Symbolic Systems Forum

Kepler Computing: Condensed matter for ultralow power computing - Livestream - 02/22/2021 02:30 PM
UC Berkeley

Testing Einstein’s theory of gravity using the first image of a black hole - Livestream - 02/22/2021 04:00 PM
What Physicists Do @ Sonoma State University

UC Berkeley Physics Colloquium - Livestream - 02/22/2021 04:15 PM
UC Berkeley

Deep Networks Are Kernel Machines - Livestream - 02/22/2021 07:00 PM
SF Bay Association of Computing Machinery