Unexpected SciSchmoozing

Hello Friends of Science,

This SciSchmooze is going to press before the results of Ingenuity’s 7th flight are known. But if you would like a little model (about 1/7 scale) of Ingenuity - for free - just be the third person to ask for it in the comments at the bottom. 

Nobody expected it was possible to be blown directly downwind faster than the motion of air - until Rick Cavallero decided that it WAS possible. This fascinating video is more than a little mind-bending; sometimes i thought i understood and sometimes i was baffled. Frankly, I'd like to see data from an anemometer placed high on the pylon.

During 27 years, 16 Concorde supersonic airliners flew at twice the speed of sound, each comfortably carrying 100+ passengers but at a ticket price nearing 30 times that for flying on a normal subsonic  airliner. Regardless, Concorde operations were never profitable and the last commercial flight was in 2003. Few expected that a major carrier - United Airlines - would invest billions of dollars in an unproven supersonic airliner being designed by an unproven company.

I would never expect glacial meltwater to be a polluter, but ‘high’ amounts of mercury are found in meltwater from southern Greenland which hosts a major fishing industry. Just a few years ago, that meltwater was found to have problematic levels of phosphate

The study of primate fossils suggested to paleontologists that apes likely developed bipedal locomotion about 7 million years ago. Unexpectedly, that milestone seems to have been pushed back 5 million years

Going back further still, an author and lecturer is claiming that the larger dinosaurs could not be expected to walk on land; they were just too heavy. Instead, the adults must have waded about partially submerged in water. (¿Where - and when - did i leave my time machine?)

The Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 and completed in 2003 with publication of the complete genome of the human species. I and most folk expected that the term “complete genome” meant “complete genome.” Apparently there were caveats in fine print because “complete” meant “all of the meaningful DNA” and that another 8% was too repetitive to be sequenced. It took until now to reach 100%.

Space debris hitting the International Space Station is not expected to cause loss of life but little pieces can certainly damage things and the situation may be getting worse.

¿What are we expected to believe about UFOs from space? For a light-hearted short video, i offer you Professor Joe Schwarcz from McGill University. For a deeper dive, here is a 25-minute video with Mick West, a well-known skeptic and former SkeptiCal speaker.

Livestream picks of the week:

No one expected the first Covid-19 vaccine to be as good as it was,“ one of the researchers admitted. The successful development of an MRNA vaccine for COVID-19 has bolstered confidence in the development of an MRNA vaccine for HIV/AIDS. At this time, about 4 million people have succumbed to COVID-19. As a morbid comparison, AIDS has taken the lives of about 30 million people.

I suppose we could have expected some folk, like Dr. Joe Mercola, to make a profit off of COVID nonsense. Because some people still worry about being injected with a microchip when getting a vaccine, The Atlantic published this. The World Health Organization has teamed with the British government to fight the spread of COVID misinformation. On the other hand, it seems that the British heir to the throne has other ideas.

Have fun - and expand your circle of empathy,
Dave Almandsmith, member Bay Area Skeptics board

“There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men.”
- John Locke, English philosopher and physician (1632 - 1704)

Monday, 06/07/2021

The Extremely Large Telescope: what, why and how? - Livestream - 06/07/2021 11:00 AM
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

The Extremely Large Telescope is currently under construction high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This talk will explore the incredible engineering behind the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world, introducing the science instruments we are building for it here at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

Speaker: Sandi Wilson

The coming decade in quantum technology - Livestream - 06/07/2021 07:00 PM
City of Sydney, Australia

50 years after applications from nuclear power to the circuits that make mobile phones possible, what lies ahead for the coming decade in quantum technology?

Quantum technology, which relies on the principles of quantum physics, is set to usher in a new era of innovation. It will present new possibilities in solving problems and applications including communications, drug and materials development and national security.

Hear from this stellar panel of quantum thought leaders on future possibilities of quantum technology and what it will take to get there.


Rebecca Krauthamer, Quantum Thought and QuSecure


Rebecca Krauthamer, Quantum Thought, QuSecure

Vikram Sharma, QuintessenceLabs

Andrea Morello, University of New South Wales


Holly Ransom, Emergent

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Astronomy on Tap: Los Angeles - Livestream - 06/07/2021 07:30 PM
Astronomy on Tap

We’ll hear from Dr. Britt Lundgren: “Using Gorging Supermassive Black Holes to Illuminate Distant Galaxies” and from Dr. Junhan Kim: “Exploring the Universe from the South Pole”. In addition, we will host interactive, astronomically-themed pub trivia.

See weblink for YouTube connection.

Tuesday, 06/08/2021

The self-assembling brain: how neural networks grow smarter - Livestream - 06/08/2021 11:00 AM
The Royal Institution

Neurobiologists and computer scientists are trying to discover how neural networks become a brain. Will nature give us the answer, or is it all up to an artificial intelligence to work it out?

Join Peter Robin Hiesinger as he explores if the biological brain is just messy hardware which scientists can improve upon by running learning algorithms on computers

In this talk, Robin will discuss these intertwining topics from both perspectives, including the shared history of neurobiology and Artificial Intelligence.

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Project IceCube: Live from the South Pole - Livestream - 06/08/2021 12:00 PM
Castro Valley High School

Winter is here!

Join us for an extraordinary virtual presentation by scientists at the South Pole who will describe what it is like to live and work where it is dark more than 23 hours every day and where the average temperature is -50⁰F.

Project IceCube uses a cubic kilometer of ice at the South Pole to measure neutrinos, mysterious subatomic particles that have an extremely small mass.

Don't miss this fascinating event, live from an alien world!

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Climate and Habitability of Tidally Locked Planets - Livestream - 06/08/2021 03:30 PM
UC Santa Cruz

Speaker: Jun Yang, Peking University

Zoom information can be found on the EPS advising Google calendar

How Can California Electrify Everything? - Livestream - 06/08/2021 05:00 PM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)

Electrification and building decarbonization are key practices to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and reaching a more sustainable and resilient California. But adopting these practices also means managing a considerably increased load on the electric grid. Can the state meet this increased need with new sources of renewable power, like offshore wind farms, and create a resilient grid with California-made lithium batteries? And how can we ensure that the health and economic benefits of these new advances benefit everyone? Join us for a conversation with the head of the California Energy Commission about how we can both electrify and decarbonize our buildings and our transportation sector to realize a cleaner future for all.


Nick Josefowtiz, SPUR

David Hochschild, California Energy Commission

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Wednesday, 06/09/2021

The untold story of recovery following the Deepwater Horizon incident: A worm’s eye view - Livestream - 06/09/2021 11:00 AM
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

The Deepwater Horizon incident was the first large deep-sea oil spill. Soft-sediment benthos provide key ecosystem services and were an ecological concern following the spill. Recent publications recorded an initial opportunistic response and predicted 50 - 100 years for benthic taxonomic recovery. We present new insights into the timing and mechanisms of functional benthic recovery following organic enrichment caused by the mass flux of petroleum hydrocarbons to the seafloor using data generated from sediment profile and plan view imaging surveys conducted one and four years after the spill. Our results confirm the early opportunistic response documented by others and indicate further stages of functional benthic recovery as early as one year after the incident, with additional progress at four years. As oil and gas exploration and extraction move into the deep sea, improving our understanding of ecological variability, evolutionary adaptations, and benthic recovery trajectories in these environments is critical.

Speaker: Kersey Sturdivant, Duke University

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Social Cost of Carbon - Livestream - 06/09/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley

The social cost of carbon - an estimate of the economic harm caused by each additional ton of carbon dioxide - allows policy makers to evaluate the economic consequences of emissions and make informed decisions about climate change. Join this discussion between Energy and Resources Group professor David Anthoff, Agriculture and Resources Economics professor Maximilian Auffhammer, and ERG PhD candidate Lisa Rennels to learn more about the most important number you’ve never heard of.

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Ask the Scientist - Bekah Lane - 06/09/2021 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.

Speaker: Bekah Lane, San Francisco State University

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Editor's Note: As we list this event, the web page says it is scheduled for June 6.  This is incorrect and should say June 9.  The registration link says the event has passed, and we presume that will be corrected.

The Evolutionary Origin of Periodical Cicadas: A Sci-Fi Story - 06/09/2021 04:00 PM
Embassy of Japan

Periodical cicadas are known for their unique 17- and 13-year life cycles and mass emergence events. This mystery of why they would have evolved these two prime-numbered life cycles has attracted many biologists and mathematicians. Dr. Yoshimura will explore this phenomenon through a science-fiction story of the prime-numbered life cycles in periodical cicadas during the ice ages. In this talk, he will also introduce a new technique of catching cicadas that sing at the tops of trees, for any children with insect collections, as many Japanese children (Dr. Yoshimura very much included) do.

Speaker: Dr. Jin Yoshimura, Shizuoka University

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Thursday, 06/10/2021

Enacting Change through Cultivation of Student Activism and Engagement with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Livestream - 06/10/2021 11:00 AM
Gladstone Institutes

D’Anne Duncan will discuss the critical importance and value of centering graduate student advocacy and activism to create institutional change by fostering relationships between graduate students, faculty, and campus administrators. Learn strategies to engage graduate students in leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion values and principles to enact sustainable change in scientific and academic communities.

Is Dark Matter Real? - Livestream - 06/10/2021 11:00 AM
The Royal Institution

For more than 80 years, astrophysicists have collected data that suggests 80% of matter in the universe is 'dark'. These observations have led them to believe that it is made up of an as yet unknown substance.

In this talk Sabine Hossenfelder will explore the evidence for and against the existence of 'dark' matter. She will argue that that the best explanation is a suitable combination of dark matter and a modification of general relativity, which can be realized by the idea that dark matter has a superfluid phase.

Why Don't Plants Get Sunburns And How Can We Tell When Our Ancestors First Produced Milk? - Livestream - 06/10/2021 05:00 PM
Grounds for Science

Grab an after-work beverage of your choice for a fun night of science, trivia, and socializing with two budding UC Berkeley researchers.

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NightLife - SOLD OUT - 06/10/2021 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

Methods and Practices to Reduce and Prevent Transfusion Transmitted Infections - Livestream - 06/10/2021 06:00 PM
Cafe Scientifique Stanford Blood Center

Café Sci is back! In this online talk, Dr. Tho D. Pham will give an overview of the current state of transfusion transmitted infections, review the current technologies and processes in place to decrease and prevent transfusion transmitted infections, and lastly explore developing technologies.

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After Dark Online: Queering the Future - 06/10/2021 07:00 PM

What will it take for humanity to face the climate crisis and related challenges of the coming decades? Some futurists and activists imagine near-term and long-range futures that center thriving queer lives, build our resilience for disruptive future forces, and radically transform broken systems to work for all. This program seeks to understand how the next few decades could disproportionately shape LGBTQIA2S+ lives, and how queer people and our movement can have an outsized impact on the future.

Join us for a live conversation with Jason Tester of Queer the Future and panelists invested in activating the changes required for inclusivity, resilience, and a brighter future.

See weblink for YouTube and Facebook links.

NightSchool: Cave Life - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

Peek into cave systems that only the most skilled researchers, cave divers, & advanced tech can reach. Learn about bats, blind shrimp, and the fascinating range of life found in caves across the southern United States and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

How do hundreds of thousands of bats exit a cave in a matter of minutes without resulting in an airborne traffic jam? To answer this question and others like it, Nickolay Hristov works with an interdisciplinary team of scientists, artists, designers, and technologists to peek in the darkness with lasers, 3D modeling, and thermal and high-speed cameras. He’ll show off some of the incredible images and videos that help him and other researchers reveal the fascinating biology of bats and the caves that they call home.  Marine biologist Fernando Calderón Gutiérrez, PhD Student at Texas A&M University, talks about the biodiversity and conservation of the unique subterranean estuaries that he studies on the Yucatán Peninsula. These estuaries, accessible only via underwater caves, aren’t easy for any organism involved: To conduct research, scientists must learn to cave dive, and to survive in these ecosystems, species must adapt to a serious lack of light and food.

Ages 21+

The Truth Behind False Memories - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:30 PM
Bay Area Skeptics

A false memory is a memory for something that never happened to you. Memory is easily manipulated and can change without our awareness. In my talk I discuss different ways that false memories are created and how most people do not recognize the difference between an accurate and a false memory.

Speaker: Jill Yamashita, USU Monterey Bay

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Wonderfest: The Future of You - Livestream - 06/10/2021 07:30 PM

How "future-oriented" are you? In the near term, nearly half of US adults would have trouble finding $400 to cover an emergency expense. Looking further ahead, our collective futures are threatened by global climate change. Meeting such challenges partially depends on the human ability to regard future selves as continuous with - if not identical to - current selves. What does psychology research have to say about future self-continuity so that we might better guide our individual and collective development?

Speaker: Brian Knutson, Stanford University

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Friday, 06/11/2021

90 Degrees South: Detecting Invisible Messengers of the Cosmos - Livestream - 06/11/2021 10:30 AM
Oxford University

We are delighted to announce this fantastic public & alumni event hosted by our department together with the team at IceCube South Pole neutrino Observatory (US & South Pole).

Our Head of Particle Physics Professor Daniela Bortoletto will be hosting a live link-up with Josh Veitch-Michaelis and Martin Wolf, IceCube winterovers who will be talking to us live from Antarctica. Professor Jim Madsen, Executive Director Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center and Gwenhaël de Wasseige, MSCA Individual Fellow, Laboratoire Astroparticule et Cosmologie will also be joining us to share their work and talk all things neutrino.

You may have heard these news lately, about IceCube, and this is the perfect time to join us, learn what happens there and how the research is done, and ask all the questions you may have.

Please see the following links for more information about the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and our speakers:

IceCube South Pole Neutrino ObservatoryProfessor Jim Madsen Gwenhaël de WasseigeLife at the Pole

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Wildlife Tracking: Tracking Basics and a story about Badgers - Livestream - 06/11/2021 12:00 PM
Peninsula Open Space Trust

Wildlife is all around us in the Bay Area. Diverse species of animals filter through our urban landscapes, crossing the boundaries of our homes, cities and the protected landsthat surround our region. Whether you are visiting your local parks and preserves on the San Francisco Bay, the coast, the Santa Cruz mountains or the Diablo Range, there’s a great chance you’ll see wildlife, or at least signs of them. But how many of us can accurately identify these signs of wildlife, or use these signs to paint a picture of what’s going on in nature?

Join Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) as we welcome local wildlife researchers Tanya Diamond and Ahiga Snyder of Pathways for Wildlife to share practical wildlife tracking skills with our community. They will share knowledge of how to identify various types of common wildlife tracks and other signs, and deepen your understanding of the wildlife communities living in our local landscapes.

Through Pathways for Wildlife, Tanya and Ahiga are conducting groundbreaking wildlife research on the Peninsula, in the South Bay and further afield with a variety of nonprofits and public agency partners, including POST, Midpen and OSA. Using camera traps, wildlife collaring technology and other methods, Pathways for Wildlife is constructing a complex picture of how wildlife move across our landscape, and what we need to do to enhance the health of these animal communities.

Wildlife tracking is one of the many skills in Tanya and Ahiga’s toolbox as they survey the land and help organizations like ours plan for the health of our local wildlife. These webinars are a rare chance to learn tracking from two local heroes of wildlife research.

Part 1: We will learn a basic framework for where and when to look for wildlife signs, the different types of signs to look for and some of the basic tracks you might see from a variety of local species. Tanya and Ahiga will also share some stories about how they are successfully tracking and monitoring one of the most elusive creatures in our region: the American badger!

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Saturday, 06/12/2021

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 06/12/2021 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, 06/14/2021

Structural and biophysical characterization of function and aggregation in the extremely long-lived proteins of the eye lens - Livestream - 06/14/2021 05:00 PM
California Section American Chemical Society

The crystallin proteins that make up the refractive medium of the vertebrate eye lens must remain soluble and stable for a lifetime. These proteins maintain their short-range order without strong intermolecular interactions even at concentrations above 400 mg/mL in humans and closer to 1000 mg/mL in fish. Structural and biophysical studies in professor Martin’s group seek to discover how the crystallin function in the healthy lens and what happens when they aggregate, causing cataract disease. Professor Martin’s group has solved NMR and crystal structures for the structural lens protein human γS-crystallin and several aggregation-prone variants, including some associated with hereditary cataract and others that mimic age-related damage. Professor Martin will also discuss the development of new NMR instrumentation and methodology to investigate the transparent hydrogel state of concentrated crystallin proteins, which is difficult to study using standard techniques for either solid-state or solution NMR. The presentation will be followed by Q & A.

Speaker: Rachel Martin, UC Irvine

Slugs and Steins: Electric Planes, Trucks, and Automobiles: The Promise and Challenges of Energy Delivery - Liveatream - 06/14/2021 06:30 PM
Slugs and Steins

In consumer applications like electric automobiles, and especially in the astonishing new field of electric aircraft propulsion, high power storage density is essential. High reliability and fault tolerance are also critical attributes. In addition, global energy and environmental concerns call for more efficient and reliable energy conversion systems. This talk is an overview of these cutting-edge applications of power electronics, electronic converters, and electric motor drives in energy and power delivery systems. We will cover applications ranging from lower power energy harvesting and solid-state lighting, to electrified transportation and renewable energy systems.

See weblink for connection information

Tuesday, 06/15/2021

Climate Change Panel Discussion - Livestream - 06/15/2021 12:00 PM
Audubon Canyon Ranch

Mother Trees and the Social Forest - Livestream - 06/15/2021 05:00 PM
Long Now Foundation

Wednesday, 06/16/2021

Breakthroughs - A Refined Laser Method and Faster Matrix Multiplication - Livestream - 06/16/2021 10:00 AM
UC Berkeley

Data Science Coast to Coast - Two talks - 06/16/2021 12:00 PM
Berkeley Institute for Data Science

June LASER Event - Canceled - 06/16/2021 12:00 PM
LASER Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

Rovers, Helicopters, and Ancient Martians: Why We Explore Mars - 06/16/2021 01:00 PM
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Dominican Univ.

An Astronomical Perspective on Globular Clusters, Binary Stars, and Planet Earth - Livestream - 06/16/2021 07:00 PM
San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

Thursday, 06/17/2021

Midday Science Cafe - Synthetic Biology for a Sustainable Future - Livestream - 06/17/2021 12:00 PM
UC Berkeley

Plants, Bugs, and Molecules - An Introduction to the Chemistry of Insect-Plant Interactions - Livestream - 06/17/2021 01:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden

Can We Get to Carbon Neutral Livestock Production? - Livestream - 06/17/2021 05:00 PM
Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley

Madagascar’s Fragile Magic - Livestream - 06/17/2021 07:00 PM
Golden Gate Audubon Society

Micromitigation: Fighting Air Pollution with Activated Carbon - Livestream - 06/17/2021 07:00 PM
Counter Culture Labs

NightSchool: Down Under - Livestream - 06/17/2021 07:00 PM
California Academy of Sciences

After Dark Online: Get Up, Stand Up: Organizing for Environmental Justice in Richmond - 06/17/2021 07:00 PM

Friday, 06/18/2021

Let's Eat Bugs, A Global Perspective on Entomophagy - Livestream - 06/18/2021 01:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden

Saturday, 06/19/2021

Deep Prediction: Forecasting on Time Scales from Microseconds to Eons - Livestream - 06/19/2021 07:30 PM
Mount Tamalpias Astronomy Lectures

Virtual Telescope Viewing - Livestream - 06/19/2021 09:00 PM
Chabot Space and Science Center

Sunday, 06/20/2021

Science Sundays: Marine Mammals and Seabirds of the Southern Ocean - Livestream - 06/20/2021 01:30 PM
Seymour Science Center

Monday, 06/21/2021

Ideas + Action 2021 - Opening Keynote with Dr. Robert Bullard - Livestream - 06/21/2021 10:00 AM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)

Bug Week! Noontime Zoom Talk - Backyard Creepy Crawlies - Livestream - 06/21/2021 12:00 PM
UC Botanical Garden

Living on the Edge: The Future of Coastal Cities - Livestream - 06/21/2021 12:30 PM
SF Planning + Urban Research Assoc. (SPUR)