to Present Ten Minutes of Science Once a Week
“Science at the Center” is a
weekly event, held every Wednesday from 12:50 to 1 p.m.,
organized to highlight faculty research. The 10-minute talks will
take place in the foyer of McConnell Hall (see schedule of
topics below) beginning September 16.
Once a week, a faculty member
will give an informal presentation for the Smith
community. Imagine something like a Hyde
Park soapbox scene that brings people together
and offers peek into the “science
at the center” of a topic.
The following schedule will also be posted on the Science Center Web site.
Science at the Center Fall 2009
“What is the Universe
Gary Felder, physics
The things we are familiar with—atoms
and the particles that make them up—account for less than
5 percent of what's out there in the universe. We know that
the rest is made up of two mysterious substances called "dark
matter" and "dark energy," but
we don't know what they actually are. I'll briefly describe
what we do and don't know about the stuff that makes up 95
percent of the universe we live in.
day the Earth froze over: New observations on Snowball Earth
from Northern Namibia.”
Sara Pruss, geology
The theory of Snowball
Earth postulates that the Earth was completely
entombed in ice around 700 million years ago.
As a geologist who is interested in Snowball Earth,
I visited Namibia (southern Africa) this past
summer to study ancient sediments left behind
from these massive glaciers that covered all of
the oceans and continents. Please stop by Clark
Corner to hear about geological field work in
remote parts of Africa and how we geologists study
rocks to learn about a prehistoric frozen World!
the Dark Ages: Viewing the Earliest Stars in the
James Lowenthal, astronomy
look far away to look back in time, thanks to the
finite speed of light. New telescopes now nearing
completion will allow us to witness the formation
of the first stars and galaxies, following a period
of rapid but relatively dark expansion of the Universe
less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang.
"Nucleon: what is it made of?"
Piotr Decowski, physics
Despite common anticipation
that the nucleon is made of three quarks, its structure is
much more complex with dominant features determined by properties
TBA. Pau Atela, mathematics
Christine White-Ziegler, biology
“What is bio-geometric computing?”
Ileana Streinu, computer science
from Computational Geometry, Robotics, Algorithms and
other areas of Computer Science are being applied to
understanding important questions in Molecular Biology,
related to protein structure and function.
“Water and Climate: Field Investigations at the
MacLeish Field Station.”
Andrew Guswa, engineering
Smith College recently
established the Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station,
a 200-acre parcel located amid a patchwork of protected land
and farmland making up one of the largest tracks of undeveloped
land in the state. This site and the associated infrastructure
provide a platform for faculty and student research.
instrument ever: A drop of water.”
Kate Queeney, chemistry
Layers a molecule
(or an atom) thick can change a surface from hydrophilic—water
spreads out to form a sheet on it—to hydrophobic—water
beads up in nearly spherical droplets. We'll look
at some surfaces that look to the eye to be identical—shiny
gray pieces of silicon. Then we will dunk them in water
to see what happens.