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   Date: 2/4/10 Bookmark and Share

Got 10 Minutes? Learn Some Science

“Science at the Center,” a series of 10-minute lectures every Wednesday, 12:50 to 1 p.m., in McConnell foyer, highlights science and the research interests of the faculty at the science center. These are informal presentations of an idea and/or a demonstration on a topic of interest chosen by the speaker. The goal of the series is to provide a weekly event that brings faculty and students together over a science topic.

Check out what’s coming up. And stop by Wednesdays for some science.

Spring 2010 schedule

February 10 “Augmented Reality (AR) and the iPhone.” Eitan Mendelowitz, assitant professor of computer science.

Mobile augmented reality (AR) is the juxtaposition of live video with location-specific information and graphics on mobile platforms. A number of commercial AR applications are available on popular mobile phones including the iPhone and Android phones. Find out what mobile AR is, how AR works, and how you can create your own layers of augmented reality.

February 24 “What's good for women and good for men is bad for everybody: real-world paradoxes in statistics.” Nicholas Horton, associate professor of mathematics and statistics.

Unlike some paradoxes that only arise in obscure or irrelevant settings, there are many real-world situations where what's bad for each of a set of groups is good overall. We'll untangle this paradox in the context of some examples of the evaluation of a new surgical procedure, determining the association between smoking and mortality, and the link between teacher salaries and SAT scores.

March 3 “German Refugee Academics in Turkey, 1933-1955.” Lale Burk, senior lecturer, chemistry.

Many academics, outstanding in their fields, who lost their positions during the Nazi regime in Germany, were invited to Turkey to teach and to participate in the Turkish university reforms. The impact of these individuals on Turkish higher education has been profound. The present research, which spans histories of science, exile studies and women's history, focuses on the lives and contributions of three scientists, the chemist Fritz Arndt, and the biologists Kurt and Leonore Kosswig.

March 10 "Everything you ever wanted to know about stem cells in ten minutes." Michael Barresi, assistant professor of biological sciences.

Stem cells represent an amazing group of cells present both in the embryo and in the adult. Lately, there has been a lot of excitement and debate over the use of stem cells in both research and for medical therapies. Come hear about the facts of stem cells, what they are, what sort of "potential" they have for themselves and you, and what ethical concerns exist.

March 24 “Alive but not kicking: mechanisms of general anesthetic action in the brain.” Adam Hall, associate professor of biological sciences.

When under the surgeon's knife by virtue of general anesthetics we now assume that we will be blissfully unaware of the operation, suffer no pain and have no memory of a traumatic event. But how do anesthetics produce these miraculous effects? This talk will explore the molecular mechanisms of anesthetic action in the brain and how these agents can render us unconscious and cause amnesia during surgery.

March 31 “What is quicksand and can it really suck me to my death?” Glenn Ellis, associate professor of engineering.

Hollywood has made us aware that quicksand poses a grave danger to those who wander about remote jungles. In this talk we will dispel the myths and look at how ordinary sand turns quick and the real danger it poses. All who attend will have the chance to feel it for themselves in one of Smith's newly built quicksand tanks.

April 7 “Collisions between Atomic Nuclei.” Malgorzata Pfabe, Sophia Smith Professor of Physics.

We will briefly discuss how and why do we want to investigate collisions between atomic nuclei. What can happen when two nuclei collide with each other? What can we measure and what can we learn about the structure and properties of "nuclear matter."

April 14 "Climate Change: Science & Politics in the Wake of Copenhagen." Thomas Litwin, Director, Science Center.

Expectations were high going into the Copenhagen U.N. climate change meeting. At meeting's end, the results were far from clear, with significant rifts emerging between developed and developing nations. In parallel, detractors questioned the science behind IPCC climate change forecasts. These forces and the prospects for an international agreement for the next UNFCC meeting, Cancun 2010, will be explored.

April 21 “Why do metals need chaperones?” Elizabeth Jamieson, associate professor of chemistry.

Certain transition metals are among the essential elements organisms require to sustain life. However, these metals, which we often think of non-toxic, can be harmful under certain conditions. In this talk, we will explore the transport and storage systems that chaperone metals in the body and keep them from causing harm.


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