SDARI Event Archives
Event Archives 2011:
- November 27, 2011 Paul Wenger, President of SDARI. moderated A Discussion: What, If Anything, Can Science Teach Us About Values and Morality?.
Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil and The Soul of Science, Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape, and Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, are some of the recent books dealing with values, morality, and the latest scientific research. Popular wisdom claims that if you ask 100 different people you will get 100 different opinions. Let's test that claim. Can 100 skeptics discussing science, values, and morality agree on anything? This month's SDARI meeting discussed these topics.
- October 23, 2011 Ray Ashley, Maritime Museum of San Diego on Building Cabrillo's Galleon: The San Salvador, Early Modern Navigation, and the Emergence of Rationalism.
The voyage of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 resulted in the first instance of our region appearing on any modern map. Concurring with the publication of Copernicus' vision of a heliocentric universe, it was perhaps the last great voyage of the medieval world and the first of the modern world, the first local penetration of systematized observation of the natural world using mathematics and instruments, and the first oceanographic expedition to undertake a study of regional climatic conditions.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is in the process of creating a full scale reconstruction of Cabrillo's galleon San Salvador. This talk discussed that project and its place within the context of the history of rational thought and the scientific revolution, invoking some of the bizarre twists and turns that enfold the birth of modern rationalism within the bounds of superstition, religion, and mysticism and making it part of our origin story.
- September 25, 2011 Lisa Shaffer: What is climate change and why does it matter?
Dr. Lisa Shaffer is a lecturer at the UCSD Rady School of Management. She spent the first 25 years of her career in Washington, D.C. in a variety of positions focusing on international cooperation in studying the earth from space. In 1998, she joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she was responsible for international relations and program development. She left Scripps in 2007, to build a sustainability program across the UC San Diego campus (now called the Sustainability Solutions Institute), and in 2009 joined the Rady School of Management after completing the executive MBA program there. She earned her B.A. in political science and international relations from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in public policy from the George Washington University. In addition to her teaching, Lisa is running for a seat on the city council of Encinitas, California in the November 2012 election.
The Climate Project: A program of The Climate Reality Project, The Climate Project (TCP) represents a global force consisting of specially trained climate activists who are dedicated to educating people about the urgency and solvability of the climate crisis at a grassroots level worldwide. With nine official branches and a reach in more than 50 countries, TCP supports more than 3,000 diverse and dedicated volunteers, all personally trained by TCP's founder, Al Gore, to present an updated version of the slide show featured in the Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. Since TCP first began in 2006, TCP "Presenters" have delivered more than 70,000 presentations reaching a combined global audience of more than 7.3 million people, sharing our message that the climate crisis is real and the time to act is now.
- August 28, 2011 Tom Murphy of the Physics department at UCSD on The Physical Limits of Growth.
Dr. Murphy is keenly interested in various energy topics, especially alternative energy and the limits we face in our use of fossil fuels. His presentation focused on the nature of economic growth, and demonstrate in a number of ways the absurdity of the notion that we can continue growing indefinitely in population, in energy efficiency, and in the general economy.
- July 24, 2011 Kelly Lane on Popular Diets and Trendy Foods.
Kelly Lane is a lecturer in the Foods and Nutrition Program at San Diego State University. She earned a Masters Degree in Nutritional Sciences from SDSU in 2004 and has been teaching full-time since. Research interests include the effect of supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid, the effects of saturated fat of varying sources on blood lipid profiles, and the effects of raw versus cooked foods on glycemia (blood sugar). Teaching areas include food science and human metabolism. Kelly started a company called Food Mechanics, featuring a line of Intermediate-moisture vegetable products that are used to supplement popular convenience foods.
- June 19, 2011 Benjamin Radford on Reflections on a Decade of Paranormal Investigation.
Benjamin Radford, managing editor and columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, is one of the world's few science-based paranormal investigators, who has done first-hand research into psychics, ghosts and haunted houses, exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, crop circles, and more. He discussed the nature of “unexplained mysteries” such as ghosts, Bigfoot, crop circles, and psychic powers. What does science say about the evidence for these topics? What is the nature of the “unexplained”? And why is there still debate about these issues? Radford drew from case studies over a decade of personal investigations into these and dozens of other topics. Radford is the author of several books, including, Scientific Paranormal Investigation, Tracking the Chupacabra, Media Mythmakers, Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias, Lake Monster Mysteries, The Martians Have Landed: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes, and Science to the Rescue.
- March 27, 2011 Louis W. Perry on Thank Evolution For God.
Lou Perry discussed his new book, "Thank Evolution for God", written in response to books such as "Thank God for Evolution", by Michael Dowd, and "The Language of God", by Frances Collins. He discussed the conflicts of religion with science and democracy; and such topics as, "who has the authority over evolution", and, "can you be a Christian and a Darwinian".
Lou Perry is a UCSD Emeritus and has lectured at Revelle College, UCSD for over ten years. For the course on conflicts of religion and science he wrote the accompanying textbook, Jefferson’s Scissors, The Conflicts of Religion with Science and Democracy. Lou has a BS and MS in physics. He spent two years as a physicist at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, four years as a physicist at General Dynamics in nuclear reactor design then came to the General Atomic Company where over a fifteen year period he became a laboratory director and later the director of strategic planning for the company. He left General Atomic and formed a management consulting company serving the nuclear power industry for ten years.
- February 27, 2011 Eric Courchesne, Ph.D. on Making the autistic brain: Genetic and neural defects that lead to autistic behavior.
Autism is a heritable disorder of abnormal brain enlargement and dysfunction in early life, but the precise mechanisms that explain these brain abnormalities in autism are unknown. To discover these causal mechanisms, we investigate the genetic and cellular features of the young autistic brain. Our observations point to early brain maldevelopment of the prefrontal cortex as a causative feature in autism, leading to excess cell numbers and overgrowth, neuronal dysfunction, and abnormal patterning and connectivity. The implications of our findings for earlier detection and more effective treatment in autistic infants and toddlers will be discussed. Dr. Eric Courchesne is Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence in the Neuroscience Department at the UCSD School of Medicine.
- January 23, 2011 Remembering COSMOS, Part II: A tribute to Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science, Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the creator (with Ann Druyan and Steven Soter) of the Emmy and Peabody Award winning PBS series, COSMOS, still the most widely seen PBS series in the world. Carl Sagan was a scientist and researcher who was adept at communicating scientific ideas to the public. He blended healthy skepticism with a child-like sense of wonder. He was a teacher who routinely disproved the unfounded and sometimes dangerous beliefs of his fellow humans without ever losing his belief in humankind. COSMOS — the series — is now 30 years old. November 9, 2010, was Carl Sagan's 76th birthday, and on Carl Sagan Day people around the world celebrated his legacy. This month SDARI continued its celebration of COSMOS.
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