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Event Details 
Science Pop-Up Talks - Series Three
A third series of “Science Pop-ups” will begin on Thursday, March 17 at 1:00-2:30 pm and continue weekly through May 5. As with the two previous series, it will be hosted by Craig Stephan and feature talks and discussion by experts in their respective scientific fields from around the country and the world. The topics were selected on the basis of their popularity in the recent member survey. Because of the importance of its topic to everyone, the May 8 session on climate will be free to both OLLI members and others, but you must register for it. The schedule is as follows: March 17 Rudi Lindner, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, University of Michigan “The Universe: Major Edwin Hubble's Greatest Campaign” ABSTRACT: Edwin Powell Hubble (1889-1953) was the greatest astronomer of his age. His observations demonstrated that our Milky Way is not the sole galaxy and that the universe, space itself, is expanding. He commanded the greatest telescopes in the world, he planned his campaigns with care and conducted them with thoroughness, and he presented his results in a rhetorical style that reflected his legal training at Oxford. With this presentation I hope to acquaint viewers with aspects of his life, his personality, his methods of research, and some insights into the creation of a more popular astronomy and the development of a legend. BIO: Our own Rudi Lindner has led a number of previous OLLI study groups, including “The Beginning and the End: History of Modern Cosmology” and “Caravans, Cultures, and Chinggis Khan along the Silk Route”. March 24 Fred Smith, University Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences Emeritus, Illinois State University “Visiting the Ancestors – Archaic Africans, Neandertals and the Beginnings of People Like Us” ABSTRACT: Genetic and genomic data show conclusively that modern humans first emerged in Africa and then radiated out into Eurasia and ultimately the Americas. While the genetic evidence generally takes center stage, the fact is that morphological studies of fossil human (hominin) and archaeological material demonstrated this pattern first and remains a robust indicator of the pattern of modern human origins and migrations. We will review this evidence, particularly the fossil human record, and discuss the contributions this non-genetic data make to the understanding of human evolution. Although the fossils clearly show the African origin of modern people, they also demonstrate that Eurasian archaic humans, like the Neandertals, contributed to early modern humans in Eurasia. The genetic/genomic data subsequently supported the morphological evidence. So while modern humans are primarily derived from an African ancestry, Neandertals are our ancestors, too! BIO: Fred H. Smith is a paleoanthropologist who has studied Neandertals, other archaic people, and the origins of modern humans for more than 50 years. Trained in zoology, anthropology and German as an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, he received his Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1976. Currently, he is University Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences Emeritus at Illinois State University and an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His primary research has focused on Central Europe, where he began work when much of this area was behind the “Iron Curtain.” However, he also has carried out extensive research on fossil humans from other areas of Europe, West Asia and Africa. The author of some 300 scholarly articles, chapters, books and monographs, Smith is a AAAS, Alexander von Humboldt, and Fulbright Fellow and has received awards for his work from several institutions in the U.S. as well as in Croatia, Germany, and Ireland. He has taught at the University of Tennessee, Northern Illinois University, Loyola University Chicago, ISU, and internationally at the Universities of Hamburg, Tübingen and Zagreb. March 31 Fred Smith, University Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences Emeritus, Illinois State University “A Night Out with the Neandertals” ABSTRACT: Neandertals have long been considered the epitome of the dumb cave man. Early ideas emphasized not only their physical, but also their perceived behavioral and intellectual, inferiority compared to modern humans. Among the differences emphasized were those relating to language, symbolic behavior, and technology. Recent discoveries find no evidence to assume inferior language abilities in Neandertals nor the absence of symbolic behavior. Early modern Europeans were certainly technologically advanced compared to Neandertals, but the differences are not as great as was previously thought. Much of evidence concerning Neandertal behavior has emerged since 2010, when the genetic contribution of Neandertals to modern Eurasians was established. We will explored what these early Europeans were really like during our “night (or afternoon) out with the Neandertals.” BIO: Fred H. Smith is a paleoanthropologist who has studied Neandertals, other archaic people, and the origins of modern humans for more than 50 years. Trained in zoology, anthropology and German as an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, he received his Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1976. Currently, he is University Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences Emeritus at Illinois State University and an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His primary research has focused on Central Europe, where he began work when much of this area was behind the “Iron Curtain.” However, he also has carried out extensive research on fossil humans from other areas of Europe, West Asia and Africa. The author of some 300 scholarly articles, chapters, books and monographs, Smith is a AAAS, Alexander von Humboldt, and Fulbright Fellow and has received awards for his work from several institutions in the U.S. as well as in Croatia, Germany, and Ireland. He has taught at the University of Tennessee, Northern Illinois University, Loyola University Chicago, ISU, and internationally at the Universities of Hamburg, Tübingen and Zagreb. April 14 Nikhilesh Chawla, Ransburg Professor in Materials Engineering, Purdue University “Engineering Disasters - Learning from Failure” ABSTRACT: History is filled with several, often spectacular, engineering disasters. With each disaster, however, engineers have learned important lessons that have prevented future disasters. This talk covers the importance of materials in engineering disasters. In particular, examples of engineering disasters, such as the failure of the ship Titanic, the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, and the recent Columbia Space Shuttle disaster will be covered. In each part, I will discuss the relevant engineering materials issues associated with these disasters. In particular, structure-property relationships are highlighted to obtain a fundamental understanding of the root cause of each disaster. The presentation concludes with what we have learned to decrease the chance of future disasters. BIO: Nikhilesh Chawla is Ransburg Professor in Materials Engineering at Purdue University. He joined Purdue in 2020, after previously serving as Founding Director of the Center for 4D Materials Science and Fulton Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Arizona State University. Prof. Chawla received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1997. He was a postdoctoral fellow jointly at Ford Motor Company and the University of Michigan, and a senior development engineer at Hoeganaes Corporation. Prof. Chawla’s research is in the area Four-Dimensional (4D) materials science with a particular emphasis on the deformation behavior of advanced materials at bulk and small length scales. He has co-authored close to 280 refereed journal publications and over 500 presentations in these areas. He has over 13,000 citations to his work. He is the author of the textbook Metal Matrix Composites (co-authored with K.K. Chawla), published by Springer. The 2nd edition of this book was published in 2013. Prof. Chawla is a fellow of ASM International and past member of The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) Board of Directors. He is the recipient of the University of Michigan, Department of Materials Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2018, Acta Materialia Silver Medal for 2017, and New Mexico Tech Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2016. In addition, he was named 2016 Structural Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, as well as the 2016 Functional Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, both from TMS; 2013 Brimacombe Medalist Award from TMS; 2011 Distinguished Lectureship given by Tsinghua University, China; 2004 Bradley Stoughton Award for Young Teachers, given by ASM International; and the 2006 TMS Young Leaders Tutorial Lecture. He’s also won the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Prof. Chawla is editor of Materials Science and Engineering A published by Elsevier (2020 Impact Factor of 5.2). He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Materials Characterization and Materials Chemistry and Physics. April 21 Marcia Bartusiak, Prof. of the Practice Emeritus, MIT “Master of the Universe: How Einstein's Theories Overturned Our View of the Cosmos” ABSTRACT: Albert Einstein’s greatest accomplishments, his special and general theories of relativity, opened the door to a new era of astronomy. His ideas revealed the source of a star’s power, led to the discovery of neutron stars and black holes, and allowed theorists to realize that that the universe is expanding. At the same time, his vision of space-time as a flexible mat indented by matter offered astronomers new tools to explore the cosmos, via gravitational lensing and gravitational waves. Just about anywhere astronomers’ observations take them today, they enter Einstein’s realm, where time is relative, mass and energy are interchangeable, and space can stretch and warp. This lecture will show how modern cosmology was founded on the blueprint that Einstein fashioned. BIO: Combining her undergraduate training in journalism with a master’s degree in physics, Marcia Bartusiak has been covering the fields of astronomy and physics for four decades. A Professor of the Practice Emeritus in the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she has written for a variety of publications--including Science, Smithsonian, Discover, National Geographic, Technology Review, and Astronomy--and reviews science books for both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. She is also the author of seven books, including "Einstein's Unfinished Symphony," her award-winning history of gravitational-wave astronomy, "Black Hole," and "The Day We Found the Universe" on the birth of modern cosmology, which won the Davis Prize of the History of Science Society. In 1982, she was the first woman to win the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award and five years later was a finalist in NASA‘s Journalist-in-Space competition. She has also received the AIP Gemant Award, the Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, cited for “exceptionally clear communication of the rich history, the intricate nature, and the modern practice of astronomy to the public at large.” She resides in Sudbury, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, with her husband mathematician Stephen Lowe and their dog Hubble. May 12 *(TIME CHANGE 9:30-11:00AM)* John Speakman, Royal Society Wolfson Merit Professor, Aberdeen University “Is Less Really More? Does Eating Less Food Increase Lifespan and If So Why and How?” ABSTRACT: Not yet available BIO: John R. Speakman FRS FRSE FRSB FRSA FMedSci FRSS is a British biologist working at the University of Aberdeen, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, for which he was Director from 2007 to 2011. He leads the University's Energetics Research Group, which is one of the world's leading groups using doubly labeled water (DLW) to investigate energy expenditure and balance in animals. Between 2011-2020, he was a '1000 talents' Professor at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, China, where he ran the molecular energetics group. In 2020 he moved to the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenzhen, China where he is currently co-director of the Center for Energy Metabolism and Reproduction and Head of the Shenzhen Key laboratory of Metabolic Health. Speakman was educated at Leigh Grammar School, near Manchester, and then went to the University of Stirling where he was awarded a BSc in Biology and Psychology in 1980 and a PhD in 1984 for research on the energetics of foraging in wading birds. He was subsequently awarded Doctor of Science (DSc) degrees by both the University of Aberdeen in 1996 and University of Stirling in 2009. In 2017, he obtained a BSc in Math and Statistics from the Open University. Speakman's work focuses on the causes and consequences of variation in energy balance, and in particular the factors that limit expenditure, the genetic and environmental drivers of obesity and the energetic contribution to ageing. He is an internationally recognized expert in the use of isotope methodologies to measure energy demands and has used these methods on a wide range of wild animals, model species and humans. During the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Speakman made many contributions to the development of the DLW method, culminating in the book Doubly labelled water: theory and practice, published in 1997 that remains the standard reference work for applications of this methodology in humans and other animals. Since 2018, he has been the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency doubly-labelled water database management committee, which manages a database of over 7500 measurements of human subjects made using the DLW method. A paper by Pontzer, Yamada and colleagues utilizing this database, on which Speakman was a co-corresponding author, summarized the metabolic rates of humans between 8 days and 96 years old, was published in Science in August 2021. Speakman is well known for his work on obesity, in particular for criticizing a long-established theory for obesity known as the thrifty gene hypothesis. His alternative hypothesis proposes that the modern distribution of obese phenotypes arose via the release from predation and random genetic drift: the drifty gene hypothesis. This idea is controversial and has been criticized by others that support the original thrifty gene hypothesis. A test of the ideas involved searching for signatures of selection at loci linked to body mass index and showed consistent with the ‘drifty’ but not ‘thrifty’ gene ideas there was no evidence of strong selection at these loci. Since 2018, he has published a series of studies of responses of mice to different diets, disputing the popular carbohydrate insulin model of obesity, This work culminated in a perspective article in Science with co-author Kevin D. Hall (in 2021) highlighting the inadequacies of the carbohydrate insulin model. Speakman's group was the first to link genetic variation to differences in food consumption in humans by examining polymorphic variation in the fat mass and obesity associated FTO gene. With Aberdeen colleague Ela Krol, among others, he has published a series of over 30 papers in the Journal of Experimental Biology, which culminated in a novel hypothesis that animal energy expenditure is limited by the capacity to dissipate body heat. This idea – the "heat dissipation limit hypothesis" (HDL) was published by Speakman and Krol in the Journal of Animal Ecology in 2010. The idea is claimed to have wide implications for our understanding of many aspects of ecophysiology and ecology – such as limits on range distributions, maximum possible sizes of endothermic animals e.g. dinosaurs, Bergmann’s rule, effects of climate change etc. The idea is revolutionary because it shifts the fundamental locus of control over energy expenditure from extrinsic factors outside the animal (e.g. food supply, fractal supply system, uptake capacity), to intrinsic factors inside an animal (heat dissipation capacity). An independent review of studies of energy expenditure concluded that the HDL hypothesis provided a better explanation of the patterns of energy expenditure in endotherms than does the metabolic theory of ecology. Speakman writes a monthly popular science column for the magazine ‘Newton’ (translated into Chinese by an ex-student Lina Zhang) and has also published three popular science books consisting of the compiled English versions of these articles. Speakman's peer reviewed publications can be found at Google Scholar, Europe PubMed Central, Scopus, The University of Aberdeen, ResearchGate, and academia.edu. May 5 Richard Alley, Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University “Finding the Good News on Climate and Energy” ABSTRACT: We get great benefits from the energy we use, now mostly from fossil fuels, but the resulting pollution threatens to cause highly damaging climate changes. Very strong evidence shows that if we use this knowledge wisely, we can build a larger economy in a cleaner environment with more jobs, improved health, and greater national security more consistent with the Golden Rule. Today’s students belong to the first generation in human history with confidence that they can build a sustainable energy system, providing the power we enjoy to everyone everywhere. BIO: Dr. Richard Alley (PhD 1987 Wisconsin; Evan Pugh University Professor, Geosciences, Penn State) studies the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets to help predict future climate and sea-level changes. He has been honored for research, teaching, and service. He participated in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (co-recipient, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), and provided requested advice to government officials from both major political parties including a US Vice President, multiple Presidential Science Advisors, and committees and members of the US Senate and House. He has authored or coauthored over 300 refereed scientific papers. His was presenter for the PBS TV miniseries Earth: The Operators’ Manual, based on his book. His popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was Phi Beta Kappa’s science book of the year. He is happily married with two grown daughters, one stay-at-home cat, a bicycle, and a pair of soccer cleats. May 26 Reyco Henning, Prof. of Physics and Astronomy, UNC at Chapel Hill Dark Matter or similar TBD ABSTRACT: Not yet available BIO: Reyco Henning is a Professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his career, his research has taken him from building experiments for the International Space Station down to deep underground laboratories around the world. His current research involves studying the nature of matter at its most fundamental level by measuring properties of the elusive neutrino, a type of subatomic particle. Specifically, he is involved with experiments that search for the rarest processes in the universe — neutrinoless double-beta decay — the discovery of which would mean that the neutrino is its own antiparticle and provide clues to the origin of matter in the universe. Another focus of his research is direct searches for dark matter — the dominant but unknown form of matter in the universe. This work involves building detectors to search for axions, a strong candidate for dark matter, using technology also employed in quantum information science. He has BS degrees in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Denver and a PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did his post-doctoral research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before moving to UNC in 2007. He is a co-recipient of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize as member of Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) Collaboration. In 2013 he led a team of instructors in converting the calculus-based introductory mechanics course at UNC into a more interactive lecture-studio format while also adding modern physics, including relativity, and in 2018 he received UNC’s J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Teaching First-year Students. He is an author on more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and has given over 50 invited professional presentations, as well as public talks in venues ranging from gold mines to high-school classrooms to breweries.
Event Type : Study Groups      
Category : Science Pop-Up Talks - Series Three
Date(s) : 03/17/2022 - 05/26/2022
Day of Week : Thursday
Time : 1:00 - 2:30PM
Location : Online
Instructor : Stephan Craig
Fee : $35.00
Event Status : COMPLETED