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Wednesday, August 15, 2018
The Science of Magic and the Art of Deception

“Magic takes place not in the hands of the magician but in the mind of the spectator.” —magician’s adage

Magic is dramatized deception, lying as performance art, cons as theatre. Magicians trick our brains into seeing what isn’t real, and for whatever reason our brains let them get away with it. Turns out, you can learn a lot about how the mind works—and why it sometimes doesn’t—by looking at how magicians distort our perception. Through a mix of psychology, storytelling, and sleight-of-hand, Stone explores the cognitive underpinnings of misdirection, illusion, scams, and secrecy, pulling back the curtain on the many curious and powerful ways our brains deceive us—not just when we’re watching a magician stage his swindles, but throughout our daily lives.

» Alex Stone, writer and entertainer, New York City


Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Double-Dipping and Other Food Peculiarities

Have you ever eaten food after it has been dropped on the floor or double-dipped a chip? What about the cleanliness of restaurant menus or how sanitary it is to play beer pong. Paul Dawson will talk about what the research says on these and other topics related to the bacterial transfer on and around food. We’ll look at the ways bacteria live and move around the surfaces where we eat, drink and celebrate. Ice, lemon slices, sharing food, and even blowing out birthday candles will be placed under the microscope for close examination. So if you are still wondering who was correct, George Costanza (the infamous double-dipper from Seinfeld) or Timmy (the dip protestor), then come out on September 12th to hear some trivia and find the answer to these and other questions about food and bacteria.

» Paul Dawson, Clemson University


Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Status and Challenges in Science for Decarbonizing our Energy Landscape



» Ernest J. Moniz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Safer Made: Chemistry Even New Parents Will Love

Have you ever wondered what is in the toy that your baby just put in their mouth? Or about what goes into your hair conditioner and what happens when it gets washed down the drain? Chemicals, both natural and synthetic, are the building blocks of everything that you interact with every day. At Safer Made we support companies that create chemicals and materials that make our consumer products healthier for people and the natural world. This means creating alternatives to harmful chemicals and thinking about product design, from manufacturing through the end of a product’s useful life. In today’s marketplace, consumers are demanding safer and more sustainable products and this translates into a multi-billion opportunity for safer chemistry and product innovation. I will highlight current innovation trends in safer chemistry that are reshaping the way that packaging, textile and apparel, building materials, and formulated products are made. At Safer Made we believe that everyone plays a role in shaping the future of chemistry and this talk will share ways that you can get involved in supporting the creation of safer and more sustainable products.

» Martin Mulvihill, University of California, Berkeley


Wednesday, November 27, 2018
The Rise of the Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Promise of the Antipoverty Vaccines

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) represent the most common afflictions of people living in extreme poverty. Through an integrated program of mass drug administration we have seen important gains in the prevalence reductions of several NTDs including lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, and trachoma. However, new 21st century forces of war and conflict, shifting poverty known as 'blue marble health', and climate change have been allowed a new set of NTDs to emerge. There is an urgent need for new antipoverty vaccines to combat the NTDs, which are now under development and in clinical trials Success will require overcoming a rising tide of antiscience including a well organized and financed antivaccine movement.

» Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine


Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Why Ensuring Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Is the Hardest Problem in Health Policy

Prescription drug costs in the United States have risen to an unsustainable level, accounting for 1 in 6 dollars spent on health care and compromising many patients’ ability to afford the medications they need. Although there is broad, bipartisan agreement that policy action is required, several aspects of the problem make it unusually hard to solve. Drawing on a recent report by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Dr. Mello will discuss those problems and paths forward recommended by the committee.

» Michelle Mello, Stanford Law School


Recent Events

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Robots to Support Successful Aging: Potential and Challenges

There is much potential for robots to support older adults in their goal of successful aging with high quality of life. However, for human-robot interactions to be successful, the robots must be designed with user needs, preferences, and attitudes in mind. The Human Factors and Aging Laboratory is specifically oriented toward developing a fundamental understanding of aging and bringing that knowledge to bear on design issues important to the enjoyment, quality, and safety of everyday activities of older adults. Our research does not emphasize loss of function associated with aging; rather, we wish to understand how to enhance a person's ability to function well in later life, perhaps through technology. In this presentation, I will describe our research with robots: personal, social, telepresence. We focus on the human side of human-robot interaction, answering questions such as, are older adults willing to interact with a robot? What do they want the robot to do? To look like? How do they want to communicate with a robot? Through research examples, I will illustrate the potential for robots to support successful aging as well as the challenges that remain for the design and widespread deployment of robots in this context.

» Wendy Rogers, University of Illinois


Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Global Trends of Landslides and Mudslide Disasters and Their Impacts on Community

Earthquakes, wildfires, and extreme precipitations are three among the most frequent triggers of landslides that caused hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars of property loss per year, globally. With the current global warming and climate change issues as well as increased urbanization, frequencies and damages made by landslides and mudslides have significantly increased in the past few decades. Although it is impossible to eliminate natural disasters such as landslides, we can reduce the impact of these disasters by understanding the causes, mechanism and effects of such disasters and applying precautionary measures while establishing our infrastructures. With increased awareness about landslides and our understanding to enhance research and technology for investigation of landslide related hazards as well as establishment of early warning systems, there had been significant progress in landslide hazard mitigation in the past few decades. However, there is still a need to spend more resources in research pertinent to this area. This presentation will cover the causes, mechanism, and effects of landslides (and mudslides); recent advances on the science and technology pertinent to landslides hazard mitigation; and possible precautionary measures that our community can take to safeguard against landslide hazards.

» Binod Tiwari, California State University, Fullerton


Wednesday, April 18, 2018,
The Adaptable Aging Brain

For many, the phrase “brain aging” is accompanied by thoughts of cognitive decline or even dementia. In reality, brain aging is far more complex – involving both gains and losses with a high degree of variability from person to person. Changes to the brain in healthy aging can best be understood as a lifelong process of adaptation to biological, psychological, and environmental factors. This talk will focus on what has been learned from studying seniors with high levels of cognitive function. It will tackle questions such as, how do "optimally aging" brains respond to challenges like stress and memory demand? And, how do the the brains of optimally-aging seniors compensate for decline in important cognitive functions like learning and memory? In addressing these questions, this presentation will highlight discoveries in the neuroscience of aging and provide a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the aging brain.

» Nichole Lighthall, University of Central Florida


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