Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Festival Season with the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again fans of Science!

There are not one but two festivals this coming week for your enjoyment. 

The first is the Art + Tech Festival which combines art and science for a variety of events and workshops held this coming weekend.  See our listings for pricing and 20% off discount codes.

The second is the annual Bay Area Science Festival, with over 40 different events taking place starting Friday and running through the grand finale Discovery Days at Oracle Park on November 2.

While we’re big fans of the Bay Area Science Festival, I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed in the event schedule this year.  Almost all of them take place in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley.  Only one is in San Jose.  The number of lectures is quite limited and most of those are regular series events that seem to be re-branded for the Festival instead of being something special.  As usual there are many tours, but the majority of them only deal in the biological and genetic sciences.  Gone are the trivia contests and comedic events of past years (they weren’t part of last year’s festival either).  The number of adult-oriented events is limited, which is great for kids, but not so great for adults.  I’m not saying you should not go, just that I hope the organizers will broaden their scope next year to include more variety in locations, as well as subject matter.

There are 140 events listed on our calendar over the next two weeks.  Here are my picks for this week:

  1. Grand Challenges in IoT & Consumer-Facing Automation (over burgers & brews) – 10/22/2019 05:00 PM in San Francisco, including burgers created entirely by robots
  2. Carl Zimmer on Heredity – 10/23/2019 07:00 PM in San Francisco.  Carl will also be part of After Dark: It’s Alive! on Thursday at the ExplOratorium, also in San Francisco.
  3. Seeing the World from Above: An Evening with Aerial Photographer George Steinmetz – 10/23/2019 07:30 PM at Stanford
  4. Hardcore Natural History Series – Sea Otters: A Parasite’s New Host – 10/24/2019 06:30 PM in Pacific Grove
  5. North Bay Discovery Day – 10/26/2019 10:00 AM in Santa Rosa and Discovery Day at Cal State East Bay – 10/26/2019 10:00 AM in Hayward

On to things in the news…

This week marked the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.  I was jostled in my bed at 10:33 pm this past Monday, 10/14.  The 4.5 quake, which was centered near Pleasant Hill, was widely felt, most likely because it occurred deeper than most quakes around here at 8.7 miles below the surface.  During the week several quakes were felt near Holister as well as the Los Angeles basin. 

MyShake, an earthquake early warning application, was released this week.  Here’s an interview with one of the developers from National Public Radio.  Can dogs predict earthquakes? Anecdotal evidence says yes, but research is needed, and since we can’t forecast earthquakes, nor control for other variables, that makes the research very difficult.

Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s journey to the New World.  To mark this occasion, the voyage will be recreated, only this time it will be with the Mayflower Autonomous Ship.  No humans will be on board!

Humanities majors are in a steep decline since the Great Recession, with a big move from those fields of study to STEM classes.  Here’s an argument that Humanities majors, specifically English majors, are needed.  The extent of these changes as detailed in the article might surprise you.  They did me.

Advances in medicine over my lifetime have been nothing short of amazing.  Yet much remains to be discovered, especially with cancer.  Scientists at Yale have published the results of studies using a new drug as immune therapy against cancer and it looks very promising.

Once in a while it is worth reminding our readers to always click through from one of our event listings to the website for the event host.  Some things may have changed since we created the listing and we aren’t always notified.  You may also need to register to attend, or at least to guarantee a seat.  Remember that we here at do not put on the events we list.  We monitor the websites and newsletters of over 100 organizations to find our listings, consolidating them here for you.  If you have a question about an event, contact the sponsors directly.

Have a great week in Science!

Bob Siederer

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