Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Hello again science fans,
As of this writing, the 2019 Nobel Prizes – except for Economic Sciences –  have been awarded.

  • Physiology: William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and Gregg L. Semenza, “… identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen.”
  • Physics: Cosmology: Jim Peebles, “… theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology.”; Astronomy: Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, “… for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.”
  • Chemistry: John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino, “… worked to develop and advance lithium-ion batteries” which has “laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society.”

A discussion of any of these could easily consume this entire SciSchmooze! Great stuff.
Last Thursday’s SkepTalk at La Peña in Berkeley, “Shit Students Say” by Geology professor Steven Newton, was an eye-opener. Using survey data, he pointed out that about a third of his students believe that humans have existed in their present form since the “beginning.” Of those who accept that humans have evolved, over 40% believe that evolution was directed by a “supreme being.” Only 35% of the population accepts that evolution is real and “natural.” Professor Newton also finds that many of his students believe in the healing power of crystals. Clearly, our educational system is failing many of our youth.

The situation is not all bad, however. Denial of climate change is weakening, and Millennials are leading the trend toward acceptance.
I chanced upon this page, “The Top 10 Science Experiments of All Time.” It’s a fun read. ¿Do you agree these should all be in the top ten?
Some weeks, I find just a few events on our calendar that pique my interest. This week, I’m amazed at the number of events being offered that I would love to attend.

  1. Early days at SLAC – the quark discoveries – 3:30pm Monday, Menlo Park
  2. An Evening with Dr. Laurie Marker, Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund – 6:30pm Tuesday, Oakland
  3. Encounter with Ultima Thule: The Most Distant Object Humanity Has Ever Explored – 7pm Wednesday, Foothill College
  4. After Dark: Earthquakes – 6-10pm Thursday, explOratorium San Francisco
  5. Golden Gate Raptor Observatory Hawk Talk & Raptor Release – 12pm Saturday & Sunday, Marin Headlands

… and my bulging bonus list:

We are indeed fortunate to live in such a vibrant, fun, and often intellectual environment. Take advantage of it.

Have a wonderful week – and share your ideas; after all, you read the SciSchmooze!
David Almandsmith
Board member, Bay Area Skeptics
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

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