Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

SciSchmoozing Hither and Thither

from the desk of David Almandsmith

Hello science fans,
I realize the current situation is unsettling so let me recommend Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now to put things in an historic and less grim perspective. Please continue supporting science and extending your circle of compassion.
On Saturday July 27th, 27 wonderful volunteers presented an all-day science event, the Billion Year Walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt. With enough support, it will become an annual event. Check out some of the photos.
There was a live demonstration of photosynthesis at the Billion Year Walk and coincidentally, photosynthesis is in the news: cyanobacteria may have achieved oxygen-generating photosynthesis earlier than thought, possibly as early as 3.5 billion years ago. It was perhaps a billion years ago when a cyanobacterium was engulfed by a eukaryote, creating the first chloroplast.
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) continues to locate planets in other star systems. (“Solar System” only refers to the collection of astronomical objects associated with our Sun, aka Sol.) One recently discovered planet, GJ 357 d, is potentially habitable and a ‘mere’ 31 light years away. GJ 357 d orbits its dim sun in only 51 of our days; meaning that i would be over 400 years old by that planet’s calendar!

Hmmm. ¿Why is it that we humans don’t live 400+ Earth years? There are far too many aspects to aging than i could list here, and a new detail has just been announced: senescent cells stop producing DNA to protect us from cancers. Here is a video on the research. ¿Will humans eventually enjoy healthy lives for hundreds of years? Don’t bet against it but perhaps extreme longevity may lead to overcrowding which could trigger famines and political unrest. It could also exacerbate the division between the Haves and the Have-Nots since only the wealthiest will be able to afford life-extension treatments – at least initially.
Set your alarm for 8:40 pm Tuesday. That will give you two minutes to get to a place where you can have a clear view of the sky to see the International Space Station pass over almost directly overhead. On board are Christina Koch (electrical engineer, U.S.), Alexey Ovchinin (pilot, Russia), Nick Hague (astronautical engineer, U.S.), Luca Parmitano (pilot, Italy), Alexander Skvortsov (pilot, Russia), Andrew Morgan (physician, U.S.). One of their projects is on creating living organs in zero G.
Fortunately for us, the explOratorium’s Museum of the Moon has been extended to September 2nd. Very impressive and enjoyable.
My picks for this week? There’s so much and for all ages. First for the adults:

  1. Superpower: How Wind Is Transforming America’s Energy Future Monday 6:30pm, The Commonwealth Club, San Francisco
  2. The future of TMT and the complex issues associated with Mauna Kea Tuesday 11am, Stanford
  3. Lands End Coastal Walk Saturday 10am – 12:30, San Francisco

 Next, these are for ‘non-adults’:

  1. Space Phantasy Cartooning (Grades 5 – 8), Monday 1 – 3pm, Berkeley
  2. Teen Science Night (ages 13 – 18), Friday 6:30 – 9:30pm, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Finally, for families & adults:

  1. Montalvo Starry, Starry Night: Aliens and Exoplanets, and why ET has to phone long distance Friday 6:30 – 10pm (or overnight!), Saratoga
  2. Shark Day Saturday 10am or 10:30am, Redwood City
  3. Trekking the Model Saturday 1pm, Sausalito
  4. Astrobiology Under Our Feet & Out to the Stars (adults & teens), 8pm Mill Valley
  5. Jazz Under the Stars Saturday 8:30 – 10:30pm, San Mateo
  6. Sunday Funday: International Year of the Periodic Table Sunday 11am – 3pm, Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley

Live your week fully,
David Almandsmith
Board member, Bay Area Skeptics
“Science is fun. Science is curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. Science is a process of investigating. It’s posing questions and coming up with a method. It’s delving in.”
Sally Ride (1951 – 2012), Physicist and astronaut
“All of the violence that doesn’t occur doesn’t get reported on the news.”
Steven Pinker (1954 – ), Psychologist

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