Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

A SciSchmooze Darwin Valentine

Rescuers carry 12-year-old Cudie from the rubble of a collapsed building, in Hatay, southern Turkey, 147 hours after the quake

Hello Science Lovers, Fans, Aficionados, and even Doubters,

Happy Darwin Day

If you live near San Francisco you probably think occasionally about earthquakes and what it would be like to have a massive one here. The 1989 Loma Prieta quake doesn’t qualify as massive, relative to what often happens around the world. We live in an area where seismic standards have existed for many years and they are generally enforced. We stand a good chance of having a massive economic effect but not nearly the toll on life that we hear about around the world. Look at what the earthquakes and aftershocks look like in Turkey for the last week. Add to that characteristics of the quakes and the lack of construction standards and code enforcement and you start to get the picture. As I write this the death toll is 33,000 and still going up. The death toll of the Loma Prieta quake was 63. Thoughts and prayers have nothing to offer. We still need to be prepared.

History doesn’t always give the credit some people are due. There have been many unrecognized or barely recognized scientists and inventors that have brought us to our current understanding of how the universe works and influences our lives in so many ways. This includes how scientific knowledge has helped develop what we now take for granted. There are limits to science but they are not limited by peopleScience literacy is important for everyone!

Have you ever wondered if baseball players can literally “keep their eye on the ball”? Now that the super bowl is over, you might find a Sports and Vision Tour really informative. Come take the Sports & Vision tour which is ongoing until 3.31 to find out. I’ll bet most of you don’t know the Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of Eye is in SF!

There’s far more cool presentations to learn from this week than any of us could possibly take advantage of but I’d like to point out a few that might be of interest…

Pinniped Personalities: Ask an Expert – Livestream Wed @ 12:30

After Dark: Black Excellence, Black Invention Thu @ 6:00

Family Nature Walks – Foothills Nature Preserve Sat @ 11:00

Please allow me to put a special plug in for INVESTIGATING SPACE: OUR BIG, BRIGHT UNIVERSE. This is going to be a great day with great presenters. This may be the first time that you see Alex Filippenko but you will want to become a student of his afterwards. Add a couple of explOratorium science educators and the staff at Chabot and it will be a very cool day. Be there.

Now for some musings…

If you made it to the explOratorium to see Entangled Attraction you will be glad to know that is has been reinstalled in an even better place to hangout beneath it. The website hasn’t even been updated. It’s in the Black Box now and is even better than it was! If you haven’t seen it you really should.

We all know people we care for that we think have it wrong. They probably think the same of me and you. Sustainability is a subject that can try a friendship. “Changing the mind of someone who is dismissive of efforts to protect the planet could be accomplished by sharing a pro-sustainability point of view during a conversation, new research suggests.”

Have you ever wondered how much a cloud weighs? Remember it is essentially floating in air but full of water.

It is a bit hard to find right now but you could sponsor your own showing of  Virulent: The Vaccine War. If you get a chance to watch it please do so. Disagreement about the facts about vaccines rages on.

It’s time for those funny little Valentine’s Conversation Hearts!

Many of us don’t think about time that much. I’m old fashioned and still wear a wrist watch that automatically synchs to the WWVB radio clocks (not so old fashioned). Did you know that GPS time keeping has to account for the relativity that was first described by Einstein? What do Albert Einstein, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and a pair of stars 200,000 trillion miles from Earth have in common? So with that as a teaser… What time is it on the Moon?

On that note please accept my apologies for getting this out so late!

herb masters

“I felt an awesome responsibility, and I took the responsibility very seriously, of being a role model and opening another door to black Americans, but the important thing is not that I am black, but that I did a good job as a scientist and an astronaut. There will be black astronauts flying in later missions … and they, too, will be people who excel, not simply who are black … who can ably represent their people, their communities, their country.” — Guion S. Bluford, Jr.

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