Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

from the desk of Herb Masters

Hello Science Aficionados and General Lovers of Science as well,

I don’t really need to say anything about what an incredible year this has been.  It has been so incredible that this will be the last SciSchmooze of the year!  (We are going to take a break the week after christmas since there is only one event listed between then and next year!)

Normally I would go on about science and society laced with lots of links.  I’m going to be a bit more straightforward this time.  Needless to say bioscience has lead the way this year and we are now hopefully on the brink of winning the Covid wars

There are five events left on our calendar, four are about astronomy, and two are about the Great Conjunction!  First off, watch Wonderfest: Madame Curie – Livestream  I want to give a shout out to Wonderfest founder and main science guy, Tucker Hiatt.  He has been a longtime supporter and friend of the SciSchmooze and one of the folks that I really love because he is about all disciplines of science.  Most of the presentations we find are put on by organizations staying in their own lane.  Thank you Tucker for exposing people to so many interesting topics.

Here’s the four astronomy presentations…  ‘The Great Conjunction’ Viewing Party!The Great Conjunction Virtual Telescope ViewingVirtual Telescope Viewing – LivestreamVirtual Telescope Viewing – Livestream 

A couple of shoutouts and a calls for support…
Professor Andrew Fraknoi has been the SF Bay Area public go to astronomy person for longer than we have been SciSchmoozing.  Now we all have a chance to sit in on Aliens in Outer Space: The Science and the Fiction   Spend eight weeks (1.12 to 3.2) getting off this planet to think about the possibility of intelligent life among the stars.  Astronomer and educator Andrew Fraknoi leads this non-technical short course for adults over 50 on the scientific search for aliens out there. (If you aren’t over 50, tell them that you are an alien and looking for an update on your homeworld!)  He’ll take a careful look at the factors that make astronomers more optimistic than ever that there we may have counterparts on other worlds (including the discovery of more than 4,000 planets so far orbiting other stars.)

There are many jewels of science research and learning here in the SF Bay Area.  One that is often underappreciated if you ask me is Lick Observatory.  A few years ago it was threatened by sever budget cuts.  Astrophysicist and Professor Alex Filippenko was one of the folks who went to the rescue of Lick Observatory and the task continues.  Lick is still doing major real science and education.  Last summer the place damn near burned down!   There are so many more jewels as well.  (FYI, I count Alex, his wife Noelle,  as well as Tucker, and Andrew as friends.)

OK, here’s the pitch!  Many people around the world have not fared well this past year.  Surprisingly many have done well though.  It’s the end of the year and you might be noting that you have a little extra money and not enough deductions because of staying or working at home and doing at home stuff.  Whether you need an extra deduction, or just a bit more feeling good about helping, I hope that you will show your support for the many organizations supporting science and education here in the SF Bay Area.  Here are two that I support and think you should too!  The Friends of UC Berkeley Lick Observatory and you know that I have to point you to the explOratorium as well!  Lick is educating and supporting research now.  The explOratorium is educating and inspiring scientists and the public now as well.

OK, you know there have to be links!  For your curiosity may I suggest…
How Science Beat the Virus 
The Great Vaccinator  

The Lemmings Speak: Down W/ Science!
Humoural Theory: Inside the Strange Pseudoscience That Dominated Western Medicine for 2,000 Years
53 Times People Actually ‘Did The Math’ 

Fun Facts About This Year’s Winter Solstice And The Great Conjunction
Space Station Spiders Found a Hack to Build Webs Without Gravity  
Abandoned Soviet radio telescope
Abandoned Soviet Space Shuttles (Buran) in Baikonur
Art in a petri dish: the Agar art awards 2020 
21 Years Later, the Y2K Bug Seems Like a Joke—Because Those Behind the Scenes Took It Seriously,   Y2K Family Survival Guide,   Y2K Survival Kit,   7 Problems Y2K Actually Caused 
Have a great Solstice week along with all of the other holidays!

herb masters

The Winter solstice… “you haven’t lived if you haven’t seen us running around in our skivvies, banging on pots and pans, shouting ‘Come back, sun! Goddammit, come back! Come back!'”  ― Joanna Russ, The Female Man

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