The conference fee is $1,575 and includes all twenty-four (24) 90-minute seminars below.
JOAO VARELA, PH.D.
GARY LAGERLOEF, PH.D.
VICTOR A. RAMOS, PH.D.
NOAH ISAKOV, PH.D.
SETH SHOSTAK, PH.D.
CHRISTOPHER SORENSEN, PH.D.
The long quest for today’s theory of the fundamental particles and forces that make up our universe began with the discoveries of electrons, X-rays, and radioactivity at the end of the 19th century. Dr. Varela follows the fascinating story of the Standard Model, the reigning theory of subatomic particles, and the milestones that offered insight into the foundations of the physical world. On the path toward devising this theory, physicists uncovered some of the deepest secrets of matter, such as quantum fields, the symmetries between forces, and the origin of mass. A fundamentally different view of the universe and its constituents has emerged, showing that much of the world around us can be described through underlying principles of great simplicity and beauty. Ultimately, the Standard Model is one of the greatest scientific achievements of humankind.
Here are the slides (30mb file).
The world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is an underground ring 17 miles long (27 km) buried beneath Switzerland and France. Inside this machine, subatomic particles racing near the speed of light collide to produce the highest energies ever achieved in a laboratory, recreating the state of the universe instants after it begun in the Big Bang. This energy gives rise to new and exotic particles that are detected by gigantic instruments in underground laboratories. One of these particles, the Higgs boson, has never been detected before, and scientists think it holds the key to explaining why all particles have mass. This “Big Bang factory” is a technological marvel 20 years in the making that was conceived and built by a tribe of 10,000 particle physicists and engineers from around the planet. Hear the story of the world’s largest machine, a social and technological adventure that’s already revolutionizing physics.
Here are the slides (110mb file).
The discovery of the Higgs boson is one of the greatest scientific sleuthing stories of all time. Predicted in the 1960s, this tiny particle wasn’t discovered until 2012 at Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator. Its announcement this summer was met with glee and celebration by physicists the world over. The Higgs is the last missing piece in the Standard Model, the theory describing all known fundamental particles and forces. In this lecture, Dr. Varela translates the equations of this theory into accessible language, revealing the nature of the Higgs boson and painting a picture of how and why it was predicted. Learn why numerous searches tried and failed to find the Higgs for decades, until now. And ponder the latest pressing question: How can we tell it’s really the Higgs boson?
Here are the slides (25mb file).
The discovery of the Higgs boson particle this year marked a huge step forward for fundamental physics. But how does this find impact everyday life? Are there applications from the Higgs boson that justify the large investments required for its discovery? These are legitimate questions that taxpayers deserve to have answered. Yet they are not simple questions. In this session, Dr. Varela will explore the payoffs from Big Science from technological, economic, scientific, sociological and philosophical standpoints. An open debate will follow to delve into the controversial arguments for and against large public investment in fundamental research.
Here are the slides (15mb file).
Despite the marvelous success of the Standard Model, culminating in the discovery of the Higgs boson, there are many puzzles in our understanding of the universe that remain to be solved. Data from cosmological observations indicate that ordinary matter accounts for just 4% of the universe. The remaining 96% are some unknown form of dark matter and energy. The explanation of the Higgs mass is also challenging the Standard Model. These and other problems indicate that there are new physics out there to be discovered. Tantalizing possibilities have been proposed, like a new fundamental symmetry in nature known as supersymmetry, and new dimensions in space-time. Amazingly, these theoretical models can be tested with data from the LHC. In this lecture, Dr. Varela will present some of the most pressing open questions in particle physics and the possible discovery avenues.
Here are the slides (36mb file).
The space programs nationally and internationally have long focused on measurements of Planet Earth. NASA has more than a dozen satellites of various kinds in orbit collecting a variety of data to understand weather, climate change, the land, ocean and polar regions. They reveal Earth’s ever changing biosphere, atmosphere, oceans and ice. Get a guided tour of an active and dynamic Earth with amazing and astonishing images and videos.
Since the dawn of the Space Age, the exploration of our oceans, viewed from space has led to many discoveries. Early weather satellite images revealed complex eddies and meanders of ocean currents detected in the ocean surface temperature patterns. Since then, new satellite technologies have revolutionized our scientific understanding of the oceans. Find out what we can measure from space today, objectives of measurement, the amazing technology behind these abilities, and the latest compelling discoveries:
Climate variability and change is one of the most important societal issues of our time. Signs of rising global temperatures are obvious in meteorology and oceanography. Gain perspectives to effectively sort through contemporary debate about climate change while discussing short, medium and long-term climate variability & change:
Aquarius/SAC-D was launched in June 2011 to explore the link between the changing water cycle, ocean circulation, and climate by measuring ocean salinity. This partnership between the United States and Argentina incorporates a number of remote sensing instruments from the USA, Argentina, Italy, France, and Canada. We’ll take quick tour of the various sensors and a behind-the-scenes peek at the process of developing and launching a new satellite mission. Dr. Lagerloef will brief you on Aquarius/SAC-D’s core scientific mission, how satellites take important salinity measurements, and the new technology created for the mission. You’ll get a look at initial batches of Aquarius/SAC-D data and findings and discuss the significance for the ocean and climate research. Dive into a session that ties together the Aquarius/SAC-D mission, its scientific yield, and the application of its research.
Did Patagonia evolve as an independent microcontinent that fused with South America 265 million years ago? Dr. Ramos will give you the latest theory on the complex development of Patagonia. We’ll look at the geologic evidence of Patagonia’s close relationships with Antarctica, Africa, and South America, plus archaeologic evidence suggestive of Patagonia’s origins.
Here are the slides (33mb file).
Delve into the dynamic nature of South Georgia and the South Sandwich and South Orkney Islands. They’re clustered on the Scotia Plate, one of the youngest, and most active tectonic plates andp part of an underwater mountain range running from Antarctica to the tip of South America. Dr. Ramos will decipher the history and origin of these complex and isolated islands and explain the connection of knowledge of the Scotia Arc to South American geology. We’ll look at the Scotia Arc’s geologic parallels to the Caribbean Islands and Central America, and will take a look at the Arc as part of a mountain range essentially stretching from Antarctica to Alaska. Deepen your understanding of the geology, ecosystems, and history of the Scotia Arc as part of the backbone of the Americas.
Here are the slides (43mb file).
Discover the history and ongoing significance of the geologic history of the Andes. Learn how the Andes shaped competing 18th century theories about rock formation which are still in play. Dr. Ramos unfolds deep time and shows how South America initially took shape, how the Andean uplift began and why the mega-mammals native to the area became extinct after the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. Get the details on how the Andes formed, why they’re still growing, how active Andean volcanos are, how they serve as a unique laboratory for measuring and learning about climatic changes, and the lessons learned from the Chilean earthquakes of Valdivia (1960) and the Maule mega-earthquake (2011). Gain an understanding of the Andes past and present certain to give you food for thought on your voyage around the Horn.
Here are the slides (57mb file).
The Voyage of the Beagle is a story of incredibly rich scientific and human experience. Dr. Ramos takes you through highlights of the HMS Beagle’s main mission in southern South America in 1833–1835, including expeditions during landings on the Atlantic Coast, and observations in the Pacific islands of Chile. We’ll look at Darwin’s important geological observations and analyses of key localities. Dr. Ramos will discuss the validity of Darwin’s ideas under a XXI century perspective and his legacy to present geological and biological sciences. You’ll gain a sense of South America’s role in Darwin’s life work, as well as an understanding of Darwin’s contribution in the context of contemporary science.
Here are the slides (28mb file).
Relive the first North American geological expedition to Patagonia, which explored the vast, wild beauty of the Patagonian Cordillera section of the Andes. The 1890s Princeton expeditions led by American paleontologist John Bell Hatcher set out to study the relationship between dinosaurs and giant mammals. Though the team members aimed mainly to hunt for bones, they also discovered the geography of this part of the Andes, including huge lakes, rivers, and an extraordinary geology. Dr. Ramos will describe amusing anecdotes from this journey, as well as the scientifically robust findings that came of it.
Here are the slides (77mb file).
An immune deficiency compromises the body’s ability to fight infectious diseases. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a relatively new source of immunodeficiency, first identified in 1982. Since then it has caused the death of more than 30 million people. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is an advanced stage of the HIV-induced disease, which severely impairs the host immune system, making it highly vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
Dr. Isakov will explain how a cure for HIV and other viral infections might be possible through the development of more effective drug-based antiviral therapies. Additionally, we’ll discuss how a better understanding of the immune system could improve treatments of acquired immune deficiencies such as HIV and AIDS.
Here are the slides (24mb file).
The past few decades have seen a tremendous increase in the prevalence of allergies, including asthma, rhinitis and eczema, in Western societies. Over the same time span, the frequency of allergies in underdeveloped countries has remained low. Learn about one proposed explanation for this phenomenon, the hygiene hypothesis, which attributes the rise of allergies to a cleaner and healthier lifestyle. This theory assumes that the reduced exposure to infections during early childhood, due to improved living standards and better personal hygiene, increases the risk for developing allergic diseases. While this hypothesis is still controversial, some recent studies offer it support. We’ll discuss the possibilities for developing better allergy treatments through understanding how cells inhibit allergies.
Here are the slides (99mb file).
The essence of the immune system is its ability to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘non-self:’ to tolerate ‘self’ molecules while fighting ‘non-self’ or ‘foreign’ molecules, also termed antigens. Learn how this fundamental mechanism goes awry in some cases, causing autoimmune diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body cells, tissues and organs. More than 80 different autoimmune disorders are known in which the afflicted tissue or organ is determined by how that tissue expresses the ‘self antigen.’ The cause of autoimmune diseases is unknown, however, a certain degree of inherited predisposition exists for some autoimmune diseases (e.g., ankylosing spondylitis), while in others (e.g., rheumatic fever), infection with viruses or bacteria may trigger the disease. Although current treatments for autoimmune patients are limited, we’ll discuss the potential for new and better approaches for treating these diseases down the road.
Here are the slides (9mb file).
The cells that make up our bodies contain hundreds of different types of molecules that determine and regulate cells’ biological functions. Tracking these molecules, mainly proteins, identifying their locations and relationships with other molecules, and determining their activation status is crucial for understanding how these proteins work. In recent years, scientists have developed amazing technologies to use fluorescent probes to track proteins and ions within cells and tissues. Increasingly sensitive and accurate imaging systems have significantly improved these methods. Learn how these studies have helped scientists understand the importance of specific proteins and the roles they play in diseases.
Here are the slides (34mb file).
Is Earth the only planet to sport life? Researchers are hot on the trail of biology beyond Earth, and there’s good reason to think that we might find it within a decade or two. How will we find alien biology, and what would it mean to learn that life is not a miracle, but as common as cheap motels?
Here are the slides (22mb file).
Life might be commonplace, but what about intelligent life? What’s being done to find our cosmic confreres, and what are the chances we’ll discover them soon? Also, while most people expect that the cosmos is populated with anthropomorphic aliens aka “little gray guys with large eyes and no hair” you’ll hear that the truth could be enormously different.
Here are the slides (25mb file).
One-third of the public believes that aliens are visiting Earth, pirouetting across the skies in their saucers. Few scientists agree, but researchers may soon discover intelligent beings sharing our part of the galaxy. Could we handle the news? What facts could be gleaned immediately, and what would be the long-term effects such a discovery would have on us and our institutions, such as religion?
Here are the slides (24mb file).
Where and when did the cosmos begin, and what’s our deep, deep future? The book of Genesis gives only a short description of the birth of the cosmos, but modern science can tell a more complex tale. How did the universe get started, and could there be other universes? And how does it all end, or does it end at all?
Here are the slides (19mb file).
Polls taken since the 1960s have repeatedly shown that one-third of the populace believes that some UFOs are alien craft, and that extraterrestrials are afoot in the land. The testimony of military officers and even Apollo astronauts gives credibility to this claim. Or does it? We’ll investigate why most scientists doubt that visitors from another world have arrived here on Earth.
Here are the slides (27mb file).
Soot, the by-product of combustion, that smoky, black stuff from chimneys and power plants and tail pipes — what scientist would ever bother to study soot? Particle physicist Dr. Christopher Sorensen discusses the mysteries, beauties, and curiosities of soot. Soot leads us on an unlikely journey of discovery to find fractal structures with non-Euclidian dimensionality, networks that tenuously span space and common themes between spirals, sunflowers, and soot. Gain an appreciation for the unity of Nature, and the profound lessons Nature offers in the commonplace as well as the sublime through soot!
Here are the slides (28mb file).
We live in a universe of light! We see all non-luminous objects through the process of light scattering. Dr. Sorensen takes a particle physics perspective and asks: how do particles scatter light and why does light scatter in the first place? Why is the sky blue and why are clouds white? What are the effects of scattering on the polarization of light? How do rainbows, glories, and sundogs work? How is light scattering used by scientists in their laboratories? What are the effects of light scattering and absorption for our global environment? Get the latest on scattering and see your universe in a new light.
Here are the slides (41mb file).
The rise of nanoscience and technology promises to create a whole world of new materials. What makes “nano’ so special? Why does nano hold such great promise? We’ll describe some of the clever chemistry that creates the nanoparticle building blocks of the new nanomaterials. Explore the reasons why physical properties of nanoparticles, small but not yet atomic, differ from larger particles. Dr. Sorenson will show a bottom-up approach to assembling nanoparticles into a myriad of remarkable structures. When this session is over, you’ll understand why small can be better.
Here are the slides (14mb file).
The wellspring of modern technology is science. Nanoscience has spawned a significant nanotechnology. Explore new nanomaterials such as self cleaning surfaces and fibers stronger yet lighter than steel. Then we’ll do some informed daydreaming about far reaching possibilities like nanobots that could take a “fantastic voyage” inside your body to seek out cancerous cells or stealth materials for chameleon skin or the invisible man. Enjoy reality science fiction at its best!
Here are the slides (28mb file).
Science is much less a body of knowledge and much more a way of knowing. With science we have a method to interact with and develop an understanding of the world around us. Science is neither esoteric nor dogmatic; scientists are neither wizards nor “mad.” In this lecture I will describe some great scientific works that demonstrate how science can, from systematic, quantitaive observational gleanings, find profound truths. How simple curiosity with an open mind can reveal unanticipated insights. In short, I will demonstrate how we know what we know.
Here are the slides (13mb file).
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