The conference fee is $1,395 and includes 22 60- or 75-minute seminars below.
FRANK LINDE, PH.D.
DAVID SADAVA, PH.D.
LYNNE LANCASTER, PH.D.
STEVE MIRSKY, M.SC. & ROBIN LLOYD, PH.D.
MARK WHITTLE, PH.D.
JAMES KENNEDY, PH.D.
Explore the realm of electrons, protons, quarks and Higgs bosons — a world where the normal rules don’t apply. Dr. Linde will lead a tour of the smallest constituents of matter, illuminating the theories of quantum mechanics and relativity that govern the subatomic universe. You’ll also learn about the mysteries of dark matter, missing antimatter, and the origin of mass.
A tiny particle called the Higgs boson was predicted 49 years ago to explain the quandary of why particles have mass. After decades of searching, physicists finally tracked down the Higgs in 2012, inside the world’s largest particle accelerator. Learn why this one particle is so important, and how its discovery will shape the future of physics.
Dark matter is thought to make up about a quarter of the universe, yet scientists don’t know what it is. Learn the history of this mysterious stuff, as well as the best guesses for what it might be made of. Dr. Linde will explain how researchers study something that can’t be seen, and the ongoing searches aiming to detect dark matter for the first time.
Subatomic particle experiments deep underground and inside giant accelerators can seem far removed from everyday life. But the knowledge gained about the universe’s smallest building blocks has real-world consequences. Dr. Linde will stir your curiosity about particle physics and answer the common question: What use is it?
In 1972, the U.S. declared war on cancer. Learn the scientific background that led to this bold declaration, and why victory has been elusive. We see progress in extending the lives of cancer patients, and even cures. But the result is not victory but a long war of attrition. Find out why.
Set the stage for understanding the attack on cancer by looking at is cellular biography. In most cases, cancer starts off as perfectly normal cells. And then something happens. Find out what those “somethings” may be, and how they transform the cell.
Knowing the cancer genome in detail leads to precise targeting of potential cancer triggers in the cell. Two spectacular recent successes in targeting certain types of leukemia and breast cancer led to a proliferation of very expensive drugs similarly targeted to specific cancers. Are these drugs worth it? Explore the scientific accomplishments and ethical issues involved in medical progress.
Faced with a dreadful diagnosis, many cancer patients supplement or substitute their doctor’s recommendations by “going alternative”. Turns out that some common cancer-fighting drugs originated in traditional medicines. Learn about the process of transforming a traditional treatment to a mainstream therapy. How are alternative medicines evaluated? Are they effective? Join Dr. Sadava and make some surprising discoveries.
Gaul was influenced by the Iberians, Celts, Greeks, and Romans from their colonies and the annexation of Gaul during the Roman rise to power. Each of these cultures brought their own skills and cultural preferences to the area that is now modern France. Take a look at introduced technologies such as town planning, architecture and construction, mining of salt and metals, and the adoption of coinage (a technology in its own right). We end by looking at the ways in which the politics of colonization, initiated by the Greeks and Romans, influenced the modern history of France and her own exploitation of the natural resources of her colonies in the Roman territories of North Africa.
The creation of terracotta and metal objects require the mastery of heating technologies that go far beyond attaining high temperatures. Whether controlling the color, durability, and permeability of clay based objects or creating alloys of various base metal or carburizing iron to create steel, early artisans had to master techniques of balancing chemical interaction to achieve the desired results.
Take a look at the sophisticated methods achieved by Greek potters to create the black and red figure decorated pottery and then explore how this knowledge was adopted by the Romans who eventually established a pottery industry in southern and central Gaul that mass produced and exported pottery on a scale never before seen. Learn about modern technologies for examining ancient clay products that allow us to understand better how this mass production was achieved and who the actual artisans were.
In contrast to this imported knowledge we also examine the Celtic metal working skills for which the Celts were known long before the Romans incorporated the Celtic world into to the empire. We will focus in particular on the forging of military gear such as swords, chain mail, and chariots.
Southern France has some of the best preserved theaters and amphitheaters from the Roman world: the theater at Orange, and the amphitheaters at Arles and Nimes. We will look at the process of building such monumental structures by focusing on the greatest one of all, the Colosseum. Along with bath buildings, the construction of amphitheaters represents one of the greatest investment a community could take on. It involves preparing the site for enormous loads, quarrying and transporting great numbers of stone blocks, and raising those blocks and setting them into place. Moreover, the complexity of the myriad of stairs leading fans to their seats created structural issues for which the Roman builders devised ingenious methods of transferring loads through the structure to prevent cracking and settlement. Enrich your appreciation of ancient architecture in the Roman world and beyond. This lecture will precede a visit to the well-preserved amphitheater at Arles.
Just outside the city of Arles is one of the most remarkable water mills known from the Roman world. It was built on a hillside at Barbegal and fed from a branch of the main aqueduct serving Arles. The mill had 16 water wheels each attached to mill stones that ground wheat into flour. It was long assumed that the Romans did not make use of such technology due to their reliance on cheap slave labor, but more evidence such as the Barbegal mill, which has recently been dated earlier (2nd c. AD) than previously assumed (4th c. AD), shows that the Roman were exploiting water technology not only for grinding wheat but even for powering saws for cutting stone blocks into slabs much earlier and on a greater scale than has been realized. This was all possible due to the mastery of aqueducts, one of the most spectacular remains of which supplied the city of Nimes, the famous Pont du Gard. We will explore the principles behind the laying out and functioning of Roman aqueducts including the use of inverted siphons, tunnel cutting, and arch construction. We will be visiting both the Barbegal Mills and the Pont du Gard.
Evolution has been a subject of waxing and waning controversy since the day that Darwin published The Origin of Species. We’ll look at some of the history of the antievolution movement, with special attention to the “creationist science&dquo; and “intelligent design” efforts of the past three decades. One of the seminal events in this period — perhaps the biggest evolution trial since Scopes — was the 2005 Kitzmiller lawsuit in Dover, PA, brought by parents against an &ldqo;intelligent-design” friendly school board. Steve Mirsky attended opening arguments and some of the testimony of the month-long Dover trial and will discuss the case background, the events in the courtroom and the groundbreaking decision rendered by Judge Jones. We’ll also spend some time on the Cobb County, GA, textbook sticker antievolution case, and share mail from some Scientific American readers still unconvinced about the scientific validity of evolution.
Which newspapers, journals, feeds, and web sites do Scientific American editors read? How do we filter the fire hose of news and information every day to get the most valuable drops on the latest breakthroughs and innovations? We’ll discuss a recent survey of our staff to give you insights into where the cutting-edge sources hide.
What is it like to be a science journalist? Steve Mirsky has been a science writer for two decades, the last 11 years at Scientific American, and Robin Lloyd has been in the business nearly as long, the past four at Scientific American. They’ll talk about the process by which science gets turned into articles for a general audience, along with some of the more amazing moments that have occurred during that process (like the editor who confused Caesar the Roman with Caesar the salad). They’ll also share some of the interactions that occur among writers and readers at Scientific American, some of whom apparently keep a database of every aspect of the magazine, right down to the photo credits.
Join Dr. Mark Whittle in an examination of the six key pieces of evidence for its birth in a “Hot Big Bang”. After a very brief overview of the contents of the Universe: its planets, stars, galaxies and the galaxy web, we consider:
Is the current evidence for the big bang strong enough to consider it a fact? Enjoy making that call and contemplating the questions that then arise.
Get ready for a look at the natural history and structure of galaxies. Begin with a tour of our own Milky Way galaxy, and a trip out to visit the “nearby” Virgo Cluster of galaxies, about 15 million light years away. After learning about the various types of galaxies, we look at the evidence that they each sit within a huge reservoir of “dark matter”. Witness galaxy collisions — both real and simulated on a computer — and find out about the web-like pattern of galaxies that fills the Universe. The Hubble Telescope reveals infant galaxies to be small and chaotic, growing ever larger by colliding and merging, birthing new stars as they grow. For reasons not yet fully understood, black holes form at the centers of these galaxies, and we look at how these black holes grow ever more massive over time. Learn the latest theories on what determines the masses of galaxies and the relative number of small, medium, and large galaxies. While the understanding of the birth and maturation of galaxies is still a work in progress, it will enrich your appreciation of discoveries to come.
Penzias and Wilson’s 1964 discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) opened a door to the most distant past. Dr. Whittle shows why this microwave radiation comes directly from the incandescent fireball of the infant Universe, just ½ million years after the big bang.
We’ll take a trip back to this time to find a smooth, hot, glowing, foggy gas. While the gas itself is too thin to burn you, the light would kill you instantly; indeed the light was so brilliant its energy actually “weighed” more than the other cosmic components. Even more remarkably, there are huge sound waves pulsing in and out of giant regions of dark matter. In a technological tour-de-force, the spectrum of this primordial sound has now been measured: it is semi-musical in nature with a fundamental and harmonics!
After listening to this primordial sound, we learn how cosmologists use it to measure, quite accurately, a number of the Universe’s properties.
Listen, think, and wonder at the 100 million year cosmological Dark Age before the first stars.
Where did all the matter in the Universe come from, and how did it acquire its expanding motion? In other words: How was our expanding Universe created?
We begin answering this deep question by uncovering the astonishing fact that the total mass/energy of the Universe is zero: everything sums to nothing! This is true because gravity’s energy is negative, and it counter-balances all the positive mass/energy we find in stars and galaxies.
We next use this quality of gravity to understand how dark energy causes cosmic expansion to speed up: it “falls outwards” making more of itself as it does so. If we transfer these ideas to the early Universe, we can begin to understand how Cosmic Inflation both creates and launches our expanding Universe — out of nothing! As a bonus, we discover how this inflationary launch solves three deep puzzles about the nature of our Universe. Inflation also leaves several telltale signatures in the patches of the microwave background and in the patterns of galaxies, and one by one these signatures have been found in the data.
In a more speculative mode, learn why the nature of inflation suggests it may create multiple universes, not just ours.
Wine’s chemical composition varies widely across different areas of the world. Much of a wine’s uniqueness stems from the impact of place on wine composition. Discover how the climates in the wine regions of the world are changing, and what this means for wine as we know it. In a lab session, we’ll taste wine from warm regions.
The Rhone River region produces some of the finest wines in the world. As the Rhone River flows south to the Mediterranean, the grapes and the wines produced from them change considerably. Combining a lecture with a wine tasting, Dr. Kennedy will discuss this amazing wine growing region and the wines it produces.
From the French Paradox to resveratrol and beyond, Dr Kennedy investigates the composition of wine and the role that wine plays in human health. Is wine the wonder beverage as often portrayed in popular media, or is the fascination just a means to feel good about alcohol consumption?
Wine labels often evoke the tradition, romance, and history of winemaking. The flowery language and imagery obscures the technological progress made over the past century in viticultural and winemaking practices. Discover how some of the finest wines in the world are produced using sophisticated, state of the art technology and science.
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