Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday March 28th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Holly Moeller, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The title of her talk is:
Trade, Borrow, or Steal: How Life Exceeds its Metabolic Potential
Living organisms are fundamentally constrained by their metabolisms: The ways that they get and use energy affect where they can live, how they respond to changing environments, and how they interact with one another. We usually think of metabolisms as fixed, permanent features of each species, fundamentally set by the genes encoded in their DNA. But what if metabolisms could be changed, within an individual’s lifetime, by borrowing (or stealing!) from other species? My talk will describe examples of this “acquired metabolism,” exploring how organisms from microbes to humans to trees extend their metabolisms and transform their ecological roles and evolutionary paths.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday February 28th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Makoto Fujiwara, from the ALPHA-Canada group at TRIUMF. The title of his talk is:
What I talk about when I talk about the Universe
Our understanding of the Universe has progressed tremendously since the beginning of modern physics in the early 20th century. However, a recent revolution in cosmological observations, as well as latest results from particle physics experiments world-wide (including those the LHC at CERN) are causing significant agony to particle physicists. In this informal talk, I will first describe the current problems in our understanding of the Universe, including the so-called “fine-tuning” problem. I will then discuss some of the proposed solutions to the problems, including the controversial concepts of the Anthropic Principle and the Multiverse. This talk will likely end with an interactive discussion with the audience on what it means to do science when you cannot repeat the experiment.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday November 29th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Michèle Koppes, from the Department of Geography at UBC. The title of her talk is:
Can climate change move mountains?
Climate change is causing more than warmer oceans and erratic weather. It can also change the shape of the planet. Glaciers are a fundamental link between climate and the tectonic and surface processes that create topography. Mountain ranges worldwide have undergone large-scale modification due the erosive action of ice, yet the mechanisms that control the timing of this modification and the rate by which ice erodes remain poorly understood. We find a wide range of erosion rates from individual ice masses over varying timescales, suggesting that modern erosion rates exceed long-term averages by two to three orders of magnitude. We also see that glaciers in Patagonia erode 1000 times faster than they do in Antarctica today. These modern rates are likely due to the dynamic acceleration of these ice masses as air and ocean temperatures warmed and they retreated over the past few decades. The repercussions of this erosion add to the already complex effects of climate change in polar and high mountain regions. Shrinking and accelerating glaciers destabilize slopes upstream, increasing the risk of landslides, and deposit more sediment in downstream basins, potentially impacting fisheries, dams and access to clean freshwater in mountain communities. And the dramatic increase in modern erosion rates suggest that glaciers in the Canadian Arctic, one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, are on the brink of a major shift that will see them speeding up and eroding faster as temperatures warm above 0ºC.
Michele Koppes is an Assistant Professor in Geography at UBC, a Canada Research Chair Tier II in Landscapes of Climate Change, a faculty affiliate at IRES and a Senior TED Fellow. Her passion is forensic geomorphology: the art of reading landscapes to decipher the forces that shaped them. Her particular expertise is in glaciers, and their impact in shaping mountains and polar regions at a variety of time scales, from last year to the last million years. Her research focus is two-fold: to determine the efficacy of glaciers as agents of erosion, and to determine the climatic and oceanic drivers of glaciations in high mountains and coastal settings. She has current field projects in high places all over the world, from BC to Patagonia, Alaska, the Himalayas, Greenland and Antarctica, where her team combines detailed field observations with numerical modeling of ice-ocean dynamics and glacier mass balance.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, we are pleased to announce that this month’s event will be a collaboration with the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). The café will be held on Tuesday October 18th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown, 433 W Pender. Please note that this date is one week earlier than usual to coincide with the ASHG Annual Meeting. Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Ting Wu, from the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. The title of her talk is:
At the intersection of Space and Genetics
Ting (C.-ting) Wu, Ph.D., is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is also the Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics, the Director of the Personal Genetics Education (pgEd.org) Project, and a recipient of an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. Her laboratory investigates how chromosome organization influences genome function, inventing and applying technologies for imaging the genome as well as studying how a very puzzling set of sequences, called ultraconserved elements (UCEs), have managed to resist change for a stunning 300 million years. These studies have led her group to consider the potential of their findings for protecting astronauts from the extreme conditions of long-term travel in space. The Wu laboratory also houses the Personal Genetics Education Project, which works to raise public awareness and discourse regarding personal genetics, aiming to make that awareness equal across all communities, regardless of socioeconomic, ethnic, educational, and religious influences.
You like science? You like drinking while sciencing? In Vancouver there are many options to get educated and inspired through science, art, and culture in a casual bar setting outside of universities. There’s Nerd Nite which focuses on nerdy lectures in the Fox Cabaret, Anecdotal Evidence a science based storytelling show, Curiosity Collider which creates events that bring together artists and scientists, as well as us, Cafe Scientifique, the long running series which focuses on one single speaker to engage in discussions while at the bar.
On September 20th from 7-10pm at the Fox Cabaret (2321 Main St), all four institutions will team for the ultimate bar science night, Et al. This show is one night only, and not to be missed, and plus it’s Science Literacy Week to boot!
Jennifer Gardy: Senior Scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and occasional host of CBC’s The Nature of Things.
Stacey Hrushowey: Graduate Student at Simon Fraser University, Salmon Researcher.
Cheryl Wellington: Professor, Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia; Bellydancer. Performer for Neural Constellations: Exploring Connectivity.
Sarah Louadi: Graduate Student, Experimental Medicine at the University of British Columbia; Dancer. Performer for Neural Constellations: Exploring Connectivity.
More speakers soon to be announced!
Click here to get your tickets.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday August 30th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Greg Bole, from the Department of Zoology at UBC. The title of his talk is:
Titans of the Ice Age: Rise of the Megafauna
The talk will introduce people to some of the biggest members of the Pleistocene megafauna and discuss their evolutionary radiation, including why they were so big, as well as their extinction and possible de-extinction!
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday July 26th, 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Jaymie Matthews, a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UBC. The title of his talk is:
GOLDILOCKS AND THE 3000+ WORLDS:
Searching for planets that are “just right”
A little more than two decades ago, we knew of only a handful of planets, those in our own Solar System. As of 14 July 2016, there are about 3400 confirmed exoplanets and thousands more strong candidates. We live in a revolutionary era for the understanding of the origin and evolution of planets, including our own Earth.
The statistical evidence is mounting that planets are commonplace in the Galaxy. What about life on those planets? Life on this planet depends on building blocks of complex carbon molecules and the transport medium of liquid water. Carbon and water molecules are found in interstellar clouds. What about liquid water oceans on alien worlds?
The first step in finding possible abodes for life is to find planets in the Habitable Zones of their stars, whose surface temperatures would allow liquid water. “Goldilocks worlds” – not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life as we know it.
I’ll give you an update on our census of exoplanets, and the surprises so far. How many of these are Goldilocks worlds, and what will be the next steps to see if they indeed have oceans and life?
Although there’s one Goldilocks world in our own Solar System, Earth, many are excited by the prospect of microbial life on Mars. I’ll tell you why I’d bet on life being found first not on the dusty surface of the planet Mars, but beneath the icy surface of one of the moons of Jupiter, Europa. Goldilocks worlds must make room for Deep Habitats in our search for extraterrestrial life.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday June 28th, 7:30pm at the Shebeen Whiskey House (212 Carrall St). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Martin Graff, Reader and Head of Research in Psychology at the University of South Wales, UK, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist. The title of his talk is:
Why Online Dating Doesn’t Work
There is much evidence that being in a good relationship can be beneficial to our health, happiness and general well-being. However, should we resort to online dating in the pursuit of a happy relationship? Psychological research would seem to suggest that online dating may not be the easy answer.
This talk focuses on the reasons why we should be cautious in our online dating pursuits. For example, people make bad decisions in online dating. Furthermore, those we contact are often not what they appear to be. Additionally, there is no evidence that the algorithms employed by dating sites and which purport to match us with a desirable partner actually work in reality.
Finally, this talk will also give some tips on how to at least maximize our chances in an online dating environment.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday May 31st, 7:30pm at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Steven Heine, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at UBC. The title of his talk is:
DNA is Not Destiny: How Essences Distort how we Think about Genes
People the world over are essentialist thinkers – they are attracted to the idea that hidden essences make things as they are. And because genetic concepts remind people of essences, they tend to think of genes in ways similar to essences. That is, people tend to think about genetic causes as immutable, deterministic, homogenous, discrete, and natural. Dr. Heine will discuss how our essentialist biases lead people to think differently about sex, race, crime, eugenics, and disease whenever these are described in genetic terms. Moreover, Dr. Heine will discuss how our essentialistic biases make people vulnerable to the sensationalist hype that has emerged with the genomic revolution and access to direct-to-consumer genotyping services.
Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday April 26th, 7:30pm at Big Rock Brewery (310 W 4th Ave). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Navin Ramankutty, a Professor of Global Food Security and Sustainability at UBC. The title of his talk is:
A Framework for Understanding Why Food Security Discussions are Contentious
There is a contentious debate regarding the best approach to achieving food security in an environmentally sustainable and socially just manner. Some advocate for new technological systems, such as genetic modification or vertical farming, while others argue for organic agricuture or local food systems. Still others argue that agriculture does not need a revolution and that we simply need to improve current farming practices. Even the overall objectives are unclear, with some arguing that we need to double food production by 2050 while others suggest that we already have enough food on this planet to feed 10 billion. In this talk, I will use an assessment framework to explore the available evidence supporting or opposing the various claims about the most sustainable way to farm on our planet. The broad assessment offers some insights on why we argue about food security.
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