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Scientific American “Bright Horizons 6”

Eastern Caribbean • December 5th – 12th, 2009

The conference fee is $1,375 and includes all seminars below. (Each seminar is 90 minutes.) Classes only take place when we’re at sea, between the hours of 8:30am and 7:30pm.


An Atom From Boston
Speaker: Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D.

Standing somewhere between natural history and biography, Dr. Krauss lays out the life history of an single atom from the beginning of the universe to the end. Life is a journey, and this atom’s journey runs from nuclear physics to chemistry to cosmology, with passages through geology and biology along the way. Whether you are an atom afficianado, or more a “universe in a grain of sand” type, sit with Dr. Krauss for a refreshing look at an atom.

Audio/video recording of this talk (Part 1 of 4; 23 minutes).
Here are the slides (5.9mb file).

Einstein’s Biggest Blunder — A Cosmic Mystery Story
Speaker: Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D.

Recent discoveries have implications for our understanding both of the future of our universe and life within it and for our understanding of fundamental physics. Join Dr. Krauss as he covers the fate of the Milky Way, what lies beyond the event horizon, and cosmic phenomena of the next 100 billion years.

Audio/video recording of this talk (Part 1 of 2; 23 minutes).
Here are the slides (3.7mb file).

The Undiscovered Country
Speaker: Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D.

We humans have undoubtedly questioned the origins of the cosmos for as long as we’ve walked the Earth but we’ve made spectacular progress in recent years. This progress forces us to discard much of what cosmology textbooks told us up until quite recently. Get the latest on competing ideas, their implications, and how they can be experimentally tested.

Here are the slides (1.9mb file).


Postcards from Mars
Speaker: Jim Bell, Ph.D.

The NASA Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on the Red Planet in January 2004, and have been driving, photographing, and analyzing their landing sites for the past five years. Prof. Bell has been the lead scientist in charge of the rovers’ Panoramic Camera imaging system since the rovers were “born” nearly a decade ago. Come along for an amazing journey of geologic exploration and learn about the ways that both rovers have been utilized to discover convincing evidence that Mars was once warmer, wetter, and much more Earthlike than it is today.

Here are the slides (7.4mb file).

Studying the Solar System in 3-D
Speaker: Jim Bell, Ph.D.

Don your red-blue glasses and join planetary imaging expert Prof. Jim Bell on a voyage of 3-D discovery of the solar system. Stereo pictures of Mars, the Moon, Saturn, asteroids, comets, and other places taken by astronauts and robotic space probes provide new details about the geology and history of our planetary neighbors. Learn about the ways that 3-D images are taken, and the ways that they are used by scientists and engineers involved in space exploration. Viewing the solar system in 3-D is the next best thing to being there!

Here are the slides (5mb file).

Speaker: Jim Bell, Ph.D.

The solar system is teeming with millions of asteroids and comets, and occasionally they crash into the planets with catastrophic consequences. Planetary scientist Jim Bell leads a discussion about the science fact and science fiction of the role of such impacts in shaping the geology and biology of our home world. Earth has been hit in the past, with severe consequences for life on our planet. Will Earth be hit again in the future? Almost certainly. Unlike any previous species in history, however, we have the chance to understand the threat ahead of time and, perhaps, to prevent a planetary-scale catastrophe.

Here are the slides (2mb file).

Searching for Life in the Solar System and Beyond
Speaker: Jim Bell, Ph.D.

Are we alone? The search for habitable environments and for life on other worlds is a major driving force for the exploration of the solar system. Join Prof. Bell as we explore the short list of worlds around us that may once have been (and perhaps still are, in places) habitable: Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa, Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus, and perhaps other places as well. During the last decade scientists have also discovered an amazing diversity of life on our own planet, thriving in what were once considered hostile conditions. And during the same time, astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets orbiting other Sun-like stars, and some of them may be habitable as well. It’s an incredible time to search for life in the solar system and beyond!

Here are the slides (1.8mb file).


Intro to Geothermal Energy
Speaker: David D. Blackwell, Ph.D.

Get in on the ground floor of geothermal energy. Dr. Blackwell will cover the natural foundations of this alternative energy resource. You’ll deepen your understanding of the origin of the earth’s heat, the role of plate boundaries, spreading centers and hot spots, mechanisms of tapping geothermal, and the risks and benefits, advantages, and disadvantages of tapping this resource.

Here are the slides (7.4mb file).

Future of Energy — Geothermal as a Major Player
Speaker: David D. Blackwell, Ph.D.

Any time zettajoules (10 superscript 21) enter the conversation about alternative energies, you know the potential for the resource is great. Dr. Blackwell will lay out the factors in play in a look at the practical future of geothermal energy. Raw and practical potential, inventory of accessible enery, environmental impact, and competitive position are some of the facets in the discussion. Geothermal economics are on the agenda, too: Short and long term investment and implications, direct and indirect costs, and domestic and imported sources.

Here are the slides (7.5mb file).

Geology and Plate Tectonics of the Americas
Speaker: David D. Blackwell, Ph.D.

Take a guided tour of the Americas and the vast North American, Caribbean, South American, and African tectonic plates. From topology to geology to tectonics, you’ll get a picture of the forces that created the Americas, and continue to shape it today. Basins, plains, volcanoes, and mountain ranges have stories to tell. Survey the terrain with Dr. Blackwell.

Here are the slides (6.2mb file).

Plate Tectonics
Speaker: David D. Blackwell, Ph.D.

Glide into an updated understanding of plate tectonics. Join Dr. Blackwell for a discussion of the development of the theory, its key principles, and its consequences. You’ll learn about physical properties of the dynamic lithosphere, athenosphere, and mantle layers versus chemical layers of the earth, driving forces of plate movement, and the relationship of plate boundaries to geological events such as earthquakes and the creation of topographic features like mountains, volcanoes, and oceanic trenches.

Here are the slides (7.7mb file).


The Space Shuttle Program
Speaker: Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D.

Countdown to contemporary treasure — a first-hand account of life in space. Dr. Guion Bluford, a veteran of four Space Transportation System (STS) missions (STS 8, STS 61-A, STS 39, and STS 53) will present a look at the Space Shuttle Program, from its inception to the wrap up of its service in 2010. Learn about training for shuttle duty, noteworthy aspects of daily routine in space on the Discovery and Challenger, and gain a behind the scenes look at the science and technology projects executed by Shuttle astronauts.

LIFT OFF! Intro to the talk.
Audio/video recording of this talk (Part 1 of 4; 21 minutes).
Here are the slides (7.8mb file).

The International Space Station
Speaker: Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D.

Join Dr. Bluford for a comprehensive survey of the International Space Station (ISS) Program. He will orient us to the history and complexities of this permanent human presence in space. From project inception to launch to ongoing development and daily living, pick up a new understanding of the logistics, function, and significance of the ISS.

Audio/video recording of this talk (Part 1 of 4; 23 minutes).
Here are the slides (17.4mb file).

The Future of the Space Program
Speaker: Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D.

Travel back to the future with an indepth discussion on the future of the NASA Space Program. Dr. Bluford will address the issues and opportunities ahead as space exploration matures. You’ll get the big picture of the Constellation Program (with its Aries, Orion, and Altair components) which will return humans to the moon and later take them to Mars. Come away with the insights and views on what lies ahead from Dr. Bluford, astronaut and aeronautical engineer.

Here are the slides (33mb file).

An Evening with Shuttle Astronaut Dr. Guion Bluford

How has aeronautics affected society and vice versa? Having worked in space, what open questions does Dr. Bluford have about space exploration, and space? What are the core characteristics and qualities shared by astronauts i.e., what is "the right stuff"? Dr. Bluford will present food for thought arising from his experience in space (688 hours), in jet cockpits (5,200 hours), and in the field of aeronautical engineering. We’ll have an out-of-this-world round of astronaut Q&A, too!

Here are the slides (79mb file).


Immune-Mediated Responses: A Double-Edged Sword
Speaker: Noah Isakov, Ph.D.

While scientific speculation about the immune system dates back to the Plague of Athens in 430BCE, the discipline of immunobiology defined itself in the 19th and 20th centuries. Refresh your picture of the immune system with Dr. Isakov, starting with discussions of:

  • Introduction to immunobiology
  • Basic concepts of the immune system
  • Failure of host defense mechanisms

Here are the slides (2.5mb file).

The Many Facets of Allergic Responses
Speaker: Noah Isakov, Ph.D.

Many faceted if not many splendored, allergic phenomena have increased in prevalence over the past several decades. Join Dr. Isakov for the latest thought on:

  • Allergens, asthma and other types of immune-mediated responses
  • Effector mechanisms in allergic responses
  • Approaches for prevention and treatment of allergy

Here are the slides (3mb file).

Monoclonal Antibodies and Cancer Immunotherapy
Speaker: Noah Isakov, Ph.D.

Take a look under the hood of contemporary immunotherapy. From molecular biology to medicine, monoclonal antibodies are a valuable part of the scientist’s toolkit. From his view deep in the trenches of immunobiology, Dr. Isakov will offer:

  • An overview of antibody molecules
  • A guide to the production of monoclonal antibodies with specificity against a predetermined pathogen
  • The scoop on monoclonal antibody use in research, diagnosis, and therapy

Here are the slides (4mb file).

Understanding the Roots of Cancer
Speaker: Noah Isakov, Ph.D.

Dr. Isakov will orient you to the evolving views of the genesis of cancer. Internal and external factors, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, cell transformation, immunosurveillance, immunoediting, and immunotherapy are all part of the mix. Learn:

  • What causes normal cells to become cancerous
  • How cancer cells from a primary tumor form metastases in remote organs
  • Immune-mediated approaches for the treatment of cancer diseases

Here are the slides (5.6mb file).

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