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Bright Horizons 12 Seminars

Rhine River • April 12th – 20th, 2012

The conference fee is $1,195 and includes all sixteen (16) 90-minute seminars below.





• • • PÅL BREKKE PH.D. • • •

A Cosmic Voyage Through the Universe

The ancients observed and measured the sky. Since Galileo pointed his telescope toward the sky humans have been driven to explore the universe. Larger and more sophisticated telescopes and advanced satellites have given us new eyes to explore deep space, stoking our curiosity. Using spectacular imagery and movies from modern space based telescopes like Hubble, take a cosmic journey to the Sun and planets and feel how it would be to land on Mars. We’ll boldly go beyond colliding galaxies and stellar nebulas where new solar systems are born, to visualize distant galaxies, black holes, neutron stars and super novas.

Here are the slides (14mb file).

The Stormy Sun — How Does it Affect our Technology Based Society

Until about 100 years ago, solar storms could pass by without humans noticing the damage these storms do. Today it’s a different story. More than 1,000 satellites are operating in space and the loss of a signal from any one of them can have serious consequences on weather forecasts, communication, navigation, mapping, search and rescue, research, and military surveillance. Join Dr. Pål Brekke and find out how predicting solar weather isn’t just an academic exercise. Learn about the satellites that monitor the Sun 24x7, providing space weather forecasts and a reliable early warning about solar storms that may hit the Earth, so that satellite systems, electrical grids, and other services can minimize potential disruptions. You can keep an eye on solar weather, too, with Dr. Brekke’s tips and pointers on sources. From weekend weather forecasts to cell phones to your GPS, solar weather impacts our lives, so find out what’s hot in sun science.

Here are the slides (37mb file).

The Northern Lights — A Message from the Sun

What is more beautiful on a cold winter night than catching a glimpse of the aurora borealis, “the northern lights”, dancing across the sky? This stunning phenomenon is embedded in the mythology of many cultures and has been characterized as everything from dancing spirits to God’s anger. But no one suspected a connection with the sun until a little more than a hundred years ago, when an eccentric Norwegian scientist, Kristian Birkeland, realized that the Sun bombards the Earth with particles. Dr. Brekke’s multimedia session spans the myths and the modern science behind the northern lights. We will discuss coronal mass ejections, the magnetosphere and solar wind, and how solar particles are captured by Earth’s magnetic field and guided to the magnetic poles. Learn where to see the aurora, and how to predict when it will appear. Enhance your appreciation for a phenomenon that has fascinated through the ages.

Here are the slides (29mb file).

Does the Sun Contribute to Climate Change?

Over many years, numerous attempts have been made to link various aspects of solar variability to changes in the Earth’s climate. Since the Sun’s output of electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles varies, and since the Sun is the ultimate driver for the climate system, it seems natural to link the two together and look for the source of climate variability in the Sun itself. Over the past 150 years the Earth has experienced a warming of about 0.7° C. In the same period both the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the level of solar activity have increased. Are they related phenomenon? It’s not a trivial task to detangle the two effects. To further complicate the picture there are several ways the Sun may impact the climate: through the electromagnetic radiation (Total Solar Irradiance), through the direct solar wind via magnetosphere/atmospheric coupling, and/or through galactic cosmic radiation, which is modulated by solar shielding and possibly influences cloud formation. Dr. Brekke will summarize our current understanding of these mechanisms and will discuss his opinion that the future will bring surprising answers as to why solar activity varies and about the relationship between solar activity and the climate on Earth.

Here are the slides (10mb file).

• • • PATRICK HUNT, PH.D. • • •

Medicine in the Ancient World

Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome all had long medical traditions. In some ways, ancient medicine sometimes appears surprisingly similar to modern medicine. At other times, it exposes what we regard as deep superstition and ignorance. The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, and other cultures often asked similar questions to the ones we pose about health and disease today. And they began developing surgical processes that still exist in some form, while also practicing pharmaceutical and psychiatric approaches that we can recognize in modern science. This seminar offers a survey of ancient medicine, looking at both ancient cultures and pioneering individuals. Encounters with ancient doctors like Hippocrates, Celsus, Dioscorides, and Galen and exploration of important pre-modern texts can provide insight. Medical instruments have also been preserved from Pompeii to Rimini and other sites where ancient medicine had a successful role in the past.

Here are the slides (197mb file).

Science in Archaeology: New Perspectives on Old Problems

Ötzi the Iceman was discovered as a frozen 5300 year-old “ice mummy” high in the Alps in 1991. Archaeometry, the application of the natural and physical sciences to archaeology, plays a key role in garnering information from such discoveries. For example, we now know precisely what Ötzi’s last meal was, where he hiked (from the pollen on his clothes and what intestinal parasites he carried), where his stone tools were from, and how he met his death. We also know his DNA including possible ancestors or descendants. Ötzi’s case is just one example of how forensic investigations in microbiology, chemistry, physics, and geology allow deeper characterizations of precise details to resolve archaeological problems.

Here are the slides (45mb file).

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Climatic Problems, Famine, Disease, War, and Mass Death in History

Albrecht Dürer’s haunting image of a biblical text is more historical than prophetic, but its reference point is nonetheless always a likely reality. Human history is full of cycles of connected catastrophes where human causation is not a necessary scenario. At times, regional or multi-continental environmental disaster is caused by volcanic ash or comet collisions and is followed by climatic perturbations bringing drought or flood. As a result, humans have always been susceptible to food-supply famine, which brings malnutrition, disease, or plague. Subsequent civil chaos like war or migration with collapse and mass death of civilization usually follows somewhere in the equation for apocalypse. This concatenation — confirmed by paleoclimatology — may be seen as possibly ending the Bronze Age as well as the Late Roman Empire and again in part in the Middle Ages. An article by Dr. Hunt written in early 2009 carefully outlines the logical sequence of apocalypse in human history.

Here are the slides (69mb file).

Tracking Hannibal: Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project 1994–2010: National Geographic Society Hannibal Expedition 2007–08

Everyone remembers Hannibal brought elephants over the Alps but the mystery of his route is still often difficult to resolve. Stanford’s research on Hannibal’s intrepid march in 218 BCE has been conducted annually since 1994. We attempt to match ancient source texts like those of Polybius and Livy with local and regional topography of the journey form Spain to Italy through the Alps. Sponsored in part by the National Geographic Society’s Expedition Council, our topographical archaeology and geomorphology studies offer some answers to where and how Hannibal marched an army to surprise and overcome the Romans on at least five battle sites. Newest data from field research, including satellite and other imaging, is presented in advance of a new book on Hannibal.

Here are the slides (208mb file).

• • • FRANK LINDE, PH.D. • • •

Quantum Questions

Welcome to the world of the infinitely small and the weird phenomena that come with it, like slow-running clocks and anti-particles. Dr Linde leads us through the discoveries, concepts, and studies in the puzzling world of quantum mechanics in a session certain to spark your curiosity about the paradoxes and possibilities quantum physics poses.

Here are the slides (8mb file).

Past and Present at CERN

To orient us to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)’s significance, Dr. Linde recaps the highlights of CERN’s “low energy” LEP accelerator which studied the Standard Model of particle physics. Learn how physicists think the LHC experiment will address current challenges in particle physics: the origin of particle masses; the mystery of dark matter and the apparent absence of antimatter in our everyday life.

Here are the slides (15mb file).

Particle Physics Matters

What has particle physics done for you today? Dr. Linde discusses the societal benefits of his research. Learn how the particle physics field leads to the development of novel technologies and applications in medicine, information technology, energy, finance and commerce, and more. Find out how basic particle research, whose significance might not be obvious, touches on all our lives.

Here are the slides (14mb file).

Astroparticle Physics

Parked at the intersection of particle physics, astronomy, and cosmology, astroparticle physics is evolving rapidly. Dr. Linde guides you through the latest in the strange terrain of astroparticle physics research rooted at CERN. Hear how deep-sea neutrino telescopes search for ripples in the space-time fabric itself; and huge cosmic-ray observatories are seeking answers to the big questions.

Here are the slides (19mb file).

• • • NOAH ISAKOV, PH.D. • • •

Multicolor Painting of Proteins, Cells, and Organisms and Their Use in Biomedical Research

The firefly and its ‘glowworms’ larvae are small fascinating creatures that can produce bioluminescent light. In recent years, scientists have studied a variety of bioluminescent creatures and developed amazing technologies for the utilization of fluorescent molecules for tracking of proteins and ions within cells and tissues. Significant improvement of these methods was made possible by the development of more sensitive and accurate imaging systems. Learn how studies of a ‘glowing’ protein in a jellyfish have led the way to a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

  • Usage of fluorescent molecules for in vitro tagging of proteins
  • In vivo tracking of molecules and cells using fluorescent proteins
  • Technicolor ‘Painting’ of brain cells

Malaria and the Quest For an Effective Vaccine

Malaria represents a major public health problem causing ~250 million cases of fever and almost one million deaths per year. Effective Malaria vaccines are still missing and many of the common anti-malarial drugs are losing effectiveness as the parasite evolves high levels of drug resistance. The disease is transmitted to humans by infected Anopheles mosquito bites, during which the Plasmodium parasite is being injected into the blood where it replicates within the red blood cells. Continuing a global effort to prevent malaria infections, scientists are utilizing several different approaches in order to develop new and effective anti-malaria vaccines. The ambitious plans to end all malaria deaths by 2015 are backed by significant financial support from the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Biology and the life cycle of the Plasmodium — the Malaria causing agent
  • Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Malaria
  • Progress and obstacles in the development of effective anti-Malarial vaccine

Requirements for Inter-Cellular Communication Networks and Intracellular Signaling Pathways in Multi-Cellular Organisms

Single-cell organisms, such as bacteria, can respond to environmental signals mediated by chemicals, pH, temperature, and osmolarity in a number of different ways. The existence of multicellular organisms is dependent in addition on a plethora of physiological signals, receptors, and biochemical signal-transduction mechanisms. These means of signal transduction enable cells to communicate with each other in order to coordinate activities of tissues and organs for the benefit of the entire organism. The ability of cells to recognize and correctly respond to their microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity. As a result, errors in cellular information processing can cause severe diseases, including cancer and autoimmunity. Understanding the mechanisms of cell signaling will enable the design of effective drugs and treatments for the cure of diabetes and a variety of other diseases.

  • Receptors, ligands, and communication between cells
  • Regulation of cell behavior by signal transduction across the cell membrane
  • Changes in cell communication and signal transduction mechanisms cause a myriad of diseases

Antibodies as ‘Guided Missiles’ in Cancer Immunotherapy

Antibody molecules are found in enormous quantities in almost all our body fluids. The main function of antibodies is to identify foreign antigens, such as bacteria, and eliminate them. The number of different antibody molecules exist in our body exceeds by far the total number of our genes. This is made possible by a unique mechanism of generation of diversity in the antibody molecules. It is intended to protect our body from almost all possible disease-causing agents. Improved techniques for production of monoclonal antibodies that are directed against specific antigens and their in vivo utilization as delivery systems of drugs provide hope for the prevention and cure of many types of cancer diseases.

  • Structure and function of the antibody molecule
  • Preparation of monoclonal antibodies against tumor cell antigens
  • In vivo guiding of ‘armed’ antibodies to cancer cells

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