November 11, 2018: Bill Frazier shared his experiences as an "accidental entrepreneur" during the past ten years after he set up two companies while a faculty member at Washington U. in St. Louis. He was recently awarded the Washington University Chancellor's Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Congrats, Bill !
September 23, 2018: Bill Ridgway led a discussion on "Atmospheric Processes, Measurements and Climate." We touched on the elements of atmospheric modeling, data from satellite and surface measuremnts, plus the data assimilation needed to connect models to the real world. The presentation can be viewed here.
April 21, 2018: Bill Frazier led a discussion of cancer immunotherapy, including a short course in how the immune system works. It's one of the true wonders of the evolutionary process. So is cancer. Every stage in the development of cancer is an example of natural selection in action. Bill's expert presentation can be viewed here.
March 3, 2018: After a short winter break, Bill Frazier suggested a casual meeting with an open discussion format (and food!). The theme of the day was human evolution and migration. He shares three papers related to migration across the Bering Strait and Beringia (see this Scientific American Article). One is an introduction called Welcome to Beringia. Another is a more technical description of DNA that Links Paleoamericans and Modern Native Americans. Finally, this paper reports on An Eastern Beringian Burial of Two Infants.
P.S. Bill Frazier would also like to direct us to this Great Update on Exoplanets and a heads-up for the Upcoming Close Encounter of a Star with our Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole
December 2, 2017: Jim Buckheit moderated the meeting with the topic The Social Brain. Jim began with introductory comments on the evolution of behavior and sociality. We viewed the video Why Do I Need You which is Part 5 from the PBS series "The Brain with David Eagleman". Other topics touched in the discussion included: Mind Reading, Empathy, Isolation, Tribalism and Bias, Child Development, Language, Culture, and Identity
October 29, 2017: Bill Ridgway led a discussion about Einstein and Gravity Waves. The group watched a recent video by Prof Sam Gralla of the University of Arizon that focused on the historic gravity wave discovery by the LIGO team. Thanks to Jim Buckheit for suggesting the video. There have been 5 gravity wave events seen by LIGO to date, with the latest neutron star collision being probably the most spectacular. (Click here for a few overview slides from the presentation.)
September 17, 2017:
Joselle Gatrell led a thought-provoking discussion about AI (Artificial Intelligence). Here are some background talks and articles:
Ted Talk: Machine Intelligence Makes Human Morals More Important
Ted Talk with One Overview of AI
Ted Talk: Gasparov on AI and Deep Blue
Ted Talk: AlphaGo and Deep Learning. AlphaGo beat the Go World Champion
Congressman announces Bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus
Forbes - 10 Powerful Examples Of Artificial Intelligence In Use Today
Bill Frazier notes two recent papers that touch upon and expand two of our recent discussion topics: CRISPRcas genome editing and Alzheimer's Disease. In the first, CRISPcas editing is used to introduce the information encoding a video into a bacterial genome. The second presents an argument for focusing Alzheimer's Disease research and trials on prevention rather than "cure".
Summer Watching: Jim Buckheit points us to some interesting panel discussions at this year's World Science Festival in New York. (Previous years' talks and panels are also available on YouTube.) You can find links to all 8 discussions here.
June 4, 2017: Bill Frazier gave an excellent summary of current research in Alzheimers Disease. Slides from his talk can be viewed or downloaded here. Bill also recommends this PBS Nova episode " Can Alzheimers Be Stopped?" which deals with the history of AD and current attempts to find drugs that can modify disease progression. Also recommended is a TED talk by Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist and the author of "Still Alice."
April 30, 2017: Jim Buckheit led a really interesting discussion centered on "brain science." He asked as a prerequisite that we all view at least one of the recommended TED TALKS. Jim also forwarded reference materials which he used in researching his talk. For all the details, go to the Brain Science Page.
March 26, 2017:
Bill Ridgway led a discussion on the subject of
Exobiology and the Search for Life Elsewhere:
From Mars to the Moons of Jupiter and Saturn to the newly-discovered TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets. The focus was on
discoveries of water in our solar system plus the discovery of over 3400 planets outside our solar system
during the past 20 years. For further reading, we recommend NASA's
Astrobiology web site as well as the
For those who want to dig deeper, the TRAPPIST-1
science paper appeared as a Letter to Nature.
[Footnote: Terraforming and colonizing Mars has gotten a lot of press. This recent article makes clear that it's not so easy. You might need to create a liquid iron core first! ]
February 25, 2017: Bill Frazier gave a nice introduction to the CRISPR/Cas system as a genome engineering tool. He also touched on engineered Gene Drives that might one day be used to eliminate diseases or eradiate whole species. For a broader perspective on the power of these recent developments, he pointed to an article with highlights from Nature.
January 21, 2017: First organizational meeting.Other Web Sites of Interest
The Guardian Weekly Science Podcast (at iTunes)
The award winning Science Weekly -- to learn about the big discoveries and debates in biology, chemistry, physics, and sometimes even math.
Coursera - provides universal access to the world's best education
Coursera: In recent years I've completed courses as diverse as 'Statistics: Making Sense of Data' sponsored by a grant from Bill and Melinda Gates and taught by U of Toronto. HTML5 taught by profs at U of Michigan, and 'Learning How To Learn' Taught by UC San Diego. All free unless you want an official certifcate in which case you pay $49 and they track your tests using web cams and a method to determine if you are the one doing the work. (Joselle)
freeCodeCamp - Here are 250 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free
freeCodeCamp: Got this from "Medium" today with links to courses at these "Ivy League" colleges. I have not explored this myself, but I think one of our members mentioned something like this so here it is. It looks like there may be a "registration" required so they can capture your email and then email you forever with fund raising spam. (Bill F.)
Article on Gene Drive and Mosquito Extinction
A genetic technology that can kill off mosquito species could eradicate malaria. But is it too risky to ever use?
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
NASA's Earth Observatory
Two very popular NASA web sites. Astronomical images and images of earth from space with captions that explain the science.
World Science Festival
The World Science Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries.
Genetically Engineering Almost Anything
The Rise of CRISPR and Concerns About It
Scientists have figured out how to use a cell's DNA repair mechanisms to spread traits throughout a population. Today, researchers aren't just dropping in new genes, they're deftly adding, subtracting, and rewriting them using a series of tools that have become ever more versatile and easier to use. In the last few years, our ability to edit genomes has improved at a shockingly rapid clip. So rapid, in fact, that one of the easiest and most popular tools, known as CRISPR-Cas9, is just two years old (2014). Researchers once spent months, even years, attempting to rewrite an organism's DNA. Now they spend days.