Our 30th Season on the Mountain
Apr 21: Multiple Universes?
Many scientists now think that there might be more than a single universe. Our Universe may be just one example in a far larger "multiverse," but an unusually complex one that is conducive to the existence of life. Come learn about the relevant lines of reasoning and their profound implications.
Our speaker, Dr. Alex Filippenko, is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. He was the only person to serve on both teams that simultaneously discovered the Nobel-worthy accelerating expansion of the universe. Alex has been voted UC Berkeley's "Best Professor" a record nine times.
May 19: Northern DeLights
Is That Deep Glow in the Night Sky Real? The Northern Lights (aurora) can appear as a deep red glow here in California. In Alaska, it more often appears as a bright green band, glowing across the night sky. Scientists are still researching why these dynamic lights look the way they do. Come learn more about the underlying reasons for auroras, their connection to the activity on the Sun, and how photographers are helping us better understand the different ways these lights manifest ... and delight.
Our speaker, physicist Laura Peticolas, is Scientist and Associate Director of Education & Outreach at Sonoma State University.
Jun 16: MISSION: MARS ~ RESCHEDULED to Sep 7, 2019
The first human mission to Mars will be our greatest adventure of the 21st-century. As with all expeditions, its success will depend on planning. The first steps are already under way: achieving longer spaceflight missions, planning for deep space journeys beyond the Moon, and exploring extreme terrestrial environments as Mars “analogs.” NASA'S Pascal Lee will discuss progress made around the world — from the Arctic to Antarctica, from basement labs to the International Space Station — to achieve the first human voyage to Mars. He will explore the what, why, how, when, and who of our first journey to the Red Planet.
Dr. Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist at the Mars Institute and at the SETI Institute. He also directs the Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center.
Jul 14: The Search for Life's 2nd Genesis
With the recent discovery of habitable environments beyond Earth — including the subsurface oceans of icy moons in the outer Solar System — the existence of extraterrestrial life appears now both possible and realistic. Planetary scientist Alphonso Davila will describe NASA's search for evidence of a second, Earth-independent origin of life: a genuine "second genesis."
Dr. Alfonso Davila is a research scientist at the SETI Institute and in the Exobiology Branch at NASA Ames Research Center.
Jul 28: Apollo 13
MOVIE NIGHT: 1995 award winning film dramatized the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, followed by discussion of "fake" science in the film by Jeffrey Silverman and Kishore Hari from Science vs Cinema.
Aug 18: The Modern Origins Story
Our story begins in the remarkably simple early universe, devoid of the complexity around us today. UC Berkeley astrophysicist Eliot Quataert shows how the universe has evolved to its current state from simple beginnings: how gravity reigns supreme and builds up the planets, stars, and galaxies required for biological evolution to proceed.
Dr. Eliot Quataert is Professor of Astronomy & Physics at UC Berkeley. He is also Director of Berkeley's Theoretical Astrophysics Center.
Sep 15: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves
Are we alone? Humans have been asking this question throughout history. Accordingly, we want also to know where we came from, how we fit into the cosmos, and where we are going. We want to know whether there is life beyond the Earth and whether any of it is intelligent. As we look up and look out, legendary SETI pioneer Jill Tarter says: "We are forced to see ourselves from a cosmic perspective; a perspective that shows us as all the same, all Earthlings. This perspective is fundamental to finding a way to sustain life on Earth for the long future."
Dr. Jill Tarter is Chair Emeritus for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View. Dr. Tarter was the inspiration for Jody Foster's character in Carl Sagan's novel and movie, "Contact."
Oct 13: Gravitational Waves and the Glow of Cosmic Gold
In October 2017, Earthlings detected gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of spacetime, from the violent merger of two ultra-dense neutron stars. This triggered nearly every big telescope to point in the direction of the source, which was subsequently seen in colors across the electromagnetic spectrum. This was the first detection of both gravitational waves and light — the “thunder" and the “lightning" — from the same event. In addition to providing a powerful test of our best theory of gravity, the signals showed that debris spit out in the stellar collision assembled into heavy elements, such as gold and platinum, providing an explanation for the cosmic origin of these special materials.
Our speaker, Dr. Dan Kasen, is Associate Professor of Physics and of Astronomy at UC Berkeley.