Event Archives

  • Neural Time Travel – Nov20Dr. Anthony Wagner, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
    20 November, 2017

    Stanford’s Dr. Anthony Wagner shows how quantifying “neural time travel” reveals the correspondence between brain states and states of mind.

  • Insects: Good, Bad, & Ugly – Nov14Dr. Vernard Lewis, Emeritus Entomology Specialist, UC Berkeley

    Entomologist Dr. Vernard Lewis presents the latest research on the biology, detection, and control of three particularly villainous house guests: ants, termites, and bedbugs.

  • Pleasure vs. Happiness – Nov2Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor, UC San Francisco

    UCSF’s Dr. Robert Lustig explores the scientific, cultural, historic, economic, and social causes of our modern problem with pleasure.

  • The Science of Deception – Oct29

    We’ve all been fooled. Understanding how and why we’re fooled is the beginning of wisdom. A physicist, neuroscientist, and master magician help provide that understanding.

  • Watching the Universe Grow Up – Oct28Dr. Adrian Liu

    Astronomer Adrian Liu describes current efforts to use radio telescopes to make pictures of the teenage Universe, in a “sneak preview” of breakthrough results to look forward to in the next few years.

  • The Unconscious Mind – Oct24Dr. John Bargh, Professor of Psychology, Yale University

    Yale psychologist John Bargh presents remarkable findings about the power and scope of unconscious motivators.

  • N~1: Alone in the Milky Way, Sep14Dr. Pascal Lee, Planetary Scientist, Mars Institute and SETI Institute

    According to planetary scientist Dr. Pascal Lee, the famous “Drake Equation” shows us that Earth is — most probably — home to the only “advanced” civilization in the Milky Way galaxy.

  • The Search for Life Beyond Earth, Aug26Dr. Carol Stoker, Astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Center

    Astrobiologist Dr. Carol Stoker describes why and how NASA plans to search for life on Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

  • 20th Anniversary Dinner, Aug12Wonderfest Patrons AND Alex Filippenko, Eugenie Scott, Richard Zare

    In August 1997, Wonderfest presented its first science event: a public conversation between SETI pioneers Jill Tarter and Dan Werthimer. In August 2017, Wonderfest celebrates its 20th anniversary.

  • Richard Dawkins, Aug10Richard Dawkins, Emeritus Professor for Public Understanding of Science, Oxford

    Dawkins, the legendary biologist and provocateur, challenges faulty logic, bad science, and climate change deniers.

  • Seeing the Beginning, July29Dr. Blake Sherwin, NASA Einstein Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    NASA Einstein Fellow Dr. Blake Sherwin shows how studying the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation allows us to learn about the origin, composition, and ultimate fate of the universe.

  • Heavenly Vision, July1Dr. Alan Agrawal, Mount Diablo Astronomical Society

    Astronomer Alan Agrawal shows us how Galileo’s celestial observations dramatically changed our understanding of the universe and of our place in it.

  • Exoplanet Traits & Prevalence, Jun23Dr. Erik Petigura, California Institute of Technology

    Caltech’s Dr. Erik Petigura surveys our current understanding of exoplanet demographics.

  • Music of the Spheres, Jun22Lauren Weiss & Marc Pinsonneault, Researchers, NASA Ames Research Center

    In this Wonderfest dialogue, Dr. Lauren Weiss, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Montreal, talks about the sizes and compositions of the Kepler exoplanets. She reveals the essentials of planetary discovery by helping her audience members to build a model exoplanet system and observatory. Dr. Marc Pinsonneault, Professor of Astronomy at Ohio State University, discusses ...

  • Planets Everywhere, Jun19Dr. Steve Bryson, Researcher, NASA Ames Research Center

    Since 2009, the NASA Kepler space telescope has found thousands of planets orbiting other stars, revolutionizing our understanding of planets and our own Earth. NASA physicist Steve Bryson explains how Kepler has sparked the exciting effort to find Other Earths, and measure their atmospheres to find signs of life.

  • Cosmic Evolution, Jun14Dr. Eliot Quataert, Professor of Astronomy & Physics, UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley astrophysicist Eliot Quataert summarizes our modern understanding of cosmic origins — from the Big Bang to exoplanets (and even to humans).

  • Popular Myths of Astronomy, May27Dr. Thomas Targett, Asst. Professor of Astronomy & Physics, CSU Sonoma

    Prof. Thomas Targett takes on a tour through the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars (and much more) to sort fact from fiction in popular astronomy.

  • Mind-Body Inquiry, May11Elissa Epel & Howard Fields

    If mind is “what the brain does,” how does the brain do it? And how are other parts of the body involved in creating mind? Wonderfest presents two neuroscientists with deep insights into the mind-body connection.

  • US Solar Eclipse of August ’17 – Apr29Alex Filippenko, Professor of Astronomy, UC Berkeley

    Astronomer Alex Filippenko discusses the magnificence of the “All-American” total solar eclipse (2017) AND of the many others he’s observed.

  • Is Anybody Out There? – Apr24Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist, Berkeley SETI

    Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at UC Berkeley SETI, discusses the rationale for past and future searches, and shows how new technologies are revolutionizing SETI.

  • March For Science – Apr22

    A dozen dedicated Wonderfest fans joined the March for Science in San Francisco — alongside ~ 50,000 other lovers of science and reason.

  • Exploring Mars: the Next 100yrs, Apr13Pascal Lee & Chris McKay

    MARS BECKONS. The SETI Insititute’s Pascal Lee presents “Mission to Mars: The First Human Journeys to the Red Planet.” And NASA Planetary Scientist Chris McKay looks even further with “The Long View of Mars: Biology, Humans, and Terraforming.”

  • Magic vs. Quantum Entanglement Apr6Ken Wharton, Professor of Physics, San José State University

    Entanglement phenomena are the closest thing we have to reproducible magic, and even physicists can’t agree as to what’s really going on.

  • Creating Worlds – Mar 28Alejandro Garcia, Professor of Physics & Astronomy, San José State

    The more closely animated characters’ actions obey the laws of physics, the more believable they become and, ironically, the better audiences can escape reality.

  • Hunting Asteroids – Mar 21Carrie Nugent, Staff Scientist, IPAC/Caltech

    Caltech’s Dr. Carrie Nugget hunts asteroids. In doing so, she will ultimately help to protect Earth from cataclysmic impacts. Learn about the nature, origin, and global lethality of our solar system’s numerous (and mostly unidentified) mini-worlds.

  • Mapping the Heavens – Mar 8Priya Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy & Physics, Yale University

    Radical ideas and discoveries are transforming our understanding of the universe. Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan leads us on a tour of the “greatest hits” of recent cosmological detective work.

  • The Parent as Gardener – Feb16Dr. Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley

    Caring deeply about our children is part of what makes us human. Yet the thing we call “parenting” is a surprisingly new invention. Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge research, developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik shatters key myths of “good parenting.”

  • Why Time Flies – Feb 9Alan Burdick

    Time may be — simultaneously! — both the most mundane and the most mysterious feature of our universe.

  • A Most Improbable Journey – Jan 24Walter Alvarez, Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences, UC Berkeley

    Legenedary geophysicist Walter Alvarez discusses the insights in his latest book, “A Most Improbably Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves.”

  • Science of Living Younger – Jan 11Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (Salk Inst.) & Dr. Elissa Epel (UCSF)

    Why do some 60-year-olds look/feel 40, and some 40-year-olds look/feel 60? Telomeres and telomerase have much to do with it, and they’re under our control — at least partly!

  • Healthy Aging – Jan 10Dr. Gregory Tranah, Senior Scientist (CPMC Research Institute) & Adjunct Professor (UCSF Epidemiology & Biostatistics Dept.)

    Humans are living longer but are not necessarily healthier. The latest research on human health and longevity has identified factors that control the aging process. By increasing our understanding of the biology of aging, we are beginning to identify interventions that will significantly extend the years of health, happiness, and productivity.