Browsing articles in "2012 Archive"

SLAC: 50 Years of Scientific Discovery

Nov 20, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

SLAC 50 Years


Burton Richter, Ph.D., Nobel Prize-winning Physicist; Director Emeritus, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Norbert Holtkamp, Ph.D., SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
For five decades, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has pioneered groundbreaking discoveries from astrophysics to energy science. The home of cutting-edge facilities and technologies, scientists uncover mysteries on the smallest and largest scales – from the workings of the atom to the enigmas of the cosmos. Research conducted at SLAC has led to Nobel Prizes for discovering two fundamental particles, proving protons are made of quarks and showing how DNA directs protein manufacturing in cells. Richter explains how SLAC helped define the science of the past, and Holtkamp shares his vision of how SLAC will enable the science of the future.

Join Richter as he explains how SLAC helped define the science of today, and Holtkamp as he shares his vision of how SLAC will enable the science of the future.

Location:  Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program
Cost: $15 standard, $10 members,  $5 students (with valid ID)

Reserve Ticket NOW:

Use the code SLAC50 to receive our member rate of $10. Two tickets are allowed per transaction and the code is entered at checkout.

For tickets call [masked] or register online at

End of Daze, with Chris McKay (Steve Carell & Keira Knightley), Dec 1

Nov 1, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  2 Comments
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Steve Carell, Keira KnightleyIf doomsday is coming in 2012, it had better hurry! On December 1st, with just one month to meet the legendary “End of Days” before 2013, Wonderfest invites you to a more rational examination of doomsday. End of Daze: Does Hollywood Get Doomsday Right? presents uber-droll planetary scientist Chris McKay introducing a special screening of 2012′s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Get the explosive truth — as best we know it — about how days might reallyend if a monster asteroid comes to town. Don’t miss the rapture of this fundraising event for Wonderfest and Variety Children’s Charity. It’ll be a blast!

Chris McKay
Speaker: Dr Chris McKay


TITLE:  End of Daze: Does Hollywood Get Doomsday Right?
SPEAKER:  Dr. Chris McKay, Planetary Scientist (30 minutes)
MOVIE:  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with Steve Carell & Keira Knightley (100 minutes)
TIME:  Doors open at 6:30PM; Event begins at 7:30PM, Saturday, December 1, 2012
PLACE:  The Variety Preview Room Theater, The Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor, 582 Market Street at 2nd & Montgomery, San Francisco, CA 94104
ACCOMMODATIONS:  Reception lounge and plush theater seating for 49 (maximum)
SERVING:  Cash bar and candy for sale; FREE popcorn
BENEFITTING:  Wonderfest & Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California
ADMISSION: $25 per person *or* $40 for you … and a friend! 
For more info, please email Tucker Hiatt ( or Rina Weisman (

Physics Circus, with Zeke Kossover @ AT&T Park

Oct 6, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

Zeke Kossover's Physics Circus


The circus is coming to town!  

Wonderfest presents The Physics Circus, an exhibition in the Bay Area Science Festival, Discovery Days at AT&T Park. With equipment generously donated by PASCO Scientific, physics teachers Zeke Kossover and Tucker Hiatt will guide you in the use of over a dozen wondrous devices: bicycle gyroscope, marshmallow blowgun, compression igniter, inertia wand, ultrasonic motion detector, etc. Come learn some deep principles of physics while having a blast!

This is a fantastic event for inquisitive minds of all ages.  Don’t miss this!

Wonderfest @ the Bay Area Science Festival

Discovery Days at AT&T Park

AT&T Park will become a science wonderland when the Bay Area Science Festival concludes again with this FREE science extravaganza on Saturday November 3rd 11AM-4PM. Last year, more than 21,000 people enjoyed a non-stop program chock-full of interactive exhibits, experiments, games, and shows, all meant to entertain and inspire. With more than 150 exhibits, there is something for everyone to unleash their inner scientist.  (see more…) 


Physics Circus performances throughout the day

Zeke Kossover's Physics Circus  Zeke Kossover's Physics Circus

WHAT: Wonderfest – Physics Circus, a Bay Area Science Festival event
WHO: Physics teachers Zeke Kossover and Tucker Hiatt with equipment from PASCO Scientific
WHEN: November 3, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Please consider making a donation to Wonderfest to help us promote science. Even a modest gift will make more events like this possible.


Watch: Scientific Cooking Kills the Joy?

Sep 30, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  2 Comments

Does the Scientific Approach to Cooking Kill the Joy?

Does a Scientific Approach to Cooking Kill the Joy? from Wonderfest on As a cookbook, Joy of Cooking has sold over 18 million copies. As a philosophy, it has enriched countless fine meals. Author Harold McGee (On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen) and professor Richard Zare (Stanford chemistry) contend that science intensifies the joy of cooking. From boiling water to baking a soufflé, scientific insights can inform and enhance most every kitchen experience

Wonderfest presents McGee and Zare in spirited conversation about the joy of a scientific approach to cooking.  Presented as part of the Bay Area Science Festival.

WHAT:  Does a Scientific Approach to Cooking Kill the Joy?
WHO:  Harold McGee (author of On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen) and Richard Zare (Professor of Chemistry, Stanford)
WHEN:  October 27, 2012
WHERE:  Braun Auditorium, Mudd Building, Stanford University, 333 Campus Drive West, Stanford, CA, 94305
Please consider making a donation to Wonderfest to help us promote science. Even a modest gift will make more events like this possible. 




Is Nature or Man the Most Effective Bioterrorist? Falkow & Relman

Aug 4, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

Is Nature or Man the Most Effective Bioterrorist?Since at least the beginning of the written record, epidemics of infectious disease have swept through plant and animal populations, including humans, and altered the course of history. The unexpected, diverse, and seemingly sophisticated composition and behavior of these naturally-occurring epidemic agents has prompted many to proclaim Mother Nature to be a far more effective bioterrorist than Man could ever be. Yet, recent developments in the ongoing biology and biotechnology “revolution” may force us to reconsider this conclusion. New insights and capabilities in the life sciences, as illustrated by the recent creation of novel transmissible and virulent bird flu viruses in the laboratory, suggest that humans might rival Mother Nature for this dubious distinction.

WHAT:  Is Nature or Man the Most Effective Bioterrorist?
WHO:  Stanley Falkow, Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford, AND David Relman, Professor of Medicine, Stanford
WHEN:  6:00-7:45 PM, Sunday, September 23, 2012
WHERE:  Namaste Hall, California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street (‘tween 10th & 11th), San Francisco
HOW:  A FREE science dialogue from Wonderfest & Ask a Scientist; $10 donation recommended; complimentary cheese and grapes will be served.
WHY:  Because we’re curious creatures

Please consider making a donation to Wonderfest to help us promote science. Even a modest gift will make more events like this possible. 

A Wonderfest dialogue co-sponsored by Ask a Scientist <>



BBQ with the Stars

Aug 3, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

BBQ with the Stars

Join world-renowned astronomers for an end-of-summer picnic on Mt. Hamilton! Event begins with outdoor catered BBQ (with vegetarian options) and live 1970s music from Silicon Valley’s Dr. West. Mingle, chat, and ask your cosmic questions of UC astronomy professors Alex Filippenko, Geoff Marcy, and Sandra Faber.

UC professor emeritus Timothy Ferris, author of a dozen books and producer of three PBS documentary films will also be joining us to chat and answer questions. Come and hobnob with the “best popular science writer in the English language!”

Later we’ll move indoors to enjoy the classical guitar duo Equilibrium (watch video here), followed by talks by Ferris, Filippenko, Marcy, and Faber about the universe. Finally, view the night sky through the Great Lick Refractor and Nickel reflecting telescope.

WHAT: BBQ with the Stars
WHO: Timothy Ferris, Geoff Marcy, Alex Filippenko, Sandra Faber
WHEN: Saturday, Sept 15 – 5pm – 12am
DETAILS: Click Here
ADMISSION: $60 (Tickets must be purchased in advance – more info)




Watch: COSMOS Reconsidered with Alex Filippenko

Jul 4, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

Renowned researcher-teacher (and co-discoverer of dark energy) Alex Filippenko will present key video excerpts from Carl Sagan’s legendary COSMOS television series, offer up-to-date commentary, and invite audience questions.

Do you remember when Carl Sagan urged us to explore beyond the “shores of the cosmic ocean” and to search for other planetary voices in the “cosmic fugue” of life? How about when Sagan helped us to imagine the fourth dimension by using cute little cut-outs scurrying around Flatland? Or when he gently debunked alien-abduction claims while explaining and encouraging the SETI efforts of real scientists?

Since the COSMOS television series aired in 1980, it has become the most watched science documentary of all time — seen by more than half a billion people! Ann Druyan (Sagan’s widow) and Neil deGrasse Tyson will release a remake of COSMOS in 2014. Until then, we in the Bay Area are lucky to have astronomy legend Alex Filippenko shining his insight and enthusiasm onto our favorite COSMOS episodes.

Please join Wonderfest and Ask a Scientist for “COSMOS Reconsidered, with Alex Filippenko.” Get your questions answered about the profound revelations of that landmark PBS series.

[button link="/cosmos-reconsidered-newsletter/" color="#b00" size="3" style="3" dark="1" square="1"] More… [/button]

WHO: Dr. Alex Filippenko, Professor of Astronomy, UC Berkeley
WHEN: 7:00-9:00 PM, Tuesday, July 31, 2012
WHERE: Namaste Hall, California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco

Watch: Hunting the Elements – PBS-NOVA Special Screening

Mar 27, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

April 4, 2012

David Pogue, host for PBS-NOVA and columnist
for Scientific American & the NY Times (bio)

Co-presented with Bay Area Science

Program Description

Where do nature’s building blocks, called the elements, come from? They’re the hidden ingredients of everything in our world, from the carbon in our bodies to the metals in our smartphones. To unlock their secrets, David Pogue, the lively host of NOVA’s popular “Making Stuff” series and technology correspondent of The New York Times, spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry: the strongest acids, the deadliest poisons, the universe’s most abundant elements, and the rarest of the rare—substances cooked up in atom smashers that flicker into existence for only fractions of a second.

Why are some elements like platinum or gold inert while others like phosphorus or potassium violently explosive? Why are some vital to every breath we take while others are lethal toxins that killed off their discoverers such as Marie Curie? As he digs for answers, Pogue reveals the story of the elements to be a rich stew simmering with passion, madness, and obsessive scientific rivalry. Punctuated by surprising and often alarming experiments, this program takes NOVA on a roller-coaster ride through nature’s hidden lab and the compelling stories of discovery that revealed its secrets.

Watch the Program


Watch: Incomplete Nature: Consciousness, and Purpose?

Mar 5, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  6 Comments

Terrence Deacon, Professor of Biological Anthropology & Neuroscience, UC Berkeley [bio…] – April 18, 2012

Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter from Wonderfest on

Prof. Deacon’s presentation will focus on the central idea of his new book, “Incomplete Nature,” namely that key elements of consciousness (values, feelings, meanings, etc.) emerge from specific CONSTRAINTS on the physical processes of a nervous system. “Incomplete Nature” is the inaugural selection of the brand new Wonderfest Book Club.

As physicists work toward completing a theory of the universe and biologists unravel the molecular complexity of life, a glaring incompleteness in this scientific vision becomes apparent. The “Theory of Everything” that appears to be emerging includes everything but us: the feelings, meanings, consciousness, and purposes that make us (and many of our animal cousins) what we are. These most immediate and incontrovertible phenomena are left unexplained by the natural sciences because they lack the physical properties—such as mass, momentum, charge, and location—that are assumed to be necessary for something to have physical consequences in the world. This is an unacceptable omission. We need a “theory of everything” that does not leave it absurd that we exist.

Incomplete Nature begins by accepting what other theories try to deny: that, although mental contents do indeed lack these material-energetic properties, they are still entirely products of physical processes and have an unprecedented kind of causal power that is unlike anything that physics and chemistry alone have so far explained. Paradoxically, it is the intrinsic incompleteness of these semiotic and teleological phenomena that is the source of their unique form of physical influence in the world. Incomplete Nature meticulously traces the emergence of this special causal capacity from simple thermodynamics to self-organizing dynamics to living and mental dynamics, and it demonstrates how specific absences (or constraints) play the critical causal role in the organization of physical processes that generate these properties.

The book’s radically challenging conclusion is that we are made of these specific absences—such stuff as dreams are made on—and that what is not immediately present can be as physically potent as that which is. It offers a figure/background shift that shows how even meanings and values can be understood as legitimate components of the physical world. 12 black-and-white illustrations

Co-Sponsored with Ask A Scientist and the California Institute of Integral Studies


Watch: Health Effects of EM Radiation

Mar 5, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  1 Comment

A Cell Phone Upside the Head: EM Radiation and Health from Wonderfest on


Co-Sponsored with Bay Area Skeptics

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tucker Hiatt, Visting Scholar in the Stanford Chemistry Department and Executive Director of Wonderfest

What are the health effects of electromagnetic (EM) radiation? After exploring the fundamental (and fun) physics of electric and magnetic fields, we will see just what EM waves are. Then we’ll consider how this radiation can, and might, and cannot disrupt the mechanisms of the body. Finally, we’ll examine the evidence — both anecdotal and scientific — for the health effects of EM radiation from power lines, smart meters, and, in particular, cell phones.


The Milky Way as a Dark Matter Laboratory

Mar 5, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  2 Comments

Co-Sponsored with the Mt. Tam Astronomy Program

8:30 PM, Saturday, June 23

Mountain Theater, Marin

Michael Kuhlen, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Theoretical Astrophysics Center, UC Berkeley

More than 80% of the material universe consists of stuff we don’t understand. This “dark matter” gravitates, but it does very little else; in particular, it doesn’t emit, reflect, or even absorb light. Over the next decade, a combination of astronomical observations and particle physics experiments hold great promise to finally shed light on the nature of dark matter.

This lecture will be followed by a guided tour of the night sky provided by Paul Salazar, the Urban Astronomer. Then, true space cadets are invited to walk to the nearby Rock Spring parking lot to peer through telescopes of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers.


Watch: Does Corporate Funding Corrupt Science? – Panel Discussion

Feb 24, 2012   //   by Eric   //   2012 Archive, Archives  //  4 Comments

Subscribe to get notified.  Or LIKE us on Facebook.  Join us on Meetup.

Check Out:


This panel discussion took place on Mar 2, 2012


Some 65% of all research and development in the U.S. is funded by private interests. History shows that the corporate funding of scientific research can be problematic — the tobacco industry offers a potent example. When corporations fund science, is truth the ultimate goal, or is stockholder profit?

Please join five outstanding scholars and teachers as they take part in a panel discussion that asks, “Does Corporate Funding Corrupt Science?”:

Lisa Bero, Professor of Health Policy, UCSF
Lisa A. Bero, PhD, is Professor and Vice Chair, Research, in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UC San Francisco. She is a pharmacologist with primary interests in how clinical and basic sciences are translated into clinical practice and health policy. She chaired the UCSF Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Conflicts of Interest for 11 years. She has developed and validated methods for assessing bias in research and scientific publication and measures influences on the quality of research, including university-industry relations.  Prof. Bero has also analyzed the dissemination and policy implications of research evidence.

Prof. Bero served as: (1) advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Essential Medcicines and Pharmaceutical Policies, (2) member of the WHO Essential Medicines Committee, and (3) member of the Pan American Health Organization Advisory Committee on Health Reseach.  She is Director of the San Francisco branch of the United States Cochrane Center. And, for 12 years, she was an elected member of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group. She serves on several national and international committees related to conflicts of interest and research, such as the Institute of Medicine Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice.


Hank Greely, Professor of Law, Stanford
Hank Greely specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience, genetics, or stem cell research. He frequently serves as an advisor on California, national, and international policy issues. He is chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee and served from 2007-2010 as co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Active in university leadership, Prof. Greely chairs the steering committee for the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and directs both Stanford law school’s Center for Law and the Biosciences and the Stanford Interdisciplinary Group on Neuroscience and Society. In 2007, Prof. Greely was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Dave Patterson, Professor of Computer Science, UC Berkeley
Prof. Patterson’s research style is to identify critical questions for the IT industry and gather inter-disciplinary groups of faculty and graduate students to answer them. The answers are typically embodied in demonstration systems, and these demonstration systems are later mirrored in commercial products. His studies both affect research AND train leaders in the field. The best known projects of Prof. Patterson’s groups are Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC), Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID), and Networks of Workstations (NOW).

A measure of the success of these projects is the list of awards won by Prof. Patterson and his teammates: the C & C Prize, the IEEE von Neumann Medal, the IEEE Johnson Storage Award, the SIGMOD Test of Time Award, the ACM-IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award, and the Katayanagi Prize. He was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame, and Fellow of the Computer History Museum. The full list includes about 30 awards for research, teaching, and service.


Robert Proctor, Professor of History, Stanford
Prof. Proctor’s current work centers on the history of scientific controversy, especially in 20th and 21st century science, technology, and medicine. He also works on the history of scientific rhetoric, tobacco and body history, Nazi science, expert witnessing, evolution and human origins, geology and gemstone aesthetics, and the cultural production of ignorance (agnotology). His most recent book is the very well-received “Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition.” Presently, he is working on “Darwin in the History of Life” which argues that the 19th century evolution revolution can be seen as an effort to historicize life. He is also finishing a book on the history of the lapidary art (“Agates Eyes”) and a book on changing interpretations of the oldest tools (“The Acheulean Enigma”).


Richard Zare, Professor & Chair of Chemistry, Stanford

Prof. Zare is the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1964 from Harvard University. He has won more awards for outstanding research than we can possibly enumerate here. Prof. Zare is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1983; and, just two years ago, he won the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society: the Priestley Medal. With his colleagues at Stanford’s Zare Lab, Prof. Zare continues to investigate many diverse aspects of physical chemistry. He loves to teach, and he offers crucial support to Wonderfest by serving as both board member and technical advisor.


These experts will examine at least five major industries: pharmaceuticals (Bero), biomedicine (Greely), computer science (Patterson), tobacco (Proctor), and chemistry (Zare). Subsequent discussion of the various controversies promises to be enlightening and important.

Does truth triumph in corporation-funded research? Under what conditions might it not? WONDERFEST and the Stanford Chemistry Department jointly present a very special panel discussion. Come take part!

Co-Sponsor:  Stanford Chemistry Dept.
Special thanks to Coffee Party USA for efforts in getting the word out about this important panel discussion.



Coffee Party USA is a political advocacy organization and not a political party.  Wonderfest neither supports nor endorses the views, positions or opinions of the Coffee Party.