Thirsty for a good conversation in a comfortable atmosphere? Do you have questions you would like to ask a scientist or would you just like to sit back, relax and learn something new about the world? Come to a Science Pub for an open, thought-provoking, easy-to-understand discussion.
Based on the Science Cafe model developed in Europe in the 1990s, Science Pubs at Salt hill bring scientists and the public together for informal discussion around topics relevant to your world. A Science Pub is not a lecture but is a good conversation. Enjoy your refreshments or dinner while engaging with your community and local scientists and experts.
These public events are open to all and are held at the Salt hill Pub, 2 W. Park St., Lebanon, NH from 5:30-7:30 pm. The 2014-15 Science Pub season will begin in September and we will meet the third Thursday of most months through May.
Brought to you by Dartmouth College Office of Science and Technology Outreach and Salt hill Pub, Lebanon, with support from NASA.
For More Information about Science Cafes visit: Sciencecafes.org
Long before they understood the alchemy that turns certain sugars into ethanol, humans were using fermentation to produce beverages with superior keeping qualities and enticing pharmacological effects – that feeling of euphoria and sociability that comes from downing a beer. In recent years, microscopic remnants of a beer-like fermented beverage have been found in the crockery of King Tut’s tomb and other archeological sites, leading researchers to wonder how long humans have been imbibing fermented beverages. How is it that human bodies have evolved to treat a chemical – ethanol - as a food? One thing is clear: fermentation and the mind-altering affects of alcohol have had a major impact on economies, politics, cultures and religion. Any substance containing sugars that ferment after contact with the wild yeasts in the air can produce alcohol, and is the yeast that plays the major role in the flavor of beer. So how does that chemistry work? Are there strains of yeast that predominate? Are the strains in the beer we drink today similar to the ones King Tut imbibed? How is the growth of home- and micro-brewing affecting the industry? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Nathaniel Dominy, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dartmouth College; Ryan Calsbeek, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College; Dave Hartmann, Brewmaster, Long Trail Brewery, Bridgewater Corners, VT
Our planet earth has been shaped by powerful forces of nature, not the least of which are water and ice. Scientists estimate that glaciers once covered 30% of the earth’s surface, including most of North America. Still present on most continents, including Africa, these moving rivers of ice, rocks, soil, and debris have sculpted our landscape in their advances and retreats, leaving lots of fascinating clues behind. Glaciers have defined the character of our mountain vistas, soils, lakes, river valleys and quite literally, our lives. So what is a glacier anyway and how do they form? Ever wonder how scientists manage the challenges of working in such extreme environments and just what they are trying to learn from earth’s mighty glaciers? What does it feel like to be up close and personal with a glacier? What kinds of noises do they make? What is the difference between an ice sheet and a mountain glacier and where can you find them? How has glacial ice shaped the landscape of the Upper Valley and defined important aspects of our lives? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Meredith Kelly, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College; Robert Hawley, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College; Alice Doughty, Neukom Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College
It’s simple advice: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Though this version of the old proverb dates back to 1922, modern studies back it up. Eating an apple a day has been linked with lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower risk of stroke. But wait – what about recent studies showing that some brands of apple juice contain arsenic, a known poison? If you switched to brown rice years ago, because whole grains are more nutritious, what do you make of the news that brown rice may be a significant source of arsenic? Fish eaters who pay attention to the latest news stories about eating fish also have decisions to weigh: which fish contain the oils linked to better cardiovascular health – and which ones are high in mercury, which poses a risk to our health? What do scientists say about those food stories in the news? How do you make decisions on food choices that are healthy for your family? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Celia Chen, Research Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Principal Investigator, Project 2 and Research Translation Core Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, Dartmouth; Mary Saucier Choate, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., Food and Nutrition Educator, The Co-op Food Stores of Hanover and Lebanon, NH and White River Junction, VT; Todd Warczak, PhD Candidate, Department of Biological Science, Dartmouth
Music has a powerful influence on us, stimulating us, inspiring us, triggering memories and emotions. But does the human capacity to engage with and create music serve us as a species? Has music played an evolutionary role for humans, or is it just “auditory cheesecake” as cognitive scientist Steven Pinker asserts? There is evidence that making music and reacting to music are a vital part of who we are as humans, providing us with ways to express emotion and binding us together in social groups, A recent Dartmouth study suggests an intimate relationship between music and movement. It appears that music and movement convey emotion in the same way, not just for people in Western cultures, but for people in cultures isolated from all outside sources of music. The researchers are now exploring the link between music, movement and emotion in our brains. No wonder we humans are moved by music! We know that music can soothe us, move us to dance, laugh, and cry. But can music interfere with our ability to think? Are those ubiquitous earbuds connecting us to our favorite tunes too much of a good thing? How do we use music to our advantage? What do scientists know, and what are they trying to discover about our complex relationship to music? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders:Thalia Wheatley, Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Steve Swayne, Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music; Beau Sievers, PhD Candidate, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Every year influenza kills more than 30,000 people in the United States. This year's Ebola outbreak has killed many fewer people but has provoked much greater public anxiety: individual cases have been the subject of intense media attention, mandatory quarantines in New York and New Jersey have riled policy-makers and private citizens alike, and sales of hand sanitizer have spiked. Some are predicting that "Ebola fear" could affect the airline and hospitality industry, the stock market, and even the coming midterm elections. Is Ebola – or fear of Ebola – a greater risk than the flu? Why does the annual flu epidemic generate far less public concern? How do public perceptions shape the political response to outbreaks like Ebola or flu? What do the experts see as the major concerns about outbreaks today compared to those in the past? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Timothy Lahey, MD, MMSc, Infectious Diseases Physician, Associate Professor of Medicine, The Geisel School of Medicine; Kendall Hoyt, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, The Geisel School of Medicine; Brendan Nyhan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
We see it in the mating dances of birds and lizards and the pick-up scene in any bar. Members of the animal kingdom, including humans, have developed complex, fascinating and often bizarre ways of communicating to attract potential mates, lure prey and defend against predators. Evolutionary biologists call this phenomenon "signaling," behaviors that attempt to benefit the signaler and change the behavior of the receiver. In a nutshell, it's about sex, reproduction, and survival of the fittest. But what makes one individual fitter than another? While males of some species invest their energy in showy displays of beauty or strength in order to attract mates or scare off predators, they aren't always the winners in love and war. The smaller males of many species have developed deceptive strategies such as mimicking females to gain access to potential mates. Other species imitate the mating calls of their prey, to fool them into coming perilously closer. What are the parallels between animal signaling and the signals humans send that communicate dominance, power, and attractiveness? How aware are we of these "dances" going on all around us? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Ryan Calsbeek, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences; Hannah ter Hofstede, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; Nathaniel Dominy, Associate Professor of Anthropology
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term "fracking"? Your opinion on this new energy technology may depend on the image that first springs to mind. Drawing a blank? Take heart: A recent study found that nearly 40 percent of those surveyed had never heard of fracking. However, that same study identifies this new technology as a likely cornerstone of the nation's energy future. In hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals are injected deep into the earth at high pressure in order to fracture rock, releasing otherwise inaccessible natural gas or oil. The weight you give to the risks of fracking (environmental, social) and its benefits (economic) are influenced by a range of factors. Gender, age, income, education all play a role – but so does worldview, and it seems that we literally "feel" our way to an opinion. Do Vermonters feel differently from New Yorkers or Pennsylvanians about fracking? What affects the way we feel about wind farms or the Northern Pass? Do these feelings change over time? Public opinion plays an important role in our energy policies. How do we decide? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Nathan Warner, PhD, Obering Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth; Carolyn Murray, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, of Community & Family Medicine and of The Dartmouth Institute
Encounters with comets, asteroids and meteorites are a staple of science fiction, and though humans no longer believe these astral events to be messages from the gods, we are fascinated at their doomsday potential – at least for anything in their paths. A space rock that hit Earth 65 million years ago is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs. Was that space rock a comet or an asteroid? How do we know, and what is the difference between these near-Earth objects? Another astral impact about 13,000 years ago is believed to have triggered a dramatic climate shift globally, with far-reaching effects on both animals and humans. Why were larger mammals affected by these collisions? Are humans at risk of species extinction from a future astral collision? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Mukul Sharma, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth; Robert Fesen, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Dartmouth; David Peart, Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth
The framers of the US Constitution thought the "pursuit of happiness" to be so fundamental an instinct that they listed it along with "life" and "liberty" as an "unalienable right" of all humans. So how is it that some people seem persistently happy while others seem chronically glum? Is it nature, nurture, fate? Brain science researchers have evidence that a person's happiness is related to his ability to regulate positive and negative emotions. What is happening in our brains when we are happy? Can we learn to be happier? Do we get better at it as we age? Is there a down side to happiness? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: William Kelley, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Paul Whalen, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth; Kristina Rapuano, Ph.D. student, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth
The colorful dancing lights in night skies known as the Aurora have long fascinated humankind, inspiring ancient legends and speculation by philosophers. Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn, and Aurora Borealis - the lights in the northern hemisphere – is Latin for "dawn of the north" while Aurora Australis – lights in the southern hemisphere - means "dawn of the south." Appearing in myriad forms, from colored arcs and streamers to clouds and curtains of light, the night display we New Englanders know as the Northern Lights is caused by the collisions of charged particles traveling on solar winds that become trapped in magnetic fields around the Earth's poles. What causes the variation in the bright colors pulsing across the night sky? What can the Aurora tell us about geomagnetic storms and what effect do those storms have on our satellite systems, telecommunications and power grids? When and where are we most likely to see the Northern Lights? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Kristina Lynch, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth, Philip Fernandes, PhD Candidate, Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth, Jim Labelle, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth
Civilization continually adapts to changes in the environment, resources and technology. Historically we have transitioned from hunter-gatherer to agricultural to industrial societies that are no longer sustainable. We now face an unprecedented rate of change challenging us to move to a sustainable industrial society. Energy is at the core of the challenge. Experts are working on global, regional, and local scales to address our energy issues but each success has unintended consequences, both positive and negative. What must we consider as global citizens facing these challenges? What are the regional issues we face in New England as we look at alternatives such as wind and biofuels? What are municipalities and citizens groups in the Upper Valley doing to implement renewable and low cost energy solutions locally? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Lee Rybeck Lynd, Professor of Environmental Engineering Design and Adjunct Professor of Biology, Dartmouth Karen Liot Hill, City Counselor, Energy Committee Member, City of Lebanon Jim O'Brien, Director of Government Relations, NH Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
Changing weather patterns, melting ice caps, rising seas, and extreme storms are some of the obvious signs of climate change. Many communities are dealing with these effects along with a novel suite of social and economic disturbances of a similarly global origin. Water supplies, public health, farms, fisheries, and natural ecosystems are just a few of the critical areas of concern on a global and regional scale. Governments and citizen groups around the world are addressing agricultural practices, social policies, and re-designing infrastructures to adapt to the changes they are experiencing. What do we know about how institutions and governments adapt to rapid, profound change? What can we learn from those who are already adapting? Are there specific issues of concern for Upper Valley communities? Who is addressing them? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Michael Cox, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Dartmouth;Tyler Pavlowich, Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dartmouth;Alex, Jaccaci, Founder and Co-Chair of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup
The local food movement has mushroomed across the US, as many are persuaded that buying locally, even if it costs more, is the ethical choice. Many people assume that shortening the distance from farm to table both lowers the environmental impact of the food we eat and increases its social benefit, by supporting nearby small farmers rather than distant industrial producers. But are these assumptions valid? Is eating locally more ethical even if, as some research shows, it is not always better for the environment? Do nearby farmers deserve our dollars more than distant ones? Does buying their food have other benefits, such as for animal welfare? Can we really "vote" for a better, more sustainable food system through what we choose to eat?
Discussion Leaders: Susanne Freidberg, Professor of Geography, Dartmouth; David Plunkett, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Dartmouth; Chuck Wooster, Owner, Sunrise Farm, White River Junction, VT
We've all heard the predictions – warmer average temperatures, earlier and wetter springs, less snow. But exactly how will those climate change predictions affect the Upper Valley our grandkids experience? Certainly diminishing snowfall will affect the ski industry – but does snow represent other values for New Englanders? Scientists say it does, and one reason for that is something called albedo. Its literal meaning is whiteness, and it describes the complicated feedback loops involving reflected snow. Will our grandkids climb maple trees or will we learn to love birch syrup? How will our forests and land use change? Will spring still bring the sound of the wood thrush? Will the tomato-growing season get better?
Discussion Leaders: Richard Howarth, Professor of Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College; David Lutz, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College; Alden Adolph, Ph.D. Candidate, Thayer School of Engineering
Call it a boom, call it a bloom – in the ecosystem of a lake or river, a sudden increase in the population of one tiny organism can mean trouble. For example: blooms of Didymo, an algae appearing in Upper Valley rivers, has acquired the nickname of "rock snot" for its slimy appearance on the stream bottom of pristine rivers. A threat to fish - and to many aquatic organisms - there is new evidence that these blooms may not be spread, as commonly believed, by fisherman carrying the algae on felt-soled boots. Lakes in the Upper Valley are also seeing blooms of cyanobacteria, often referred to as "blue-green algae," that can give clear water the appearance of thick, foamy pea soup. Overgrowth of the microorganism also reduces healthy oxygen levels in the water and produces toxins that may be linked to some neurological disorders. Scientists who study New England's rivers and lakes are investigating the causes of these blooms and how they threaten invertebrates, fish, waterfowl, the water we drink, and recreational opportunities on local waterways. What conditions are causing these blooms and what is the forecast for the future? What are the long-term effects on humans, animals, our waterways? How can we keep these microorganisms in check or adapt to these changes?
Discussion leaders: Brad Taylor, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth; Kathy Cottingham, Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth; Jessica Trout-Haney, PhD. Candidate, Dartmouth
Since the 15th century, finding a northwest passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was a romantic and heroic quest for maritime explorers. But the formidable barrier of sea ice pushed into the ocean from the Greenland Ice Sheet closed the passage off for much of the year. In recent years, the shrinking of the icepack in the Arctic is opening the Northwest Passage for the longest periods on record, creating new opportunities for commercial navigation. However, other effects of climate warming in the region are of great concern to scientists and inhabitants of the Arctic, with widespread political, economic and environmental consequences for people all over the globe. How do geological records of past glacial advance and retreat help us understand changes we see today? How can we untangle the signal of human activities associated with warming from the noise of natural variation? Where and when will the effects of climate warming in the Arctic be observed in our region? What are the political consequences of the opening of the Northwest Passage? Bring your curiosity and questions to this timely conversation.
Discussion Leaders: Meredith Kelly, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences; Dartmouth, Ross Virginia, Meyers Family Professor of Environmental Science and Director, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth; Laura Levy, Ph.D. candidate, IGERT Polar Environmental Change Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth.
Some would argue that memory makes us who we are. Certainly our memories of people, places and procedures help us navigate daily life, and memories of past experience provide meaning and context to the present. But why do some memories elude recall while others persist? What can we do to improve our memory? Are there ways to help erase traumatic memories we would rather not revisit? New research is finding answers to both of those questions and, surprisingly, the story of memories lost and memories impossible to forget involves the stress response. Do you have other questions about memory? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: David Bucci, Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth, and Matt Friedman, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology & Toxicology at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine and Deputy Director of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.
Imagine an alien invasion of New England, requiring every maple tree to be cut down, town by town. Science fiction? Not at all, as residents of Worcester, Massachusetts can tell you. In 2008, a wood-boring beetle with a taste for hardwood rapidly infested maple trees there requiring 29,000 trees in the city to be cut down in an effort to stem the spread. Scientists warn that the Upper Valley is vulnerable to a similar fate, with devastating consequences for fall foliage, maple syrup, our lush green landscape and the economy of New England.Why is this happening? What can we do? Come join us for a lively discussion about the science of invasive insects and strategies for protecting our forests.
Discussion Leaders: Matt Ayres, Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth, Rhonda Mace, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture
Learn about invasive insects, report and/or upload insect pictures at: NH-Bugs or Vermont Invasives
NH Forest Health Website Vermont Forest Pest First Detectors Program
Discussion Leaders: Ryan Hickox, Observational Astrophysicist, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College; Jenny Greene, Astrophysicist, Princeton University
It's a tempting proposition for an athlete: To increase your stamina and strength, to build muscles faster than workouts alone, just take a pill! That's the promise of anabolic steroids, synthetic hormones that give athletes a competitive edge. But along with those benefits come some serious risks: infertility, behavioral changes, and cancer. There are particularly concerning effects on adolescents. Steroid use has been banned by most major athletic associations, yet news accounts of "doping" continue to appear. Should kids and adults be "allowed" to play by different rules when it comes to taking steroids? As parents, are we unwittingly sending messages to our children that make steroids more appealing? What roles do school coaches and team members play?
Discussion Leaders: Leslie Henderson, Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Mike Jackson, Athletic Director, Hanover High School, and Don Mahler, Sports Editor, The Valley News
Related Articles on Steroids and Adolescents : Article in Pediatrics ; Steroids and Adolescent Girls ; Steroids and Adolescent Boys; Anabolic steroid use by male and female middle school students ; Female Teen Steroid Use Not Limited To Athletes
Declining numbers of bees and other pollinators are raising concerns among scientists and farmers: could decreased pollination affect the world's food supplies? Researchers have been investigating factors affecting bee populations: pesticide use, habitat loss, disease and — most recently — a climate-change driven mismatch between the times when flowers open and when bees emerge from hibernation. What is the difference between native bees and managed honeybees? Why is the health of both important to the diversity of our landscape and local food crops? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion Leaders: Dr. Rebecca Irwin, Ecologist, Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Zak Gezon, PhD Candidate, Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dartmouth College, Troy Hall, Full-time Beekeeper, Breeder, and President of the Kearsarge Beekeepers Association
Pollinator Links of Interest: The Kearsarge Beekeepers Association ; Knox Cellars Mason Bee House Company ;The specific box Zak recommends as a gift; Discover Life.org-Bees and Citizen Science ;The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation ; Information on pollinators and pesticides
There is good evidence that most of us have a skewed understanding of who scientists are and what they do. The stereotype: a white male with glasses and wild hair wearing a lab coat, bubbling test tube in hand. What are the consequences of this cultural stereotype – and what is the reality? Are scientists super-smart experts on all things science? Do they work alone in those labs? How has the practice of science changed over time? Exactly what do scientists do all day? This is your turn to ask!
Discussion leaders: Robert Hawley, Glaciologist, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College, Zoe Courville, Research Engineer, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), and Richard Kremer, Historian, Department of History, Dartmouth College.
Over the past 15 years, billions of tax dollars have supported the Human Genome Project, an effort to identify the entire genetic blueprint of the human being. Understanding how your genes may predispose you to a wide variety of diseases is a good thing - isn't it? Stop by your local grocery, buy a home test kit, swab the inside of your cheek and send it off for genetic testing. But wait: 3 billion pieces of information that could affect you and your future, your children and family, your employment and insurance. How do you know what to do with those test results? Can your doctor help? Who else will see them? What are the benefits of knowing the details of your unique genome? What are the ethical considerations?
Discussion leaders: Robert Gross, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Graduate Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Gregory J. Tsongalis, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology at Dartmouth Medical School and Director of Molecular Pathology at DHMC.
Science fiction has often raced ahead of science in predicting how future technologies would change society - think Smell-O-Vision and personal Jet Packs. But when it comes to computing, growth has indeed been exponential. But what do we really know about these devices that surround us? Do you know what makes your iPad tick or what your smart phone and laptop have in common? How has your life been changed by these devices? How has your community changed as smart devices increasingly permeate our society? Are we too reliant on these devices?
Discussion Leaders: Sekhar Ramanathan, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Carey Heckman, Professor of Philosophy, Dartmouth
For decades, scientists have been predicting that climate change would usher in an era of more intense and frequent storms and droughts. Was Irene an example or just a particularly bad rain storm? What do climate models predict for the next 25, 50, 100 years? How well can we really predict future weather patterns from these models? How are land use and settlement patterns in a community affected by flood events? Should we rebuild where we always have - or can moving development bring new opportunities for communities? What lessons can be learned from Irene?
Discussion leaders: Erich Osterberg, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Science, Frank Magilligan, Professor in the Department of Geography, both from Dartmouth College and Lori Hirshfield, Director of the Dept. of Planning & Development Services for the Town of Hartford, Vermont.
Last Updated: 5/4/15