Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pacific Science Center Science Luminaries Series


Tickets on sale now!

SEATTLE – APRIL 26, 2012 – This summer, learn from many of the world’s most inspired scientific thinkers about cutting-edge issues of our time.  Topics to be tackled in this innovative series include cyber security, the future of genomics, the next generation of space exploration, computer games, and mitigating the world’s leading cause of disease.

Discover the mysteries of the world around us through the Seattle Science Festival’s Luminaries Series which will bring together performances by world-class artists and multi-media presentations by brilliant and inspiring thinkers.

The Science Luminaries Series is a month-long program consisting of five provocative and entertaining evenings that will celebrate the exploration of science and technology through a new cultural paradigm that interweaves TED-type technical presentations with cultural performances.

“These innovative presentations and artistic performances will demonstrate, at the highest possible level, that science is an integral part of our community’s culture,” said Ellen Lettvin, Ph.D., Seattle Science Center Festival Director and Vice President for Science & Education at Pacific Science Center. “This series is taking an unconventional approach to attract audiences who may not typically be drawn either to technical talks or to artistic performances, but are intrigued by the concept of a program that integrates the two; it aspires to enhance scientific literacy in our community as well as to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.”

The Luminaries Series begins Friday, June 1 with Reinventing the Toilet, at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Renowned social entrepreneur Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization and the World Toilet College in Singapore and British author Rose George, whose book The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste/The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters, will discuss the important role the toilet has played in saving lives and improving health in industrialized nations, and the challenge of reinventing this technology so it can benefit the more than 2.5 billion people who currently lack access to adequate sanitation.

Luminaries Series: Reinventing the Toilet, is presented in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose recently launched Reinventing the Toilet Challenge is developing new technologies that will reduce water-borne disease and improve the lives of billions of people worldwide.

Subsequent Luminaries Series events will be held each weekend throughout June:

Luminaries Series: Hackers at Town Hall – Saturday, June 9, 2012, 8 p.m.: Identity theft, cyber-attacks, viruses, worms, and botnets…these terms strike fear into the hearts of all computer users, whether individuals, corporations or governments.  Think you are safe from these cyber-perils, well think again!  Meet Yoshi Kohno, Professor of Computer Science; Deborah Gracio, national security expert; and Pablos Holman, IT security expert, and a notorious hacker.  These talented and dynamic speakers will explore several different aspects of this critical topic, complemented by ‘the Inadvertent Hacker:  an Operetta’ performed by musician Amy Denio.

Luminaries Series: Evolution at the Paramount Theatre –
Saturday, June 16, 2012, 8 p.m.:  Presenters at this brilliant event are world renowned palaeontologist Dr. Jack Horner of Jurassic Park fame and award-winning biologist Dr. Leroy Hood whose inventions have revolutionized biomedicine and are credited with ‘unlocking much of the mystery of human biology’.  Interwoven with these presentations will be a performance of the world’s first peer-reviewed rap, New York’s acclaimed ‘Rap Guide to Evolution’, as well as a stunning performance of the work ‘Euclidean Space’ by Seattle’s critically acclaimed Spectrum Dance Theater.

Luminaries Series: Space at the Museum of Flight’s newly opened Space Gallery – Friday June 22, 2012, 8 p.m.: This fascinating event featuring astronauts Dr. Bonnie Dunbar and Dr. George 'Pinky' Nelson as well as Mark Sirangelo of Sierra Nevada Corporation, will explore the topic of space along with inspiring artistic performances.

Luminaries Series: Gaming at Benaroya Recital Hall – Friday, June 29, 2012, 6 p.m.:  This event will feature some of the game industry’s most imaginative and dynamic visionaries, including Kim Swift, developer of Portal and creative director for Quantum Conundrum, Marty O’Donnell, producer and sound designer for many successful games including Halo, Myth and Oni, and Chris Taylor, creator of the Dungeon Siege and Total Annihilation series. Following the lecture, take the red pill and let the Seattle Symphony transport you into The Matrix. Watch this groundbreaking film on the big screen while the Orchestra plays the soundtrack live at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the Science Luminaries Series events for individual student, general admission, preferred seating and VIP reception (includes meet and greet with Luminaries Series speakers) can be purchased for individual events or for the entire series  at Ticket prices range from $10- $125.

In addition to a generous grant from lead sponsor JPMorgan Chase Foundation, program support for the Seattle Science Festival comes from The Boeing Company, Next 50 Seattle Center 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, Ordinary People Foundation, Intellectual Ventures, Google and Washington STEM, media partner, KOMO 4 and exclusive print partner, The Seattle Times.

The 2012 Seattle Science Festival is a collaboration of the region's cultural, educational, research and business communities. Collaborators to date include: University of Washington, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Institute for Systems Biology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), EMP Museum, Seattle Opera, Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, PATH, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle Children’s Research Center, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle University, Washington NASA Space Grant, Washington STEM and many more organizations. Visit the Seattle Science Festival website for more details and to view the current event calendar.

Located under the arches near the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center serves approximately one million guests on site and more than 300,000 students, teachers and families throughout Washington state each year. As the Science Center approaches its 50th anniversary on October 22, 2012, the institution is as committed as ever to serving the community and being an engine for creative and critical thinking for the Pacific Northwest. Science education is at the heart of Pacific Science Center's mission. As part of that effort, the Science Center is proud to be part of the Seattle Science Festival to connect with, and help inspire, the next generation of scientists.

Big Picture Science for 04/30/12 - Group Think

Image for Big Picture Science weekly radio show
Big Picture Science - Group Think

If two is company and three a crowd, what’s the ideal number to write a play or invent a new operating system? Some say you need groups to be creative. Others disagree: breakthroughs come only in solitude.

Hear both sides, and find out why you always have company even when alone: meet the “parliament of selves” that drive your brain’s decision-making.

Plus, how ideas of societies lead them to thrive or fall, and why educated conservatives have lost trust in science.



You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Meteoroid the Size of a Mini-van Explodes over California

Source - Space Weather News for April 23, 2012:

SIERRA FIREBALL DECODED: An explosion over California that rattled homes across at least two states on Sunday, April 22nd, has been analyzed by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office:  It was a natural meteoroid the size of a mini-van. Analysts say the space rock exploded in the atmosphere with an energy equal to nearly 4 kilotons of TNT and might have sprayed the Sierra Nevada mountains with meteorites.  Visit for more information.

AURORA WATCH:  At the time this alert is being written on April  23rd, a minor geomagnetic storm is underway. The storm is likely due to Earth's passage through the wake of a CME that swept past our planet earlier in the day.  Sign up for aurora alerts at (text) or (voice).

Big Picture Science for 04/23/12 - Early Adapters

Image for Big Picture Science weekly radio show
Big Picture Science - Early Adapters

ENCORE The times are a’changing – rising temperatures, growing population, and new technology coming at us faster than a greased cheetah.

So how will humans respond? Find out about future farming in the city – your vegetables might be grown in downtown, hi-rise greenhouses. Also, a population expert tells us how our planet can cope with billions more people, and the man who invented the term ‘cyberspace’ describes what the future might hold for the techno-savvy.

Darwinian evolution takes a long time to accommodate to new environments. But Homo sapiens can beat that rap by wielding the right technology – and becoming early adapters.



You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

First aired December 6, 2010

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Lyrid Meteor Shower - 2012

Source - Space Weather News for April 21, 2012:

LYRID METEOR SHOWER: The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend on the night of April 21-22 when Earth passes through a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher. Usually the shower is mild (10-20 meteors per hour) but unmapped filaments of dust in the comet's tail sometimes trigger outbursts ten times stronger. This year's peak coincides with a new Moon, so lunar interference will not be a problem.

The promise of a good display has prompted NASA to plan an unusual 3D meteor photography experiment combining observations from the ground, a research balloon, and the International Space Station.  More information, observing tips, and live audio from a meteor radar are available on today's edition of

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weird Science: Rubber Chicken Flies into Solar Storm

Source - NASA Science News for April 19, 201

In a unusual twist on space science, students in California have launched a rubber chicken to the edge of space to study a solar storm.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 3D Lyrid Meteor Shower

Source - NASA Science News for April 18, 2012

Astronomers and astronauts are joining forces for an unusual astrophotography experiment during the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower on April 21st.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Spectacular Explosion on the Sun

Source - Space Weather News for April 16, 2012:

SPECTACULAR EXPLOSION: On April 16th around 17:45 UT, magnetic fields curling over the sun's northeastern limb rose up and erupted, producing one of the most visually-spectacular explosions in years. The event, which also produced an M1.7-class solar flare and a coronal mass ejection, was not Earth-directed. Nevertheless, it confirms suspicions that a significant active region is rotating onto the Earth-side of the sun. Visit for movies and updates.

SOLAR FLARE ALERTS: Would you like a call when sunspots erupt? Solar flare alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

Big Picture Science for 04/16/12 - Humans Need Not Apply

Image for Big Picture Science weekly radio show
Big Picture Science - Humans Need Not Apply

ENCORE You are one-of-a-kind, unique, indispensible… oh, wait, never mind! It seems that computer over there can do what you do … faster and with greater accuracy.

Yes, it’s silicon vs. carbon as intelligent, interactive machines out-perform humans in tasks beyond data-crunching. We’re not only building our successors, we’re developing emotional relationships with them. Find out why humans are hard-wired to be attached to androids.

Also, the handful of areas where humans still rule… as pilots, doctors and journalists. Scratch that! Journalism is automated too – tune in for a news story written solely by a machine.

  • Clifford Nass – Social psychologist at Stanford University and Director of the Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab
  • Tom Jones – United States astronaut, space consultant, and veteran of four Space Shuttle flights
  • Chris Ford – Business director at Pixar Animation Studios
  • Eric Van De Graaff -Cardiologist at Alegent Health
  • James Bennighof – Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and professor of music theory at Baylor University in Texas
  • Kathy Abbott – Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Flight Deck Human Factors at the Federal Aviation Administration
  • Kristian Hammond – Co-founder, Narrative Science


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

First aired November 22, 2010.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April is the Cruelest Month

Source - NASA Science News for April 13, 2012

One year after the historic tornado outbreak of April 27-28, 2011, researchers say they've learned a few things about deadly twisters. Today's story from Science@NASA presents some of the scientific findings that emerged from the swath of destruction.

The full story can be found here:

A companion video is posted below and can also be viewed at:

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Big Picture Science for 04/09/12 - Second That Emotion

Image for Big Picture Science weekly radio show
Big Picture Science - Second That Emotion

So you weep at sappy commercials and give drivers the bird. Have no regrets: emotion is what makes us human! Discover the survival value in feeling disgust … why humans are terrible liars … and how despair fuels creativity.

Also, mis-firing emotions and the emotional consequences of facial paralysis. And why E.T. will need to feel fear and joy to survive.


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Venus Invades the Pleiades

Source - NASA Science News for April 2, 2012

This week, Venus and the Pleiades star cluster will meet in the evening sky for a rare and beautiful conjunction.


Big Picture Science for 04/02/12 - Life Back Then

Image for Big Picture Science weekly radio show
Big Picture Science - Life Back Then

Time keeps on ticking, ticking … and as it does, evolution operates to produce remarkable changes in species. Wings may appear, tails disappear. Sea creatures drag themselves onto the shore and become landlubbers. But it’s not easy to grasp the expansive time scales involved in these transformative feats.

Travel through millennia, back through mega and giga years, for a sense of what can occur over deep time, from the Cambrian Explosion to the age of the dinosaurs to the rise of Homo sapiens.


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.