Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Body Worlds is Back

In 2007 The Tech Museum hosted Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds 2 and The Three-Pound Gem. His Science of Plastination* exhibition gave us a comprehensive view of the human body. Where else could one get such a close-up look into the world of bone, muscle, tissue, the heart, blood vessels, tendons, nerves, and the brain?

When I tell people about this exhibit, I am often asked if I find it repulsive. I reply that Body Worlds is, in fact, a beautiful learning experience that invokes a greater appreciation of life.

Anyone contemplating buying a pack of cigarettes needs to see the lung of a smoker placed next to that of a non-smoker.

The next amazing set of Gunther von Hagens’ works, Body Worlds Vital, is now showing at The Tech Museum.

Many cities are considering banning the toy included with high fat fast food meals. Congress, following Mrs. Obamas’ lead, is attempting to legislate what school children will be allowed to consume. From the health concerns of graying baby boomers to the recent emphasis on childhood obesity, Body Worlds Vital could be a valuable starting point helping all ages take control of their own health.

Included with the body specimens are photos from around the world depicting the food consumed by typical families in a week. (I noted that the Indian cuisine looked among the most healthful.)

Body Worlds relies on IfP (the Institute for Plastination), an established body donation program for the authentic human bodies on display. No fees are required for a donation, and the donors will not receive any money. As far as I can tell, the only cost incurred is when the next of kin must pay a transportation fee to have the body sent to the IfP embalming facility.

For a list of rules and conditions for donating your body please contact:
Gail Hamburg at (312) 602-5369 or

*Plastination is where all bodily fluids and soluble fat from donated anatomical specimens are extracted to stop decomposition, and replaced through vacuum-forced impregnation with reactive resins and elastomers, such as silicon rubber and epoxy that harden with gas, light, or heat curing, giving the specimens rigidity and permanence. Some bodies are positioned to recreate a moment in time. Other donations may be used as Plastinated slices for research.

brain - dark area indicating a stroke

Body Worlds Vital – check here for Exhibit Hours and Tickets

The Tech Museum

201 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 294-8324

The Human Body in the Hackworth IMAX Theater : The Human Body Trailer

Body Worlds flickr set

Women and Girls Thriving in the New Economy 2010

The Women & Girls 2010 Summit is a interactive forum to find ways to move women into education and training in non-traditional careers, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This free event is Thursday (12/2/2010) at New Venture Hall, The Tech Museum.

Women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, yet there are few women scientists and engineers. This forum provides an opportunity to address promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education especially for girls and other underrepresented populations along with reducing gender barriers in these fields.

Keynote Speaker: Victoria Plaut, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Law and Social Science, UC Berkeley


Alana Conner, Ph.D., Vice President, The Tech Museum

Isaura S. Gaeta, Global Director of Corporate Affairs, Intel Corp.

Barbara Kamm, President & CEO, Technology Credit Union

Alyssa Newman, Corporate Sustainability, SunPower Foundation

Online registration here.

The Tech Museum, New Venture Hall
201 South Market Street, 95113

Thursday, December 2, 2010
11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Tech Museum Free Second Sundays 2010-2011

The Tech Museum continues to offer free admission to The Tech’s regular museum galleries on the second Sunday of each month through September 2011. It does not include free admission to IMAX or to special blockbuster exhibits.

Explore hundreds of exhibits, many of which are original or custom made, including many fun and informative hands-on exhibits.

Free Sunday Dates:

November 14, 2010
December 12, 2010
January 9, 2011
February 13, 2011
April 10, 2011
May 8, 2011
June 12, 2011
July 10, 2011
September 11, 2011

There is no free second Sunday admission in March and August.

Discounted parking with Tech Museum validation is available at the Second and San Carlos Street Garage and at the Convention Center garage.

The Tech Museum is located near the VTA Light Rail line. The nearest exits are Convention Center Station and the Paseo de San Antonio station.

The Tech Museum
201 South Market Street, San Jose

Wonderfest – Bay Area Festival of Science 2010

This weekend November 6 & 7 is Wonderfest, a free two-day Bay Area Festival of Science at Stanford (Saturday) and UC Berkeley (Sunday).

A few of the topics include:

Does 10,000 Hours of Videogaming Have Side Effects?

Is Mathematics More Art than Science?

Will Synthetic Biology Make Industrial Chemistry Obsolete?

Dare We Try to Engineer Earth’s Climate?

How Did Evolution Shape Human Behavior?

Also, the Bay Area Science Expo at UC Berkeley, where artists and craftspeople show their science stuff including art, books, crafts, music and more.

What would a science festival be without comedy? Norm Goldblatt does stand-up comedy on Saturday and Brian Malow does a Neil Armstrong routine on Sunday.

Wonderfest’s mission statement: Through public discourse about provocative scientific questions, Wonderfest aspires to stimulate curiosity, promote careful reasoning, challenge unexamined beliefs, and encourage life-long learning.

Wonderfest is a free event and open to the general public.

Wonderfest – Bay Area Festival of Science

Stanford University – Hewlett Teaching Center
Saturday, November 6, 2010
1:00 pm to 9:00 pm

UC Berkeley – Stanley Hall
Sunday, November 7, 2010
10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Schedule and Parking Information

A Star Party

Jim Van Nuland telling David Pratt a fascinating space fact?

All philosophy is based on two things only: curiosity and poor eyesight … The trouble is we want to know more than we can see.
–Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1686)

In “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, the author, Marcelo Gleiser questions the limitations of the Big Bang model. Gleiser’s research of the early Universe leads him to believe that intelligent life is nothing more than an accident.

It’s a matter of chance that the Earth works as a home for life. It only happens that the Earth is the proper distance from the sun at the precise angle, with a magnetic field, the right chemicals, water, and a moon. Rather than Adam and Eve, Gleiser sees Frankenstein and his bride (whose DNA was born in a puddle which was hit by the electric charge of lightning). Nature is alive due to imperfect chance and mutation. There is no grand plan for us and therefore no answer to our “Why is there life?”

Reading “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, pondering the beginning of life and the expansion of the universe, made me think of  a group called the San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA). I hadn’t been to one of their ‘star parties’ in about 20 years. It was great to see familiar faces and the big telescopes set up ready for viewing. In speaking with Rich Neuschaefer, the president of the club, I found out that there are about 300 members, but the public is always welcome to the activities.

SJAA site
Public Star Party
Tonight – May 21
Houge Park – Directions
9:15 PM – 12 PM

See the Moon, Venus, Saturn and more for Free.

A must read – Star Party Etiquette

Maker Faire 2010!

Where to? It’s that time of year again my friends, the Maker Faire is just around the corner! I’ve written about the Maker Faire a few times (09, 08); here’s a little description for those unaware of what the Maker Faire is:

“Maker Faire is a two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It’s for creative, resourceful people of all ages and backgrounds who like to tinker and love to make things.”

Getting there is easy as there are plenty of public transportation options available (and always recommended that you carpool if you can) but this year there is a special call out to Maker fans encouraging them to bike to the event.

Where: San Mateo County Fairgrounds
When: May 22nd and 23rd
Tickets: Online or at participating retailers

Advance Pricing (through midnight 5/12/10):
Adult – $20.00
Student (13-20), student photo ID if 21) – $10.00
Youth (4-12) – $5.00
Children 3 and under are free

Real Revolutionaries at Cinequest

Real revolutionaries

For nerds like me, the highlight of Cinequest is likely to be the premiere presentation of a new documentary about the origins of the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley. The Real Revolutionaries tells the story of William Shockley, Robert Noyce, and the “Fairchild Eight” or “Traitorous Eight”. Shockley was a genius physicist who later became known for what can safely be called crackpot theories about race and intelligence. Noyce was one of eight physicists and engineers Shockley hired when forming the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, who later quit en masse to form Fairchild Semiconductor. Noyce and Gordon Moore later left Fairchild to start Intel, and others of the Fairchild Eight also went on to found a host of “Fairchildren”, companies with roots at Fairchild.

The film did a good job of covering these events, and included interviews with several of the personalities involved, as well as with Robert Noyce’s widow, and Syl Jones, the African-American journalist for Playboy who interviewed Shockley in 1980 about his race theories. The filmmakers also tried to spice it up with animated segments describing the technology involved. The animations were perhaps too cute for my taste, and the technological explanations were quite superficial given the amount of time taken to present them. But the historical information made the film overall an interesting 90 minutes, and the photos and film of Silicon Valley in the ’50’s and ’60’s were fascinating.

After last night’s screening there was a panel discussion led by NBC 11 reporter Scott Budman (far left, above). Panelists included Federico Faggin, third from left, who lead the design of Intel’s, and the world’s, first microprocessor; and Julius Blank, second from right, one of the actual Fairchild Eight.

The Real Revolutionaries will be screened again Saturday, February 27, at 7 pm at the California Theater.

Frank R Schiavo Memorial

Frank Schiavo

Frank Schiavo, a retired environmental studies lecturer at San Jose State University, may no longer be with us but his ‘lessons in green’ will forever be a part of our city. My husband, Ken, has fond memories of sitting in Mr. Schiavo’s Willow Glen High School science class.

See the YouTube: Frank R Schiavo on CNN

The Frank R Schiavo Memorial will be held at The San Jose Stage. Attendees may speak, but are asked to share time with others wishing to express condolences.

Saturday February 20
11 AM – 3 PM

The Stage
490 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113

Guest Book – In partnership with The San Jose Mercury News

NASA Images Coming to SJ Library

IYA2009 logo
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, the San Jose Public Library will be one of only two locations in the bay area, and 150 around the country, to display a new mural-sized image of the Milky Way’s galactic center.

2009 was declared an International Year of Astronomy by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, to promote understanding of the importance of astronomy and other basic science in daily life. IYA2009 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescopic observations in 1609.

The mural display was developed by NASA to celebrate IYA2009. The images are created by combining images from three of NASA’s “Great Observatories”, each of which views the sky in a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The source images include a near-infrared view from the Hubble Space Telescope, infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and X-ray images from the Chandra Deep Sky Observatory. The combined image shows “the unique science each observatory conducts, [and] also how far astronomy has come since Galileo.”

The mural will be unveiled in a ceremony at noon on Tuesday, November 17, in the Fourth Street lobby of the main library. On Saturday, November 21, the library will host a follow-up day of activities, including lectures, films, educational activities, and night sky viewing. The November 21 activities last from Noon until 7 pm. The mural will remain on display through the end of 2010.

Moonfest 2009: From Apollo to LCROSS, and Beyond

moonfest09On Sunday July 19, NASA Ames will host Moonfest 2009 a celebration of all things related to the moon; including the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moonwalks and NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission.

The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. In 1969 on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, while Michael Collins orbited above.

The event will have a variety of hands-on activities and presentations by NASA and space industry experts. Some of the Moonfest exhibits and activities include:

Ask a Lunar Scientist
Ask NASA experts about their jobs. This will be a chance to informally interact with lunar/ space experts about their work, career paths, or other topics.

Small Spacecraft Division, NASA Ames Research Center
Visitors will get an overview of current and future Ames’ satellite missions, build their own little satellite, and have the chance to talk to people directly involved in those missions.

Moon Rocks
The real deal.

Model Rockets
Scale models of the Apollo Saturn V, scale models of other spacecraft from the Apollo era will be launched between noon and 2:00 pm at the airfield (shuttle buses will be available).

The Planetary Society allegedly will be handing out mini MoonPies.

Kids’ Activities for preschool through middle school will include puzzles, coloring contests, and quiz games.

There will be speakers from various backgrounds throughout the day (click name for time and topic): Lawrence Krauss, Anthony Colaprete, Susan Hackwood, Diane Wooden, and Donald Pettit.

Astronaut Donald Pettit is veteran of two spaceflights and lived aboard the Space Station for 5-1/2 months. Recently, he was aboard the STS-126 Endeavour Shuttle/Station assembly mission.

The event organized by the NASA Lunar Science Institute, a new organization that supplements and extends existing NASA lunar science programs and LCROSS. Follow them on Twitter.

Moonfest 2009
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, 94035

Sunday, July 19, 2009
12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Admission: Free
Free parking, limited public transportation is available.

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