The Dead Sea Scrolls. Black holes in the universe. Cutting-edge brain research.

Discover something new. Join in the discussion with leading researchers in the field.

Events are open to everyone; both scientists and non-scientists alike!

All talks are from 6 to 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, at Solea in Waltham.

Fall Talks

Oct. 7
Imaging and Conservation of Cultural Heritage:
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Greg Bearman, MA’75, PhD’76, Imaging Technology Consultant, Israel Antiquities Authority

Everything falls apart. Entropy always wins.

Decay affects even the objects and places that make up the world’s cultural heritage — paintings like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, statues like Michelangelo’s David, archeological sites like Machu Picchu and ancient texts like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Modern digital imaging methods are now being used to measure, monitor and quantify changes in art objects, helping conservators and site managers understand both what is changing and the rate of change.

Bearman will show how experts draw on digital technology and imaging to monitor cultural treasures around the world, focusing in particular on the Dead Sea Scrolls, portions of which are currently on exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston.

>> Learn more about Dr. Greg Bearman.

Nov. 4
The Biggest, Baddest Black Holes in the Universe
John Wardle, Professor of Astrophysics, Brandeis University

Black holes of all sizes abound in the universe, including in our own Milky Way galaxy, where exploding stars leave behind black holes several times more massive than our solar system’s sun.

But the real monsters, weighing in at over a billion suns, lurk at the centers of distant galaxies and quasars. In this talk, Wardle will provide a ringside view of what experts have discovered about black holes, which act as powerhouses for some of the most spectacular and energetic phenomena in the universe.

>> Learn more about Dr. John Wardle.

Dec. 2 -[POSTPONED UNTIL 2014]
The BRAIN Initiative: How We Will Understand Neuronal Circuits
Eve Marder ’69, Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience, Brandeis University

The BRAIN Initiative, launched by President Barack Obama in April, is a bold new research effort that seeks to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. 

Marder — one of 14 scholars who compose the initiative’s advisory board — will describe some of the exciting technological advances presaging a new era in brain science, in particular those that are helping scientists understand how behavior results from interactions among neurons.

In this presentation, Marder will describe some of the exciting advances in technology that presage a new era in brain science.

>> Learn more about Dr. Eve Marder.

Spring 2014 Talks

Feb. 3, 2014
Geometry for Grown-Ups

Ruth Charney ’72, MA’72, Professor of Mathematics, Brandeis University

The mathematics taught in most classrooms attempts to explain the world we know. But mathematics can also open up worlds we can only imagine.

Charney will explore some interesting, exotic geometric structures that are both useful and fun to play with.

>> Learn more about Ruth Charney.

March 3, 2014

Up-and-Down Chemistry: Oscillations, Chaos, Waves and Patterns

Irv Epstein, Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, Brandeis University

The vast majority of chemical reactions proceed in a straightforward fashion. Some concentrations increase, others decrease, but rarely do they go up and down.

Yet a small number of reactions, many of them important in living systems, proceed in an oscillatory fashion, with concentrations of some species increasing and decreasing over the course of the reaction. When spread out in space — for instance, in a petri dish or on the coat of an animal — such reactions may form beautiful patterns of spirals, stripes or spots.

In this lecture, Epstein will discuss the fascinating world of chemical oscillators and show examples from chemistry, biology and other fields.

>> Learn more about Irv Epstein.

April 7, 2014
From Spicy Hot to Minty Fresh: Temperature, Taste and Pain

Paul Garrity, Associate Professor of Biology, Brandeis University

From humans to the tiny fruit fly, thermal and chemical sensation drives many aspects of animal physiology and behavior, including navigation and feeding.

For instance, ever wonder why mosquitoes tend to bite areas that have the most blood? It’s because these areas are the warmest. Learning more about insects’ temperature receptors will speed the development of more effective insect repellents.

More broadly, understanding thermosensory behavior will help explain fundamental issues in neuroscience, lead to treatments for diseases ranging from asthma to arthritis, and reveal how animals adapt to climate variation and climate change.

Find out about this hot topic, as Garrity discusses the mechanisms of sensory perception and behavior.

>> Learn more about Paul Garrity.

May 5, 2014 Understanding Biology by Watching Single Molecules
Jeff Gelles, Aron and Imre Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Living cells contain tens of thousands of different kinds of protein and RNA molecules.  From this complexity, order somehow emerges: molecules join together to form the nano-machines that then carry out the essential processes of life. Learn how scientists unravel some of the secrets of biology, as Gelles shows how new light microscopes can make "home movies" that reveal the behavior of individual molecules.

>> Learn more about Jeff Gelles

June 2, 2014
They’re Here! Designing Antibiotics for Emerging Pathogens

Liz Hedstrom, PhD’86, Professor of Biology, Brandeis University

Although infectious diseases posed the leading cause of death at the turn of the 20th century, antibiotics such as penicillin have kept them in check for nearly half a century. Now the emergence of antibiotic-resistance pathogens poses a new and growing threat to public health.

In her talk, Hedstrom will describe how her laboratory’s work on Cryptosporidium, a waterborne pathogen (and potential bioterrorism agent), is leading to new compounds that can effectively block its action.

>> Learn more about Liz Hedstrom.