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Colorado Café Scientifique

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News 19 March 2013: Some of you may know of the movement down in Colorado Springs to create a regional Science Center. Now they are ready to go to the next level, developing the funding for construction. To kick it off, they will be celebrating Yuri's Day—a world-wide event on Friday evening, 12 April—that commemorates Yuri Gagarin's first space flight. Join them at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for an evening of fun, interactive science activities, rocket science demonstrations, stargazing, food, drink, and their first fundraiser to bring a state-of-the-art Science Center to the Pikes Peak Region.  Tickets($49) and information.
News 19 March 2013: On Monday 15 April 2013, feisty Café Sci former speaker Robert Zubrin will debate CSU philosophy Prof. Philip Cafaro on the topic: "Are people the problem?" Prof. Carfaro has been quoted as saying immigrants to the US use too much energy/carbon and so immigration should be limited; Zubrin has other views. This should be interesting. It will be at CCU's Beckman Center. You need to register for this free event, on line or at 303-963-3424. Use Google Maps to find the Center, it's a bit secluded.
News 11 February 2013: Landsat 8 was successfully launched today. "Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program, and today's successful launch will extend the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as seen from space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the improvement of human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture monitoring -- all resulting in incalculable benefits to the U.S. and world economy." The Operantional Land Imager aboard was built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO.
News 15 January 2012: What was left of Phobos-Grunt landed in the Pacific today.
News 06 January 2012: While the Mars Science Laboratory (January's Café topic) is on its way, a Russian mission which failed is about to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up. It has the unfortunate name Phobos-Grunt, and you can read a BBC story about its impending demise. As the Sun gets more active, the Earth's atmosphere expands, and that is expected to trap a lot of space junk in the coming years. The active Sun is our March Café topic.
News 21 July 2011: The world's population reached 6 billion in 1999. Today it is 6,950,450,000. The USA alone nets a new person every 12 seconds. The Census Bureau estimates we'll reach 7 billion on April Fool's Day, 2012. Yikes!
News 26 January 2011: Many people have asked for more information about Dr. Iñigo San Millán's Exercise Physiology and Human Performance center. You can read about it and its services on the University of Colorado Hospital site.
News 22 January 2011: USA Today had an article today on the Café Sci movement that mentions that we are the oldest in the country.
News 23 June 2010: The Large Hadron Collider has begun to smash its 2 proton beams at each other now at an energy level of 7 TeV, about 4 times higher than ever before achieved at the Tevatron in Illinois. Date is being accumulated at the exabyte level!
News 22 April 2010: The Solar Dynamics Observatory has started sending back spectacular images of the sun.
News 11 February 2010: The Solar Dynamics Observatory got launched today. Aboard are 3 experiments, including the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment, designed at CU Boulder. NASA has prepared a useful Factsheet.
News 8 January 2010: A really sweet interview with Norm Pace, our recent microbiology speaker, is on line; it's mostly about his unusual hobbies and interests.
News 1 November 2009: 1,061 people participated in the Gorilla Run in LoDo Denver yesterday, thus earning a place in the Guiness Book of Records for most people in one place at one time in gorilla costumes. That book must make gripping reading.
News 23 October 2009: The Space Station is constantly getting bigger. USA Today has a terrific animation of its growth over the years. Watch the pieces come together as they are sent up from Earth.
News 29 September 2009: Dr. Adit Ginde, our September speaker, discusses his recent work on disease in the elderly and vitamin D levels on Colorado Matters on Colorado Public Radio.
News 31 August 2009: They are still bickering over the Laetoli hominid footprints, which Charles Musiba discussed with us at the Café. Choices are to leave them buried (which wasn't working well), to construct a protective museum over them (Dr. Musiba's preference) or to dig them all out and move them to a museum in a Tanzanian city. The story is reported here.
Gorilla Run 2009 This popular event returns on Halloween. The Denver organizers plan to assemble the largest group of human gorillas ever seen outside a government building, and enter the Guiness Book of Records! Click the logo in the left navigation bar for more information.
Thanks, sponsor. The May 2009 Café was sponsored by the Colorado Chapter of the American Chemical Society, who treated us with appetizers. Our thanks to our friends at ACS! Click to visit their interesting site and learn more.
News 2 July 2009: The first H1N1 (novel influenza, formerly "swine") infection found to be resistant to the antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir) represents an "isolated case" with "no public health implication" at this time, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday. The patient has recovered without event and no secondary cases have been recorded.
The May Café was sponsored by the Colorado Chapter of the American Chemical Society, who treated us with appetizers. Our thanks to our friends at ACS! Click on the logo to visit their interesting site and learn more.
News 24 May 2009: Atlantis landed safely at Edwards AFB instead of the Kennedy Space Center in rainy Florida this morning, after waiting 2 days for clear weather. It puts that 30 minutes you spent in a holding pattern over DIA in perspective. All but a part of one mission was successfully accomplished.
News 8 May 2009: This May will see the world premiere of Angels & Demons, a thriller based on Dan Brown’s best-selling novel that focuses on an plot to destroy the Vatican using a small amount of antimatter. In the book and the movie, that antimatter is made using the Large Hadron Collider and is stolen from the European particle physics laboratory CERN. Parts of the movie were actually filmed at CERN. The particle physics community is using this opportunity to tell the world about the real science of antimatter, the Large Hadron Collider and the excitement of particle physics research.
News 3 March 2009: The Large Hadron Collider continues to struggle after its breakdown last year. It is now scheduled to come back on line in late September 2009, and if it does it will be run through the winter, in spite of the expensive electricity at that season, to try to make up for lost time. " I have a bet of one hundred dollars that we won't find the Higgs," says Stephen Hawking.
News 19 February 2009: We hope you didn't miss the opportunity to see a rare event on the evening of Friday 27 February when Venus just brushed the waxing crescent moon. Venus itself is a crescent right now, though because of its proximity it's at its brightest. Check it out with a telescope but be careful, it is bright; Venus by itself can cast a shadow on a moonless night.
News 14 January 2009: On NPR's Morning Edition today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said: "In the economic recovery package, we are going with proposals that we have, in general, for infrastructure, for innovation, for health care, and for energy independence, and they are all related. I said, if you want four words to describe this: science, science, science, and science."
News 1 December 2008: Mosquitoes in favor of subprime mortgages. In Bakersfield, California, there has been a 300% increase in notices of mortgage delinquency. This has led to a similar rise in neglected swimming pools, and in the summer of 2007, a 276% increase in human cases of West Nile Fever. Read the article.
News 24 October 2008: Well, you waited too long, and someone else has claimed the $100,000 Electronic Frontier Foundation prize for finding the first Mersenne prime with 10 million digits or more. Mersenne primes have the form 2 to the power of p minus 1 where p is itself a prime number. In the winning prime, p=43,112,609 which when worked out is a number 12,978,189 digits long. But don't give up: There's $150,000 waiting for you when you compute the first prime with 150 million digits or more!
News 24 October 2008: The Hubble Space Telescope, now 18 years old, has been having some difficulties since September when a data router had a power surge and shut down. The managers got it turned on in safe mode last week, using a backup data channel. It's hoped that the telescope can beging sending images again this week. Replacement of this system has been added to the next (and last!) Atlantis shuttle mission to Hubble, originally scheduled for October but now pushed back until late winter or spring. NASA has a good Hubble site.
News 10 October 2008: You may remember when Mickey Glantz of NCAR talked at the Café he said he was the only social scientist there, and thus would be the first to go if there was a budget cut. Well, he was right. But the good news is that with Rockefeller Foundation funding, CU has opened a new Consortium for Capacity Building in Boulder, and Mickey will be directing it. He'll be joined by another former Café speaker, Roger Pielke Jr.
News 24 September 2008: The Large Hadron Collider has been cooling its 1700 superconducting magnets all summer, and is scheduled to inject its first stream of particles on 10 September. Yikes! The chances of it creating a black hole that consumes Europe are less than your chances of winning the PowerBall lottery, which are zero. There is a News 3 July 2008: Confusion and contradiction continue to plague US science policy. In December 2007 Congress zeroed out Fermilab’s budget for NOvA, a project on matter-antimatter asymmetry in neutrinos. Most other projects were slashed and the Tevatron, the US’s last particle collider, is scheduled to close down in 2010. But inserted quietly into the war budget signed by the President on Monday was an extra $62.5 million for DOE which will keep NOvA and some other projects, at least temporarily, afloat. At the same time, the Bureau of Land Management, after an outpouring of protest, reversed itself on its two-year moratorium on licensing solar energy projects on BLM property
News 22 April 2008: If you (like half of Denver) were at the Café to hear Erica Ellingson talk about dark matter, you heard some comments frrom Martin Huber about crystal WIMP detectors deep underground that may ring in a special way when struck by a weakly-interacting massive particle. Here's the YouTube video of the CDMS group's (very silly) simulation. Any of it sound familiar?
News 27 March 2008: Denver's fine newspaper, Westword, selected our Café Sci as the 2008 Best Place to Get Your Geek On. Kind of a problem for those who never take their Geek off. This is the work of intrepid reporter Joel Warner, in whose lap you are invited to sit if you can't find a chair next time.
News 18 May 2007: Dark matter visualized. The Hubble Space Telescope was used to study a pair of galaxy clusters that are colliding 5 billion light years from Earth. (To be accurate, they collided 5 billion years ago!) From the visible mass of stars and gas, the clusters should be flying apart, but they aren't. Why not--is there some mass there that can't be seen? The images of even more distant galaxies, seen through the colliding clusters, are distorted; the light from them is bent by mass it passes as it heads towards us. So the scientists mapped the degree of distortion, plotted it as a color gradient over the Hubble image of the galactic clusters, and saw a dark ring of otherwise invisible mass. This ring is almost surely dark matter, and it's an incredible 2.5 million light years across. Excellent images are available here.
News 11 February 2008: The CDC missed in its guess about 2 of the 3 flu strains in this year's vaccine (see below, 13 July news item.) But it's not too bad. From the CDC: "As of February 2, 2008, nearly all H1N1 viruses tested to date at CDC were well-matched to the H1N1 vaccine strain. However, most of the H3N2 and B virus strains were different from those contained in the vaccine, suggesting that protection against circulating H3N2 and B virus strains may not be optimal. However, it’s important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different, but related strains of influenza viruses."
News 16 November 2007: For those of us who can never keep geochronology straight (was the Phanerozoic before the Epicene? was Jurassic before Thoracic, or after Plasticine?) the USGS has published the 2-page .pdf update Divisions of Geologic Time-Major Chronostratigraphic and Geochronologic Units with a table of the latest names and dates. Very handy! Get it here.
News 18 October 2007: Denver Café Sci Wins Award. Your Café Sci just got the 2008 10BEST Award as "one of the best bets for Slices of Life." Read about it, and "rate" us (though why you'd want to is not clear) if you are so inclined, by clicking here.
News 13 July 2007: Influenza vaccines prepared for the 2007–08 season will include A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1)-like, A/Wisconsin/ 67/2005 (H3N2)-like, and B/Malaysia/2506/2004-like antigens. These viruses will be used because they are representative of influenza viruses that are anticipated to circulate in the United States during the 2007–08 influenza season. We’ll see if the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices gets it right once again; they have a pretty good track record.
News 14 June 2007: The Fourth Report from IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), as mentioned in the Café by Mark Serreze, is available now on-line, as are the previous three in full detail as well as "Summaries for Policymakers" and many other interesting and important links which you can skim for things to ponder.
News 19 May 2007: If you remember Marc Sher's amazing Café about the Higgs boson, you may be wondering how the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is coming along. The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert has written well about the machine and its science in the 14 May issue; you can access the article here. Hardware problems have delayed the LHC coming on line until April 2008.
News 1 May 2007: A camel skeleton was found in the site of a future Wal-Mart in Mesa, Arizona. Big news for our southern neighbors but ho-hum for Coloradoans, as we heard recently from Kirk Johnson. Camels are thick on the ground here, especially in Denver (where they are catalogued “by street address rather than GPS coordinates.”) They originated in North America and fossils are found throughout North and South America, even in the Yukon and Alaska. This is one of the few Wal-Mart items not made in China.
News 31 October 2006: It's a go for a September 2008 mission to Hubble, to replace batteries,add some cool new instruments (including the Widefield Camera 3 and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, designed at CU Boulder and built by Ball Aerospace), change the oil, and inflate the tires. Good news! This will keep Hubble operating until 2013, when the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be launched. Full information from NASA here.
News 26 September 2006: Xena the dwarf planet has been renamed Eris (Ee'-riss, after the Greek goddess of discord and strife), and her moon Gabrielle is now Dysnomia (Eris' daughter, another baddie). Whether this is an improvement is hard to say.
News 26 September 2006: David Grinspoon, who spoke at the Café Sci in March 2005, has been awarded the American Astronomical Society’s prestigious Carl Sagan Medal for 2006. David is curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He was honored for his skill in communicating science to the public. Click here for more information.
News 28 August 2006: Pluto is no longer a planet, according to the International Astronomical Union. Within femtoseconds of the announcement, according to astronomers at the Mount Palomar observatory, Pluto disappeared from view. "We knew the IAU is all-powerful," said the Director, "but did not expect this." On the brighter side, he pointed out that Pluto has always been a baleful influence for Scorpios like him, and was hopeful that after all these years he could finally get a date.
But what you lose on the swings you make up on the roundabouts. In the 10 August Nature a group of observers from Taiwan report that radiation from the X-ray source Scorpius X-1 is repeatedly occulted at millisecond intervals. They conclude that the only explanation is that there are numerous trans-neptunian objects, too small to see with telescopes but whizzing in front of the star, out there where Pluto and its friends reside. How many? Maybe 4 quadrillion. That's a lot of planetary schmutz. Maybe New Horizons (all of whose instruments are working well) can get a look at some of it.
News 11 February 2006: Steve Fossett has broken the record for the longest flight in history, traveling 26,389.3 miles in 76 hours 45 minutes. He was forced to land GlobalFlyer at Bournemouth Airport in the UK, just short of his target at Kent International, when his generator failed. He was minutes from being forced to ditch the aircraft when his Mayday call raised ATC at Bournemouth. It was a rough landing: two tires blew and without electricity his windscreen was so heavily iced that he had little visibility. He is apparently in good shape, though pretty tired. The flight began in Florida, crossed the Atlantic, Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, the North Pacific, Mexico, USA, the Atlantic again, and into the southern UK. Steve Fossett is one helluva pilot, besides having done just about everything else. He lives in Beaver Creek. The whole effort was sponsored by Virgin Atlantic; it goes without saying that the plane was designed by Bert Ruttan.
News 15 January 2006: Stardust, the mission that left earth in 1999 to capture samples of a comet, has landed its cargo in the Utah desert this morning, apparently intact. Stardust came within 236 km of comet Wild II, whereupon it extended its detector, about 0.1 cubic meters of Aerogel, an almost weightless silica foam. It may have captured about many minute particles of matter that predate the solar system. Now they have to find them in all that empty gel, and they are asking for interested volunteers. Robots will cut the gel and make the photomicrographs, and send you images to scan. There will be about 2 million pictures so they need volunteers. The project is coordinated at Berkeley, contact them here.
News 25 Dec. 2005: The highest prime so far discovered is 230402457-1. This number has 9.1 milllion digits, so it doesn't win the $100,000 prize for the first prime with 10 million digits. Get out your calculators!
News 20 Dec. 2005: Judge Jones rules for science. You can read his entire opinion in Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District, a 139 page, 310 KB pdf document, here. It is superbly intelligent and you can learn a lot about the scientific method from it. An instant classic, this should be in every classroom.

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