Date: Wednesday February 22, 2012
Time: 8pm
Location: Genna’s Lounge (map)

Lasers in Science Fiction: Can they really DO that???

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Summary: When Goldfinger threatened to slice 007 in half with a laser, did James really need to fear for his junk? Could you really see a phaser beam when it’s fired? Could the Death Star really have blown up Alderaan, and come to think of it, can laser beams actually bend like that? Answers to these questions and more, plus plenty of videos of lasers blowing stuff up. You might even learn a bit of physics along the way, and I promise it will be totally equation-free!

Presenter bio: Jennifer Laaser is a grad student in physical chemistry at UW-Madison, where she spends most of her day playing with (guess what?) lasers. Contrary to popular wisdom, her last name has nothing to do with her choice of research topics, thought it is handy for helping people remember who she is!


Giants with Many Arms: Living, fossil, and mythic enormous squids

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Summary: Enormous squids have inspired lore throughout history, from ancient myths to modern media hype. What are giant squids really like? Did their extinct kin also evolve into giants? What is the key to their monstrous growth? When will they strike next? Find out here!

Presenter bio: George Rothdrake is a non-cephalopod animal who loves the the living world. When not investigating and whipping up mass enthusiasm for a variety of earthly creatures, he busies himself working at grocery co-ops.


From Myth to Reason: The Earliest Greek Philosophers and the Always Amazing but Sometimes Crazy things they Said

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Summary: Before Socrates, Plato and Aristotle set the stage for the next thousand years of philosophical and scientific inquiry, a handful of even earlier Greek thinkers, sometimes referred to as the Pre-Socratics, paved the way by developing new ways of explaining the world around them. This talk will examine what they had to say, what effect it had on their successors, what relevance it still has for us today, and why it is that we think of the Pre-Socratics as the first “masters of rational thought.”

Presenter bio: Tim Aylsworth is a graduate student in philosophy at UW. He specializes in the history of philosophy with a particular emphasis on 17th and 18th century thinkers. When not pondering the perennial questions of philosophy, he likes to nerd out about language (he’s an aspiring polyglot), history, music, and whatever else he can get his nerdy hands on.