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OSS Current Course on Campus

The Institute for the Science of Origins is excited to sponsor the Origins Science Scholars Program for the general public at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

red-rectangle-join-us-button-hiDuring this unique program, members of the community engage with each other and with leading scholars of the origins sciences to investigate everything from the big bang to the developing mind and emerging life. Each evening begins with a presentation by a world-class researcher, followed by dinner and open discussion among all the participants.

We are excited to share unique and challenging perspectives and hope to leave participants better educated about origins research and the Institute for the Science of Origins.

This Spring we are delighted to join with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy to bring you a special 3-part series on circadian rhythm.

We look forward to seeing you!

Click here to see videos of past OSS lectures!
Click here to register online
To register by phone: Call Felicia at 216-368-2090

Spring 2018 Program

.The seven-week program addresses new issues::

“Ape and Human Evolution”
“Extreme Materials”
“The Rhythms of Life”


When: Apr 17, 2018 through May 29, 2018
Where: Sessions will be held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Schedule:       Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8 p.m.
5:30-6 p.m. – Coffee and cookies
6-7 p.m. – Lecture and Q&A
7-8 p.m. – Dinner and discussion


 April 17

Isaiah Nengo, Turkana Basin Institute, “Finding Alesi: The Story of a New Infant Ancestor”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

In 2015, paleoanthropologist Isaiah Nengo and fossil hunter John Ekusi discovered the complete skull of a baby ape in Kenya’s Turkana Basin. 13 million years ago a nearby volcano erupted and buried the forest where the baby ape lived, preserving the fossil and countless trees. It also provided us with the critical volcanic minerals needed to reliably date the fossil. The species may well be the ancestor of all living great apes and humans. The little creature, whose skull is roughly the size of a lemon, came from a family known as the nyanzapithecines. All humans and apes alive today come from a common lineage, but until now paleontologists had only managed to trace that line back about 10 million years ago so it was unclear what our ancestors looked liked further back, and if they originated in Africa or elsewhere. The discovery of Alesi shows that this group was close to the origin of living apes and humans and that this origin was African. Perhaps equally remarkable is the unprecedented cutting-edge technology pioneered by Nengo’s team to analyze the fossil. Joining forces with physicist Paul Tafforeau at the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a complete micron-level scan of the head was achieved, down to each layer of enamel laid down in Alesi’s teeth. This has permitted paleoanthropologists access to kinds of data never before available for a fossil hominoid specimen. Come hear about this amazing ape and its amazing discovery!

April 24 -NOTE NEW DATE!

Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“New Hominin Discoveries from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia”

This session will be held in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Famed paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie is internationally celebrated for his unique ability to understand our primate ancestors, unearth them from ancient sediments, analyze their anatomy and environmental context, and reconstruct their bodies and their lives. Discoverer of the 4.4 million-year-old species Ardipithecus ramidus, among many other famous specimens, CMNH’s curator of physical anthropology continues to make headlines with more and more discoveries from Ethiopia of our evolutionary ancestors. Join us to hear the most up-to-date report of his recent discoveries!

May 1

Nandini Trivedi, The Ohio State University

“The Quantum Dance of Matter: Pairing and Superconductivity”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

How do electrons and atoms get organized at very low temperatures and how do new phases of matter emerge? Pairs of electrons (or other similar particles) become bound together at low temperatures in a manner first described in 1956 by American physicist Leon Cooper. Cooper showed that even a very small attraction between electrons in a metal can cause pairs of them to bind together and achieve an unusually low energy. These “Cooper pairs” are responsible for superconductivity, as first understood by Cooper, and his colleagues John Bardeen  and John Schrieffer, for which they shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in physics. Following along these lines, Dr Trivedi will focus on the effects of interactions in certain “exotic” cold materials, including ultracold atoms that can be trapped and organized using light. The basic idea is to understand how electrons and atoms get organized at very low temperatures and how that enables completely new phases of matter to emerge as a result of the marvels of quantum mechanics.   Rumor has it that Dr. Trivedi will attempt to perform actual experiments for us during the lecture! 


 Harsh Mathur, Case Western Reserve University

“Understanding Extreme Materials”

This session will be held at Tinkham Veale University Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

Extreme materials are more and more in the news. Increasingly we hear about breakthroughs in “superconductors” and now “superfluids.” The electrical resistance of an ordinary metallic conductor decreases gradually as temperature is lowered. In ordinary conductors, such as copper, this decrease is limited by impurities and other defects in the material. Even near absolute zero, a normal conductor shows some resistance. In a superconductor, the resistance drops abruptly to exactly zero when the material is cooled below a critical temperature. This can only happen because of the marvels of quantum mechanics. Similar in concept, a superfluid can flow with absolutely no viscosity, and so without any loss of energy. When stirred, a superfluid forms vortices that continue to rotate indefinitely. Superfluids are normally observed when certain liquids are cooled to near absolute zero, but  superfluidity is also expected to be a property of other exotic states of matter theorized to exist in astrophysics, high-energy physics, and theories of quantum gravity.

May 15

Peter Harte, Case Western Reserve University

“Discovering the Rhythms of Life”

Presented in collaboration with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. 

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for discovering how fruit flies sleep! More specifically, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young elucidated the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm. During the 1970’s, Seymour Benzer and his student Ronald Konopka asked whether it would be possible to identify genes that control the circadian rhythm in fruit flies. They demonstrated that mutations in an unknown gene disrupted the circadian clock of flies. They named this gene “period.” But how could this gene influence circadian rhythm? A decade later, Hall, Rosbash and Young discovered how the clock actually works and succeeded in isolating the period gene. Hall and Rosbash then went on to discover that PER, the protein encoded by period, accumulates during the night and is degraded during the day. Thus, the PER protein levels oscillate over a 24-hour cycle, in synchrony with circadian rhythm. Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.


May 22

Fred Turek, Northwestern University

“Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Your Health”

Presented in collaboration with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy

This session will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Is sleep a manifestation of the mind or the brain? It turns out there are genes that interact in complex ways to regulate sleep and circadian rhythms in humans and other animals. And these complexities can affect our health in unforeseen ways. In fact, the neurochemical, molecular, and cellular events involved in the expression of circadian rhythms arise from a central biological clock located in the brain’s hypothalamus. When you sleep and wake can regulate the timing of the circadian clock. Advanced age or unusual sleep-wake patterns -such as among shift workers- can interrupt behavioral and endocrine rhythms, and the expression of circadian clock genes, especially through the role of melatonin. Such disruptions can lead to peripheral and central nervous disorders and other diseases -even including effects on the intestinal microbiota. Come learn about how sleep affects your health!


May 29

Kingman Strohl, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals

“Sleep and the Evolution of Circadian Rhythm”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

All animals sleep. It seems paradoxical that with life as precarious as it is, humans  spend a third of their lives out of touch with their surroundings. It seems downright dangerous for small mammals. How could such a thing evolve? Even weirder, a few species have evolved the ability to sleep with one half their brain at a time so they can remain awake in the other half and keep an eye out for predators. Contrary to popular belief, sleep is not over-rated. In fact, sleep is so important to our physiology that prolonged sleep deprivation results in death. The rotation of the earth on its axis influences the physiology of all organisms and has played a vital role in the evolution of sleep and affects our daily lives in ways we may not suspect! 


Many Thanks! 

The ISO Origins Science Scholars Program is presented in cooperation with Case Western Reserve University’s College of Arts and Sciences and The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and taped and broadcast in cooperation with CWRU’s MediaVision and IdeaStream.


Learn more:

For more information about the program, you can:
Download the Origins Science Scholars brochure

Click here to register online.
To register by phone: Call Felicia at 216-368-2090



Page last modified: April 24, 2018