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.

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

Fall 2018 Program

.The seven-week program addresses new issues::

“The Physics of Climate Change”
“Modern Human Evolution and Variation”
“Quantum Mechanics at Work in Technology”

 

When: October 2, 2018 through November 13, 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

Lectures:

 October 2


John Ruhl , Professor of Physics, CWRU,
“The Physics of Climate Change”


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

Climate change may seem hard to to grasp but simple physics shows that the observed human-caused global warming is not surprising or mysterious at all. We’ll look at some basic physical principles and easily understood “back-of-the-envelope” calculations that support this conclusion. We will then use a similar approach to examine far future limits to energy use on Earth.

 

October 9


Cynthia Beall , Sarah Idyll Pyle Professor of Anthropology, Distinguished University Professor, CWRU

“Tracing Evolution:  Where modern human variation comes from and why”

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

Just as people come in a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes, they also exhibit great individual genetic variation affecting features of a seemingly whimsical nature such as the ability to roll our tongues or not. Why is the human race so chockfull of such variation and where does it come from? Science is slowly unraveling both the genetic basis for some of this variability and the influence different environments have had on human diversity as populations have moved around the globe. Recent advances have fine-tuned our ability to pinpoint genetic signatures of these past migrations such that commercial firms now offer customers tantalizing details about their ancestors far more distant that what any of us can reconstruct through genealogy –even to the point of quantifying any Neanderthal ancestry!  

 

October 16


Isaiah Nengo, Turkana Basin Institute

“The Human Race vs Races of Humans: Facts and Fantasies about Genes and Evolution”

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

What does race mean?  Are our cultural notions about it firmly rooted in biology, especially genetics, or is race primarily a social construction built on a few superficial characteristics superimposed on societal shortcomings like inequality and xenophobia? Are subspecies in other animals genetically equivalent to human races? Should fossil forms like Neanderthals be considered different species, or are they biological races distinct from what should properly be considered the one single modern human race alive today? Dr Nengo, a paleobiologist originally hailing from the Luo culture in Kenya, came to the US for a PhD at Harvard and has stayed on ever since –furnishing him with a unique vantage point on this issue. He will lead us through one of the thorniest puzzles confronting humankind today.

 

October 23


Patricia Princehouse, Institute for the Science of Origins and Case Western Reserve University

“Zombie DNA: Why do Vestigial Organs and Genes Persist?””

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

The public imagination often regards the genome as having a normal state that then gets interrupted by various unfortunate mutations. But this misses the forest for the trees! Whatever the first gene was, all subsequent genes are mutated descendants of it. Over evolutionary time these genes have multiplied and turned into a glorious interactive system from which, in the words of Darwin, “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” Darwin pondered the perplexing phenomenon of what he called rudimentary organs –structures that are used by related species but appear to have languished unused or little used for a long period in a species’ evolutionary history. A familiar example is the human appendix. Why do these organs decline? Why don’t they disappear entirely? Discoveries in the late 20thcentury make clear that DNA exhibits the same phenomenon. The genome is riddled with “zombie” DNA such as non-coding sequence repeats and pseudogenes, the remains of once-functional genes that were inactivated by mutation. And, just as Darwin explained for organs, these unused elements often become available for cooptation and recruitment to live once again performing different functions from the originals. 

October 30


Kathy Kash, Professor and Chair of Physics, Case Western Reserve University

“Let there be (Cheap and Efficient) Light: From Quantum Mechanics to Better Light Bulbs”

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. 

Light bulbs today are 10x more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times as long! We have achieved this thanks not only to breakthroughs in engineering but also by harnessing our basic understanding of quantum mechanics. What is an electron, what is a hole, and how do they get together to make light? How do we use our understanding of the quantum world to make semi-conductors, and, in turn, LEDs? 

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November 6


Jesse Beresovsky, Professor of Physics, Case Western Reserve University

“Putting Spooky Quantum Reality to Work with Quantum Computers”

Presented in collaboration with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy

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

Throughout the development of quantum mechanics, Einstein was deeply troubled by an aspect of the theory he called “spooky action at a distance” — the ability to influence instantaneously the outcomes of distant measurements.   Experiments have since demonstrated that this profoundly counterintuitive behavior is real. Now, scientists are working to take these weird quantum effects out of the laboratory and put them to use as the basis for new computing technology, with the potential to be vastly more powerful than today’s computers.

 

November 13


Ken Singer, Professor of Physics, Case Western Reserve University

“Lighting the World of Big Data”

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

Light is our window to the world.  It is a particle and a wave, classical and quantum mechanical. It is familiar, it is mysterious.  It’s old science and new technology.  The advent of quantum mechanics has opened the door to new ways of understanding it and manipulating it including exotic new optical materials that slow it down, make it go in two directions at once, and blur the distinction between matter and light.  It is critical to today’s information technology and promises new approaches to our data driven future -generation, computing, and storage.

 

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