Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Week of Science

Science is awesome. Scientists are awesome. I've been binge-watching Neil dGrasse Tyson YouTubes since Sunday.

On Sunday, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted the re-launch of Cosmos, a beautiful re-visioning of Carl Sagan's 35-year-old original; both open on a sea cliff near Carmel, CA, so there's kind of a local connection. Dr. Tyson flew around in a little capsule that reminded me of a cross between Flight of the Navigator and Count Dooku's solar sailer from Star Wars (I don't recall seeing the outside of Sagan's ship): fantastic imagery and story-telling. Can't wait for episode 2. Way better than Downton.

On Monday, Dr. Randy Schekman, cell biologist and Nobel laureate, gave this year's Brizendine Visiting Scholars talk about protein secretions in yeast cells. Nerdy? You bet, but not unfathomable. Dr. Schekman traced the path of proteins thru a series of organelles inside a cell, and described the process he explored using yeast cells. I asked my co-worked what he thought, and he said, "He lost me." Hmm. Not a real nerd.

On Wednesday, Dr. Dan Siegel, psychiatrist and professor at UCLA and founder of the Mindsight Institute, spoke about being an adolescent. Speaking as he was to an audience full of adolescents, he carefully crafted a description of the adolescent brain and the changes in development of the various structures inside it. He used a kind acronym of "essence":

  • emotional spark, social engagement, novelty, and creative exploration

to frame the areas of brain growth that are happening - not as nerdy, but illuminating for students and teachers alike.