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Lectures «Ńaltech.Edu»

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Mon, 07 Jan 2019 18:59:31 +0000
Caltech News tagged with "lecture"
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Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:30:00 +0000
Watson Lecture Preview: The Long-Run Behavior of Random Walks
photo of Omer Tamuz
Omer Tamuz
Credit: Caltech

Random walks—trajectories formed by successions of random steps—have been studied for more than a hundred years as important models in physics, computer science, finance, and economics, and as interesting mathematical objects in their own right. Still, many simple questions remain unanswered, and are the subject of current research. During his January 16 Watson Lecture, Omer Tamuz, this year's Biedebach Memorial Lecturer, will describe some classical results, introduce random walks on groups and graphs, present a few open questions regarding their long-run behavior, and talk about the solution to a longstanding problem as well as a surprising connection to economics. 

Tamuz is an assistant professor of economics and mathematics at Caltech whose research focuses on microeconomic theory, including game theory, learning and information as well as probability, ergodic theory, and group theory. He also studies machine  learning and statistics. Tamuz received his bachelor's degree in computer science and physics from Tel Aviv University in 2006 and his PhD in mathematics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2013. From 2013 until 2015, Tamuz was a Schramm Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT math department / Microsoft Research.

The lecture—which will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, in Beckman Auditorium—is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.

Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's YouTube site.

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Thu, 25 Oct 2018 20:58:52 +0000
World’s Deepest-Penetration and Fastest Optical Cameras
Caltech’s Lihong Wang will discuss his development of photoacoustic tomography during his November 28 Watson Lecture.
image
An image created using photoacoustic computed tomography, a technique that could one day replace mammograms for finding breast cancer.
Credit: Li Lin and Lihong V. Wang

Lihong Wang, whose Watson Lecture will be held on November 28, will discuss the development of photoacoustic tomography, which allows scientists to peer deep into biological tissue. He will also talk about his lab's development of compressed ultrafast photography that records 10 trillion frames per second. At 10 orders of magnitude faster than commercially available technologies, it can capture light propagation, the fastest phenomenon in the universe.

Wang is the Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering in Caltech's Division of Engineering and Applied Science. His research focuses on developing novel biomedical imaging techniques with applications for early cancer detection, surgical guidance, and brain imaging. His team has also developed the world's fastest camera, capable of capturing light-speed phenomena in real time. Wang's Monte Carlo model of photon transport in scattering media is used worldwide as a standard tool. He received his bachelor's degree (1984) and his master's degree (1987) from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and his PhD (1992) from Rice University. He joined Caltech as a Bren Professor in 2017.

The lecture—which will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28, in Beckman Auditorium—is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.

Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's YouTube site.

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Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:09:24 +0000
From “Tycho’s Star” to Shakespeare’s Page
Caltech's Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences presents “The Science of Shakespeare,” a talk by author Dan Falk
News Writer: 
Elise Cutts
Image of William Shakespeare
In his talk, “The Science of Shakespeare,” Falk examined the playwright’s work in the context of the Scientific Revolution to determine what English literature’s most towering figure might have thought or known about astronomy.

The late 16th century saw scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo Galilei radically upset the way people understood their place in the world and in the universe. William Shakespeare, who was born a little over two decades after the death of Copernicus, lived through this transformation ... but did he notice?

On Wednesday, October 17, Caltech's Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, as part of its James Michelin Distinguished Visitors Program, hosted a public talk from award-winning journalist Dan Falk. In his talk, "The Science of Shakespeare," Falk examined the playwright's work in the context of the Scientific Revolution to determine just what English literature's most towering figure might have thought or known about astronomy.

Falk's talk began with a timeline of the important scientific discoveries of the late 16th century superimposed over the span of Shakespeare's life. The talk wove clips from film productions of King Lear and Hamlet together with the discoveries of Copernicus, Brahe, Galileo, and Thomas Digges, illustrating little-known links between their astronomical discoveries and Shakespeare's plays.

As it turns out, Falk argued, Shakespeare was more attuned to the science of his day than many might imagine; he wove everything from Brahe's famously observed supernova to the Galilean moons of Jupiter into his works, and praised the rise of rationalism against traditional mysticism. Still, Shakespeare's references to Galileo and Copernicus appear in his plays only sparsely, interspersed between lines concerned with medieval pseudosciences like astrology and alchemy.

"So, what kind of person was Shakespeare?" Falk asked. Was he stuck in the medieval world? Or was he a more modern thinker influenced by the rapid scientific developments of his time? By the end of the night, Falk's answer was clear: "He was somewhere in the middle."

Falk is a Toronto-based journalist and author interested in physics, astronomy, and science in general. The Science of Shakespeare, upon which his talk was based, is his third book.

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Mon, 02 Jul 2018 22:59:52 +0000
Space Solar Power: A New Beginning
Caltech’s Sergio Pellegrino will discuss his work on the Caltech Space Solar Power Project during his October 31 Watson Lecture.
photo of Sergio Pellegrino
Sergio Pellegrino

In 1968, Peter Glaser, the father of space solar power, envisaged kilometer-scale space systems comprising solar collectors and transmitting antennas that would beam power to the earth from geostationary orbit, but that dream has remained elusive. Until now.

In his October 31 Watson Lecture, the first in the 2018–19 series, Caltech's Sergio Pellegrino will discuss the Caltech Space Solar Power Project's pursuit to conceive, design, and demonstrate a scalable vision for a constellation of ultralight modular spacecraft that collect sunlight, transform it into electrical power, and wirelessly beam that electricity to the earth. The basic module of this future solar power system is a giant coilable structure that elastically deploys after launch into orbit and is made of paper-thin materials of high stiffness.

Pellegrino is the Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist, and co-director of the Space Solar Power Project. He is president of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS). Pellegrino's research focuses on lightweight structures and particularly on problems involving packaging, deployment, shape control, and stability of space structures. He received his Laurea degree from the University of Naples in 1982 and his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1986. He has been a Caltech professor since 2007 and a Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior research scientist since 2009. He began his work on space-based solar power in 2014.

The lecture—which will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, in Beckman Auditorium—is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.

Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's YouTube site.

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Fri, 11 May 2018 16:39:16 +0000
Von Kármán Lecture Series Comes to Caltech
Series highlights space missions and technology
image
Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series, named after JPL's founder and presented by JPL's Office of Communication and Education, is coming to Ramo Auditorium on the Caltech campus starting in July.

Each lecture in this free monthly series—which highlights new developments in space research, exploration, and technologies—is presented twice, with the first night's lecture being held at JPL's Theodore von Kármán Auditorium and the second night's lecture being held in Ramo Auditorium on the Caltech campus. The second-night lectures were previously held at Pasadena City College. 

July's lecture, "Walking on Mars," will be delivered in the Theodore von Kármán Auditorium on Thursday, July 12, at 7 p.m.; it will be followed by the inaugural Theodore von Kármán Lecture in Ramo Auditorium on Friday, July 13, at 7 p.m. 

"Our signature Von Kármán Lecture Series has served as a great venue for sharing our story of exploration with audiences over the years," says JPL director and Caltech vice president Michael Watkins. "Bringing these lectures to campus is a natural opportunity to highlight how many scientific and technological advancements have flourished from JPL's earliest days through our partnership with Caltech. I would like to thank Pasadena City College for its wonderful collaboration over the past two decades of hosting the lecture series."

This summer's lectures will be: 

  • "Walking on Mars," on July 12 and 13: Victor Luo, operations laboratory lead at JPL, along with a panel of JPL researchers, will focus on how virtual and augmented reality technologies are transforming space exploration.  
  • "Spitzer Beyond: The Incredible Continuing Adventures of the Spitzer Space Telescope," on August 9 and 10: Sean Carey, manager of the Spitzer Science Center, will discuss the novel engineering feats that have made the extended operation of Spitzer possible and will look at some of the technical challenges that remain.
  • "NASA@60: The Role of the Robots," on September 6 and 7: this panel discussion will look back over decades of advances in robotic exploration and look ahead at what is coming next.

The Theodore von Kármán Lectures are free and open to the public. For more about this series, visit the lecture series site on JPL's website. 

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Thu, 03 May 2018 21:03:23 +0000
Talking to Cells: Watson Lecture Preview
Mikhail Shapiro will discuss the challenges associated with treating patients with engineered cells
News Writer: 
Sharon Kaplan
Mikhail Shapiro
Mikhail Shapiro

Treating patients with engineered cells may one day become as common as treating them with drugs is now. As therapeutic agents, cells are much more sophisticated than simple molecules: they can be engineered to migrate to sites of disease, sense their local environment, make logical decisions, multiply themselves, release therapeutic molecules, and self-destruct. However, there are no effective ways to monitor their location in the body or tell them where to perform their therapeutic functions.

During his May 23 Biedebach Memorial Lecture of the Watson Lecture series, Mikhail Shapiro—who is an assistant professor of chemical engineering and a Schlinger Scholar at Caltech as well as a Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator—will discuss solutions to this problem, including developing molecular "communications equipment" that will use methods such as ultrasound to remotely monitor cells' activity and give them commands deep inside the body.

Shapiro's group develops molecular technologies for noninvasive imaging and control of cellular function, and uses these technologies to study basic biology and create cellular diagnostics and therapeutics. By using various forms of energy—from magnetic to mechanical, thermal, and chemical—Shapiro and his colleagues pursue fundamental advances at the interface of molecular and cellular engineering and physics.

Shapiro received his bachelor's degree from Brown University in 2004 and his PhD from MIT in 2008. Shapiro became an assistant professor at Caltech in 2014.

Shapiro's Biedebach Memorial Lecture will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, in Beckman Auditorium, and is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.

Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's YouTube site.

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Fri, 20 Apr 2018 22:08:49 +0000
Caltech, The Huntington to Celebrate Frankenstein's 200th Anniversary with Conference
The event includes discussions of the novel's history and the lessons it holds for modern society
News Writer: 
Emily Velasco
Drawing of Victor Frankenstein working on his monster. A skeleton lies on the table in front of him
Victor Frankenstein works on his creation in this artist's rendering.

The annals of science fiction are filled with tales of creations turning against their masters: HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Skynet of the Terminator films, the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, and, of course, the granddaddy of them all: Frankenstein's monster.

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist driven to create artificial life in the wake of his mother's death. When he finally succeeds, he is horrified to see he has created a ghastly being rather than the thing of beauty he envisioned. Spurned by his creator and rejected by humanity, the creature comes to exact his revenge.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the novel's publication. To celebrate, Caltech, The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, the Keats-Shelley Association, and the Byron Society of America have organized Frankenstein: Then and Now, 1818–2018, a three-day symposium that will include discussions by scholars and scientists about the cultural milieu in which the novel was published, the science described in the novel, and the ethical questions humanity should be asking itself as it continues to develop technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.

"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the rare novel that has become modern myth, endlessly adapted in popular culture, and retold for contemporary occasions even as it remains compelling in its original narrative form," says Caltech's Kevin Gilmartin, professor of English, who is part of the symposium organizing team. "The conference will provide critics, artists, and scientists an opportunity to reflect on some contemporary implications of Frankenstein."

The conference is preceded by a keynote lecture by David Baltimore, Nobel Prize-winning Caltech president emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology. Baltimore's lecture will look at the development of biological technologies, like genetic engineering, and their potential for allowing humans to one day create new life from scratch.

"Frankenstein's creation of a monster is a literary precursor of these abilities, which may have seemed like total science fiction 200 years ago but are now easily imaginable," Baltimore says.

The lecture will be held Thursday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. at The Huntington's Rothenberg Hall. It is free to attend, but registration is required.

The conference will be held at The Huntington and begins Friday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m. Activities are scheduled throughout the day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For a full schedule and to purchase conference tickets, click here.

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Fri, 13 Apr 2018 21:41:21 +0000
First-ever McConnell Lecture to be Given at Caltech April 24
Stanford chemist and Nobel laureate William E. Moerner will give inaugural lecture
News Writer: 
Shayna Chabner McKinney
Nobel laureate William E. Moerner
Nobel laureate William E. Moerner
Credit: Kevin Lowder

A collection of former students, research associates, colleagues, and family members joined together to establish, in 2017, the Harden M. McConnell Lectureship at Caltech. The annual lectureship, named in honor of McConnell (PhD '51)—who taught at Caltech for more than a decade and is widely recognized as one of the leading physical and biophysical chemists—aims to bring to the campus outstanding scientists to present on physical chemistry research.

The first McConnell Lecture will be given by Stanford chemist and Nobel laureate William E. Moerner on April 24. Sunney Chan—an honorary Caltech alumnus, supporter of the lectureship fund, former master of student houses, and currently Caltech's George Grant Hoag Professor of Biophysical Chemistry, Emeritus—will present opening remarks. Chan credits McConnell with dramatically altering the course of Chan's career by encouraging him to come to Caltech in the early 1960s.

"Harden McConnell was a remarkable scientist," said Jacqueline K. Barton, Caltech's John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry and holder of the Norman Davidson Leadership Chair in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. "His contributions to physical chemistry were extraordinary, and much of his work and ideas are still practiced today.

"This lectureship is a fitting way to honor [McConnell] and to celebrate Caltech's great legacy of research and teaching in chemistry," Barton added. "We thank our alumni and friends who wanted to give back for making it possible."

For more about McConnell and the endowed lectureship, please read more on the Break Through campaign website.

 

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Fri, 13 Apr 2018 16:17:05 +0000
Caltech Kicks Off TeachWeek 2018
Annual event focuses on ways to celebrate and improve teaching
News Writer: 
Jon Nalick
TeachWeek focuses on Caltech's recent efforts to create an innovative learning environment that changes the world through unique teaching techniques.
TeachWeek focuses on Caltech's recent efforts to create an innovative learning environment that changes the world through unique teaching techniques.
Credit: Christophe Marcadé for Caltech Astronomy Outreach

TeachWeek 2018, a weeklong, campus-wide event designed to provide a forum on diverse and effective teaching practices at Caltech, kicks off April 23 with lectures, open classes, and a photographic exhibit looking back at 100 years of Caltech education.

Created by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach (CTLO) in 2015, the event, which runs through April 27, is open to professors, graduate and undergraduate students, staff, postdocs, alumni, and other friends of Caltech interested in learning new methods for improving classroom education.

"Teaching is an activity that goes on behind closed classroom doors," says Cassandra Horii, CTLO director. "But TeachWeek literally opens those doors: we have open classes throughout the week where faculty and instructors invite guests to sit in and experience different approaches to teaching across the divisions. This builds an active, vocal, and visible community around this important part of Caltech's mission."

This year's events will feature keynotes by Shirley Malcom, a Caltech trustee and director of education and human resources programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and James Lang, author of multiple books and a monthly column in TheChronicle of Higher Education. Malcom will deliver her talk, "We Were Never Taught to Teach: Knowing Better, Doing Better," on Tuesday, April 24, at 4 p.m. in the Beckman Institute Auditorium. Lang will close the week's events with his talk, "Small Teaching: From Minor Changes to Major Learning," on Friday, April 27, at noon in Dabney Lounge.

On Monday, April 23, CTLO will open its display of more than 100 modern-day and archival images and manuscripts related to teaching, including examples of Nobel laureates' class notes, early problem set drafts and revisions, and the very first chemistry labs at Throop University together with recent views of classes, labs, and field-based and informal teaching. The display will be in the Center for Student Services, 3rd Floor, Brennan Conference Room, from noon to 1 p.m.

"Visitors will really get a chance to reflect on what has changed and what has not—sometimes in surprising ways—about teaching and writing at Caltech through the years," Horii notes.

She adds that the weeklong effort aims to inspire teachers. "We hope this enables faculty and TAs to exchange ideas and try new approaches year-round."

A complete schedule of the week's events can be found here.

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Negotiations and Group Decisions: Passing Bills with Backroom Deals
Watson Lecture Preview
Marina Agranov
Marina Agranov

Group decisions often involve the allocation of scarce resources among members with conflicting interests. Negotiations are part and parcel of such decisions, as they create a natural arena for informal agreements and quid pro quo deals. Do these deals help or hurt the bargaining process? How should legislative decision making be designed to be more efficient?

In her April 25 Watson Lecture, Marina Agranov, professor of economics in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech, will illustrate how the structure and rules of the negotiation process impact how money gets distributed. She will explore these and related questions using the tools of economic theory and experimental economics.

This work is part of Agranov's research into the ways in which communication affects outcomes in various strategic environments. Her work combines theory and experiments to study how institutions affect credible transmission of information.

Agranov received her bachelor's degree from St. Petersburg State Technical University in 1999, her master's degree from Tel Aviv University in 2004, and her PhD from New York University in 2010. She joined Caltech that same year as an assistant professor, and was named professor in 2017.

The lecture—which will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, in Beckman Auditorium—is a free event; no tickets or reservations are required.


Named for the late Caltech professor Earnest C. Watson, who founded the series in 1922, the Watson Lectures present Caltech and JPL researchers describing their work to the public. Many past Watson Lectures are available online at Caltech's YouTube site.

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