Science Lectures

Pacific Science Center is committed to advancing the public's understanding of science and contributing to the development of a scientifically literate society through programming for people of all ages. As part of that commitment, we support and sponsor a number of lectures in the Seattle area. Some are held at our facility, others are conducted at various locations.

Many of these lectures are closely aligned with Pacific Science Center's Science and Society initiative, which aims to provide our community with innovative opportunities for rich conversation, and sometimes debate, about the current and emerging science topics that are relevant to our lives here in the Pacific Northwest and as citizens of this world.

Here's what's coming up...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 7:30-9 p.m.
Scholar in Residence Dr. David Montgomery: Stories From My Pet RocksZ
Downstairs at Town Hall. Enter on Seneca Street. FREE.

Remember the Pet Rock of the 70’s? That perfect pet “doesn’t need to be fed, walked, bathed, groomed and would not die, become sick, or be disobedient.” While the novelty “toy” is a pop cultural footnote, some of us still love a rock. For many the geologic features of these treasured stones are secondary to the personal stories they tell: where we found them, what we were doing at the time, and who we were with. Join Town Hall Scholar in Residence geologist Dr. David Montgomery and roughly a dozen of his favorite rocks from his personal collection for hands-on encounters as he shares stories (and maybe songs) about the fieldwork that led to them and the geologic story they tell. You too can bring your favorite rock! Drop your name in his hat when you arrive and David will draw out names of people to come on stage and tell it’s story. Presented by: Town Hall, as part of the In Residence program. Series media sponsorship provided by The Stranger’s A&P. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

Thursday, November 7, 2013, 6-7:30 p.m.
Simon Singh: ‘The Simpsons & Their Mathematical Secrets’
Great Hall; enter on Eighth Avenue. $5. Double feature!

Homer’s exasperated “D’oh!” might most popularly define The Simpsons, but Simon Singh says the show is anything but simple: It contains so many mathematical references, they could form the basis of an entire university course. Offering deep insights into the celebrated TV series, Singh, author of the bestseller Big Bang and the new The Simpsons & Their Mathematical Secrets, reveals how the show’s writers (all of whom have advanced science degrees) slip in morsels of number theory and mathematical concepts, from pi and the paradox of infinity to the origin of numbers and the most profound problems that haunt today’s mathematicians. Presented by: Town Hall and Elliott Bay Book Company as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

Monday, November 11, 2013, 7:30-9 p.m.
Lester Brown: ‘Breaking New Ground’ on Food Security
Great Hall; enter on Eighth Avenue. $5.

Global environmental activist Lester Brown, praised by the Washington Post as “one of the world’s most influential thinkers,” built his understanding of food and scarcity issues from the ground up. His father moved from farmhand to owner of a small farm, and as a teenager, Brown created a successful tomato business. Living in India while working for the USDA, he pieced together the clues that would lead him to sound the alarm on an impending famine, and his urgent warning to the U.S. and Indian governments helped save millions of lives. Now, Brown, founder of the Earth Policy and Worldwatch institutes, traces his experiences in the memoir Breaking New Ground, even as he continues to propose pragmatic, employable solutions to stave off pending ecological crises that endanger our planet. Presented by: Town Hall, Sustainable Path Foundation, and University Book Store as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

After the event join Sustainable Path Foundation for a follow up conversation on the role our regional food system plays in food security. Tuesday, Nov. 19. Free ― please RSVP to reserve your space: lee (at) sustainablepath.org.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 7:30-9 p.m.
Chris Hadfield: ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’
Great Hall; enter on Eighth Avenue. $5.

Chris Hadfield decided to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo moon landing with his family when he was 9 years old—and in 2013, he served as commander of the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth during a five-month mission (you might remember his video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, viewed nearly 17 million times). Fulfilling his lifelong dream required intense focus, natural ability, and a singular commitment to “thinking like an astronaut” (instead of visualizing victory, astronauts prepare for the worst … and always sweat the small stuff). Now Hadfield, author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, shares a rare insider’s perspective of just what that kind of thinking involves, and how earthbound humans can use it to achieve success and happiness in their own lives. Presented by: Town Hall in partnership with the Museum of Flight and University Book Store as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

Friday, November 15, 2013, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Joshua Greene: ‘Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them’
Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

Our brains were designed for tribal life, for joining with a select group of peers (Us) and for fighting off everyone else (Them). But modern times have forced the world’s tribes into a shared space, resulting in epic clashes of values and unprecedented opportunities. In a grand synthesis of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, Greene, author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, focuses on the interplay between emotion and reasoning in decision-making. Greene reveals the underlying causes of modern conflict and offers a set of maxims for navigating the modern moral terrain —  a practical road map for solving problems and living better lives. Moral Tribes shows us when to trust our instincts, when to reason, and how these forces, when joined, can move us forward. Presented by:Town Hall and The Elliott Bay Book Co. as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Uri Gneezy: The Hidden Power of the Economics of Everyday Life
Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

As Seattle experiences a wave of labor unrest over the long-stagnant Federal minimum wage, behavioral economist Uri Gneezy arrives to examine the power of economic incentives to spur people to achieve, pointing to solutions to today’s most complex and troubling problems such as the gap between rich and poor students, the violence plaguing inner-city schools, discrimination, and the relative competitiveness of men and women. Gneezy, co-author of The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life, along with his partner John List, embedded themselves in the factories, communities and shops where real people work, live, and play to show the power of economic incentives to create positive outcomes. The result will revolutionize the way you identify and act on problems large and small. Presented by: Town Hall in partnership and University Book Store as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 7:30-9 p.m.
Fred Vogelstein and Jay Greene: Apple and Google’s Technology War
Downstairs at Town Hall; Enter on Seneca Street. $5.

Fred Vogelstein author of "Dogfight" about Apple vs Google In the tug-of-war between Apple and Google, who will win? Vogelstein’s new book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution takes a look behind the scenes of the struggle between these two technology giants. An editor of Wired, Vogelstein has been following their newest releases, as well as the rippling effects they’ve had on other members of the industry for years. He highlights how with every new release from these major players, it becomes clear that the battle is not only for control of technology, but of the content within. By tracking the battle to date and speculating on their future relationships with companies such as Seattle’s very own Microsoft, Vogelstein gives unprecedented commentary about their unfolding trajectory. Vogelstein will appear in conversation with Jay Greene, Seattle Times business reporter and former Seattle bureau chief of BusinessWeek. Presented by: Town Hall and Elliott Bay Book Company as part of The Seattle Science Lectures, sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU. Tickets at townhallseattle.org.