Science Café Program

The LRSM, through the NSF-supported Penn MRSEC, continues a series of Science Cafés that began in 2011 to promote NOVA’s four part TV series on materials, ‘Making Stuff with David Pogue,’ on public television. The Science Cafés, which are science talks for laymen about materials-related topic of current interest, will take place at 7:30 pm at Stoney’s British Pub, 3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington DE and The Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, at 6:00 pm.

These programs are free and anyone who is interested is invited to attend. No purchase is necessary.

For further information contact:

Andrew R. McGhie at
215-898-6461
mcghie@lrsm.upenn.edu

Current Schedule

April 25, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Dillon Brout / Shedding Light on Dark Energy and the Current Crisis in Cosmology Dillon Brout
PhD Candidate and NASA Einstein Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
Shedding Light on Dark Energy and the Current Crisis in Cosmology
 

Cosmologists, scientists who study the origin and evolution of our universe, are completely in the dark. 95% of all energy/matter in the universe remains mysterious, that being Dark Energy and Dark Matter. If this alone was not enough cause for concern, furthermore, measurements of our baby universe shortly after it was born (14 billion years ago) do not agree with measurements of the universe today. So cosmologists are in a crisis, and we are considering a complete rethinking of gravity, Einstein’s 4D space-time continuum, particle physics, or the Big Bang itself, to explain our perplexing measurements. It is entirely possible that a revolution in our understanding of the cosmos is around the corner, for which a Nobel prize will most certainly be awarded. I will discuss how state of the art projects that I’ve led at UPenn using supernovae and colliding neutron stars discovered with a telescope called the Dark Energy Camera have contributed to this heated discussion.


March 13, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Paulo E. Arratia / Fluid Mechanics of Reproduction Paulo E. Arratia
Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania
Fluid Mechanics of Reproduction
 

Successful conception requires that a mature sperm arrive at the site of fertilization. This journey is quite complex and necessitates coordinated activity of motile sperm cells, muscular contractions of the uterus and oviduct, as well as ciliary beating. In this talk, I will focus on an important but not often discussed part of the fertilization process, namely how sperm cells swim and interact with its environment as they progress from the insemination site through the cervix into the uterus. Recent developments in the field suggest that one can tune the environment to improve sperm motility and possibly fertilization rates.


March 11, 2019
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Dr. Samantha Cox / Forensic Anthropology: Exhumation & Identification of America’s First Serial Killer Dr. Samantha Cox
University of Pennsylvania Museum
Forensic Anthropology: Exhumation & Identification of America’s First Serial Killer
 

The subject of, and inspiration for, numerous books, movies, and TV shows, the infamous H.H. Holmes is widely regarded as America’s first serial killer. Hanged for murder in Philadelphia, in 1896, and recently most recognizable as “The Devil” in Erik Larson’s best-selling book The Devil in the White City, mystery has shrouded H.H. Holme’s life and death since he first became a national phenomenon in the late 19th century. Buried in a block of concrete, Holmes has long been rumored to have secretly conspired to escape execution, and in 2017 the grave was excavated and the remains exhumed for forensic investigation. Using modern archaeological, anthropological, forensic, and DNA techniques, we analyzed every aspect of Holmes in an attempt to definitively identify the body found in his grave. Come out to learn about forensic archaeology and how history and technology helped us to unravel Holmes’ last conspiracy.


February 19, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Gene Mele / Topological Insulators: Mind the Gap Gene Mele
Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
Topological Insulators: Mind the Gap
 

What is a topological insulator? What is its relation to the iconic warning posted on the London tube? And how about Brexit? Get behind a pint for a wide ranging discussion of these questions and other reflections on the harmonies of topological states of matter.


February 18, 2019
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Paulo E. Arratia / Fluid Mechanics of Reproduction Paulo E. Arratia
Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania
Fluid Mechanics of Reproduction
 

Successful conception requires that a mature sperm arrive at the site of fertilization. This journey is quite complex and necessitates coordinated activity of motile sperm cells, muscular contractions of the uterus and oviduct, as well as ciliary beating. In this talk, I will focus on an important but not often discussed part of the fertilization process, namely how sperm cells swim and interact with its environment as they progress from the insemination site through the cervix into the uterus. Recent developments in the field suggest that one can tune the environment to improve sperm motility and possibly fertilization rates.


January 30, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Dr. Samantha Cox / Forensic Anthropology: Exhumation & Identification of America’s First Serial Killer Dr. Samantha Cox
University of Pennsylvania Museum
Forensic Anthropology: Exhumation & Identification of America’s First Serial Killer
 

The subject of, and inspiration for, numerous books, movies, and TV shows, the infamous H.H. Holmes is widely regarded as America’s first serial killer. Hanged for murder in Philadelphia, in 1896, and recently most recognizable as “The Devil” in Erik Larson’s best-selling book The Devil in the White City, mystery has shrouded H.H. Holme’s life and death since he first became a national phenomenon in the late 19th century. Buried in a block of concrete, Holmes has long been rumored to have secretly conspired to escape execution, and in 2017 the grave was excavated and the remains exhumed for forensic investigation. Using modern archaeological, anthropological, forensic, and DNA techniques, we analyzed every aspect of Holmes in an attempt to definitively identify the body found in his grave. Come out to learn about forensic archaeology and how history and technology helped us to unravel Holmes’ last conspiracy.


December 19, 2018
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Mark Yim / Innovation in Drones: The World's Smallest Drone. Mark Yim
Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania
Innovation in Drones: The World's Smallest Drone.
 

In 2017, Piccoli and Yim received the world record for the smallest self-powered drone at 39mm. How does it work and how did we get there? Over about 10 years and many dozens of prototypes we learned about what doesn’t work. We will talk about simplifying mechanisms, rotational dynamics, passive stability, and the physics of engineering small flying devices to be controllable. Along the way we will talk about under-actuated helicopters and show videos of a variety of other flying and transforming robots.


December 10, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Dr. Noah Clay / Nanotechnology in Nature, Ancient Times, Today and Beyond Dr. Noah Clay
Director, Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility, PENN
Nanotechnology in Nature, Ancient Times, Today and Beyond
 

Nanotechnology is a relatively new field encompassing human made objects that are so small that they can not be seen with the naked eye. In the past few decades, advances in nanotechnology have enabled seamless use of electronics in our everyday lives and is the focus of a great deal of research in basic science, engineering and medicine. However, nanomaterials had been used unknowingly by humans for millennia to construct porcelain coatings, paints, dyes, swords, stained glass and sculpture. These early uses of nanotechnology were undoubtedly inspired by nature: bright colors in flowers, spider’s silk, gecko’s feet, shells, butterfly wings and lotus flowers. In this talk, I will connect the objects we see in nature with ancient uses, today’s nano-devices and provide thoughts on where this incredible field will further impact our lives in the next decades.


November 28, 2018
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Marija Drndić / The Hole Story: Ions and Molecules in Very Small Holes Marija Drndić
Fay R. & Eugene L. Langberg Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania
The Hole Story: Ions and Molecules in Very Small Holes
 

In this talk, I will tell you about how we can make and investigate tiny (few-atoms large) holes to detect, analyze and filter small molecules. Beyond basic science, this is relevant for many practical areas including personalized medicine (DNA and protein sequencing, detection of biomarkers in blood), and also other fields including filtering and desalinating water, and even efficient energy applications.


November 19, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Dr. Charles Potter / Industrial Emergency Preparedness: Hurricane Harvey - A Case Study Dr. Charles Potter
TA Instruments, New Castle, DE
Industrial Emergency Preparedness: Hurricane Harvey - A Case Study
 

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Texas gulf coast, causing over $100 billion in damage. Residents and the local industries were paralyzed. The Houston metropolitan area and the shipping channel with its major petrochemical and manufacturing complexes came to a standstill. More than 100 toxic releases occurred during the storm with over 500 million gallons of toxic industrial waste coming from just one plant. One spectacular event occurred when the inventory caught fire at a plant after it lost electricity. Was the plant adequately prepared? Let’s stop and think, is our community adequately prepared?


October 22, 2018
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Dr. Noah Clay / Nanotechnology in Nature, Ancient Times, Today and Beyond Dr. Noah Clay
Director, Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility, PENN
Nanotechnology in Nature, Ancient Times, Today and Beyond
 

Nanotechnology is a relatively new field encompassing human made objects that are so small that they can not be seen with the naked eye. In the past few decades, advances in nanotechnology have enabled seamless use of electronics in our everyday lives and is the focus of a great deal of research in basic science, engineering and medicine. However, nanomaterials had been used unknowingly by humans for millennia to construct porcelain coatings, paints, dyes, swords, stained glass and sculpture. These early uses of nanotechnology were undoubtedly inspired by nature: bright colors in flowers, spider’s silk, gecko’s feet, shells, butterfly wings and lotus flowers. In this talk, I will connect the objects we see in nature with ancient uses, today’s nano-devices and provide thoughts on where this incredible field will further impact our lives in the next decades.


October 15, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Arjun G. Yodh / Coffee Rings Arjun G. Yodh
Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
Coffee Rings
 

In this talk, I will discuss the science needed to understand a drying drop of coffee. We will see that even this very simple effect depends on many factors, ranging from water evaporation and fluid convection within the drop, to tension at the air-water surface and pinning of the liquid-solid contact line onto the counter-top. This rich phenomenology is also important for practical applications related to coatings, printing, painting, and even genotyping. I will describe a series simple drying experiments, on increasingly more complex fluids, that reveal the zoology of physics ideas underlying this everyday occurrence.


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Check out some past lectures on our Video Channel