The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow Of Time

Frontiers in Science Flyer for Sean Carroll talkProfessor Sean Carroll (Caltech) presents Frontiers in Science Public Lecture “The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time”

Speaker: Prof. Sean Carroll
Affiliation: California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
When: Mon, April 11, 2016 – 7:00 pm
Where: CULC, Rm 144
Host: Profs. Deirdre Shoemaker and Edwin Greco
Title: The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time
One of the most obvious facts about the universe is that the past is different from the future. We can remember yesterday, but not tomorrow; we can turn an egg into an omelet, but can’t turn an omelet into an egg. That’s the arrow of time, which is consistent throughout the observable universe.

The arrow can be explained by assuming that the very early universe was extremely orderly, and disorder has been increasing ever since. But why did the universe start out so orderly? I will talk about the nature of time, the origin of entropy, and how what happened before the Big Bang may be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today.

Saving the Endangered African Painted Dog: Science, Conservation and Communities

Dr. Gregory Rasmussen

Director, Painted Dog Research Trust, Zimbabwe

“Saving the Endangered African Painted Dog: Science, Conservation and Communities”

Understanding that from a conservation perspective, ecosystems must include the human element, Dr. Gregory Rasmussen’s lecture will not only discuss research on the enigmatic African Painted Dog, but also explore how integration of contemporary human needs with empathy for wildlife and habitats can lead to successful conservation practices.

Greg’s presentation will offer memorable encounters with Painted Dogs over the course of his 25- year journey to protect this remarkable species. He will focus on lessons learned and future directions, including training tomorrow’s generations of local conservationists.

Painted Dog Research Trust, Zimbabwe

With research and science as guiding tools, Painted Dog Research Trust is dedicated to conserving the highly endangered Painted Dog, also known as the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus). Dr. Rasmussen, the trust’s founder, has led this work for 25 years, thus making it one of the longest continuous study of the remarkable species. Painted Dog Research Trust is based near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in a landscape mosaic of national parks, forestry, private safari areas, and traditional communal lands.

With the pan-African population declining from half a million to some 5,000, the Painted Dog is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as “Highly Endangered.” Painted Dog populations in Zimbabwe link to all five neighboring countries: Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique. Thus, Zimbabwe is an important keystone for this species. To maintain the integrity of the populations in Zimbabwe and other countries, research must continue unabated, because long-term study and monitoring are core to the continued survival of Painted Dogs.

Dr. Gregory Rasmussen

Gregory Rasmussen was born in London and moved to Zimbabwe with his parents when he was still a child. After college, he began work on a research project on Painted Dogs in Hwange National Park and became so committed to the species that he sold his belongings to live and work for their protection.

Greg is a conservation biologist who retains affiliation with the Wildlife Conservation Unit at Oxford University, where he earned his Ph.D. He is also a research associate and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. His research interests are wide ranging, but with special focus on trans-boundary conservation.

In 2003, an airplane crash left Greg severely injured and alone in the African bush.  He endured extreme temperatures and exposure to predators while waiting for help. Eventually he was rescued, and the story of his survival was featured in Discovery Channel’s, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” series.



Georgia Institute of Technology

College of Sciences

“Frontiers in Science” Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

7:30 PM

Clary Theater, Bill Moore Student Success Center

A reception follows the lecture.
(Parking available in Visitors Lot, on the south side of North Avenue, across from Tech Tower.)

Decoding Dream Teams: The Signatures of Collaborative Success in Science and Beyond

DeChurch_Frontiers in ScienceA talk by Professor Leslie DeChurch of the Georgia Tech School of Psychology.

Teams have always spurred important feats of mankind. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin placed the American flag on the moon, but the event was the culmination of years of innovative work by innumerable teams of scientists and engineers. Similar stories abound, heralding the triumphs of human collaboration in settings as varied as disaster response, healthcare delivery, and the creative arts. Equally poignant are the stories of team failure: a team of competent individuals who failed to gel – their conflicts and inability to collaborate setting the stage for disaster. The failure of intelligence teams in the FBI and CIA to anticipate the terrorist attacks of 9-11 or the failure of healthcare teams to stanch the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This talk will report on the latest efforts to decode the structural signatures of teams to decipher the key insights that explain how – and how well – individuals organize in teams and systems of teams.

Leslie DeChurch’s research is being used to improve teams engaged with scientific innovation, military-civil cooperation, humanitarian aid & disaster response, health care, and space exploration. Her research on complex forms of collaboration has been supported by more than $8 Million in extramural funding from NSF, NASA, NIH, ARI, ARO, & ANR (France) including an NSF CAREER award to understand leadership in multiteam systems. She serves on multiple editorial boards, recently served on a National Academy of Science consensus study, and serves on the board of the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research (INGRoup).

Physics, information, and Computation

Dembo_8x11A talk by Professor Amir Dembo of Stanford University.

Theoretical models of disordered materials yield precise predictions about the efficiency of communication codes and the typical complexity of certain combinatorial optimization problems. The underlying common structure is that of many discrete variables, whose interaction is represented by a random ‘tree like’ sparse graph.
We review recent progress in proving such predictions and the related algorithmic insights gained from it.

This talk is based on joint works with Andrea Montanari, Allan Sly and Nike Sun.

Amir Dembo is the Marjorie Mhoon Fair Professor of Quantitative Science (in Mathematics and Statistics) at Stanford University. He received the B.Sc and D.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa in 1980, 1986 respectively. Dr. Dembo held visiting positions at U. Paris 7, U. Paris 6, Technion, Courant Institute, MSRI, Weizmann Institute and most recently at U. Paris 9. Dr. Dembo advised 15 Ph.D. students and co-authored more than 100 technical publications, including the book, “Large Deviations Techniques and Applications”, (Second Edition, Springer-Verlag, 1998, with O. Zeitouni). He is a fellow of the IMS, was a special invited IMS medallion lecturer (2005), an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians (2006) and the invited Levy lecturer of the Bernouli society(2009). Dr. Dembo worked in a number of areas including information theory, signal processing and bio-molecular sequence analysis. His current research interests are in probability theory and its relations with statistical physics.



Corals as Expert Witnesses to Climate Change

CobbThe public’s hunger for information about climate change has never been greater, yet the politicization of climate change has made it difficult to separate truth from fiction. 2015 is poised to become the warmest year on record, but it is important to remember that the instrumental record of climate is relatively short, spanning only a few decades in many regions. Over repeated visits to remote coral atolls in the tropical Pacific, Kim Cobb has assembled a record of climate from corals that spans many millennia. The results help to place current climate change trends in context.

Can One Believe in Evolution and God?


Francisco J. Ayala is the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He has been President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ayala’s scientific research focuses on population and evolutionary genetics. He examines related areas that include the origin of species, the genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa and the molecular clock of evolution. He frequently writes and speaks about the interface between religion and science and on ethics, epistemology, education and the philosophy of biology.

Born in Madrid, Spain, he has lived in the United States since 1961, and became a U.S. citizen in 1971. He is author of more than 950 publications and 30 books. In 2001 he was awarded the National Medal of Science and in 2010 he was awarded the Templeton Prize. His memberships include the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In addition, his foreign memberships include the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome; the Royal Academy of Sciences, Spain; the Mexican Academy of Sciences; and the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

* Light refreshments will be served. Parking available in the Student Center Visitor Lot.