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Clarkson University Science Cafe Returns to Downtown Potsdam Feb. 3

[A photograph for media use is available at]

Scientists, an economist and a cardiologist will take the stage starting February 3 at Jack & Wezzie’s Coffee House in Potsdam for the "Science Cafe."

Science Cafes bring together university faculty and townspeople in a relaxed, informal setting, such as coffeehouses and pubs. The speaker makes a short presentation about a topic in his or her field, and then opens up the floor to discussion.tamon

Each Science Cafe will take place at 7:30 p.m. on February 3 and 24, March 10 and 24, and April 21.

Here’s a rundown of the topics and speakers:

February 3: The Rise and Fall of Cryptography

Cryptography is the science of designing secret, unbreakable messages. The craft of cryptography has existed since the times of Caesar and has appeared in classic literary works such as Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Gold Bug." In the past 40 years, cryptography has been revolutionized in the computer age by the invention of public-key cryptography. Everyone knows how to multiply integers, but it is surprising that undoing this simplest of operations is the foundation of modern cryptography. Join Clarkson University Professor of Computer Science Tino Tamon as he outlines the story behind the rise and fall of public-key cryptography, from the unexpected power of number theory to the potential attacks of quantum machines.

February 24: The Games We Play

How can a politician run a campaign to win an election? Is the threat of nuclear war actually good for peace? How can we make our kids eat their veggies? These are some of the issues in life that require strategic thinking. Game theory involves the analysis of conflicts, cooperation and communication, and can be described as the science that studies the art of strategic thinking. By educating ourselves in the art of strategic thinking, we can learn to become more astute managers, negotiators, athletes, politicians, economists and even parents. Assistant Professor of Economic & Financial Studies Luciana Echazu, Clarkson University, will lead this exploration into basic concepts of game theory using several illustrations from political situations, personal experiences, movies and sports.

March 10: Calendars, Sunspots and Planning for 2013

In recent years, Hollywood and doomsday enthusiasts alike have posed the question, "Will the world end on December 21, 2012, as the Mayan calendar predicts?" According to some theorists, the winter solstice will line up with the line to the center of the galaxy, causing solar storms that will threaten our civilization, reversing the Earth’s magnetic field and aligning the planets as the solar system plunges into the center of the galaxy. This talk, led by St. Lawrence University Professor of Physics Aileen O’Donoghue, will investigate what astronomers really expect of 2012 in an attempt to convince you not to cash out your 401k for one last fling before it all ends.

March 24: Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road and Not Make it to the Other Side?

There is no spot in the continental U.S. that is more remote than 22 miles from a road. In fact, roads and road rights-of-ways cover a land area within the U.S. as large as the state of South Carolina. What are the major environmental impacts of roads and road traffic, and what can we do to reduce these impacts? Join Clarkson University Professor of Biology Tom Langen in a wide-ranging discussion about the field of road ecology and how biologists are working with transportation agencies to reduce the environmental harm caused by roads.

April 21: How Important are Trace Minerals?

You might have heard of the importance of trace minerals to our health and their role in such basic functions as normalizing the nervous system, stimulating growth, and maintenance and repair of tissues and bones. But what do trace minerals do specifically, how much do we need to consume for optimal health, and what is the proper way to guarantee their efficient absorption? Join Alexandru Stoian, cardiologist M.D., as he explains the workings and benefits of trace minerals, focusing on the specific cases of magnesium, zinc and selenium.

Find out more about Science Cafes in general at

Find out more about Clarkson’s Science Cafe at

E-mail Daniel ben-Avraham at with any comments, questions or suggestions for future Science Cafe topics.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Professor of Computer Science Tino Tamon will outline the story behind the rise and fall of public-key cryptography at the Science Cafe, February 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Jack & Wezzie’s Coffeehouse in Potsdam.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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