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Clarkson University Science Cafe Returns to Downtown Potsdam Sept. 14

[A photograph for media use is available at]

Local teachers and university professors will again take to the stage starting Wednesday, September 14, for the "Science Cafe."

Science Cafe logoAll fall 2011 Science Cafes will take place Wednesday evenings at 7:15 p.m. on the second floor of La Casbah at 6 Elm Street in Potsdam, N.Y.

Science Cafes bring together local university and college professors 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.

Each Science Cafe will take place at 7:15 p.m. on September 14 and 28, October 12 and 26, and November 9 and 30.

Here's a rundown of the topics and speakers:

September 14: Revolutionary Moon Watching

Galileo’s finding that the moon’s surface is rough had disruptive political and religious implications, sparking a scientific revolution. “EarthSky” astronomer Bruce McClure and Clarkson University Professor Emeritus Jan Wojcik will discuss this development and guide us through a riveting exploration of the imminent harvest and hunter’s moons, whose lights herald the autumnal equinox, and will present telescopic views of the moon and other nearby celestial wonders.

September 28: Science’s Top Models

Much of what we know about human biological processes, including aging, sleep, memory and addiction, comes from the study of microbes and animals, such as yeast, flies and even the lowly worm! St. Lawrence University Biology and Psychology Professor Ana Estevez highlights this type of research and discusses how model organisms help discover new ways to treat and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and strokes.

October 12: Mathematics and/vs. Physics -- from Discord to Harmony

To most, mathematics and physics seem indistinguishable, since they appear to be speaking “the same language.” Yet, they are distinct and, as in any marriage, their relationship ranges over the full spectrum as each pursue his/her own goals. Join Professor Royce K.P. Zia (Virginia Tech) on his second visit to the Science Café for a lively, stimulating discussion of the relationship between the two disciplines.

October 26: To Be or Not to Be … Nuclear?

What are the pros and cons of nuclear power? Join us for a vivid, informative discussion, as Clarkson University Professor Emeritus Eric Thacher recounts his rich personal experience with nuclear power: undergoing Navy nuclear power training, serving on a submarine powered by a pressurized-water nuclear reactor, as a civilian in the Nuclear Energy for Rocket Vehicle Application and thermionic fuel element programs, and from his work with high-temperature, gas-cooled nuclear reactors. 

November 9: The Power of Paper and Printing: Their Origins and Travels

Today, we shred it, burn it, toss it onto roadsides, or dump it in landfills or the ocean without a second thought. No respect where it’s due! Paper and printing changed world history and helped preserve it. Ina Brockriede, a retired teacher from the Boulder Valley Schools and now an avid student of the history of science and civilization in China, discusses the fascinating story of paper and printing.

November 30: If Bridges Could Talk...

Wouldn’t it be great if bridges could talk, and alert us of impending disaster? Modern sensing technologies, developed in recent years, provide accurate and real-time information on the condition of bridges and dams, effectively endowing such structures with a voice. Clarkson University Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Kerop Janoyan explains this exciting new technology and how it is used for remedial action.

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.

Find out more about Science Cafes in general at .

For La Casbah’s location and menu, see .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five 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.

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

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