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Clarkson University Science Cafe Has Both Potsdam & Canton Venues for Fall

Local university faculty will again take to the stage starting Wednesday, September 12, for the "Science Cafe."

Science Cafe logoNew for fall 2012, the popular science series had has added a Canton location.

All Canton Science Cafes will take place Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. in the Park View Common Room, above the Blackbird Café, 107 Main St. in Canton, N.Y.

All Potsdam Science Cafes will continue to take place Wednesday evenings at 7:15 p.m. in the Potsdam Civic Center Community Room 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.

Here's a rundown of his fall's topics and speakers:

Red fish, Blue fish, Round fish … Flatfish?
September 12: Potsdam
Tuesday, October 9: Canton
Flatfish (flounder, sole, halibut) begin life as typical fish that swim with an upright posture, but soon develop asymmetrically, as one eye migrates to the opposite side of the head and the fish swims on one side for the rest of its life. Join St. Lawrence University Biology Professor Alexander Schreiber as he explores fascinating examples of such curious asymmetries, their reasons and advantages, and their evolutionary and developmental bases.

Brain Computer Interfacing
September 26: Potsdam
September 18: Canton
The ability to control one’s surroundings and to communicate by thought alone is a classic staple of science fiction stories. Yet, today’s neural engineering researchers are developing ways to provide totally paralyzed patients the ability to do just that, albeit in a crude and slow fashion. Join Clarkson Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Charlie Robinson as he reviews the history, present state and future potential of brain computer interfaces. In his own words, “Those who are mute can now speak, and those who are paralyzed can now walk and grasp, both by thought control. But the current extent of functional recovery still pales in comparison to our normal marvelously engineered nervous system.”

Artificial Intelligence: Facts and Fiction
October 17: Potsdam
October 23: Canton
In science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is practically limitless. Space ships communicate with their pilots, robots look and move just like people, and computer programs wrestle with ethical and emotional dilemmas. We may not be there yet, but research in AI has been producing exciting and impressive things. Join St. Lawrence University Computer Science Professor Lisa Torrey as she discusses what modern AI can do and what it can’t do yet, and learn a little bit about how it works.

England’s Old Science Cafés
November 7: Potsdam
October 30: Canton
In the early 18th century, English people went to public science lectures to witness the chemical bangs, flashes and electrical sparks formerly available only to elite men of science. But, like today, the 18th century had its share of “science deniers,” who denounced the events as immoral pursuit of empty entertainment. Join Clarkson University History of Science Instructor Karen Buckle as she revisits this fascinating world of England’s old “Science Cafés,” and ponders how the audience could tell whether these public talks imparted real knowledge, or whether they were quackery, as detractors would have it. Did it matter if they could? And why should we care about it today?

Play with Your Food, and Learn!
November 28: Potsdam
December 4: Canton
Many people might not guess that math and food are related. However, from farm to table, mathematics can be used to gain a deeper understanding of what we eat. Why do certain cooking techniques work better than others? Why do certain foods taste better than others? Will the food you enjoy now be here in 20 years? Join Clarkson professors of mathematics Katie Fowler and Joe Skufca in this interactive, tasty Science Café. They will have fun with pi, pints and products and explore some important ways math and science impact what you eat and how you enjoy it.

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 .

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.

[A photograph for media use is available at]

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

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