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Clarkson University Sets Science Cafes for Fall in Potsdam & Canton

Local university professors will once again take to the stage starting Sept. 13 for the "Science Cafe."

Science CafesScience Cafes bring together local university and college professors and townspeople in relaxed, informal settings, 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.

All Canton Science Cafes will take place Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. in a new location at St. Lawrence University's Pub 56, between Hulett and Jencks Halls on Avenue of the Elms in Canton, N.Y.

All Potsdam Science Cafes will take place Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. in the St. Lawrence Valley Roasters & Jernabi Coffeehouse, 11 Maple St. in Potsdam, N.Y.

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

Why You Can’t See the Forest for the Beech
Sept. 13: Canton
Sept. 14: Potsdam

A walk through the woods of the North Country yields an unparalleled view of beech sprouts, whose small but plentiful stems fill the forest understory with leafy green in the summer, and snap the unwary traveler in the face during those cold winter hikes. But it wasn’t always this way! What has happened over the last century to convert this once-majestic forest tree to an invasive shrubby thicket, and what is the impact on the biodiversity and functionality of our northern hardwood forests? Join Associate Professor Mariann Johnston of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Wanakena campus for a discussion about beech bark disease, the insects and fungi that cause it and current research efforts on the subject.

Conservation in Protected Areas: From Central Africa to the North Country
Sept. 27: Canton
Sept. 28: Potsdam

Protected areas in the Congo forest in central Africa have been called upon to do the same things as conservation easements in the North Country: protect the land and its uses for now and the future. Join SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Jessica Rogers for a discussion of the state of protected areas in central Africa and around the world, and what the communities can do in their own backyard.

You’re Probably Wrong! -- The Unintuitive Nature of Randomness
Oct. 18: Canton
Oct. 19: Potsdam

Humans are good at a lot of things; having an accurate intuition for randomness is not one of them! How do people determine whether something is "random"? If people look at two different sequences of numbers, how do they tell whether one is "more random" than the other, just by looking? And what does "random" mean, anyway? Join St. Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Natasha Komarov as she helps attendees puzzle over randomness and probability, including interesting examples where intuition alone fails people spectacularly.

Statistics and Data Analysis? Ignore Us No More!
Nov. 1: Canton
Nov. 2: Potsdam

How much "power" is needed to conduct a statistical test to produce confident results? The discipline where deviation is considered to be "normal" -- statisticians study it both "discretely" and "continuously," because they want to be "significantly different." Statisticians love averages yet strive to be at least 95 percent right. Ignore us no more! Join Clarkson University Associate Professor of Mathematics Sumona Mondal to decipher the lingo and learn about the strengths and utilities of statistics in every aspect of life.

Whales to Wings: The Hydrodynamics of Humpback Whale Flippers
Nov. 15: Canton
Nov. 16: Potsdam

The humpback whale is one of the largest animals on the planet, yet while hunting and swimming it is also one of the most graceful. In this event, Clarkson University Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Professor Doug Bohl will explore how a natural adaptation may have led to the surprising agility of this animal. He will then discuss what humans can learn about aerodynamics from the mighty humpback and how to apply that knowledge.

Find out more about Clarkson's Science Cafe at .

Email 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 educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, 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 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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