2018 Festival Talks

Submitted by dahlonegascience on Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:28

From Friday night, through Sunday Morning, we have a great variety of talks to attend!  Our speakers come from a variety of different disciplines.  Be sure to catch as many as you can!

  • Friday, March 23, UNG Heath & Sciences Building @ 7:00 p.m.:  Dr. Les Johnson - “Solar Sails: Traveling the Solar System (and Beyond!) with Sunlight” 

The reality of sunlight-based sailing in space began in May 2010, and solar sail technology has continued to advance rapidly through new space missions. Using the energy of reflected sunlight for spacecraft propulsion will be the next major leap forward in our journey to other worlds. In this talk, you will learn about solar sails, how they work, and how they will be used in the exploration of space.  There will be special planetarium show at 8:00, following Dr. Johnson's talk, "Search for the Edge of the Solar System."  Special hands-on activities will also be shared!

The following talks all will occur on Saturday March 24:

Location:  Dahlonega Community House

Everyone knows that computers are an important part of both our work lives and personal lives, with technologies like smartphone apps, drones and robots, and 3D printers changing the way we communicate, the way we work, even the way we think. But, fewer than 3% of Americans can read and write the language that makes all these technologies possible: computer programming code. Come spend a few minutes with Dr. Bryson Payne, computer science professor at UNG and author of the book "Teach Your Kids to Code" for this interactive session. You'll learn the basics of coding, and you'll learn how to help your kids speak the "language of the future".

  • 10:15 a.m.:  Joseph Meany - “NanoYou: Medical, Ethical, and Environmental Effects of Nanotechnology”

The current rate of new material development and discovery is rocketing forward at an unprecedented pace. Since chemists first learned the “rules” of organic chemistry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, chemicals never before isolated in nature have cropped up – and not all of them have been benign. Material science aims to completely change our Earth; if you believe the hype: nanoparticles will eradicate cancer, graphene will eliminate thirst, and DNA origami will eliminate disease. At what cost to the living natural systems are we seeking this advanced knowledge, and at what point have we gone too far? Who should have first access to the potential panaceas of tomorrow, and is displacing or eradicating natural bacterial (or viral) populations okay? How do we square this with an ever-growing human population?

  • 11:30 p.m.:  Jennifer Mook - UNG Biology Professor - "The Total Turtle Talk"

Everyone recognizes a turtle! But how much do you really know about turtles and tortoises? Do you even know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Why is a box turtle a turtle and not a tortoise? Jennifer will discuss these questions and many other fun facts and interesting tidbits about turtles. She will also discuss her current research at UNG that involves turtles, and highlight conservation issues regarding turtles and tortoises world-wide.

  • 2:00 p.m.:  Chris Seminack - UNG Geology Professor - "The Geologic Impact of Hurricane Sandy"

Hurricane Sandy made landfall over Atlantic City, NJ on October 29, 2012. Effects from this storm were observed from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to southern New England. It is estimated that the damage attributed to Hurricane Sandy was upwards of $65 billion, making it the second most costly hurricane in U.S. history, with a death toll of more than 100 people in the U.S. alone. New Jersey and New York were the hardest hit along the U.S. Atlantic coast, due to the unusual abrupt westerly hook of the hurricane path. In addition, Hurricane Sandy impacted the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast during a full moon, thus causing an approximate 20% increase to the storm surge. Effects from Hurricane Sandy include widespread coastal flooding, barrier island overwash, and some isolated cases of barrier island breaching.

  • 3:15 p.m.:  Jessica Hartel - UNG Biology Professor - "Landmines in the Forest: Assessing and Mitigating Anthropogenic Threats to Wild Chimpanzee Conservation in Uganda"

The human population’s exponential growth rate coupled with the massive loss of biodiversity makes long-term sustainability and conservation a global concern. The USA has one of the highest ecological footprints in the world, requiring more than three times as many hectares per person as the global, African, and Ugandan averages. As a result, industrialized countries have a global, practical, and ethical responsibility to use financial and scientific resources to promote sustainability and conservation in developing countries, especially where human population growth and biodiversity are high and in conflict. The Albertine Rift is a biodiversity hotspot that stretches along the western border of Uganda and contains more vertebrate species than any other location on the African continent, including the most threatened endemic species such as chimpanzees and gorillas. Located within the Rift, Kibale National Park is a stronghold for the eastern subspecies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) and have been ranked by the IUCN as a high priority for conservation. Intensifying anthropogenic threats along both the boundary and within the park have compromised its integrity. Chimpanzees, in particular, are under siege as local people and poacher’s illegally enter the park to extract resources. Acting like landmines in the forest (cryptic, indiscriminate, and deadly), snares are set to catch bushmeat, and while chimpanzees are not the intended target, they are often accidental victims - leaving them with serious handicaps and in extreme cases amputations. What are scientists doing to help mitigate this threat and how can you be an active advocate for change? 

  • 4:30 p.m.:  Scott Harris - Planetary Geologist from Fernbank Science Center -  “Assessing the Risk of Cosmic Collisions from the Geological Record of Asteroid Impacts”

Our solar system has always been a dangerous place to live. Asteroids and comets have collided with planets and moons for more than 4.5 billion years leaving behind cratered surfaces as testimony to the devastating energy released when rocks meet  traveling thousands of meters per second. The geologic forces constantly reshaping the surface of Earth have erased or obscured much of the impact record here, but geologists have confirmed more than 180 craters between 10 years old and 2 billion years old. What are the chances of our home being hit again? By something large enough to destroy a city? Or large enough to end life forever? What can we learn about our future risks by studying the past record of catastrophes?

Special Guest Authors will be giving their talks at the Bourbon Street Grille, with special book signing sessions immediately following:

  • 2:00 p.m.:  James Costa - "Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory"

Charles Darwin is an iconic figure typically portrayed as a staid Victorian; a lone genius, melancholy, serious, even tormented. In this talk I explore the Darwin behind the portraiture and myth — the husband, father, and friend; the crowd-sourcer and scientist of boyish enthusiasms and impish impulses; above all the inveterate "experimentiser." Darwin was a life-long experimenter, devising simple yet ingenious experiments on myriad topics — orchids and sundews, barnacles and vines, bees' cells and pollination, earthworms and seed dispersal, and more. Yet it was all of a piece. Engaging his children, friends, and neighbors as assistants, and encouraging fellow naturalists to follow his lead, Darwin's ingenious experiments yielded universal truths about nature, and ammunition for his revolutionary arguments in On the Origin of Species and other watershed works. Darwin's working method holds lessons for us today as well: following his lead, we can recreate his experiments in home and school, inspiring a new generation to think like a scientist.

  • 3:15 p.m.:  Les Johnson & Joseph Meany - “Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World”

What if you discovered an infinitesimally thin material capable of conducting electricity, able to suspend millions of times its own weight, and yet porous enough to filter the murkiest water? And what if this substance was created from the same element as that filling the common pencil? This extraordinary material, graphene, is not a work of science fiction. First isolated in 2004, this revolutionary material is poised to change just about everything.

  • 4:30 p.m.: Anthony Martin - "The Underground Evolution: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath Our Feet'

Animals have used burrows as a way to survive disasters and mass extinctions and have changed the planet through their burrowing. Find out all about the amazing world of animals below.

Our final talk will be a brunch gathering on Sunday March 25 at the Bourbon Street Grille.  

  • 10:00 a.m.: Anthony Martin - "Dinosaurs without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Traces”

What if all of the dinosaur bones vanished tomorrow? How would be know dinosaurs existed or how they behaved? Welcome to the world of dinosaur traces: tracks, nests, burrows, and much more.