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Exploring the Universe through Interactive Mass Media

Scott Snibbe will present selections from twenty years of interactive exhibits, interactive art, and interactive music. He will show many experiences that draw inspiration from science to create unabashedly emotional, social, and physical entertainment, including recent work creating the first app album with Björk: Biophilia; and the recent interactive exhibits for James Cameron's movie Avatar. He will discuss the educational and societal benefits of interactivity; and the joys, challenges, and research involved in the creation and distribution of interactive media.

Climate Change Impacts in the Arctic Ocean

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is in rapid decline.  This reduction in ice extent and thickness has resulted in a longer open water season and higher marine productivity.  Until recently, phytoplankton blooms on continental shelves were thought to be restricted to waters free of sea ice.

Europa's Great Lakes

With an icy exterior covering a global ocean, Europa has long been a target of interest in the search for life beyond Earth.  Europa exists in a dynamic environment, subject to intense irradiation and impact as well as immense tides from Jupiter.  These processes deliver important thermal and chemical energy that could be critical to supporting a putative biosphere. In the past few decades the debate about habitability of Europa has been focused strongly on the thickness of the ice shell.  However, an arguably more critical question is: how does the ice shell recycle?

The Kepler Mission: Zeroing in on Habitable Earths

Doug Caldwell is a SETI Astronomer and the the Instrument Scientist for the Kepler Mission based at NASA Ames. Dr. Caldwell will give the status of the Kepler instrument and operation, a summary of exoplanet results of the Kepler Mission to date.

Kepler was launched in 2009 and is currently in an Earth trailing orbit. It detects exoplanets by looking for small but regular decreases in the brightness of stars.

Life in the Multiverse

Cosmological observations show that the universe is very uniform on the maximally large scale accessible to our telescopes, and the same laws of physics operate in all of its parts that we can see now.  The best theoretical explanation of the uniformity of our world was provided by inflationary theory, which was proposed 30 years ago.

Planet formation and stellar multiplicity: insights from recent surveys and perspectives

While the prevalence of stellar multiplicity has been known for many decades, it is now becoming increasingly clear that planetary systems are also frequent around Main Sequence stars. This raises the natural question of the connection between stellar multiplicity and planet formation, a topic that was mostly ignored until the last few years. Does the presence of a stellar companion alter, prevent or promote the formation of planets? In which way?

Fast molecular adaptations to environmental fluctuations - a recipe for long-term survival of life in the extremes

A limiting factor for the survival of life in a changing environment is the intracellular production of reactive oxygen species. These can damage the building blocks of life (DNA, proteins, lipids) through oxidation. All organisms, including microbial extremophiles, have developed mechanisms to quench the reactivity of oxygen species or avoid their production. Not surprisingly, these same molecules are drivers for evolution.

The Climates of the Planet Mars

At the present time, Mars is a dry and cold planet. Surface ice is unstable for more than one season outside the polar regions, and the atmosphere is so cold or so dry that the presence of liquid water, never detected, is unlikely anywhere on the surface.

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