Wednesday Lectures Recent & Upcoming (In Order Early-to-Late)

Gentrain Lectures are held (normally on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday each month) in LF 103 (see MPC Campus Map in left menu) from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, on dates when the MPC campus is open. Visitors are welcome; no charge or registration is required. A $3.00 parking permit is again required for non-society members. Parking permit machines (quarters only) are in each parking lot.

Some Lectures are recorded as on-line virtual lectures. If video recordings are made, and as soon as they are available, links to them will appear on these pages.

View Past Lectures in: 

Wednesday January 4, 2023 - 1:30pm -  The Astronomy Institute - A History of MIRA

Dr. Wm. Bruce Weaver will describe the origins and 50-year history of Monterey County’s first and only professional astronomical observatory and the development of the only fully-independent observatory of the 20th century. MIRA’s research telescope is at 5000 feet altitude in the Santa Lucia mountains at one of the best astronomical sites in the world. He will explain how astronomers and local students, using only alternative energy sources for power, have studied the Universe for 40 years at this high-technology mountain-top observatory.

Dr. Weaver, MIRA’s first astronomer, is the Director of the Institute. He published pioneering studies in the application of artificial intelligence to stellar classification and modern statistical analysis of star formation. He was co-author of a new stellar classification system in the near-infrared using instrumentation he designed and built. He was a co-discoverer of star spots on newly-formed stars and used those data to determine their axial inclinations. His current interests are a new way to simulate the nonequilibrium transfer of energy in extreme stars and the development of new MIRA instrumentation. In his spare time, he invented the first route finding program for Ford Motor Company, a specialized computer chip for solving stratigraphy problems. He also raises orchids.

Dr. Wm. Bruce Weaver will describe the origins and 50-year history of Monterey County’s first and only professional astronomical observatory and the development of the only fully-independent observatory of the 20th century. MIRA’s research telescope is at 5000 feet altitude in the Santa Lucia mountains at one of the best astronomical sites in the world. He will explain how astronomers and local students, using only alternative energy sources for power, have studied the Universe for 40 years at this high-technology mountain-top observatory.

Dr. Weaver, MIRA’s first astronomer, is the Director of the Institute. He published pioneering studies in the application of artificial intelligence to stellar classification and modern statistical analysis of star formation. He was co-author of a new stellar classification system in the near-infrared using instrumentation he designed and built. He was a co-discoverer of star spots on newly-formed stars and used those data to determine their axial inclinations. His current interests are a new way to simulate the nonequilibrium transfer of energy in extreme stars and the development of new MIRA instrumentation. In his spare time, he invented the first route finding program for Ford Motor Company, a specialized computer chip for solving stratigraphy problems. He also raises orchids.



Wednesday January 4, 2023

Wednesday January 18, 2023 - 1:30 pm - The Astronomy Institute - Current Research at MIRA

Drs. Jean Perkins and  Daniel Cotton will give an overview of current research and activities at MIRA. They will focus on two techniques in which MIRA scientists specialize: asteroseismology and polarimetry. Asteroseismology is the study of star quakes - its application can reveal what the inside of a star looks like. Polarimetry measures the orientation of light waves; it is particularly good for understanding stellar geometry. Together these techniques promise to teach us more about the lives and deaths of stars and about the evolution of the Galaxy.

Dr.  Perkins got her PhD in Astronomy in 2017 from New Mexico State University. She spent three years in postdoctoral research at Yale University before coming to MIRA in the fall of 2020. She studies the lives of stars through a technique called asteroseismology. By studying star quakes Dr. Perkins gains valuable information about the insides of stars. In particular, she looks at stars that are older and more massive than the Sun. Additionally, Dr. Perkins leads the outreach and education programs that MIRA hosts. Outside of her research and education activities, she enjoys square dancing, knitting, and reading.

Dr. Cotton has been a MIRA astronomer since 2021. He grew up near Newcastle, Australia where he also went to university. There he completed a PhD in Physics in 2008 on nanoscale lithography of plastics with electronic properties. Since then he has worked in space and astronomy, first in space telescope instrumentation in Leicester in the UK, then studying the atmospheres of planets and stars at the University of New South Wales and working for Anglo Australian Telescope. His major achievements include mapping the distribution of carbon monoxide on Venus and realizing decades old predictions of polarization in stellar atmospheres caused by rapid spinning and harmonic resonance induced pulsations. Outside of astronomy he participates in outdoor sports and has published poems and short fiction.



Wednesday January 18, 2023

Wednesday February 1, 2023 1:30 pm - Visualizing Science

Before photography allowed scientists to document their findings in the field and lab, they relied on illustrations drawn or painted by hand to communicate their discoveries. Even in today's world, in which powerful telescopes, microscopes and cameras can reveal so much about the world around us, science illustration still plays an important role in conveying complex ideas, from virology to earth science to botany. Science illustrator and artist Erin E. Hunter will give a history of science illustration through the ages, then present many of the ways in which it remains a crucial tool for researchers and educators today.

 

Erin Hunter is a trained science illustrator with a background in graphic design. She splits her work between fine art paintings depicting the natural world, and technical illustrations for an academic science journal (Annual Reviews).



Wednesday February 1, 2023

Wednesday February 15, 2023 - 1:30 pm - What's New In Rome?

Gentrain Philosophy Instructor Stephanie Spoto spent the summer traveling through Rome and Paris in order to study Ancient Greek and to soak up the art and history of the region. When most people think of Rome, they immediately think of the ancient Roman world, and tourists from all over the world flock to Rome to experience this history. However, Dr. Spoto was interested in the kind of art that breaks with the traditions of the past and seeks out new forms of expression. In this lecture, she will discuss her favorite traditional galleries full of Medieval and Renaissance art, but most of the lecture will be looking at what's new in contemporary art on exhibition in the various modern art galleries of Rome.

Dr. Spoto teaches Humanities at California State University, Monterey Bay and philosophy at Monterey Peninsula College. She holds a PhD in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh, with her doctoral work exploring the influence of esoteric and occult philosophy on early modern literature and politics. She has had many published works in Europe and the United States. She has talked literature and philosophy on The SRB Podcast and Not Radio,and has been the coordinator of a community philosophy reading group at Old Capitol Books in downtown Monterey for more than four years.

This is a photograph Dr. Spoto took of a sculpture by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu at the Cloister of Bramante in Rome. This sculpture is part of the exhibition  Crazy, the madness of contemporary art. A great exhibition project, curated by Danilo Eccher.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday February 15, 2023