LLNL serves up series of Saturday science lectures

Jan. 23, 2009

Aerogel is the world's lightest material. (Download Image)

LLNL serves up series of Saturday science lectures

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) popular lecture series, "Science on Saturday," returns Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 28. This year's talks explore an array of interesting topics -- the unusual material of aerogel, the birth of the solar system, diverting asteroids with nuclear explosives, the path to limitless clean energy, and wind power in our future.

Lectures will be held in the Bankhead Theater located at 2400 First St. in Livermore.

The presentations are from a collaboration of Lab scientists and science teachers. The talks highlight cutting-edge LLNL science that is aimed at the understanding of students. The lectures are sponsored by LLNL's Science Education Program.

Kicking off the series on Jan. 31 is "Aerogels: The Materials Science of Empty Space," presented by Alex Gash, LLNL scientist, and Dean Reese, a Tracy High School teacher. This lecture explains how aerogels are a class of materials with fascinating properties, but they are hardly materials because they can be composed of up to 99.8 percent empty space. During this lecture, the presenters will describe and demonstrate the structure, properties and advanced applications of aerogels, and even synthesize one.

The series of five free lectures and demonstrations is targeted at middle and high school students. Topics are selected from the forefront of science and technology research in a variety of disciplines.

The following talks are offered:

Jan. 31 " Aerogels: The Materials Science of Empty Space " presented by Alex Gash, LLNL scientist, and Dean Reese, Tracy High School teacher. Feb. 7 " Order From Chaos: The Birth of the Solar System ," presented by John Bradley, LLNL scientist, and Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School teacher. Feb. 14 " Avoiding Armageddon: Diverting Asteroids With Nuclear Explosives ," presented by Dave Dearborn, LLNL scientist, and Tom Shefler, Granada High School teacher. Feb. 21 " Star Power on Earth: The Path to a Limitless Clean Energy Future ," presented by Ed Moses, LLNL scientist. Feb. 28 " It's a Breeze: Using the Wind to Power Our Future ," presented by Julie Lundquist, LLNL scientist, and Bret States, Tracy High School teacher.

All lectures are open to the public and held at the Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore. Two presentations are offered each Saturday at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no pre-registration. Admission is free of charge.

Teachers attending the presentations will receive a copy of the PowerPoint slides used in the lecture, and a DVD with the movie from the talk.

In addition, this year, the series of lectures will be simulcast to students at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

For more information about Science on Saturday, directions and a map, go to the Web at http://education.llnl.gov/sos/ or contact Richard Farnsworth at (925) 422-5059.