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Science

Town Hall Seattle Science Series

Town Hall Seattle

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The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of re...Show More
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1:06:21 | Dec 4th, 2017

Why does spending money sometimes feel almost physically painful? Why are we comfortable overpaying for something again just because we’ve overpaid for it once before? Dan Ariely, professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, s...Show More

1:08:12 | Jul 9th

Since the beginning of the 20th century, worldwide life expectancy has steadily increased to the highest point in history. Yet popular culture often treats old age like a disease—a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied. Renowned ...Show More

54:38 | Jul 2nd

Rates of infectious disease outbreaks are on the rise in our oceans. Fueled by sewage dumping, unregulated aquaculture, and drifting plastic in warming seas, ocean outbreaks are heralds of impending global environmental disaster. Renowned scientist D...Show More

57:13 | Jun 24th

How do we reconcile our own perception of time with the massive geological scale of the earth? To offer us an intersection between the human and the natural world, nature author Robert Macfarlane took Town Hall’s stage with a dive into his new book U...Show More

1:16:01 | Jun 19th

According to Lee McIntyre, attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn’t settled science, that evolution is “only a theory,” and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staple...Show More

1:10:56 | Jun 10th

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything as...Show More

1:22:23 | Jun 4th

When Bob Quinn was a kid, a stranger at a county fair gave him a few kernels of an unusual grain. Little did he know, that grain would change his life. Over the years, he began experimenting with organic wheat and he began to discover that through ti...Show More

1:08:38 | May 29th

Hidden beneath the surface of the web, there is an unseen workforce of proofreaders, designers, and content watchdogs who make the internet seem smart. Co-authors Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri took the stage, joined by GeekWire’s Molly Brown, to shine...Show More

54:16 | May 20th

Americans spend more money on health than people anywhere else in the world. Yet, according to physician Sandro Galea, Americans live statistically shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries—and these trends show no signs of le...Show More

1:14:16 | May 6th

By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change—including how to stop it. The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking chronicle of a handful of scientists who embarked on a decade...Show More

1:09:09 | Apr 30th

Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility. And according to theoretical physics professor Michio Kaku, this departure of planet Earth may soon become a necessity. He calle...Show More

1:24:46 | Apr 22nd

What are the risks from genetically engineered fish to the people and environments of the Pacific Northwest? New Canoe Media tackles this question head-on with their new short film Salmon People. Town Hall joined forces with CAGJ to screen this power...Show More

1:10:27 | Apr 15th

Facebook’s algorithms shaping the news, self-driving cars roaming the streets, revolution on Twitter, and romance on Tinder. We live in a world constructed of code—and coders are the ones who built it for us. Acclaimed tech writer Clive Thompson join...Show More

1:14:02 | Apr 8th

Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology is revolutionizing science with a powerful approach to predicting and preventing disease. Listen in to a panel of experts as they examine the cross-disciplinary field of systems biology—and explore the ways thi...Show More

1:11:21 | Apr 1st

After nearly a decade overseas, acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering—only to find that the slopes he once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. He embarked on a worldwide ...Show More

1:24:59 | Mar 25th

The viral video of the chimpanzee Mama embracing her friend—biologist Jan van Hooff—one final time before her death touched the hearts of millions. Renowned biologist Frans de Waal captured the essence of that story in Mama’s Last Hug, asserting that...Show More

47:21 | Dec 10th, 2018

The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. For a history on these ancient mythological AIs and more, folklorist and hist...Show More

1:01:33 | Dec 3rd, 2018

Silicon Valley technology is transforming the way we work, and Uber is among the startup companies leading the charge. Technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat lent us a wealth of firsthand perspective on the subject to share insight from her book Uber...Show More

1:19:07 | Nov 19th, 2018

Black holes continue to astound scientists who have spent their careers studying them. These dark giants are the most extreme objects in the universe—ubiquitous, frighteningly enigmatic, and central to the makeup of our galaxy. To explore the scope o...Show More

1:28:01 | Nov 5th, 2018

As our technological capabilities expand, humanity finds ourselves confronting one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology transform our society? Author and speaker Jamie Susskind steps up to Town Hall’s stage to addr...Show More

55:24 | Oct 29th, 2018

Whether it’s the fluid grace of a slithering snake, the tenacity of a multi-body ant bridge, or the intermittent flitting of a water strider across the surface of a pond, animal movements constantly fascinate us. Scientists have learned a great deal ...Show More

1:15:36 | Oct 22nd, 2018

The genomic revolution is transforming our understanding of modern humans. Geneticists like David Reich have made astounding advances in genomics, which is proving to be as important a field as archeology or linguistics for understanding our ancestry...Show More

1:24:10 | Oct 8th, 2018

The United States has long been the global leader in Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Kai-Fu Lee—one of the world’s most respected experts on AI—reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US at an astonishingly rapid pace. He joined us with insight...Show More

1:20:51 | Oct 1st, 2018

Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships that bind the human and natural worlds. Environmentalist and author Thor Hanson took to Town Hall’s stag...Show More

49:50 | Sep 24th, 2018

Few of us have any conception of the enormous timescales of our planet’s long history. Geology professor and Fulbright Scholar Marcia Bjornerud steped onto Town Hall’s stage to outline the ways in which our everyday lives are shaped by processes that...Show More

58:35 | Sep 17th, 2018

In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery in this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT)...Show More

1:01:07 | Jul 2nd, 2018

Like most first-time mothers, food and culture writer Angela Garbes was filled with questions when she first became pregnant. And like many mothers, she sought satisfactory answers to the scientific mysteries and cultural myths that surround motherho...Show More

1:13:18 | Jun 25th, 2018

Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers co...Show More

1:20:03 | Jun 18th, 2018

Since the release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013, millions around the world have focused on the plight of the orca, the most profitable and controversial display animal in history. Yet until now, no historical account has explained how we came ...Show More

1:19:13 | Jun 11th, 2018

Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Acclaimed author Simon Winchester joined us to...Show More

1:18:33 | Jun 4th, 2018

LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms) have shown significant promise as tools to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction, and anxiety. But, according to bestsel...Show More

1:24:06 | May 29th, 2018

As the Spring session of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest comes to a close, Town Hall invites you to join this panel and look forward into the future of human-machine interfaces. Consider the human and societal impacts of new machines and th...Show More

49:02 | May 21st, 2018

While recognizing that quantum mechanics “demands serious attention,” Albert Einstein in 1926 admonished that the theory “does not bring us closer to the secrets of the Old One.” Aware that “there are deep mysteries that Nature intends to keep for he...Show More

1:03:54 | May 14th, 2018

One of the great promises of the Internet and big data revolutions is the idea that we can improve the processes and routines of our work and personal lives to get more done in less time than we ever have before. Technology has enabled a widespread i...Show More

53:05 | May 7th, 2018

How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality is a vitally important philosophical challenge. Author and cellular immunologist Barbara Ehrenreich shared insight from her latest book Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certai...Show More

1:00:35 | Apr 30th, 2018

Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of billionaire entrepreneurs, jocularly referred to as the “Space Barons,” are pouring their fortunes into the resurrection of the American space program. Washington Post staff wr...Show More

1:08:32 | Apr 16th, 2018

A crash on the Washington, D.C. metro system. An accidental overdose in a state-of-the-art hospital. An overcooked holiday meal. At first glance, these disasters seem to have little in common. But surprising new research shows that all these events—a...Show More

1:12:54 | Apr 9th, 2018

The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. How do neurons turn into minds? How does physical “stuff”―atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells―create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads? In the last century there have been ma...Show More

49:48 | Mar 26th, 2018

With rapid technological innovation leading the charge, today’s world is transforming itself at an extraordinary and unprecedented pace. We are confronted every day with new challenges as jobs become more multifaceted, information streams multiply, a...Show More

1:17:50 | Mar 19th, 2018

Global threats of climate change and rising air pollution have led many experts to believe that we must transition away from carbon energy and pursue alternative energy sources. Sustainability author Scott L. Montgomery argued that nuclear power is n...Show More

1:18:17 | Mar 12th, 2018

Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is revolutionizing science with a powerful approach to predict and prevent disease, and enable a sustainable environment. Join a panel of experts as they explore the cross-disciplinary and collaborative a...Show More

1:13:43 | Mar 5th, 2018

What do we truly have in common with the Neanderthals? What can fossilized teeth tell us about the life expectancy of our ancient ancestors? How can simple geometric comparisons of fossils suggest a possible origin to our social nature? Korea’s first...Show More

55:45 | Feb 26th, 2018

Renowned pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris, MD took our stage to discuss new research that illustrates a deep connection between toxic stress during childhood and the likelihood of lifelong illnesses. In her book, The Deepest Well, Burke Harris relate...Show More

1:13:21 | Feb 19th, 2018

In forty years, some scientists project that Earth’s population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that many people? What kind of world will it be? According to Charles Mann’s newest book The Wizard and the Prophet, the experts answering t...Show More

1:04:40 | Feb 12th, 2018

We often take for granted the ubiquity of chicken in the American diet. Acclaimed journalist Maryn McKenna bypassed our familiarity with a fascinating history of chicken in her book Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Changed Modern ...Show More

57:00 | Feb 5th, 2018

In turbulent times, we need a unique perspective to find the opportunities in adversity and to respond to challenges with action. Mother/daughter team Stephanie Marston and Ama Marston join us to illuminate this perspective with wisdom from their boo...Show More

59:13 | Jan 29th, 2018

Beer has played a pivotal role throughout history—from influencing ancient Mesopotamian agriculture to bankrolling Britain’s imperialist conquests. Food and tech journalist Devin Briski chronicled the fascinating history of the world’s (arguably) mos...Show More

1:31:13 | Jan 22nd, 2018

Credit card encryption chips fundamentally altered our perceptions of financial security—and according to the MIT Enterprise Forum, blockchain technology has the potential to do the same. From funding and regulations, to tangible technology rollouts—...Show More

1:17:56 | Dec 18th, 2017

Virtual Reality is at once a revolutionary tool for entertainment and a technology raising fundamental questions about the experience of being inside the human body. Jaron Lanier―interdisciplinary scientist and father of the term “virtual reality”―ta...Show More

1:13:40 | Dec 11th, 2017

As residents of the Pacific Northwest, we are all familiar with stories of Seattle’s vulnerability to seismic activity. And we certainly recall the haunting 2015 New Yorker article asserting that our region is long-overdue for “the big one.” To help ...Show More

1:12:29 | Nov 27th, 2017

How do baboons make decisions? Why do storks like garbage dumps? What are sonic vibrations to a warbler, anyway? For thousands of years, answering questions like these meant tracking animals by following their footprints. Thanks to award-winning visu...Show More

50:24 | Oct 30th, 2017

Are you aware that oxidation is beautiful? Yes, oxidation, particularly when it’s under the gaze of Theodore Gray. Photosynthesis is beautiful, too. And fermentation. With Reactions, Gray continues an exciting journey through our molecular and chemic...Show More

1:03:26 | Oct 16th, 2017

Peter Wadhams, one of the world’s most experienced sea ice scientists, brings a report from the frontline of planetary change in his new book A Farewell to Ice. Wadhams shows how sea ice is the ‘canary in the mine’ of planetary climate change.  He de...Show More

59:43 | Oct 9th, 2017

In The Influential Mind, neuroscientist Tali Sharot takes us on a thrilling exploration of the nature of influence. We affect others just by moving through the world―from the classroom to the boardroom to social media. But how skilled are we at this ...Show More

1:10:15 | Oct 2nd, 2017

What does is it mean to be human in a world where A.I. is transforming war, crime, justice, and jobs? We stand at the beginning of a new era. What was once science fiction is fast becoming reality. Max Tegmark, a professor of physics at MIT and presi...Show More

1:01:35 | Sep 18th, 2017

Many of us in the Pacific Northwest feel a profound connection to the water, and Seattle-based author Jonathan White is no exception. In his book Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, White uses his surfing and sailing adventures across the glo...Show More

53:35 | Sep 11th, 2017

What’s invisible, ubiquitous, and has an epic story to tell? New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean provides us with a curious history of the air we breathe. In a tale as artful as it is scientific, Kean’s Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secre...Show More

1:15:49 | Sep 4th, 2017

Most of us don’t question a fluttery feeling in our chests when we’re excited or sweating armpits as we make a public speech. We accept these connections between our emotions and physical bodies. But according to neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan, the h...Show More

1:05:17 | Aug 28th, 2017

Are we born into time? Or is time born into us? Most people seem to agree that our experience of time changes depending on our mood or circumstance. “Time flies when you’re having fun” (as the saying goes), while in times of difficulty or boredom, ea...Show More

1:25:49 | Aug 21st, 2017

In the film world, Walter Murch is undeniably successful. The three-time Academy Award winner is world-renowned for his work on films like Apocalypse Now, The Godfather trilogy, and The English Patient. But this is only one aspect of his multifaceted...Show More

1:01:31 | Aug 14th, 2017

Imagine a robotic stuffed animal that responds to a child’s emotional state or an electronic ad that changes based on the facial expression of the viewer. This event is the book launch for Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emo...Show More

1:05:20 | Aug 7th, 2017

In May 2014, mountaineer and scientist John All fell into a 70-foot crevasse near Everest. Though badly injured—fifteen broken bones, internal bleeding, and a severely dislocated shoulder—he took a series of videos as he struggled to climb out throug...Show More

1:07:22 | Jul 31st, 2017

Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is revolutionizing science with a powerful approach to predict and prevent disease, and enable a sustainable environment. Explore the cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach of systems biology and h...Show More

1:13:15 | Jul 24th, 2017

Of his writing, David Haskell says, “I’ve turned my ear to trees, listening to their ‘songs.’ I’m writing about what tree acoustics can teach us, with a particular focus on biological networks.” His award-winning The Forest Unseen won praise for eloq...Show More

44:06 | Jul 17th, 2017

Eugenia Cheng is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sheffield. As one of few women in her field, Cheng aims to reach a wide audience about all things math and dispel the ph...Show More

1:11:56 | Jul 10th, 2017

Look before you leap. We’ve all heard this piece of advice. But is it helpful? Whether considering trivial matters, like trying to find a parking spot or weighing life-changing decisions like choosing a spouse, it’s difficult to find the balance betw...Show More

1:22:53 | Jul 3rd, 2017

Award-winning theoretical physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss (The Physics of Star Trek, A Universe From Nothing) is not afraid to court controversy. In 2015, he made waves when he published an essay in The New Yorker with the headline: ...Show More

46:04 | Jun 26th, 2017

Are you on board to join Jeff Bezos as a tourist in outer space? It may take a while to hit the mainstream, but in the meantime, scientists and Intergalactic Travel Bureau members Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich have teamed up to create an illustrated...Show More

59:13 | Jun 19th, 2017

Seattle-based writer Langdon Cook writes about wild foods and the outdoors. His last book, The Mushroom Hunters, won the Pacific Northwest Book Award and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His work has been compared to such luminarie...Show More

1:06:30 | Jun 12th, 2017

PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up on We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe, an entertaining and lucid explanation of particle physics—what little we know of it. Exploring the biggest unknow...Show More

1:22:46 | Jun 5th, 2017

Our country’s healthcare system needs serious work—but how did it get so bad? In An American Sickness, award-winning New York Times reporter Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal breaks down the nature of this affliction, explaining the symptoms, identifying the c...Show More

1:21:19 | May 29th, 2017

In the face of widespread fear and apathy, Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author, pulled together an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and activists (including Michael Pollan and Elizabeth Kolbert) to compile...Show More

1:01:36 | May 22nd, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee returns to Town Hall to discuss his newest book The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee weaves together exhaustive scientific research with intimate biographical stories to explore human heredity. U...Show More

1:12:07 | May 15th, 2017

This event celebrates the book launch for Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David R. Montgomery, a former Town Hall Scholar in Residence and a beloved local geologist. Montgomery tracks the fates of once-great civilizations that...Show More

1:12:55 | May 11th, 2017

This is the story of a migrating butterfly, a poisonous plant, and their remarkable process of coevolution. Monarch butterflies are one of nature’s most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United S...Show More