Calendar

Jun
21
Thu
David Weintraub @ Pacific Science Center
Jun 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

WeintraubDoes life exist on Mars? The question has captivated humans for centuries, but today it has taken on new urgency. NASA plans to send astronauts to Mars orbit by the 2030s. SpaceX wants to go by 2024, while Mars One wants to land a permanent settlement there in 2032. As we gear up for missions like these, we have a responsibility to think deeply about what kinds of life may already inhabit the planet—and whether we have the right to invite ourselves in. This book tells the complete story of the quest to answer one of the most tantalizing questions in astronomy. But it is more than a history. Life on Mars explains what we need to know before we go.

David Weintraub tells why, of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, Mars has beckoned to us the most. He traces how our ideas about life on Mars have been refined by landers and rovers, terrestrial and Mars-orbiting telescopes, spectroscopy, and even a Martian meteorite. He explores how finding DNA-based life on the Red Planet could offer clues about our distant evolutionary past, and grapples with the profound moral and ethical questions confronting us as we prepare to introduce an unpredictable new life form—ourselves—into the Martian biosphere.

Life on Mars is also a book about how science is done—and undone—in the age of mass media. It shows how Mars mania has obscured our vision since we first turned our sights on the planet and encourages a healthy skepticism toward the media hype surrounding Mars as humanity prepares to venture forth.

David A. Weintraub is professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal with It?How Old Is the Universe? (Princeton), and Is Pluto a Planet?: A Historical Journey through the Solar System (Princeton). He lives in Nashville.

Jun
23
Sat
Matthew Lane @ Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment
Jun 23 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

LaneDid you know that every time you pick up the controller to your PlayStation or Xbox, you are entering a game world steeped in mathematics? Power-Up reveals the hidden mathematics in many of today’s most popular video games and explains why mathematical learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom or from books—you’re doing it without even realizing it when you play games on your cell phone.

In this lively and entertaining book, Matthew Lane discusses how gamers are engaging with the traveling salesman problem when they play Assassin’s Creed, why it is mathematically impossible for Mario to jump through the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros., and how The Sims teaches us the mathematical costs of maintaining relationships. He looks at mathematical pursuit problems in classic games like Missile Command and Ms. Pac-Man, and how each time you play Tetris, you’re grappling with one of the most famous unsolved problems in all of mathematics and computer science. Along the way, Lane discusses why Family Feud and Pictionary make for ho-hum video games, how realism in video games (or the lack of it) influences learning, what video games can teach us about the mathematics of voting, the mathematics of designing video games, and much more.

Power-Up shows how the world of video games is an unexpectedly rich medium for learning about the beautiful mathematical ideas that touch all aspects of our lives—including our virtual ones.

Matthew Lane is a mathematician and cofounder of Rithm, a school for aspiring web developers. He is also the creator of Math Goes Pop!, a blog that explores the interconnections between mathematics and popular culture. He lives in San Francisco.