Curious about science, but not sure where to start? On this night, we will feature a smorgasbord of talks ranging from the history of dinosaurs, tiny drones, and communicating with computers, to harnessing the power of a specific type of cell for treatment in nervous system injury.
Meet the Speakers
Astrocytes as a Tool to Combat Nervous System Injury
Astrocytes belong to the larger family of neuroglial cells in the central nervous system (CNS). These diverse and complex cells take their name from their star-like appearance, and are found in abundant numbers throughout the CNS. Though once relegated to a supporting role for neurons, astrocytes are gaining increasing recognition for their active and diverse roles in brain function. This talk will discuss the emerging roles for astrocytes in nervous system function, highlighting why astrocytes are the real stars of the CNS.
Collecting Dinosaurs around the world: A Philadelphia Story
Professor Joseph Leidy of the University of Pennsylvania described the first American dinosaurs in 1856. Today dinosaur paleontology continues to thrive in Philadelphia. More than a dozen new dinosaurs associated with Philadelphia institutions have been named during the past 15 years including Paralititan (Egypt), Suuwassea (Montana), Auroraceratops (China), and Dreadnoughtus (Argentina). Every fossil discovery has its own story. In this illustrated talk I briefly review the Philadelphia story.
Talking to Computers
Increasingly, we interact with our computers using everyday language through speech or text. Sometimes computers seem to work like magic and understand us incredibly well. Other times, they are inexplicably confused and frustrating to use. I will give a general introduction to how computers process human language, and the types of things computers do and don't "understand" when we talk to them. I will outline some of the current open challenges for automatic language understanding.
Piccolissimo: The Smallest Flying Vehicle
Piccolissimo, Italian for “very small”, is about the size of a quarter, making it the smallest self-powered flying vehicle in the world. It has just one motor, a 3D printed part, a simple circuit, and some batteries. We’ll compare Piccolissimo to typical drones and discuss the tricks we use to make it stay in the air. There’ll be math and physics showing how it works and crash videos of when it doesn’t. The Piccolissimo project isn’t finished, so we’ll talk about its future as well.