Cal Day Events – KQED QUEST Presentations

April 17th, 2010 from 9am-4pm in 2063 VLSB on the UC Berkeley campus

Leading Cal scientists show KQED’s QUEST videos about their cutting-edge research and then open the room for discussion

9 am: Illuminating Northern Lights
Speaker – John Bonnell – Assistant Research Physicist, Space Sciences Laboratory
Northern California residents may not be able to see the northern lights like people in Alaska can, but Bay Area scientists are playing a key role in understanding them. Find out more about the spectacular light shows up north and what scientists at UC Berkeley are discovering about the Earth’s magnetic field.

10 am: Tracking Raindrops
Speaker – Todd Dawson – Professor and Director of the Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry
We all rely on the water cycle, but how does it actually work? Scientists at UC Berkeley are embarking on a new project to understand how global warming is affecting our fresh water supply. And they’re doing it by tracking individual raindrops in Mendocino and north of Lake Tahoe.

11 am: Dark Energy
Speaker – Saul Perlmutter – Professor and Astrophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Physicists can’t see it and don’t know much about what it is, but dark energy makes up 70 percent of the universe. Meet one of the country’s leading scientists trying to understand dark energy and the role it plays in causing our universe to expand.

12 pm: Better Bees
Speaker – Claire Kremen – Associate Professor with research in Conservation Biology and Entomology
California farmers depend on bees to pollinate the state’s multi-million dollar fruit and nut crops, but last season thousands of bee colonies disappeared around the country. Meet two Northern California researchers looking for ways to make sure we always have bees to pollinate our crops.

1 pm: Bio-Inspiration: Nature as Muse
Speaker – Robert Full – Professor with research in Comparative Biomechanics, Physiology, and Functional Morphology
For hundreds of years, scientists have been poaching design ideas from structures in nature. Now, biologists and engineers at UC Berkeley are working together to design a broad range of new products, such as life-saving milli-robots modeled on the way cockroaches run and adhesives based on the amazing design of a geckos foot. QUEST visits their labs to find out what’s so special about these crawling and scaling animals.

2 pm: Disappearing Frogs
Speaker – Tyrone Hayes – Professor with research in Steroid Hormones and Amphibian Development
Around the world, frogs are declining at an alarming rate due to threats like pollution, disease and climate change. Frogs bridge the gap between water and land habitats, making them the first indicators of ecosystem changes. Meet the Bay Area researchers working to protect frogs across the state and across the world.

3 pm: Disappearing Plants
Speaker – Scott Loarie – Researcher in Plant Conservation
Scientists say the state’s plants are at risk of collapse unless they migrate or are moved to refuges. According to a new study, two-thirds of California’s unique plants, some 2,300 species that grow nowhere else in the world, could be wiped out across much of their current geographic ranges by the end of the century because of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.