Sunday, August 26, 2018 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
TICKETS MAY STILL BE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE TANGLEWOOD BOX OFFICE
VISIT WWW.BSO.ORG OR CALL 888 266 1200
David Helfand / Columbia University
For few issues is the public debate conducted with so much misinformation and irrational exuberance. So now for something completely different: a dispassionate analysis of what we actually know and what we don’t yet know about climate change. In this class, Professor David Helfand carefully distinguishes facts from fiction, and physics certainties from feedback uncertainties.
Every planet’s temperature is controlled by a simple balance between the energy it receives and the energy it radiates back into space. We will examine each of the main factors affecting this balance. He will begin by exploring the astronomical phenomena that have driven climate change in the past: solar variability, changes in the Earth’s orbit and other factors over which we have absolutely no control. He will then go on to show how the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere has changed in the past and is changing today using measurements of prehistoric climate derived from tree rings and ice cores. Examining the current energy balance and what we can expect over the next few decades, we will conclude by exploding a few myths and providing a rational basis for decisions about our future.
David Helfand has been a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University for 42 years where he served as chair of the Department for nearly half that time. He is also the former President of the American Astronomical Society and of Quest University Canada, and currently serves as Chair of the American Institute of Physics. He has received the Columbia Presidential Teaching Award and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. He is the author of the new book, “A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.”
Jessica Payne / University of Notre Dame
What's going on in your head while you sleep? The research of Notre Dame Professor Jessica Payne shows that the non-waking hours are incredibly valuable for your day-to-day life, especially for helping to commit information to memory and for problem solving. If you ever thought sleep was just downtime between one task and the next, think again. The fact is, your brain pulls an all-nighter when you hit the hay. Many regions of the brain – especially those involved in learning, processing information, and emotion – are actually more active during sleep than when you're awake. These regions are working together while you sleep, helping you process and sort information you've taken in during the course of the day. Professor Payne's research has focused on what types of information are submitted to memory, and has been instrumental in better understanding how the brain stores the information.
Sound interesting? It is. And useful too, as Professor Payne will outline all sorts of practical information on how to control your sleep habits to insure maximum productivity.
Jessica Payne is the Nancy O’Neill Collegiate Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, where she directs the Sleep, Stress, and Memory Lab. Her course, The Sleeping Brain, routinely sports a waitlist because of its immense popularity among Notre Dame students. In 2012, Professor Payne received the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award. She is also a two-time recipient of the Distinction in Teaching Award, and won the Award for Teaching Excellence at Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center.
Stephen Kotkin / Princeton University
Think back to the 1970s: the end of the Vietnam War, inflation, America's rust-belt factories going bust, disco, a stagnant Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev, intense global poverty in populous places like Communist China. Now look around today, 40+ years later: the Soviet Union is long gone and Russia has a large middle class,led by strongman Vladimir Putin, a villain straight out of Hollywood central casting. Now China is the world's great economic dynamo. And here at home we have a new Commander-in-Chief with very different attitudes towards the rest of the world than the Presidents who came before him.
What happened? How should we understand these changes? How might things look another 40 years hence? Does this portend a decline in American power and influence? Is America's place in the world, in fact, changing? Should it change? Or, is this just a temporary phenomenon, overhyped, a marketing slogan? Might China instead crash? Is Russia set for further reversals, too? What are the real strengths and weaknesses of China, Russia and our own United States? More broadly, what lessons can we draw from these cases about global geopolitics and the world in which our children and grandchildren will inherit?
Stephen Kotkin is the John P. Birkelund Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton. Professor Kotkin established the department’s Global History workshop. He serves on the core editorial committee of the journal, World Politics. He founded and edits a book series on Northeast Asia. From 2003 until 2007, he was a member and then chair of the editorial board at Princeton University Press, and is a regular book reviewer for the New York Times Sunday Business section.