Monday December 10, 2018
Audubon’s famous bird banding experiment: Fact or Fiction?
Matthew Halley, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
John James Audubon has been hailed as the first bird-bander in America, but the high rate of natal philopatry in banded Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) that he reported is an outlier when compared to modern data. More troubling, a reconstruction of the timeline of events with multiple independent primary sources, shows that Audubon was not in Pennsylvania when he claimed to have re-sighted two banded phoebes there in 1805. These facts cast doubt on the veracity of his story.
Monday November 12, 2018
Blowing Up Glaciers (Just A Bit!): Geophysical investigations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Stability
Atsuhiro Muto, Temple University
Global sea level has been rising over the past century and it is projected to keep rising in the future. But exactly how much and how fast? The key to answering this question lies under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, one of the most remote glaciers in the world. Atsuhiro Muto of Temple University will share his findings so far and what he and his teams aim to reveal with upcoming expeditions to Thwaites Glacier.
Monday October 8, 2018
Conserving Architecture from Ancient Egypt and Nubia
Molly Gleeson, Penn Museum
Monumental architecture from Ancient Egypt has been on display for nearly a century in the Penn Museum’s Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery. In preparation for gallery renovations, these pieces are being conserved and looked at closer than ever before. Project Conservator Molly Gleeson will discuss the ongoing work and research to prepare these objects for display in the Museum’s future Ancient Egypt and Nubia Galleries.
Monday September 10, 2018
How An Unpopular Policy Based on Incorrect Science Saved Philadelphia from Yellow Fever
Dr. David Barnes, University of Pennsylvania
Yellow fever devastated Philadelphia four times in the 1790s, killing more than ten thousand residents and casting into doubt the future viability of the city itself—at the time, the nation’s capital and largest city. Local health officials responded with a set of policies that were widely resented as burdensome and denounced as ineffective. They were based on theories of disease that seem laughably outdated today. Almost immediately, however, yellow fever epidemics became much less frequent and much less deadly than before. David Barnes examines some possible explanations for this unlikely success.
Monday August 13, 2018
Science on Tap, Untapped Ruins Everything
Does the parallel universe theory really explain the Upside Down on Stranger Things? Is Tyrannosaurus vision really based on movement like in Jurassic Park? Is Bones right? Can a forensic anthropologist really tell if a bone is real just by licking it? Representations of science in pop culture are often way more fiction than fact. With so many white lab coats, daring anthropologists, and crime-solving teams, it can be hard to sort out what’s real and what’s just for entertainment. But don’t worry! Your friendly Science on Tap organizations are here to help.
Monday July 9, 2018
Decoding Social Effects of Microbes
Rohini Singh, University of Pennsylvania
Ever wondered if microbial infections can affect social interactions? Are all microbial infections bad? Attend this talk to see how researchers are exploring the effects of microbial infection in social organisms.
Monday June 11, 2018
The Art and Science of Diatoms
Alison Minerovic, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
The country’s largest museum collection of diatoms is housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences, right here in Philadelphia! But what are diatoms? Why are they important, and why do we need a museum collection of these microscopic organisms? In this talk, Alison will give a brief overview of these “jewels of the sea”, including their unique anatomy and uses in aquatic ecology. We’ll also learn about some of our most important historical collections in the Academy’s Diatom Herbarium, including those that feature the Victorian-era art of arranged diatoms.
Monday May 14, 2018
The Physics of Baseball
Scott Paulson, James Madison University
Spring is finally here, and a young person’s fancy turns to thoughts of baseball. This presentation will cover some of the physics behind routine and not-so-routine baseball plays. Topics include the bat-ball collision, the trajectory of airborne balls, throwing home from the outfield, and the optimal base-running path. Along the way, we’ll address questions such as “Why do curve balls curve?” “How important is the follow through in a swing?” and “Why are there so many home runs in Denver?” After a short presentation there will be plenty of time for questions, discussion, and to reminisce about the 2008 World Series.
Monday April 23, 2018
Science on Tap Untapped: Schooled by Science
*This event was part of the Philadelphia Science Festival
The pursuit of higher education in science is more than just lab work and dissertations. Join us for a special PSF Science on Tap that will explore the many ways science has really taught us lessons. Six speakers will share hilarious and true stories of what they learned during the course of their studies. Between these flash-talks, you can decide who makes the grade and toast to a universal truth: sometimes you test the hypothesis, sometimes the hypothesis tests you.
Monday March 12, 2018
Modern Methods for Studying Ancient Philadelphia: An Introduction to Digital Archaeology in Turkey
Dr. Peter Cobb, Penn Museum
One of the oldest Philadelphias in the world is located in what is now western Turkey, at the city today called Alaşehir. This talk introduces the history and archaeology of this region of the world, located between Ancient Greece and the Near East. This summer, we plan to commence an archaeological project to survey this area and map human occupation in all time periods. This project will employ a variety of new digital tools to record and analyze archaeological evidence: from drones and GPS, to cloud computing and databases, to 3d scanning and photogrammetry, to historical satellite and aerial imagery. Come join us to discuss how the latest technologies are improving the ways we study the past!
Monday February 12, 2018
Iron Gall Ink and Inherent Vice: Conserving Nathan Sellers’ Account Book
Renée Wolcott, American Philosophical Society
Iron gall ink served as the primary manuscript ink of the Western world from the 4th century CE well into the 19th century. Historically, the ink was popular both for its deep, rich black color and for its indelibility. As it ages, however, the ink can spell disaster for the paper on which it is written. It is often both acidic and full of excess iron(II) ions, which can lead to embrittlement, cracking, and holes in paper documents. This talk explores the problematic chemistry of iron gall ink and the conservation treatment of an account book written by Nathan Sellers, a fighting Quaker who saved American papermaking during the Revolutionary War.
Monday January 8, 2018
The Archaeology of Philadelphia’s Earliest Citizens
Dr. George M. Leader, Arch Street Project
In March of 2017, developers at 2nd and Arch Street began uncovering human remains. Excavation recovered 450 individuals from what is now known to have been the cemetery of the First Baptist Church from 1700-1860. The analysis of the remains will offer a huge amount of information on the life, death, health and culture of the city’s inhabitants around and during the American Revolution.